Glenelg SLSC has a great and proud history of Surf Life Saving in South Australia. Our club was inaugurated in the early depression years by a group of young men, who, whilst unemployed, felt their services could be of assistance to the beach going public. At a meeting on the beach in 1931 this group of young men joined together and decided to form a Life Saving Club. (Photo Circa 1935)
The birth of our club was due in part to our founding Club Captain, Fred Feneley. Acknowledged by the "Adelaide Advertiser" in this classic descript, ".......his other sporting activities embraced Archery, Weight Lifting and with a formidable stature to match it is quite understanding that he should accept the apt title: Hercules". Fred became an icon on the beach during the depression years, as you can no doubt see by his size; he typified what we now know as the great Australian Surf Life Saver, something still seen at Glenelg today. The depression saw many young men disillusioned with life, out of work and without much future.
Our founding members made a commitment to each other and the community. Each day between 9am and 6pm they were rostered on duty patrolling the beach, with two members on patrol while others stayed near the reel, (which they built themselves). They spent much of their time in practice drills and demonstrations. As Fred said quite simply when asked by the "Advertiser" in 1931, "We wanted to keep our self respect".
Such was the popularity of the Life Savers that at a carnival held at Glenelg during the depression 9,000 witnessed a "Brilliant Display" and, "Splendid Exhibition of Fitness" (Adelaide Advertiser), "The unusually big crowd was packed on the jetty and esplanade, which formed the natural grand stands for the enclosure erected on the southern side of the jetty. Every vantage point on the beach was taken up. On the esplanade the balustrade was used as a seat, and in many places the crowd was four and five deep. The jetty was lined for more than half its length with people to the same depth, (remember the jetty used to go out to the breakwater, quite a distance!). So intense was the interest that towards the finish the police, ambulance men and lifesavers had difficulty in keeping the enclosure clear". It may be hard to imagine today but during the depression years and leading up to the outbreak of war again in Europe, Glenelg Life Savers attracted crowds often and regularly.
In the years that have followed the club has had its shares of highs and lows, through it all members have continued to work for the benefit of the community and each other. Our club rooms have had an interesting history. Originally a tent on the beach, then the basement of the bandstand (still standing) on Colley Reserve. The club moved south to two locations, the latter affectionately known as the 'Kent St. Club Rooms" opened in March of 1935, until the move to our current location in October 1954. In the twenty year period between 1954 and 1974 the club had mixed results in competition and membership, differing opinions saw some members move south to the newly opened mid coast region with quality waves and beaches (Southport SLSC), another group looked to start up another club at Glenelg North (North Haven SLSC believe it or not!), on the West Beach Reserve Trust land. Membership dwindled to a dozen members or so, in the season 1962/63 an influx of young lads helped lift morale and move the club forward. A period of 10 years saw Glenelg look to the future and build new clubrooms, which when finished were among the best in Australia. From 1964 until Glenelg holding the Australian Titles in 1974, the club re-built under the drive of President Don Thomas and Captain Ray Tredinnick. Glenelg was pretty much removed from competition concentrating on the arduous task of building, looking to the future to provide a base for tomorrows GSLSC members.
In the period between 1974-1994 the club re-built its competitive base with the help of a viable club trading with an upstairs facility and well run Management team. This time Glenelg became successful in two areas: the Boat Section and the Beach Section. In a dominating period of 10 years Glenelg's beach team produced numerous state sprint champions, beach relay champion teams as well as flag champions.
Producing such names as Bowbridge, Alcroft, Sage, Hildyard, Burton, Armstrong and the ageless David Hutchison, Glenelg SLSC became one of the dominant clubs in Australian competition. During the 1980's Glenelg produced some impressive boat crews, in some seasons having representation in every field and medalling. Names such as Bowbridge, Cotter, Copley, Kither, Michael 'Bung" Victorsen and the Tidswell brothers, Charlie and Peter along with Greg Daw, brought considerable success to the club and the future base of successful Glenelg boat crews. On the ski front under the guidance of Bob Clarke the early 80's had Craig Burton and Shane Daw achieving at State and National level with a young pool of talent coming through including Steve Dalton who went on to win Australian and World medals and these gentlemen being leaders today in the ski area supporting the next batch of paddlers.
Glenelg developed through the late 1980's into a club with considerable 'potential' building a strong base of patrolling members with high skills, great enthusiasm's and a magnificent pool of nipper's and, junior members, developing for future senior representation and leadership. Many acknowledge the strong nipper pool throughout the 1980's as being responsible for Glenelg's future success in the 1990's and beyond.
Behind the scenes consistency and determination by club members were indicative of this success. Shane Bowbridge was elected President nine years in a row. Shane Daw gained national attention and recognition for the advancement of Life Saving in the development of the 'bum-bag' and went on to be Surf Lifesaver of the Year, while Judi Hayball and Di Roberts received State Recognition for their contribution to the club and state successively through the mid 1990's.
During the early 1990's Glenelg put into place a strategic plan under the Presidency of Shane Bowbridge with the concept and original driving force of developing competition systems as put forward and initiated by Bob Clarke that were followed on by Trevor Holmstrom. Through the 1990's Glenelg developed a winning attitude towards all areas of competition, patrolling responsibility, sponsorship partnership, committee participation and recruitment with many leaders assisting in driving the club forward. In doing so Glenelg achieved previously un realised success in every area of competition including: IRB's, Surfing, Surf Race, Board, Ski, First Aid, Patrol, Champion Lifesaver, Iron Man, Taplin Relay as well as Boat and Beach. The culmination of the success of the competition plan was the clubs first ever State Championship in 1999, (in fact an outright win and handicap win by a state record margin).
Glenelg SLSC dominated this period in SA Surf Life Saving history with back to back victories in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Club Captains of these times picked up the reigns of those who had worked hard for many years prior, with Simon Phin (1999) and Luke Hildyard (2000, 2001) being instrumental in guiding the Club as Captains during this time. Their energy and leadership were key factors in ensuring the success of the Club in winning three State Championships and being recognised as a competitive force not only at State level but nationally.
From 2000 through to day the Club has grown and gone through numerous changes. A new building has resulted in a significant change. The House area is now a fully operating function area serving not only members but the community. Today Glenelg SLSC is recognised as the premier club in South Australia and celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2005/2006. The club maintains a magnificent bar and bistro upstairs serving sumptuous meals and a wide range of beverages. Our facility is recognised as one of the best throughout Australia.
In recent years the Club has continued to grow and experience many positives including hosting major national and international events including the Australian Inflatable Rescue Boat Championships in 2011 and hosting the 2012 World Lifesaving Championships - Rescue 2012. Our Junior Section recently hosted and took top honours in the Junior State Championships. This was history making, having never won it before.
Glenelg is now working towards the 2018 World Lifesaving Championships - Rescue 2018 with The International Lifesaving Federation and Surf Life Saving SA.