Club History

A Brief History of the Retrieving Club


The first Retrieving Trial in W.A. was run by the Gun Dog Club in 1958 with a field of 4 Labradors and 5 Cocker Spaniels. For the next 14 years, Trials were held by the Gun Dog and the Labrador Retriever Clubs. After a trip east to the National Trial in 1972, Paddy Brendish and Bill Reekie noted that those states had more trials in their own and neighbouring states. They realised that WA should have more trials so that our WA dogs could gain more experience. Paddy Brendish was instrumental in organising a new club and in doing so the inaugural meeting to discuss a new club was held on 19th Feb 1973 at the Ozone Hotel.

Terry Gould was appointed Chairman. After much discussion, often heated, for and against the formation of a Club, the meeting voted in favour and the new Club began. It was named the Retrieving Club of W.A. Mr Jim Marshall was President, Mrs Rita Marshall Secretary and Mr Paddy Brendish, Treasurer. Mr Tom Morris and Mr Ron Leete were Committee members. Peter Reekie was co opted later. The Constitution and Domestic Rules remain very much the same today.- to promote training of all breeds of Gun Dogs, conduct retrieving trials and
encourage good fellowship amongst members and other Clubs.

In 1973 there were 57 members. Most were couples with the husbands often the handlers and wives supporting as workers, providing meals and drinks. In those days the emphasis was on the dogs' ability to hunt independently. The birds were thrown by hand. Jenny Brendish and Beryl Reekie spent some time watching the trial and knitting. They often accurately tipped who was the winner. There were a few lady handlers too including Glenice McClure, Peg Malcolm, Marie Ewen and Barbara Kempin.

In those days quite a few children of members attended. Older ones helped and younger ones played. Things got a bit busy one time when kids set fire to the grass and the wiring under a car was melted! Paddy, a founding member, remembers the Club's first trial held near Armadale. It was a very wet day and people gathered round the campfire to dry off. They had set fire to a large fallen tree so all could fit around it. The barbecued chops were flavoured with hail stones! Campfires were a feature of trials in those days.

After the trial, everyone gathered round to chat and have a few drinks. One of the highlights was an act put on by Marie Ewen, who was very influential in helping the Club to become affiliated with the CAWA. She participated very successfully in trials with her dogs, especially RTCh Casray Sunshine, judged many important trials and gave good advice to newcomers. Several nervous handlers said they felt confident when Marie judged as she gave people the feeling she wanted them to do well. At campfire gatherings, she was famous for her performance of     “ The Three hats”.

Other foundation members involved in Retrieving were Jean and Dave Henderson, Mike and Glenice McClure and Ray Penman.

Paddy was on the Committee for many years and also ran the training classes for several years. He generously donated the money so the Club could buy a caravan.

Mr Linc Sullivan became the first Patron and in 1974 donated the Cup All Age Trophy. Now it is called the Linc Sullivan Memorial Cup. Linc was a leading light in the Labrador Club and the Retrieving Club. He was a clever handler with his wonderful dog Flash, who became a Triple Champion. He often travelled down from Kalgoorlie to compete. Flash also amused people with clever tricks.

Bill Reekie and RTCh Ardenmore Bracks Lass are the only W.A. competitors to win the National so far, achieving this in 1971 and 1975. His brother Peter said it was due to all his help on the thrower!! Bill said his dog was so clever she actually taught him!

The first Cup trial was won by Terry Gould and RTCh Wyrama Honey CDX. In the following 3 years, Bill Loftus visited from NSW and won the Cup with his champion, RTCh Kaemajae Tammy UD. You can read more about this great dog on the AWRC website in the Archives. The Kaemajae prefix was prominent in National results over the years.

Some trialers came from the east when the National were here, and several hardy W.A. souls drove through the dust of the Nullabor to compete in the National over there. It was quite an adventure. Paddy says when he competed there with his Goldie once, his dog was chased by a field steward who thought it was a stray. He didn't know Goldies went in trials! Paddy's Goldie Bendy (RTCh Sundials Drummer Boy) was the first Golden Retriever in Australia to become a RTCh. Once when Tom Morris went over, his dog ate lots of kibble the night
before, and couldn't compete in the National.

