It is with great regret that we have learned of the death of Billy Smyth of Phoenix CC. Billy is often referred to in club circles as Mr Phoenix because of his unstinting work for the club. He was chief timekeeper, judge, and ‘peace keeper’ for countless Phoenix events over the past decades. He also was the person who, over many years, introduced newbies to the joys of cycling. Turning up at the House of Sport and other venues in all sorts of weather to see who would turn up for his run and many of our top riders today owe their prowess to Billy.
However Billy was not just content to help out at club level and ‘testers’ throughout Ireland knew of him simply as ‘The Time Lord’. He was the chief time keeper for the Ulster Veteran’s Time Trial League and later the Dave Kane League. Officiating at these events for over twenty years in all sorts of weathers, he nevertheless always remained calm and unruffled. If he felt that a rider had ‘crossed the line’ one way or another he would speak to the rider calmly and in a pleasant manner, explaining quietly what the rider had done wrong.
Billy had been a cyclist himself and in 1955, along with others, he decided to try his hand at racing, Billy was the first Phoenix member to compete in open races, including the Tour of the North and Irish Championships. He was the holder of many of the early club records. However, his greatest love was cycle touring and, over many years, he traveled by bike all around Ireland with his cycling friends; he even ventured on trips across America and Spain.
Billy loved retelling stories about cycling so in 2017 he published a collection of memories in a book ‘Before Lycra’ which many, not only in the cycling community, enjoyed. He also appeared on local television and regaled listeners with lots of the old stories.
The Cycling Ulster Executive would like to extend its deepest sympathy on behalf of all our members to his wife Rita, children Frankie, Bill, Marguerite and Lucy and to the wider family circle. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
The Funeral Arrangements are as follows
Billy’s remains will leave his late residence, 62 Orchardville Avenue, Belfast on Thursday at 12.30 p.m. to arrive at St. Michael the Archangel Church for 1.00 p.m. Requiem Mass. Funeral afterwards to Roselawn Crematorium for committal at 3.00 p.m.