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australian rowers profiles and history

John (Jack) F Morganti

Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)

Died in Brisbane on 3rd February 2023

1956 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship bow - First

1956 – Olympic Games – Men’s Eight - reserve

1957 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship emergency

1958 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship three seat - First

Jack learned his rowing at St Patricks at Ballarat and joined Mercantile in the early 1950s. He won two King’s Cup races in 1956 and 1958 and was reserve for the Olympic crews in 1956.

He remembers well the post war years where he learned so much from the ex-serving members. Norm Cairnes who had been through so much at Toobruk and who played down any mention of it. Laurie Moll who took a soldier settlement block and Mercs members spent weekends there on working bees. He does not remember fondly marking lambs with Crockett! Jim Ferguson who would break into song with Gilbert and Sullivan arias. Sadly other rowers were unable to shake off the effects of war with his friend Paddy Barrett dying early.

He also remembers fondly the country regattas. In particular one Easter regatta in 1955 when Bob Aitken convinced them to race at Mildura in order to win the Club premiership from Albert Park. Herb Shears managed the group and they won the premiership.

Easter 1955 – Jack Morganti centre with Bob Aitken and Hubert Frederico on the right

He also remembers well the great times in the South West Corner with the old barrels.

Mercs Senior eight in Hobart – Jack second from the left

1956 Olympic Men's Eight including coach and reserves - Jack back row on right

Jack finished off with a great story of a Henley regatta where they lost the senior eights by a very small margin which they thought that they had won. David ‘Crockett’ Boykett and Jack decided that they should have the pleasure of the Grand Challenge Cup for the evening. They ‘borrowed’ it from the victors and returned it to them the next day!

Jack enjoys a drink at the Club in February 2020 with wife Jone and Captain Bill Webster

Jack and his wife Jone were the guests of your correspondent in the Henley enclosure in 2020 where he gain these valuable insights. 

At the time of his death in 2023, Jack had been living in Queensland for the last 50 years but he has visited the club a number of times on regular trips to Melbourne.
 His son David advised that he remained very proud of his rowing achievements throughout his life including his years at Mercantile and of course features in the Club's history.
 He died peacefully on the morning of 3rd February 2023 after a short illness.

Andrew Guerin 
Feb 2020 (updated Feb 2023)

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