The Rebirth 1946 - 1959

From 14th April 1942 until 23rd June 1946 the Club was in recess due to many of its members being on active service with the armed forces. Activities commenced with cross- country running — a total of nine members competing in VAAA and Old Boys events. A major event was held at each of the schools and events were named in honour of Old Boys of the Schools who had lost their lives during the conflict, These were Ken Orchard of Old Wesley, Frank Dyson of Old Melburnians and Ian McDougall of Old Scotch and Ivanhoe Harriers fittingly had the challenge relay instituted by him between Ivanhoe and the Old Public Schoolboys named after Ian. The 5 mile challenge race continued to be contested for the Cooke-McClelland shield.

The Club won the Dyson relay at Grammar and the Cooke-McClelland shield at Burke Hall but had to lower our colours to Ivanhoe in the McDougall relay. Rolet De Castella won the Ken Orchard 5 mile Handicap, a feat he was to repeat 20 years later.

VAAA events received good support from the nine members competing, the best team effort being a second in the 5 mile C.C.C. held at Geelong. Thus continued the tradition the founding members of supporting cross-country running, a tradition that has continued to the high standard reached today.

It is interesting to note that Jack Tutton, Jack Monaghan and Ken McPhail were appointed Capt., Vice Capt. and Committee man of the Track team that season. They had all been active participants in the cross-country season, and also pre-war competitors as were Bas Thomson, Jack McDonald, Jack Turner, Bruce Rowan, Tom Lightfoot, Rad Grace and Phil Ryan. The remainder were schoolboys, recruited directly from school. The new joined with the old in a successful season culminating in a thrilling grand final in which we defeated Coburg in the 300 yd run off after a tie at the end of the normal program thus giving the club its second pennant. I quote from the annual report The relay men certainly rose to the occasion and won easily in the grade’s best time for the season of 1:33.9. The deficit was reduced to two points and all depended on the high jump — there was no doubt about our winning the jump, but that would only leave us with a tie unless we gained the extra point for 5’8”. Slattery had bettered this twice recently but the sprinters were warned to be ready’ for a 300 yard runoff just in case. Their turn soon came, and amid great excitement, Kevin Coleman romped home an easy winner with Jack Turner third, giving us the premiership by two points, 59 to 57.’’

As well as those mentioned above some other names which were to serve the club over the next few years were introduced to athletic competition viz. Joe Sullivan, Barry Kelly, Ken Adams, Brian Fitzpatrick, Brendan Dooley, Peter Lynch, Peter Donovan and Bob Donovan, Paul Fitzgerald, Paul Coleman, Peter Bladin.

This success was short lived as next season we finished 9th in B and lost the H grade semi. A junior team was re-entered after a lapse but achieved only moderate success. In cross-country we fared a little better winning the Dyson and the V.A.A.A. handicap competition and placing 3rd in the 5 mile at Ballarat.

Fortunes rose again in 1948-49 when we reached the final four in B grade, going down 43-70 to EMH in the final. Four club records were broken — Rad Grace Hammer Throw 98’11”, Pat Treacey, the 440 Hurdles with 58.8 and Paul Fitzgerald 120 Hurdles 15.7 and the 220 Hurdles 25.9. This followed a cross-country season in which Ken McPhail became the first club member to complete a marathon being 16th in the Victorian title in 3 hr 25 mm 5 s, setting a standard to be emulated and surpassed by himself and many other members in later years. Ken completed no less than 10 marathons.

The good track season of 1948-49 was again followed by a disappointing one. The pendulum swung back in 1950-51 as the club lost the B Grade final 66 to 72 to Box Hill and the G Grade semi-final to Brighton 37 to 46. Jim Horsley had been a welcome addition to the sprinters Pat Treacey and Peter Chapman while Frank Dooley, Martin O’Sullivan, Mick de Verteuil and Peter Secombe were still the backbone of the distance team.

The 1951 C.C. season saw the club’s first V.A.A.A. cross-country premiership in “C” grade with second place in the 5 mile teams race at Ballarat, first in the 10 mile at Clifton Hill and another first — Sef Hodgson, Ken McPhail, Martin O’Sullivan and Geoff Lockwood teaming together to win the 15 mile teams race at Coburg. In the Old Boys races we won the Dyson, the McDougall and the newly introduced Jamieson 3 mile at Scotch and finally the Cooke-McClelland — a clean sweep.

