In the Beginning

The great financial depression was affecting the Australian economy and the way of life when on 13th March, 1930, fourteen committee members of the Old Xaverians Association held a meeting to change the way of life of some of its members. The objective was to form an amateur athletic club to provide both assistance to the boys of the College in their preparation for the Annual Athletic Sports Meeting of the Public Schools Association of Victoria and to cater for those old boys who were not interested in the other sports conducted by the O.X.A.

The Old Melburnian and Old Scotch A.A. Clubs had proved successful and seemed worthy of copying. Many other Old Boys Associations from High Schools and colleges around Melbourne were to follow these examples and added to the development of the Victorian Amateur Athletic Association and to athletes in Australia in general.

The meeting was handed over to Jack Cooke who has influenced the Club over its existence of fifty years. The organisation was placed in the hands of Frank O’Halloran to draw up a constitution. The subscription was seven shillings and sixpence and school boys paid a reduced sub of three shillings. The seven shillings and sixpence approximated 10% of the then weekly basic wage.

A week later on 20th March twenty-three members met and division was soon apparent. A motion to confine the activities of the Club to the track season provided controversy. Jack Cooke spoke feelingly on the value and joy of cross-country season and of the importance of such an activity in the period prior to the school’s own sports in September and the Combined Sports in October. A Committee was elected, led by John Cooke as President, Tom McClelland as Vice-President, while Bill Hartung accepted the responsibilities of Secretary. A design of the uniform was accepted, white knickers and black singlet with a red “V” on the chest.

Cross-country runs commenced on 23rd April; a quick response to the hopes of the founders. However, the Old Xaverians Football Club were not very pleased and a letter was sent protesting against the competition for the interest of the boys leaving the school. In those days only twenty or so boys left the Leaving Honours Class – some returned to the country and some left for the University, which kept the number available at a very low figure.

The Committee meeting of 8th May was informed of the acceptance for affiliation by the V.A.A.A. The design for the uniform was reconsidered. Red edging was added to the white knickers and a singlet of alternate red and black one inch stripes was preferred to the one originally accepted. This uniform has remained unchanged to this day although the cost has increased considerably over the nine shillings quoted by the Fay & Gibson Store.

A challenge match between the School, the Carlton and St Joseph Harriers and the O.X.A.A.C. preceded the School Sports in 1930. The programme was based on the Combined Schools Sports program and this became an annual event for which Tom McClelland presented a cup. With the Club entering two teams in the V.A.A.A. track and field competition for the 1930-31 season, both original objectives of the club had been fulfilled


IN ORDER TO SURVIVE

The struggles through the depression of the early 1930’s the years of the Second.World War and the prosperous decades of post war Melbourne were met by the OXAAC in measures common to all sporting clubs. The typical problem was recovering costs which always exceeded the total of the subscriptions. The usual theatre nights, raffles, barbeques, etc., were conducted as field games equipment purchases were often under discussion.

The Annual Dinners were a success and guest speakers included Athletic administrators, Olympians, Journalists and others have provided interesting subjects to entertain the members. On occasions an Annual Ball, then the sign of club maturity, was held.

Year by year despite these efforts, the Club Secretary in his report complained of losses. Here it is appropriate to mention the name of Jack Tutton who joined the committee in June 1934 and became Secretary in April 1937. He has held this position with distinction ever since except for the period of his war service. The Annual Reports reflect Tutton’s dedication to the Club.

Secretary in April 1937. He has held this position with distinction ever since except for the period of his war service. The Annual Reports reflect Tutton’s dedication to the Club.

A system of awarding colours for continued successful performances for the Club was developed in 1935. However the problem that bedevilled the Club at frequent intervals was the request by members to be permitted to transfer to Melbourne University Athletic Club to become eligible for a “Blue”. Indeed other clubs suffered this problem also. Every time an application came before the Committee it was from top class athlete whose influence on the success of the Club was great. Colours of the OXAAC did not compare with the University Blue entry in a curriculum vitae and the M.U.A.C. was able to make it a condition that performing for M.U.A.C. was essential.

The writer recollects with pleasure what the OXAAC has provided for its members. In the sporting aspects: the training, the competition with members of other clubs and in the social side, the Dinner Dance, Theatre Nights and even the occasional cricket match. The Club has progressed because of the loyalty and capability of its members. It will continue to progress for the same reasons.


ON THE TRACK AND THE ROAD

Unlike a select few sports, track and field contests and cross-country events do not provide an opportunity for literary masterpieces of description. Therefore no attempt is being made to describe the many individual successes of members. The numerous performances on the track and on the road that have some particular interest are locked in the memories of the members waiting to be recalled and recorded by someone with the special talents for such a task. The writer recollects one beautifully sunny day during the war when he and Jack Monaghan broke the Club one mile walk and one mile run records. Jack Tutton, not being present, queried the measurement of the course but the fact was the perfect weather conditions drew such good performances from both of us.

Other members have gone on to far greater achievements, Australian championships and Olympic Games. Therefore in fairness my story must end and recollections prepared by other must follow to complete in a moderate form the story of an athletic s club’s fifty years.