Stawell Athletic Club stalwart celebrates fifty years

Each year, moments after the Australia Post Stawell Gift is run, it's the winner's mates who jump the fence and are first onto the track to crowd the athlete that's just taken glory.

Ken Greenberger remembers what that was like. In 1962, it was Ken's cousin L. Neil Beachley who ran his way into the history books of the Stawell Gift. It was Ken who was jumping that fence and running up to the winner to celebrate a powerful win.

"My cousin Neil had come up a few weeks before and said he was a chance," Ken said.

"Neil did it on the day and it was a good win. The family was all there. It's still my favourite win of the Gift."

It was still a few years until in 1964, Bill Holmes talked Ken into joining the Stawell Athletic Club committee, with his good mates Les 'Bluey' Kingston and Vern Chapman.

Since then Ken and his wife, Helene, have contributed much to Stawell and the Gift. This year, when he steps out onto the hallowed turf of Stawell's Central Park, it will be the 50th year for Ken Greenberger in the revered maroon jacket of the Stawell Athletic Club.

Ken and Helene say that they always enjoy the excitement that Easter brings to Stawell and their household and recall many wonderful past Easters.

"We always had a great time at the Easter dances at the Town Hall after days enjoying the running at Central Park," Helene recalls, while Ken said he fondly remembers times spent with good friends Bluey and Vern, whom Ken also went to school with.

"Fellowship has been the most rewarding part (of being on SAC). Everyone gets along," Ken said.

Vern was the starter for many years with his strongly voiced starter's style many will remember.

Ken said that he is looking forward to seeing who takes out the Stawell Gift this year and to all the carnival will bring.

Will Melissa Breen be the first woman to make the Australia Post Stawell Gift Semi-Finals or beyond? Will John Steffensen return to Central Park to find success in the WH Earle 550m Handicap? Will Andrew Robinson match Bill Howard's achievement of two in a row?

This year Ken will watch the Stawell Gift from his place as Official Recorder, near the finish line and beside his mate Murray McPherson, who himself, celebrates 42 years with SAC this year.

Helene will watch the 2014 Australia Post Stawell Gift from the Football Club rooms with the rest of the Ladies Committee.

Ken has fulfilled many jobs and roles for the Stawell Athletic Club over the years, including as president of the club in 1975, the year Jean-Louis Ravelomanantsoa of Madagascar won the Stawell Gift from scratch and a year many regard as the best Gift ever.

Not for Ken though, his favourite year will always remain the year his cousin won and he jumped the fence to celebrate.

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