The National Coursing Association (NCA) seems to have become something of a pariah within the greyhound community in recent times, with the so-called Adam Dobbin affair doing nothing to improve its standing.
This private members club has a long history and for much of it the NCA and its chief local rival the GBOTA were often at each other’s throats, much to the overall detriment of greyhound racing in general.
Back in 1988 an NCA committeeman suggested I should apply to join this elitist organisation. While I did as requested, the end result saw me become one of very few applicants, so I am led to believe, to be blackballed by the NCA committee.
You might think I was upset by this rejection. I wasn’t at the time, and never have been. In fact I wear the rejection with some pride. I am a great believer in Marx’s famous and much quoted: ‘I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one if its members.’ Of course that was Groucho, not Karl, Marx.
The circumstances surrounding my application and ultimate rejection revolve around my position at the time as editor of the new Australian Greyhound Review monthly magazine which had kicked into life, with the support of the GBOTA, in September 1987.
I had become friends with William Bracht, the author of Greyhounds and Mechanical Lure Racing, a successful book published in 1972. Bill was also an NCA committeeman and suggested that as editor of the magazine I should join both the NCA and GBOTA. He would put my name forward for the NCA. Although initially reluctant, I agreed and, depending on the outcome, I would then possibly join the GBOTA.
Not long after the NCA application went in, Bill suffered an almost fatal heart attack and, as far as I recall, never again took his place on the committee.
When time came for me to be interviewed I attended the committee room at Wentworth Park and was introduced by the-then secretary Rory Glass to the NCA President Neville Bailey. Seated around a quite large table were the committee members, minus Bill Bracht.
Bailey said words to the effect the members of his committee would ask me the same series of questions they asked of every applicant. This proved to be a lie.
The first few question were indeed innocuous enough. Then they started to focus on the magazine and certain stories which had appeared in previous issues which they were less than impressed with.
Joe Dess, later described to me as Neville Bailey’s ‘hatchet man’, looked at me and intoned, “Could you tell me, if you came into possession of information which was detrimental to the NCA would you publish it in your magazine?”
The die was cast. I knew my answer would decide my ‘fate’. I also knew I no longer cared, so simply said, “First I would ask someone from the NCA what the truth or otherwise was of this information and, depending on the answer, yes, I would publish it.”
The silence around the table was almost deafening.
To his ever-lasting credit Bruce Fletcher suddenly chimed in with a question, more an observation, saying something like, “So, you wouldn’t intentionally try and discredit the NCA? You would act responsibly…”
Considering it was obvious to me within a few minutes of being in the room there was no way I was getting admitted into this private club, I have always admired Bruce Fletcher for this effort to pour oil on troubled waters.
The interview was soon terminated when Neville Bailey thanked me for coming and said, “The secretary will send you a letter in due course to let you know the result of our deliberations.”
End of game: get out the blackballs I could almost hear them thinking.
I did indeed receive a letter a couple of weeks later informing me my application ‘had failed’ but if I would like to be considered again I should contact the NCA in writing and my name would again be placed on the list.
No, I didn’t bother replying to the letter and nor did I bother applying to the GBOTA and in the quarter of a century since then I have happily been standing on the outside looking in.