Shane Smith - cellarman at GDSC - retiring after 40 years of working full-time.
Shane Smith - cellarman at GDSC - retiring after 40 years of working full-time. Adam Hourigan

CHEERS: Shane's un-beer-lievable club career

AFTER decades of pre-dawn starts, Shane Smith is finally enjoying a good sleep-in.

On Saturday, Mr Smith called last drinks on a 40-year career with the Grafton District Services Club and is now raising a glass to retirement.

"It's certainly going to be different, but I've got grandkids to keep me busy, so it will be great," he said.

The cellarman said he was originally working as an apprentice butcher for Doug Raymond in Prince Street before hearing about a job opening at the GDSC.

"I had a mate who worked in the restaurant, which was called the Regal Restaurant back in those days," he said.

"He told me they were really short-staffed and asked me if I wanted to come and help them out a couple of nights a week."

For three years, Mr Smith donned the distinctive red vest as a casual waiter while working at the butcher shop during the day.

"Then a full-time job came up, so I took that and have been here ever since," he said.

For Mr Smith, the GDSC isn't just a place of employment, but has shaped his life.

"I met my wife here," he said.

"She was a customer who was out here at a party one night... the rest is history. Now we're heading towards being together for 40 years."

In that time, Mr Smith has witnessed an ongoing evolution in the bar industry.

"The biggest change I've seen is occupational health and safety," he said.

"When I first started here, it was completely acceptable to drink and smoke while you were at work. Those bars used to have a trough that you'd put your foot on, you'd stand at the bar and smoke your smoke then throw the butt into the trough.

"These days you wouldn't do it, but I'm happy to see that change!"