The LION roars no more! Farewell Lionel Murray

I met Lionel through his longstanding friend Lucas McDowall, on the golf course back in the late 90’s.  Besides having my first encounter with his larger than life personality I still rate Lioney (as anybody who has ever met him more than once calls him) as having one of the longest drives that I have ever seen in person (the other being Charl Schwartzel – so esteemed company).  We would spur him on until finally somewhere in the round he would give it his all and pound it absolutely miles!  He was an incredible golfer.

I am sure he did, but I have to say I never saw Lioney angry – he was always upbeat!  Always!  He was always positive and always had a number of fantastic experiences that were either insanely incredible or hysterically funny to entertain with.  The most frustrated I had seen him in recent times, which he was quick to make a joke about, was that he had to wear “bloody glasses” to read!

I have a very fond memory of a table of 20 or so mates sitting in a restaurant in Greyton, with Lionel and Claire sitting at the head (of course!) and him telling us the funniest story with the most jaw-droppingly funny punchline, that had everyone around that table crying incredulous tears of laughter.  The restaurant eventually pleaded with us to leave after we had finished all the white wine they had – Lionel was definitely the soul of a party!

The Lion demanded and commanded your attention.  He was the guy that taught the sales person to sell ice to an eskimo.  He had that killer instinct that you never even saw coming;  how many of us walked in for a chat, a few bombs or a pair of socks and found ourselves loading up a new bike, helmet and pair of shoes that the master had convinced us we needed!

Lionel with his work partner Richard, made a magnificent bike store team!  And as an incredible cyclist he was quick to share his knowledge and offer advice.  As was his make-up he ensured that no matter your shape, size or cycling ability you felt special – but of course being the competitor he was, he expected the same from you, so you always got the set-up for a race snake, which meant that you quietly went to Richard after, never letting Lioney know, and asked him to adjust things accordingly.

Larger than life!  You could hear him from a mile away, there was nothing to hide with Lioney – he said it as he saw it and walked his walk as he said!  Always large!  Through my start-up mtb mag and his then start-up shop we became friends and despite being hugely successful with Freewheel Cycology both him and Richard were always kind, courteous and friendly to me.  As it should be – Lioney was a quality man!

My last chat with Lionel was about, of all things – diving!  This seemed to be his latest gogga bite and seeing him in Simonstown getting ready to dive on a Sunday morning was definitely something I hadn’t seen him do before – he was more likely to be flying past shouting “Hey Shayney!  Hey Richie! (my cycling partner) Pedal harder dammit!” and with a cheeky grin was gone in a FLASH!    So I wasn’t surprised when in typical Lionel fashion he said he wasn’t just getting his diving license for a jaunt along some coral reef – oh no, Lioney was preparing to deep dive and this in some dark ridiculously deep cave up country… there was never any half measures with the Lion.

To say I was completely shocked and upset to here of Lionel’s sudden passing would be an understatement.  I am very, very sad.  He was a one of a kind personality and person and I really enjoyed him.  I will miss you Lioney, I am not sure I can face walking into your shop for the next few weeks – although if I know you, you’d be saying:  “don’t be stupid Shayney, get your ass in there and support Rich and my team!   Remember to take a disprin before a race and give it horns! You only live once!”   We will miss you my bud, I will miss you.  Shayne




  1. Luisa Malan

    Spot on Shane!! You summed him up beautifully! He was larger than life and will be missed!

  2. Niclas Kjellström-Matseke

    Lionel, my cycling buddy,
    Thanks for taking me in to your world of sports, friends and fun! As a newbie in South Africa, 2016, I absolutely loved to enjoy your friendship, mentorship and generosity. I loved hanging out with you, learning from you, suffering on the bike (often behind you), and having that carrot cake & flat white once the “mission was completed”. I will never forget some of our serious discussions about life and relationships…and our discussions about.the very same 😂

    /The African Swede

  3. Connor Mcdowall

    Truly a beautiful article, thanks guys. He was taken way too early.

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