Early this year the club had considerable success at regattas winning six races including a Grand Challenge Cup. However towards the end of the year there would be a major change that would impact the club for the rest of the decade.Many long-time members of both the City club and the Ballarat Club retired or changed allegiances.
The club managed to score three wins at Ballarat Regatta, winning another Challenge Cup-the Sunbury Cup with the crew of J.Kitchen, Peter Cazaly(Jnr),J.Dobson and William Cazaly. The club also won the Junior sculls with A.McNaughtan winning from a field of 5 scullers and T.Couper winning the Maiden sculls from seven starters. The club should have also been awarded the Senior eights as due to scratchings they were the only crew in the race. However Williamstown put in an entry on the day to make a race of it and they took off the prize! Some 8000 spectators attended the regatta held in beautiful fine weather on March 14th.The maiden eights fielded eight crews and the sight of 64 blades “swooshing and biting the water” and the shouting of coxswains filling the air elicited loud cheers from the assembled throng.
At the Upper Yarra Regatta in Melbourne the club won the Senior fours with the crew of P.Cazaly, J.Byrne, R.Strachan and William Cazaly in stroke seat, from the Victoria crew by quarter of a length. A protest was made that City’s cox was a pound under-weight but it was dismissed because it was decided the scales were faulty! However the Maiden pairs race, also won by City, the cox was protested to be half a pound-under weight and this was upheld and the race given to Melbourne City Rowing Club. There were just two crews in the race.
At Barwon Regatta Ballarat City won the Junior eights with the crew of J.Kitchen, J.Aikins, J.Rennie, J.Barnes, E.Wheeler, P.Cazaly, J.Dobson and Will Cazaly in rather strange circumstances. In the Star 20 March 1884 it was reported “…….The race only received two entries for the event, viz, Ballarat City and Mercantile. The public expected to see a good race for the very handsome prize offered by the committee, but when the eventbcame off, the Mercantile men rowed a portion of the distance and then gave up, allowing the Ballarat City men to quietly paddle down the stream. The defeated crew were hooted by the spectators…it subsequently transpired that a portion of the crew arranged to start so as not to allow the race to fall through, the remainder being ignorant of this! …… “ The Mercantile men were universally condemned for such dishonourable, unfair, unsportsmanlike and unjust behaviour.
Many disaffected Ballarat Rowing Club men expressed concerns that veteran Captain Ned Williams, who had been captain since its inception in 1864 was too old and too restrictive. As a consequence Ned Williams did not seek re-nomination for Captain having served the Ballarat Club so well in that capacity for twenty years. It was a little sad and unfortunate that such a career ended with a degree of unpleasantness. However Ned was honoured with a testimonial dinner and presented with an illuminated address and a purse of forty gold sovereigns.
At Ballarat City on or about the 1st of October, the club’s veteran captain and author of many of our finest achievements, Peter Cazaly, also tendered his resignation from the club. I’m not sure if the ground shook and darkness descended but certainly the effect of this resignation reverberated through the whole of the season and for many seasons afterward with distressing consequences.
I have not been able to find the reason that Cazaly first tendered his resignation but the fact that he had resigned from his employment the Benevolent Asylum under somehwhat of a cloud the year previous stating ‘He had done enough’ and the committee of the rowing club had replied to his letter of resignation from the club on a ‘grubby bit of paper and not parchment’ and perhaps the retirement of his nemesis Ned Williams may have triggered his departure-a departure marked by bitterness and hard feelings out of all proportion.
A series of meetings were held and veteran member Mr. Crampton was elected to fill the captaincy. So great was the rift that, in the end, despite his great work for the club, his enthusiasm, dedication and obvious commitment to the club, he was given neither parchment or testimonial dinner. At one stage it looked as though Ned Williams and Cazaly would be honoured at a joint dinner but again, for some reason lost in the past, this did not happen. After several meetings from the beginning of October, on Wednesday October 8th a special meeting of the club was held which Peter Cazaly attended. Mr. M. Cahill was in the chair and about fifty members present.
The report in the Star the next day states that “Mr. Cazaly, in the course of a lengthy speech, ridiculed the manner in which the committee had sent him a scrubby sheet of note-paper conveying a vote of thanks after his services to the club as captain for a period of 14 years. At the risk of being egotistical, he might safely say that seven-eighths of the club’s success was due to himself. He had sent back the committee’s letter, which was worthless, and he thought it only natural that at least expressions of appreciation should have been conveyed on parchment, so that he could keep a record. He had a dozen reasons for sending in his resignation, concerning club matters. He had withdrawn the reason given for his resignation in order that the matter might be discussed in peace and harmony without endangering the interests of the club. When he had been asked by the Ballarat Club to give his consent to the proposition that he should be included with ex-captain Williams in a banquet tendered to the latter, he thought if an opposition club offered him such honour what would the City Club do under the circumstances?” (Report from the Star Thursday October 9th,1884)
Mr.Cazaly then left the room and a deputation from Ballarat proposed the two clubs co-operate in hosting a joint banquet with Messrs. Cahill, Bechervaise, Brophy, McNaughton, Crampton, Fitzgerald, C. Salter, Bade and Wells representatives of the club. The action of the committee appointing Mr. Crampton as captain was also endorsed and a vote of confidence in the Vice-Captain McNaughton carried unanimously. The meeting closed without the generally expected explosion and was of a harmonious nature except for one or two ebullient outbursts.
On October 14th the joint committees met the deputation from the City Club announced that the officers and committee of the club would heartily enter into the joint recognition, but that they would not guarantee a large attendance of club members. With that the motion was put that the joint affair be postponed indefinitely and the meeting dissolved. Ned Williams’ friends stayed on and resolved to go ahead and entertain Mr. Williams at the Town Hall on the 24th October.
At the banquet on October 24th he was the sole recipient of the honour and Peter Cazaly sent his apologies but did not attend. Then seemingly almost all reference to Peter Cazaly was expunged from City and even at the following Annual meeting only passing reference was made to the enormous upheaval that occurred.
October 17th the Opening of the season was for the first time, a joint effort of the three clubs now established on the foreshore of Lake Wendouree. Scratch four races were rowed with no more than two men from each club in a boat. Eighteen crews were entered and the three heats of six were held.On October 25th the medals won by the scratch fours at the City club were on display at Mr. W. Bennetts, jeweller, of Bridge Street. They were a Maltese cross design with the competitors name engraved and “BCRC Trial Fours 1884” on the reverse. The winners of these fine trophies and the scratch fours were F. C. Dawson (bow), J. Anwyl (3), A. Irving (2) and A. Dawson (stroke) with J. Baylee cox.
On December 22nd, 1884 a special presentation has made to president Henry Richards Caselli of a portrait of himself and the committee of the club, in thanks for all his work. Mr. Caselli responded to the presentation stating feelingly that: –“He did not know what he had done to deserve such a remarkable display of enthusiasm and good feeling. But he had always felt at home among the members of the Ballarat City Rowing Club and if his efforts in the past had been successful on behalf of the young rowing men, while pleasing and assisting them, felt he had been doing something, which provided amusement for himself. He took great interest in the City club and there was a good reason why he should do so, seeing that its members had so often distinguished themselves on the water and therefore secured credit for Ballarat and district. He heartily thanked the donors for their magnificent present.”