Warrnambool greyhound racing stalwart William (Billy) McCosker was Friday night named the 2008 Ken Carr Medallist, the highest award for excellence within the Victorian greyhound industry.
The award was presented at the 2008 Victorian Greyhound of the Year function, held at Crown Entertainment Complex on Friday night; however the award will forever be bitter sweet for McCosker, family and friends; as co-worker and friend Leon “Trump” Lenehan was involved in a fatal car accident returning from the Victorian Greyhound of the Year Awards the following day.
Billy McCosker was following “Trump” home from the awards evening, the following day on Saturday ,when the acccident occurred and Bill was one of the first on the scene. “Trump” and his wife had been one of many from the Warrnambool area that attended the evening to see Billy presented with the Ken Carr Medal.
Notwithstanding Saturday’s targedy, Billy McCosker is a more than worthy Ken Carr medalist and a Warrnambool institution to the local greyhound fraternity. A tribute to “Billy” follows :
2008 Ken Carr Medlist
William (Bill) McCosker
Born: April 22, 1951 in Warrnambool
Education: Dennington Primary School; Warrnambool High School
Second eldest of five children: Father (Tom); Mother (Heather)
Completed carpentry apprenticeship: 1968-72
Retired from workforce due to ill health: 1987
Born and bred on the Shipwreck Coast, Bill, who turns 58 in April, is a long-serving member of the Warrnambool Greyhound Racing Club and fully deserves recognition for his outstanding service to the club and the industry for more than 30 years.
Bill’s family is steeped in greyhound racing tradition; he cut his teeth in the sport at a tender age, learning the ropes from his late father, Tom, and uncle Lex Davidson.
After completing a carpentry apprenticeship, Bill relocated to Shepparton in 1972 and was involved in the building industry there for a few years.
He then moved to Dartmoor where he was involved in the thoroughbred industry and enjoyed success as an owner with Propel, who finished third in the 1977 Onkaparinga in Adelaide.
Bill returned to Warrnambool in 1979, and renewed his association with the Warrnambool Greyhound Racing Club.
A qualified builder, Bill bought his first greyhound (Natsody Moss) at the age of 17.
But two of his finest have been 1989 Warrnambool Greyhound of the Year River Rage (who won 15 races and set Marathon track records at Sandown Park and Bendigo) and Stream Rage (who also won 15 races and represented Victoria in the National TAB Challenge in South Australia in 1993). He trained River Rage and Stream Rage for the late Barry Watts.
But no-one knows Bill, and his passion for the sport, better than Glenda – his proud wife of 36 years.
“His body and soul is greyhound racing… Actually, greyhound racing has been his salvation,” says Glenda.
“If he’s not at home, I know he’s at the track.
“Due to some health issues he couldn’t be involved in other sporting pursuits… But he gets on well with everyone; he’s very social.
“When I first met Bill I was terrified of greyhounds, but they’re a docile animal… I can’t speak highly enough of their nature.
“Bill treats his greyhounds extremely well; he has so much patience and perseverance with them.
“When River Rage was racing, he had the run of the house and would sit on the couch with our children… In fact he was treated as one of the kids.”
Bill’s list of honours and achievements are many:
- GRV Certificate of Long Service (2003)
- International Year of Volunteers – Certificate of Appreciation award (2001)
- Volunteer in Sports award (1994)
- Life membership of Warrnambool GRC (1987) – the club’s youngest recipient
- Warrnambool GRC committee member (1985-2000)
- Warrnambool GOTBA president (1990-91)
- Warrnambool GOTBA committee member (1980-present)
- Warrnambool GOTBA Personality of the Year (1980)
- Warrnambool GRC lure driver for 30 years (including training new trackmen and lure drivers)
A man with strong family values, Bill and Glenda have three children – Heath, 34 (who resides in Echuca), Jake, 32 (a Warrnambool resident) and Natsody, 25, (who is based in Carnegie).
Both his sons worked as track attendants at Warrnambool during the late 1980s / early 1990s.
Bill attributes his knowledge and workings of the Warrnambool track to the late Ron Izon and local doyen Norm McCullagh of Bold Trease fame.
He also maintains the aesthetics of the Warrnambool Showgrounds complex, which also incorporates the pony club and agricultural society – both of which he is a member.
“Bill is a great father and husband… He’s totally family-oriented,” says Glenda.
“When the kids were younger, we always went to the greyhounds as a family.”
The following people have won the Ken Carr Medal since its inception :