Brian Cossavella was a friend and mentor to most of the officials and volunteers who keep the name of the World Masters Track Championships held so highly in esteem today. This page was intiated on the 2008 UEC European Track Championships website which Cossavella was in the process of organising when he suddenly passed away at the age of 54. As this site and any event connected to it stands as a testament to everything Brian stood for, we have decided to keep this page as a permanent feature. It will continue to be updated as long as the site continues and anyone wishing to add to it is welcome to.
I am very saddened to hear of the death of my old friend Brian whom I haven't seen for many years!! Brian was involved in and ran the North East Centre of Excellence during the 1980's of which I was fortunate enough to be part of the team during his time of involvement. We shared many great times and trips to events all over the UK and some Continental cyclo cross trips, He was a great man with a fantastic character !!!! Always full of passion and stories for the sport he loved so dearly. He will be sadly missed!! My condolences to any family and close friends.
Kevin Sabiston Edinburgh
I first met Brian in 1992 when we spent two weeks together as a judging team on the Milk Race. We did our job but had a ball doing it! In 1996 when Brian was at the centre of the organisation of the first Manchester World Track Championships we had some fantastic moments. Again in 1997 at the World Table Tennis Championships at Manchesters G-Mex, we worked hard within the organisation and played even harder.
Brian will be remembered by so many for the Masters Worlds which he so ably organised until they went over to Australia last year. Over the final four or five I took some of the weight off him by controlling the entries but Brian remained the face and personality that everyone looked to. Only a week or so back we were talking about getting together to finalise this years programme for the first European Masters Track Championships, and during that conversation I asked him to be my best man at my wedding early in 2009. Over the fifteen or so years we knew each other we became good mates and I'll miss him tremendously
I am deeply shocked and saddened to hear of Brian's untimely death. I had the pleasure of working on many events with him over the years, in particular the Lincoln Grand Prix and the World Masters Track Championships at Manchester Velodrome. Brian was an excellent organiser, and grew "The Masters" from rather humble beginnings to a world class championship. I am sure the whole "Masters family" of competitors and officials will be devastated by his passing.
I first knew Brian back in the 80s when he organised the Cleveland GPs, he had a flair for getting the top riders to a track meeting and giving the crowd what they wanted. Over the years I got to know Brian very well, we shared each others sense of humour and we became good mate. Brian went on to organise various events including the World Masters track championships at Manchester. His work for cycling and the promotion of giving especially track cycling a high profile will be missed. I was so gutted and heart broken when I heard the news. RIP Brian
Dave Le Grys
The loss of Brian at such an early age is a tremendous blow for cycle organisation generally and track racing in particular. Brian was an oustanding ambassador for our great sport and will be sorely missed by all who had the privilege to have known and worked with him. My condolences go to his family and friends.
Colin Mannakee (Fellow National Commissaire & President, Glendene CC/Bike Trax)
I was shocked and saddened to hear of Brian's death. I have known him since 1995, when I first started at the Manchester Velodrome. I had tremendous admiration for Brian's organizational abilities and the high standards he expected of himself and those he worked with. The success of the World Track Masters over so many years now stands as a fitting tribute to his drive and tenacity. On behalf of all the staff here at the Manchester Velodrome, I offer condolences to Brian's friends and colleagues.
Jarl Walsh, General Manager, Manchester Velodrome
To say this is a shock is something of an understatement. I got to know Brian after being asked to work for him on the 1996 Worlds at Manchester and remained part of the Masters family ever since. Never one to worry about upsetting someone get in the way of getting the job done but rarely actually doing it, his singular drive was something to be admired and is one of the reasons why the Masters grew from its humble beginnings to the annual worldwide reunion it turn out to be. I'm sure I speak for all the Masters officials when I say everyone was looking forward to this years first European event.
It would be a pity if we cannot find someone to take over the organisational duties, even if it were for a single event as a tribute to him, although I think his legacy speaks for itself. If it weren't for Brian Cossavella, we may not have World Cups and the Revolution series.
I had the privilege to meet Brian in 1982 at the World Championships In Leicester. After that we became close friends spending many a happy hour over the years sharing a room on the Milk Race, working on the Cleveland Grand Prix, the Junior World Championships in Cleveland in 1990, many Lincoln Grand Prix and the World Masters Championships at Manchester Velodrome.
Bill Tarran rang me today with the sad news and I still can't believe that we've lost such a good friend. The three of us had some great times together. Brian was serious when needed, but happy and fun loving much of the time. Brian's smile and ready humour kept me going on many a hard day. His tales of how he was going to start training again became a standing joke between us. His organisational skills, which were world class, were not just limited to cycling. Table Tennis, gymnastics and athletics are all sports Brian organised at International level and he'll be missed by his many friends in sport throughout the world.
His skills were many, manager for the GB cyclo-cross team on the few occasions we have had world champions and also manager of a major professional team. It didn't end there, Brian was more than willing to get his hands dirty erecting barriers, cleaning bikes and operating photo-finish cameras. He loved anything where he was involved in sport. I am proud to have been one of his friends and will miss the guy.
