Each and every time the names on the New Year’s Honours list are revealed it inevitably leads to hundreds of motorsport fans crying foul over John Surtees being overlooked for a knighthood. And yet, nobody appears to stop and think why this is the case.
It happened again last week, with my Twitter timeline awash with people expressing their apparent dismay at the thought of him having to continue to go through life without the Sir prefix adorning his name.
And then, after people stopped getting into a tizz, they then went back to the daily grind and forgot all about it… until today.
For reasons I am unable to fathom out, former BBC F1 presenter Jake Humphrey posted the following message on Twitter this morning:
Lets make good use of this wonderful platform. RT & sign the petition to get John Surtees a well earned knighthood! bit.ly/spjV0h
— Jake Humphrey (@mrjakehumphrey) January 4, 2013
Which was duly followed by a similar tweet from BBC F1 commentator Ben Edwards:
World Champion on 2 and 4 wheels, John Surtees deserves to be knighted. Petition at bit.ly/TNcyHC
— Ben Edwards (@benedwardstv) January 4, 2013
First and foremost, I like their sentiment, and I wholeheartedly agree that Surtees deserved – note past tense – a knighthood for his achievements in two- and four-wheel motor racing, but the chances of that happening now are slimmer than a strand of hair.
To begin with, what possible benefit is it signing a petition on an American-based website? Surely an e-petition on the official HM Government website would hold more clout? And what happens when it reaches its target of 10,000 signatures anyway?
Not that any of the previous questions need answering, because instead of filling out a pointless online petition, have a read of the guidance notes for honours nominations instead. Especially point four, which states that:
Nominations should be made while the nominee is still active and, if possible, at least 12 months before he/she is expected to retire or stand down, because of the timeframe involved.
A knighthood would therefore have to be awarded to Surtees for his current activities and not his successes from 50 years ago, for which he received an MBE in 1959 and OBE in 2008 for services to charity and motorsport.
And anyway, to the best of my knowledge only four luminaries of the sport have been awarded a knighthood since the second world war: Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Frank Williams and Stirling Moss.
The first three’s contributions to motorsport are well-documented, but I do admit to being unable to see the distinction between Moss and Surtees. Which leads me to believe that public recognition of name plays a significant part when it comes to the honours system…