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Roy Bester
Roy Bester

Bester leads at Motherwell

BESTER, ROY: Born in the Transvaal in 1928, and first came to the notice of British fans as South African junior champion - a title he won with a 15 point maximum on New Year's Day 1952. In the British winter of 1952-3 he impressed Edinburgh's Dick Campbell who was visiting. A five match Test series was staged between South Africa and a European team which was by no means weak. The South Africans won the series 3-2 and top scorer was the talented Bester with 59 points, including 15 in each of the first two matches. He also totalled 39 points in three Tests against New Zealand - the series again going to South Africa, by 2-1 and he featured in a great Match Race series with Ronnie Moore at Boksburg. There were two dead-heats, with Moore taking the other race.

Bester finished his home season as runner-up in the S.A. Championship to former World Finalist Henry Long, and his signing by Edinburgh for the 1953 season was seen as a scoop.

He made his debut for Monarchs on 9th May 1953, against Glasgow in a National Trophy tie at Old Meadowbank. He settled quickly and scored his first paid maximum against a very poor Liverpool 'Chads' side on 23rd May. Unfortunately for Roy this match was iater scrubbed from the records as Liverpool closed down, and even more unfortunately he did not manage another maximum in the colours. He continued to score well, though an injury not only caused him to miss a couple of away matches, but also slowed him down a bit for a few weeks.

He was a very popular character, joining in supporters' events, and he even put on a display of trick cycling on one occasion at Buckhaven. Like many riders he was interested in road racing, and he made the trip to the isle of Man TT races with his mentor Dick Campbell.

After a fine first season in Britain he returned home, again accompanied by Campbell, and although his South African season was blighted by injury he still did well in their National League, riding for Randfontein Aces, a team promoted by Bob Quick who had briefly been a Monarch in 1948. Amongst the highlights of his season was a top-scoring 13 points for a Dominions team against Fred Williams' team in Bulawayo, Rhodesia.

A back injury and a lengthy plane journey delayed his return for the 1954 season in Edinburgh, but again he impressed, and third place (with Don Cuppleditch) in the Scottish Open was an excellent result. Sadly Edinburgh was close to closure and only four National League matches were raced (Bester averaged 8). The final Old Meadowbank meeting of the era was a World Championship round on 10th July, and Bester scored 10 points. Following the closure he went to Leicester, and even though he was a late starter he was the fourth highest scorer in 1954 for the 'Hunters'. There is no doubt that his was still a very promising career, but because of the state of the sport at the time Roy Bester did not return to race again in the UK.

From this distance, he seems in personality and ability to be a kind of fifties' equivalent of Reidar Eide. Whether Bester was really that good, we never did get a chance to find out. Sadly he died on 25/8/92 following a bout of pneumonia.