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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Bruce McAvaney - SA should be proud of the Bay Sheffield

Bruce McAvaney - SA should be proud of the Bay Sheffield

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Master Sheff - Bruce backs historic race

by Kym Morgan
Guardian Messenger
12 Oct 11

SPECIAL: Bruce McAvaney thinks the Bay Sheffield is an
event Glenelg should be proud of.

FOR CLOSE to 30 years he has been the voice behind some of the biggest moments in Australian and international sport, capturing the occasion with a style and a passion all of his own.

But when Bruce McAvaney takes time away from the world’s biggest sporting cauldrons each Christmas, he retreats to a venue he finds equally special.

For several years McAvaney has spent Proclamation Day on a picnic rug at Colley Reserve, Glenelg, watching the Bay Sheffield Athletics Carnival with friends.

“I think the Bay Sheffield is a bit like the Oakbank Racing Carnival over Easter,” McAvaney said.

“It’s more than a century old and we mark the calendar by them here in Adelaide ... I’ve been to the Stawell Gift but nothing compares to this event (the Bay Sheffield) for atmosphere.

“It’s raw, and wherever you’re standing or sitting at the track you feel like you can put your hands on it ...

“I think it’s an event we as a state and a city, and Glenelg as a suburb, should be very proud of.”

The 2011 Bay Sheffield will have a different and slightly sad feel for McAvaney, the SA Athletic League’s official patron.

For at least the past five years he has watched the event with friends Matt Fitzpatrick and Alby Donnelly on the eastern side of Colley Reserve.

But Donnelly, a much-loved follower of local handicap athletics, died on May 31 this year, aged 82.

A measure of his love for the sport was his decision to leave money to the SAAL for sash donations for the upcoming season.

“Alby and Matt would save me a spot each year,” McAvaney recalled.

“Alby liked to have a bet. He’d do a form guide leading up to the event. I liked to have a flutter. I don’t have much on, and I only have one or two bets, but it was a lot of fun.

“I’m going to miss that, but Matt and I will have to keep the tradition going.”

McAvaney owns a sports bookshop in Glenelg with wife Anne and lives in the area.

He is preparing to cover the Melbourne spring racing carnival for Channel 7.

For the first time in more than 30 years he will not be calling the track and field action for Australian television at next year’s Olympics, after Channel 7 lost the rights to the event to Channel 9.

But McAvaney will still have a role in London, after Seven granted him leave from his AFL commitments to call the swimming for the Olympic Broadcasting Services.

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