Gordon Harling, Rochdale
I am so deeply saddened by Brian's death. I considered Brian a good friend and we talked often. I had attempted to orchestrate Brian's bringing the Masters Track World Championships to the United States but unfortunately it fell through. To show the kind of man/promoter Brian was, when I was last at the World Championships in Manchester, the morning of my points race I had the unfortunate mishap of being in a head on car collision. While I was ok, it took most of the day to sort things out and I arrived at the velodrome 10 minutes before race time.
I informed Brian of what happened and he immediately closed the track and gave me 10 minutes of warmup time 'by myself' in order to get ready. There are many other things Brian did for me during the times at Manchester but most of all I will remember his passion for the sport and his willingness to be flexible and extend a helping hand to anyone who needed assistance. Brian will be sorely missed by all.
Billy Thompson, USA
I got to know Brian at Cleveland Grand Prix, his vision for establishing an international cycle meet was in its infancy and you just knew he would go onto establishing bigger and better things, I was fortunate to work with him on many occasions at the World masters as a commissaire, he was always very supportive of new commissaires coming into the sport and always had an encouraging word for fellow officials, riders and supporters of this wonderful sport he so enjoyed. I had some great laughs with him especially at the Tour of the Border stage race in the north east, he could work hard and party hard and certainly drank me under the table on many an occasion. He had a passion for all aspects of cycling and enjoyed the grass track racing at Richmond, he will be sadly missed all over the North East as well as the rest of the world. The world will be an emptier place without his presence. A very sad day for cycle racing, his drive and enthusiasm will be missed. RIP Brian.
Brian's passing was a shock to many of us in the USA. Our interaction with him was typically reserved for the week of the Master's Track World Championship. If not for Brian, the event would likely never have been. In the 15 or so years that it ran in Manchester I made it seven times. If I had known what the future held, my attendance would have been higher. I think we all assumed there would always be a next year so this one could be skipped. Brian created an event run to a far higher standard than any other I have ever attended and he found a way to do it without breaking the bank. It is likely the event would have returned to England after three years in Australia but without Brian who knows what will happen. His event was more important than many might realize. Even on this side of the pond, many of us will mention the event on our tombstones when our time comes.
Mark Rodamaker, twice Master World Champion
It was with a heavy heart that I learned of the death of Brian Cossavella. I've only met the him once, at World Masters Track Cycling Championships in 2006. It was my only visit to the Championships (in England), but what an event! Highly organized, efficiently run by professional and friendly people who I did not get to spend enough time getting to know. It is a tribute to Brian's organizational capabilities that he ran such a highly praised event for such a long time.
Organizers are special people - without them, we, the riders, would have no races to race in, and the fans would have nothing to watch. Brian's events, and my memories of them, are indelible reminders of this. He was a special person, and to track cyclists especially, will be sorely missed, and fondly remembered.
Stephen Hill, US Elite National Kilometer TT Champion 2006 & 2007
How distressing to hear of Brian's untimely death. I knew Brian for more than 40 years. We became friends when we discovered cycling while at school together. I guess that his first venture into organisation was when we founded a cycling club in 1968 at our school, Grangefield Grammar School, Stockton-on-Tees. So he gave much of the subsequent 40 years of his life to cycling in one way or another, beginning with racing, then organising the Cleveland Grand Prix for many years, and on to the many international events for which he was responsible. And also the variety of local events which he organised or helped with, on the road, track and grass track.
It was always a pleasure to meet him again, whether discussing the latest details of his current project or reminiscing over anecdotes of past, or recent, times. His enthusiasm was always infectious. Each time we met he would explain his determination to start riding seriously again, lose some weight and get fit, but always his organising took priority. Brian made a difference to our cycling world, and will be remembered and missed by his many friends across the world.
Hugh Cameron, Manchester
I had the pleasure and honor of knowing Brian for the past 10 years through the Masters World Track Championships, both as a sponsor and competitor. He always stood by his word and was extremely pleasant deal with on all levels. The masters events that he produced were without a doubt the best such events in my opinion ever held for masters. He will be greatly missed by all involved with masters track cycling both as a promoter and as a friend .
Stan Gregg, Seattle
I am very sorry to hear of the this great loss, a sound guy, friend and my manager of the Moducel Pro team in the 80s, we had some good times and more than any thing some BIG laughs travelling all over the UK and Ireland, he will be missed in a very big way.
Steve Joughin (The Pocket Rocket)
I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the death of Brian. I had spoken to him only recently, when his energy and enthusiasm for cycling in general and the masters Europeans in particular, shone through. He was also pretty proud of the riders he was getting in and was generally in great spirits. I had the pleasure of knowing him for only a few years, but his passion for cycling was instantly clear to me and I was most impressed with the patience and time he found for riders. The cycling scene will be very much the poorer without him and he will indeed be very sadly missed.
Sad to hear the news of Brian. I first got to know Brian when he beat me for a prime competing in a Crit. Since then are paths crossed regularly first as competitors then as a rider at his events then later as fellow commissaries & organisers. I always enjoyed the Cleveland GP weekends not just for the racing but it was a great social event as well. Brian's passing will leave a big gap in the sport which will be very hard to fill.
