Famous raid showcased

Tuesday, 18th December, 2012

Howard Steer with his painting of the 1988 games night raid, which will be used to promote next year’s St Pat’s races. Howard Steer with his painting of the 1988 games night raid, which will be used to promote next year’s St Pat’s races.

By Ben Sheffield

A Howard Steer painting of the infamous 1988 raid on the St Pat's games night has been unveiled as the picture to advertise the race meeting next year.

It will feature on around 4000 posters and pamphlets which will be distributed in the lead up to the event.

In the 1988 raid, police arrested nine volunteers and confiscated the takings from the games night, in a move that generated headlines around the country.

The fundraising event had been held since 1967, with profits going to the local Catholic schools.

Rumours had circulated that the Police Gaming Squad was in town, but race club organisers proceeded with the games regardless.

It was also suspected that the raid had a political element to it because it happened on the eve of the State election.

Despite the shadow cast over the race meeting, it went ahead and that year Duke Coryo won the main race.

The nine people arrested appeared in court several months later, with local solicitor, Danny O'Brien, representing the accused free of charge.

All pleaded guilty to the charge of conducting an illegal game, but Mr O'Brien argued that they were working as volunteers for charity and not for personal gain.

The magistrate agreed and no convictions were recorded.

After that St Pat's applied for, and were granted a licence to operate the fundraising evening.

In 1989, Bill Baldwin, who was a member of the race club executive, retired from his position as Tourism Officer with City Council.

As a farewell gift for him, Council commissioned Howard Steer to do a painting of the raid.

Mr Baldwin went to live in Perth and several years ago he donated the painting to the race club.

With 2013 being the 25th anniversary of the raid, the painting was ideal for marketing the meeting, said the club.

St Pat's President, Margaret Corradini, whose late husband John was one of the nine people arrested, said it was a good fit.

"It is appropriate that we have the painting from Bill, and the occasion of the anniversary of the raid, that we acknowledge what is part of our colourful history," Mrs Corradini said.

"We are always thrilled to have Howard involved; we make sure that we use local artists for our posters and we are always delighted by their generosity and support."

Mr Steer said he was very pleased that his work was being used to promote the races.

"It's good to see it back in town, especially at St Pat's.

"The games night raid is a bit like the two up folklore.

"People will always be talking about it; someone will ask what happened and you will have to sit down and tell them the story."

Mr Steer also said that the piece differs from a lot of his more recent work.

"I definitely don't have the same patience any more.

"You wouldn't get paid today if you spent three weeks on a painting and that's how long that would have taken me.

"I definitely use more colour now too," he said.