Tamworth man closes book on long career

ROB Sweeney has written his last bet.

Rob Sweeney betting up at Tamworth for the last time last Saturday. 
Photo: Geoff O’Neill 280614GOD01

Rob Sweeney betting up at Tamworth for the last time last Saturday. Photo: Geoff O’Neill 280614GOD01

The Tamworth bookmaker fielded at his final meeting at Tamworth Jockey Club’s Sky 2 TAB meeting last Saturday.

It ended 49 years of taking bets for 75-year-old Sweeney.

“It’s been good fun. I’ve  enjoyed myself,” he said.

“I met a lot of good people in racing. 

“It has changed a lot though.

“There used to be 28 bookmakers here fielding on the board (metropolitan meetings).”

On Saturday there were just two – him and Garry Burgess –  with just a handful of bookies fielding on the local races.

Sweeney  started his bookmaking at the Tamworth Greyhound Racing Club meetings in 1965.

“It used to be a strong ring with Frank Clout, Owen Roberts and Dave Murray,” he said.

“I also worked at the trots for a long time. 

“They were good nights but made for a big day after fielding all day and then going to the trots at night.”

He’s had some funny experiences.

One year he flew to Taree to field at the coastal meeting on the big Doomben 10,000meeting.

“We had a crash landing,” he recalled.

“The pilot forgot to put the wheels down.”

That created a few nervous moments, he laughed.

His biggest bet was at the Barraba Cup meeting.

“I bet $6000 to $2000 Best Western – he just won.

“The best bookie was John Picone.  He was phenomenal, the smartest bookie I’ve ever seen.”

The best horse?

“Tiny’s Finito, Merry Jack, Nosey Parker and Brooklyn Maid,” he recalled.

The annual Grafton Cup Carnival starts tomorrow but he won’t be there.

“I haven’t been there for the last few years,” he said.

And one last memory?

“Yeah, the bloke (commission agent) who came up to Tamworth to back Fine Cotton that year,” he said.

“He got here late.  he missed the 33’s but backed him at 7-2.

“He did  his windscreen at Muswellbrook, got picked up for speeding at Wallabadah and never got paid,” Sweeney  said of the infamous ring-in when Bold Personality was substituted for Fine Cotton at Brisbane’s Eagle Farm racetrack in 1984.

Three cheers for Rob in his retirement. One of the good guys.

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