Steve Parsons Scunthorpe
I was shocked to hear of Brian's death this morning from Martin Bridgwood. Over the years that I have been involved with Brian in cycling and other events he has organised, he would always give more than he needed to make sure that the event was a great success. Every year that I would come up from Cornwall to the Masters was an event that the Masters family just rolled up their shirt sleeves and got on with the work in hand. As I sit here and write this tribute I can not come to terms with the shock that when we all meet up again that Brian's happy smiling face will not be there. If we do nothing else we must make sure that the European Masters goes ahead in the memory of a great man who will be missed by us all.
Good night Brian you will always be in my thoughts mate.
Jim Harris (Big Jim)
Yesterday night through Jill Milliner we received the terrible and shocking information about the sudden death of Brian that we knew very well, having partecipated in the World Masters' in Manchester since 2004 together with the Italian National Team and looked forward to come to the European Masters this year.
Brian called me the "swedish italian woman" and we will miss him a lot, because Manchester will never be the same without him! I don't know the right words in english, but we send all our love to Brian!
Agneta Nordgren and Claudio Scabbia together with all riders of Kia Motors Cycling Team, Italy
Graziano Pantosti, Giovanni Alaia, Gianfranco Muscheri, Cristian Bettinelli, Guido Lupo, Mauro Corino, Maurilio Nespoli, Marco Polini
Brian Cossavella was one of my closest friends and we have known each other since 1980. His contribution to sport is immeasurable and his sad and untimely passing has denied us of many more of his thoughts and ideas coming to fruition.
The last time I was with Brian was in January for the World Masters' Cyclo Cross Championships. Brian joined Sheila and me for our annual pilgrimage to Mol in Belgium where Philippe Marienne again provided a superb event. Brian was his usual self, full of enthusiasm for the sport, taking pictures for his new web site, chatting to riders, doing medal presentations and enjoying a glass or two of the sponsors' product. Who could ever have had such a nightmare of a dream to think that just one month later we would no longer hear his voice on the end of a telephone nor the ping of an email with his latest plans.
Brian is best known lately for organising and developing the World Masters Track Championships, held in Manchester from 1995 through to 2006, but this followed on from the superb Cleveland Grand Prix track series at the Clairville Stadium in Middlesbrough. Each year Brian managed to bring in some foreign stars to ride against the best of the home based trackies and they were superb events, despite the track size and the shallow bankings of the 455 metre velodrome.
Brian's enthusiasm led to him being in charge of the competitors' village at the 1982 World Track Championships when Leicester?s hard wood boards again provided the setting for the event, the first time back in 1970. This led on to the UCI awarding the World Junior Cycling Championships to Middlesbrough for 1990 where Brian organised superb road and track events having joined me on visits to previous junior championships in Bergamo, Italy in 1987 and Odense, Denmark in 1988.
The new Manchester Velodrome opened in 1994 and in 1995 Brian promoted the first indoor National Track Championships in July followed by the 5th round of the UCI World Track Cup series in August, then the inaugural World Masters in September and a major international track meeting in November the same year. Four major events inside five months was no mean achievement.
The UCI were a bit reluctant at first to endorse Masters Championships but the success of Manchester, the road events in St Johann and the cyclo-cross in Mol changed things and they all became official championships in 1997. Probably his greatest challenge was to take on the organising of the 1996 World Track Championships at short notice but Brian rose to the occasion and set the standard for others to follow.
To list all of Brian's achievements would take many pages of this web site as I could go on about the North East Centre of Excellence, managing professional teams, cyclo cross national team manager, World Table Tennis Championships, Gymnastics Championships, and his current work with The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, with work on drug testing with UK Sport thrown in for good measure. He also found time to be one of my main officials at the Lincoln Grand Prix each year.
It is said that when you throw a stone in a pond, the effect only lasts as long as the ripples, but in Brian's case these ripples will go on forever and be a lasting monument to a great guy. We'll all miss you Brian.
Ian Emmerson OBE, President BCF, 1985 - 1995
Brian is going to be a massive loss to our sport & others. I have known him from when we raced as schoolboys in the Teesside Clarion, he had such passion for it. The events & international riders he got to come to Cleveland alone was staggering. ( Junior Worlds, Cleveland Grand Prix, Cyclo Cross events ) all with World & European champions riding them. He was very passionate about keeping the Richmond Grass meeting going. The Sponsors he got were endless.
When he got the Centre of Excellence Job he brought in top professional riders in like Sid Barras to coach the young riders. Not only did he promote cycling, but also organised international table tennis tournaments, together with fund raising for the Guide Dogs Association.
I can remember a couple of humorous things that we only just recently reminisced about, firstly the time his mum went for me with her hand bag at the Richmond Meet because I had sat on him and outsprinted him at the end of the 5 mile championship, but my mum got the upper hand. At the time serious, but now great memories. The other occasion was the Dutch National track team he brought over to ride Cleveland Grand Prix & Hartlepool C.C. Circuit Race. In the Hartlepool event they attacked from the start and I can remember Ray Weatherall saying to me, we'll have them back shortly they are only a twin town team, how wrong that statement was, they lapped the field three times, and went on to become World & European champions in many disciplines.
