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Adelaide Rowing Club - The First Hundred Years

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

19. Narrative History of the Adelaide Rowing Club - 1967-1972

Season 1967-68

John Jarvis was superseded by David Hislop as Captain, and Tas Binder continued as Vice-Captain, while John turned his talents to coaching. In this he was greatly helped by John Ellis, Bill Wallace and Stan Pemberton, Geoff McIntyre having been transferred back to N.S.W.

1968 SA Lightweight Four

1968 SA Lightweight Four

Tas Binder in the three seat

The Club won 13 races during the season, 7 of which were in 8's, including Champion Maiden 8's and three Junior 8 victories. Three of the outstanding young oarsmen this season were Richard Nicholls, Trevor Bennett and Richard Cherry, who were awarded the Captain's Trophy, the C.A.M. West Shield and the Charles Morgan Trophy respectively.

The new boats were a great help to the crews, but cost a total of almost $4,000, and an unforseen development occurred which severely curtailed the profits attainable by holding social functions. The new regulations, under the jurisdiction of the Licensing Court, restricted the number of persons allowed on the premises during so-called public entertainments. So a separate appeal was launched to help pay for the new boats, plus a levy, which raised over $2,100.

The Ladies' Committee, like all good things, had come to an end, and social functions suddenly stopped being successful.

However, one thing which kept going was the production of the "Adelaide Rowing Club Review", which had been rejuvenated last season under Edward Suttell and Neil Sarah, and carried on this season by Chris James. Like its counterpart of the early 20's, this was an ambitious Club news medium dedicated to fostering the enthusiasm of every member, but clearly required a great deal of time and effort by the editors, who had little support in their efforts to kindle a flame in the smouldering pyre of Club apathy.

One of the most energetic Captains of the Club, John Sheppard, who was at the helm in 1931, the Year of the Fire, had been President now for three years, and at times had experienced the same feelings of frustration
as those heroic editors must have felt, and, having served his term, step­ped down. "You can lead a horse to water, but ....".

Season 1968-69

Tas Binder finally succeeded to the Captain's Chair, with Trevor Bennett as his Vice, a great new coach in the form of Norton Ladkin, a new President, Keith Forwood, and the new eight and the new four from last season.

It was a pity they did not have a new pair oar as well, as, paradoxically, the Binder influence resulted in the Club winning 18 races this season, 8 of which were in pairs, in 6 of which T.R. Binder rowed bow. But the member who won the C.A.M. West Shield for the member winning the most races during the season went to Richard NicholIs, with 14 wins, seven of them as stroke of a pair, five as stroke of Lightweight or Junior 4's, and one as stroke of Open 8's, plus a Club race to make up the 14. It was a Binder-Nicholls orchestration, with both of those members coaching 5 of the other winning crews, and Richard also picking up the Charles Morgan Trophy, and the two of them acting as the Selection Committee.

The social side was not stinted, with four cabarets and the usual Dinner and Christmas morning reunion, but the licensing restrictions continued to inhibit the means of raising funds. The Ladies' Committee was active again and, together with bar trading, helped raise nearly $800 which, when added to profits from social functions, scarcely exceeded $1,000, a figure well short of that needed in those days to keep a sporting club financial, even taking account of the $1,500 collected in subscriptions. Clearly something special would have to be done.

Two very prominent members died during the season - Stan Facy, coach extraordinary, and Johnny Williams, outstanding oarsman, former Vice-President, and Captain of the Club the time it had won the State Premiership in 1938-39.

Season 1969-70

This season was notable for a series of disturbing events which conspired to undermine the morale of the Club.

First, the number of active oarsmen had dropped to a pitifully small figure, and it was surprising that they managed to win even 9 races, consisting of a Junior 8, three Junior 4's, two Maiden 4's and three Junior pairs. The Junior pair, half of the Junior 4 and a quarter of the Junior 8 were the same two guys - Tas Binder and Richard Nicholls!

Secondly, the termite infestation in the tower section of the boathouse was so bad that it was declared unsafe, but rebuilding was not undertaken because of a third development, which it seemed could threaten the very existence of the Club.

The Government of the day was rumoured to be considering extending the spectacularly successful Festival Theatre complex westwards along the Torrens bank, and resuming the sites occupied by Adelaide Rowing Club, with Pulteney Grammar School in the attached annexe, Scotch College boatshed and King's College boatshed. The Railways Commissioner was not prepared to lease the sites for a period exceeding a six month's tenure, and this caused a lot of worry.

To make matters even worse, the new Club President, dear old Joe Vardon, died, one of the most loved and respected members from the early 20's, and a great wit at all Club gatherings.

But Tas Binder and his Committee carried on, notwithstanding these traumatic events, competing at Berri, Murray Bridge, Mannum, Port Adelaide and on the Torrens, once again without a Ladies' Committee, and with less profit from the bar and social functions - altogether a bleak outlook for the coming season.

Season 1970-71

In the winter of 1970, after a previously troubled rowing season, the Committee set about increasing the number and quality of the active oarsmen. Willie Hay joined the Club from University, and immediately spearheaded the recruiting drive.

The rowing report in the Club newsletter dated September, 1970, summarises - "The Senior Squad, under the direction of Willie Hay, has already commenced training; Willie has devised a torture weight training programme with graphic illustrations to pin to the wall.

