Rowing team at Henley Royal Regatta

Henley Royal Regatta 2016: Life of a Rower – Part 3

John Fazakerley, a stalwart of the Midlands rowing scene, former captain of Birmingham Rowing Club, reveals his rocky road to “glory” in the Henley Royal Regatta.

Part Three of a Five Part Series

I suppose the result of all this training was inevitable. I drifted into work one morning to be greeted by the receptionist.

“Graham wants to see you.”

Graham was the staff partner; our paths rarely crossed.

He was 5 ft 10 inches of square jawed, thick necked, barrel-chested, bow legged 1st XV hooker for an eminent local side. He was not the very model of a modern HR manager.

I breezed in. “Morning, Graham, how are you?”

He was looking a bit grim.


A polite précis of a very one sided conversation would be along the lines of “look chum (any four letter word beginning with the letter C denoting friendship would have done), you’re not turning up for work with your usual vim and vigour, if you have a problem with substance abuse, the partners will happily help you sort it out, in your own time and at your own expense of course”.

The speed with which my jaw hit the floor would have done justice to a Tom & Jerry cartoon.

Did he really think that my carefully crafted balance sheets for his Black Country metal bashers were the work of a complete dope head? Evidently yes.

I managed as best I could to explain the Henley ambition, the training, Dave, etc. Suddenly his hard man façade lifted, he was round the desk in a shot, he broke into a grin and was shaking my hand. I might be a temporarily useless accountant, but at least I was One of Us, not One of Them.

The Henley Regatta will once again be the highlight of the British summer social calendar; with the iconic five days of action starting today.

For more information see our Henley Royal Regatta Hospitality Packages page.