The McElwaine family were intimately involved in Pyrmont life during the 1970s, when father Bob owned the Terminus Hotel. Bob was a dedicated runner as well as a publican. He competed in the Sydney to Melbourne ultra-marathon in 1983, coming second behind Cliff Young. Cliff knew that Bob was skint, and gave him the prize car. Two years later Bob collided with a car while training, and shattered a leg.
Bob’s three sons, Mark (“Gloves”), Greg (“Dukes”) and Philip (“Knuckles”), were handy with their fists. The best known, Philip born in Maitland in 1957, was a fine amateur boxer, holding the NSW middleweight (75kg) title from 1975 to 1978, and the Australian title from 1976 to 1979. He won the Commonwealth Games title in 1978, when his opponent was stood down by doctors. A year after he turned professional, a disastrous motorcycle accident ended his boxing career in 1983.
Phil and his brothers are better known for their role in the Milperra massacre. As the hotel struggled in the 1970s, topless barmaids were employed to draw patrons. Among those drawn to the pub were several bikies – and the brothers were drawn to the bikies. Phil was a Bandido in September 1984 when war broke out at the Viking pub in Milperra between them and the Comancheros. Seven people died and many were injured before police could stop the shooting.
Many were charged with murder (reduced to manslaughter). While his brothers remained in gaol, Phil was the only accused sentenced on a lesser charge of affray: the police attested that he volunteered at the Police Boys Club where he was “a monument to the police boys movement”.