A Tribute to Mike Rowe
It is always sad to see the passing of someone we knew, a familiar face at the clubhouse, in the town, a person of gravitas and much loved. This is especially true of Michael Peter Rowe. Many of the new crop of players will not be as aware of the impact this man made to the club. When he spoke of the great times back in the late 60s and 70s, he spoke with authority, personal experience, and the right credentials. If you were ever apprehended by Mike after a home game, whilst he would invariably dominate the conversation, he would always make a lot of rugby sense. And if one found it a little overpowering at times, he could be forgiven since his passion for the club was all too obvious.
Mike was the son of Thelma and Percy Rowe. His father helped in the immense task of building the club up after the war years. The team he played in included the likes of Harry Oliver, Harold Stevens, Pearce Woolcock, Jimmy Fleming and Tony Bone. If these names are not familiar to you then a read of the club history and a peruse of the records kept in the St Ives Museum would be a worthwhile way to spend your time. There is a considerable history prior to the recent exciting times after the demise of the club and the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic.
Mike and his brother, Peter, were brought up to love the game of rugby. They both had talent and were large units. Aged 19 Peter joined Swansea RFC, home of his mother. From there he crossed over to rugby league where he gained honours with Wales and Wigan.
Mike continued out of the Colts at an early age and made his mark at No.8. In 1968, twenty-four years after his father, he was selected for Cornwall. He was a member of the team that defeated Penryn (6-3), the first time St Ives won the Cornwall KO Cup. He was captain of the side from 1969-1971 during a period when this honour could have been conferred on any of several talented players. During this time St Ives shared the cup with Penryn (8-8) and won it again against Redruth (18-3). Notable scalps during this time were Ebbw Vale (then a side smattered with Welsh internationals), Swansea University and Southend. He took on the captaincy again in 1972-1973 when St Ives scored a massive 1103 points, a total unimaginable until that time. In those days it was normal to play over 45 matches in a season.
After retiring from the playing side of things Mike took over the coaching of the club from Harold Stevens from 1974-1979. He devoted himself to all players across the three senior teams. It was a time of considerable success, often with large crowds coming to watch hard, entertaining rugby. This culminated with another cup win, this time against Camborne (22-6).
Soon after, Mike’s sons, Mark and Joff, began to make their impact on the club, both going on to represent Cornwall senior team and British Police. They have each coached at the club. It was during their playing days that Mike took on the role of team manager, looking after every detail to ensure things ran smoothly from match to match. Mike’s legacy is real for all to see. Thus, the honour of life member lately bestowed on him was a natural step for someone who served the club with such fervour and success.
The funeral at Fore Street Methodist Church was attended by a huge gathering that took the breath away from each of his three children as they gave their own individual eulogy. The service was decreed a Celebration of Life, a fitting title. Mike created a family style atmosphere amongst the players as coach at the club. The foundation for this came from his strong bonds with his own family, who will sadly miss him of course. The many friends, whether from rugby club, fire service or church will also miss him. Mike’s deep faith in Jesus Christ brought considerable peace to his family as he succumbed to the illness he had so valiantly fought. As read at his request in the celebration, from Psalm 121, “My help comes from the Lord.”