Loosing events and courses like we are is terrible, but to loose a promoter like Brian is to large to comprehend.
Your Good Friend. Stuart
I am very sorry to hear of the death of Brian Cossavella, a friend whom I met during the World Championships in Manchester for 3 consecutive years, He was a great guy and I am sure he will be sadly missed by the cycling community.
I'm shocked and saddened to hear of Brian's premature departure from us. I first met Brian in the late 1980s when I was a junior member of the North East Centre of Excellence which Brian was running. The Centre weekend training camps were always well organised and good fun, unless you were being half-wheeled by Sid Barras, who Brian brought in especially to show up and coming riders what made a 'proper bike rider'. I was also fortunate enough to witness Brian's excellent organisation and promotion skills when riding the Junior Worlds at Cleveland and various Cleveland GPs. Getting the Junior Worlds as a real coup at the time and testament to Brian's networking and persuasive abilities. What I remember most about Brian, however, was that he was always very supportive and encouraging to all his riders and he always tried to do the right thing for them.
I think that everyone who ever met Brian will have been touched by his endless energy and passion for whatever he did. One of the great characters of the sport, who will be sorely missed.
It won't be the same without Brian.
I was saddened and deeply shocked to hear of the early passing of Brian Cossavella who I had the pleasure to work with when he was the GB Cyclo Cross Team Manager in the early nineties. There were many memorable times spent with him, but the highlight for me was the year that Roger Hammond won the Junior Cyclo Cross World Championship at Leeds which Brian managed expertly, and his organisational ability and attention to detail, coupled with his enthusiasm and passion for the cause were motivating to all involved in the team during this period, and I'm sure, a major contribution to the victory of a Brit on home soil.
He had high expectations of himself and the team, and everyone had to raise their game to be part of the squad he created, but he did everything with the rider's performance and well-being as his sole focus, and managed with a style that is now the norm within Team GB, but he was years ahead of his time. I'll miss him.....
So sad to hear about Brian Cossavella.We worked together on many events when I was GB Team Manager both on road & cyclo cross, always a pleasure being in his company. British Cycling have lost a great contributor and a hard worker to replace. Will be missed by many.
I have the pleasure of working with Brian - who was a Hartlepool CC Past President and committee member - for many years when he was Team manager to the GB Cyclo-Cross team. How strange that we should then find ourselves as members of our old club - the Hartlepool C.C. Brian's organising and commercial skills were legendary and if he had chosen to direct his energies into business and not the love of his life - Cycling - there can be little doubt he would have been a captain of industry. As it happened, he was working for Cycle Sport with minimal regard for the enormous demands this made upon him. Brian's knowledge of all branches of the sport was literally phenomenal. Likewise his worldwide contacts with people of all persuasions - the great and the good. He lived for Cycling and I rather think he died with that word on his lips. Perhaps our most memorable time together was when he was Team Manager at Leeds when Roger Hammond won the World Junior Cyclo-Cross Championships, and regardless of the drama prevailing around him, he always showed good humour, patience and concern for those around him. Brian - you will not be forgotten. Rest assured.
Lewis Hall, former Director of Coaching, BCF and B.C-C.A.
Not only am I saddened by the news of Brian's passing, but it's sad that we don't tell the people that have touched us in a positive way how much they mean to us. Brian had a passion for the sport like no other and did a great job leading the large number of volunteers at the Masters World Track Championships. He made all the visiting athletes feel special. Through his excellent e-mail communication I felt welcomed by Brian before I even got to Manchester in 1999. I had such a good time, and loved the competition so much that I returned in 2001, 2003 and 2005. Thankfully I got to know Brian a bit more each and every year. I'm thankful that my last memory of Brian was our talking about cycling over a Guiness. I will miss Brian.
The terrible news of Brian's passing was passed to me by another great character 'Big Jim' who I had the pleasure of working with in Manchester at The world table tennis championship. I shared the somewhat dubious pleasure of being a fellow Newcastle United supporter with Brian and the pasion he showed for The Toon was a true reflection of his character. Brian, Jim and I had some very memorable good times in Manchester and elsewhere and continued to meet up years after. I can't go without sharing with you the time I was in a severe financial difficult situation and had to raise £800 quickly, well Brian heard of my predicament and the next day he just handed me the £800 and said ' pay me when you can mate'............ I had known Brian for THREE DAYS!....I don't think I need to say anymore. An absolute honour to have known you Bri.
Kev & Sarah Morrissey
I am sorry to hear of the news of Brian's death. I knew Brian through been a presentation girl for the World Masters Track Champs, he was a super guy and very easy to get along with and he will be sadley missed by all. Rest in peace Brian with love from Bethany Wood and Family.
