John Cooney

John Cooney who died on 21 March aged 54 after a long struggle with lymphoma, was part of the successful heavy and lightweight squads at LRC in the 1990s.

John was brought up in Isleworth and attended Gunnersbury School where he played rugby.  He read chemistry at Southampton University where he discovered rowing and was immediately hooked making rapid progress.  After graduation he joined Twickenham Rowing Club followed by a spell at Molesey before arriving at LRC in 1992. He was selected for the first eight in the Head of the River that year starting 8th and finishing 6th.  He was again selected for the first eight for the 1993 Head but was disappointed to pull out on the morning with illness.  He narrowly missed selection the following year, rowing for LRC II.

At Henley he represented Molesey in the 1991 Silver Goblets followed by four years for LRC in the Thames Cup reaching the semi-final on three occasions.  A natural 12 ½ stone middleweight, he lost nearly a stone and a half in 1994 to make the lightweight London crew that represented England in the Commonwealth Regatta in London Ontario winning gold, Australia taking silver and Canada the bronze.  Earlier that year the same crew won open and lightweight eights at the National Championships at Nottingham, their time of 5.43 the lightweight record for the event to date.

He was a chartered accountant and tax partner at Smith and Williamson for many years with a brief spell at Ernst and Young.

John was gregarious, he enjoyed and indeed often carried a social event; he left a large and positive impression on all who knew him.  He contributed hugely to life at LRC with his humour and larger-than-life personality. Helping to organise club parties, he spread invitations far and wide holding the view that ‘a bunch of lightweights a party does not make’.  His interests extended well beyond rowing – he was a self-taught guitarist, elite level cyclist, filmmaker, keen motorcyclist and car enthusiast. He threw himself into life with gusto and infectious enthusiasm.

His Henley Friday routine usually involved breakfasting at The Wolseley in Piccadilly in his LRC blazer, followed by The Bridge Bar, lunch in Butler’s Field and The Fawley Bar.  Indeed all his LRC and wider rowing friends will find The Fawley Bar a little quieter on Friday afternoons where there will be a large space in the crowd that John occupied. He faced his illness with typical good humour and stoicism.  The club extends its sympathies to his family, especially his children Felix, Jasper and Jemima.