Gordon’s still rowing strong at 79

Gordon Day Pensioner who still rows Competitively.'Photo by Paul Mc Sherry 24th Nov 2011.
Gordon Day Pensioner who still rows Competitively.'Photo by Paul Mc Sherry 24th Nov 2011.

HE may already be Scotland’s oldest competitive rower, with a packed trophy cabinet and years of international success - but Gordon Day doesn’t look set to hang up his oars any time soon.

Gordon (79), who moved to Bishopbriggs after marrying wife Eileen in 1957, has been at the forefront of British rowing since being introduced to the sport in 1946.

He explained: “I was playing rugby at Allan Glen’s School and broke my nose when the scrum collapsed.

“I was looking for another sport and a friend of mine from Bishopbriggs said I should try rowing.

“I went down to Glasgow Green to give it a go and haven’t looked back since.”

Gordon joined the Clyde Rowing Club and quickly started appearing in regattas. It was to be the start of a dazzling career which would span an amazing eight decades.

He joined the RAF to complete his national service in 1953, but by 1955 rowing had taken over again when he was selected to be one of the 12-strong RAF rowing squad.

He ventured across Britain and Europe racing for the team - including a memorable trip to Hamburg, which was still recovering from the RAF bombing during World War II.

In 1958 he travelled to Wales for the Empire Games, where Scotland came third. Then, in 1959, he trained the Scottish team to a home nations win.

Getting more involved in the administration side of rowing, Gordon served as vice-president of the Scottish Rowing Association for 10 years.

And in 1986, when the Commonwealth Games came to Scotland, Gordon had the honour of welcoming The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to Glasgow.

The father-of-three was involved in another piece of history when he served on the selectors panel for the Olympic Games in 1980 and 1984 - giving the young Sir Steve Redgrave, now widely recognised as the greatest Olympian ever, a place on the British team.

It was in 1988 that Gordon started his own historic run of victories, teaming up with fellow Clyde member Ian Stanners to compete in the World Veterans Rowing Circuit.

Their first victory came in the Eastern European competition in Zagreb in 1990, which they swiftly added to - winning gold medals on three continents and countless Scottish and British titles.

The international rowing federation’s annual World Masters Regatta, the biggest competition on the rowing calendar, was a happy hunting ground for the pair and they were champions six times, as well as landing numerous other podium positions.

Ian died in 2003, bringing an end to a partnership made in heaven.

Gordon explained: “We were fortunate in that when we got into a boat we didn’t even need to talk to each other - we were just perfectly in tune.

“It even got to the point that when we went to a restaurant we would independently pick exactly the same things from the menu. We even started to walk the same way.”

Ian’s passing left Gordon without a partner to row with, but he was soon persuaded to join Clydesdale Rowing Club.

He quickly began winning trophies again, including multiple Scottish championships, and now finds the main challenge is finding teams prepared to race against him.

Gordon, who was responsible for the installation of rowing facilities at Strathclyde Country Park, is now officially Scotland’s oldest rower by some distance.

However, when his team are fit, he still rows nine miles, four times a week.

He said: “Once you see a boat you get a one-track mind and that’s what you need to be successful.

“As long as I’ve got people to row with I’ll keep on going.”