1968 drought and return of the Mudscrapers

The club enjoyed a very successful year with 17 wins, the most wins ever scored by the club in a season, which placed us third on the Country Premiership and fourth on the Lightweight Premiership. However  rowing activities were severely affected by drought towards the end of the season. The lake was so low that Ballarat Regatta was conducted at Lake Burrumbeet for the first time since the 1870’s. Owing to the low level of the Lake, the Trade Fours, Lake Marathon swim, VRA Championships and Head Of the Lake were all cancelled. The City Council used the opportunity to carry out improvements around the foreshore notably beaching the start of the Olympic course and improving the finish. In the early days of rowing in Ballarat, Ballarat crews were often referred to as the “Mudscrapers” because of the shallow waters of the Lake. This year we certainly lived up to the name.

On the financial front the club continued to make ends meet due mainly to the considerable effort of Treasurer Bob Lawrie and the incredible efforts of Frank Findlay, Otto Hauser and Ted Edwards. Their untiring efforts in hiring and cleaning the hall bought in the club’s main income. I still find it quite amazing the amount of work they did for the club with no reward other than to see the club succeed. Then, as today the young rowers were asked to support and help them a bit more regularly as most did not realise the amount of time and effort put in by these four men. I have said it often but it is worth repeating, without the efforts of these men, there would be no Ballarat City Rowing Club today.

The club also attempted to continue training out at Burrumbeet once the level of the Lake Wendouree made it impossible to train there. But owing to the travelling distance and weather conditions it proved too difficult and ultimately unsuitable. It was the year of “almost but not quite” Championship wins. The club boated crews in four Victorian Championship races- the Senior pairs, Junior and Lightweight fours and the eight- oared Championship. In the Lightweight fours Championship the crew missed out by a mere 3/4 of a length. No doubt the enforced lack of in-the-boat training at a critical time and the ageing equipment led to this. Early in the season the crew was touted as having a chance of representing Victoria as the Penrith Cup crew at the Interstate Championships. Undoubtedly had they won the state Championship race selectors would have been hard-pressed not to select them. As it was, the honour went to Barwon Rowing Club crew who beat them in the Championship race.

The crew that almost became the Penrith Cup crew pictured after the final. Rowed on the Barwon River and placed second to Barwon R.C. by 3/4 length in a time of 7.02.February 9,1968. Cox: Daryl Calvert, stroke; Daryl Brown, (3) Alan Dixon, (2) Jim Morse, bow; Phillip Dixon

A Junior four of Phil Dixon, Jim Morse, Alan Dixon and Daryl Brown raced early in the season at Metropolitan, Banks and Preston Regattas winning on two occasions. It should have been three. At Metropolitan Regatta on the Yarra, the crew won by a clear margin but following an unusual set of circumstances it was declared a no-race and they were deprived of the win. In the first heat Ballarat City convincingly accounted for the Mercantile crew but was later disqualified for incorrect steering through one of the buoys. In the second heat, both the Essendon crew and the Albert Park crew were disqualified for being late to the start. Regatta officials later decided to let Ballarat City row in the final against the Mercantile crew however all the Mercantile crew had left the regatta believing they were no longer required (having been beaten in the heat by City). Ballarat City rowed over the course only to have a judge declare it a “no-race” due to the fact that one of the crew was deemed ineligible. Sometimes races are won and lost on the bank!

The King’s Cup Regatta was to have been held on Lake Wendouree in 1968 but had to be moved to Murray Bridge in South Australia because of the drought. Five oarsmen and a coxswain represented the club at the National Championships. Alan Dixon and Daryl Brown were in a composite Ballarat eight while Phil Dixon was the emergency. The eight raced in specially designed singlets rather than the usual composite crew rowing in individual club colors.The Brown brothers, Peter and Bob, represented the club in the pair. They were steered by young Colin Angow in his second season of coxing. The club open day was revived and racing held in fours for trophies presented by Ted Edwards and Frank Findlay with seventy guests enjoying afternoon tea.

Club captain this season was Ian Angow but he left to join the regular army and he was replaced by vice-captain Norm Quarrell. Albie McGuire put in many hours coaching crews this season and Otto Hauser continued to be the mainstay behind maintaining the fleet. Colin’s father, Norm Angow, again provided transport for boats and rowers to Mildura and Wentworth Regattas. He also took the club to Dimboola ,providing his bus and this was so unusual it actually made the newpaper. This season St. Patrick’s boatshed burned down and City returned the favour of loaning boats and housing equipment until they could rebuild thus returning the favour extended to City back in 1950 when we were in the same situation.

Article IN COMFORT Norm Angow transporting members and boats to Dimboola in his bus!
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