The oldest Monarch has passed away

NEWS Saturday 29th December 2018, 8:00pm

by Mike Hunter

We have been informed from Australia of the passing (on 20th December) of one of the greatest Monarchs, Don Cuppleditch, at the age of 95. As far as we know he had been the oldest surviving Monarchs' rider.

Don was an Englishman, born in Leeds, and had a lifelong interest in motorcycles. He organised sand track racing in Palestine whilst serving there in the Lincolnshire Regiment, and first saw real speedway at Wimbledon. After moving to Edinburgh he took part in trials at Old Meadowbank and did well enough to appear in the programmed races.

He rode as a stand-in for Bristol, Fleetwood, Sheffield and Middlesbrough who were short-handed at Old Meadowbank, before making his debut for Monarchs on 11/9/1948 against Glasgow in the Anniversary Cup. He won his first race for the Monarchs!

Thereafter he was a permanent fixture for Monarchs and one of our best ever riders. He improved rapidly, averaging 9.5 in 1952 and 10.3 in 1953. His league points total for Monarchs was 1283 which puts him in our top 20 scorers, whilst his 1953 average is equal 8th in our list of single season averages.

Of the Meadowbank track he said "It was fast, and I could ride that white line! It was amazing the number of races I won at that third bend. I also liked Coventry, Leicester and Southampton. Poole was similar to Meadowbank but I didn't do well there. I did like Belle Vue and Wembley."

He enjoyed the team spirit in those early days. "I enjoyed riding with them all. We had a very good team with no friction at all, and we had a good time travelling away. I rode with Jack, and Harold Fairhurst, and enjoyed it. Jack Young did things that no-one had ever done before; in my early days he used to ride outside and I was inside trying to make my engine do what his was doing. He would sail round and I got into all sorts of trouble."

Don rode for Britain v Overseas, and for Scotland v England, in 1953 scoring four double figure scores as Scotland won the series 4-1. Also in 1953 he fell narrowly short of reaching the World Final.

After Monarchs closed in 1954 he rode for Belle Vue for a short time, but after the birth of his daughter he decided to finish with Speedway.

During his time in Scotland he owned a sweet shop (hence his nickname "The Candy Kid") and he also ran hotels in Edinburgh and Auchterarder. Later he emigrated to South Australia, only returning to the UK to take part in vintage car rallies which was his hobby.

Don and his wife Elsa had three children, Lesley, Peter and David who will now be in their early sixties.