October 29th, 2022Truckin’ good Burras honour leader ‘Dools
ONLY 54 life memberships have been awarded by the Hepburn Football and Netball Club in a century and a half. And the Burras, famously built on truck raffles, fittingly rewarded a recent president
who runs a trucking firm.
Jason ‘Dools’ Dooley says he is humbled to join “this esteemed group”. What’s
more, his medallion was presented to him by his father, 73-year-old Russell who,
like Jason, is a former club president, as well as a life member. The Dooleys join the
Rodonis as only the second such father-son combination.
Besides acknowledging the honour, Jason is keen to emphasise just how much is
done by so many others at the club. “My life membership has definitely been carried
on their backs. I look at guys like Billy Pedretti to draw inspiration. He recently
celebrated 70 years of service with a testimonial day at the club and I have never seen
so much emotion and love in one room in my life.”
At age 49, Jason can reflect on about 15 years as a committee member. As his
award citation says, he was “born into the club” playing junior and reserves footy
before joining the committee. “I was on the committee when I was young, then
returned in the 2000s and was president for eight years from 2014 to 2021.” To him,
being president is like having a second job.
From Thursday nights cooking dinner, to helping rescue the netball club, running
the raffle and lots more, he has, says the club’s Facebook page, been behind the scenes
doing all the hard work for many years.
As vice-president now, he considers his time at the helm as one that did not
have many great changes but instead there were improvements such as a new netball
changing rooms and courts, new footy changing rooms, as well as an electronic
Premierships have been won in footy and netball juniors and seniors, which
was amazing, he says, while adding: “Premierships are very special and a time that
you will always remember, but it is great to have the club in a financial position
to build facilities for the future, with the help of grants from the council and state
government. And a lot of hard work from volunteers within the club.”
To him, sporting clubs are the glue binding communities.
Which raises this question: how did such a relatively small club of between 300
and 500 members sell 1000 raffle tickets for a truck at $1000 each?
“This began with a Kenworth raffle in the 90s. Not only did tickets sell out, 1200
more people missed out.”
Initially, there were 2000 tickets at $250. This prize, a Kenworth T900 model,
was legendary, Jason says, because it just kept going in the harshest conditions on
Raffles with prizes over $5000 are closely watched by the gambling authority.
“The club has always had a strong and tight-knit committee committed to
professionalism and integrity in running our raffles.”
Luckily, Jason has an aunt, Colleen, with a professional clerical background. Since
retiring about six years ago she has not only designed the flyers but also recorded
orders, balanced the books, reported to the gaming authority and more. Tickets were
sold online, at truck shows and similar events.
“You’ve got to work hard at selling tickets…be on the road every weekend, find
somewhere to go to sell tickets, find volunteers.”
Like some others on the club committee, Jason had the advantage of being in the
transport business. His father began the family firm Oz-Trans in the early 90s and
Jason now runs six trucks carrying fresh produce, furniture, parcels, pallets and doing
house removals. On the day we talked, floodwaters were stopping one truck from
getting back to Daylesford from northern Victoria.
And along with the transport business, Jason and his sister Amber ran the Old
Hepburn Hotel for 16 years. It’s set to become a B’n’B, with housing on the land
behind it. But back to the trucks.
“As for the raffled trucks from the 90s, one was won locally. Another went to
Finley NSW, and one to Castlemaine, I think,” Jason said.
“The 2017 Legend T900 prize was a limited edition nod to the same legendary
model that we raffled in the 90s, so it was a great opportunity to do another truck
raffle. It was sent to auction by the guy who won it. Everything clicked into place for
the winner, an invalid pensioner from Queensland who saved hard for his ticket. He
sent the truck for auction and was set up for life!”
That truck is now a road train in Port Lincoln, South Australia.
After just six weeks half the tickets in the latest raffle are sold. The prize is another
special vehicle, an American Kenworth Legend SAR limited edition, based on an
iconic model built here from 1975 to 1987 and the first to be designed, engineered
and made in Australia for local requirements.
Clearly, for the Burras, Kenworth keeps kicking goals.
Words: Kevin Childs | Image: Kyle Barnes