John Flaherty aka ‘Man Friday’
Featured Image: John Flaherty with his richly deserved Murray Bain Perpetual Service to Industry Award taken at the presentation by the Hunter Valley Blood Horse Breeders’ Association (HVBHBA) on Wednesday, May 15 1996. I had the honour of making the presentation. I like to highlight the essential vitally important and indispensable contributions made by everyday workers in the thoroughbred industry.
Mrs Connie Philips won the President’s Award on the same occasion. At the time of writing (26/03/19) Mrs Philips is still with us but in ‘compromised’ high care at Strathearn Village Aged Care in Scone. A gentleman never discloses the age of a lady but she is well advanced in years. In cricketing parlance she will soon reach a most important milestone. Mrs Phillips is actually the very final link to ‘Baramul’ and Star Kingdom; although I recently made the same remark about the late Noel Hennessy.
In my manic book on ‘The Infinitive History of Veterinary Practice in Scone’ I paid the following tribute to John Flaherty.
He was our salvation! The practice now known as Morgan Howey Fraser & Partners moved to 106 Liverpool Street from ‘Grazcos’ Kelly Street in 1977. There was a lot of work to do! JRGM came up with a big winner! Not all his ideas came to fully ripe fruition but this was the ‘Ace of Spades’.
John Flaherty was well known to and by the practice. For two decades he had toiled laboriously at Brooklyn Lodge for Carl Powell. With ‘Cribby’ he formed a formidable duo and survived to tell the tale. Carl elected to move his whole operation lock stock and carriage to Victoria and ‘Flaht’ was at a loose end and amenable to offers. I confess the decision was not mutually unanimous but a strong majority swung behind ‘Flaht’ who commenced as general hand at about this time. How fortuitous! The time and timing were brilliant!
Initially a prospective jockey from the Far North Coast John Flaherty had acquired a prodigious range of skills in the horse, building trade and related industries. He was a consummate farrier, expert horseman and esoteric horse educator (breaker) as well as competent builder, electrician, plumber and welder. In his spare time he constructed all the metal goals posts used by Junior Soccer to this day. I provided the resources and he delivered the expertise and labour. It was no more than his due to be made a Life Member of the Junior Soccer Association for his voluntary efforts.
Thanks to John the construction of the Equine Surgery at the rear of 106 Liverpool Street was able to proceed and be completed on time and within budget. Similarly, the Intensive Foal Care Unit at Clovelly was constructed under the aegis of his expertise. The great thing about ‘Flaht’ was that no task was ever too big or too difficult. He could always stand back, take an objective look and make a value judgement on how to proceed. ‘No’ or ‘impossible’ were not in his lexicon. I never ever remember talking about ‘hours’ or ‘days off’. It was immensely satisfying when John Flaherty was selected for the prestigious Murray Bain Service to Industry Award by the Hunter Valley Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association in 1996. There was no more deserving cause! Murray would have been very proud. The award was instituted in his name specifically to acknowledge such achievement. ‘Man Friday’? Make that every day of the week and nights as well!