Club celebrates 43 years of racing

The Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club, as it is known as these days, celebrated 43 years of racing last Sunday when the Exchange Printers Anniversary Cup final was run over 512 metres at Tara Raceway.

Actually, in less than two months it will be 50 years since the South East Greyhound Racing Club was formed at a public meeting held at the Mount Gambier City Hall.

And that’s when the fun started.

Initial overtures were made to the A. & H. Society seeking their interest in a greyhound racing track being erected on the Mount Gambier Showgrounds.

This failed to materialise.

The following year a formal application was made for the erection of a track at Blue Lake Sports Park.

However, massive earthworks required to make the area suitable would have taken all of the greyhound club’s finances.

The Mount Gambier and District Coursing Club was approached for lease of suitable land but was not interested.

Back at the showgrounds and a track was pegged out but this was not acceptable to the Show Society.

But the search for a suitable ground took a new turn at the end of September 1975 when the Mount Gambier Racing Club was approached.

A month later the racing club indicated support for a greyhound track at the Glenburnie racecourse.

An appeal for a track building fund was then promoted by a series of public meetings at Naracoorte, Millicent, Portland and Mount Gambier.

Later, an agreement with the Mount Gambier Racing Club for a 21 year lease was signed by all parties in March 1977.

On Saturday, July 21, 1979, greyhound racing commenced at Glenburnie with a 10-race programme over distances of 289 metres, 476 metres and 667 metres.

Six bookmakers were fielding.

But by the time mid-1991 came around, the South East Greyhound Racing Club had been notified the Mount Gambier Racing Club wanted to expand its Glenburnie racecourse into a training centre.

This meant the track currently used for greyhound racing would be required for that development.

At the July meeting of city council, the South East Greyhound Racing Club’s request to lease council land was being considered.

And a large club contingent packed the council gallery to hear the item discussed.

Mayor of Mount Gambier, Don McDonnell, told his council colleagues that he believed the South East Greyhound Racing Club was being treated as if it did not exist.

“I have asked the club’s request be left lie on the table to keep it alive because up to now they have been knocked and treated as though they do not exist.

“They have been told there’s nothing for you.”

But greyhound racing continued at Glenburnie until November 30, 1996, that meeting marking the end of 17 years of racing inside the horseracing track.

In what is another story, on Saturday, January 25, 1997 greyhound racing commenced at the purpose-built track on Lake Terrace East.

Finally, the South East Greyhound Racing Club had a home of its own.

These days the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club conducts 100 nationally televised TAB meetings a year (on Thursday and Sunday afternoons).

It has also seen the Mount Gambier Cup, run continuously since 1981, elevated to Group 3 status.

It’s probably fair to say that greyhound racing in the South East has come a fair way since that public meeting all those years ago in the Mount Gambier City Hall.

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