Table of Contents
- Preliminaries: before 1870
- Foundations: 1870-1880
- New Clubs: 1880-1890
- The Amateur Question: 1890-1900
- Sydney on Top: 1900-1910
- Henley and War: 1910-1920
- Pearce and Mosman: 1920-1930
- Financial Problems: 1930-1940
- War and Wood: 1940-1950
- Strength and Stability: 1950-1960
- On Top Again: 1960-1970
11. On Top Again:1960-1970
The forthcoming Tokyo Olympic Games dominated the 1963/64 season. This was especially so as the AARC had resolved to make every effort to have Australia represented in all seven rowing events. It soon became apparent that Sydney was the force to be reckoned with in senior rowing in NSW.
There were two newcomers to the eight - Gary Herford, transferred from Mosman, and Peter Wood, son of Merv. The eight was boated Agnew (bow), Goulding, Campbell, Duval, Allen, Derwin, Wood, Herford (stroke), with Alan Grover (cox) and Phil Cayzer coach. The crew ran up a series of wins, culminating in victory in the State championship. At the championship regatta, the lightweight four of Gwalter (bow), Angus, Holden, Simons (stroke) and Parker (cox) also successfully defended Sydney's title. In the sculling field, Geoff Dunlop had a succession of wins culminating in another win for Sydney in the champion junior sculls. A strong Sydney junior eight competed in the 1964 Henley-on-Yarra regatta, being boated Mick Haine (bow), Carl Cameron, Bob Wallwork, Paul Blackall, Paul Richter, John Nickson, Tony Taggart, John Howard (stroke) and Larry Crick (cox). The crew was beaten by 3 feet in the final of the Founders' Cup. In remaining championship events in NSW, Sydney won three-the coxless fours, the coxed pair and the lightweight eight.
Four Sydney men were chosen in the 1964 State eight. They were Alf Duval, John Campbell, Mick Allen and Gary Herford, with Hudson and the Dickson brothers of Leichhardt and Northam of Colleagues also gaining selection. Robberds was coxswain and Goulding one of the reserves. The lightweight four selected was Gwalter (bow), Holden, Steve Roll and Simons (stroke) with Parker cox and Angus emergency.
It was the turn of NSW to hold the carnival and there had been hopes that Lake Burley Griffin at Canberra would be completed in time to stage the events there. In fact, the events were held at the Nepean, the eights and the sculls being Olympic trial events. Five other races were included on the programme. Victoria won all three major events. In the eights, a very strong crew led from start to finish and, although NSW threw everything at them at the finish, Victoria won by 3/4 length. WA was 5 lengths back third. Shirlaw represented NSW in the sculls once again, and finished third behind Edwards of Victoria and Moore of Tasmania (who had defeated Squires, the Australian titleholder, in the State championship).
Sydney's win in the champion lightweight eight in 1964 culminated a remarkable year for the "Carmody crew", which consisted of Dennis Carmody, Jim Hanson, Ian Carmody and Bob Powell, with Wayne Huxham cox and Doug Donoghue coach. The crew won the novice four at the opening regatta of the season and then won a number of maiden and lightweight maiden four events and the lightweight open four at Henley-on-Yarra in February, 1964. They were then selected along with the club's champion lightweight four in the lightweight senior eight and finished the season as winners of a senior championship.
The Victorian win in the fours was a narrow one, NSW being a bare 3 feet back and WA, who had led early, 3/4 length further behind.
Further Olympic selections were finalised at the second Australian National Championships. They were held on Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra from 30 April to 2 May. The Sydney coxed four of Duval (bow), Allen, Campbell, Herford (stroke) and Grover (cox) won Olympic selection by their win in the coxed four (defeating the other half of the NSW eight by a length).
The remaining trials resulted as follows: coxless pair: Ninham and Shirlaw of Mosman; double sculls: Wade of Mosmanand Pearce of Balmain; coxless four: Mercantile (Victoria); and coxed pair: Nagambie (Victoria). The champion lightweight eight was won by Mercantile with Sydney's eight 7 seconds behind second. The coxed four was graded second in the rowing group in Olympic nominations, behind the Victorian eight, but, in fact, sufficient funds were available for all seven crews to travel to Tokyo.
The results for Australia were intensely disappointing, with not a single crew making a final. The eight came fifth in its heat, and third in the repechage. In the "little final" it showed much improved form to finish second, to give it eighth place overall among fourteen competing nations. The coxed four finished fourth in its heat, third in the repechage and fourth in the little final. Peter Edwards, the coxless pair and the coxed pair all finished third in the little finals, while the coxless four and the double scull failed to qualify for even this consolation event.
Of the seven races, USA won three (including the eight), USSR two and West Germany, Canada and Denmark one each. The manager of the Australian rowing team, Alec McLeish, commented that "it is obvious that Australia is not in world rowing class". On their return to Australia, oarsmen and coaches were adamant that Australian crews would need more international rowing experience if they were to regain world-class standard.
