Harley ready for clubs role

By Chase Editor Pat McLeod

In greyhound racing, as in life, timing and communication are key.

That’s why most knowledgeable people in the industry nodded with genuine approval when Troy Harley was named as the new boss of Greyhound Clubs Australia (GCA).

Harley needs no introduction. The 48-year-old has been involved in the sport, at all levels, since he was 11. He has been injected at a time when GCA needs someone to pull the whip hand – to give clear, concise communication so clubs can make the most of the current blue-sky conditions.

For years, as a club administrator, Harley has matched wits with some of the racing industries’ best boardroom advocates. Before that, as a rugby league second rower and sometimes nightclub bouncer, he also knew what to do when the talking was done.

He can wear the velvet or iron glove.

As the Covid clouds slowly roll back, greyhound racing, especially clubs, find themselves in arguably their most financially buoyant position ever. And Harley knows they need to make hay now.

As he points out, financial landscapes which dictate the viability of clubs can change dramatically across five-to-ten-year spans.

“Right now, there has never been a better time to be involved in greyhound racing,” he said.

“If you had asked me five-to-ten-years ago should someone quit their job and have a go at greyhound racing professionally, I would have said ‘no’.

“But, at the moment you can roll the dice and set your life up to make a living out of greyhound racing, if you have that connection with the dog.”

Harley has seen the good times roll in and out.

Originally from NSW’s Hunter Valley, his first job was working in the fluctuations room at the Singleton greyhounds aged 11. He was judging at Maitland by the time he was 16 and was also working at different thoroughbred tracks as the clerk of the scales while still at school.

If you were searching for someone who not only had a handle on race clubs, but also knew how to fix them, then Harley would be one of the first through the door.

His first fulltime job after high school was with the Newcastle Jockey Club, where he was constantly exposed to all three race codes.

From then until now he has spent time with Singleton greyhounds, The Gardens, Dubbo gallops, Warragul greyhounds, a combined role at Bendigo and Shepparton greyhounds and then the past 11 years as Bendigo manager.

He also combined that with media roles, including co-hosting The Catching Pen on occasions.

“So, it’s been a case, for a while, of going to different clubs, many who needed assistance. And I have also been on the governing side in roles with Racing NSW and GRV, so have seen the industry from both sides of the fence,” he says.

Those years in ‘clubland’ have given him an intimate knowledge of issues that all clubs face.

“Clubs, especially many small clubs, don’t get the acknowledgement they deserve, but get more criticism than they deserve,” says Harley

“There seems to be a misconception that you just open the gates and the meeting or trial session will take care of itself.

“This is my 30th year in racing administration and the responsibilities and roles around governance and legalities have changed so much, particularly the last 4-5 years. Then throw in the focus on injury data and statistics and starters and wagering.

“The behind-the-scenes stuff that clubs have to do that doesn’t get noticed can be pretty burdening, particularly on the smaller clubs. Just so much red tape.

“Throw in Covid and it has been a difficult time for clubs.”

Harley says he is genuinely excited to be taking on the role as Greyhound Clubs Australia CEO.

GCA was the brainchild of highly respected Victorian sporting innovator Greg Miller.

Before GCA, greyhound clubland was represented by the Australian Greyhound Racing Association (AGRA) – an amalgam of the major clubs in Australia.

However, in the wake of the live baiting scandal in 2015 Miller pushed for a revamping of AGRA to be a body that represented all clubs.

In 2017 GCA was born and highly respected West Australian greyhound identity David Simonette was handed the reins.

Simonette has been widely acclaimed for his work in establishing GCA as a genuine force in the sport.

“In a short period of time GCA has had a lot of impetuous around support and knowing how all levels of clubs operate, not just the top end,” said Harley.

“The PR campaign that Simmo (Simonette) has started (Greyhound Facts) is very important and so is the infrastructure around The Nationals. The same with the sharing of information and resources and opening clubs’ eyes to what is out there and what could be out there and making sure that the focus stays on the best interests of the industry and the participants.

“I am excited about this next chapter. I have been on all sides – clubs, governing and participant. I own dogs as well. I love that grassroots side of it and it also helps to speak the same language and have the same issues that everyone who walks through the gates have.

“I am looking forward to helping the smaller clubs when needed, but also fighting the bigger fights when needed.

“There are a few challenges ahead of us. The risk is always people doing things that aren’t quite smart, but we will always have opposition and negativity – which every industry that is successful will have. We have to accept that and do things the best that we can.

“Our biggest challenge will be that, post-Covid, we stay engaged with the community and the punters and keep them on side. And make sure the participants are well serviced.”

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