• Wednesday, 16 Aug, 2023,
  • by Peter Quilty

A Day at the ‘NB Museum’

The Neil Brown Museum – a 15-year stop-start ‘labour of love’ – was officially opened at Sandown Greyhound Racing Club last Sunday.

Obviously the ‘architect’ behind the project is the great man himself, Neil Brown – SGRC chairman, 2018 Ken Carr Medallist and self-confessed greyhound racing chronologist.

Indeed, Brown was justifiably proud – as were his family in attendance – when he ‘cut the ribbon’ to herald a posterity laden achievement.

“I’ve got a ‘historical’ gene,” Brown said. “I love to reminisce, and I’m passionate about our great sport.

“I used to love having conversations with Ron Nestor, George Schofield and Rod Deakin; they’d tell me about greyhounds I hadn’t seen.”

“I’ve got a ‘historical’ gene… I love to reminisce, and I’m passionate about our great sport.”

Brown informed the sporadic project was originally going to be a “national one”, but the “states couldn’t agree on it”.

“Matt Corby (former SGRC CEO) and I would discuss the possibility of a museum on a regular basis, and we did collect quite a few artefacts in the initial stages. But the project stalled for around 10 years due to state parochialism.

“However, the idea of the museum being located at Sandown Park was reignited by Adrian Scott (incumbent SGRC CEO). It was his due to his enthusiasm and vision.

“And ‘Bernie’ Dillon has been a behind-the-scenes livewire. She has done a power of work and was instrumental in the design. Without her input, it wouldn’t have got to such a classy exhibition.”

Brown added that the museum will be an “evolving thing”.

“Even Norm McCullagh has pledged the four consecutive Sandown Cups (1986-89) won by the ‘Warrnambool Warrior’ – Bold Trease.”

The ‘NB Museum’ – complete with a stunning timeline – has myriad memorabilia of photos and trophies of Melbourne Cup winners (including a glass-enclosed exhibit of the 1975 Melbourne Cup won by Dynamic Dean), coursing relics, champions of the past, and a dedicated ‘Bookies Corner’ that is a tribute to ‘satchel swingers’ of a bygone era – namely Lal Scurrah, a leviathan bookmaker of yesteryear who owned champion of the mid-1960s Cheltenham Lass.

The museum also comprises a ‘Best 8 Sprinters at Sandown’ board. The field, which was ‘adjudicated’ by Brown, is certain to create perennial debate. It even has a ‘mock market’ provided by Gary Thomas.

Here’s the field (in no particular box draw): 1. Rookie Rebel; 2. Highly Blessed; 3. Gold Grotto; 4. Cheltenham Lass; 5. Hua; 6. Sandi’s Me Mum; 7. Rapid Journey; 8. Fernando Bale.

Another interesting heirloom is the originally made, one-of-a-kind ‘tin boxes’ used to determine the box draw for many of the early years and right into the ’50s when the box draw for all races was conducted prior to the start of the meeting.

And the most infamous object of antiquity on display is the never-presented 2007 Group 1 Sandown Cup silverware.

The event was declared a no-race when veteran trainer Don Hazzard accidentally activated the starting lever after placing Sky Hazzard in Box 4, thus releasing the field before the lure was in motion. It led to the ‘Hazzard Guard’ to shield the manual lever.

Extract of Adrian Scott’s speech at the ‘NB Museum’ opening

“The SGRC has always been very active in recognising and promoting the history of our wonderful sport and the establishment of a museum at Sandown has been loosely discussed for the last 10 years. About this time last year, we made a commitment to establishing a museum, it also aligned with celebrating 150 years of greyhound racing in Victoria. Whilst our museum is modest compared to some it will continue to evolve. I would like to acknowledge the work of our staff members – Bernadette Dillon and Tony Parson – for making today happen.

When we were formatting our plan for the museum, one of the first points of discussion was coming up with a name, it was a brief discussion.

Neil Brown has carved out a reputation as being an authority on the history of greyhound racing, not just around the SGRC, but across Australia. Neil has held various positions within the industry, some paid positions but the majority in a voluntary capacity. He has been a director of the SGRC for 21 years, the last six years as chairperson. He is a life member of the club, and presently holds the position as publicity officer for Greyhound Clubs Australia.

Neil’s Facebook site – Greyhound Racing Throughout the Years – has around 8000 followers.

There are three names that are synonymous with the history of the Sandown Greyhound Racing Club – Henry Harrison (Henry Harrison Grandstand), Geoff ‘Smokey’ Dawson (Dawson’s Bistro) and Neil Brown (NB Museum).

Neil Brown, it is indeed an honour to be part of this auspicious occasion in formally opening the museum, a museum that acknowledges the outstanding contribution that Neil has made to our sport and the Sandown Greyhound Racing Club. Neil has spent all his life in the Springvale district, by his own admissions a humble hobby trainer who achieved moderate success from his backyard in Keysborough. Neil, whilst you may have been a humble hobby trainer you have been a champion ambassador for the sport of greyhound racing. Neil would like you to come forward and formally open the NB Museum.”

Peter QuiltyPeter Quilty

Peter Quilty

Peter Quilty has more than three decades of experience as assistant editor of Victorian Greyhound Weekly. He was editor of GRV monthly magazine The Adviser (2001-09) and owner/publisher of Australian Greyhound Monthly. He also served on the selection panel for the inaugural GRV ‘Hall of Fame’ inductees and for several years was an adjudicator on the Victorian GOTY. He’s also published greyhound racing yearbooks and wrote the ‘Bold Trease’ video script.

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