Sunday 21 January 2018

Clonmel part of my life for last 40 years

Greyhound Racing
Greyhound Racing

Eddie Anderson

It was almost inevitable that I would end up working here in Clonmel track.

It is 40 years since I had my first involvement as a kennel boy parading the dogs for racing. An uncle of mine Tony Murphy, who lived in England, bought land in Clonmel and got into greyhounds. My brother Richie trained them and as a young lad, I would help out.

In 1980, I joined the 'Sporting Press' and worked there until joining 'Ireland's Greyhound Weekly' in 2000.

I started reporting on the racing for the 'Sporting Press' in '86. The year before that I got married to Shirley and in '89 we bought an acre-and-a-half in Newchapel, which is just a couple of miles outside the town.

We used to breed, rear and train the dogs there and we ran all our dogs under the Aruba prefix. We had a few very good dogs and I remember Seamus Graham bought Aruba Dragon from us.

Shirley's dad, Barney McCoy, was involved with Joe Carroll, who owned No Way Jose.

Barney would whelp down the litters and I actually whelped down her litter to Greenpark Fox. I also whelped a litter from Carmels Storm -- she was the dam of She Said So.

All that came to an end when the Clonmel track closed in 1997. A lot of people got out of the game at that stage and it turned our lives upside down as we were rearing a lot of dogs for people.

Shirley had to go back to work and we had to sell half the site. We had a run of eight years with the dogs there and that finished it. The track opened up again late in 2001 and in 2008 I moved into management at the track when the job at Clonmel was advertised.

It was a big change as you are dealing with people from a different side of the counter.

I am enjoying it. It is a different challenge. Since then there have been a lot of changes here and the biggest of all was the opening of the new stand last year. This has opened up the stadium to a whole new range of people.

There are also more bills to be paid and it means we have to encourage more business.

Basically, it is up to us to sell the place and we are starting to make big inroads locally.

For the past year it was really a case of us all settling in to our new situation, but we are now setting out to sell the place in a big way and we are hoping for a good year.

For too long we have been depending on support from the rural area. There is a population of 30,000 in Clonmel and our task is to attract more visitors from the town.

We are now entering our busy time and bookings are encouraging for the build-up to the national festival and then the Produce Stakes. Our other big events are the Munster Derby and the Munster Puppy Cup.

We would be in trouble but for the Track Supporters' Club. They provide between €30,000 and €40,000 in sponsorship and that is massive for us.

Safety is a priority. We source our sand from Scotland and owners and trainers are voting with their feet as they use our track to start the careers of so many of their dogs.

The track has always played a big part in my life and two of my sons, Alan and Eoghan, are working here with me, while Zack is in transition year in school.

* Eddie Anderson is manager of Clonmel Greyhound Stadium

Irish Independent

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