I have known Brian Cossavella for many years and remember racing against him in the promenade criteriums at Morecambe and Blackpool, back in the seventies. In more recent years he has been one of our most prolific and professional promoters, organising a very competent World Junior Road and Track Championships at Cleveland in 1990, then taking on the World Masters' Track Championships for a decade at Manchester Velodrome, always producing an event organised to impeccable standards. Brian was one of the great characters of our sport, and his loss at such an early age is both unexpected and shocking. He will be sorely missed and I extend my condolences to his family and friends.
Brian Cookson, British Cycling President
I am shocked and very, very much saddened to hear the news of Brian’s passing. Brian was a very genuine, thoughtful, kind and efficient man. Every session of the World Masters were begun with his theme song. I asked Brian about it and he told me it was one of his favorites. It was called “Garden Party” by an ’80’s Icelandic jazz band named Mezzo Forte. If any of you can find the song, listen to it and it will bring back many fond memories of all the wonderful times in Manchester for the “Brian Cossevella Masters World Track Championships”. A very good friend of mine once told me that all the traveling and racing we do is really about the memories. Brian provided many of the best memories of my life. Thank you Brian…….you will be missed.
Ian Emmerson called me yesterday about this terrible news, I'm just speachless.
I remain in a state of shock and disbelief following the tragic news on Monday morning of Brian's sudden death. I work at the same Guide Dogs office as Brian and still expect him to walk in the door at any minute with a cheery smile and a bacon butty in his hand!
I have been amazed by the number of tributes posted, and it is so touching to read how well thought of Brian was and so obviously held in high-esteem within the Cycling Association. Goodnight, God Bless Brian - you will be very sadly missed.
Pam Marquis-Andrew (Guide Dogs for the Blind)
I heard the news with disbelief. I have only known Brian for a few years through his work with UK Sport on antidoping. We have had many conversations about cycling and all sorts, and I came to hold him in high regard. I was actually with him until about 10.30 on the night before he died, and he was his usual effervescent self, looking forward to getting out on his bike next day. He will be missed by all who had the plaesure of knowing him.
Bob Norton, Chairman Congleton Cycling Club
I went to Grangefield Grammar School with Brian up until 1972. We were friends and used to cycle to Saltburn and back, but I could never keep up with him! After that we would probably bump into each other twice a month, and he went to my wedding. I haven't seen him for 15 years or so and was deeply saddened to find ot that he had passed away. He was the nicest person anyone could ever meet and didn't have 1oz of badness in him.
When you are confronted with the stark reality that Coss is dead it takes a while for it to sink in. You think of the laughs, the events, the “Wy aye” on the phone and the fact that everyone knew him.
We did not meet through track racing but through Cyclo-Cross at the BC-CA AGM in the late 1970’s. We had spoken on the phone as we were both having a minor difficulty with the BC-CA over our respective events. Later we discovered that we both had had the same reaction “I thought he was older than that”, in fact there was not quite a year in our age difference, but from that start we developed a friendship that lasted nearly 30 years.
I next saw Coss in 1982 at the World Track Championships in Leicester, though to be truthful it was not at Saffron Lane where he was locked in a tent, it was in the Granby Halls where the party happened after close of racing or the abandonment due to rain, whichever came first. People remember his efficiency in running the team quarters but he had more than a small hand in the kidnap of the World Amateur Sprint Champion. In fairness Kopylov was a very willing participant in escaping from his minders and to watch the World Champion with a cigar in one hand and a pint in another was a great sight. Both Coss and I were on early duty the next day and who was at the track before we were, Kopylov.
Also Coss had the distinct honour of ejecting Benny Foster from the Team Quarters with very little ceremony. "Rudest man I ever met" said Benny, but "Were you supposed to be there?" I asked. "No but that is not the point!!!!!" We all had a chuckle about that one
We saw each other over the next 4 years and I ended up as Chief Commissaire at the Cleveland GP Track Meeting. It was at those meetings and the Europa Cup which was also run at Clairville Stadium that we cemented our friendship. It became deep and abiding. In all of those meetings, all the officials sought to give the Promoter the meeting he sought. Slick, action packed and exciting.
Who else but Coss could arrange for World Champions to give and 8 year old rider in the Freewheelers Races a push? Or see the fantastic Beligan sprinter Eric Schofs running behind a youngster pushing and encouraging. How many of those riders are in the Sport today? I know some are but even the ones who only stayed for one year have their memories of those glorious days in the sun which, like mine, will last forever.
In 1988 putting him as the Commissaire Presidents Driver and me as No 2 Commissaire and compounding the problem but rooming us together in the Milk Race was not the best idea Brian Elliott ever came up with. On the first day Arthur Pickburn gave us our expenses in the posh Hotel in Wembley telling us it was to last us 2 weeks. Memory serves that it lasted 3 days!!!
What a fortnight! Culminating in Coss and I bribing the wine waiter at the Banquet in Lincoln to leave the bottles of wine on our table. Memories are a bit hazy but 3 litre bottles of wine were procured from our very own waiter, Mike Borman the grass track champion!!!
