Popular, hardworking turf club figure set to retire
A PLAN to retire on his terms has been years in the making but Brett Kitching admits he couldn’t have scripted his impending departure any better.
The hardworking and popular Ipswich Turf Club general manager will finish up after 16 years in the job in March next year.
He will depart with immense pride having guided the club through a difficult period for the racing industry and helped secure its financial future after delivering facilities which are the envy of the rest of the country.
His father, former Australian footballer Spencer, suffered a severe stroke at the age of 58.
Brett will turn 58 on February 25 and retire on March 1.
“I’ve known for quite some time that I was aiming for this and structuring to be able to get to that position,” he said.
“He lost vision and hearing on one side and he lost movement on the other side.
“He was immobile for the rest of his life. He was nearing retirement and he’d been working hard all of his life.
“When that happened, I didn’t want to be in that same situation.”
The Kitchings arrived in Bundamba from Scotland in the 19th century and would, over the generations to come, cement themselves as local football royalty.
Brett’s great grandparents moved into a house on Lindsay St.
His grandfather Alexander played for Queensland, father Spencer represented Australia and Brett represented Queensland at U19 level.
Uncle Col, who also represented Australia, only recently moved away from Lindsay St to live up north to be closer to family.
Brett was educated locally and has spent most of his working life in Bundamba apart from a couple of years in New South Wales.
He spent 12 years at Australian Hardboards as general manager of the site, and later commercial manager of every site in the country, before arriving at the turf club.
“I was brought up at Ebbw Vale,” he said.
“My father and grandfather both played football at Bundamba Rangers across the road.
“It’s probably fitting I’ve spent almost 30 years of my working life in Bundamba.”
Brett said he leaves the turf club with immense pride after guiding it through a difficult period for the industry.
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He departs having overseen the $25 million redevelopment of the site, including the new Ipswich Events and Entertainment Centre, after a long battle to get it over the line.
New facilities will help secure the financial future of the club.
“I look back with great pride … to be able to keep the club at a break-even position under difficult circumstances,” he said.
“For all race clubs it has been very difficult over the last 15 or 20 years just with the changes and the nature of the industry has meant that funding has dried up.
“Fewer people are generally going to the races. The race clubs generally over that time have been funded by people coming to the races and the wagering takeout. There’s been very little income from those two areas.”
Brett and wife Annette will move permanently down to the home they built at Cabarita Beach after spending most of their weekends there over the past 12 years pre-COVID.
The couple, who have been married for almost 32 years, have done most of their travelling after five around the world trips in the past 10 years.
“We’ve been planning for some time and for those reasons to be able to give every chance to be able to spend with the family, having seen what happened with my dad,” he said.
“I love my fishing and I just walk 200m and I’m on the beach.
“The youngest daughter said a couple of months ago ‘I feel like you’ve been talking about retiring for 20 years.’
“I said ‘yeah we probably have.’
“March 1 is the end of the pay week. (My birthday next year) coincides with me being to access superannuation.
“I couldn’t have scripted it any better really.”
Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.