Frank Melville

Frank Melville

Greyhound Racing is paying tribute to Frank Melville who died on Monday aged 83 – writes Greyhound Star Editor Floyd Amphlett.

Frank Melville was born into greyhound racing. His father, also Frank, was a trainer at Ramsgate. His uncle Ronnie achieved considerable success as a trainer at Wembley.

Frank served his time as a kennel lad at GRA’s Northaw kennel before becoming the youngest NGRC licenced trainer at aged 28 in 1968. He trained at both Harringay and White City and enjoyed considerable success, notably with two hurdlers, Pier Hero and Try It Blackie. He also had two very fine stayers in litter brothers Commutering and Chain Gang.

Towards the end of his career, he trained Astrosyn Doll for brother John, to a series of major race events, including the Wood Lane.

Frank relinquished his licence in 1983, a year before the closure of White City, and became the National Greyhound Racing Club (NGRC) Stipendiary Steward for East Anglia. He was appointed Chief Stipendiary Steward three years later.

In 1995 the NGRC CEO, former Sporting Life Greyhound Editor, Archie Newhouse, retired and his role was split between Geoffrey Thomas who headed the commercial arm of the organisation and Frank, who headed the rules and regulation sector.

Things did not go quite as smoothly as they might, as recalled by veteran racing manager Tony Smith.

He said: “I first got to know Frank when I was Assistant Racing Manager at Harringay and he  was training there. I liked him straight away. He was always good for a laugh and I would often go to the social club at Northaw on a Sunday. Everyone would get pissed and we had some fabulous afternoons.

“He changed quite a bit when he gave up the licence and joined the NGRC; I suppose he thought he had to. He and Geoffrey fell out big time. They had once been such good friends, I can remember them competiting in pub quizes and laughing and joking, but that all changed once they changed jobs.

“I was at Walthamstow by then and for Frank it had become much more ‘us and them’ with the trainers. Don’t get me wrong, he was still great company if you took him out of the environment, like when we went to Clonmel. It was the same old Frank.”

They were turbulent times for the NGRC who famously lost a High Court doping court case with Tom Flaherty in which the judge was highly critical of the organisation’s methods and inconsistent evidence.

Although the decision was reversed on appeal, Frank and Senior Steward John Nicholson left their posts. Practically the first thing that the new Senior Steward, Edward Bentall, implemented, was an appeals procedure.

Howwever Frank’s knowledge and expertise was later put to good use by the Irish Greyhound Board who commissioned him to recommend improvements to their integrity and security procedures. He was also asked to produce a report – which was implemented – regarding a famous case of a ‘ringer’ being run at Dundalk.

Frank Melville was an ‘old school’ trainer with traditional values and vast expertise and knowledge.

None can vouch for that better than one of his proteges, Hove trainer Derek Knight.

Derek said: “Frank was Head Lad to Gordon Hodson and I was a kennel lad with them when I first left school. When Frank got his trainer’s licence, I became his head lad.

“He was a very good dog man and someone I liked very much always had massive respect for. I kept in touch in recent years and saw him just before Christmas. I had planned to visit him in the nursing home recently, but other things got in the way as they tend to, which is such a shame.

“I have some very good memories of Frank, I learned a lot from him. It is very sad to hear that he has gone.”


(I will conclude this piece with a personal note. I first got to know Frank when I was a 16 year old kennel hand. Nobody wanted to be walking a hand of dogs around the Northaw estate and find themselves between situated between Frank and my guvnor, Tommy Foster. The piss taking was brutal.

In later years, in our new careers, I clashed with Frank on numerous occasions. I always had an issue with – what I saw as – the NGRC serially abusing their authority over trainers. He didn’t see it that way. We had some absolute humdingers of rows. Nomatter how sure I was that I had completely his destroyed his viewpoint, he would simply say. ‘You are wrong’. I could have throttled him.

But when I next caught sight of him at a track, ready to pile in again, he would calmly grin and ask ‘do you want a drink young man?’

That was Frank. Infuriating, funny, pig-headed, and a fine greyhound trainer. It is a sad day. – Ed)

AN interesting winner for John Mullins on Monday night with Acejukeboxpopper. The 19 month old pup clocked 27.78 for Yarmouth’s 462 metres which was quicker than recent Towcester 29.15 winner Bonjourno Boy who landed another A1 in 27.93 on the same card. The FOY is kennelmate Wrighty’s, 27.34.

Out of Heather Dimmock’s prolific Crayford open race winner Popworld, the 34 kilo black is from the only litter sired by Signet Ace before his departure to Droopys Stud in Ireland.

Open race wins 2024

12 wins: Romeo To Victory

11 wins: Coonough Crow – Different Speed – Druids Say Go –  Queen Joni

10 wins: – Rioja Maxi

9 wins: Acomb Felix -Ballymac Taylor – Bettys Jack – Coppice Fox – Quagos Jack  –  Quarteira

8 wins: Aayamza Sydney – Alright Gordy – Clairekeith Remy – Dashing Dude –  Emers Sammy  –  Garfiney Blaze  –  Whisky Copper


Thursday:  Hove   ♦   Newcastle   ♦   Swindon

Friday: Romford

Saturday: Central Park  ♦  Doncaster  ♦  Monmore  ♦  Oxford  ♦  Perry Barr  ♦  TOWCESTER

Sunday: Towcester