Years involved in industry: 30
Category: Committee / Official
- Melbourne Greyhound Racing Association Chairman 23 years
- Awarded MBE in 1977 for his services to greyhound racing
- The Olympic Park Grandstand was named in his honour
Huge crowds attending greyhound races in Melbourne’s CBD is something today’s generation would find difficult to fathom. However, this was the norm at Olympic Park in Swan Street during the 1960s, 70s & ’80s, and the person at the helm for much of it was Harold Matthews in his role as Chairman/Manager of the Melbourne Greyhound Racing Association [MGRA].
Matthews held that position from 1955-1979, and prior to the opening of Olympic Park as a greyhound venue in 1962, Matthews was in charge when the MGRA began racing five kilometres to the north west at the North Melbourne Football Ground [Arden Street]. The opening race meeting at North Melbourne was held on the 7th October, 1957 with immortal greyhound Rookie Rebel featuring in the main event on the 10 race card. First prize in that race was 75 pounds [enough to buy a new car], while 83 bookmakers were in attendance.
However, it was at Olympic Park that Matthews’ stocks as an administrator really grew. He oversaw changes in technology, administration and developments at the track, with his work so impressive that the $5.5Million two-tier grandstand at Olympic Park was named in his honour.
Incidentally, Matthews didn’t enter the world of greyhound administration until he was in his fifties, and his life before then was just as impressive. A champion footballer, he represented St. Kilda in 136 Victorian Football League [now the AFL] matches from 1925-36, and captained the club for two seasons. He also represented Victoria in football. “He was named as Vice-Captain of Victoria, and once captained the team for half a game when [Collingwood legend] Syd Coventry went off the ground injured”, Matthews’ son Bruce said recently. “Dad’s nickname in football was “Circ”, which was short for Circus because he was always up to practical jokes.”