The remainder of the 1964/65 season was relatively quiet, although a tour by NZ was in the offing at the end of the season. Sixteen regattas were set down for competition. In the first half, success for Sydney came mainly from its lightweight seniors although the maiden eight of Carl Parker (bow), Graeme Ross, Ron Meehan, Bill Silk, George Larcher, Alan Dougherty, Phil May, John Pattison (stroke) and Terry Phillips (cox) had some good wins.
At Nepean's regatta, the lightweight eight of Dennis Carmody (bow), Green, Ian Carmody, Downie, Knight, Coutts, Holden, Angus (stroke) and Parker (cox) retained the championship for Sydney.
Only two other championships came Sydney's way in the remainder of the season: the champion junior eight and the champion coxed pair. The former crew was boated Bill Glover (bow), Bob Powell, Ian Carmody, Bruce Byron, David Crowhurst, Jim Hanson, Michael Morgan and Joe Fazio (stroke) with Ian Chessell cox and Stewart Derwin coach.
Left to right: S Derwin, W Glover, M Morgan, R Powell, I Carmody, D Crowhurst, J Hanson, J Fazio, B Byron, I Chessel (cox)
The successful pair was John Howard (bow) and Peter Wood (stroke) with Terry Phillips (cox). Also worthy of note were the performances of the novice four of Dick Robertson (bow), Graeme Armstrong, Alec Gillies, George Parlby, jnr. (stroke) and Alan Phillips (cox), and of the Carmody brothers in winning the lightweight coxed pair at Henley-on-Yarra.
The junior eight finished third in the final of the Founders' Cup at Henley, while a maiden four and sculler Alan Dougherty also competed. Haberfield won five championships in all, including the eights (Mercantile, Victoria, finishing second).
A new sculling champion also emerged in Gary Pearce of Balmain and he and Frank Gardner also won the double sculling championship.
The 1965 King's Cup carnival was held at Perth and it was a triumph for the NSW representatives. The eight contained five members of the winning Haberfield crew-Brian Denny, Errol Brazenall, Dennis Tutty, Howard Croker and Ian McWhirter, with Brian Thomas the coxswain. Alf Duval gained selection, along with Peter and Bruce Dickson of Leichhardt. In the big race itself, Victoria, composed mainly of Olympic Games oarsmen, led for most of the way but, in a well planned move, NSW took the lead late in the race to score the narrowest of wins in a tremendous finish. WA filled third position.
Kevyn Webb was the coach of the NSW lightweight four and three of the winning Haberfield crew-Schofield, Bullard and Faddy were retained along with Bruce Downie of Sydney, while Alan Grover was cox and Dennis Carmody emergency. SA got away to a good lead but the NSW crew gradually wore them down to win by about 5 seconds with Victoria third. In the sculls, Gary Pearce, fully upholding the grand family name, led throughout to beat Moore of Tasmania by almost 4 seconds, with Edwards only third.
A visit by a NZ contingent for further test races against Australian crews was the highlight of the 1965/66 season. There were no less than 21 metropolitan regattas, while the Association's annual report noted that the RA "registered 776 active club oarsmen and 496 schoolboy oarsmen".
Three of the regattas - North Shore's, the Metropolitan and the Riverview Regatta - commenced in the morning so as to get through the full programme. Larger crowds than in previous years were reported at the second half regattas which, as in other years, attracted far more school crews and their keen supporters.
The winning NSW King's Cup eight was the basis of the Australian crew for the races with NZ, the only changes being the inclusion of Campbell and John Ranch in place of Tutty and Croker. Pearce was Australia's sculler, while Croker and Gordon McWhirter were emergencies and also competed as the "Australian reserve pair-oared crew". Ossie Rosevear was appointed manager of the squad.
The New Zealanders competed in test races and other events in NSW, Victoria and the ACT. (One of the regattas on the programme was to have been a "Twilight Regatta" at Sydney Rowing Club but, unfortunately, it was cancelled due to bad weather.) Of the nine test races conducted, the New Zealanders won eight, thus taking out the "Ampol Trans-Tasman Trophy". A win by the pair was Australia's only success (although the double scull of Ninham and Shirlaw, rowing for Mosman, won two of the international double scull events). Murray Watkinson, the NZ sculler, proved himself clearly superior to all Australian scullers. (Major assistance in financing this tour came from the new Rothmans National Sports Foundation.)
Sydney's senior oarsmen accumulated many points in the first half of the season, although many were in races won by either the NZ or Australian crews which were ineligible for points. In particular, the coxed four of Howard (bow), Allen, Wood, Goulding (stroke) and Grover (cox) had a series of wins including the resident championship title. The "Carmody crew", with Downie replacing a heftier Hanson, also had much success, including the lightweight coxless four title and, early in 1966, the coxed title as well. Some "top-heaviness" was, however, being shown in Sydney's performances with only the maiden four stroked by George Parlby, jnr. doing well in the lower ranks.
