Brian Odgers is 83, and only 5ft 2 in the old measurements, but don’t tell him he’s too old to be active.
Monday nights it’s table tennis for Waitpinga in the Great Southern association. Tuesday is golf day at the Victor Harbor Golf Club, Wednesday it’s golf at the West Lakes Golf Club (formerly Riverside), Thursday is golf again at Victor, Friday afternoon is table tennis again plus putting practice at the golf club, and Saturday is tennis at Hindmarsh Valley.
There is also ‘night owls’ in lawn bowls, and in between all of this he repairs and polishes old golf putters as a hobby, and strings his old racquets with a machine that he used at the Oliver Racquet Factory on Anzac Highway, Keswick, where he worked 40 years ago.
“I see my wife Suzanne sometimes,” Brian (pictured) says with a sheepish grin. Actually, a lot over their 40 years of marriage.
The sporting love also goes back to playing football for Brompton – his brother Allen was a speedy, spindly wingman for North Adelaide – and squash as a youngster, but without doubt his biggest passion has always been tennis. It will be 70 years ago next year that he won the state under 14 SA Hardcourt Championship singles at Goodwood, and overall he won 58 inter-association tournaments.
Brian, who moved from the city to Encounter Bay 14 years ago, obviously loves his sport, but he has never professed to be better or keener than anyone else. He likes to think there are other ‘sports nuts’ like him within our midst. “I just hope people continue to play sport for the fun of it as long as they possibly can,” Brian said. “It’s not about how good you are, just being active.
“Sport has always been good to me; it has given me so many friends throughout my life, and I am still meeting new people through playing table tennis. It’s a great sport and I encourage anyone at any age to play.
“All these years later I can still recall all of the great times at Easter tournments in Mount Gambier for tennis, and in the Riverland for golf.”
Perhaps Brian’s biggest sporting injury was recently when he took the skin off the top of his fingers on his right hand when he fell during a tennis game, forcing him on the sidelines for a few weeks. But he will be back.
Included in the sporting reel highlights are two holes in one, at West Lakes, where he also worked in the club-pro shop for 10 years, and in 2001 at the seventh at Victor Harbor. To show he’s just like any golfer he moans that his handicap has drifted, from 11 to 18, which is still pretty good for an 83-year-old. But then, we’re not allowed to remind him that he is… well, a mature sportsman. Good on him.