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History of Leichhardt Rowing Club

On these Bright Waters - A Centennial History of Leichhardt Rowing Club 1886-1986
Reproduced with permission of the author Merle Kavanagh

15. Junior Oarsmen

Over the years the club encouraged the participation of students and other young members of the community. In November 1910 the committee agreed to form a sub-committee to encourage Newington College students to row. Again in 1916 another effort was made to recruit members from schools and this was supported by the N.S.W. Rowing Association. The committee also wrote to the Congregational and Methodist Church gymnasiums in this regard. The following year committee members visited continuation schools personally with the aim of recruiting junior oarsmen. In 1918 they were considering the "Under 20 Proposal" and the N.S.W. Rowing Association were advised of the numbers of members under and over 20 years of age.

Early in 1918 a meeting was held with sports wasters at Fort Street and Petersham schools. A pair oar race was organised for the boys at the regatta held on 13th April 1918, to be rowed from Callan Park to Rodd Island, arrangements being made for the use of the pair oar boats during the school vacation. On 4th June, a committee comprised of Messrs. Kayser, Reidel and Lynch was appointed to draw up a set of rules re schoolboy rowing and on 2nd July 1918 it was agreed that Technical High School boys be admitted as "Schoolboy rowers" subject to the by-laws governing same. At the October meeting that year the committee received a letter from the N.S.W. Rowing Association asking for any printed matter regarding schoolboy rowing. The committee also agreed to write to both schools drawing attention to damage to boats and informing them that unless this could be remedied, they would be forced to ask the schools to sever their connection with the club. They further agreed that schoolboys would not be allowed to use any boats but pairs at that time and that they must not use the new blades.

The problems were resolved and the 1919/20 Annual Report noted "Considerable interest has been manifested by the boys during the year, and the experience which they have gained should be of advantage to the club both as regards rowing and membership. Technical High School - 12. Messrs Schrader and Scott are to be congratulated on the manner in which the boys have been supervised." No available records show when the schoolboys ceased rowing from the clubhouse, and the regatta programmes for the next few years do not show any special events for the boys.

In the 1963/64 Annual Report, the Captain, J. Hudson, advised "Steps to increase the number of new oarsmen coming into the club have been taken, largely by Stan Jones who has devoted a good deal of his time to coaching schoolboys. ... The part to be taken by Leichhardt in the newly taken decision to include rowing as an official sport in Public Schools is not yet known, but it is hoped that we can be of considerable assistance to the schools and that our membership will grow in the long run as a result".
The following year the club managed to boat an eight consisting of four active club members and four schoolboys. The Captain, R. Currall, reported "On the brighter side, last season gave Leichhardt and rowing a new scope for prospective members with the introduction of Combined High Schools into the regatta programmes Leichhardt, thanks to Stan Jones, were fortunate to gain the interest of Homebush High School and the lads coached by George Carlson acquitted themselves well during the season in several races."

A full report on the Homebush Boys High School 1965/66 season appeared that year showing they had some minor successes and revealing that 23 boys attended for coaching at the club on Wednesday afternoons.

In the 1970s, as a community service, the club made efforts to channel young members into the sport of rowing from "Royleston" Child Welfare Home. By the middle of that decade Ashfield High School were rowing from the club shed, though they moved to Haberfield a year or so later.

The same year, the women became active and in the 1976/77 season girl students from Malvina and Riverside High Schools were rowing from the club with outstanding successes at regattas. The participation of these young students revitalized the club at a time when it was at a low ebb. Len MacPherson was the driving force behind these successes and at one period he was coaching forty girls. Great assistance was also given by the parents of these school girls in fund raising and general work around the clubhouse. This support is still forthcoming to the present time.

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