Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Blast From The Past

The Last Session - Oran Park 1982
So I finally got around to sorting my old photo's the other day and I came across some pictures I took at Mt Panorama (Bathurst - 1982) and at other former racetracks at Oran Park Raceway (Cobbity, NSW - 1972 & 1982) and Warwick Farm, International Raceway (Warwick Farm NSW - 1972). 

Allan Moffat - Warwick Farm 1972 
These photo's, which were taken on my old 35mm and 128mm film camera's bought back some wonderful memories for me. Memories such as when I was a skinny 12 year old catching the train down to Warwick Farm on a winters Saturday just to watch the practice session of the ATCC (Australian Touring Car Championship), walking around the pit area looking at the cars and talking to my heroes, legends such as Bob Jane and Colin Bond. Or the photo's I took at the last practice session of the day at Oran Park while hanging over the pit wall in 1982, which was also the only time I got to personally meet the late legend of Australian motor sport, Peter Brock. These days there are thousands of fans that follow their idols and there is no way a fan these days could just wander up to the pit wall and take a photo without the ever present security guards whisking you away before you got anywhere near the pit apron! 

Ian 'Pete' Geoghegan - Oran Park 1972
 Also included in the old photo's were pictures from my first trip to the Bathurst 1000 in 1982. The race itself is held  at 'The Mountain' on the first weekend in October,  and this year the iconic track celebrated it's 50th year of hosting the Bathurst 500/1000 race, which was the impetus for me to go looking through my old photo's. Actually, my first trip to 'The Mountain' wasn't in 1982, but a decade earlier in 1972, for the now defunct Easter meeting, which included a round of the Australian Touring Car Championship. This race is considered by many to be the best sedan race held on the 'The Mountain' and was eventually  won by Ian 'Pete' Geoghegan in his highly  modified Ford Phase III GTHO over everyone's arch nemesis, Allan Moffat in his Boss 302 Mustang ... great days indeed!    

Bob Jane - Oran Park  1972

When going back through the old pics, it was a reminder of how basic the conditions were in the pit area during those days, there were no concrete pads, no fixed structures, no connected services, just a tent (if they were a major team) and a bit of grass. The Bob Jane Racing Team was one of the first to drag motor racing into the modern age and if you look closely behind the picture of Bob Jane and his Monaro, you'll see the transporter he was using in 1972 to bring his racing team to events, setting a trend that all professional race teams quickly adopted.         

Peter Brock - Bathurst 1982
Motor racing has changed considerably over the past 40 years, it has become ultra professional and the once undisputed king of Australian motor racing scene in the 70's and 80's, the Australian Touring Car Championship, has now been surpassed by the V8 Supercar Series. The old racetracks such as Warwick Farm and Oran Park (along with Amaroo & Catalina) have disappeared over the years taking with them my memories. All the old drivers, household names of Australian motor racing in the 70's, names such as Bond, Moffat, Grice, Jane, Geoghegan, Johnson have long since retired and now watch their sons and the new generation of drivers do battle on tracks. 

However the biggest loss of all to the Australian motor racing scene was the death of the Aussie legend ... Peter Brock in 2006. Brockie was a truly great guy, he was one of those sportsmen that dominated his sport so much that everyone in Australia could recognise his name and his fame will endure over time, joining other sporting notables like the mighty Phar Lap (horse racing) and 'The Don', Don Bradman (cricket). I consider myself lucky enough to go to Bathurst in 1982 and see Brockie win his 6th 1000 klm race at 'The Mountain', two mighty icons of Australian sport, The King and The Mountain.

These days I don't go to watch motor racing, it is too accessible on the TV and races that were basically gatherings, have now turned into major events ... perhaps one day the skinny kid that still lurks inside me may make me pick up the camera and head back out to relive the sight and smells of my youth, maybe in 2022!         

Brockie At BP - Oran Park 1982

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Footy Daze 2012

I still cant believe that 2012 rugby league season has been run and won! It doesn't seem all that long ago I was at the first National Rugby League (NRL) match of the season, played at the Hunter Stadium on Thursday 1st March to see the Newcastle Knights lose in a Golden Point shoot out to the St George Illawarra Dragons. 

So it looks as though my weekends will once again seem hollow without watching 'The Greatest Game of All' every weekend and my summer days will be spent counting down the days towards the first trial matches in February.

So lets take a quick recap on my 'season on the sidelines';

10 x Newcastle Knights NRL home matches. I missed only two home game this year, the Round 8 win against the Penrith Panthers and the Round 10 loss to the North Queensland Cowboys. The low point on the Knights season came with the Round 12 loss to the Gold Coast Titans (14 -24) and the high point was the Round 19 win against the Manly Sea Eagles (32 - 6). Overall the season was a bummer with the Knights only winning 10 from 24 matches and finishing a disappointing 12th on the ladder.

3 x Newcastle Knights NSW Cup home matches. The NSW Cup is the official Reserve Grade fixture for the NRL. The Knights won all three of the matches I attended, the wins were against the Auckland Vulcans, the Windsor Wolves and the Canterbury Bulldogs. All these matches were played at Townson Oval Merewether, which would have to be one of the coldest places in Australia to watch rugby league .... brrrr!

1 x Finals Week Two match. My son and I went down to ANZ Stadium at Homebush to watch the Canberra Raiders lose to the South Sydney Rabbitohs 38 - 16. Although I do live in Newcastle and I have season tickets to the Knights, my heart is still with the Raiders who I have supported since 1983.

1 x Newcastle Rugby League Grand Final. I had a great day watching the West Newcastle Rosellas have a gutsy win against the Cessnock Goannas at Newcastle's No.1 Sportsground. I was only going for the Rosellas because their club, situated at New Lambton, has a great bistro and puts on great entertainment. Mum is a Cessnock girl so I should have gone for the Goannas, however the club at Wests is closer!

Some other highlights of the season were taking my 6 year old grand-daughter to her first rugby league game, the NSW Cup match between the Knights and the Vulcans and also taking my father to the same match. So including my son as well, who also attended, we had four generations attending the same match! Another highlight, was also sitting in the same seats all season at Hunter Stadium, freezing our bums off, catching up with Footy Bob and his family, living out the sporting highs and lows in a tribal atmosphere, with either my son or my wife at my side.

All in all it was a great year.

To me the game I follow is not about wins or losses (however I do prefer the wins), it's about getting out in the community, bonding with strangers who support the same team and building great memories to look back on in years to come.

And I hope in the years to come my grand-daughter still remembers me taking her to a freezing footy ground to watch her first match of rugby league .... and that is better than any Grand Final win!             

Oh and by the way, when going to the footy, always take your camera, even a 'point & shoot' can capture the excitement of the day!