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australian rowers profiles and history

Edward 'Teddy' Horsburgh

Yarra Yarra Rowing Club (VIC)

Born about 1870.

Teddy Horsburgh was a highly respected rower, coach and administrator of his time. He loved the sport and was an ardent advocate for it. One of his saying was that "rowing makes men, not breaks them". He was also renown for his outspoken attitude. H A DeLacy spoke of Horsburgh in these words in the article reproduced below: "He is kindly when he looks back to the days of his active oarsmanship, but let anyone make sinister suggestions about rowing, and that person will feel the sharp edge of his tongue. To "Teddy", rowing is a religion."

 Whilst Teddy's brothers William and Charlie were the more renown oarsmen, Teddy was the renown coach,

1888 - Melbourne Regatta - maiden eight, two seat - First. His older brother William was in the bow seat and a D H Horsburgh coxed.

1890 - Raced in junior crews winning an eight at Warrnambool.

1891 - Victorian Champion eight, four seat - First (older brother William in three seat).  Senior eight Warrnambool

1892 - Victorian Champion eight, four seat - First in row over (older brother William in three seat). Senior eight Warrnambool

1893 - Victorian Champion eight, four seat - First (older brother William in three eat and G F M Horsburgh coxed). Senior eight Warrnambool

1895 - Victorian Champion eight, two seat - First (coxed by G F M Horsburgh)

1904 - First Henley on Yarra - Senior four (disqualified)

1905/06 - Captain of Yarra Yarra Rowing Club

1913 - Interstate Championships - Men's Eight, coach - did not finish

1920 - Interstate Championships - Men's Eight, coach - Fifth

1921 - Interstate Championships - Men's Eight, coach - Third

1925 - Interstate Championships - Men's Eight, coach - Fifth

1927 - Interstate Championships - Men's Eight, coach -Third

1928 - Interstate Championships - Men's Eight, coach - Fourth

1891 Yarra Yarra crew which won the Victorian Championships

The following article in the Sporting Globe on Saturday 25th October 1930 captures more of the spirit and nature of the man rather than the facts and figures above.


55 Years' Rowing Survey

Teddy Horsburgh Looks Back On Men And Crews

E. ("Teddy") Horsburgh is one of the most respected men on the river. Rowing is a strong man's sport, and ''Teddy" always has been honored for his outspoken attitude. He is kindly when he looks back to the days of his active oarsmanship, but let anyone make sinister suggestions about rowing, and that person will feel the sharp edge of his tongue. To "Teddy" rowing is a religion.—H. A. De Lacy.

Fifty-five years ago my brother William was associated with the Yarra Yarra Rowing Club. I was only a junior at the time and like many other youngsters, what my big brother did was law with me. At this time the younger generation of Edwards, I refer to Fred, Arthur, Frank and later Bert - and I played football on the old military reserve. After a game of football we would dash across to the river to see what fun was available there. From those innocent beginnings grew a love for rowing that has never deserted me. I am as keen today as I was when I was first seated (No. 4) in a Yarra Yarra maiden eight. I was 18 at the time and the big event was the Melbourne Regatta on the Saltwater River.

I look back with pleasure on my associations, with the river. The men I struggled with, and the men I struggled against, form links in a long chain of friendships.

The first Henley in 1904 was a wonderful day. Rowing had been starved as regards attendances, and the advent of the social side of the sport attracted a big gathering that seemed to me at the time unique in the history of the river. 1 rowed in a Yarra Yarra senior four, and we were disqualified. We fouled Essendon in the first heat, and they went on to win the final.

This regatta finished at Princes Bridge. The sides of the river and the bridge were crowded. The attendance was described as rivalling the Melbourne Cup of that year. There were no decorated boats, but an attraction was provided by a race for ships' gigs. All the mercantile marine crews that were in port supplied gigs. Fireworks were a wonderful attraction then, and the display at night was considered a civic treat.

1 wonder if A. H. ("Enti") Enticott recalls the champion eights of 1893. We had been out of the boat for a week in the belief that there would be no competition forthcoming. However, the night before the race, we found out that Warrnambool had arrived to take part. We started over the 3 1/4 miles a very worried crew, but eventually defeated Warrnambool by three lengths in the record time of 15 minutes 44 secs. The races was rowed over the old course from the white light at Williamstown to the Ship Inn at Footscray. My brother Charlie is the third remaining member of the crew. 

The years passed by, and soon I was forced to give up the oar for the megaphone. And I think that here were some of my happiest days. 1 have handled many fine fellows since, including the Victorian eights of 1913, 1920, 1921. 1925, 1927 and 1928.

