Scroll To Top

History of Barwon Rowing Club

Chapter 8 - Hard All to the End 1970-1990

Chapter 8 page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Meanwhile, in 1973/74 the men's club had won the Junior Championship for the first time since 1921/22 and the Country Premiership. Under the initiative of Len Gladman, the first of a series of Row-a--thous had raised £1000. The club provided two state selectors in Len Gladman and Peter McHugh, who also coached Victoria's Youth Eight for the first Australian Youth Eight-oared Championship. Two Victorian eights were selected to row in this inaugural Australian championship and both were from Geelong. The majority of the No. 1 crew were from Barwon; five plus coach, cox and emergency. The five were: Richard Tomczak, Howard Mussett, Neil Whitley, Denis Oliveira and Les Strahle, Brian Digby cox and Roman Tomczak as emergency. The Herald Shield was won for the second time by James Murray. Altogether 45 oarsman and 129 crews provided another club record. A new eight named the V.G. Steen was also proudly placed within the shed, now with all three bays resurfaced following the concreting of the middle bay. A duplicator was purchased in March 1975 and so the club newsletter "Up The Creek" was begun. Interspersed with reports of regattas and fund-raising activities were snippets of personal gossip and a number of jokes, mostly at the expense of "Chick" Chandley.

In 1974/75, as the women were toasting the success of their first year, the bubble burst for their male contemporaries. It was one of the worst years in a long time for the club, although they still managed to win the Victorian Junior Pair with Peter White and James Murray and cox Lindsay Crutch, two Victorian country titles in eights and lightweight four and came second in the Victorian Junior Premiership. For the first time in 40 years the club boated a senior eight: A Hart, P. Morgan, G. Giles, C. Warby, K. Chandley, L. Ljubanovic, J. Murray, P. Armitage and B. Digby, cox. The club boated also a veteran eight for the first time in its history, composed of Jim Emond, Brian Chandley, Jack Wilks, Lex Quinn, Phil Scott, Noel Wills, Col Reynolds, Pat Slevin, cox Marty Dunstan. The Bell Park boys won three school eights and three novice eights. The first coaching win to Geoff Hunter was notched up; an open pair at a winter regatta. Ten oars were added to the fleet. Retiring from the social committee were two longstanding members in Mesdames Elsie McFarlane and Lee.

The following season, 1975/76 saw Phil Morgan and "Chick" Chandley win the Victorian Lightweight Pair Championship. For the first time a Geelong eight won an Australian Championship at the King's Cup Regatta. Of the Victorian Youth Eight, three were from Barwon, Richard Tomczak, Howard Mussett and Roger Box, with Len Gladman as coach. Only 22 oarsmen competed for the club but the Belmont High School boys competed for the first time at the High School Regatta. At the ladies club just six active rowers built on the efforts of the previous year with outstanding results. Five novice races were won by the novice four and a win to a novice pair. The remaining members of the club, Donna Quinn and Anne Cawthray, entered in Senior B Lightweight and Open Pairs, winning all races entered. They were also selected to represent Victoria at Penrith in the Lightweight Four with Lex Quinn as coach. The club had bought a brand new tub pair and oars, at a cost of more than $1000 and built their own boat trailer.

At the conclusion of the season a new women's rowing club was founded in Geelong. An amalgamation of some Corio Bay members and Nestle's Women's Rowing Club, the new club was christened "Artemis". At its first meeting held late in June the following office bearers were elected: President, Mrs J. McMahon; secretary, Miss M. Renouf; treasurer, Mrs. Mourad; captain, Miss M. Rayner, vice-captain, Miss D. McKinnis, with colours of lime and bottle green. The club had its first win just a few weeks later, the Elite Four, at the La Trobe University winter regatta on the Yarra.

For the first time, women were invited to participate in the combination eights events at the official opening of Barwon's 1976/77 season. Two new racing boats, the Chic Chandley and the R.W. Lahey were delivered for the men and the club donated the Lewis Hurst to the ladies club, joining the new tub pair, the Lex Quinn. The whole Geelong rowing fraternity was saddened by the death of former Barwon member and vice-president, John Barber. John Barber had done much good work for the sport, not the least through his years as rowing correspondent "Leander" in the pages of the Geelong Advertiser. The ladies club had another successful season with an increase in membership and numerous wins. Twenty-five winning crews were boated and two members, Dianne Smith and Joanne Mitchell had over 12 wins each. This winning partnership was brought to a sudden and tragic end when Joanne was killed in a car accident in July, 1982. The Joanne Mitchell Memorial Trophy was donated by her parents in her memory and presented to the winning ladies Senior A Four at the annual Barwon Regatta. Eileen Digby was the first female to cox a male crew at the Country Championships, steering them to a win. The club also held its first regatta, although it was a non-qualifying. Mrs. Pat Duniam of Belmont High School had introduced 16 girls to the sport who were learning fast. So successful was the club that Barwon approached them again to become full members. However, the women decided to remain independent.

By now there were seven full scale women's regattas and women's races at 23 of the men's regattas, whilst women's rowing clubs had been formed at Colac, Bendigo and Geelong Grammar School. The boom in rowing was starting to place a strain on the facilities available to the clubs. Nineteen clubs and schools were accommodated in just five sheds. The increasing popularity of women's rowing and an upsurge in interest at local schools had greatly expanded the sport. The north bank of the Barwon river was now home to five sheds; Barwon, Geelong College, Geelong Grammar, Corio Bay and the Geelong Rowing Association.

Chapter 8 page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

< previous Chapter 7

> next Season by Season

top of page

Website by Hope Stewart—Website Design & Management