For 23 years Joe Scerri was one of those Fresh Food People, smiling at customers each day, working at Woolworths and making ends meet while his real passion took a back seat.
But with the arrival of the New Year, Joe decided it was time.
"Twenty-three years serving customers, selling fruit and vegetables," he said.
"I was produce manager, and then became second in charge for a long time at stores all over the place.
"I spent nine years at Wollongong and then at Bulli.
"Then in the New Year I said I want to have a crack at this, and give it a try.
"That's all I wanted to do.
"If it works, it works, if it doesn't I'll find something else. I'll mow grass.
"I said I don't want to die not having done what I wanted to do.
"I want to do something I love doing ,and I love doing the dogs."
So Joe said goodbye to Woollies and became a full-time greyhound trainer.
"There's no regrets.
"You get your good days and bad days, but if you treat the dogs right, they are going to give you the results.
"There's a lot of hard work doing this and without my mum, Frances, nothing happens. She helps me with everything.
"I wasn't super intelligent at school, but I know how to work hard and that's what I do.
"Nothing beats hard work I find."
His hard work has paid off with some good success in 2023, but an exclamation point on his decision to go fulltime arrived on November 11 when his kennel star Ritza Piper won the Group 1 Topgun Stayers at The Meadows in Melbourne.
Although he was more than 1,000km away.
"I'm still shocked," he said.
"It's sensational, but I thought we had no hope in the race honestly.
"She has a ton of ability but we haven't had any luck down there and where she was drawn I didn't think she would be able to win.
"I was at The Gardens (Newcastle).
"We sent her down to Paul and Dianne Bartolo to save the travelling back and forward and they have done an amazing job.
"I took Piper's sister [Ritza Blue] to The Gardens but we were a late scratching because she came on season.
"I also took a dog up there for Mark [Gatt]; Leg Speed which won.
"But I think I deafened everyone at The Gardens cheering for Piper in the Topgun."
Scerri was bred to be a trainer.
His grandfather, Paul Micallef, was involved in the sport, as was his uncle, Jimmy Micallef.
And before going out on his own, Scerri had not only owned dogs with the Gatt family, but worked with them learning the game.
"We have been lucky to have a bitch like Ritza Piper.
"She has had an amazing year winning the Summer Distance Plate, and being placed in the Association Cup and Sydney Cup finals.
"She deserved this Group 1.
"For me it shows that I am doing something right. But it means a lot to all of us.
"Mum was at home crying when she won, and my dad Joe - who is a huge help - was pretty excited too.
"They have both been a great help to me, as have the Gatt family.
"And as I've found out, when you're doing something you love, it's not really a job."
This article was produced as part of an ACM partnership with Greyhound Racing NSW.
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