Falmouth and Penryn area mourns loss of well-known sportsman, Michael Rowe

First published in Sport

ONE of the best-known sportsmen of his generation in the Falmouth and Penryn area, Michael Rowe, died in Derrifield Hospital, Plymouth, on Thursday. He was 66.

Mike, the elder of two very well-known brothers, the younger brother Terry died in Canada aged 61 in August 2009, was a fine, all-round sportsman who was adept at any sport he played.

Once his varied playing career finished he went into the administration side of sport with Falmouth Town FC and displayed the same high qualities off the field as he did on it.

Born in 1945 and brought up in Falmouth, Mike joined Green Bank Swimming Club at 11 years of age, but his early sporting skills were honed firstly at Penwerris Infants School and Wellington Terrace Junior School before moving to Trescobeas School in Falmouth where it quickly became evident that he was a prodigious talent. He represented the school at football and athletics, but in later life he also made a name for himself in rugby, swimming, water polo and golf.

Whilst in Hong Kong playing rugby for his Royal Navy ship during the mid-1960s, he suffered an injury and returned to this country where he then played for Falmouth RFC Chiefs and Colts as well as playing for England Colts, but his career in rugby was shortlived due to moving into employment with the Royal Mail at Falmouth GPO.

Mike was persuaded to change codes and played in the side that almost won the Falmouth-Helston League’s league and cup double in 1967-68 where they missed out on winning the league by two points to St Mawes but won the Percy Stephens Cup final against Mullion. It was Mike who scored the winning goal with a header in extra time.

It wasn’t going to be long before the talented left-footer was going to move to a higher standard and so it proved when Helston Athletic came knocking on his door with the prospect of South Western League football.

It was his former team mate at the GPO, Keith Rashleigh, who was managing Helston at the time, who enticed him to club in the 1968-69 season. “Mike was a super sportsman,” said Keith. “Having seen him play at GPO I knew he would be ideal for us and so he proved by scoring on his debut away to Penzance. He was a good bloke to have in your team and was very skilful. He was a very good striker.”

His interest in playing football began to wane in the mid-1970s, but due to his all-round ability he took up golf and enjoyed many years at Budock Vean Golf Club.

Mike became involved as secretary at Falmouth Town from 1984-87, the period when they dropped out of the Western League and were refused entry by clubs to rejoin the old South Western League. He became the club’s public relations officer after this period as secretary and that coincided with one of the club’s glory eras when they were serious challengers in the FA Vase and won numerous domestic league titles and cups.

Club life vice-president, Mr Roger Fenner, said Mike played a crucial role for the club during that time: “We had to play several long-distance away games and it was only through the tremendous efforts of Mike in obtaining vital sponsorship that the club could realistically compete. They really were big sponsorship deals and what he achieved in that respect was nothing short of remarkable.”

It was also during this time that Mike was recruited as a South West scout by Blackpool FC to tip them off about promising youngsters.

Mike eventually stood down from his role at Bickland Park, but kept an interest in the club by becoming a director of the limited company. Circumstances dictated that Mike would yet again return to secretarial duties in 1993, but he eventually called it a day after two seasons.

It was in 2002 that Mike moved to Saltash to live, but he always kept in touch with his roots by regularly reading The Packet on-line.

Mike was a jovial, larger-than-life character who enjoyed his sport and as well as being highly respected as a sportsman and administrator, left a big impression on the sporting community.

Mike’s funeral takes place at Bodmin Crematorium at 11.30 am on Friday, July 6, with refreshments at Lanhydrock Golf Club.

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