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    Retired Greyhound’s presence delights Oxford United fans
Retired Greyhound’s presence delights Oxford United fans
Fans’ stands at the stadium with Bangerz. Source: Oxford stadium

Retired Greyhound’s presence delights Oxford United fans

On February 3, the Kassam Stadium in Oxford had a unique event as part of its second Gala Race Night of the year, in collaboration with local League One football club Oxford United. Instead of boots, paws took centre stage during the occasion.

Prior to the derby match between Oxford United and Reading, which drew a crowd of 10,000 fans, the stadium introduced retired greyhound Bangerz (also known as The Rockstar) to the attendees. Bangerz is owned by Wayne and Liz Mazey, ambassadors for retired greyhounds in Oxford.

Retired Greyhound Bangerz. Source: X
Retired Greyhound Bangerz. Source: X

Bangerz paraded in front of the main grandstand and was present by the pitchside to witness both teams entering the field. Supporters had the opportunity to meet Bangerz, while the matchday announcer, Peter Rhoades-Brown, provided detailed information about the Greyhound Board of Great Britain's Greyhound Retirement Scheme and accentuated the admirable qualities of retired racing greyhounds as pets.

Even the first-team manager, Des Buckingham, took a break from his pre-match arrangements to interact with Bangerz. This event was also a special occasion for Buckingham, as it marked his first visit to Oxford Stadium since assuming his role as the manager of Oxford United in November.

Kevin Boothby, the Managing Director of Oxford Stadium, expressed his delight with the event, considering it a resounding success. He mentioned that it was a unique experience to have a greyhound present by the pitchside to welcome the teams before the match. The presence of Bangerz greatly contributed to spreading the message about the suitability of greyhounds as pets and the positive qualities they possess after retirement.

“So many people noted how calm Bangerz was in front of a near capacity crowd singing like the result depended on it. To me, that just proves how adaptable greyhounds are – they take everything in their stride, and we were pleased to showcase this,” observed Kevin.

After a 1-1 draw at the Kassam Stadium, fans embarked on a one-mile trip to Oxford Stadium for the debut United Legends Race Night. The event saw the participation of various former players, including James Constable, the club's second-highest goal scorer, as well as Pete Foley and Peter Rhoades-Brown. Supporters were offered a special admission deal, where anyone wearing a United shirt gained free entry.

The good news continued as the stadium's retired greyhound for the week, Fern (also known as Footfield Fern), found a prospective new home with a visiting family. Awaiting a successful home inspection, the four-year-old former racing greyhound will soon be relocating to her new residence.

Shaun Reynolds, representing Fortitude Communications, the organising team for the event, expressed his eagerness about the opportunity to introduce greyhound racing to a wide audience, considering it a significant highlight in Oxford's ongoing revitalisation. He acknowledged the crucial role played by the dedicated team on the ground, whose support greatly contributed to the resounding success of the Gala Race Nights. Additionally, Reynolds highlighted the positive collaboration between Fortitude Communications, the football club, and its staff, emphasising that the event had a positive impact on the local greyhound racing scene.

Reynolds also extended a special acknowledgement to Wayne and Liz Mazey, along with their three retired greyhounds. Quoting Shaun: “A special mention must go to Wayne and Liz Mazey and their three retired greyhounds Bangerz, Dash and Luna. They are all so generous with their time and are a real asset to the stadium.”

Dog Gala Race Night at the Oxford stadium. Source: Oxford stadium
Dog Gala Race Night at the Oxford stadium. Source: Oxford stadium

The upcoming Gala Race Night at Oxford Stadium is set to take place on Saturday evening fixture on April 20 where teams of up to 10 people can work together to win a £500 jackpot, a bottle of champagne and a special trophy. The event promises an exciting atmosphere with lively music, featuring toe-tapping jigs and reels. Attendees can look forward to 10 thrilling live races, including the heats of the TV Trophy.

Tickets for the event are currently available for purchase on the stadium's website. It's an opportunity to enjoy an evening of exhilarating races and a taste of Greyhound racing culture at the stadium.

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