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Adelaide Rowing Club - The First Hundred Years

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

13. Narrative History of the Adelaide Rowing Club - 1937-1942

Chapter thirteen page 1 2

Season 1939-40

Apart from enlistments by more experienced members, which depleted the ranks of oarsmen which would normally be entered in Championship races, the Club entered crews in most of the regattas, including Championship 8's on February 2nd, but thereafter most of the crews were manned by juniors just out of school, of which there was a large intake of very promising oarsmen. Fellows like G.D. Stokes, M. Solomon, R.R. Hill, J. Belfer, J.G. Jaffray, and a couple of older ones from University, F.A. Dibden and C.A.D. Walker.

While members were prepared to make up crews and do some training, they were entered in regattas, which were still being held, as the War had not begun to have its impact until about July or August 1940.

Tailem Bend was the Rowing Club which won both Champion 4's and Champion 8's and Murray Bridge won Champion Junior 8's.

But Adelaides won thirteen races during the season, and came third in the State Premiership, and the membership roll actually increased by 10, although not in the active ranks; the increases occurring in the non-active, life and absentee lists.

This was to be expected, with members steadily volunteering for active service.

Domestic Problems

The Committee members were kept busy replacing their own ranks as one after another enlisted, and raising donations for presentations to Mr. and Mrs. Fotheringham upon the President's retirement from office, to Elliot Jarman and Russell Osman on their marriages and to Fighting Forces Comforts fund from dance subscriptions.

M A Fotheringham

M A Fotheringham

Then there was the urgent need to get hold of a photograph of every member who enlisted, in order to make up an Honour Roll.

Opening Day was a big event, attended by 400, when the new President Charles Morgan, declared the season open, and J.J. Sharp ran the club flag to the masthead. Both of these members were in the Club in 1888, so it was a unique occasion, for it was the last time that guests would enjoy that function in the manner it had been honoured since the days these two elderly gentlemen began their rowing careers, namely with afternoon tea served on the lawn to the strains of Lombardi's Orchestra, the club members waiting on tables, while President's 4's and Schoolboys' Invitation 4's were raced on the lake.

1940 Senior Four

A.R.C. Senior 4, 1940.

H.N. Sprod, cox, J.C. Williams, str., W.H. Stephenson, 3, R.V. Osman, 2, E.P. Jarman, bow.

After the war, the public address system would provide recorded music and Schools would be too busy with their own training programmes, and Joe Sharp would be dead.

In fact, he died during this very season, having served for the last 13 1/2 years of his life as Patron of the Club he loved so well.

Two other well known members also died, A.A. Simpson and Sandford Ross, both Vice Presidents for many years.

The first man brought in to fill a vacancy on the Committee was Dick Clark, and next season, the members would vote him in as Captain, a position he would hold with a devotion beyond the call of duty until 1946.

Already, Dick had filled the offices of Committee member, Assistant Secretary, Secretary, Treasurer, Auditor and Vice Captain; he was destined to fill those of Captain, Vice President, President and Patron before he would be allowed to retire and form a service group renowned for its productive efforts in raising funds for S.A. King's Cup crews, the Resting Rowers' Consortium.

Before the Annual General Meeting, a sub-committee was formed to recommend methods of carrying on the Club's activities on a much reduced scale, having regard for the need to subsist on a very much shrunken income both in subscriptions and profits from functions, yet to keep the boathouse and fleet properly maintained and the communications with members alive.

Certificates would replace trophies in club regattas (if any).

Members on active service would automatically enjoy honorary membership. Several life members agreed to contribute towards the Caretaker's wages, and so on.

Season 1940-41

There were 44 members at the Annual General Meeting, with Charles Morgan in the chair. The meeting opened with the singing of the National Anthem.

Tribute was paid to J.J. Sharp, A.A. Simpson and Sandford Ross, who had died during the past season, and the President presented the perpetual trophies to the winners of the club regattas, but the individual trophies took the form of certificates, inscribed with the names of the winning crews, to be hung in the boathouse.

The new Captain, Dick Clark explained the intention of the Committee during the war years was to keep the Club going and the fleet viable, but at a greatly reduced level of expenditure.

There would be no formal regattas, but informal rowing contests would be arranged from time to time, beginning at Opening Day.

The new Patron elected was Max Fotheringham, an almost automatic choice, but slightly anomalous in that he was 14 or 15 years younger than the President, but both were "father figures" anyway. A man over 30 was old to most of these young fellows.

The Committee settled down to its task, and organized a different sort of Opening Day by holding Invitation Eights, with members from Port Adelaide, Torrens, Mercantile, Murray Bridge, University and one from Wallaroo to compete in 3 heats, semi final and final, the six eights being made up to strength as necessary by Adelaide Rowing Club members. A Schools Event was conducted between 3 eights made up from boys from Scotch, Adelaide High, Prince Alfred and St. Peter's, the races alternating.

Instead of afternoon tea, a ten gallon keg was broached, though there was no mention of any being saved for the winning crew, or whether schoolboys were supplied with soft drinks.

