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Sydney Rows

A Centennial History of the Sydney Rowing Club, 1970, by A L May

Preface and Acknowledgements


Rowing is a grand sport and it has been enjoyed by many fine people in Sydney and in Australia over the past century or so. Their achievements have also been very considerable, both at home and in the even fiercer competitive area of international rowing. And so, it seems to me, a history of these people and of their activities has been long overdue.

One of the oldest and most distinguished of rowing clubs in Australia is the Sydney Rowing Club, and the compilation of its history for publication in 1970, its centenary year, has been a most interesting experience. The book will, I hope, bring considerable pleasure to the many who are keenly interested in the sport and who may, perhaps, recall many of the events recorded herein. It may also provide newcomers to the sport with a quick introduction to the history and the glories of the past period.

Preparing the book has not been a simple matter. I determined at the outset that it should not be a simple collection of reminiscences of the past of Sydney Rowing Club but rather a complete history of the club and, to the extent possible, of rowing in New South Wales, involving other clubs, the associations, and intercolonial, interstate and even international rowing. My transfer to the Philippines, late in 1968, led to an abundance of difficulties, placing heavy strain on many people in Sydney to assist me in completing the work.

My particular thanks go to my father, Geoff May, who bore the brunt of the enquiries in Sydney after I arrived in Manila. I can almost imagine other club stalwarts paling at his appearance at the club on a Sunday morning with the latest list of information sought from the Philippines. Many others have also contributed much to the book. I am especially indebted to George Parlby, Ernie Tucker, George Carlson, Laurie Stepto, Fred Meares and Kevyn Webb for their generous assistance. Among the many others providing aid, I would like to thank the following: Mick Cater, J, H. D. Goldie, F. O. Robinson, Les Wilkinson, Harry Gilmour, Barry May, Norm Lawrance, Norm Simpson, Dick Browne, Ernie Chapman, Colin Bullard, Arthur Chadwick, Stan Jones, Arch Harvey, Geoff McIntyre, Bill Andrews, Stewart Derwin, May Agnew, Margaret Agnew, Harry Clare, Alan Callaway, Ken Burke, Don Sutherland, Charlie Smith, Vic Mossong, Jack McFarlane, George Cook, Stuart Evans, Jack Goulding, Howard Holden, Bill Kerr, Carl Cameron and Bob Powell. Collections of material of the late Charlie Moesch, Charlie Stewart, Chris Kayzer, Leo Hoolahan and Roy Barker were also of value to me.

I would also like to acknowledge the very valuable assistance of many people in the Philippines. In particular, I must thank Helen Amoranto, Annie Yacub, Emilie Pereyra, Judy Francia, Susie Sabarre, Tessie de Luna, Edsel Estiva and Ruben Cobangbang. To my colleagues at the Asian Development Bank and to the members of the Manila Boat Club who have expressed interest in my undertaking, I also convey my thanks.

Manila, May, 1970.
Alan May.


Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following for permission to utilise material for this book:

  • New South Wales Rowing Association for past minutes of meetings, etc.;
  • Mitchell Library for the original photographs of SRC in 1875 and of the Earl of Belmore held in the Library;
  • NSW Government Printer for the photograph of Captain John Piper;
  • John Fairfax and Sons Limited for sketches and photographs from the Sydney Mail;
  • Angus & Robertson Ltd. for the quotation from The World of Banjo Paterson;
  • George Bushell and Son, Henley-on-Thames, for photographs from Henley Royal Regatta;
  • Rowing Magazine for the photograph of the start of the 1968 Olympic eights;
  • Commercial Banking Company of Sydney for the photograph of Sir Thomas Dibbs; and
  • the Registrar-General of NSW for the original Memorandum of Transfer of the Branch.

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