Inductee Hall of Fame 11/12/2010
Has anyone given greater service to any Club than Don Bomford has to Hobart? Definitely not. Has there been a more popular participant in our sport than Don Bomford? I think not.
Born at New Norfolk on August 5 1930, Don Bomford grew up in the Derwent Valley, attending school at Glenora and Hayes, and later Ogilvie High. A keen sportsman, the young Don was a more than useful footballer, later playing six years with Kingston and making Vice Captain. He played basketball and golf, and still plays Veteran's golf on Mondays at Pasminco or Richmond Valley.
His first job was at S.P.English’s Grocery Shop at New Norfolk, riding his bicycle four miles there and back from Hayes. When his parents moved to Summerleas Road at Kingston, Don Bomford commenced work at Sutex Weaving Mill in Derwent Park, before moving to work next door at Silk and Textiles, where he worked until his retirement.
Don’s first association with greyhound racing was through his neighbour at Bushy Park, Keith Fenton in the 1940’s. He raced a great chaser called Always Good, which won the 1943 Distance Championship of Tasmania. Don and his father Bill would travel with Keith Fenton and Always Good, in an Essex Tourer to Saturday afternoon meetings at the T.C.A. in the mid - forties.
But it was while working at Silk And Textiles that Don first become associated with greyhounds on a more permanent basis. His workmate George Startup was a long time “Red Coat” at the TCA on race nights. This job was to handle a greyhound in each race from the kennels, to boxing, to catching and then returning it to the trainer. It wasn’t until June 14 1975 that trainers could handle their own charges, and prior to this, each club paid ten handlers, immaculately attired, hence “Red Coats” to do that job. Remember, the parade of greyhounds before the public pre–race was taken very seriously by the various clubs, and loved by the patrons.
Initially Don was employed as an emergency handler only, but in 1963 went onto the full time roster. Drawn by lot, each dog would have to be handled with great attention, and often a list of instructions from the trainer. It wasn’t a job for the unfit, especially once each dog was boxed the Red Coats would have to run (often race!) to the catching pen to catch their runner. Don prided himself on treating every trainer and every greyhound with the same attention, regardless of ability or attitude. He fondly remembers the odd tip, some more generous than others when handling a winner.
Don remained in this position for nearly thirteen years until the demise of the handlers in 1975. There were many highlights during these years, in fact Don’s favourite years, where there was so much atmosphere at the TCA with big crowds, many bookies and much excitement.
Don’s best effort in one night was to lead six winners. He also holds the record of leading in six Hobart Thousand winners, namely Ophir Gold (1963), Sandy Stone (1964), Ipswich Low (1966), Sue Narilla (1968), Plunder Road (1970) and Jamin John (1974). Don also recalls leading Benjamin John when he broke the track record in his 1969 Hobart Thousand Heat, and the mighty Zoom Top when she won her Hobart Thousand Semi Final the same year.
With the demise of the Redcoats, Don Bomford became Parade Leader at the T.C.A. when hard man Jack Backhouse was Kennel Supervisor. Before too long, Don moved on to be Assistant Starter to Dave Stalker. This encompassed parading the dogs once they were led onto the track and then organising the start of each race. Once Dave Stalker replaced Jack Backhouse as Kennel Supervisor, Don moved on to become the Starter on race nights.
He held this position until the mid – eighties, when he took over from Dave Stalker as Kennel Supervisor. Amazingly, Don Bomford has held this position uninterrupted from that time until present day, and in his 81st year!
Further still, Don is part of the furniture at Hobart trial sessions. In the latter years of the T.C.A. Don ran the Monday night trials. For many years at the Showgrounds he conducted all trial sessions except race night. Since moving to Elwick, Don has run all trial sessions on Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings come rain, hail or shine.
Don married Shirley Allikas on March 26, 1959, and they had one son Rodney, born in 1965. He also has two grandchildren Matthew and Olivia whom he is known to spoil as much as possible. After fifty wonderful years together Don lost Shirley on September 17 2009. Son Rodney actually worked part time as a kennel steward for two or three years at the Showgrounds.
Don Bomford is a unique person in our great sport of Greyhound Racing. He has been a continuous servant of the Hobart Greyhound Racing Club for nigh on forty eight years, and in so many roles. His diligence and honest work ethic is unparalleled. His generosity and humility, endear him to all that know him. And in this game everyone does know him!
His friends in Greyhound Racing should nearly be bracketed as – everyone! In particular, Don has had endearing friendships with Aileen Ivory, Pearl Griggs, Noel Butters, Graeme Moate, Margaret Crosswell, Peter Wright, Gavin Whitney and Margaret Rossendell.
We are proud to include our own living legend Don Bomford, into the Tasmanian Greyhound Hall of Fame.