Along Manning Road lies the Waterford TAB, a sturdy old building sacred to the mug punters of Perth’s inner southern suburbs, untouched through years of evolution of the Waterford shopping centre, outlasting famous buildings like Blockbuster, Chicken Treat, Bottle Mart, a random pub next to it, and the memorable Man Lin Chinese Restaurant, once the site of an attempted arson attack by the Australian Nationalist Movement.
Anyway, the way things are trending with land development, the Waterford TAB won’t be standing within the next decade, so it’s better late than never that I share with you a fine collection of characters I’ve encountered, who have given me years of entertainment on Saturday afternoons.
Some of the people I shall describe in this report read like characters from a piece of comedic fiction.
Their faces and identities shall remain a secret.
The Gabster – Well documented because of his many entertaining antics (E.g spitting at the TV AFTER HE’D WON), The Gabster is a church-going 94-year-old with many unique betting strategies that he usually forgets; No betting on 1000m races, don’t back Damien Oliver, don’t bet in Melbourne, only back the No.8, it goes on.
Aside from routinely claiming he hasn’t won since the current owners took over, Gabster is also noted for his random hatred of Joseph Azzopardi (Can’t ride), and the Trivago Girl, who he once randomly told to “Go and wash the dishes.”
Long story short, as far as characters go, Gabster is a clear No.1, or No.8 as he prefers it.
The Texan – A good-natured bloke (Albeit incoherent most days) who has downed enough grog to kill a pod of blue whales, but is somehow still living and breathing, duct taped shoes and all – Scientists have long waited to study his secrets, along with Keith Richards.
Had a bad habit of hiding his cans behind a post close to the shopping centre, which inevitably led to them being taken by groups of teenagers walking by.
The Terminator – Named as such because he always enters wearing a pair of dark sunglasses.
The Critic – A former trackwork jockey who has developed a severe and vocal dislike for just about every jockey in both Australia and Hong Kong because of their often questionable riding tactics on favourites, most notably Tim Clark, Noel Callow and Robbie Fradd.
Extremely creative when it comes to insults involving curse words.
Mr Alfonse – Good friend of the The Critic and The Terminator, Mr Alfonse (Named in reference to his supposed Hispanic heritage) is one of the leading exponents of the roving banker.
Get Em’ – Named because he always claims he’s “Got them”, i.e the quinella, exacta, trifecta, First Four, despite not often having a bet in the race, which fits in well with his many claims, like having a private table at Crown Perth.
The sort of character who could sell bullshit to politicians.
Ticket Man – Named because he always took betting tickets from the table next to Gabby’s usual seat, which always gave the Gabster the shits.
Ticket Man also usually comes in with his elderly mother, although Gab believes it’s his missus, sparking the comment that “He’s only with her for the money!”
Tip Top – A long term truck driver for Tip Top, regularly seen wearing his Tip Top gear, which leads to the familiar welcome of:
“Good on you Mum!”
“Tip Top’s the one! Well, we used to be number one, now we’re number 31!”
Fourth/FFA – Named for his cruel habit of backing horses that run 4th, which usually leads to him angrily shouting out “****ing 4th again!”
Also has a darker taste in comedy than even I dare to indulge… which is a slight worry.
Enzo The Barber – A humble barber with family connections to both the Italian and Russian underworlds back in the old country, so don’t make an enemy of him, or you’ll wake up next to the head of an animal.
Dennis The Menace – A diminutive Scouser who strolls in with his cane, silently backing winners, proving a menace to the TAB’s bottom line.
William Thomas – The Chinese millionaire who puts his briefcase in the boot of his Merc, and came up with the brilliant idea of exporting Tim Tams to Lithuania, because there’s apparently a demand for our national chocolate biscuit.
The 5 Year Cough – A bloke who had a bad habit of coughing non-stop, rain, hail or shine, even before the pandemic struck us… funnily enough, we haven’t seen him since March.
Rocket – A bloke who had a penchant for parking his Outlander on the line of the parking space, making it very hard for anyone parking adjacent to it to get out.
Purple Man – Named as such because he always wore the same purple shirt every Saturday for the best part of 2 years, although he has since become Flannel Man after expanding his wardrobe.
The Cheetah – Once visited the Waterford TAB from the Gold Coast, but left a lasting impact that may never be forgotten, especially as he stated his profession as being “Willing”, and, when asked to elaborate further, said “Very willing.”
Jesus Christ Superstar – A bloke who regularly wears several gold crucifixes, just to really let you know which faith he adheres to.
Chewbacca/Chewie – A person who chewed on the same piece of gum for the best part of 3 hours every week.
Chris No Shoes – Because his name’s Chris, and he doesn’t wear shoes.