JUST what has a man got to do? You rule the world in your sport for an unassailable record and yet you can walk down the street barely catching a first, let alone second glance.

Today this column makes no excuse for devoting the bulk of its content in tribute to Steve Webster, the 43-year-old North Yorkshire sidecar phenomenon and one of the most over-looked men in British sport.

In Webster's own words he is probably still suffering from the effects of a mega-hangover after winning his one over the eight world title. That's right nine - count 'em - nine world titles, the latest sealed in France.

But the magnitude of his magic mission in Magny-Cours hardly caused a ripple in the national media.

Indeed, the throbbing head and gravel-pit throat after his few modest libations to celebrate the confirmation of his ninth global conquest will arguably be the most lasting legacy of his mastery of a sport he has graced for two decades. And that is disgraceful.

Here is a man who has dominated his chosen sport at world level like very few in modern times. Yet the most the general public will know of Webster is the infamous and repeated ad nauseam television footage in which he and machine career across a track and patch of grass right into a bank alongside a stream.

But put into more conspicuous context as a tough of the track, wizard Webster has surpassed other more glamorous leather-clad wheels warriors. Even the late Barry Sheene and the now retired Carl Fogarty, whose undoubted talents were each duly recognised, both trail somewhat in the slip-stream of Easingwold's sidecar superstar.

And can you imagine how Nigel Mansell or Damon Hill would have been feted had either won more than just one world motor-racing Grand Prix championship apiece, while Michael Schumacher was lauded to the motor-sport heavens for the capture of his sixth world championship earlier this month.

Well, Webster's total of world crowns is NINE and all achieved against a backdrop of scratching around for sponsorship money, saving pennies by doing many of your own repairs and hawking yourself around would-be backers in the bid to keep the whole show on the competitive road.

It's a massive contrast to the world of motor-racing, where profile is higher than the trips taken by private jets ferrying drivers, models and various entourages to and from circuits. Just to keep one team going for a year would probably wipe out the debt of several Third World countries let alone keep sidecar racing in long-term security.

No such luxury for Webster. But for all the thud, fret and veers around breath-snatching corners, Webster has remained at the top and seamlessly too with a variety of partners aboard high-speed, low-slung, track-hugging, danger-defying machines.

First on the team was Tony Hewitt, who shared a hat-trick of consecutive championships from 1987-1989. Then there was Gavin Simmons with whom Webster ruled the world in 1992 before waiting five years for his next world crown alongside David James, who starred in another three-time title reign in consecutive years spanning 1997-1999.

The year 2000 brought another Webster world success, now in tandem with Paul Woodhead, who this week shared in his second and the ace driver's ninth championship.

The duo deserve miles of praise and admiration. And if anyone merited a civic reception then it has to be Steve Webster, sidecar superstar.

SWEET St Vincent, as a variation of an Ian Dury record may go.

Former York City assistant manager Adie Shaw is soon to jet off to the Caribbean to coach the national team of the sunshine island of St Vincent.

The man who was put on 'gardening leave' by the Minstermen is set for a life on a West Indies paradise. I wonder how many York City players will be scouring family trees to see if they may qualify for a sudden international call-up?

Updated: 09:03 Tuesday, October 21, 2003