Tribute to remember rowing club legend
ROWING: There will be a minute's silence at lunchtime on Sunday to remember former Grafton Rowing Club president Greg Thompson, but many competitors will have him on their minds for much longer than that.
School rowers from NSW and Queensland as well as clubs from around the region will gather in Grafton this weekend for the annual Head of the Clarence River on Saturday and the Grafton Rowing Club Regatta on Sunday.
Thompson, who was club president for many years from the 1970s until recent years when ill health curtailed his involvement, died at Mareeba Nursing Home on November 12, aged 73.
It will be the first time since the inception of the Head of the Clarence River that Thompson, who was an integral part of the committee that established the event, won't be around.
Club captain Ken Maughan had many good memories of his mate.
"He was a member of the club when I joined in 1962," Maughan said.
"He was always a very determined competitor. He would kill himself rather than let anyone pass him."
Maughan said Thompson, a roof tiler, moved away to Lismore where he worked in the construction industry.
"It's where he met his wife, Kay," Maughan said. "He was up there for a few years and it was when he came back here he began as president, about 1972 or '73."
Maughan said Thompson's work as a tiler and then a hard plasterer was almost the perfect training for a rower.
"He was up and down roofs lugging tiles, which made his legs strong," he said.
"Then he switched to hard plastering where you needed real strong arms to move that hawk full of mud.
"When you put that together with his determination, it's a pretty good combination."
Maughan said Thompson continued to be a fierce competitor in masters competition where he rowed with him at the World Masters Games in Ballarat and Canada in 2005.
"He had a fused neck and a fused back from injuries he had from a couple of car accidents," he said.
"But he and I made it to the final of the E double sculls.
"With him being tall and rowing bowside and me so short, I was very happy just to make the final."
Maughan said numbers of competitors would be down on both days this weekend.
"The NSW and Queenslands school holidays are different this year," Maughan said. "Queensland finished last week."
"I know Brisbane Grammar aren't coming this time. The principal rang to say he couldn't keep the kids here for another week for a regatta.
"But we'll still have two good days of rowing and Thomo would have loved that."