I've written several pieces on past club members, one on DHBC club founder JC 'Charlie' Paris (1879-1950), another on Edward 'Ted' Pink a DHBC foundation member and lastly on both Claude (1919-82) and Sonia Heathcote (1921-2008) who led the club after Charlie Paris died in 1950 until the late 80s.
All these members were pretty senior. They were largely adults who took leading roles in the club, however there is a key element to the DHBC of old which has been forgotten. The old DHBC is nothing like what it is today. Today MAMILs and MAWILs dominate. However before the 1970s, it's membership was largely made up of children and the DHBC acted as mentors for young boys (and sometimes girls) of the local area. Along with Charlie Paris (from 1908 to 1950) and later the Heathcotes (early 1940s to late 80s), these senior club members took many boys and girls under their wing, trained them, encouraged them and provided social support, kindness and a close social network. Other club members who took on this role was Roy Wolstenholme (d.2004) and Roy Stills (d. c.1995).
One good example of one of these child DHBC members is none other than our very own Mick Mazza. Many of us see him when he 'visits' us at the Marrickville Square at about 6.30am before each ride. He is also a regular on Marrickville Road, Marrickville and is a social fixture in the local area.
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Mick visiting members just before a ride in the wee hours of the morning, 26th January 2017. Left to right: unknown, Stuart H, Mick Mazza, Marc R (me) and Rob
Mick Mazza has been part of the DHBC for most of his life. He still regards the club as his family and his home is a living shrine to the club with photos, letters and prizes adorning his sitting room. Mick first joined the club in around 1956 aged 16 or 17 years. By 1960 Mick was acting as the club's Publicity Secretary from 1960 to 1975. Between 1975 and 1982, due to desperately falling club membership numbers, meetings and AGMs were not held, but club rides, training and competitions continued under the tutelage of the Heathcotes. When meetings resumed in 1982 Mick was again part of the committee and remained so until at least 2005 - in excess of 45 years on the DHBC executive committee.
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Mick in full regalia back in his heyday in the early 1960s.
Mick Mazza was born in 1939 in Wagga Wagga, NSW. His parents were from south Italy and came to Australia in the 1930s settling in Wagga where they ran a fruit shop. Mick has a younger brother and a sister. By 1943, aged just 4, the family moved to Sydney where by the early 1950s they settled in Marrickville. A few years later they settled in his present home at Calvert Ave, Marrickville. Mick first joined the club in 1956 aged just 17 and stayed on for about 2 years. During that time he was mentored by long term DHBC exec committee members Roy Wolstenholme and Roy Stills. However due to unforeseen personal circumstances, Mick let his membership lapse in 1959 but rejoined again in 1960.
Immediately after rejoining in 1960, the now 21 year old joined the DHBC exec committee and was elected to the position of Publicity Officer. He said he took on this role largely because he could draw and composed little publicity 'cartoons' which were published in the local papers to drum up club membership numbers. He said the club back then had a good comraderie. He held this position for at least 45 years, although there were times in the 70s, 80s and maybe 90s where he took on other roles. He stayed in the committee to at least 2005, maybe later.
He claimed to have won trophies mainly from track events held at the Henson Park track. They wold train Monday, race on Wednesday, race at the Wiley Park velodrome on Thursday and Saturday, and on Sunday they race at Lidcombe. He said he raced for the first time in the Goulburn to Sydney race in the early 1960s. About 9 DHBC riders did this race annually. Mick rode it about 15 times. The club would also do training rides; they'd take a bus to Goulburn and then ride to Camden. He was not a fan of aluminium cranks and very much preferred good old steel cranks any day. He claimed aluminium breaks too easy! Mick also strongly believed in weight/gym training and said doing so improved one's cycling ability 100%. He made a point of highlighting these 2 points whenever he met DHBC club members.
Mick was an active club competitor (track and road) taking part in the annual Goulburn to Sydney race from the early 1960s riding in this annual event at least 15 times. As the long serving Publicity Officer, he also participated in club social events and was a regular drumming up publicity while doing the rounds on the club 6-person tandem up and down Marrickville Road in the 1960s. This same 6-person tandem was used in various state events including the NSW Waratah Festival and even the infamous 1966 welcome parade for US president Lyndon Barry Johnson. Unfortunately for Pres. Johnson and then PM Harold Holt, this event also coincided with the Australian anti-Vietnam war protest marches. Mick steered the tandem at this event as was told by a policeman to 'ride over' the protesters. Mick is still upset by this and refused the invitation. Minutes later the front fork of the tandem collapsed.
According to Mick it was Claude Heathcote's idea to set up the 6 person tandem after they found it in Ashfield (near Knocklayde Ave) around 1959. It was originally used at the start of the track season in Nov, Dec and January of each year for publicity purposes. It was ridden up and down Marrickville Road, Marrickville, to drum up publicity for the club. Apparent it worked and people use to join the club after seeing the tandem.
Mick held Claude Heathcote in high regard and said he was quiet about his terminal cancer which eventually killed him in 1982.
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Mick steering with 5 other DHBC riders welcoming US President Lyndon Barry Johnson on the 22 Oct 1966. Right to Left: Mick Mazza, Roy Wolstenholme, Phil Sheedy, rest unidentified.
Mick Mazza opened a bicycle shop in the early 1960s in Illawara Road, Marrickville (near to M'ville Station) and
stayed at this location for 28 years. His rent was 25 pounds. He moved to Marrickville Road (a couple of shops down from the Town Hall) but due to high rent demanded by his landlord was forced to reluctantly close in 2011 after 12 years.
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Mick's business card, c. 2010
Mick was awarded Marrickville Council's 'Citizen of the Year' award in 2003 and his business awarded the 2005 Community Business Award. At the 2017 DHBC AGM, a club Life Membership award was granted to Mick Mazza. On the 4 Nov 2017, members of the DHBC 'Valley Wheelers' visited Mick at the Balmain Hospital to present him with the award.
Video of presentation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EShSBQaA2TU
Mr Mazza is surely a DHBC club icon and needs to be recognised as one of it's heroes.
(This info was taken from an interview with Mick Mazza by Marc Rerceretnam on 19 Sept 2016)
Around Sept 2017 Mick was hit by a car in a local Council carpark in Illawara Rd. He fell hard and was consequently hurt quite badly. He was admitted to hospital. After a short stay he returned home but found he was unable to move around as freely as he use to. He had another fall at home and was hospitalised at Balmain Hospital in Oct/Nov 2017. He was reassessed by social workers and now determined he had to be transferred to a retirement village permanently. By March 2018 club members had lost contact with him, but with the help of a kind Balmain Hospital staffer put us in touch with his younger sister Lina. Lina told us he had been transferred to a retirement village in Greystanes. On 17 March 2018, a group of DHBC Valley Wheelers visited him, and also met his sister Lina.
On Sat 28 April 2018, we got word that Mick had passed away at 10am that morning at Westmead Hospital. He had Pneumonia and had been sick for quite some time.