We hear lots about bravery. Too often when talk turns to highly paid footballers doing what they’re paid to do.
I usually keep such terms for discussions about our troops. Or cops. People putting their lives on the line for the rest of us.
But I’m making an exception today. I want to give you an update on a bloke most of you already regard as an old friend.
Wayne Wilson was the voice of racing up here. For me, and thousands of others.
As I travelled around Queensland over many years, he was the one who told me whether I’d won or lost. Long before I was lucky enough to meet him, he dictated how my weekends would pan out.
It was not long after we got to know each other, that he became crook. You wouldn’t have known at the time. He didn’t miss a beat on the track. Bringing a Class One alive, and nailing another photo finish.
Bloody cancer. For a while, it didn’t look good. But Wayne had other ideas. He fought it, like a tiger. Explored other treatment options. And eventually came good.
When he decided it was time to retire from the caller’s box, he hatched a plan to do other things on course. Interviews and analysis of each race, beamed around the track.
I don’t know if I’ve ever met a person with more passion for the racing industry. Watch him on race day, and he can’t walk two steps without being collared by someone. A trainer, or a punter, or an official. All friends.
It was his young bloke who told me he’d become sick again. We’re workmates, and great mates. I admire how tight father and son are. They laugh, constantly.
But this was no laughing matter. The dreaded disease had come back.
Can you believe, Wayne and I had surgery on the same day? The racecaller and the punter, both under the knife within hours of each other.
Compared to what he’s gone through, my surgery was like having a band-aid removed. It’s fair to say he’s lost count of the bits they’ve taken out and shifted around.
I spoke to him the other day, and he sounded as if nothing had happened. Was more interested in how I was going. And that voice, was the same as I’d heard on my radio a thousand times.
He’s doing well. That positive attitude continues to shine through.
We promised that we’d both get out to the track again soon. A little celebration of what we’ve overcome.
The problem, of course, will be that I won’t get near him. He’ll be swamped by well-wishers. And he’ll talk to every single one of them.
He’ll be tipping me winners for a long time to come. My brave friend, who refuses to give in. Wayne, thanks for being such an inspiration.