By MIKE HILL
IPSWICH Greyhound Club’s only life member Merv Page, at the age of 80, has put his hand up to steer his club for a second time.
Page, who was club president between 2002 and 2011 guiding the club through difficult times, recently stepped into the hot seat once again.
It wasn\’t something he had planned.
\”I just wanted to be more involved in the club,\” he said.
Greyhounds have played a significant role in his adult life.
\”They have been wonderful to me,\” the Walloon-based owner-trainer-breeder said last month.
\”They have helped me put our four children through private schools. They have given me a lot.\”
Page became hooked on greyhounds through his mother\’s family in his late teens.
\”Mum\’s brothers were all jockeys,\” he said.
\”One of my uncles, Kenny (Bell), was called up for National Service.
\”He went in as a jockey but came out too heavy to ride and he decided to get a greyhound.
\”I was 17 at the time and I helped him with the dog.
\”That\’s how it all started.\”
Merv said he was 19 when he acquired his first greyhound – a dog named Gogangola.
\”That was more than 60 years ago,\” he said.
\”I bought the dog at Casino. It won one race, a maiden at Beenleigh.\”
Page recalls another of his uncles, Bevan, who after finishing riding linked up with the Jack Rosenthal stables at Deagon before joining Tommy Smith as travelling foreman.
\”He later had a similar role with (the Cups king) Bart Cummings before working with the powerful Gai Waterhouse stables,\” he said.
After his first stint as president, Page spent almost a decade as the club\’s operations manager.
\”I was a week off getting long service,\” he said.
Although he\’s had a few health issues in the past 12 months, Merv said he had no intentions of slowing down just yet.
This is despite two recent visits to hospital – one for a foot complaint and then a few days later he was readmitted with a bout of pneumonia.
But as they say \’you can\’t keep a good man down\’ and Merv was back at the helm in time for his club\’s big night of the year – the rich Group 2 TAB Ipswich Cup in early November.
Unlike his first stint as president when Ipswich was doing it tough before he and his committee pulled it back into the black, Page said the club was now in great order.
And he said things could only get better as the club recently introduced expanded race meetings.
\”We have just added two extra kennel bays that will allow us to stage 12-race programs – up from 10. Something the club has been seeking for some time,\” Page said.