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    Tribute to Frank Melville
Tribute to Frank Melville
Man walking a dog. Source: Midjourney

Tribute to Frank Melville

Greyhound racing mourns the loss of Frank Melville, who passed away on Monday at the age of 83. As recounted by Greyhound Star Editor Floyd Amphlett, Frank's life was deeply intertwined with the sport.

Born into a racing family, Frank's father trained at Ramsgate, and his uncle, Ronnie, was a successful trainer at Wembley. Frank began his career as a kennel lad at GRA’s Northaw kennel and, at 28, became the youngest NGRC-licensed trainer in 1968. He trained at Harringay and White City, achieving notable success with hurdlers Pier Hero and Try It Blackie, and stayers Commutering and Chain Gang.

Towards the end of his training career, Frank trained Astrosyn Doll for his brother John, securing victories in major races, including the Wood Lane. In 1983, a year before White City closed, Frank gave up his training license and became the National Greyhound Racing Club (NGRC) Stipendiary Steward for East Anglia. Three years later, he was promoted to Chief Stipendiary Steward.

In 1995, following the retirement of NGRC CEO Archie Newhouse, Frank took on the role of heading the rules and regulation sector, while Geoffrey Thomas managed the commercial side. However, this transition was not without challenges, as tensions arose between Frank and Geoffrey, altering their previously close relationship.

Tony Smith, a veteran racing manager, recalls Frank's personality changes during his NGRC tenure: “He became more distant from trainers, but outside of work, he remained great company. The Clonmel trips were especially enjoyable.”

The NGRC faced turbulent times, notably losing a High Court doping case with Tom Flaherty. Despite winning on appeal, Frank and Senior Steward John Nicholson left their posts. Edward Bentall, the new Senior Steward, quickly introduced an appeals procedure.

Frank's expertise was later recognized by the Irish Greyhound Board, which commissioned him to improve their integrity and security procedures. He also authored a report on a notorious 'ringer' case at Dundalk, leading to significant reforms.

Frank was a traditional trainer with deep knowledge, a sentiment echoed by his protege, Hove trainer Derek Knight: “Frank was an excellent dog man and a mentor. I was his head lad when he got his trainer’s license. I learned a lot from him and always had great respect for him. It’s very sad to hear of his passing.”

Reflecting on personal memories, Floyd Amphlett shares his experiences with Frank: “As a 16-year-old kennel hand, I witnessed Frank's sharp wit. In later years, despite our fierce disagreements over NGRC policies, he remained cordial and humorous. Frank was infuriating, funny, pig-headed, and an exceptional trainer. It is indeed a sad day.”

Frank Melville leaves behind a legacy marked by dedication, expertise, and a significant impact on greyhound racing. He will be dearly missed by the community.

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