By Paul Dolan
You could label Shane Yates as ‘the voice of Devonport greyhound racing’, but he was much more than that.
The Tasmanian racecaller passed away on May 28, after a 10-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He was aged 60.
Yates was 17 when he began his media career with television station TNT9 in Launceston as a sports commentator. Close friend and work colleague Colin McNiff said that Yates was a natural for that role.
“I don’t think Shane realised how talented he was because commentary was second nature to him. During his career he called just about everything. If it moved, Shane could call it. He was without peer as a football and basketball commentator,’’ McNiff said.
“Our friendship steadily grew and over the past 15 years we became incredibly close. There was no such thing as a quick phone call with Shane. A chat could go on for an hour or two.’’
McNiff said in July last year, he received a text from Yates, saying: ‘Mate, think I’m stuffed, pancreatic cancer, two months.’
Those two months stretched to ten as Shane fought a very brave battle.
Yates was born and bred in Devonport and he was enormously proud of the city, his family and daughters Layla and Montanna.
As a youngster he was a talented sportsman, playing football and cricket. His career was cut short by a knee injury, many declaring he could have played VFL, but for that injury. He played suburban cricket until well into his forties. In 2010 he became president of the Devonport Football Club, helping it through some dire financial times, often dipping into his own pocket.
Colin McNiff says Tasmanian racing has lost a brilliant commentator and he has lost a close mate.
Radio TAB general manager David Salmon said Yates was a wonderful friend to many people at radio TAB and Sky Racing.
“He was not only an outstanding racecaller and broadcaster, he was a help to so many in racing and football,’’ Salmon said.
“His bravery in fighting such a terrible cancer was not a surprise to anyone who knew him. We were lucky to have him as a great mate. It’s terrific to see that his memory will live on through the Shane Yates Memorial series to be run on a rotational basis at the three greyhound tracks in Tasmania. The loss of Shane is a deeply sad time.’’
Shane Yates is survived by his mother, brothers and daughters.