Hunter Valley Loses A Greyhound Stalwart

Morpeth lost a “scholar and a gentleman” on Friday night when 80-year-old Max Jennings was hit by a car outside his local watering hole, the Commercial Hotel.

Renowned for his booming singing voice, love of greyhounds and athletic prowess, Mr Jennings was killed when he was struck by a Holden Rodeo at 7.30pm as he crossed the street.

He was on his way home to feed his beloved greyhound, Heather, who was waiting patiently in his car on the opposite side of Northumberland Steet.

“He treated her like a kid,” his best friend of 60 years, Jacka Lawler, told the Maitland Mercury on Saturday.

Police have spoken to the 25-year-old driver and no charges have been laid yet. Enquiries are continuing.

Mr Jennings had two children, a son Garry (57) and daughter Cheryll (58). He had three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Cheryll described her father as a “very independent man” who “loved his football and loved his dogs”.

“He was fair dinkum. He called a spade a spade,” Cheryll said of her dad.

After moving to Morpeth from Horseshoe Bend, Mr Jennings worked as a baker, with the Public Works as well as in farming.

“He washed down in one of the floods,” Mr Lawler joked.

One particular memory Cheryll has of her of her father demonstrated his larrikin nature was his performance as part of the town’s bicentennial celebrations in 1971.

Mr Jennings dressed up as an ape while Mr Lawler dressed as “old-time woman” and their friend Frank Bowe as a baby and they walked along as part of the parade.

“It was terrific. Everyone remembers them,” she said.

Some of Mr Jennings’ friends met at the Commercial Hotel on yesterday morning where they described the loss of their companion as a “tragedy”.

Mr Jennings used to regularly meet them at the hotel to have a flutter on the horses or the greyhounds, as well as a few light beers.

He trained greyhounds for years and marked a victory in the Coonamble Cup in 1994 as one of the crowning achievements.

In his younger days Mr Jennings was a fearsome footballer who took to the paddock for South Maitland and Morpeth.

As well as being renowned for his ability on the rugby league field, Mr Jennings had a reputation as a fearsome competitor on the Morpeth bowls circuit.

According to Mr Lawler he “won every bowls title in Morpeth” before giving the game away after his hip replacement.

Mr Jennings’ singing voice was also famous throughout Morpeth.

As well as holding a tune as part of church choirs, he would also stand up at the pubs and belt out ‘Unchained Melody’ on karaoke nights.

“That was his favourite. He’d rattle it out,” Mr Lawler said.

Courtesy : Michael Morrissey, The Maitland Mercury

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