Fairfield Canoe Club
2019 Centenary Year

“Some reflections on our Barefoot Bowling Fundraiser”

History Snippet:  - “Some reflections on our Barefoot Bowling Fundraiser”


‘Barefoot Bowling’ might be a ‘first’ as a fundraiser but there is a long tradition of events to raise funds for our club paddlers endeavouring to attend representative events.


Back in 1920 the brand-new Fairfield Canoe Club organised a Canoe Carnival where the proceeds were to contribute funds to our “Building Fund” even before any land had been identified to buy! There is no mention of specific events to support our paddlers, however.

In The Argus,1952, it is reported of our two club members, Glenn Croft and Keith Jackson;

“Because the Olympic Fund appeal was so poorly organised, canoeists Glenn Croft and Keith Jackson will not get very far without outside help. Canoeists were new to Olympic selectors and these two young men were placed low among nominations. But Alphington librarian, Bert Quick, who has closely followed their winter weightlifting for improved strength, their morning training and rapid rise to the top of their sport, thinks they would be worthy representatives at Helsinki (1952 Olympics). He has organised an all-sportsmen meeting at the Waynesford Hall, Yarralea St, Alphington and is looking for a big gathering to plan support for the two boys”.

Sadly, the National Canoe Association did not support a Canoe team for these Olympics, even after nominating Croft and Jackson. Read more in our History snippet: Keith Jackson – the follow-up to his mother’s knitted FCC jumpers. - Fairfield Canoe Club

Argus, May 1952 shows both our paddlers and their boat at Albert Park Lake

In 1956, the Victorian Canoe community got right behind our representatives by organising specific events to support our first Olympic representatives. This team included FCC paddlers, T. Ohman (C2) and reserves in C2, Keith Jackson & Reuben Collins. The big fundraising event being held in the FCC clubhouse even though it is recorded in the August,1956 Committee Minutes that it is suggested:” that social events should be held in hall to save on hiring other venues BUT until the hall and facilities were in better repair it would be impossible to invite visitors into the club".

In spite of this committee determination, we find this invitation!









In addition to this VACA event, our club evidently were intent on purchasing Olympic-standard boats. The club treasurer at that time, Ken Wilkes records:” We had heaps and heaps of house parties to raise funds as we borrowed two thousand pounds to buy two Olympic canoes. These house parties were to service this new loan which in addition to the long-standing clubhouse mortgage repayments”.

Ken goes on to say:

We had it fully paid for before the 1956 Games, but I wore out my welcome with my parents, I think. They had a large home and when we used to start it off (the party) there would be about thirty people there. After Heidelberg Town Hall dance finished on a Saturday night, another fifty would arrive and at about midnight a band would arrive after it had finished playing somewhere down at Point Ormond, (one of the girls knew the band and they'd come up). My father saw the band setting up one night at half past twelve in the morning and said “what’s going on?” and I said “The bands about to start” and he said "What! We've got neighbours!" But we had a publican in tow as Colin Wilkinson, who was a FCC member, had his wedding reception at this hotel, and the publican's son, Geoff, became friendly and used to throw a barrel, or two, in the boot of his Hudson, a big Hudson car, they were massive cars in the early ‘50s, and he’d transport the beer, ‘pluto’ and the gas, to any venue we nominated. As long as he was allowed to join in with us!”

“We'd have a couple of hundred people in my father's house, that is the backyard and downstairs where there was a ballroom It was a  substantial house and no one ever needed to go upstairs so...yeah, that’s how raised funds, house parties in Upper Heidelberg Road.”

“It was “illegal” to charge entry fees so “they gave "donations" and bought lots of raffle tickets which entitled you to a drink. Quite often we’d run out of the “amber liquid ”and Geoff had to rush back to the National Hotel in Victoria Street, Richmond to re-stock supplies”.

In subsequent decades the club has run many events to help our paddlers attend national and international competitions. These fundraisers have taken various forms: - movie nights, bush dances, trivia nights and, undoubtedly, many more unrecorded events aimed at getting our athletes to important competitions at home and abroad.

The History group would love to hear more about any such events.

Barefoot bowling is a first though!

It is to be noted that our club member, Ivan Gaal, selected along with Adrian Powell and Heide Sager for the 1960 Olympics, in Rome, never made the trip as he could not raise enough funds. Importantly, upon retirement from paddling, Ivan has become a champion lawn bowler. Perhaps he will ‘strut his stuff’ this week?


Ivan Gaal in action on the greens, but well shod on this occasion!



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