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1906 Head of the River

The thirty-ninth Head of the River returned to the Barwon which was both in flood and impacted by strong winds. Wesley however went onto win for the sixth successive time from Scotch College in the final.

Geelong Grammar finished only one foot behind Scotch in the heat with Melbourne Grammar 2 lengths further back.

This was the year Xavier College joined the competition. In the centenary history of the Xavier Colleg Rowing Lift her home to Victory, lads, author Michael Lefebvre records that the inexperienced Xavier crew suffered sickness throughout training and the final crew only rowed together for the last two days before the race.

He goes on to describe the heat race where the crew were defeated by the eventual winning crew from Wesley.

Xavier got away badly and were a length behind after the first fifty yards. The crew then settled down to some good rowing but Wesley were too strong and after three quarters of a mile had increased their lead by another length. Despite the efforts of the Xavier stroke to lift his crew, they were unable to make uo any ground on Wesley and lost by two and a half lengths.


Head of the River

Time: 8:14.0
Margin: 1 1/2 lengths

1st Wesley College - Bow: J D Newham, 2: D P Greenham, 3: G A Richards, 4: R V Boynton, 5: C C Halkyard, 6: N S Walker, 7: G J Dawes, Str: Frank Aurley Henry Boynton, Cox: F C Wittmann, Cch: Charles Donald
2nd Scotch College - Bow: John Gray, 2: Howard C Morrison, 3: George G Anderson, 4: Samuel P Lyttle, 5: Arthur D Robertson, 6: Alexander M Robertson, 7: Charles W B Littlejohn, Str: William G Davies, Cox: Alexander E Morrison, Cch: Alexander B Sloan

Other crews competing:
Geelong Grammar - Bow: A G Bagot, 2: A F S Dobson, 3: J E Roe, 4: K Lines, 5: J J Gatenby, 6: A B Hearn, 7: G H Patterson, Str: C P Cooke, Cox: R Featherstonhaugh, Cch: A F Garrard
Melbourne Grammar
- Bow: A F Jolley, 2: A Jackson, 3: P J R St Ele, 4: Clive Latham Baillieu, 5: S J Gardiner, 6: A G Stephenson, 7: H D Luxton, Str: G Ross-Soden, Cox: C F Cresswell
Xavier College
- Bow: Ray Connell, 2: Gordon Kirby, 3: Nerbert Forrect, 4: Dan Fitzgerald, 5: James Dougherty, 6: Franz Slaweski, 7: Gus de Bavay, Str: Francis McCooey, Cox: Jack Rowan, Cchs: Jim Beeching Jnr

Heat results:
E1: 1st SC, 2nd GGS, 3rd MGS, Margins: 2 feet and 2 lengths
E2: 1st WC, 2nd XC, Margin 2 1/2 lengths

1906 Wesley Crew


Wesley College rudder on display in the Wesley Boatshed


1906 Xavier Crew

Back row: R Connell, D Fitzgerald, J Dougherty, F Slaweksi
Centre row: G Kirby, F McCooey, J Beeching, G de Bavay, H Forrest
Seated: J Rowan
Photo reproduced from "Lift her home to victory", lads, a centenary history of Xavier College Rowing by Michael Lefebvre

The correspondent of the Geelong Advertiser on Monday 15th October 1906 obviously recognised the importance of the regatta.

The Public Schools Boat Race just concluded on the Barwon is entitled to more than a passing word of comment. In the first place, it is the oldest race in Australia, having beeen rowed consecutively since 1868. In 1901 the contest, which had previously been confined to fours, was conducted in eights, and the interest of the public was proportionately increased.

It is the greatest school boat race in the world, for in this contest only do five school eights meet. The Ladies' Plate at Henley is a race open to both Schools and Colleges, and it is only a chance if Eton, the greatest rowing school in the world, meets Radley in one of the heats.

Looking at the contest from a rowing point of view, Wesley College may he congratulated on their hard won honors. They were the neatest and the cleanest crew engaged, and their victory was well deserved. Scotch College rowed two excellent races, and are quite entitled to the second place. Melbourne and Geelong Grammar Schools were both unfortunate in training, and St. Xaviers were new to the river, but all three schools may be satisfied with the determined way in which their representatives rowed it out in the historic contest.

The mere athletic interest, however, of the meeting pales in comparison with the moral discipline involved in the preparation and actual conduct of the race. The self-restraint, the subordination of the individual to the crew, the complete authority, the ready obedience, the spirit of absolute fair play and the resolution to "fight to the death," are all part and parcel of the qualities fostered in such athletic sport. They tend to produce men who will transfer to the shire, the city or the State the patriotism which they have learned at school. We are the last to place athletic before moral or intellectual training, but we recognise most willingly the educative side of such a race as that recently decided on our water.

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