By TERRY WILSON
Lives at Buccan.
Born on Australia Day at Ashgrove.
THEY do not come any straighter than veteran greyhound man-for-all-seasons Bob Patching, with the emphasis on straighter.
Patching recently announced he was stepping down from the role of manager of the Capalaba 366-metre straight track, bringing an end to a relationship that started in 1987.
He decided it ‘was time’ to step aside and hand over the managerial role to Erin Cameron and Trish Fuller.
He had reached his use-by date, he says.
But the popular former owner, track manager – with an emphasis on voluntary track manager – and still a trainer, will not give Capalaba the flick. No way.
The bayside Brisbane venue is Patching’s special piece of turf and he confesses the love of the place will never die.
“I obviously love the place. I got involved because I wanted to train my own dogs,” he said.
“But as much as I love the place I was sick of getting up at four in the morning to do trials.”
Chase: When did it all begin for you at Capalaba?
BP: The first dog I ever had won its first race there, a dog called Cypress Avenue. The blokes I hung around with then were all bookmakers’ clerks. I never had a trainer’s licence or a handler’s licence but I was a licensed owner and I’d go to Beenleigh and trial a dog and nobody knew who I was or what the dog was.
Chase: It is whispered that you had a decent sort of a win when Cypress Avenue landed the bikkies.
BP: I was the owner and Dennis Guppy trained it for me. We backed it from 5-1 in to 5-2 and we got the money. Capalaba had seven bookies then and one of them was Greg Stella’s brother.
Chase: You told us you were also a bookie for a time when you were working in Maryborough.
BP: I’d field on the horses at Gympie on Saturdays. They had 16 bookmakers there, plus a reserves list. That was in the early 1980s.
Chase: How come you ended up as Capalaba manager?
BP: The track was on the verge of being closed and I was asked by then manager Bernie Culey if I would take on the presidency. I was president for five years – nobody else wanted it, it was not a job people were fighting over. But everything I did at Capalaba I learnt from Bernie. He would be the best greyhound club manager I’ve had anything to do with.
Chase: What was it like in the early days at a club that was on the verge of collapse and you must have had some experiences there as both president and then manager?
BP: In my time being involved there over 33 years we’ve had approximately 18 floods that have gone from just over the track to just over the bar. They never worried me because as long as you’re well prepared you can cope. And we had that kennel block fire a few years ago.
Chase: And there was an incident that was definitely not an April Fool’s joke.
BP: It was April 1 and my first meeting as manager and the meeting had to be cancelled after a tree fell and wiped out the catching pen area the afternoon before the meeting. It took eight blokes to cut it up. The insurance company did not want to pay and said it was an act of God. I contested that because I saw the tree come down and God was nowhere to be seen. I got the money out of them.
Chase: Tell us about the first attempt to get SKY coverage for Capalaba.
BP: Thirty years ago SKY wanted to put us on TAB and Saturday morning racing but the control board at the time knocked us back. They didn’t think it had a future, they said it wouldn’t happen and wasn’t worth the money. We could have had Capalaba instead of New Zealand.
Chase: Bob, you have never married. Why?
BP: I’ve been a lifelong bachelor. And I never regretted it because it allowed me to do what I wanted to. Because I was single I was offered things like going to work at Thursday Island at the drop of a hat.
Chase: Are you still involved in training?
BP: Yes, I still train. I have a lot of older dogs I muck around with before they go to GAP and I still enjoy training very much.
Chase: You can look back at your times at Capalaba with a lot of pride in what you’ve accomplished.
BP: I am proud of my achievements because, yes, I achieved a goal of getting them out of a financial hole.
Chase: We hear that in your time you have met three Prime Ministers.
BP: One of my mates was a mate of an advisor to Gough Whitlam, I met Bob Hawke and then I met Paul Keating. I found him very interesting and the least arrogant politician I’d met even though everyone was saying how arrogant he was.
Chase: Has Capalaba seen the last of you?
BP: I was always going to take a step back and let Erin and Trish take over. But I’ll still volunteer. I’ll pick up dog crap, clean out the kennels or whatever they ask me to do. I love the place.