Years involved in industry: 50
Category : Trainer
- Trainer of 1984 Victorian Greyhound of the Year – Sheila’s Teresa
- 1986 Victorian Trainer of the Year
- Offered his training knowledge to many aspiring trainers
- Guest speaker at numerous industry seminars
Master mentor the late Allan Roberts spent his formative years in the rough and tumble Mallee farming district.
It was a tough upbringing, but it was to prove invaluable in later years – in a number of ways!
Like many young men during the outbreak of WWII, Allan falsified his age and enlisted in the Australian Armed Forces. He was the only officer in his unit to survive the battles between Australian and Japanese forces during the Kokoda Track Campaign. Sadly, his legacy was contracting dengue fever and malaria, and consequently a degenerative heart condition.
But when Allan returned home from the war, there was a telegram waiting for him. His mother had bought him a greyhound, which he had to pick up from a railway station.
Allan had started walking greyhounds as an eight-year-old for two local trainers in the Mallee. And he trained his first coursing winner, at the age of 12, after jumping on a train to race at Mildura.
His son, Ian, said the earliest memories of his dad and the sport he loved was a pet greyhound, “Silver”, who had a bed in the back of a garage.
“Silver (who raced under the name Swift Pediss) doubled as a racing greyhound and won 42 city races without ever being kennelled…It was quite amazing,” Ian said.
“She was a bit of a guardian. She would hang around and look after us, and everywhere we went she would follow.”
Allan juggled greyhound training with his employment as a truck driver for Ringwood Council. He would often drop in at home during the day to check on his greyhounds.
“My mother’s parents bought a house and three adjoining blocks post-war in Ringwood,” Ian said.
“Dad had a house and the main kennels on one block and acquired another block which was divided into runs and facilities for rearing pups, breaking-in and spelling.
“Dad was totally consistent in his training methodology. We were up at 4.30am every morning, and he would say ‘we’ve got to be up before the birds, or they’ll get all the oxygen’.
“He was so regimented, and would also say ‘if I can’t be consistent with them, why should they be consistent with me’.
“He was particularly meticulous in what each greyhound was fed. He had sliding scales and would weigh their food, right down to a quarter of an ounce in accuracy.
“He was also savvy in terms of technological change. He acquired an ultrasound from the Melbourne Football Club and was an advocate of magnetic wave therapy.
“He even bought a German microwave machine, to regenerate muscle tissue, but had to have the handbook translated for him in English.
“But his hallmark as a trainer was consistency, and being able to bring the best out of a greyhound.”
Another son, Wayne, remembers he and Ian running a roster to walk the greyhounds with their dad before school.
“While we were walking the greyhounds, dad would just talk about anything – football, cricket, the trouble I was getting into at school, even the chances of his greyhounds in upcoming races,” Wayne said.
“We’d get back to the kennels and start grooming the greyhounds, and towelling them down if they were wet. Dad’s greyhounds came first, and he contracted a bout of pneumonia because on one particularly inclement morning he remained wet for too long.”
Allan prepared a boutique team for nearly 40 years, including 1984 Victorian Greyhound of the Year Sheila’s Teresa.
“Sheila’s Teresa, or “Sweetie” as she was affectionately known, was sent over from Tasmania like many of dad’s greyhounds,” Wayne said.
“She would just get out and go for it; real catch-me-if-you can tactics. She gave her all and had a never-say-die attitude.”
Allan also trained greyhounds the ilk of Perky Liz, Shan’s Deb, Glenavon King, Ringwood Lass, Vibrant Lass, Vibrant King, Wynlee Spirit, Wynlee Wonder, Wynlee Raider and Blackwood Earl – to name just a few.
He also trained one of the first English imports to Australia, Old Berry Hermes, and when he put him to stud 80 per cent of Allan’s bloodlines emanated through him.
Wayne said when his dad had his first heart attack, his wife Beryl was a Rock of Gibraltar.
“Dad said he couldn’t have achieved his greyhound training success without mum. They were partners in everything, right through to the end.
“And when he won the 1986 Victorian Trainer of the Year award, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. He held everyone up with his antics for half an hour.”
Wayne added that his dad had three loves in his life: family, greyhounds and Essendon Football Club.
“He loved life in general; he was a happy-go-lucky person.
“And his induction into the Victorian greyhound racing Hall of Fame is great recognition for the love and devotion he gave to the sport.
“He’d help people in any way, even conducting seminars with Ned (George) Bryant. It’s a true complete circle that he has joined his old mate Ned as a Victorian greyhound racing Hall of Fame inductee.”
And Ian agreed saying his dad gave freely of his knowledge, never holding back on any information that could assist an aspiring trainer.
“Dad always said passing information on was the future of the industry. He also had a legion of followers among punters, who got their monies worth as his greyhounds were always up and running.
“It’s absolutely wonderful that dad has been inducted into the Victorian greyhound racing Hall of Fame alongside his great mate, the late Ned Bryant.”