Again a good track season was followed by a bad one as after making A grade the club finished last with some face saving by the Juniors who lost their semi to Old Wesley 27 to 41.

Though 1952-53 saw relegation to B grade in track competition it also saw promotion to B in cross-country events. It also saw a return to competing in Victorian championships with Rad Grace in the hammer, Pat Treacey in the 220 H and Mick de Verteuil in the steeple. Juniors who competed were Gerard O’Dea in the 880 yd, John Milici 100 yd & 220 yd, and Gerald Grotjan placed second in the 100 & 220 sub-junior finals.

Though the B team only finished 5th in track, the F team won its semi-final against Yallourn after a tie, and a 300 yd run off with John Milici 1st, Tom Poliness 4th and Jack Monaghan 5th. But lest one might think the past was a bed of roses I quote from the annual report of that year —

“With the team selected and everything set for our meeting with Old Scotch a telegram was received early in the week, notifying of a grading disqualification in the semi-final and that Yallourn would then be in the final. When it was ascertained that the reason for our disqualification turned out to be due to a clerical error on the team entry sheet, an appeal was made to have a review made by Jury. After a hectic few days waiting to know our fate we were advised that our appeal was upheld only five minutes before the first event was due to start. Old Scotch proved much too strong and trounced us 70 to 45.”

Over the next several years, there were but few successes to report. Some new names began to appear with John Burnes in 1955 and Ken Roche and Wayne Athorne in 1956 but still the same old names in cross-country as Old Scotch began to assert their ascendancy in that sphere. This season was noteworthy as to quote the annual report “It would be difficult to think up a more unfortunate series of events than that which befell the club on the opening day. Firstly Ian McLean was forced by illness to withdraw from the mile and as a result did not have his name recorded as having been an actual starter. He was later admitted to the Alfred Hospital and operated on for an appendicitis. John Tutton made a bad landing in the first round of the Pole Vault and was taken to St Vincent’s with fractures of tibia and fibula. In the 440, one of our team missed the race altogether.” Though 1957-8 did not bring any premierships - 6th in C, 5th in E and 7th in Juniors being the score nevertheless some great individual performances were recorded and again from the annual report “Many members entered in the Junior and Sub-junior championships, Ken Roche winning the Sub-junior High Jump and Peter Kuhlmann gaining second place in the sub-junior 100 yards. First in the Sub-junior 4 x 220 relay and second in the junior 4 x 220 were other fine performances.” Other fine efforts were Ian McLean’s mile in 4:39, Peter Bruce’s under 16, 880 yds in 2:5.6, Ken Roche’s High jump of 5’lO” and Bill Seabrook’s 38’ 9” shot put to break the club record. These were pointers of things to come. As we come to the end of the decade cross-country was only distinguished by St Kevin’s full participation in Old Boys events. They performed quite creditably in their first year. In the track season hopes were high as the maturing Ken Roche, assisted by Wayne Athorne, Peter Rush, Peter Bruce, Mick Meagher, Tony McLeod-Nibbs, Geoff Belleville and many other stalwarts were to bring the club into probably the greatest era of its history. In an interesting semi-final against Collingwood, rain began to fall early in the afternoon. With three events to go and the track under water, Collingwood leading 95 to 89 the contests were abandoned. Notice was drawn to the rule which says that if 75% of the program has been completed the contest should be deemed completed. In our case 76% of the program was completed and so Collingwood went on to meet Y.M.C.A. in the final, the latter winning the premiership.

The club had brought Denis Lyons from Tasmania to do the Pole Vault which was one of the abandoned events. Some great performances were recorded despite the wet — Michael Meagher won the two miles in 10.04 to break the club record while Peter Rush in defeating Ken Roche equalled Pat Treacey’s 440 H record of 58.8. Peter Bruce had a mile time of 4:35.8 an indication that he was to break and maintain all club distance records in future years. Over twenty years later he is still one of the club’s top distance runners. But that is for later.

1955-1956 Team

Back: John Taylor, John Milici, Geof Lockwood, Pat Treacy, Michael Coleman, Ken McPhail, Gerry Bourke.
Front: Bill Sinn, John Burnes, Ian McLean, Bill Seabrook, Bas Thomson, Jack Tutton, Mick van Assche

Cooke McClelland 1956

Start of Cooke McClelland 1956

Old Xavs from left to right: Ken McPhail, Geoff Lockwood, Rene Dupuche, Gerry Burke, Bas Thomson, Bertrand Dupuche, Mick De Vertuil.