Posts Tagged ‘Peter Kneale’

I’ve often wondered what happened to the tankards.
The tankards isn’t the nickname of a biker gang. These tankards are the ones which always lived in the press centre at the TT, many of them personalised with the names of long-serving members of the press corps.
My first TT was 1990, reporting for the BBC TV programme ‘Northwest Tonight’. The press centre was a very self-contained, clubby place. As a newbie, I was required to attend an interview with the then chairman of the ACU, Bill Smith, who quizzed me about my attitude to the TT and my intentions regarding my reports. The only other time I’ve experienced anything quite like that was in Prague during the Cold War when the British reporters covering a European football match had to surrender our passports at the police HQ before we were allowed to work. Fortunately the TT authorities turned out to be a bit more hospitable. The press centre on Glencrutchery Road was equipped with a bar where Peter Kneale would dispense pints to the reporters after the races. I never had a personalised tankard and by the time I’d clocked up enough visits to be even considered, the bar had disappeared and the tankards with them. In came a new, work-efficient era, with a tea and coffee machine which could never replace the sort of refreshment we used to enjoy before.
Peter combined the roles of commentator and press officer. It meant that he always knew exactly what was going on behind the scenes at the TT, and his successor Geoff Cannell also took on both roles. In 2004 the powers that be decided that the two jobs could no longer be filled by one individual. The turning point had come the previous year when Geoff was caught in an impossible situation, trying to handle media enquiries after the tragic accident that cost the life of David Jefferies while also being required behind the microphone to commentate for Manx Radio.
I was appointed commentator in 2004 and found it quite difficult getting hold of the background information that my predecesors had taken for granted. Peter and Geoff had been in on the plans, the committee meetings, and knew everyone. I arrived expecting the usual standards of media information to be available and found that the TT was totally off the pace. Fortunately the appointment of Simon Crellin as chief press officer a couple of years later made a big difference.
For me, the way a sports event treats its media says a lot about the way it rates its public. If it doesn’t provide the media with a professional service, then it is effectively stating that it doesn’t care if the public knows what’s going on or not.


Guy doing it legally. Photo: Alan Knight

Which brings me up to date and an announcement by the Isle of Man Police that they have dropped their inquiry into Guy Martin’s claims in the Sunday Times that he lapped the TT course in a car at an average 103mph on open roads. At the time there was a mix of outrage and disbelief. The police now say  ‘We have sought advice on further investigation of this matter from the Attorney General’s Chambers, and at this point, our inquiries are complete and we will not be seeking to take any further action’. Which leaves more questions than answers. What information caused them to regard their inquiries as complete? I’d imagine it was the discovery that the claims were completely fanciful, but it isn’t good enough simply to state that their inquiries are closed without telling the public what their reasons are.