Fitting toast to Jeff: McLean’s welcoming legacy lives on
IF popular Ipswich sporting great Jeff McLean was still with us, he would be the first to offer a celebratory drink after receiving a lasting tribute.
The long-serving Ipswich Turf Club official and former Coronation Hotel publican was dedicated in everything he did, loved a chat and made everyone feel at ease.
With a highly sought-after turf club viewing area room just named in his honour, Jeff would have been standing at the entrance ready to help guests enjoy a memorable day.
Such was the 'Coro' publican's love of people and his passion for racing.
"That's definitely one of dad's amazing traits,'' Bridget McLean said.
"He just made everyone feel like they were the most important person in that room.
"He would have stood there and welcomed everyone to see the best view in the house.''
That's why the McLean family are so appreciative of the turf club decision to honour Jeff in this way.
"We were pretty overwhelmed with the thought to think that, as time goes on, someone that's important to you will never be forgotten,'' Bridget said.
Bridget was joined by her mum Carmel, brother David, his wife Amber and their nine-month old daughter Triss for the opening of the Jeffrey J McLean Room.
Jeff's good friend and former club chairman Dan Bowden and current ITC chairman Wayne Patch also attended the opening at last Friday's race meeting.
It was Jeff's idea to convert the old press box high up in the main grandstand into a corporate area.
Although a small room, it has outstanding views of the race track and allows those using it to soak up an atmosphere below, especially on Ipswich Cup Day.
Jeff didn't get to see his suggestion come to fruition. However, the room has been used for 50 functions.
Ten years after Jeff's passing, it was fitting his 35 years of service at the turf club will be long remembered.
Jeff was on the committee for 20 years. He worked closely with Bowden who was chairman from 1995-2001 before Patch took over leading the club.
Jeff was also a former Wallaby who represented Australia 13 times in rugby from 1971-74.
Jeff's final international game was against the All Blacks in 1974. That was also the international debut of his younger brother Paul.
The McLean family were proud Ipswich supporters for decades.
While he reached the highest level in rugby and teamed with Carmel to run the iconic Coronation Hotel, Jeff always loved his racing.
As his loving family shared in the honouring of Jeff, Bridget was impressed with the massive upgrade at the Ipswich Turf Club.
Jeff was among those who lobbied hard for much-needed improvements.
"He definitely was a big part of the push for the redevelopment and when we got there the other day, I just sat back and thought he would have been so chuffed at how amazing the turf club has now become,'' Bridget said.
"It was really lovely to hear that he was not forgotten down at the turf club and he's definitely still in their memory for all the long hours and hard work.
"It (the turf club) was definitely his passion project outside of the pub.''