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1990 Summer Eights: Univ Head of the River

2015 is the 25th anniversary of Univ Men going to the head of the River in Summer Eights and we will be celebrating this fact at this year's dinner. Below is a couple of extracts from the Cherwell newspaper covering the event back in Trinity term 1990.


This year's Eights Week saw the demise of once invulnerable Oriel, and the triumph of University over Christ Church for their crown. Oriel were hoping to win their tenth Headship in twelve years, whilst Christ Church remained confident in an experienced team, including two members of Oxford's Isis Eight, as well as the OUBC President Johnny Searle. University were to prove too strong for either; on Thursday afternoon they became Head of the River, and they saw off all challenges over the next two days. Their achievement was as magnificent as it was unexpected, and marked the high point of their climb from second division obscurity, where they languished less than ten years ago. They are now Head for the first time since the beginning of the Great War.

After initial difficulty on the first day, University managed to topple New College from second place behind Oriel. Christ. Church in turn caught sight of New, and were to catch them the next day - just desserts for the keenness which had seen them take a training session between papers in Johnny Searle's Finals.

University reached the acme of their superb progress, bumping Oriel in front of the boathouses. It was a massive effort; the crowd yelped with delight, revelling in the tears that swelled in the eyes of the Oriel oarsmen.

Oriel's fate was sealed in a thrilling race on the following day when Christ Church, determined to have their shot at Head, bumped the desperate Oriel to take second place. University consolidated their position, as New College could not make up enough ground to catch them.

The final day therefore saw an exultant Christ Church filled with confidence, whilst Univ. knew that they had only to row over to become Head. Oriel were suffering one of their worst Eights Weeks since their unfortunate successive defeats in 1985 and 1986, when the title was stolen first by Christ Church and then New College. Some held that the 1990 crew lacked the power and ability of former years, for which they blamed the rustication of their captain.

For all Christ Church's eagerness and excitement, and despite a tremendous effort by the crew, the University eight managed to hold their own against them. Even to the frantic crowds before the Christ Church boathouse it became glaringly clear that there would be no bump. University rowed serenely on up the course to finish Head of the River for the first time in seventy-six years. Oriel managed only to row over, whilst New College were robbed of even fourth place by a last minute bump from St Johns.

Other colleges enjoyed equally spirited performances, as St Peter's won their blades with four bumps and LMH and Jesus with seven. Jesus, through outstanding rowing, rose five places into the first division, their highest placing in fifteen years, whilst LMH's similar success brought them into the second division. Though such a position may take St Hughs' some years to acheive, their nine place rise bodes well for the future of their College's rowing.

Mostyn Warwick

M1 about to bump Oriel to go Head of the River 1990

.... At no time however could the vast Saturday crowds forget the main business of the afternoon, Christ Church's attempt to bump Univ and become Head of the River. 'House, House, House' cried hopeful boaters crammed into old school blazers. But it was not to be and both Christ Church and Oriel had to concede superiority to Univ. Later that evening in Oriel Square, a frantic mob of Oriel men could be seen smashing an Eight, chanting `Losers' in a vaguely hysterical fashion. It was not, as might be imagined, some bizarre ritual of self-mutilation - for their failure - seconds later a furious party of shouting dinner jackets pounded into the square. They immediately set to and wrestled for the boat until: open fight had broken out. It was some minutes until they retrieved the boat, and went back up Oriel Street. And who were this strange fellows? None other than the Univ. VIII, outraged that Oriel should have stolen their boat so petulantly (for a ritual burning), while the victors were enjoying a well-deserved bump supper.

Mostyn Warwick

1990 M1 about to bump Oriel to go Head


Posted on May 05, 2015

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