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VALE RICHARD FACE


RICHARD Face saved the day!

The long-serving former Newcastle politician’s passing this week rekindled memories for this writer of the huge role he played to assist Newcastle Jockey Club get on the right track at a critical time in the early 1990s.

Not that I would ever forget it.

Having taken up the role as CEO of the NJC in January, 1991 – halfway through the financial year – a substantial six-figure loss at the end of the 12 months was indeed hard to swallow.

The recession had started to bite, interest rates were dwindling, and the outlook certainly wasn’t bright.

We were being “rewarded” with only a few thousand dollars to run our regular Saturday meetings, and were losing heavily on them.

Club Superstation telecast only the last two races, and there was no RacingNSW around then to stump up prizemoney.

Enter Richard Face. Informed of the NJC’s situation, the Member for Charlestown sprung straight into action, summoning all Hunter pollies to a special meeting with club officials in a private room at Wests Leagues Club.

The facts were laid bare. Urgent action was needed, and there was no way Richard was going to let his hometown race club go any further backwards under his watch as the Minister for Gaming and Racing.

He took up the matter with then TAB chairman Ross Cribb – and the result was that the NJC was to be paid 1 per cent of TAB turnover on our Saturday meetings.

That change combined with the club’s decision to sign an agreement with Sky Channel to telecast our meetings overseas – against the wishes of the then Australian Jockey Club (principal body at the time) – also provided us with a full telecast to Australian punters of all our races, not just the last two.

The very first full telecast Broadmeadow meeting on a Saturday in March 1993 had an immediate impact. TAB turnover rocketed from a previous figure of around $250,00-$300,000 to exceeding $1m – and better financial rewards started to flow.

This wasn’t the only instance either where Richard used his political clout to assist the NJC.

There were several, another important one being when the club ended its association with greyhound racing, principally through greatly reduced TAB coverage on Saturday afternoons (when Broadmeadow didn’t race), and closed Beaumont Park in 1997 after unsuccessfully offering the track to two major NSW greyhound bodies.

Richard was instrumental in convincing Newcastle City Council to rezone the site to enable the NJC to pursue a residential development, and gain a very strong financial footing.

RIP Richard. Newcastle Jockey Club has much to both thank and long remember you for.

*Words John Curtis, August 3, 2023 - Pics supplied*


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