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Vale - Mr Keith Nolan

One of NSW racing's top administrators and great characters, Mr Keith Nolan, passed away on Thursday after a long illness.
 
Keith, 76, was the founding chairman of the Illawarra Turf Club, who along with a small band of friends; was able, in spite of political leg-pulling, to resurrect Kembla Grange back in the mid 1970's.
 
Now Kembla is one of Australia racing's finest provincial tracks, but without Nolan, today it would be a vast housing estate. 
 
Nolan was the secretary manager of the Thirroul Leagues Club and heavily involved in football in the Wollongong region when Kembla looked certain to be closed after no Government assistance. It was to be the birth of the Illawarra Turf Club.
 
'Keith was a man of great substance and he was bold enough - against the wishes of some of the major players - to take the first ever live satellite coverage of a race meeting way back in September of 1986,' recalled good friend, Sky Channel's Graham McNeice.
 
'The Illawarra Turf Club now sits as one of the most successful provincial race clubs in Australia and much of its success can be attributed to Keith.'
 
But probably Nolan's great love was the punt and a few beers at the races with his mates and his loyal wife, Jill. So it was no surprise Keith was able to lead the survival of the new Kembla racetrack.
 
Unlike most in racing, Keith did not rely on political correctness when he needed 'something' done for his club - he just unleashed his verbal sledge hammer; usually with the desired result.
 
But no mate helped his fellow man more than Keith, as was evidenced when a testimonial was held in his honour at Kembla five years ago. It was claimed that day that half the crowd owed Keith a favour.
 
The Illawarra Turf Club named a new grandstand after him - the Keith F. Nolan Stand - and stage a feature race, the Keith F. Nolan Classic.
 
Keith had the Keith is survived by his wife Jill, children Peter, Cathy, Mark and Julie as well as 13 loving grandchildren.

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