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MY CALL: REMEMBERING THE 'GOOD OLD DAYS' OF DEMONSTRATIONS AND OLD-FASHIONED VERBAL SPRAYS

By David Fowler | Tuesday, June 18, 2019

David Fowler is the principal thoroughbred caller for Radio TAB. David, who is a keen form student and punter, has enjoyed a lifetime involvement in the racing media. His personal blog, ‘My Call’, appears exclusively on HRO.

Racing and what happens in its backyard is a microcosm of society in general.

In other words, the social patterns and behaviour you observe day by day will eventually replicate themselves at a racetrack.

Sooner or later.

I was prompted to this topic after witnessing the absolutely laughable “behavioural awareness” officers patrolling AFL matches at the weekend.

I reckon even the most politically correct would have blushed at this over zealousness to keep the crowds in check.

Talk about a “nanny state”.

Even the AFL who has always believed it has the right to interfere in every aspect of our lives, apart from football, conceded it was a bridge too far.

Free speech and its expression has been steadily curtailed over the decades and the racetrack has followed suit.

Younger readers might find it hard to believe that post race demonstrations at the track were not the norm but were certainly not uncommon.

A beaten short-priced favorite as a result of an ordinary ride could ensure the punters lining up six and seven deep at the enclosure hurling all sorts of abuse.

Similarly, a form reversal either first to last or last to first could ensure fireworks.

The target of the demonstration was often hard to judge from an unbiased observer. Those doing the booing probably didn’t know either but it was a necessary release of tension.

They’d paid their admission in the gate. They were entitled to “have a go”.

Administrators rarely intervened. It was considered par for the course if the situation dictated it.

And, while it might sound double dutch, the demonstrations were controlled within the heat of the moment. No violence or throwing of objects but a simply good old fashioned verbal spray.

It would be short and swift and then back to business to try and sort out the next winner. Normal transmission resuming,

The demonstrators generally had leeway because they had numbers on their side.

It was nigh on impossible for the racetrack coppers to pinch all of them. Strength in numbers, you could say.

Of course, the crowds are long gone but imagine if someone hurled abuse at a beaten jockey in the first at Doomben tomorrow.

You can bet London to a brick on they would be hauled out on the ear by security. Nothing surer.

Society has become more sanitised and politically correct year by year. The racetrack has simply followed that path.

To be fair and balanced, the licence to say what you like about anybody is not what it be used to be and that’s a good thing.

And again the racetrack has followed the lead.

I get that but I’d still prefer an old fashioned “demo” to the twitter trolls tapping away long after the race had been run and won.

At least the demonstrators put their face to their disapproval.

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David Fowler
David Fowler
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