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Adelaide Rowing Club - The First Hundred Years

A Narrative History 1882-1982 - Compiled by R W Richardson

3. Narrative History of the Adelaide Rowing Club - 1882-87

Chapter three page 1 2 3

Adelaide Rowing Club - Founded 18th February 1882

Early in the year 1882 several of the younger bloods of Adelaide band­ed together and formed I Zingari Rowing Club, which was later renamed Adelaide Rowing Club.

It is to these gentlemen that we present day members owe a debt of gratitude, for, on their foundation has been built this splendid Club of which we are all so proud.

Our records take us back to the 18th day of May 1882, where at a meeting presided over by the first Captain of the Club, Mr. P. J. Carter, it was decided to expend the sum of £60 upon the erection of a shed. This amount was later found to be inadequate and a further £15 was voted towards the building fund.

The Club even in this early stage began to prosper under the guidance of the Captain and his committee composed of P. Morice, Vice-Captain; Robt. W. Wigg, Hon. Secretary; M. Duncan, Hon. Treasurer; and F. Mitchell.

The boatshed was formally opened on Saturday, 22nd July 1882, and a proclamation was issued to members to fall in at 3 p.m. sharp in practice uniforms consisting of striped merino shirts, black caps with the letters I.Z.R.C. in white thereon, and white flannel trousers.

The opening of the shed proved to be a very successful function, and members continued to carry on training operations in earnest, but even the Committee must have been bothered with a few lackadaisical oarsmen, as they made a rule that anyone not attending practice should be fined 2/6 for each offence unless 24 hours' previous notice of absence had been given. This rule was enforced and any member offending was not allowed to row again until he had paid his fine.

First Race

The first club race was to be held on the 12th August, 1882, but was apparently postponed until 27th February, 1883, when J. T. Arrow (stroke), C. Phillipson (3), E. Clucas (2), and Vivian (bow) won the Trial Fours over a course from the Exhibition Ground to the Clubhouse.

In the meanwhile the Committee had been slightly altered, R. W. Wigg being Captain, J. T. Arrow Vice-Captain, M. Duncan Secretary, E. Co­wle Treasurer, and F. Poole, Cooke and Mitchell Committeemen.

At a Special General Meeting on 9th March 1883, a letter was read from a Mr. Barton, offering to bring over to the Club 14 new members and an outrigger clinker boat with 2 sets of oars, value £42, licence paid to the end of the year. The motion was carried unanimously with the amendment that those members pay 12/6 per head and 7/6 each for a locker. This brought the Club's fleet to two clinker fours, to be shared by about 35 members as near as can be judged from the old membership list, not counting several "Honorary" members, and some debarred by non­payment of subscriptions.

Around the 9th March, 1883, members were caused a great deal of annoyance by the smell arising from the remains of a poor misguided cow which departed this life via the River Torrens. The City Council were asked to remove the nuisance.

Truly rowers had their troubles even in these days, for following the above incident a member's dog tried conclusions with one of the Club's boats, much to the distress of the owner, who had to meet the repair bill.

In May, 1883, His Excellency Sir W.C.F. Robinson agreed to be Patron of the Club and was the first person to hold that position.

About this time the Club was evidently at variance with the Rowing Association, as the question of whether they should rejoin or not was discussed, and a proposal was made to form a Boating Company. The object of the Company is not recorded, and evidently the Club did not sever its connection with the Association.

Some of the events mentioned in those early minute books but not mentioned here by Jay have a bearing on later events in the history of Adelaide Rowing Club.

For instance, nobody knows precisely why I Zingari was chosen as the name for this Club. This in Spanish means "The Gypsies"; and was adopted by the famous English Cricket Club because they have no head­quarters, no premises and much secrecy about their administration.

Perhaps it was an attempt to identify with the aristocratic and light hearted eccentric members of that exclusive Club who nevertheless managed to field a first class side against all competition without appearing to bat an eyelid - sort of Scarlet Pimpernell-type characters.

However, the first thing the Adelaide hopefuls proceeded to do was to organise premises and produce a list of members, who, from those earliest days, had to be chased for their subs. Sir Percy Blakeny would have been appalled!

The gallant Captain Carter lasted 7 months, fell ill and was heard of no more.

Three months after the boatshed was opened, the Committee passed a motion "that lady crews be allowed the use of shed and boats between the hours of 9.30 a. m. and 4.30 p. m., Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays excepted in consideration of a sum to be approved by the Committee".

There is no record of that daunting challenge having been taken up until over 90 years later.

The event that took place at the Special General Meeting on March 9th, 1883, laid the foundation for the Club's early close connection with the South Australian Railways. E.C. Clucas and F.H. Poole had been foundation members and being on the Committee, and also members of the administration of the S.A.R., engineered an offer placed before the March Special General Meeting, when Mr. Barton, who was what we would call today a coach-cum-manager, offered to bring over to I.Z.R.C. 14 new members and an outrigger clinker boat plus 2 sets of oars, value £42, licence paid to the end of the year. It is understood that these were Railways Department men with a boat but no proper premises and that the influx of members in the next months represented many of the aforesaid 14 members.

Jay's reference to the club's being at variance with the S.A. Rowing Association was apparently shared with other clubs, and a rival association calling itself Adelaide Rowing Association, existed for a short period while the S.A.R.A. was out of favour.

I Zingari R.C. apparently invited representatives of all the other Adelaide clubs to come to the official public opening of I. Z.R. C. boatshed, which by now had been painted and had a couple of fours and a pair oar in the racks, at 3.15 p. m. on August 25th, 1883, when 25 members were present and also representatives "of all B.A. clubs in the Afsocia­tion when succefs was drunk by visitors and members and strong feeling exprefsed club need a best four".

No doubt the rowing fraternity appreciated the opportunity to foregather and sound off about the unpopular "Afsociation".

FOOTNOTE. Even as late as 1882 the double "S" was written "F"s.

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