Concern For The Boathouse Roof

The galvanized iron roof, now nearly 10 years old was giving the Committee a lot of worry. A white efflorescence could be seen where sheets lapped, and some signs of rust associated with the deposit. It had recently been painted with bitumen and then paint.

A sample was submitted to Lysaghts, who reported that the deposit was a mixture of chlorides and sulphates and was highly corrosive.

An architect advised that the roof should be removed and replaced at the cost of about £22 (plus 6% architect's fee) with asbestos cement sheets.

With the overdraft at the bank already about £140, and no chance of raising money for such non-patriotic things, the Committee called a Special General Meeting of members to vote on the matter.

The members voted 21-4 against replacing the roof, so a special account was opened, called a "Roof Reserve Account", and donations were solicited, the Menz brothers coming forward with £10-10-0. The boathouse Committee had to be restrained from putting around tins with a slot in the lid, marked "FOR THE BLIND", with `Blind' crossed out and "Roof" substituted.

That iron is there to this day, 40 years later, but the efflorescence went when the railways switched to diesel locomotives, and the laundry boilers, to the east of the club, were taken out of commission.

But one day, not far distant, that roofing iron will have to be replaced. Perhaps Lysaghts will do it free, for the advertisement.

Life Under Wartime Restrictions

New members kept joining, and crews kept going out for a row on the lake. Unofficial races were arranged, the first between crews from Adelaides and University, which was won by University.

Then a crew made up by A.I.F. members from Tasmania, billeted here temporarily, rowed against a composite crew from Torrens and Adelaide Rowing Clubs, which beat the Taswegians.

So many members were getting married, and at such short notice, that the Committee cut out wedding presentations for the duration, also had the telephone disconnected, and allowed their subscription to all magazines to lapse.

The problem of finding enough money for Borg, the caretaker to remain was happily solved when John Motteram announced that he had been taken on at the biscuit factory.

One of the new junior active members elected was one T.L. Lewis, who shortly went away to the War, and later settled in New South Wales, where he eventually became Premier.

Two prominent members died, Sir Hugh Denison, a former President, and S.L. Leppinus, who had been ill for many months previously.

A picture evening was held in the boathouse, amateur movies in those days being still of the silent variety, but it made a change.

The Honour Roll, of course, kept growing.

Season 1941-42

The Annual General Meeting was a repetition of that of the previous season, but with fewer members present : - 28 in all.

They opened the proceedings by singing the National Anthem, elected the same officers but for those who had enlisted, and a new one on the Committee was W.J. Menz, still under 21 years of age, but with all the right attributes.

The assembled company drank the health of all serving members, and retired until Opening Day, when a similar regatta to that of last year was organized, and the winning schoolboy composite crew collected the trophies J.H. Gosse had promised after last year's one.

That sort of compensated them for not being allowed to partake of the contents of the 10 gallon keg.

Christmas Morning, the only other organized function in the Club year, was held, with the musical accompaniment of the traditional quartet of male voices and piano, and 48 members and friends enjoyed the occasion, knowing that every member of the Adelaide Rowing Club away from home was thinking of his rowing mates at that unique function that day.

Telegrams were received of good wishes from the following men in the Service: Hal Ledger, Dave Nightingale and Perce Haddy.

One of the guests was Brigadier Bundock, in Adelaide at the time, and he wrote afterwards, expressing his appreciation for the invitation.

Air Raid Precautions

The Pearl Harbour attack had taken place just 19 days before that reunion, and people were very much aware of the vulnerability of Australia, with Singapore out of action and the U.S. fleet crippled.

Accordingly, the Adelaide Rowing Club Committee, mindful of the proximity of the boathouse to the marshalling yards of the strategic railway system of South Australia, took precautions against enemy air attack on their prominent adjacent structure, easily mistaken by bomb aimers for a workshop, or a munitions store.

Fire fighting equipment to the value not exceeding £5-0-0 was purchas­ed, and two members of the Committee were to be prepared to high-tail it down to the boathouse in the event of an Air Raid Warning.

Borg was instructed to turn off the current at the switchboard, and all the globes were removed from the upstairs light fittings.

Later on, when Stan Facy asked to be allowed to use the Club premises to conduct First Aid classes for the Road Transport Branch of Civil Defence, he had to have proper black out screens made to exclude any glimmer light from any of the upstairs windows giving away the whereabouts of that potential target.

The insurance on the structure was raised to £1,600 and the contents to £1,000 in the event of demolition.

In the circular calling the next Annual General Meeting, the Annual Report, formerly printed, was now a roneo'd 3 pages, and members were asked to bring their own refreshments, in order to drink to the health of absent members.

Three more members were killed in action, L.R. Taylor, D. Lower and R.K. O'Connor, and another Vice President, W.L. Burton, died of natural causes.

His membership went back to 1892, when he coached the Club's first eight-oared crew, so he had had a pretty good innings.

The overdraft at the bank had crept up to £152.

Chapter thirteen page 1 2

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