John Woodland’s recent retirement from race day duties at Tara Raceway marked the end of a 38-year involvement with the South East Greyhound Racing Club, later to be known as the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club.
Woodland’s relocation back in 1982 to Port MacDonnell to work as a shipwright acted as a catalyst to his lengthy involvement as an official at Mount Gambier greyhound meetings.
Formerly based in Melbourne, where he had been involved in greyhound racing as an owner in the 1970s, Woodland’s interest in the sport was rekindled after arriving in Mount Gambier all those years ago.
“I came across an advertisement in The Border Watch looking for an assistant steward at the weekend greyhound meetings out at the Glenburnie racecourse and decided to apply. The club wasn’t racing every week back then so I figured it wouldn’t take up too much of my time.
“I don’t know how many applications they received, but I got the job and joined the stewards’ team which included Michael Robinson, Alec Steele, Phil Read and Claude Moore.
“My steward’s role then continued until 1996 at Glenburnie before we switched to the Lake Terrace East venue where I continued to be an assistant to Michael.”
Woodland, now 79, retired at 66 and briefly stepped down from stewarding duties at Tara Raceway. However, when TAB racing commenced at the track in 2012 he returned as an assistant to Brett Polson.
In the mid-90s Robinson, Steele, Woodland and Moore were all awarded MGGRC life membership. Woodland was also president in 2000 and again in 2019 as well as serving on the committee.
Then between 2017 and 2020 he took over the running of the kennel house on race days. It was on his watch that the kennel house underwent significant renovations.
The upgrade had been a long time coming. But when it did there was no happier person than Woodland who always treated the kennel house as if it was his own.
The upgraded kennel house never received its official opening due to the Covid-19 crisis. Maybe an official opening of the “John Woodland Kennel House” would be even more fitting.
A fair amount of water has passed under the bridge since those early days out at Glenburnie where racing was conducted on a track situated inside the race course.
And as John Woodland sits back, still remembering those days with much fondness, he should reflect on a job well done.