A2 Aces 10th Anniversary – 10 years of scooter craic | RALLERY
The decision to go to Northern Ireland wasn’t just made by luck. Gatz from the Salford Knights and myself have been on the last four A2 Aces rallies, with a big contingency of the A2 Aces repaying the favour and attending “Rally on Regardless”, at the Salford Knights this year.
13 names down on the list, with Keith and Julie opting for the Thursday night ferry, getting their heads down and exploring Belfast on the Friday. On arrival, they got the train from Larne to Belfast, visited the Titanic Museum and other worthy sights. With a last-minute drop out for personal reasons, the rest of us met up at 7.30 am on the Friday morning at the end of my road for a 10.30 am ferry, check-in closes at 9.30am. With last year’s issue of my Lambretta rear hub falling apart on my combo, ending up missing the ferry and getting one by myself 12 hours later – we left in plenty of time. Dave turned up in his trusty Vespa sidecar, offering a lift to Sage – who was renamed Olive for the weekend, it was Gatz’s first outing on his Lammy chopper, Ady, Barney, Paul, Jimmy and myself on a mixture of Lambrettas and Vespas.
Problem free to Liverpool, stopping to fill up with cans for the 8-hour ferry crossing. The crossing from Stranraer is only a couple of hours, but 200 miles away for us. The ferry has cabins on the day, but we decided to get on the beer, have breakfast/lunch and spread out on the sofas. Loads of facilities on the boat, including a free cinema, quiet rooms, etc.
The great thing about this rally is getting off the ferry early in Belfast, rock up to campsite around 7.30 – 8.00, tents up and straight on it. That is exactly what happened, and we had the luxury for our group, no rain whatsoever when on the scooters.
The venue is the Blue Circle Sailing Club, ready-made with two rooms complete with stage, bars, kitchen, showers and changing rooms. Julie and Keith saved us a table in the main hall, like the OAPs, do for bingo.
The first band were Supernova, who were an Oasis tribute. On the Saturday they were competing in battle of the bands in Belfast. The weird thing about this band, they came from Italy, and the lead singer did not speak a word of English. I had a chat with the band afterwards about costs for the Salford Knights Rally as all of us thoroughly enjoyed them. Friday night we took time out to spend time with the Animals fae Naboombu as we always do and Jimmy Bingham and Marty spent hours listening to each other. Marty is as Scottish as can be and Jimmy is the quintessential Manc – they have more things than ‘just’ Vespas as a hobby but there’s no way they understand each other using their mother tongues. The night quietened down and taxis back to Larne for a few at midnight, the “teetotalers” sloping off and then we partied the night away, listening to one of the resident DJs and some foot-tapping.
Saturday broke early and there was breakfast on at the venue, which lots of rally-goers indulged in. About 4 or 5 years ago, Big Bri taught me the value of a small camping stove – for the next hour we made about 20+ teas and coffees – joining us heartedly for a brew were Dean from the Edinburgh Blues, Barrhead boys, A2 Aces and anyone else around. Dave and Dean caught up with all their memories from 10 years ago on the Scottish rallies.
The beautiful coast train took us into Carrickfergus – three of the lads rode in, which they regretted as we watched the footie and they couldn’t drink. For those riding, they took in a tour of the castle, museum, sites and Wetherspoons for their breakfast. Off to Ownies for lunch, a bit of watching Spurs being trounced – then back to the site for the custom show, parts fair, awards ceremony and the not to be missed gymkhana.
The three lads riding back took in Whitehead with almost a guided tour from the locals, from what Paul, Ady and Jimmy said it’s well worth a visit. Yet again very friendly people there. Gatz and I spent time in the afternoon with Davy Mo from the Lambretta Choppers Owners Club. He found us, gave us some goodies and joined us for a wee dram and shared some memories and stories.
We were robbed
For the last four years, the gymkhana trophy had been held by Smythe from the Animals, so as he was not present – Jimmy had his sights set on it. The idea is to pick up a ball, ride around the posts, do a sprint, back around the poles, turn and back. Penalty points are given for feet down, missing an obstacle or dropping the ball – all on a “twist and rip”. With all his efforts, Jimmy got 4 points, Ady the youngest got 3 and I got 2 points as I dropped the ball whilst replacing it and also put my foot down. #ROBBED – it was won by an A2 Aces member who was practising before the event and whilst setting up the event, he got 1 point. The Salford Knights did pick up a trophy for best turned out, even though Jimmy would have preferred the gymkhana.
A few stalls were set up as well, including clothing, goth, A2 Aces, prints, signs and badges – it could have done with a limited parts stall (oil, plugs, cables, etc.), which they normally do. The attendance on the site for Saturday was huge, with Irish, Scottish and Northern Irish Clubs in attendance for the ride out at 1.00. Personally, we like to save every mile of mechanical reliability for the ride home, so I saved the chopper and did the town instead.
Saturday also had a two-piece acoustic set on in the second bar, who were really quite good for background music. For the Salford Knights and I, we needed the United game on, so the A2 Aces had arranged for BT Sport to be set up in the lounge at 4 pm, so we chilled in there from 5.30 – 7.30, watching the footie and demolishing a dinner – food was great, lots of options and inexpensive.
Back on it – table reserved and beer flowing. The main hall was heaving, Saturday filled up with all the locals from the scene and everyone was in a party atmosphere. The first band from the UK mainland was The Jam’d, who played some Weller tunes, which I personally loved – not seen them for years, so it was good to listen to. Then finally was Doghouse Ska, their ability to fill a floor, albeit with people having drunk more than necessary was incredible. This year’s line-up included a female vocalist, able to sing Selector and other female vocal ska tunes – they were absolutely awesome. The night carried on until the early hours – second wind for some of us and bed by 1.00 for others.
It had rained that evening and there were heavy winds, a couple of tents were upended, which we tried to help sort out on returning back to the camping area with no luck.
Up early, showers and de-montage as we had a check-in closure at 09.30. The upended tent was just a groundsheet for some lad from Scotland – not to be deterred, he still slept on it. Jimmy got locked in his tent – so waking in the night with a semi and dying for a pee, the panic struck in and the corner of the ten, became a urinal for “Swampy”. The tent of Swampy and Dave were both left behind, along with the camp chairs that the A2 Aces sourced for us.
Muffins and tea from the stove, scooters and sidecar loaded – we then proceeded to wake the campsite up leaving at 8.00 with the two choppers firing up. We met with the other four and set off to Belfast – four of them took a detour by staying on the M2 – they missed the two scooters in front turn off and the massive sign saying STENA LINE LIVERPOOL – so we let them carry on and pulled off ourselves. We all made it to the ferry on time, Cunny and Paul there from the Globetrotters, Kev Howell as usual, Halifax Elite and other clubs returning with us. Paul was actually trailered there so enjoyed a pint on the ferry. Ferry, breakfast and/or lunch, head down, F1 and a couple of Premiership games – plus a lot of reminiscing.
The Salford Knights and I yet again had a great time and we are already looking forward to next year’s rally. The people of Northern Ireland are so welcoming and friendly and there are lots of clubs in Northern Ireland, which we drunk with over the weekend. The A2 Aces are a big club and they put on a great rally. Huge thanks to the excellent organisation of Brian, Rodney, Jonny, Ivan, Stuart and everyone else. There is the freshness of lots of young blood in their club too. If you want a well-organised rally, with everything on site book early. Friday is always quieter than Saturday, but all in all, a fantastic weekend, a great rally and fine hospitality – see you next year.
Doug Turner: Clueless and Clubless SC
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