Take the 1913 crew that raced at Adelaide. Doug Laird was bow, Mark Shea No. 2, Len Davis 3, Herbert Dickenson 4, A. McGregor 5, Roy Jenkins 6. Harry Ross Soden 7, and C. G. Davies str. This crew was one of the finest that ever raced in the Victorian colours. The race proved a fiasco owing to the roughness of the river. The Port River, notorious as a course, claimed four crews before a quarter of a mile had been covered. Ruined were the hopes of the dark blues. South Australia won by about half a mile. Tasmania, although water logged, managed to reach to within a few yards of the post, when their boat sank from under them. The crew swam the boat over the line, and obtained second position. West Australia, who had emptied their boat, went on to obtain third position. The other crews were prevented from doing likewise owing to the canvas of their boats bursting.

Jack D'Arcy Was A Wonderful Stroke

The 1920 crew was stroked by Jack D'Arcy. who was one of the most remarkable strokes I have ever seen.  Jack was never more than 9st 6lb, and of short stature. Yet he set a wonderful swing, while his length was remarkable. He was as game as a pebble—the type of stroke that will keep going even though he is beaten, and then come back for more. I have a soft spot in my memory for Jack D'Arcy.

I thought we were easily the best in 1927. Harry Schlichling was stroke. The weather once again beat us. We managed to reach the post, but there we sank.

The men in the 1928 crew were not long enough together to win the race, but let it be remembered that for two miles the six crews were abreast. Condition then beat us. 

The coaching of a club crew is a strenuous business. The trouble is that you often have too many men wanting seats in the boat. On occasions, I have felt like the man who walked into a warehouse to pick a piece of suiting. He had made up his mind what he required, but five minutes among the tweeds and worsteds, and he hadn't a mind at all. 

Then the matter of temperament is a big factor in blending together a club crew. The late running fellow who is always rushing along the bank, bag in band, when the other members of the crew are waiting, stripped and cold — is the bane of a coach's existence. The coach wants to be about the job, the crew are grumbling, and a bad row results. To the young oarsman, I would say: You cannot go rowing with a dress suit in your bag. If you want to succeed as an oarsman, you must make sacrifices, and one of these sacrifices is early to bed — and not too much of it. You always pay for that late night in the boat during the following row.

Let me recall some of the men who were prepared to make these sacrifices, men who did a lot to immortalise their names on the bank 1 go back to the time of Bob Booth, a Melbourne man. He was one of the finest strokes Victorians have ever seen. Although he was a big man. he set his crew a comfortable length. Booth's rowing, with a good hard catch and finish, is what we can say is the Victorian style — a style I have endeavoured to inculcate into all the men who have been under my tuition. 

Charlie Champion was associated with Booth; Lieutenant-Colonel Hughes, who is still with us; and my old friend Fred Edwards, were also behind Booth in his victories. W. Senior was a light man, rowing about 10.6—a slashing oarsman. Sam Gowdie, Alex. Chamley, F. Payne, and R. Nicholson, of the Banks, come to mind. Another outstanding man was E. R. Ainley, my old stroke. There are a thousand and one that might be mentioned. Then later came the Donalds, Jim and Charlie, and Alex. Sloan. Of the later day oarsmen, I view the death, in action, of Herbert Dickenson, a big loss to Victorian rowing. Dr H. C. Disher, who stroked the A.I.F. crew that won the King's Cup, is a man to be looked up to by young oarsmen. When he stroked a crew, he commanded that crew, and rightly so. Yet he always listened to the words of the coach, and set himself to work into the mentor's general plan. Simon Fraser was a wonderful little fellow, a veritable tiger, and always pleasant about it. He and Harry Ross Soden were in the Australian crew that defeated Leander on the Thames in 1912.

Good Club Crews of the Years Ago

Of the Melbourne senior eights, 1 have handled — and that sounds "Irish," because at the time we were the Civil Service—the best was the 1919-20 crew that won the champion eights from Nagambie. Jack D'Arcy was stroke, and they were never beaten. Later they fell, but the personnel had been altered. Bert Kirsch had some good crews behind him, but their successes were limited to mile races. Then came Harry Schlichting's turn, and again we took championship honours (two eights and three fours). We also won over the Henley mile. 1 forgot to mention Neil Walker's crew in 1913. I prepared them, but, on meeting with an accident, was prevented from completing their training. It was a good crew—particularly over a mile. 

I had intended to discuss many old timers, but I have rambled on, and now my space is exhausted. Let me finish with this—and 1 am going to be emphatic—those people who are always decrying rowing as a heart-weakening, physique- wrecking form of exercise are on the wrong track. Today, in my 64th year, I am still prepared to take the young oarsman and break him into the rudiments of the game. I am as fit as a fiddle, and, although I do not take my Sunday morning row as of yore, 1 feel that I am going to see a lot of young men succeed yet. But I am only a colt compared with the men of a generation before me. Men I looked up to as oarsmen as a lad, and who are now approaching the eighties, are still to be found at the regattas. Now then. Sir Critic, these men that rowing has made invalids of, as you would suggest, rather throw your statement back in your teeth. No, rowing is a man's game, and it builds physique - it docs not wreck it.

Andrew Guerin - using materials provided by Jim Skidmore
October 2020

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