AFTER a career spanning 60 years in the automotive industry, Gloucester’s Ollie Rinkin has decided to call it a day.
The 75-year-old officially retired last month after a career spanning six decades.
Ollie grew up in Gloucester and moved to Sydney to complete his schooling.
He completed his pre-apprenticeship at Granville Tech in 1954 before heading back north to take up a job in Taree.
“I was heading to Taree when I got a call from my uncle saying Jim Burley had a job opening up at his garage. That suited me fine, I could live with my grandparents until I got settled,” Ollie said.
Ollie spent 12 years at Burley’s (now Autolec) before moving to Graham’s Garage, which was run by Freddy Myers (out of the old Turner Holden building).
“In those days there were more mechanics in the one shop then we would have in the whole town today,” Ollie said.
“There were three or four big workshops in town with at least 10 mechanics and half a dozen apprentices.
“Being a mechanic was different in those days - you made most of your parts - now days you buy most of your parts ready-made.”
He spent 20 years as the service manager at Gloucester Toyota before starting his own business in the late 1990s.
“I went out by myself 15 years ago and I should have done it 40 years ago,” he said.
Ollie’s great love outside of cars was hockey. He started playing the game as a 16-year-old.
“We played in the Manning Valley competition,” Ollie said.
“We played a match against New Zealand in Gloucester in 1958 before the Olympics. There was a half day public holiday so people could get to the game.”
Ollie played hockey for five decades, representing the region and the State, but it was his achievements as an administrator, manager and coach he is most proud of.
He was a selector for NSW for 20 years and served as the northern NSW delegate to the State association for many years.
As a coach, he helped Gloucester Public win five State hockey titles and was also instrumental in Gloucester High’s success in the Wales Cup.
“They used to call Gloucester ‘Little Parkes’. In those days Parkes was one of the strongest hockey towns in the State. But we had that many strong youngsters come through,” he said.
Ollie was made a life member of Hockey NSW in 2000. He said the demise of hockey locally, and across the State, followed the introduction of artificial turf playing fields.
“Moving to turf buggered hockey. Not just in Gloucester but all over. It used to be a big family thing where everyone got involved, but the limited number of turf fields made that a lot harder,” he said.
“The expense also became a big issue.”
But in recent times there has been cause for optimism.
Ollie has been working closely with youngsters at Barrington Public and a similar program for aspiring young hockey players has been introduced at St Joseph’s Primary. He said Gloucester Public was also keen for its students to get more involved in the game.
“Hockey’s not dead in Gloucester just yet, not by a long shot,” Ollie said.