For those of you interested in a slideshow history of the club, prepared by Gordon Simpson, click on the following link – http://phillsimpson.com/clydesdale/index.html
“Clydesdale celebrates its 150th birthday in 2007” by Owen McGhee MBE, Honorary Vice President
One hundred and fifty years of existence leaves a mixed detritus of fact, myth and legend! I have tried to select only the facts for this narrative– and some legend!
Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club was founded in 1857, although there is evidence to suggest we saw the light of day in 1856!
The first annual report identifies the birth of the club took place “in a small meeting, convened in Steele’s Coffee-Room, where, with Arethusa Albert Small, Esq., as Chairman, your secretary moved, the creation of an humble Rowing Club”
However we will stick with 1857 as anything else would complicate things, and we would have missed our anniversary!
The club, in those early days, was known as Clydesdale Gentlemen Amateur Rowing Club, only changing it later when the amateur rules were amended.
Our home was initially on the South side of the river opposite the present Humane Society buildings. The address was in South York Street. This street has long since disappeared and has no connection to the present York Street further down the river.
There is an interesting painting in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery entitled “Glasgow Regatta, The Closing Stages” by John McNiven painted in 1880. We think it was painted close to our first clubhouse and might even be featuring a Clydesdale crew – winning of course!
The founder of Clydesdale was Glasgow business man, James Henry Roger. He was the owner and manager of the Bodego wine shop in Exchange Place off Buchanan Street. The shop is now better known as the Rogano Restaurant. Apparently, the Rogano took its name from a combination of the first three letters of “Roger” and the first three letters of “another” – the “another” being silent business partner, Mr Anderson.
Roger’s obituary of 1913 states; “The Bodega Company occupied the premises in Exchange Square, which afterwards came into Mr Roger’s own possession and is carried on under the style of the Rogano”. It goes on to note that he was part of the bodyguard to Queen Victoria when she opened the Loch Katrine waterworks.
The obituary credits him with being the stroke of Clydesdales “famous Cronies’ crew” and “in 1869 he pulled stroke in the crew which won, on the Gareloch, the first eight-oar race in Scotland”
There is a legend passed down through the staff of the Rogano, that the son of J.H. Rodger, hanged himself in one of the cloakrooms of the restaurant! What could have driven him to this grisly end? We can only guess. However, rowing ergometers were not invented at that time so they are ruled out as a cause!
The staff swear his ghost still haunts the place!
J.H. Rodger was a major driving force in the club and provided considerable finance to assist with the building of the present clubhouse in 1905. The club minutes of the time discuss whether Clyde Rowing Club or Clydesdale would occupy the favoured East section of the new boathouse. The discussion was brought to an abrupt end by J.H. making it clear that Clydesdale would occupy the East boathouse and if there was any further debate on the issue, he would withdraw his financial support!
Early members of the club are credited with involvement in the formation of Glasgow Rangers Football Club.
The club minutes of the time complain bitterly of the amount of football being played by members of Clydesdale to the detriment of their rowing!
Rangers acknowledge its rowing roots on a mural in Ibrox. This depicts a rowing scene on the Clyde at the Glasgow Green.
In 1872 the nucleus of what was to become Rangers FC, played their first match on the Flesher’s Haugh in “The Green”.
J. Allan, in his book on the history of Rangers 1873-1923 writes;
“In the summer evenings of 1873 a number of lusty, laughing lads, flushed and happy from the exhilaration of a finishing dash with the oars, could be seen hauling their craft ashore on the upper reaches of the river Clyde at the Glasgow Green. As keen then was their enthusiasm for the sport of rowing as it became in later years for the game of football; for these lads were the founders of the Rangers Football Club”
In 1873, the year of Rangers official birth, the first Scottish cup final took place.
The result was; Queens Park 2 – CLYDESDALE 0! I kid you not.
In 2005 we celebrated the centenary of our present building. The building is listed grade B due to its unusual timber structure. Work is progressing to replace this building, as well as the boathouse used by Glasgow University and Glasgow Schools, with a brand new facility to serve all the North bank clubs. There is some way to go before this ambitious project reaches completion and we are able to leave our much loved, but crumbling, home of over 100 years.
The present building has served us well, both as a boathouse and a location for many a social occasion.
It has been the scene of whist drives, beetle drives, (the young will wonder if this had something to do with Rentokil!) dances, dinners, Burns Suppers, sing songs, children’s Christmas parties, boozy stag parties and a place of retreat for young lovers in the days before everyone had their own flat! It served as the HQ for a barrage balloon squadron, during WW2.
Its future is unclear, but it is hoped that it can be refurbished to fill a new role in the activities of “The Green”.
The club has won many honours over the years and produced some outstanding athletes. Our members, men and women, have won Scottish Championship and British Championship events. They have competed and won in the international arenas around the world. They have rowed the Atlantic! We have launched the careers of World Champions and Olympic medallists.
Gillian Lindsay was both World Champion and Olympic silver medallist as is Katherine Granger. Katherine is now recognised as probably the most successful women rower the UK has produced.
Ali Watt still holds the record for the fastest time in winning the British Women’s Sculling Championship in 1999.
Amongst our earlier champions was one Harold Paterson Murdoch, Winner of the Senior Sculls at the Tailteann International Regatta (Ireland) in 1928. We think he was a semi finalist in the Diamond Sculls.
The contribution of Clydesdale members over the years has not been limited to racing successes.
Peter Grieve, for many years treasurer to the club and Vice President of SARA., was one of rowing’s great characters. His trick of taking all his notes, in typists’ shorthand, ensured the confidentiality of these jottings. He was the source for packets of crisps and Mars Bars to a generation of Clydesdale rowers and was probably their first mentor on the water.
The formidable Jimmy Ross was one of our finest captains. He ruled the crews with a firm hand and a powerful voice! He put his vocal presence to good use as one of the most respected “SARA Starters” in the business. He was presented with the “Torch Trophy” in 1992, by the Duke of Kent, for his services to rowing.
Gordon Simpson won the BBC Scotland “Unsung Hero” award for his tireless efforts on behalf of the club.
Iain Somerside, past president of SARA was and is, a major mover in the development of our National Rowing Academy.
Members of the club hold awards from the Royal Humane Society for river rescues.
The club is planning a number of activities to mark our 150th anniversary.
Our “150th year” Burns Supper has already taken place.
We hold our celebration regatta on Saturday, May 12th
Rowers, don’t miss this opportunity to take part in a bit of rowing history!
Three members of our veteran squad will create a record of sorts, by having taken part in both our centenary regatta in 1957 and our 150th anniversary event, this year! Gordon Simpson, Duncan Paterson and Owen McGhee were but fresh faced youths in those far off times and still nurse the illusion to this very day!
Later in the year we will have a club family BBQ. A club photograph is planned for posterity and to allow rowers in a 100 years time, to wonder at our quaint garb and strange haircuts!
Our celebration Dinner dance, in “St Andrews in the Square” is planned for the 16th November.
A civic reception will be held in the City Chambers on the 17th November.
We hope that as many rowers and friends as possible, from other clubs, will join us at these events.
We now look forward with optimism to the second half of our second century.