Hello! Back in September 2019, high school science teacher Troy Eggleston was the first Grand Champion on Mastermind Australia in 35 years! He brought home the trophy with his special subject, Melbourne Cup winners. But that’s not the only area in which Troy boasts expert knowledge… nor is it the only time he’s appeared on our screens. I recently spoke to Troy about his love of quizzing, and the highs (and lows) of his various TV quiz show appearances.
SH: Troy! Welcome, and thanks so much for speaking to me today for HowToWinGameShows.com!
TE: Absolute pleasure, Stephen. Thanks for having me.
SH: In September 2019, you won the first (new) season of Mastermind Australia. And although it was your very first quiz show appearance, I understand that quizzing has been a passion of yours for a long time…
TE: Yes, I’ve been watching game shows for as long as I can remember. One of my first memories is watching David Poltorak scoring $200 on Sale of the Century (by the way, please bring that back, TV people!) I also enjoyed it when the really good players came back on, such as Virginia Noel, David Bock and Cary Young. I really looked up to those guys and thought it could be awesome to be like them one day. Unfortunately, Sale went off the air just as I got old enough to apply for it! I’ve always enjoyed general knowledge quizzes and trivia nights. I also enjoyed reading books that would expand my knowledge, particularly in the areas I was interested in.
SH: Your final special subject for Mastermind was Melbourne Cup winners – what inspired you to learn as much as possible about them?
TE: I have a bit of a party trick where I can memorise a list easily. Since I was a bit of a sport nut when I was a kid, I memorised lists to do with sport; Olympic host cities, NRL winners, VFL winners, Melbourne Cup Winners and so on. The Melbourne Cup has always interested me, as it’s arguably the biggest sporting event in Australia, and some of the stories involved are part of folklore, from overseas winners to drunk Governors-General awarding the cup. Unfortunately, I’m only good at telling you past Cup winners, not future ones… more often than not, the TAB keeps my money on Cup Day!
SH: You also had another two special subjects along the way – what were they, and why do they hold such fascination for you?
TE: My topic for my heat was Sir Donald Bradman. I am a big cricket fan and like studying the history of sport. ‘The Don’ is someone who is an icon of both sport and Australiana and a fascinating individual to study. I have been to the Bradman Museum many times; I absolutely love it there. I also like reading books on how others saw him. Not everyone associated with cricket has a favourable view of him and it was very interesting getting their insights.
My topic for the semi-final was World Chess Championships. I like playing chess, and when I was little, I was told to look at the games of past great players. There are plenty of books on the subject, and some of the world championship matches were epic battles. The psychology and preparation are comparable to a heavyweight boxing title fight! The psychological warfare that these players sometimes try to perform on each other is incredible. Once, a player complained about another player eating yoghurt, as he thought that player’s coaches were trying to send him a message with the flavour!
SH: When it comes to studying your special subjects, is there a particular method of studying or revision you like to use? Could you take us through it?
TE: I tried to keep all the information associated with a year, this was easier with Melbourne Cup and Chess as they only had one event per year, Bradman was a little bit harder as there was more than one thing that happened in a particular year (hence me not doing as well in that particular round). I then drew up a table with all the information in it and memorised it. It’s easier for me to memorise a table, but it will be different for everyone, as everyone’s brains work differently.
SH: Mastermind‘s Grand Prize is a magnificent engraved bowl – what did you do with it?
TE: It is currently sitting on my “wall of fame” with my sports memorabilia, next to my signed Don Bradman photo. I pull it out sometimes when friends come over. When I first won it, a lot of people wanted to see it. I get requests from the students to bring it to school and show them, but I haven’t done that so far. There are some people who say “Oh, it’s just a bowl” and laugh a bit… but to me, it means a hell of a lot more than that.
No doubt! A hard-won trophy indeed, and richly deserved. Next week, Troy and I discuss life post-Mastermind, and he takes us through his next two quiz show appearances. See you next Tuesday!
Oh, and by the way… Mastermind is now looking for contestants for its next series! You can apply right here: https://go.mycastingnet.com/Apply/Show/MastermindTweet