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Adelaide Rowing Club - The First Hundred Years

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

24. Adelaide Rowing Club's Famous Coxswains Over the Years

In the early days coxswains were second class citizens and were usually schoolboys or younger brothers, or boys who showed a keenness for rowing, and served their apprenticeship by steering and carrying out the chores assigned to coxswains, for which they were rewarded from time to time with presents of books or a cap or a singlet, but did not get a trophy for winning a race, as the oarsmen did. Their names were seldom recorded with those of the crew during commentaries or when they won a race. As long as a coxswain was a lightweight and did what the stroke told him, he was taken to all the regattas, with his expenses paid, and that was his reward.

Many coxswains became oarsmen, and several of them became outstanding strokes. The first coxswain who made a name for himself was A.J. Grayson. He was soon given a seat in the boat and went on from there to become the most famous stroke in the Club.

One of the early coxswains whose name was recorded with most of the crews he coxed was V. Smith, but little else is known of him except that in 1906 the other coxswains with him were Short, Sharp and South.

A young fellow whose father was a famous Captain, and who coxed many crews before he became a member at the age of 17 was Ken Milne. He went on to stroke winning crews, and coached a lot of novice crews both in the A.R.C. and for St. Peter's College, and donated a trophy for presentation each year to the most successful coxswain in the Club. In his latter years he regularly stroked the Veterans Eight on Opening Day, right up to the season in which he died - at the age of 94! One of his ex­pressions was "Put a bit of DEVIL in it". On one famous occasion he stroked an eight in which his son, Lance, rowed 7, Lance's two sons, Michael and Robin, rowed 6 and 5, and Robin's son coxed the boat - four generations of Milnes.

Ken had a house at Victor Harbour, and used to go down there regularly after he retired from his architectural practice, and there he enjoyed playing golf and body surfing most of the day. To make sure there was entertainment during the evening, he invited at least three of his lady friends (his wife had died some years before) who took care of the cooking and cleaning, and made up a four of Bridge after dinner. That is how he kept fit and mentally alert right into his nineties (Alf Grayson, who died aged 68, take note). His favourite tipple was "champers", and he loved to invite his friends to his charming Georgian style stone house in North Adelaide to share a bottle or two with him.

Many coxswains took on rowing, and many of these became strokes of their crews - K.W. Sharp, Joe's son, C.A.M. West, Dick Clark, Myer Solomon, Ron Turner, who captained the Club, J. Odgers, Doug Howie, who rowed at just over 9 stone in the Champion 8 of 1938, Malcolm Forgan, D.C. Radford, Bob Ingham, Peter Humble, R. Silk and Paris Osborne, who rowed in State Lightweight 4's, while Stan Facy was renowned for his coaching and Peter Cudmore for his commentating and as President of the University Club and of the S.A.R.A.

Another well known and popular coxswain, Bruce Laughton, was also in great demand at regattas for years as a commentator, and was a hard-working Secretary of the S.A.R.A.

Their names figure prominently in the list of races won by the Club, as do those of H. Jolly, V.A. Petherick, W. Sweeney, T.E. Burden, Fahey, Fraser, Day, A.S. George, E. Sidebotham, W.G. Field, D. Bayliss, F.S. Hancock, A.D. Cornish, D. Bushell, J. Nash, R.J. Martin, D. Lower, A. Day, R. Trimmer, Neville Sprod, Peter Paterson, Milo Cudmore, Peter Worley, Michael Evans, P. McKenzie, J. Wright, R. Bartlett, G. Hanson, W. Hardy, G. Dalton, T. Pennington, T. Robins, G. Duffield, A. Hayes, T. Canty, A. Wilson, J. Potter, I. Gill, C. Bentley, the two Hoskings and the two Goldsworthys, W. and A. just to name the ones who coxed many winning crews. There were many others, just as dedicated, whose crews failed to win.

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