Des Collins: A Personal Tribute

Des Collins put more in to road racing in the Island than most people are aware of. In a wonderful, personal tribute, Ronnie Russell paints a picture of an exceptional man…

From left: Des, Ronnie and Hector Neill.

I first met Des when I was 19/20 back in 1973/4, which is more than half Des’s lifetime. We started out with me buying my first racing bike (Belfast Telegraph Yamsel) from him and since then Des became my sponsor, employer, mentor, confidant, financial advisor, attorney, partner and above all my great friend. As I lost my parents when I was young, I often turned to Des for sound advice, words of wisdom and inspiration in all manner of things.

Des always had an amazing knack of conversation and would have great rapport with whoever he was talking to whether it was a two-year-old or a 100-year-old, he told great and interesting stories with great humour. Des never raced but I felt he kind of rode pillion with many of his riders and he relished them telling their race stories.

His favourite race was the MGP which his riders won four times as opposed to the TT saying: “It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond” but he loved all races and had an uncanny knack of knowing the form of riders and their results.

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