Remembering Mike Rosewell

Rowing journalist and coach Mike Rosewell sadly passed away on 6 August, aged 84. Robert Treharne Jones pays tribute

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Michael John ‘Mike’ Rosewell – pictured above at centre – who has died at the age of 84, spent his entire life on or near the river, as an accomplished oarsman, coach, schoolmaster and rowing journalist.

Born on 22 January, 1937, Mike came from a long line of watermen and took his first tentative strokes as a member of Walton RC, with whom he reached the final of the Wyfolds in 1959, and stroked their Thames Cup eight through two rounds of Henley some four years later.

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After school in Woking and a degree at LSE Mike went on to teach economics (and rowing) at Ealing Grammar School, before moving to St George’s College, Weybridge, and ultimately, St Edward’s School, Oxford. Outside his school commitments he coached the GB Juniors, as well as the Oxford women’s Blue Boat.

Like many aspiring journalists of the time Mike cut his teeth writing for a whole raft of regional titles, but as a member of the ARA (now British Rowing) Council his column for Rowing magazine entitled ‘ARA Alf’ gave his insider’s knowledge a suitable degree of anonymity. His skills were properly recognised with the development of Regatta magazine in 1987, when he was appointed deputy editor.

As a former teacher and coach, Mike’s primary interest was schools’ rowing

It was two years later that he was appointed as The Times rowing correspondent and there followed many years travelling around the world, tapping out one report after another in the knowledgeable, concise and readable form that was his hallmark.

Mike at the stern of the press launch during Boat Race week, with (L to R) David Goldstrom (Eurosport), Chris Dodd (The Guardian), Rachel Quarrell (The Independent) and Barry Davies (BBC-TV)

 

Mike had a fund of jokes and stories that he was pleased to share, usually beginning with ‘Did I ever tell you the one about…?’ On the long car journeys to GB trials in Belgium we once had to limit his jokes to two per hour, ‘and he was suitably grizzly when he tried to start up again and we told him that 30 minutes had not yet expired.

A founder member of the British Association of Rowing Journalists (BARJ) he was successively elected chairman and then president. He was a regular member of the group that met on the balcony of Room 124 – the late Geoffrey Page’s room – in the Hotel des Alpes, Lucerne, for the Telegraph man’s Memorial G&T Party, and would often propose the BARJ toast – ‘I could drink that!’

Sometimes things got a little out of hand, as the occasion when we attended the Nations Dinner in Seville some 20 years ago and were served ice-cold sherry as an aperitif. It slipped down a treat, so much so that we all forgot it was sherry and started consuming it like white wine. Mike is pictured above at the dinner with Chris Dodd (left) and the author, Robert Treharne Jones.

As a former teacher and coach, Mike’s primary interest was schools’ rowing. When the Henley press officer issued launch tickets to bona fide rowing journalists, Mike was always the only one to request a ticket for the Princess Elizabeth, and, as a result, probably followed more finals in that event than anyone else on the planet.

Mike is survived by his wife Jill, their daughter Anna, son Daniel, and grandchildren Ben and Ruby survive him. Another daughter, Michelle, died in 2012.

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