The Tabooed Charles Courtney

Regarding my entry about the boycott of professional sculler Charles Courtney on 25 May, rowing historian Bill Lanouette of Washington DC has sent me an e-mail. Bill mentions that in a 1930 interview with the sportsman and sportswriter John Hadley Doyle, who was president of Potomac Boat Club (PBC) in 1903, it is revealed that Potomac members were so disgusted with Charles Courtney’s performance in the 1880 race against Ned Hanlan that they threw Courtney’s boats and stuff from the clubhouse. Bill writes that “the Washington Post had reported that Courtney left PBC for the race to rousing cheers and applause, and returned to silence. Still, the club hired him as coach a year later.”

Bill quotes from John Clagett Proctor’s article “Courtney in recollections of John Hadley Doyle” (published in the Washington Sunday Star, 6 April 1930):
“Charley Courtney, after his many fiascos in matches and tabooed by the public generally, was picked up by the Potomacs as coach a year after they had thrown his boats, etc., from their club, due to his weird and funny race with Hanlan. So good did he make that under him the Potomacs won 17 races, and then Cornell placed him under ironclad bonds, and he could not come back to the Potomacs, even though it was this club that made him.”
Bill Lanouette thanks Ms. Elizabeth Webber for this clip! And thank you, Bill for sharing it with the readers of this blog.

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