The scene opens in a brightly lit bar, the fluorescent bulbs humming noisily overhead, there’s a gently background chatter, of punters and televisions, the clink of glasses hitting the bar.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please be upstanding for the national anthem, but first, we have the scratchings for race one”
The dish-lickers, as the noble sport of greyhound racing is popularly referred to, has been at home in Wentworth Park for more than 80 years now.
Hugely popular from day one in the late 1930’s the sport continued to grow right up until the 1970’s when the races were pulling large crowds along to each weekend meeting.
If ever a sport could lay claim to having had a golden era, greyhound racing would be it.
Things, as they say, have gone downhill.
It’s a pretty grim scene on this mild Saturday night, a few hundred punters, battlers mostly, have ventured out and paid their six dollars to get in and watch the likes of “Massive Merv” and “Wife said no” do battle with their rivals, “Pride of Mykonos” who took out race 7 or “Evil Punk” who scraped home in race 5.
The races are over in a flash, these dogs are fast, some races lasting less than 30 seconds, a frantic blur of legs as they chase the synthetic bunny. They never seem to catch it, their motivation a mystery.
There’s been some talk of late that the facility will soon be gone, consigned to the rubbish bin of history, the land, sitting as it does, just 2 kilometres from the CBD must be bringing tears of joy to the eyes of property developers.
At the moment that seems to have been quashed, with local residents rallying to the old girls cause. You can’t help but think it wont be long before the developers come knocking again.
The near-by trotting track, Harold Park, fell into the hands of developers Mirvac and with $66 Million of property being sold on day one of the first stage, a few old timers with a love for the doggies will struggle to hold back the tide for long.
It’ll be a shame to see it gone after all this time, so if you’re ever wondering what to do on a Saturday night, maybe drop in and have a flutter on the dish lickers before it’s too late.