Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club

Tara Raceway, Lake Terrace East, Mount Gambier, SA

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Enjoying a grog and a grumble

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Sam McPhail always reckoned people involved in the greyhound game liked nothing better than a grog and a grumble.

In fact, this is where the name for the Grog and Grumble Cup came from, McPhail donating a perpetual trophy for an annual drag lure coursing stake out at Mil Lel.

Allen Williams with the Grog and Grumble perpetual trophy and the cup won by Premier Jatz in 1998.

He believed after listening to all the hard luck stories over a beer at the end of a day’s coursing that an annual event should be run for all the “unlucky losers” at Mil Lel.

Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club life member Allen Williams, himself a winner of the cup, remembers the Grog and Grumble Cup well and reckons McPhail was a man ahead of his time.

“Sam, who had raced a pretty handy dog called Carpe Diem in the early days, lived out Carpenter Rocks way and through his involvement with Col Sims spent plenty of time at the coursing taking in all the hard luck stories.

“I reckon he was ahead of his time because his suggestion of putting on a stake for the ‘lesser lights’ wasn’t much different from today’s time-graded races on the track.

“So, putting it politely, what we had here was a coursing stake for greyhounds with limited ability but good chasing qualities that had competed at Mil Lel but failed to trouble the cashier during the season.

“And like the time-graded races, they came from far and wide to tackle the Grog and Grumble Cup which, to the winning connections, always seemed like they’d won coursing’s biggest prize – the Waterloo Cup.

“I’ve still got the cup Premier Jatz won in 1998. To be honest, he wasn’t worth a Jatz cracker but at the time it was a tremendous thrill to win the Grog and Grumble Cup which, by the way, required a wheelbarrow to carry it home, such was its weight.”

Other winners proudly displayed on the McPhail-donated cup are Always Showtime (Allen Peckham), Tornado Thomas (Col Sims), Star Spell (Bob Thomson), Suntan Boy (Arnie Damhuis), Bourne A Shiraz (David Peckham), Seaview Sandy (Peter Jones), Tiarni’s Golden (Col Sims) and Emmanition (Dean Fennell).

The Grog and Grumble Cup, kindly donated by Dean Fennell, will soon be on show at Tara Raceway in the memorabilia display.

Memorabilia continues to accumulate with one of the latest pieces being a Naracoorte Greyhound Speed Coursing Club program for its inaugural picnic meeting run at the Naracoorte racecourse on Sunday, October 16, 1977.

Trainers came from far and wide for the meeting, including Portland, Penola, Mount Gambier, Port MacDonnell, Lucindale, Edenhope, Horsham, Serviceton, Calgoa, Tarpeena, Nangwarry, Goroke, Coleraine, Kaniva, Millicent, Beachport, Nhill, Strathdownie and, believe it or not, Whyalla.

There were a couple of familiar names listed in the program – Richard Clayfield had Redbank Royal, a son of Corcoran x Tarpeena Star, engaged in the Amoco Speed Stake No. 3 while Lord Dudley, trained by Ralph Patzel, contested the Lions Club Cup Overflow.

We’ll have to check with them to see what their recollections of Redbank Royal and Lord Dudley are although we can tell you that the latter was by a dog called Missight who won the 1973 Mount Gambier Coursing Derby for Patzel.

The inaugural picnic meeting was held two years prior to mechanical hare racing commencing at Glenburnie although during the seven years it took the South East Greyhound Racing Club to run its first meeting there had been talk that Naracoorte would be the headquarters of greyhound racing in the south east.

Naracoorte these days has no racing greyhounds in the area, a far cry from back in the days when the speed coursing club was operational and people such as Jim O’Brien and Noel Allchurch were at the helm.

Just how long the Naracoorte Greyhound Speed Coursing Club conducted drag lure coursing meetings at the racecourse is not clear, however the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club, as it continues to piece together the history of greyhound racing and coursing in the south east, would certainly be keen to hear from anyone with further information on speed coursing in Naracoorte.

And a couple of years earlier, on Sunday, October 5, the Edenhope and District Coursing Club ran inaugural exhibition trials at the Edenhope racecourse.

Main stake of the day was the Edenhope Cup, the final of which was won by No Moko who defeated Cryer’s Hope, trained at Apsley by Tom Cryer.

Yes, the Cryer dogs were also making their presence felt more than 40 years ago!

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