Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Stuck-Up Oarsman?

He looks pompous or a little stuck-up, the oarsman in the picture above. He was one of England’s best oarsmen during the late 1880s and he rowed for Cambridge in five Light Blue crews, becoming a true legend, winning The Boat Race in 1886, 1887, 1888 and 1889, and losing in 1890; president of CUBC  the last three years. Yes, of course, I am talking about Stanley Duff Muttlebury, who was all but pompous and stuck-up. He was a large and strong man, with good manners and an enormously kind fellow. Affectionately known by Cambridge rowers as ‘Muttle’, he not only swept rowing medals and cups at Cambridge, Muttlebury was equally successful at Henley (though he never won the Grand). Many decades after his active rowing career was over, Muttle was still regarded as the ‘the greatest oar ever produced by Cambridge’.

Muttle’s friend, Rudie Lehmann wrote about him in verse:

Muttle at six is ‘stylish’, so at least the Field reports;

No man has ever worn, I trow, so short a pair of shorts.

His blade sweeps through the water, as he swings his 13.10,

And pulls it all, and more than all, that brawny king of men.

Muttle coaching the Light Blue crew in 1892.

Muttle was, however, less successful as a coach for the Light Blues during the 1890s, but to be fair, the Dark Blues had some extremely good crews between 1890 and 1898. He was one of SPY’s rowing characters in Vanity Fair, actually the only one portrayed in a boat. He died 80 years ago, on 3 May, 1933, 67 years old.

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