Collins Australian race caller
Collins (1928 – 1997) started his career calling small country
races in Victoria. In almost 50 years he called 34 Melbourne Cups
becoming known as "The Accurate One" for his ability to
correctly call the result of even the closest finish.
Bill Collins also
called major races in England, USA, South Africa, New Zealand, Hong
Kong and Singapore. On
Easter Saturday in 1987 Bill Collins called his last race.
He is regarded
as Australia’s greatest race caller and was awarded an Order
of Australia Medal.
career began in the early 1950s in Sale, Victoria, and in 1953 he
moved to Melbourne where he worked as a race caller for the radio
station 3DB, and appeared on television hosting the musical comedy
program Sunnyside Up and The Penthouse Club at HSV-7, leading to a
Logie Award in 1959 for Outstanding Performance.
He called his
last race on Easter Saturday 1988 on radio 3UZ,as 3DB had already
dropped it's racing coverage.
In 2004, he was
honoured posthumously at the Moonee Valley Racecourse, home of the
Plate, with the 'Kingston Town Greatness Award' for his
services to the event.
Racecourse also features the Bill Collins Mile.
The infamous "Bill
Collins" interview on 3AW in 1992 deserves a mention.
Greg Evans and
Sam Newman were fill-in hosts on the breakfast shift and in a segment
about TV, producer Jamie Wilczek got "Bill Collins" (Mr
Movies) on the line. Evans, chuckles when recalling that Mr Movies
didn't know much about movies.
When Newman asked
his opinion about the Clint Eastwood flick Unforgiven winning the
best-picture Oscar, Collins said: "The Unforgiven? I don't know
- I've never seen the Unforgiven. I probably will go and see it."
A stumped Evans
said: "Bill, that surprises me. Do you normally wait for some
time before you see the current movies?
Collins: "Yeah, quite a while. It's a matter of finding a bit
of spare time."
The hosts cottoned on that something was wrong and an expletive was
beeped out. Evans cracked up laughing, blurting: "Sam, you'd
better take over."
The Bill Collins
on the line was the race caller, not the movie reviewer, and after
numerous apologies, Newman asked: "The greyhounds, how are they
going?" As they say in the movies, it's a classic.
1982 - Kingston
Town can't win . . . aw, he might win yet, the champ . . . Kingston
Town swamping them; what a run . . ."
- racecaller Bill Collins' call is so intricately woven into the King's
history-making third Cox Plate win that it's difficult to decide which
was the most memorable element of the race: the broadcast or the victory
An early call,
maybe, and certainly brave. But with five or six horses between Kingston
Town and a Cox Plate hat-trick as the field steamed around the HOME
turn, it seemed a reasonable punt. Then Peter Cook got Kingston Town
out from behind the leaders, and rounded them up for an improbable
the New Zealanders . . . have they gone too early? . . . And Bonecrusher
races into equine immortality . . . the crowd is roaring its head
call - sustained at a searing pace for 600 metres and thus truly honouring
the spectacle that was unfolding below - became part of Cox Plate
This was one of
those races where the hype in the lead-up was matched, surpassed even,
by the race, as the two New Zealand chestnuts, Bonecrusher and Our
Waverley Star, slugged it out from the school. Throats were left raw.
On the international
scene Collins was, in 1958, the first Australian to make a direct
race broadcast from the United States. He called three English Derbies,
and was given an open invitation by South Africa to broadcast their
Spring Carnival of Racing every season - an invitation he accepted
five times. He was a great ambassador for his country and made such
an impact in South Africa that he was asked to conduct a seminar to
assist local callers.
in racing was not restricted to calling. He was a trotting journalist
for the Herald and Weekly Times and Sunday Press for many years, co-compare
of 'The Penthouse Club' that brought harness racing to television,
and for almost two decades he was a member of the popular 'World of
Sport' program which he hosted in Ron Casey's absence. Collins was
also active in racing administration, being the first racing media
representative to be nominated to a statutory authority when he was
appointed to the Harness Racing Board in June 1985. He served with
that Board until May 1987 when he was appointed Chairman of the Greyhound
Racing Control Board, a position he held with great proficiency.
He was a member
of the Victorian TAB for six years, and served on the Board of radio
station Sport 927. Collins' outstanding knowledge of the racing and
betting industries made his opinions widely sought by both the industry
and the government. He was presented with the Bert Wolfe Award for
excellence for his chosen field in journalism and was declared the
Racing Personality of the Year in 1987.
known for his association with racing, Collins made other valuable
contributions to sport in Australia. As Chairman of the South Melbourne
Football Club in 1981, he guided the club through a most difficult
time associated with a lack of on-field success, and its relocation
to Sydney as the Sydney Swans. In 1956 Collins was selected as a commentator
at the Olympic Games in Melbourne, a task he accomplished with skill.
Indeed his success was such he was also appointed to the international
commentary teams for both the 1976 Montreal and 1980 Moscow Olympics.
He died on June
14 1997 after a long battle with cancer.
A monument to
Bill Collins is at Caulfield racecourse in Melbourne and was unveiled