IMAGINE a football match where you are tasked with marking Lionel Messi, play a three-ball round of golf with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy or face Jimmy Anderson steaming in with a new ball from the Kirkstall Lane End.

There are very few events left in the world where the average person in the street can compete against the world’s best, on equal terms, yet for more than 100 years, every autumn, a combination of 200 aspiring young rookies, experienced clubmen and the odd journeyman assemble in the Richmondshire countryside to do battle with the sport’s elite – with the occasional world champion thrown in.

The Scott Trial is one such place where all you need to take on 12-time world champion Dougie Lampkin is a decent trials machine (£3,000 will do it), some protective gear (another £500), an ACU licence and the £40 entry fee. Plus, an ability to ride effortlessly through rocky streams, up almost vertical cliff faces and through man-devouring bogs over 80 miles without putting your foot down, It takes a special person.

The event began in 1914 when Alfred Scott, inventor and founder of the Scott Motorcycle Company challenged the workers at his factory to ride from the factory in Shipley through the Yorkshire Dales to Burnsall near Grassington. Of the 14 starters only nine finished. The event was reintroduced after the First World War in 1919 and although Alfred Scott died in 1923, the event continued to be run by the Scott workers until 1926.

Bradford & DMC took over and held The Scott around Blubberhouses until 1938 when the permission to use the land was withdrawn meaning that a new home at Swainby was found for the immediate years after the Second World War. A reorganisation of boundaries by the ACU in 1950 saw a switch to Swaledale under the auspices of Darlington & DMC until 1990 when current custodians Richmond & DMC took over and continue to put on a wonderful event which has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for local charities.

One of the most significant events was in 1971 when Yorkshireman Malcolm Rathmell got his hands on the Alfred Scott Memorial Trophy for the first time. Belfast legend Sammy Miller had taken victory on the moors around Swaledale and Arkengarthdale for the previous four years on his Spanish Bultaco, which had ended the British machine domination, but he was an absentee in 1971.

Rathmell, from Otley, had switched from motocross the year previously and had been drafted into the works Bultaco squad to continue the development of their revolutionary new bikes.

Starting at number 185 out of the 186 entrants, which later became recognised as the most favourable due to later numbers giving competitors the best chance to set Standard Time and also (allegedly) having an easier route through the sections due to earlier riders clearing a path, Rastus as he was known, overcame a flat rear tyre for the final six miles, a broken back brake lever and a flooded engine to secure his first win ahead of fellow Yorkshireman Bill Wilkinson (the winner in 1964).

Back in those days, The Scott comprised a round of the British Trials Championship meaning points were up for grabs but despite Rathmell’s victory, he would finish second in the title race behind Gordon Farley, who finished third on the day on his 250cc Montesa.

Rathmell’s winning tally of 84 marks lost (83 on observation, one on time) compares to a total of 32 (27/5) incurred by 2019 Scott winner, James Dabill, on what is a similar course which starts near Feldom masts and goes round in a huge circle via Marske, Marrick, Reeth, Healaugh, Whaw, Langthwaite, Booze, Fremington and Helwith totalling about 80 sections. Back in 1971, the course didn’t include the dreaded Grouse Moor so was a little shorter meaning Alan R.C. (Sid) Lampkin’s Standard Time of 4 hrs, 41 mins and 35 secs was slightly quicker compared to Jonathan Richardson’s in 2019 of 4 hrs, 59 mins and 14 secs – but the course nowadays is longer.

After 1971, Miller never added to his seven victories and for the next decade, apart from on two occasions when Pateley Bridge rider Rob Shepherd won in 1972 and Thornaby’s Rob Edwards in 1974, the victories were shared between Rathmell and his nemesis, Martin Lampkin (Dougie’s dad). Rathmell took his sixth and final victory in 1980 with Lampkin’s fourth and last win coming in 1982.

But the rider with the most wins is Graham Jarvis, who took an unprecedented nine victories between 1996 and 2009. Dougie Lampkin needs another three to equal Jarvis’ record but missed last year through injury so, if the 2020 event goes ahead in mid-October, will be hoping to reduce the deficit, assuming he’s on the entry list of course.

If it does take place and if he is entered, there’s proof indeed that it’s still possible to park next to and rub shoulders with one of the sport’s greatest on windswept field in Swaledale. There’s not many other places in the world you can do that.