It was the 3rd of November, 2001 and in the beer-soaked front bar of the old Endeavour Hotel five of Botany’s brightest entrepreneurs had gathered to watch the title fight between American loudmouth Zabdiel Judah and the softly spoken Aussie, Kostya Tszyu. The pre-match interviews featured a brazen Judah inflating his own self-importance and declaring that he was about to make history. Tszyu on the other hand simply complimented his opponent’s ability and assured his fans that he had trained well. Zab entered the ring with Mike Tyson in his entourage and an American flag wrapped around his neck.
The Endeavour’s patrons booed.
Judah’s reach was a good two inches longer than Tszyu’s, which tested the Australian’s maneuverability. Kostya ducked and weaved throughout the entire first round and although a few of Zab’s blows found their mark the first three minutes ended fairly even.
Round 2 however was an entirely different story.
It was as if the Aussie boxer had heard the advice of the Botany Entrepreneurs for as soon as the bell went he was up in Judah’s face. The southpaw New Yorker could not get back far enough to throw a decent punch and with only moments to go in the second stanza Kostya tapped him gently with a left and then planted his right fist flush in the middle of the Brooklyn bragger’s nose.
The Endeavour Hotel erupted as Judah hit the canvas.
History was made that day. Firstly by the diminutive Australia pugilist becoming the first man in thirty years to unify the belts in the Junior Welterweight division, and secondly by the amalgamation of these ‘Captains of Industry’ into the Botany Gentlemen’s Club.
The flamboyant behaviour of the BGC (as they quickly became known) epitomised the Noughties. Frequent revenue raising activities at Randwick Race Course resulted in an equitable distribution of wealth amongst hotel staff, pro-shops, bookmakers and restaurants of the little industrial suburb. Topless waitresses flocked to the Captain Cook Hotel every Thursday so that these local legends could help them with their college tuition fees, whilst meat-raffle merchants knew they could count on the Entrepreneur’s donations.
No social activity was ignored. School trivia nights and Blues Brothers Revivals all benefited from the BGC’s largess, as did the local cricket club with BGC members cajoling the flirty nurses at the Royal hotel to support the boys and girls.
And when the time came to cast the deciding vote that gave Russell Crowe ownership of the mighty South Sydney Rabbitohs Football Club, this League of Extraordinary Gentlemen were on hand to deliver the Bunnies their salvation.
Formed over packet of Parker’s Pretzels and a schooner of Victoria Bitter, the BGC are indeed twenty-first century versions of Robin Hood and his band of merry men.
But who are the founding fathers of the Botany Gentlemen’s Club? Preferring anonymity to the praise they rightly deserve, these pillars of society can be identified as follows:
El Presidenté: Betting legend and dictator for life the BGC’s beloved President is a prince amongst men. Organiser of Christmas Parties, drinker of beer and member of the Guy Sebastian Fan Club, El Presidenté has never missed a planning meeting or a call to arms. Nor will you see him drunkenly abusing his minions because they refuse to watch that God-awful movie, Blues Brother 2000. El Presidenté is the only man who knows the babes from Bombshells by name and always makes eye contact when he engages them in conversation.
The Treasurer: Paul Keating’s got nothing on this guy. From his chipped little china teapot hidden away at the back of the pantry, the Treasurer managed the barren bankroll during the early days of the BGC, ensuring their financial stability and success for the years to come. As a share holder in Carlton United Breweries the Treasurer became the first man in history to build his children an above-ground swimming pool made entirely out of empty VB beer cans. With his innate ability to sleep standing up, the Treasurer has never shirked his responsibilities donating both his home and his brazier to the BGC’s bonfire requirements.
The Skipper: The BGC’s resident boating enthusiast (who’s afraid to go fishing outside the heads) has a fondness for Tyrells’ Old Winery Cabinet Merlot and James Boags Premium Lager. Although this man lacks a Gilligan he does have his very own Mary-Anne who, upon his command, will fetch him a beer or a sandwich and make sure the BGC members get home ok. The Skipper never thinks twice about paying a little extra at the silent auctions on school trivia nights and will wait until everyone is over the ales and onto the bourbon before he has his shout.
The Burglar: With two solo golf titles to his name and a handicap that would shame Tiger Woods, the Burglar is the youngest of the founding members. His skill at selling meat trays to vegetarians came in handy during those early years of fund raising and his penchant for winning seafood platters fed the BGC at times when their money was all but exhausted. A raconteur of literary repute, the Burglar partnered with the Treasurer to take out the 2010 BGC Pool Championship and, together with the Skipper and the Probie, he recently claimed the Inaugural Ambrose BGC Golf Trophy.
Blisters: So named because he would turn up after the work was done, Blisters went to the pub during one of the BGC’s early camping trips and was never seen again.
With the groundwork done the founding fathers (sans one) refused to rest on their laurels and expansion quickly came to mind. The BGC’s notoriety had spread to soccer clubs, netball squads and touch football teams so a recruitment program was quickly put into place. Identification of possible candidates though was no mean feat. Selection criteria included the ability to drink beer from both aluminium cans and plastic bottles (if the need arose), an unfailing support of the South Sydney Rabbitohs and a like-minded, yet somewhat evil, sense of humour. Wannabes were culled thick and fast but the following outstanding applicants were successful.
The Signmaker: A humble, giant of a man with a passion for surfing and bonfires, the Signmaker brought brazier destruction and Bundaberg Rum to the BGC. With calloused hands harder than steel the new member could feed razor sharp palm fronds into the fire faster than the Flash. A misspent youth and wicked stories to match made the Signmaker a welcome addition to the BGC team.
Mr Email: Mr. Email is the only member who can simultaneously shut down the servers of several major international corporations with a simple electronic communication. His fondness for g-strings and the height impaired is legendary, as is his winning try for the BGC touch footy team. Unfortunately he talks a better pool game than he plays and his penchant for effeminate cocktails and wanting to ‘spoon the Probie’ frequently causes the Founding Fathers to look sideways at him.
The Probie: The newest addition to the BGC likes to brew his own beer and listen to doof doof music. He also has a man crush on ex Rugby League player Brett Kimmorley and only supports the Rabbitohs as his second side. In spite of his rugged good looks and rakish charm the question still remains how he got past the review committee.
With new talent on board the BGC quickly began to spread their wealth up and down the NSW coast. Una Voce, Gwandalan and Culburra were identified as towns in need of patronage and the BGC obliged. Cash was flashed at jukeboxes, bars, coffee shops and RSL clubs by loyal BGCers as their goodwill rampaged north and south. Discarded building materials and unwanted fence posts were properly disposed of in thirty foot infernos that provided warmth to all the local inhabitants whilst beer kegs were emptied and refreshed in all the regional bowling clubs.
So what’s next for this philanthropic band of brothers?
Following on from a successful stint as backing vocalists for Richard Clapton and The Neil Diamond Show there was a very real possibility that this charismatic cadre would go head-to-head with the rock star wannabes on Australian Idol. However, the BGC have always made it their mission to provide support for those that need it most and with the current condition of the Wallabies Rugby Union side and the NSW State of Origin team you can bet that interstate and indeed international expansion is certainly on the cards.
We call rest assured though that whatever happens it will be for the benefit of the lucky community that the BGC next sets their sights upon.
God bless you boys!