Vale - Daryl 'Albert' Gleeson

By Michael Cowley
Perhaps the best way a person can be judged is not by the glowing accolades and compliments bestowed upon them, but the queue of people armed with criticism and barbs. 

For the man simply known in the greyhound industry as Albert … there was no queue.

Daryl ‘Albert’ Gleeson, passed away in his beloved Grafton, on Wednesday night after a long illness, aged 53.  

“Albert … everyone knew him by that one name. No matter what racetrack you walked onto, if asked was Albert here, everyone knew you were talking about Daryl ‘Albert’ Gleeson,” said his friend of 30 years, Mark Duclos.

“And good luck trying to find someone who had a bad word about him … there was nobody. He was universally loved in this industry.

“I honestly Never heard anyone say a bad word about him. And that’s probably the best gauge of someone’s character - at the end of the day when someone simply says: “he was a good bloke!” That’s how you want to be remembered.

“He loved Grafton, he loved the dogs and the people within the industry and the people within the industry loved him back. He loved going to a carnival, be it the local one each winter or Coonamble or Moree. It’s a called a race ‘meeting’ and that was what Albert did, he went to these places to meet people.”

Albert’s brother Peter was today mourning not only a brother, but a mate.

“He was a champion. Daryl was more than a brother to me he was my best mate,” Peter said. “He’s indelibly woven into the fabric of greyhound racing in this country.

“He crammed more into his 53 years than most could cram into 300 years. We reckon he’s been to about 3,000 greyhound and horse meetings in the last 45 years. He loved a meeting, loved a beer, and a bet. He was a real Aussie. 

“Nobody loved the industry more than Daryl. He lived for it, he loved it. He loved his greyhounds, the Southport Tigers football club and the Grafton Ghosts.

“And he loved people. He was a collector of friends. Once he got into their DNA that was it. He was Albert, and he was very loyal, and people were loyal to him.

“One of his biggest highlights was when a bitch I owned called Black Audit won the 2015 Grafton (Stayers) Cup. Daryl had a pup from her litter to Barcia Bale and he was he was really looking forward to seeing it race.” 

Greyhound Racing NSW Chief Executive Tony Mestrov, a long-time friend of Peter Gleeson, offered his deepest condolences to Peter and his family, and he too proudly admitted he had been a part of Albert’s friend collection.

“My thoughts go out to the Gleeson family at this difficult time,” he said. “They have lost a wonderful son and brother, and the industry has lost a treasure.

Never have I met and spoken with someone with so much passion and love for greyhound racing, and for his town of Grafton

“When ever you spoke to Albert you knew you would get two things … amazing knowledge about the industry, and some great stories to make you laugh.

“He will be greatly missed and it’s terribly sad he won’t be there when the new track at Grafton opens next week.”

Born in Port Kembla in 1967 to Chicka and Maxine Gleeson, Daryl - and Peter - were both destined for a life involved in the greyhound racing.

“He and I were going to the dogs at Dapto when we were like 5 or 6,” Peter recalled. “Dad was a wharfie, a scallywag and loved his greyhounds. That’s how he got into it so we had no hope mate.

“Dad got sick in Wollongong and we moved to Grafton, and Daryl and I were regulars at tracks like Grafton, Casino and Lismore back in the ‘70s and ‘80s when we were kids.

“Daryl was renowned for his almost freakish memory. He could tell you what won the Futurity at Wentworth Park in 1987, the margins, and times. He actually was a genius in that respect. He was the same with football, he could tell you who scored the winning try in the reserve grade grand final for the (Grafton) Ghosts.

“He had an extraordinary capacity for being able to quote figures around racing and footy.”

Albert also penned columns for the local newspaper, the Grafton club website, and also the Chase magazine. 

“He loved the Chase, being involved in advertising, writing the column, even dropping copies off. He would do the run from Grafton to Brisbane, drop off the copies and catch up with mates,” Mark said.

“He was just one of those few endearing people you are lucky to meet throughout your life.”

Late last week Albert was moved from Lismore to Grafton hospital when it was clear he only had a short time remaining. On the weekend Peter and Mark took Albert to the newly built Grafton track so he could see it for the first and last time.

“He got to see the track,” Mark said. “He said to me: “the locals have lost their advantage now Duke haven’t they? This is one of the best tracks you’ll ever see. I’ll be there opening night, don’t worry”. Sadly now he won’t.”

Added Peter: “Yeah we knew that he only had days and we took him to the new track. He was tremendously ill those last few days.

“I think my only regret with Daryl is that he couldn’t be there on Monday night to see the new track open and enjoy it, which is really said. He would have loved it.”

The funeral for Daryl ‘Albert’ Gleeson, will be held next Wednesday, June 16, at 11.30am at the Clarence River Jockey Club, the Grafton Racecourse.

Daryl 'Albert' Gleeson with GRNSW CEO Tony Mestrov at Grafton.