CHASE newspaper recognises the time and effort people involved in the great industry of greyhound racing put in.
So this month we bring you an in-depth interview with long-time Brisbane greyhound official Bob Lambert.
Chase will provide similar features every month.
Vice-Chairman Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club
Lives: Wavell Heights.
Married to Robyn. Sons John and Gary.
BOB Lambert has experienced life in the greyhound industry, from both sides of the fence, for about half a century.
His time has included dabbling in whippet breeding, then the purchase of a greyhound, before switching over to, as some may call it, the ‘dark side’ as a racing steward.
Then it was on to management of the Gabba Greyhound Racing Club and on to his current position as Vice-Chairman of the Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club.
Chase: It is fair to say, Bob, that you have seen lots of changes in greyhound racing since the sport first attracted your attention. Where did it all begin?
BL: It was in the late 1960s and one of my neighbours bought a greyhound. At that stage I used to race pigeons, but I also bred and showed whippets.
The neighbour then bought a greyhound so I got myself an attendant’s licence to be catcher. That’s when it all started.
Chase: From whippets and pigeons and on to actually racing greyhounds. Tell us about that.
BL: I got a greyhound myself in 1972. It was a bitch we named Elderberry Lass, but she got injured and never made it to the track. But we kept her and bred with her and she produced some Gabba winners. But by the time her pups started to race I was a steward so had to relinquish any connections.
Chase: How did you manage to switch to the ranks of racetrack officialdom?
BL: I wasn’t really looking for a job at that time – I had been working in administration for a hardware store. Then one day I was at the Ekka and a mate told me about a job as a steward with the Greyhound Racing Control Board of Queensland. I got the job so life as a steward began.
Chase: Greyhound racing in south-east Queensland was sort of stagnant at the time you became a racing official.
BL: When I started as a steward we had the Gabba racing on Thursday nights, Lawnton every Tuesday afternoon and we had Beenleigh and Capalaba alternating on Fridays or Mondays. Things have certainly changed.
I was around when the Gold Coast used race inside Stephens Paceway before moving suburbs to Parklands. I was there when Beenleigh, Toowoomba and Lawnton closed.
Chase: You were chief steward for a period there but you pulled the pin on the job in 1981. That move was to set up a new chapter in your life, wasn’t it?
BL: I went to the Gabba as racing secretary under John Hicks, who was general manager at the time. John left not too long afterwards and Ken Norquay took over then job. Then when he left Mick Cox took over. Then in 1992, when Mick left, I took over as general manager.
Chase: Another significant chapter in Queensland greyhound racing then happened. Tell us about that.
BL: In 1993 we relocated to Albion Park and I had nine years there. I will say that when we relocated from the Gabba the club was extremely financial. The greyhound club shared catering rights with the cricketers. We had half the ground and the cricketers had the other half. It was a good arrangement.
Chase: It was on to the Brisgreys then. When did you finish up as general manager?
BL: I semi-retired in 2001 so it was about 20 years at the club for me. But in 2006 I was appointed to the board at Albion Park. In that period I was involved in some breeding but in between I became a race starter – just for something to do – at Ipswich and Capalaba. Then from 2010 to 2013 I was treasurer and it was in 2013 that I was elected as vice-chairman. And I’m still here.
Chase: You have done almost everything there is to do in greyhound racing. From breeding them, from being a steward, to a time as a grader, over to administration. You must have some wonderful memories. Tell us a few of those, like the best greyhound you have seen, some of the characters you ran into or clashed with, to the funny side of it all.
BL: One of the characters was Ray Gatti, who passed away not too long ago. I had a few run-ins with people when I was a grader and there were other moments with trainers, but I won’t name them.
I remember one day at Beenleigh when they had animal sales across the road. A pig somehow escaped and we found it hiding under a car on the outside of the track fence. My mate caught it and it ended up making a great Christmas roast for us.
The best greyhound I have seen? I can’t really narrow it down. Flying Amy is right up there, Bogie Leigh, Rapid Journey … Sennachie was obviously a good one and there was Top Simbi at the Gabba in the early days.
Another memory was going to Lawnton where there were dirt floors in the kennel block and there were soaker sprinklers fitted on to the roof to keep the place cooler.
Chase: So, Bob, when you finally pull up stumps what will you take with you?
BL: There has been a bit of everything, but mostly good.