Famous cyclist born 100 years ago in July

Cyclist Sammy Sergeant. INLM28-002
Cyclist Sammy Sergeant. INLM28-002

One of the Lurgan area’s most successful cyclists was born 100 years ago this month.

Sammy Sergeant, or ‘Sergeant’ as he was known to all his friends in the cycling fraternity was born in Bogle Hill near Gilford, on July 10, 1913, and moved shortly after to Ballymacanallen where he lived until his death.

After attending Gilford Primary School where he was in the same class as Jack Balmer, later a distinguished surgeon and Chairman of Glenavon Football Club, he won a scholarship to Portadown College where he completed his education before obtaining a position as trainee manager in Blane’s Linen Factory. He remained there until 1953 when he became manager in Seawright and Douglas on the Avenue Road in Lurgan.

His cycling career spanned the 1930s and the 1940s and he first came to attention in 1932 when he won the NIAAA five mile championship at the age of 19.

During this time he joined Kilmore CC, one of the first cycling clubs formed in Lurgan, and along with his close friend Patsy O’Connor, a founding member of the club, they brought the sport to prominence in the town.

During the winter months club members kept in trim on a training bike in the clubrooms above O’Connor’s Butchers at 34 Church Place.

In 1934 Sergeant won the NCU NI centre one mile championship and he repeated his success in Ballycastle on July 15, 1935. He also came second in the two mile event in the same year.

In 1936 he won the NCU NI Centre one mile, three mile and five mile championships and came second again in the two mile event. In 1936 he won the NCU Scottish Championship Allcomers two mile event on grass.

In 1937 Sergeant switched to riding for the Belfast club Ivy CC and won the NCU NI Centre three mile championship and was second in the one mile event