Life Members

It is not surprising that the list of Life Members does not include many of the top performers. Sporting clubs are criticised invariably for the lack of opportunity for champions to participate in the management of sport. The O.X.A.A.C. should not be included in that group. However, as so frequently happens the control of the Club has been left in the hands of the stayers and the average performers.

The two members heading the list of those honoured had previous experience in club activities before giving their tender care in the Club’s creation and development. Both John Cooke and Tom McClelland had considerable experience in the V.A.A.A. club competitions and this was most valuable. One of their encouraging efforts was the donation of the Cooke-McClelland Shield in order to stimulate the cross-country programme and since 1930 this trophy has, been eagerly contested. Tom McClelland was the school athletic coach for many years and the ultimate predominance of the school in later years was born during his era.

In 1951 the Club recognised the work of two other pioneers, Bill Hartung, and Alan Ney. Bill Hartung who was originally a member of St Joseph’s Harriers, came to the Club at its inaugural meeting and was its first Secretary/Treasurer. He was very active in V.A.A.A. affairs and was Secretary of the Inter-Club Sports Committee which was the equivalent of today’s Track & Field Committee. After the war he was elected President for 1946/47, the year in which the Club posted its second premiership.

Alan Ney, another of the original members, was active in both cross-country and track where his talents as a walker were particularly useful. Appointed Secretary in 1935 he filled that position until elected President in 1937, where he served for a term of two years.

The twenty-fifth year of the Club’s history stirred the Committee to catch up on its responsibilities by recognising the work of those who had carried on from the founders. Rad Grace had been a heavy points scorer in the senior team for many years performing at state championship level in walking and hammer throwing events, proving useful in field events and holding a number of long-standing records. He had also participated in Committee affairs.

Jack McDonald was one of those co-operative triers with an all-round ability who could be relied upon to gain valuable points; a team man who helped his fellow athletes to enjoy their Saturday afternoon competitions at the ‘Park’.

Ken McPhail was a consistent trier who improved his ability by sheer hard work and intestinal fortitude. As an anchor man in long-distance and cross-country events he encouraged better qualified performers to display their ability. Ken, besides his Committee work and a period in the chair, has been involved in V.A.A.A. administration and publicity for athletic affairs.

Jack Monaghan was a most able distance runner and provided many points for the team in these events. In addition he was involved in coaching and his dedication to the sport was displayed for his pupils to appreciate.

Bruce Rowan was a keen contestant but his health was not conclusive to top performances. However, defeat never lessened the effort he gave in competition.

Phil Ryan was a consistent walker and probably the training involved ultimately lead to his success in being a league footballer for Hawthorn. Perhaps too, his presidency of the O.X.A.A.C. lead to his most successful period of presidency of that football club and the vice-presidency of the Victorian Football League.

Worthy, as are all the other Life Members of their awards, is the outstanding recipient, Jack Tutton. It is impossible in this survey to indicate the importance of Jack to the O.X.A.A.C. and Victorian Athletics unless a full biography is written. Suffice to say that well over fifty per cent of the responsibility for the continued existence of the Club is due to his administrative performance. In a ranking of the importance of the Club members over the years he must come first. Any man who remains in the role of Honorary Secretary of a club for as long as Jack, has to a certain degree implanted his personality on that organisation. The fact that the Club has survived can be in no small way attributed to Jack’s determined personality, not merely when chasing outstanding subs, and in the accuracy of his account keeping but also in his competitive nature where, as a runner, even in his mid sixties, he will run himself into the ground. But most of all it surely is the example Jack has set as a loyalist of the highest order, that has inspired many to stick by the Club and make it the rising power that it is today. Finally the most recently elevated member is Basil Thomson. The Annual Report of 68/69 commenced as follows:

“Possibly half the present membership of the Old Xaverians Amateur Athletic Club had not yet seen the light of day when on 18th April, 1952, at the Annual Meeting for that year, Basil Thomson was elected President.

Basil began his association with the Club in 1939 and for most of his athletic career was one of that rare breed of Xaverians — the walkers. He qualified then and he even qualified last season despite the inconvenience a few years ago of a broken Achilles. He battles through in all the O.P.S. cross country events, and runs because he likes it.

He believes that friendships started at school are too easily lost in the modern world, and that participation in a club such as ours is a most useful way to combine both sporting and social activities.

He steps down from the Presidency tonight with thanks to all who have worked for the club during this period, his best wishes to the incoming President and an assurance that he will continue to do everything possible to further the interests of the Club.”