1972 Frank Findlay’s parting gift

The most significant event this year, that ultimately eased the financial struggle we had been facing, was the removal of the obligation to pay any more on the loan that had been taken out in 1956 to rebuild the shed. It was a financial millstone around our necks and it was through Frank Findlay’s representations and the efforts the local MP Bill Stephens, that in October 1972 the Premier and Treasurer of Victoria, R.J.Hamer signed the document writing off the balance of the loan which was $11 200. This made a huge difference to our financial operation. With the club’s yearly turnover being in the vicinity of $2000 which had to cover all running costs and the loan repayment, this meant immediate relief. The club purchased a new tub pair and placed on order a new racing four. These were the first new boats purchased since the early sixties. Frank Findlay had started to make approaches two years ago but the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly so this turned out to be his penultimate “gift” to the club after his departure.

Ted Edwards was President until the Annual Meeting in September 1972 and Ralph Murphy the secretary and Bob Lawrie still treasurer for the 24th year. Graeme Angow was the Captain and continued to rebuild our rowing membership. The 70’s were hard work for the officers of the club. The only income was from the hire of the hall, which still had to be cleaned and maintained. As Frank Findlay organised much of the hall bookings, setting up and cleaning of the hall his loss would have been really felt here.The number of social events that required a hall like ours were decreasing. The costs of running the club and buying equipment were always rising.

There was an influx of new members this season including Gary Gullock, Ian Mayes, Geoffrey (Wayne) Lyle, Ron Young and Norm Young. Wayne Lyle and Norm and Ron Young would row for a season or two and then return some twenty years later to reinvigorate the club leading the charge in Master’s rowing. Danny Elliott, Paul Duggan,and Michael Salter joined the club from St.Patrick’s College after Head of the Lake and immediately started winning races for the club. Danny Elliott would go on to have a 48 year “career” at the club as rower, Captain, President, and the most successful coach the club has had in 150 years. Also significant was the change to our Victorian Rowing Association delegate as Simon Newcomb relocated for business and one Roger Wilson, the “Voice of Victorian Regatta’s”, took on the role. He also would be instrumental in assisting and promoting the club for the next 25 years. Several older members also came back to the club Frank Beattie, Bill Luke, Cliff McCahon, Keith Halsall, Warwick Ehms, Ron Healey and Kevin O’Brien. Bryce Raworth joined the club as a cox, his Grandfather George Raworth had been one of our most successful rowers in the 1890’s!

Some novices of the early ’70’s.L-R: Kevin O’Brien, Michael Salter, Danny Elliott, Paul Duggan, Daryl Calvert, Bill Davies, Denis Ciurcovitch, Kevin Antonio , Paul Gursansky

The club Open Day was almost a small regatta with scratch fours, ladies fours, veteran fours, mixed fours and a Ladies’ nomination event raced for trophies donated by Norm Angow and Ted Edwards. A crowd of nearly one hundred attended and attended a barbecue at the conclusion of racing. The jetty was re-decked this season with several bearers jacked up and the jetty levelled. Norm and Bob Angow led a band of workers who completed the job at minimal cost and no lives lost. The render on the outside of the shed was patched and repaired by Tony Circovitch. These hard workers also repainted the upstairs kitchen and installed a second-hand refrigerator, courtesy of Angow and Hatt Refrigeration and a gas hot water unit for the sink.

Wins this season were mainly in novice events which was to be expected with most of the rowers in their first season of rowing. The men’s crew of Rob McGuire, G.Leggo, Colin Angow and Daryl Calvert won a Novice four at Universities Regatta, the only men’s win for the year. The Begonia City Ladies added two wins to the tally as they won two Novice fours. At the inaugural Begonia City Ladies Regatta, the first regatta organised by the club, they won the perpetual trophy donated by Ballarat Lifting Service and at Warrnambool Regatta they had their second win. Albie McGuire and Otto Hauser continued to keep the fleet in working order and Alf Bannister revarnished the boats over winter.Albie McGuire also did much of the coaching for both men’s and women’s crews.

This was the second year of the Begonia City Ladies existence. Membership was between 12 and 16 members.Many of them were nurses from the Ballarat Base Hospital’s Nursing School. This meant that many early members were short term as they often transferred after their training was completed. The club purchased eight lightweight women’s oars which made rower a bit easier having smaller handles for their smaller hands although they still had to use boats rigged for men. Pam Johns was President taking over from Glenda Shears who was inaugural President ,Irene Hatt the secretary, Kay Rizzoli the Treasurer and Jan Madin was Captain. The fledgling club organised and held their first regatta in February on the Lake at which seven other ladies clubs competed. Two were from South Australia-Lakeside and Wilderness School. The club billeted the twenty-two girls for the weekend. The other clubs to compete were Dimboola, Essendon, Melbourne University, Nestles, YWCA and Preston.

The ladies committee also took on the task of catering at regattas-the Championships and the three-day regatta in March. These were all financial successes and brought in much needed funds to the club. The money raised paid for the new tub pair and a second hand racing four. Bill Davies and Jan Madin organized a Row-a-thon at which they raised $400.This money was put towards the purchase of a coaching “launch”-the club having borrowed Norm Angow’s motorboat for four years.

These three letters were found amongst old papers that were in danger of being thrown out in a “clean-up”. I took them home to sort through them and found these which confirmed what had only been oral history up until then. Luckily they were saved from the skip!

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