After the success of the Europa and European Cup events, Coss and Ian Emmerson came up with this brilliant idea. Lets run the Junior Worlds in Middlesborough. Would I be the Track Director as Gordon Harling was to do the Road Events. Well YES was the only real answer I could give. SO started a bit of elastic that went to Middlesborough and back. I am not sure if Xerox knew how many problem machines they had in CLeveland, but I certainly fixed them all eventually.
Not everything went as smoothly as we would have hoped. The starting gates, the standstill in the sprint and the tragic death of Arvid Gelsetzer to name but three. However, overall it was a real great event. Everyone, except the lady from Cleveland County Council who wanted to cancel the event a year before it took place to “Save money” was well pleased with things.
Me, I just remember the glorious weather, handing the President of FIAC a .38 revolver to start the Women’s Road Race and asking him if he had ever fired a real gun before – what with him being a General in the Soviet Army – and standing behind my car at the end of the Men’s Road Race with Gordy and Coss and opening the cool box I had in the boot of my car and drinking a toast of ice cold lager with two of my best mates asking the age old question “Did we really get away with that then?”
Move forward to Cleveland 1995. Emmo approaches me and asks me if I am busy for the next couple of months. Due to a number of reasons Manchester Velodrome will open soon and there is no organisation team in place to run the Nationals, World Cup, World Masters Challenge and the November 6 Nations International. In less than 5 months and from scratch.
History shows that we did it. I have never been able to work our how or why, but we did. Personally I put it down to the Junior Worlds experience, our favourite friend Stella and an abundance of insomnia.
The most pleasing of all of these events was naturally the Masters. We agreed from the start that these would be the friendliest championships that ever existed. “The answer is yes, now what is the question” was the unofficial slogan for the event. We even took entries up to 10 minutes before the start of an event and for time trials I even included a rider who entered after the start of the event, but before the last heat; but that is another story.
Emmo and the Masters Commission help by letting us run the event in a proper way and by getting us a President Commissaire who had a feel for the event. The number of riders who returned year after year is astonishing. For me, the thing that made the Masters was the attitude of the competitors. Ride hard, play hard and do not bitch.
The Sunday Night After Championship Party with the left hand rule, Legro, the US Team, the Aussies and the boat race was something else.
1996 saw what was, in my view, Coss’s finest hour; The Worlds in Manchester. We all remember that event for many, many reasons but didn’t he do well.
The Masters was later that year and the highlight was Chris Boardman and the Hour record. The only question I have is “How many people were there actually in the Velodrome on that Friday Night?”
Of course there were other events. Richmond Grass Track was one and him asking me and Derek to help with the team at the World Cyclo Cross Championship in Geiten when he was Team Manager was another.
Derek was the Landlord of the Wellington in Middlesbrough City Centre and mine host for the nightly transference of the Permanence from the Hostility Hotel to the Saloon Bar of “The Boot” each night during the Junior Worlds. Beer and Lager were £1 a pint when we had the nightly review of the days events. No matter what time we finished we always made it for the first event of the day Breakfast at 7.00.
Somewhere there is a photo of Coss with his feet in a plastic bowl of ice with a pint in his hand - fast asleep
Things moved on and by the late 1990’s I was beginning to get seriously involved in the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games and at the end of 2000 Coss and I parted as an organisational team. The reasons are between him and me but we still remained friends. I had already started taking the organisation role at the NTC’s but Coss was always a welcome visitor. Many times he would come to the Championships “for the day” and stay for two.
In the meantime he had started his work for Guide Dogs for the Blind or as he aptly put it one night after talking with our favourite friend Stella “Blind Dogs for the Guides”. Only they know how successful he was in raising money, but even if he was half as good at it as organising Bike Races they would be well pleased.
There was another side to him as well. His love affair with Newcastle United, his interest in Motor Racing and his passion for Rugby which he took to when his step son started playing, all of which helped make him a man who could talk intelligently about many sports and with real passion about others. I will miss the phone call when Spurs play Newcastle when one of us had the bragging rights till the next match.
The Masters has now moved to Australia and Coss was working for 2 years to get a commitment from the ECU to run the European Masters in Manchester. I spoke to him only 2 weeks ago about that event and other matters. It is strange but you never realise it would be the last phone call.
Of course we had some fun, some rows and some successes but I would swap them all to see “COSS MOB” appear on my phone again and hear “How’s it going?”.
Sleep well Marra.
I first met Brian in 1978, when I started working for Cleveland County Council's Leisure Services Department in Middlesbrough. Although he worked in the sports section and my responsibilities were elsewhere, the department was small and we regularly helped each other out when staffing events. And so I was introduced to the delights of international table tennis, athletics, and of course, cycling.
Brian became a personal friend as well as a work colleague, and I seriously doubt that I would be working in cycling today if our paths hadn't crossed. His dedication towards making events happen went way beyond the normal expected duties of a local authority employee. He had a way of making colleagues, whether fellow employees or volunteers, feel valued members of the team and got the best out of everybody. The growing profile of the annual Cleveland Grand prix throughout the 1980s culminated in the staging in 1990 of the World Junior Road and Track Championships in Cleveland, an event he steered expertly through many poltical difficulties as the climate of local government changed dramatically over the lead in time. I still can't believe that the entire dual carriageway system of the county was closed down in both directions for six hours to stage the time trial event, but that was typical of his philosophy - if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well.
