One Saturday morning, Robin was listening to a local radio station, 5DN, when he heard the announcer, Mel Cameron, advertising that a new surf lifesaving club, West Beach, was looking for young men who could swim to join the Club and be trained as lifesavers. That Saturday afternoon, Robin drove to West Beach and told them that he wanted to become a surf lifesaver.
As a member of West Beach, Robin gained a great deal of experience of surf lifesaving, and represented the Club in belt racing, surf teams, Rescue and Resuscitation ( R & R), March Past and individual surf races. From this background, it is time to move forward a few years and look at how the Somerton Club eventually came into existence.
In January 1960, while Robin was attending an instructional session at West Beach, a drowning occurred at Somerton. Robin raised this with the founding member of the West Beach Club, Max Gamlin. Max suggested that it would be a good idea to consider forming a club at Somerton, and having founded West Beach, passed on some ideas to Robin about how to go about forming a new club. At this stage, Robin was only 22 years old, but had a number of years’ experience at West Beach.
Robin talked to another member of West Beach Phillip Lambourne. Robin found that Phil was as enthusiastic as he was about the prospects of forming a new club at Somerton.
After a carnival at Brighton, both Robin and Phil decided to do a reconnaissance of Somerton Beach. Robin vividly remembers the sight as they turned from Repton Road onto the Esplanade and saw the magnificent expanse of beach and the huge crowd of beach goers. This sighted prompted Phil to say: ‘Hey, cop the beach and look at the crowd! We don’t have crowds like this at West Beach’.
This confirmed their views that they should pursue their dream of establishing a new club at Somerton. It was decided to conduct a public meeting in the Somerton Yacht Club with a view to gauge the community interest in forming a club. The meeting was held on 12th September 1960.
This meeting was followed by the very first committee meeting on 19th December 1960. It was also resolved that the new club’s colours would be white, green and black. These colours represented the colours of the neighbouring clubs. White represented Brighton, Green, Glenelg and black, Seacliff. The predominance of the colours was to be in the order; white, green and then black. The patrol boundaries for the club were then designated after consultation with Glenelg and Brighton.
West Beach, Robin’s former Club, donated a reel, line and belt, State Centre loaned another reel, while Glenelg provided four patrol caps and the patrol shelter. Robin acquired two 6 foot lengths of pipe for the patrol flags, and his wife, Ronda, made the Club’s first set of patrol flags, signalling flags and the shark flag. Arrangements were made with the Somerton Yacht Club to store the equipment, on a temporary basis.
Given that the first meeting to consider the establishment of a club at Somerton was held on 12th September 1960, and the first patrol was mounted on 26th November 1960, this was a remarkably short time in which to start a club. On the ‘big day’, the Reverend Wells arrived with an Army tent, to be used as the ‘clubhouse’ and several young men wishing to join. One was Robin’s brother, Tony, who went on to become a life member of the Club.
Thank you for reading the first four chapters of our Club History. A book is soon to be published titled
“White, Green and Black – Somerton SLSC 1960-1975: The Formative Years”
The book has been written by two of the Club’s founding members, Tony and Robin Kidney. The book will be launched in March 2016. Stay tuned to this website for updates on the books launch date, location and cost.
To read more about the Club’s history, order your copy of the book now by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org