Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)
John Burford was an outstanding leader and coach of the Mercantile Rowing Club.
He started off his rowing at Brighton Grammar School before being recruited to Mercantile. His rowing and coaching career was as follows:
1964-65 – Victorian Championships Junior Four
1965-66 – Australian Champion Junior Eight
1965-66 – Treasurer
1966-67 – Victorian Championship Junior Four
1966-67 – Victorian Champions Eight
1966-67 – Captain
1967-68 – Victorian Champion Eight
1971-72 – Captain
1973-74 – Australian Champion Lightweight Eight – coach
1974-75 – Treasurer
1979-80 – Victorian Champion Youth Four – coach
1968 Champion Eight won by Mercantile with John in the four seat
He was an uncompromising Captain who led the Club in 1966-67 season, to win the senior, junior and lightweight premierships and no less than eight Victorian championships including the senior eight. In 1967-68, again under John Burford’s guidance, the club won the senior and junior premierships, three Victorian championships, including the senior eight and three Australian championships.
At times of need, John was always present. For example, when the Club had to be rebuilt in 1974, he took on the onerous role of Treasurer. When the club was floundering for success in 1971-72, he came back as Captain and turned the club around. Perhaps more than these things, he inspired others such as Martin Owen and Andrew Guerin to take on leadership roles.
He was also an inspiring and enthusiastic club coach who coached many crews including Australian Championships crews.
John Burford umpiring at the National Championships at Penrith in 1988
His legacy to the sport and Mercantile Rowing Club was profound.
Andrew Guerin 2014