Posted by Hopwood Wendy
Date: 28th March 2018
The Stawell Athletic Club (SAC) has been responsible for staging the Stawell Gift in all but four years since 1878 and has built the iconic and historic race into one of the world’s most famous and prestigious foot races.
In 1877 a group of young Stawell businessmen and farmers proposed a sports meeting for the town to be held every Easter, featuring athletics which would not only provide relaxation and entertainment, it was relatively cheap to stage and take part in. Initially there was fierce opposition from the gold miners who already had their own sports meeting in October. The first Stawell Gift was held at Easter in 1897 and those pioneers of Stawell were determined that nothing but the best was good enough. Then, as now, there was no shortage of voluntary labour and tremendous interest was taken by all in the town preparing for their first meeting. The venue was the old Botanical Reserve and hours of preparation were spent on the tracks by the volunteers headed by committee members.
Stawell’s reputation for splendid tracks and an arena the equal of any in the world for the staging of a sports meeting continues to today. A crowd of 2000 was a heartening reward for the first Committee and from that meeting the Club has never looked back. Born from that first meeting in 1878 was SAC’s simple but powerful motto – ‘EVER FOREMOST.’
Current SAC President Kieren McInstosh has been a committee member since 2009 holding various positions including handing out colours, operating scoreboards and as a judge. He began working at Stawell as a youngster. “The Stawell Gift is something that has played a part in my life for as long as I can remember from a spectator, to working as a block kid, right up until the age I was able to take up a place on the committee on the Stawell Athletic Club.”
Overseeing the committee, planning for the week of the Carnival and implementing the transformation of Central Park has been Kieren’s focus to date but he stresses, as with any major event, there is as much post Gift decision making leading up to the AGM in October when a new committee is appointed. The emergency services radio dispatcher is the son of former SAC President Robert McIntosh who still serves on the committee and is now a race starter.
Treasurer Jeremy Irvine is also the son of past President and Secretary, Robert Irvine, currently serving on the Committee. The Irvine family will be represented by three generations working at Stawell as 12-year-old Hamish Irvine will be pulling the blocks and working on the colour stand.
With assigned roles over the Easter weekend, the committee members look after everything from setting out the track, race starting, announcing, handing out the colours, presenting cheques to race finalists and timing. “Timing is so important, you could set your watch to the Gift schedule and its very rare we run behind,” said Jeremy.
“We do it because we are crazy. The Stawell Gift is one of those things that gets into your blood, we all love the mystique and there is always a story,” said Jeremy which explains why so many Stawell families are involved with the Club. Current committee members Murray McPherson, Peter Donovan and Garry Middleton have all served for over 40 years.
The committee spends most of the year planning, attending meetings and constantly looking at aspects to improve. Then it is all-hands-on-deck, when Central Park turns from being a regular local cricket pitch and football oval to a nationally televised major Australian sporting event.
In 2017 the Stawell Athletic Club named 2014 Stawell Gift winner Luke Versace as Patron, just the third in the club’s long history.
Contact: Wendy Hopwood, SAC Office Manager
Central Park Main St Stawell VIC 3380
P.O Box 118 Stawell Vic 3380
Tel: 03 53581326
PATRON: Luke Versace
PRESIDENT: Kieren McIntosh
VICE PRESIDENTS: Darryle Harrison, Neil Blizzard
TREASURER: Jeremy Irvine
SECRETARY: Scotney Hayter
COMMITTEE: Brian Barber, Neil Blizzard, Maurice Campbell, John Dalziel, Ian Davies, Peter Donovan, Peter Dunstan, Darryle Harrison, Scotney Hayter, Matthew Hayward, Graeme Humphrey, Jeremy Irvine, Robert Irvine, Murray MacPherson, Geoff McDermott, Kieren McIntosh, Robert McIntosh, Garry Middleton, Ian Seaman, Ian Sibson, Trevor Skurrie, Kate Williamson
TRIBUNAL AND PROTEST COMMITTEE: VAL Panels
GROUND MANAGERS: Darryle Harrison
STARTERS: Maurice Campbell, Ian Sibson, Graeme Humphrey
|STAWELL ATHLETIC CLUB
Committee List 2018
|Barber, Brian||member since 1988, 2 x Past President|
|Blizzard, Neil||Member since 2014, Past President|
|Campbell, Maurice||Member since 1981 – Past President, Head starter for last 11 years|
|Dalziel, John||member since 1985, past President|
|Davies, Ian||Member since 1985, Past President, past Treasurer, Corporate Marquee organiser, Starter|
|Donovan, Peter||Member since 1977, Past President|
|Dunstan, Peter||Member since 2015|
|Harrison, Darryle||Member since 2014, Vice President & Grounds manager|
|Hayter, Scotney||Member since 2001, Past President, Secretary|
|Haywood, Matt||Member since 2017|
|Humphrey, Graeme||Member since 1998, Past president, Starter|
|Irvine, Jeremy||Member since 2010, past President, Treasurer|
|Irvine, Robert||Member since 1987, 2 x Past President, Past Secretary, Program committee, MC for Event|
|MacPherson, Murray||Member since 1973, Past president,Past Starter, program committee|
|McDermott, Geoff||Member since 2012|
|McIntosh, Kieren||Member since 2012, President|
|McIntosh, Robert||Member since 2001, 2 X Past President, Starter|
|Middleton, Garry||Member since 1972, Past President|
|Seaman, Ian||Member since 1993, Past President and Past Treasurer|
|Sibson, Ian||Member since 1995, Past President, Starter|
|Skurrie, Trevor||Member since 2004, 2 x Past President|
|Williamson, Kate||Member since 2012|
Posted by Hopwood Wendy
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