There a few people in greyhound racing that can boast as diverse a resume in the sport as new Sandown Greyhound Racing Club chairman Neil Brown.
Brown is just the fifth chairman in the club’s decorated 61 year history. He has served on the board since being invited by his predecessor in 2001, and has been on the executive since 2006, his elevation to the Chair following Geoff Dawson’s retirement after 30 years at the helm.
“It’s a pretty unique job when you’re following someone like Geoff Dawson, and Henry Harrison before him. They’re a couple of very big names in the sport to follow,” he said.
“I’ve seen the club really prosper in my time, it’s a well run operation and the actual venue itself has really blossomed. (Former CEOs) Jeff Davies and Matt Corby did a wonderful job renovating the grandstand, and since Greg Miller has joined us we’ve gone up another notch. We’ve done a good job in other areas too, things like social media and stuff – it’s a new direction one that for us old timers is very different to what we knew – and we’re the leaders in developing different products that appeal to the younger punters.
“I’m looking forward to maintaining our position as the leading club in the country.”
Brown has a lifelong passion for greyhound racing. Growing up in Springvale, he was exposed to greyhound racing at an early age via a number of trainers who lived in the area, and it wasn’t long before he would become a regular at his local track.
“I used to slip in the back fence down off View Road. We’d have our bets put on by some very accommodating older punters who were always happy to put the young teenager’s bets on. On my first night there I backed a dog called Perilous from box seven and got the money, so you’re instantly hooked aren’t you?
“Things have changed a lot now but I have some very fond memories the late 60’s and the halcyon days in the 70’s at Sandown Park. I had a great enthusiasm from that point on and couldn’t get enough of greyhound racing. I got a chance to train a few myself when I was working full time and really, really enjoyed it.
“I trained for 15 years or so and had a few city winners. We won some races here at Sandown, won some races at Olympic Park and all around country Victoria.”
During his 50 year love affair with greyhound racing, Brown has been involved in almost every aspect of the sport. As well as a former trainer and breeder, Brown has been a registered owner since 1970. He is a former CEO of the Australian and New Zealand Greyhound Association (now Greyhounds Australasia), has worked as form analyst and commentator on RSN – Racing & Sport for the last 21 years, has also worked for Sky Racing and numerous greyhound publications, is the Publicity Officer for Greyhound Clubs Australia (formerly AGRA), and was even the course commentator at Lang Lang coursing club for almost 20 years.
He has served numerous industry committees including a decade’s service on the Victorian Greyhound of the Year and Topgun panels, and has been a member of the GRV Victorian Hall of Fame committee since inception in 2006, and in 2000 was awarded the Australian Sport Medal for services to greyhound racing. His passion for the sport and its history has made him one of the industry’s go to people on history related matters, and even when holidaying he’s never too far from a track.
“I really love the history and that’s a great privilege just to learn about how they used to do things even way back in the non-proprietary days (when tracks were privately owned).
“I’ve been lucky enough to see racing in different parts of the world and that’s been fantastic as well. If I was going to Dublin, well I wouldn’t go there without going to the greyhounds, and my wife is quite aware of that! I even found one in Casablanca in Morocco so I thought that was an achievement.”
Brown, 64, has been married to Mandy for 41 years and has three children and one granddaughter, and is an avid St Kilda supporter
Best greyhound seen: Zoom Top
Best sprinter: Fernando Bale
Best stayer: Lizrene with a special mention to Bold Trease
Most exciting greyhound: Dyna Double One
Most exciting moment: The night when Highly Blessed became the first dog to break 30 seconds on the old Sandown track
Favourite greyhound: Gold Grotto
Favourite race: The Melbourne Cup. I’ve been to 49 now so I’m looking forward to bringing up the half century this year