‘Mr Athletics’ back on home track

MARATHON CHAT:  Ipswich athletics fanatics Vic Pascoe (left) and Bill Paterson remember fine moments in the city’s running past.


HIS memory is fading, his speech is slowing and he feels the cold more these days.

But 92-year-old Ipswich athletics pioneer Bill Paterson still looks fit enough to jog around the oval named after him.  As he sits inside the athletics clubhouse to escape the chill, Bill is content.

When the talk moves to athletics, he gestures excitedly with his hands and regularly chuckles.

His brain is racing faster than when he used to set Queensland records over 440 and 880 yards.

While his stories are fragmented, Bill grins at every question, nodding his approval at how many elite athletes Ipswich has produced.

It’s been years since he last coached.  But his passion for athletics remains sharp.

The respected former coach ― once dubbed “Mr Athletics” ― grew up at Raceview in the days when homes had no power and ice was delivered.

Ipswich-born Bill has been at the Gold Coast for 28 years, after a 64 year stint in the city.

He recalls starting athletics aged 14.

“I got knocked about in soccer,” the former Raceview Royals and Blackstone Rovers centre forward said.  “I had to give it (soccer) away because of my running.”

In 1937, Bill won the Australian quarter-mile title at Hobart.  He represented Queensland again in 1938.

But it was in coaching where he left his legacy.

He mentored up to 30 people at a time, in Brisbane and later at Limestone Park.

Among those was long-serving Ipswich athletics official and coach Vic Pascoe.

It was Pascoe ― another athletics fanatic ― who invited Bill home.

In May, Pascoe had joined Bill for his 92nd birthday at the Gold Coast.

“For four hours there, we never talked about anything else but athletics,” Pascoe said.  “It was fantastic.”

Back in Ipswich, the pair continue another marathon chat.

Surrounded by athletics memorabilia, Pascoe waits on Bill’s every word, anxious to learn more.

They communicate like long-lost friends.

Being a 400m Queensland and NSW champion in 1973, Pascoe relates well to the master coach.

Reliving the past is fascinating, with clippings on the table joining missing links.

One old article ― still in good nick like Bill ― shows the day in 1979 that the oval at Limestone Park was named after him.

At the time, Alderman Kev Dwyer and Ipswich City Council wanted to recognise Bill’s voluntary efforts.

The former miner and Railways workshops employee struggles to recall that day.  But he again nods his approval with the grin of a gold medallist.

He looks at his scrapbooks ― kept in an old suitcase.  They contain a treasure trove of fine Ipswich athletics history.

Bill used to run for the now-defunct Ipswich Harriers before switching to the Christian Brothers Club in Brisbane.

But he never strayed far from Ipswich.

Seeing Bill brave the cold outside and stand next to the sign carrying his name was a memorable way to end the chat.

He could probably still coach if he had to.  But living legends like Bill Paterson deserve quieter days.