TheGold Coast Greyhound Racing Club’s final meeting rekindled the passion a night at the dogs used to evoke back in the 1970s. The buzz of excitement from punters could be felt the moment you stepped inside the club, but a close look into an old trainer’s eyes said it all … it was the end of an era.
Last night the club hosted its final program at Parklands before being closed by the State Government, who will use the site to build a $1.5 billion hospital.
Club treasurer Ned Snow has spent more than 20 years with the club, which first opened in Queen Street, Southport, in 1976 and moved to Parklands in 1988.
“It’s sad to see it go, very sad. I just wish we could have had extra time, even another six or 12 months, but nobody sees it our way,” he said.
“My worry all along has been that we’re closing the club without another one to go to. I feel like I’ve been let down that way.”
Snow, who has up to 10 dogs in work at any one time, said he didn’t know where he was going to take his dogs, given the club will now operate out of Ipswich and Albion Park in Brisbane.
“The club will lose a lot of trainers and dogs. I don’t believe the GRA (Greyhounds Queensland) realise how much of a dent this is going to put in the industry,” he said.
Long-time club employees Lesleigh Ponti and Dot Brooks were coming to terms with the loss of their jobs after 32 years.
The ladies started out at the club as ‘sellers’ when it started in Queen Street.
Ponti was, up until last night, the club’s tote supervisor and banker.
“We’re all a bit fragile tonight. For me, it’s a big chunk of my life that’s gone. What do I do for the next 32 years?” she said.
Ponti said she had loved the challenge of dealing with punters and calculating all the figures.
“I started working one night a week which was ideal because. I had young children and my husband could babysit at night. As the kids were growing, so did the industry and I went from five hours a week to 15,” she said.
“It’s just a shame it had to end this way. I know retirement is looming for me but I would have liked to have stopped working on my own terms, rather than the State Government’s terms.”
Chairman of trustees of the Parklands Trust, Jim Callaghan, said the club would retain its identity and was looking at a Logan site.
“It will take about two years to get established.
“I’m just sorry to see the Gold Coast lose its greyhound racing identity.”
Courtesy : Renee Redmond, Gold Coast