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History of Barwon Rowing Club

Chapter 6 - To Triumph Untarnished 1920-1944

Chapter 6 page 1 2 3 4 5 6

Great satisfaction must be felt among the Barwon Rowing enthusiasts at possessing such a fine clubhouse. Dancing space was provided upstairs, where an artistic decorative scheme embodying pendants of colored shredded streamers, flags and gum tips adorned the room. At the north end the long dressing room had been converted into a cosy lounge with carpets and easy chairs. Bowls of lilac, pink roses, palms and gum tips were arranged on the ledges and on pedestals. Supper was served in the boat shed on tables picturesquely centred with beautiful mauve sweet peas and pink roses. Electroliers shaded with rose pink silk added a softening glow to the scheme and huge tubs of fine gum tips filled odd corners.

The News of the-Week went on to describe in great detail the gowns worn by the ladies. Setting the standard for the mature woman was Mrs. Marcus Collins, wearing a handsome gown of black satin grenadine and georgette beaded with jet and carrying a jade feather fan, whilst her sister-in-law, Mrs. Arthur Collins, paraded in a black sequined frock, having bouffant hip draperies of tobacco brown tulle. Starring for the single ladies were Miss Una Russell in a softly draped frock of myosotis blue looped with tiny white beads while Miss Jean Woodhill from Sydney wowed the locals in her Alice blue frock made of accordeon-pleated flowers. However the ladies were not present at the annual dinners held at the ABC Cafe. This was a black tie affair for men only, with the upstairs room of the cafe specially decorated with crossed oars and the tables draped in Barwon's colours. Those men who had won races for the club were entitled to wear a club blazer with a pocket of gold oars crossed over a laurel wreath, whilst those who had represented the club but had been unsuccessful were allocated pockets with silver oars.

Then there was also the Barwon Rowing Club Football Club which competed in the Geelong Athletic Societies League from 1922 to 1925. Their home ground was just across the river on Belmont Common and their uniform a dark blue jumper with white collar and monogrammed BRC on the chest. Training nights attracted more than 70 participants watched by the less energetic members from the new balcony. Their first game was held on Monday 8 May against Barwon Football Club and resulted in a 40pt draw. The team was:

BACKS - C G Carr, W Grose, W Brushfield
HALF BACKS - J McLure, C Fowler, L Rentoul
CENTRES - R M Stewart, J Henry, R Walker
HALF FORWARDS - J Coleman (v.c.), P Brownlee, V trellis
FORWARDS - R Young, J Birnie, W Shaw
FOLLOWERS - C Bell, R Carey (c)
ROVER - A McDonald.

In 1922 the club had two major triumphs. It won the Junior Rowing Premiership of Victoria, the first non-metropolitan club to do so and the famed "double-double", i.e. both the Senior and Junior Eights at both the Ballarat and Barwon regattas. The Ballarat Regatta was held on Saturday 4 March and the club won both the senior and junior eights with the same crew. The Barwon Regatta was held one week later. Training was severely disrupted when the return of the racing boats was delayed by the railways until Friday evening. On the Thursday night prior to the regatta the officers and men from the Japanese ship Hayo-Maru, berthed at Railway Pier, gave an exhibition of ju-jitsu wrestling in the clubrooms, perhaps the fore-runner of today's session with a sports psychologist! On regatta day numerous marquees were erected on both banks of the river to cater for the large crowds. The cadets of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve were on standby to signal with flags the leading crews throughout the race from the Moorabool Street bridge. The Geelong City Band and the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Band played in the reserve. Barwon's victorious crew at Ballarat won the junior eight early in the afternoon and then came the senior eights race. Ballarat, Barwon and Corio Bay lined up at the start. Barwon drew on Ballarat inch by inch - halfway down the straight Ballarat spurted and gained a few yards but it was their swansong - and Barwon, coming again, won on the post by a canvas. These four wins by the same crew were, at their time, without parallel in the history of Victorian rowing, and their record still stands today. The crew was : W. Wheatland (bow), B. P. Jones (2), J. Moorhead (3), T. S. Coleman (4), F. Collyer (5), J. McLure (6), R. Degenhardt (7), C. Collyer (stroke), T. McIntosh (cox), coached by W. H. Pincott.

The "double double eight" -winners Junior and Senior Eight

Ballarat and Barwon Regattas 1922 - the finish at the Barwon Regatta

No doubt the men celebrated at the Palais de Jazz held -in the clubrooms that night. There were also open-air boxing contests in a raised ring in the reserve. As the local press commented, all tastes were catered for! The celebrations must have been long and merry, for at the following Tuesday's committee meeting, the club captain, A. G. Colenso, handed in his resignation, stating that he was unaware of the rule banning intoxicating liquor from the clubrooms. The committee refused to accept his resignation, despite agreement that this breach constituted sufficient grounds for his dismissal, and instead issued a stem admonishment to the captain for providing beer for the members. This ban on alcohol had been in effect throughout the club's history and was rigidly enforced. However, the times were changing and in October that year it was agreed to conduct trials of smoke socials at which a limited supply of alcohol would be available, albeit under the strict supervision of committee members. The trials didn't last long as in November the offer of T. Coleman and H. Hurst, the club secretary, to provide a canteen was accepted.

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