Composite rowing was permitted by the RA during the season. The champion eights was won by a composite crew, the same as the Australian eight for the test races but with Stevens of Colleagues replacing Campbell. University was second and Sydney third. Shirlaw regained his title in the sculls by defeating Pearce. NSW was represented in the King's Cup in Tasmania by the winning eight in the State championships (although Owen Ruffels, the original coach, stepped down in favour of Alan Callaway).
The race was an excellent contest between not only NSW and Victoria but, this time, SA as well. SA was slightly in front at the 1500 metre mark but finished only third, Victoria geting across the line 0.4 seconds ahead of NSW which, in turn, was 1 second ahead of SA. The winning time was 5.54.6.
Shirlaw finished third in the sculls behind Sykes of Victoria and Moore of Tasmania. The NSW crew for the Penrith Cup was the winning Sydney crew in the championship but, "inexperienced and unsettled on the big occasion", they finished third behind Victoria, which led all the way, and a hard-finishing SA crew.
There were some good wins left for Sydney in the remainder of the season. Firstly, the Riverview Gold Cup was won for the first time for five years, the crew being Hanson (bow), Goulding, Morgan, Howard, Duval, Wood, Allen, Fazio (stroke) and Grover (cox).
Secondly, a further State title went to Hanson, Goulding, Morgan and Fazio in the coxless four and the champion lightweight eight was also won by Sydney. The latter crew - Stone (bow), Capetti, Dennis Carmody, Purcell, Ian Carmody, Powell, Holden, Downie (stroke) and Crick (cox)-also won the Australian Champion Lightweight Eight at the third National Championships held at Lake Wendouree at the end of the season.
The Second World Rowing Championships were held in September, 1966 and Australia was represented again. The major events at the National Championships constituted the trials, with an AARC grading committee on hand to assess the performances. The coxed four event was won by the NSW composite crew of Ranch, Stevens, Duval and Peter Dickson, with Thomas cox, and they, along with the Victorian King's Cup eight and a Victorian coxless four, gained final selection.
The World Championships were held in Bled, Yugoslavia, and attracted 130 crews from 32 countries (compared with 101 crews from 28 countries at the 1964 Olympics). Both the eight and the coxed four won their way through to the semi-finals but that was as far as they got. They both contested the "little finals", with the four finally being ranked eighth in the world and the eight tenth. The coxless four failed to qualify for the little final of its event. The coxed four also rowed at regattas at Mainz and Karlsruhe and spent three weeks training with Swiss and Mexican crews at the International High Altitude Training Centre at St. Moritz. The latter experience proved of great value in preparation for the Olympic Games in Mexico City.
Surf boats were seen training from the SRC grounds in both 1966 and 1967: the club was host to crews from Era and Wamberal Surf Life Saving Clubs preparing for the NSW still water championships.
Sydney "rebuilt" in vigorous fashion during the 1966/67 rowing season. Of the seventeen State championships conducted, the club won only two - the coxed pair (Howard, Duval and Grover) and the coxless pair (Morgan and Duval). At the end of the season, however, a number of open eights were won by Sydney, including the Gold Cup for the second year in a row. The successful crew at Riverview was Ian Carmody (bow), Darryl Letch, Graeme Farrell, Bill Bradley, John Nickson, Michael Morgan, Dennis Carmody, Jim Hanson (stroke) and Alan Phillips (cox).
It was in the novice, maiden and junior ranks, however, that a string of successes was earned-and the junior pennant was duly annexed. There were ten wins in the novice division and no less than 22 in the maiden and lightweight maiden class. Especially successful were the maiden eight of Kevin Parker (bow), Ron Latham, Jim Montgomerie, Graham Armstrong, Guy Horsley, Mark Hill, Dick Robertson, George Parlby jnr. (stroke) and Alan Phillips (cox); the maiden four of David Tagg (bow), Bob McMillan, Ray Armstrong, Bob Tagg (stroke) and Robert Arentz (cox); and the lightweight maiden four of Neil Holden (bow), Bob Yates, John Meredith, Bob Allen (stroke) and Rick Armstrong (cox). Two oarsmen - Bob Tagg and Joe Farrugia - started the season as novices and ended with a win in a lightweight senior eight. The club's new racing scull was also put to good use, with wins being recorded by Terry Phillips, Dennis Carmody and Jim Hanson.
A twilight regatta was introduced by SRC in January, 1967 and, this time, it proved a great success. It was a non-pointscore regatta but good prizes were offered and a barbecue followed the actual racing. It was Haberfield's turn in the championships, with ten wins altogether, including the eights and all seven lightweight titles (often with Sydney very close-up).