In those early years the W.A. trials were held close in to the city around the Swan and Canning Rivers and coastal wetlands. Hot lunches were made in the caravan and there was time after trials for socializing. Our Club held dances, parties and picnics. Some members were in the cast when a pantomime of Cinderella was produced by Marie Ewen. They had fun at rehearsals with supper and drinks. Peter Reekie was Cinderella and Paddy Brendish was Prince Charming!

A bit of Training History.

One of the important contributions the Retrieving Club has made to our sport is through the Training of new handlers and dogs.The first instructor was Paddy Brendish and he took the class for about 10 years. Bill Mitchell, Andy Thwaites and Doug Gambold helped.

Then in the 1980s Manfred Meerkotter assisted by Mike McClure instructed at Ferndale for some years. Manfred drove down from Muchea and he and Mike trained their dogs. Then they took the class. After the practice, the group bought cool drinks from the Club esky and chatted, asking advice and sharing anecdotes. There were a lot of laughs as Mike and Manfred told of amusing incidents and champion dogs. eg Linc Sullivan’s dog Flash who could do things such as bring Linc his keys from the car. Bill Loftus said BURGLARS and Tammy would growl fiercely. This camerarderie made newcomers feel part of the Club.

In the 1990s we couldn’t use Ferndale any more. Paul Jansen and Eddy Frandsen helped handlers at Holmes Road, Cannington, where there was bush and lakes. This is now a built up area. Paul and Eddy were devoted to the Club and helped in many ways. As well as training, they served on the Committee in different capacities. When a Trophy was donated in Paul’s memory, it was given for a Novice Stake as Paul was especially interested in helping the young dogs.

Paul became very ill and Peter Reekie stepped in to continue the classes. He was friends with the family that leased land adjacent to the Bennett Brook in Lord Street, Lockridge and so we moved there. This site was also a great trial site. Peter was helped by several people including Jean Henderson, who took charge of a group of very young dogs. TerryLittle helped Peter with the older group. There was a happy atmosphere.

One year, they formed a group for people who asked for help to teach their dogs skills for Restricted. It was hard to get a person to come along all the time, so trainers were co-opted to take the group for 2 weeks to learn a particular run eg double rise. Barbara Kempin came to teach them the way to do Double Marks. Paddy showed them techniques for Blinds. The class was inclined to be a bit too casual for Paddy. He told them to tell their dogs SHAKE after they delivered the dummy. Everyone giggled when Rebecca Cowper’s dog extended her paw to shake hands!

At the end of training one year, they gave Peter a gift and had drinks and snacks. One dog loving handler put treats for the dogs on the table. Some people only realized this after tasting them!

After trialling at Lord Street for over 30 years with no complaints from residents nearby the site was closed to us. Noise and damage caused by off road motor bikes caused the trouble. Gary Papamarkos and then Heather Ellis agreed to take the class at Kings Meadow for several years.

We owe those instructors many thanks for devoting time every Saturday for about 15 weeks during the trial season. Lasting friendships and training groups were formed during those years.

Over the years more trophies have been donated in memory of noteworthy people from retrieving. These include the Novice Shield, the Mossbank Trophy, the Erin Trophy, Paul Jansen Novice Trophy, the Bendy Trophy, the Moralana Trophy,the Peter Reekie Trophy, the Best Non Champion Shield, the Samgangee Shield, the Westfalen Restricted Shield and the Retriever of the Year Award.

The Retrieving Fraternity have been most fortunate to have Ray Johnson source numerous properties for trials over the years. He has been instrumental in supplying  many sites for ordinary trials but most importantly for National Trials. Ray has travelled hundreds of miles and kilometres for Field Trials, sourcing trial sites for retrieving and collecting birds for use in trials. His contribution to Retrieving has been immense and we as the retrieving fraternity owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

For a number of years the opening of the trial season has been held on a farming property at Carberdine Pool, near Williams. There the All Age handlers, with the support of many generous stewards who give freely of their time, compete for The Peter Reekie Trophy on Saturday and the Marie Ewen Trophy on Sunday. This is also a very social event with campers gathering for a community dinner on Saturday night.

For many years Sandra Ingraham and her daughter Kelly provided magnificent lunches at trials. They donated all the food themselves and saved the money raised to pay for Steward’s accommodation and lunches at National Trials. WA was always renowned for the standard and quantity of food available at the National Trial. What an incredible effort from truly wonderful people