The lightweight squad, under the direction of Bob Ingham, hit the water for the first time on Sunday August 16th, after a short delay with faulty equipment. It seems Bob Hudson's seat had seized due to "overwork". However, after a change of boats, the eight got away to a couple of brisk runs to the Weir and back. Ably coxed by Willie "close shave" Hay, the crew quickly adjusted and began to pull together. After the row. Willie personally demonstrated the workings of his torture weight circuits. The crew preceded this circuit with a brisk training run and Ash "the dash" Walkley set up a good standard by running in 100 yards ahead of the rest of the crew.

Both of these squads have a lot of work ahead of them in their quest for victory, but through solid, regular training in and out of the boat, they are sure to do well."

It is noted in the same newsletter that the Annual Dinner was a great success. The toast to the Club was scheduled to be proposed by Kenneth Milne, but after a digression about Mrs. Fotheringham's horse, he almost forgot his original intention.

1971 SA Crew

1971 SA Crew

Willie Hay in the three seat and Mike Lohmeyer in the four seat

The Senior Squad, under the direction of John Marshall, competed creditably in both Championship Senior 8's and Senior 4's; four members of the eight nominated for State selection, and Willie Hay and Mike Lohmeyer obtained seats in the final crew, with Tim Marshall named as reserve. Dick Cherry's lightweight squad did not achieve the result hoped for, and disbanded after Christmas to make up Junior and Maiden ranks for the remainder of the season. A large number of new Maiden and Novice oarsmen were attracted to the Club, coached by Hurtle Morphett. By the end of the season many of the original novices had achieved Junior status. Tas Binder and Richard Nicholls, who had been the backbone of the Club for the previous four seasons, convincingly won Championship Maiden pairs at Port Adelaide in December 1970. This was followed by a crew coached by John Marshall winning the Championship Maiden 8's at the same venue. A new Sargent and Burton racing eight was purchased during the season for $2,400 and named the `I Zingari XIV on Opening Day of 1971.

At the Annual General Meeting and presentation of trophies, a very popular member was handed the C.A.M. West Shield for winning the greatest number of races for the season - Harold D'Arcy, and he was the one the members voted as their Captain for the ensuing season. His rise to such heights was meteoric, his enthusiasm infectious and, unknown to him, next season he was to lead the Club to the greatest number of wins in S.A.R.A. regattas in one season in its total history, yet still just fail to win the Premiership after 44 wins!

Mike Lohmeyer won the Captain's trophy for the best first year oarsman - another man who would make his mark in future seasons and become a Captain in due course.

Season 1971-72

The concept of building a Senior eight crew from oarsmen fresh from school had not worked as hoped over the past few seasons, but it now appeared that the Club had a nucleus of experienced oarsmen. Again, pressure of study time and exams played havoc with the Senior eight preparation, but once Christmas 1971 was over, the Club produced several fast crews who succeeded in winning Champ Maiden 8's, Champ Maiden 4's, and were narrowly defeated in Champ Junior 8's by a very experienced Torrens crew.

Threat To Demolish Boathouse

While the Club re-established itself on the water, the future of the clubhouse appeared to be in some doubt. The annual report for that season states, "During the past year the future of our boathouse to continue in its present location has been in a very precarious position indeed. A few items in the local papers stated that all boatsheds on the Southern bank between the two bridges would be removed to make more space for the Festival Theatre Arts Complex, so a special committee was formed under the chairmanship of Mr. Graham Brookman. The Captain, Harold D'Arcy, represented us on the committee, made up of S.A.R.I.R.C. (now the National Railways Rowing Club), Pulteney Grammar School, Scotch College and King's College". Railways Rowing Club had already been demolished in providing part of the site for the Festival Theatre, and a new steel framed boathouse has been built downstream, complete with modern social amenities at car park and entrance level, with boat storage and maintenance facilities below, close to the water, all at Government expense.

The committee pondered whether the Government would provide equivalent boathouses for Adelaide, Scotch College and King's College when those sites were resumed for their grandiose scheme of art studios overlooking the Torrens Lake. But when they multiplied the cost of Railways shed by four, the Government abandoned the whole concept.

Although six monthly tenancy remained with the Railways, the Adelaide City Council informed the Adelaide Rowing Club Committee in writing that there was no danger of being forced to vacate our present site.

Thereupon the Club Committee summoned a special meeting on 29th May 1972. A motion was carried unanimously by the 28 members present that the maximum call be placed on all members for the purpose of restoration of the boathouse. Concern was expressed by the members that, if all members paid the call, only $1,000 approximately would be raised. The Club Architect, Bob Richardson, stated that "a minimum of $3,000 would be required to preserve the boathouse."

So it was clear that Adelaide Rowing Club would have to face up to some major structural alterations, which, incidentally, might as well take account of the other modifications which had become vital by failure of the ablutions to cope with the membership demand, and the needs dictated by the Licensing authority with regard to serving alcoholic liquor and providing public entertainment.

Hence plans had to be put in hand, and who better to carry them out than the brothers Sarah - Don and Neil, prominent rowers for the Club in the late 50's and early 60's. The alterations to the boathouse were done by the Sarahs, and they agreed to do the work and accept payment as and when the Club could raise the money by making use of the altered Clubhouse in the way it was modified - by putting on public dances and selling liquor, and it was several years before the debt was discharged.

During the season, the Club mourned the death of Ken Boykett, who had joined the Club in 1920, had left South Australia after having represented A.R.C. in several Champion 8 races, and sired two famous sons, David and Graeme, both of whom have rowed in Victorian King's Cup crews and both in Australian Olympic 8's.

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