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australian rowers profiles and history

Fred (Mick) Easton

Albert Park Rowing Club (VIC)

1909 – Interstate Championships (TAS) three seat – First

1956 – Olympic Games – Men’s Coxed Four-coach

Bob Duncan in his book Small Boat Rowers of the Fifties, self published in 2015 wrote:

Mick Easton was Albert Park's other experienced and highly respected coach, who by nature always had kept a low profile. He was a little older than my father/coach Harry. They had rowed together in many senior crews during the 1920's including Harry's final race, a successful senior four in 1928. Mick had done his earlier rowing in Tasmania. He had rowed for Tasmania in their first successful state eight in 1909. He transferred to Albert Park about 1923. 

After the finish of his successful senior rowing activity in the late 1920's, he started his new role as a coach and proved to be a "natural". His contribution to maintaining the high standard of "Park" crews continued well into the 1930's, before he "disappeared" for 15 years. Most of his absence embraced the World War 2 years and the disruptive 1945 fire aftermath, that combined to create a long forced dormancy. 

He emerged from his "hibernation" to resume his talented input as a coach in the early 1950's, as a consequence of the big effort Albert Park was undertaking, to revive their former high status in rowing. 

With my father Harry wishing to prioritise his coaching of crews with family involvement (me) these were all now in the Senior category. Mick was very happy to apply his skills to bringing on the Junior oarsmen in the club. He always felt they were "more responsive to his directions, than know-all seniors". 

By the mid 1950's, our Junior oarsmen were becoming quite a force in rowing. With Mick at the helm, their progress had been extraordinary and some of his pupils were now ready to snap-at-the-heels of their senior club mates. 

His progress with our Juniors in the 1955/56 season, resulted in the ultimate reward of Albert Park winning the Victorian Junior Rowing Premiership and emulating their Senior's success the two prior seasons. Now having achieved three premierships in three years, "Park" members felt fulfilment of their remarkable recovery, since being almost wiped out, less than a decade before. The club had certainly risen from the ashes and was now making its presence felt in the Victorian rowing community. 

Mick was about to re-enforce the high status of "Park presence" then enjoyed, when he decided in June 1956, that some of his best juniors were ready to go for the ultimate challenge of Olympic participation. This led to the birth of the "where the hell did they come from?" crew. 

Mick set about to determine who he considered the best person for each seat of his proposed coxed four contender. They would be Ian Allen (stroke), Reg Libbis (3), Kevin McMahon (2) Gordon Cowie (Bow) and John Jenkinson as the coxswain. 

Mick Easton and his coxed four

His coxed four won the test race and was selected as Australia's Olympic four.

Andrew Guerin
May 2020

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