A Tribute To Roy McKenzie

A poem for Roy McKenzie’s 800th race at Birdsland

By Greg Whitecross, June 2014

A fine young lad from Shepparton town
Roy McKenzie was his name
He couldn’t sprint to save himself
But loved footy and cricket all the same

The family ties to the church in those days
Meant Saturday sport was not to be
Sunday was the only day Roy had left
And so running became the key

His first race at school Roy fondly recalls
Running third in the mile that day
Then winning a church cross country at 16
He knew running had a big part to play

When Roy was just 20 he left his home town
And headed down to the big smoke
It was here he was introduced to Robert Petrie
A fellow runner and a bloody good bloke

Bob invited him down to Caulfield Park
To take a good look at his club
So in 1971 Roy’s fate was sealed
As he made the VCCL his hub

Roy had to wait for 7 long years
Until 1977 to win his first race
This victory came at Caulfield Park
And this sash took pride of place

In that same year he added two more wins
And so an illustrious career had begun
This was all he ever wanted to do
He knew he just had to run

It was in this season so the story is told
The prestigious Norm Charles event was his go
But advice given from his coach at the time
Said you had better run a little bit slow

Roy finished in third place behind Frank Neill
And promptly sacked his coach on the spot
Filled with guilt and remorse from that day
He vowed to learn from the advice he had got

In 1983 at Selby Roy made amends
And righted the wrong he had done
Taking home the coveted Norm Charles award
Up Mile High Hill he had finally won

Roy’s most satisfying win he has said
Came at Murchison one memorable day
As 62 runners toed the line
To fight for glory over 10k

It was in 1989 the 16th running of this race
That Roy showed his courage and heart
Having sadly lost his dad just before
He was focused as he went to the start

At the goalposts he had John Cleland in sight
And a runner from up Healsville way
But destiny was on Roy’s side this time
As he charged home to win the day

Then along came Roy again in 2010
When they thought he had won his last race
Collecting the 37th Murchison sash
With Lyn hysterical always there to wipe down his face

Roy never liked to miss any race
Interrupting holidays to get to the start
Leaving a houseboat at Murray Bridge one year
So that running could play its part

There have been some mishaps along the way
Warringal Park Heidelberg springs to mind
Knocked over by horses on the track
And hit by a roll of carpet from behind

Roy always does his utmost every race
With the froth of battle always a true sign
That he has given his absolute best
As he charges towards that finishing line

Its been rumoured that at Collingwood change rooms one day
While having a shower after his run
That a group of excitable women waltzed in
And wanted to join in the fun

In 1995 at South Morang’s Blue Lake
Roy played Tarzan as he flew through the air
Hitting the water and blacking right out
With son Aaron rescuing him there

Roy has won 13 races in all
And the aggregate along the way
The George Perdon 10 mile memorial as well
Is real testament to his ability today

His dear wife Lyn has been there all the way
To support and cheer for her man
And Digger the dog also played his part
For our club Roy’s done all that he can

After each race Roy doesn’t rush off
As he likes to hold up the bar
Giving his best to help out his club
For a special man who has run so far

Over 40 plus years now Roy McKenzie has run
The equivalent from Sydney to Perth and back
At Birdsland here today we all honour you mate
For your 800th run on the track