Wesley College wished to join the event for the first time. John Lang in the Victorian Oarsman 1919 describes the issues of them joining as follows:
Wesley College wished to row the other two schools in 1871 in the annual race. However, it was decided, "as it was an old-established race, which it was a pity to disturb", that Scotch College and the Grammar School should row Wesley College in turn; the races were on 19th and 20th June 1871. Wesley proved their mettle by beating the Scotch boys on the 20th, after being beaten in a hard race by Melbourne Grammar, the previous afternoon. Wesley College boys soon took part regularly in the race with the other two, and were "Head of the River" in 1874.
The fourth Head of the River took place on 16th June before the Wesley College races which took place on 19th and 20th June. The press reports of the MGS win over Scotch were scathing: The Scotch College crew rowed in very bad form: in fact their No - was little less than an passenger...The Grammar crew also had not much to be proud of in the matter of form.
Melbourne Grammar won the fourth Head of the River against Scotch easily in about 4 lengths. John Catto stroked the Scotch College crew for the third time.
From the Albert Lindblade Collection, Mercantile Rowing Club
Starter: Prof Martin Howey Irving
Umpire: Not known
Judge: Not known
Head of the River
Margin: 4 lengths
1st Melbourne Grammar - Bow: J C Ritchie, 2: E A Vieusseux, 3: J G Burton, Str: J F Hamilton, Cox: A J Manifold, Cch: Not known
2nd Scotch College - Bow: George L Dickson, 2: Henry Prendergast, 3: John A Brock, Str: John Catto, Cox: Sydney A Edwards, Cch: John C Johnstone
Wesley College raced each of Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar in seperate races on 19th and 20th June:
1st MGS, 2nd WC, Margin 5 feet. Wesley started badly but came back into the race very well.
E2: 1st WC, 2nd SC, Margin 10 lengths. Again Wesley started poorly but won with great ease.
Wesley College - Bow: W Monie, 2: J Fryer, 3: E L Backhouse, Str: W Wearne, Cox: E O Hill, Cch: Prof M H Irving