Somehow, Brian also found time to contribute to cycling in other ways outside the "day job". He was cyclo-cross interntional racing secretary, and then team manager of the GB 'cross team; manager of a number of British professional teams in the 1980s, including the Sid Barras/Steve Joughin led Moducel outfit who were top GB team in 1986, and manager of the North East Cycling Centre of Excellence in the late 1980s.
Over the last few years, I've had cause to mark the passing of a number of "elder statemen" of the sport, but nothing has shocked me as much as the sudden pasing of Brian, who was separated from me in age by only a few months. As others have commented, he worked hard and played hard, and packed more into 54 years than most of us could into two or more lifetimes. He'll be very sadly missed.
Brian Furness, British Cycling
Brian, and the team around him, changed people's lives. In 1999 Anne Stevens was the mother of a rider in my club, and had never raced before other than a few club 10s. Anne however was looking for some thing to focus her life on on to get her through chemotherapy following breast cancer. The World Masters did it. The whole atmosphere set Anne on fire and, by the following year, she was getting medals and ultimately Gold. What a transformation from being at the bottom of the blackest hole to top of the world in just 3 years, and entirely due to Brian's magnificent series of Championships.Tina Turner got it exactly right: 'Simply the best' Alan McRae, Bournemouth Arrow CC
Since finding out about the death of Brian on Monday evening it has taken me this long to be able to write this. He will be missed more than he will ever know. Brian was my great friends for over 40 years. For many years we were inseparable, travelling all over the country racing and especially at the Isle of Man where Brian got placings in many races. We also holidayed abroad for many years when we were young, free and single.
He was always full of life with a smile on his face. In 1983 Brian was best man at my wedding where he did a great job. We lost contact for a few years where Brian put everything into his work (Track Championships etc) and I brought up my family. Over the last few years we became great friends again and got Brian to get back out on his bike (blow the cobwebs off his retro machine) and was really enjoying our training sessions.
He had got his life back on track and was looking forward to and making plans for the future and new challenges (European Masters), and even got his eye on a new bike for the summer. Brian will be irreplaceable in my life and many others. There will only ever be one Brian Cossavella.
C'est avec une grande peine, que je viens d'apprendre la disparition de brian. c'etait un super mec, qui vivait sa passion a 200 a l'heure, un super organisateur de championnat.
On dit en France, que les meilleurs partent toujours les 1er, c'est encore le cas aujourd'hui...
Mes condoleances a ses proches et a sa famille.
President de l'acmea-credit agricole
My heart sank and tears came to my eyes when I read of the news of Brian's passing. Brian and I had became friends via email as he was seeking support to organize the Master's World Championships in the US one day. His passion for track cycling was evident as we shared ideas, hopes, and dreams. He would joke, I owe you a glass of wine for that idea. The glass became a case as we promised one day to meet in person. That day came at last year's David Rayner dinner and share a glass of wine we did as well as the excitement for the up coming European Master's Championships. My condolences to his family and friends.
Kathy Walter, former Alkek Velodrome Manager
Brian and I go back a long way, some 30 years. As an organiser, I know the effort and work that Brian put in to promote top class events. I was proud to be an official at his World Junior Championships back in 1990, who can forget them ! We will miss you Brian. I personally will miss you as a very good friend.
John Oxnard - Newcastle on Tyne
I was shocked and saddened to hear of the untimely death of Brian Cossavella. Margaret and I owe Brian a great debt of gratitude. Because of him we got to work on the Juniour World Track championships; for years we became part of the team at the Middlesbrough Grand Prix with its' Thousand Pounds first prize for the 500 metre handicap. Marathons, criteriums, cyclo-cross, mountain biking, road races, even radio controlled car races all came our way thanks to Brian.
At many of these events we enjoyed the company of Brian's parents, Doug and Mary, who along with Brian's seemingly ever expanding circle of friends made our visits to the North East eagerly anticipated and fun in the performance.
Over nearly thirty years, Doug, Mary and many of the originals have passed on but still the fun, commitment and buzz continued to surround Brian. We got as much from the lovely Richmond grass meeting as we did from the international fixtures.
Because of the considerable practical support Brian was able to give us, we were able to research, establish and administer the National Sprint Handicap Register, thereby obtaining the confidence of riders and promoters nationwide, in advancing an important branch of our sport that had been allowed to decline.
It is hard to accept that we will never again gather together with Brian before and after one of his events, demolishing peppered steaks, consuming dangerous amounts of refreshment, while the table rocked to silly jokes and improbable stories.
The sport and the lives of those that knew Brian are diminished by his death; our memories are enriched by his life.
Roger and Margaret Shayes
The members of the Richmond Meet Organisation and the Richmond Cycling Club were all deeply shocked to learn of Brian's passing. As noted elsewhere and despite going onto greater things, the Richmond Cyclists' Meet and the Grass Track in particular always remained close to Brian's heart.
