THE HAWK WHO HIT THE JACKPOT……TWICE

 

He grew up in a weather-beaten old house, on a ramshackle farm overlooking the Violet Town football ground.

What a far cry from the salubrious surrounds of his current residence – on the sunny Gold Coast – with an azure blue sky overhead, rolling waves from the Pacific Ocean gently lapping onto the glistening white sands nearby.

But what happened in-between for a one-time bread salesman, champion cricketer and former Wangaratta Rovers footballer ? It’s a fascinating story……………..

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Terry Hogan is the youngest son in an outstanding sporting family. Three of his brothers – Pat, Kevin and Frank –played with South Melbourne; Johnny was first rover in dual Benalla premiership teams and Norm won an O & M Reserves Best and Fairest Medal whilst at Benalla.

Such was Pat’s talent that he coached Violet Town at 18, combining it with his studies at Wangaratta Tech School. He was to become a school-teacher and later coached a succession of country teams.

Kevin, now 80, still resides in Sale, where he became a local legend, both for his sporting and journalistic skills.He first arrived in Sale as captain-coach after playing the last of his 63 League games.

Frank is well-remembered by old Rovers fans for the prominent role he played in the 1964-65 premiership victories. A champion rover, he also played with West Adelaide, during which time he wore a South Australian guernsey.

It was Frank Hogan’s shift to Wangaratta which precipitated Terry’s decision to take up a position with Sunicrust bakeries and make his own mark on the local sporting scene.

Firstly it was as a cricketer. He had few peers as a plundering left-hand batsman and was a crafty left-arm orthodox spinner with the United club. He scored 13 centuries in five WDCA seasons and played against Gary Sobers’ touring West Indies team in 1969.

He originally struggled to find a permanent spot in a star-studded Rovers line-up mainly playing as a half-forward or winger. Considered a tad slow by the experts, he headed to the Ovens and King League,where he spent successive seasons with Beechworth and Whorouly.

He was not a fervent believer in busting your gut on the training track. That’s why he preferred cricket and golf, where his excellent hand-eye skills could compensate his distaste for running.

He joked that Ian Brewer was his favourite coach (“he let us off training on rainy nights”). But coincidentally he played good footy under Brewer when he returned to the Rovers in 1968. He was a far more rounded player and produced a couple of excellent seasons, including a fourth placing in the B&F in 1969.

His 50th  – and last- game was in the 1970 Grand Final, when Myrtleford ran the Hawks down in the last quarter. Terry, never given to false modesty, claims he was the Rovers best player that day. Others concede to him that, yes, he did play okay.

Terry spent the next few seasons as coach of Nathalia, Tatong and Tungamah and continued to make hundreds on the cricket field.

It was always his dream to own a pub, so he took the plunge and bought one at Holbrook. It was a life that suited him; dispensing the amber ale, having a yarn until all hours of the night, provoking arguments about sport and generally, being the life of the show.

He always invested a few bob on the punt and religiously bought a lottery ticket. One evening in 1995 the phone rang in the bar.

“Terry Hogan”. “Yair”, he said. “It’s the New South Wales Lottery. Are you sitting down”. “No, but I can”, said Terry. “Good, because you’ve just won $3 million”.

The last he remembered was sitting in front of the open fire in the bar at 6 o’clock the next morning with a beer in his hand. He didn’t sleep for two days.

He’d been in the pub for 18 years,but sold it and headed to Albury, where he lived the life of a retired gent, watching a bit of footy, going to the races and doing as he pleased.

One of his old friends, was horse trainer Bede Murray. The pair shared a love of racing, footy and beer and together they pulled off the odd bush plunge. They just clicked.

One day Murray told Terry he’d spotted a nice horse at the upcoming Sydney yearling sales and wondered if he’d be interested in having a look at it.

“If I can’t win a race with this I’ll give up training”, Murray said. Hogan parted with $80,000 for the colt and named his daughter and son-in-law as his co-owners.

The horse was Universal Prince and within a couple of years it had won an A.J.C Australian Derby, the Canterbury Guineas and Spring Champion Stakes. And besides the $2.9 million in prizemoney, a sizeable amount in well-considered plunges.

Terry was asked at the time of Universal Prince’s Derby win what had given him the bigger thrill – the Lottery or the Derby. “Probably the Derby,because I was there to see it”, he said. “Either time,the result was the same.I didn’t sleep for two days”.

“The Prince” had been backed into favouritism for the 2001 Melbourne Cup, but , in a sensational development,the stewards ruled him out of the race because they considered him lame. Trainer Murray was adamant that he was fit. He and Terry were bitterly disappointed with the decision and did the natural thing –drowned their sorrows.

The stallion returned to form again in 2002 and won the Ranvet Stakes, again entering Melbourne Cup calculations. Opinions were expressed that he was set to become Australia’s champion racehorse. But a poor run in the Caulfield Cup prompted Murray and Hogan to draw the curtains on his racing career.

“He’s very bullish at the moment.He’s telling us,I think that he’s ready for the next phase of his life at stud,”Murray said at the time.

Hogan fielded enquiries from studs around Australia. Universal Prince stood at Inverness, but is now at a property in Murray Bridge. He has proved an outstanding sire and has allowed the former bread-carter to continue to live in the fashion to which he has become accustomed.

It might be a trip to Europe or catching up with an Aussies Ashes campaign. Plenty of footy and racing and certainly, living life to the fullest.

Terry Hogan values friendships more than anything and maintains regular contact with many of his old Rovers team-mates. He is always keen to remind them of some of his brilliant sporting feats. This is usually followed by a throaty laugh.

A solemn onlooker would possibly accuse him of being a skite. But to those who know him well, it’s his brand of humour. He’s just being Terry.

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