“I regret I have to think that 1963-64 to my club has been very trying in many ways, but, how happy I am to have been one of the team of loyal members who kept the club afloat,” Frank Findlay wrote in his President’s addendum this year after what had been a tough year all around. It was a year of losses and departures. The greatest loss was the death of club legend Teddy Jones. From the young boy who was the most enthusiastic cox on the Lake to club coach and the cox who steered for Victoria, guiding the first Penrith Cup crew to victory, he had given a lifetime of service to rowing and the club. Again there would be no replacing him-he was one of a kind.
In writing this blog and reflecting on the changes to the club, particularly in the last four or five years, I have thought a lot about the contribution of men like Teddy and what that meant to the club. Do the contributions made Teddy Jones and all the other past members over 150 years like Otto Hauser, Ted Edwards, Daniel Brophy, Dr.Champion, Peter Cazaly over the years, still matter. To me, the answer is a resounding yes. Without them there would be no Ballarat City. Their legacy is to show what it means to be a City member and the template of how to be a Ballarat City rower. Loyalty, passion, hard work, determination, resilience, respect, egalitarianism and teamwork. There is and was no “i” in their teamwork. Even as they became too old to row, they were still dedicated to the club demonstrated by the fact that when Otto Hauser and Ted Edwards took up bowling in later life they they could only join one club-the Ballarat City Bowling Club.
The stand out rowers and committee members of each generation have all demonstrated complete loyalty to the club, sticking to it through thick and thin. They were passionate about rowing and the club, they were hardworking, they supported each other, they were generous with their time and knowledge, they had experience that they shared, they were persistent and resilient. There was respect for each other, the club and the contributions made. They actually cared about the club and the people in it and did their very best to see the club succeed on every level. And they did it in a quiet, self-effacing way! There were no self-promoters or Facebook posts boasting of their achievements for these men! Of course it was a different time and a different social environment but that was the club spirit that resonated with me when I joined the club. Even as young rowers we saw what the “old guys” did and we used to sweep the shed, polish the floor, help with catering on regatta days and attend working bees alongside the older members right from the start. It was always all hand on deck because we were a small club. We saw the work they put in and the achievements they had had and sought to emulate that. That’s what builds club spirit. It is so much more than just a lazy click of Like on a Facebook post!
Hall hire and the fundraising of the Ladies Auxiliary continued to bolster the coffers of the club. The work entailed in cleaning and preparing the hall for hire was taking its toll on the older members. A cleaning and management roster was drawn up to relieve the strain of the work that was done mainly by the Trustees of the club Frank Findlay and Ted Edwards.
The club also lost the services of several rowers who had been in winning crews for the club. Peter Dalton returned to Yarra Yarra; Jeff Leslie and Ed Cranage moved to Melbourne and transferred to Banks Rowing Club and of course Bob Coutts who moved to Mercantile. In the obituaries there was also recorded the tragic loss of Phillip Moon, crewmate of many members, who died aged 20 on the 19th of June 1964.
On the rowing front things were very quiet with only one four racing for the season and all the rest pairs or sculls. It was becoming harder to get crews together and keep them together as members moved away from Ballarat and there was a lack of numbers and new members coming through. Apart from the four Junior pairs at the start of the season won by Bob Coutts and Alan Dixon, the only other win was a Lightweight pair at Ballarat Regatta of J.Rowe and Daryl Brown.
At the end of the season Alan Dixon, who was again club Captain, was selected to row in a composite Ballarat eight at the first Olympic Rowing Trials and second National Championships on the newly constructed Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra. Crews to represent Australia at the Tokyo Olympic Games were selected at this regatta. The Ballarat Rowing Association decided to send a Ballarat crew and a selection committee of three Wendouree Rowing Club members selected an eight. The eight trained together in Ballarat and managed a third placing in Canberra. This was the first crew to represent Ballarat since 1928 some 36 years previous. Alan Dixon was the only Ballarat City rower included. Alec McLeish was the manager for the Olympic rowing team for Tokyo. Alec was at Albert Park Rowing Club but he had learned his rowing at Ballarat City, a fact he always remembered. It was possibly him who would have approached Teddy Jones to steer the Albert Park Penrith Cup four because he would have known Teddy from his City days. https://rowinghistory-aus.info/rower-profiles/mcleish-alex-w
Above is the cover and the back cover of the program for the 1964 Olympic Trials. Interesting that rowing was being sponsored by the tobacco industry! How times have changed.