I personally only knew Brian for a couple of years since he guided myself and my colleagues onto the straight and narrow towards the successful renaissance of the Richmond Cyclists' Meet. We rapidly realised his knowledge and experience in organisational matters were undoubtedly second to none and it was a great comfort to us knowing that he was always just a phone call away.
Arthur Caygill and I attended his funeral yesterday and it was both a moving and fitting tribute to see the church filled to beyond capacity, including so many key friends and colleagues from the cycling world.
Only recently I passed Brian out on the roads near Yarm, with the sun on his back and a smile (or was it a grimace ?) on his face, on this occasion doing what he loved on two wheels rather behind the wheel of his beloved TVR.
I feel privileged to have known Brian even relatively briefly and the cycling world is a poorer place for his loss, not only as a technical asset but also as a great character.
Geoff Lloyd, Secretary, Richmond Cycling Club
I think it was Oscar Levant, concert pianist, who said on the death of his close friend George Gerswin at an early age; "If I don't want to believe it, I won't." But alas, we know that we can't kid ourselves that Brian hasn't really gone. It's all too true unfortunately. It hurts to think about it. We shall miss you greatly Brian.
I worked with Brian when we had part time jobs at Tingles Garage, Stockton in 1975/6. I went off to Kenya and haven't seen Brian since but have never forgotten his sparkling teethy smile driving to night clubs with him in his orange MGB GT. He used to set circuit training up for us at Clairville Stadium to see me suffer. A weekend in Morecambe sharing a room with him and Mark Fenton. Their bikes on the roof of my car and racing on the promenade. He never did get me on a bike but the good memories of him will always be with me. A great shock.
Brian Deehan, East Yorkshire
How suddenly you left us. Ian's call to tell me you past away was a real cold shower. We had some good fun last January in Mol at the World Masters CX, event which you attended to each year again, together with my other two good British friends Ian and Mrs.E. We had some good Duvels, good food, good chat?. I remember how you were dedicated to the Masters events, track in particular; but also cycling in general. (maybe your Italian roots ?) I was overwhelmed when I got the first time to Manchester as Chief : good organisation, good atmosphere, very good team! How on Sunday we went to Mick Hucknalls pub down town Manchester, how we both got listened to Smooth FM. Do you remember my 40th Birthday Party?? All good memories, to cherish. I'm sorry I could not make it today to join your relatives and friends, but in my thought I'm with all of you ! Sleep well my good friend, we all will miss you, particularly in Mol next January?
I keep reading the page and cannot believe this great man with so much enthusiasm and passion is no longer with us. Brian was a terrific character and a brilliant team manager and motivator. He was one of a few who belived in me when I came back to cyclo cross and became the oldest member of the National Squad. We spent many hours on racing trips talking about how great some cross riders could be if they tried, and the culmination of his efforts was seeing Roger Hammond win the Junior Worlds at Leeds. I am lost for a final quote or words. Happy memeories Brian.
Martin Eadon (Former National Cyclo Cross Coach/Manager and Squad member)
It was only today, 7th April, by email that I was informed of Brian's untimely death.
I didn't know Brian all that well, only having met him once at Manchester, but I knew of him and his magnificent work. I would like to add my belated condolences to his family and to all British cyclists, there are 'few' like Brian and this is a great loss to everyone.
Graham Webb, world amateur road champion 1967.
I was deeply touched when I heard that Brian Cossavella passed away. I have participated to 4 World Master Championship under his organisation. And these events were always well organised and convivial.
My deepest sympathy to his family.
Gerard Louis Robert (6 times world master champion) From Montréal
It is with a great feeling of sadness that I have just heard of the untimely passing of Brian. I did not know him well, having briefly met him in 2001 when I first competed in the World Masters Track Cycling Championships. I attended the World Masters again in 2003, and maintain that these events were the best organized events that I have taken part in, and are the standard to which all such events should aspire.
The many tributes to Brian are an indication of his popularity, and he will obviously be missed by a great many people. My condolences to all who were close to him.
Ron Boyle Australia
It is with great sadness that I send this tribute to a great man. I had only met Brian in recent years, at the World Masters Champs, where I was proud to be a masseur for all involved. He was a special individual who had a kind word for everyone, giving up his own time endlessly for others, in order for great events to flourish. The European Masters MUST go ahead in his honour. My husband Doug, first met Brian in 1992 at the Europa Cup in Middlesborough and shares my sadness. You will be sadly missed Brian, rest in peace.
Pam and Doug Pinkerton - Halesowen Cycling Club
Brian Cossavella was a very good friend of my mum and I , we are both shocked and saddenned by the news of his death. He was a friendly and very popular guy in Yarm and had a great sense of humour. Everyone knew Brain. We did the Great North Run a few years ago , We did months of training, Brain did none, yet he still manged to come quite a way in front of us and we found him having a pint of beer outside a pub at the end of the race. He will be greatly missed, he was such a fantastic, kind hearted person.
Denise & Sam Watson