My memories of SPC - Tony Mutton (SPC 1972-73)
author: Lorrie Liston
The College recently reconnected with former boarder Anthony (Tony) Mutton (SPC 1972-73) who candidly shares his school memories and thoughts on the legacy of being a SPC boy.
“My name is Tony Mutton (or Anthony) and you won’t find my name, other than in the yearbook, anywhere around the College – (the initials burnt into the floor of the fifth form dormitory now long gone). I came from Coragulac after spending my early high school years at Trinity College in Colac (RIP Brother Tuck) and spent two years at St Pat's in Forms 4 and 5.
a mediocre Aussie Rules player,
a mediocre soccer player,
a mediocre academic student (but don’t check the records – I may not have reached the height of mediocrity),
I didn't make a rowing team – that disappointed me - not even mediocre.
From St Patrick’s I didn't go on to play VFL, but I did end up playing for the oldest continually contested Australian Rules Trophy – The Black Diamond Trophy, in Newcastle. I didn't play for Carlton or Melbourne or Geelong, but I played for Newcastle City in a Carlton jumper, Western Suburbs in a Melbourne jumper and RAAF Williamtown in a Geelong jumper. I made representative RAAF sides for New South Wales and the Northern Territory, coached RAAF and a combined services side in the NT, ACT, and NSW and even once in Malaysia. I played for Bankstown and Penrith and coached and played for Mt Druitt in the outer western suburbs of Sydney, so although I never made the First XV111, I still “went places” with my footy. I never played soccer again.
Academically, I was not what you would call the sharpest tool in the shed. This was my first time away from home and there seemed so much more to learn than maths, economics and history. You see, how can you learn to do the drawback if you are not lighting up. (I never did apologise to Barry Morris for nearly getting him expelled when we got caught smoking). How can you learn to walk lightly on a tin roof if you are not sneaking out of the dormitory window at 11pm, tip toeing across the tin roof and hanging one handed off the roof to open the window below to climb into the locker area underneath? How can you learn to laugh silently at 2am in the morning while two of your friends, mmm, hug the statue of St Patrick in the front garden of the college? Dave and Pete, I wonder if they ever remembered those guys names? (If you were there in ‘73, you'll get it).
Do you remember ‘Ace’? I do, but I don't remember his real name. I could look it up but to me he will always be Ace. There were few dormitory masters who were better. As genuine a person as you could find. Brother “Ace”.
What I also enjoyed was the speech classes with Mrs Ryan. Many years later at the age of 53 it was the lessons I learnt there that led me to win the Poetry Slam at the Queensland Poetry Festival. What I learnt in her classes gave me the opportunity to appear twice in Queensland finals of the Australian Poetry Slam. All that in addition to running a loved poetry gig in Brisbane for three years and performing at many venues and events.
You see, not all lessons have immediate impacts on your life and some of those I learnt at St Pat's have taken many years to become part of who I am now. What we learn in the classroom is important, what we learn living in a community such as St Pats can be even more so. What comes into my mind when I think of St Pats though is not those boys who went to great heights athletically or academically but those tens of thousands of ordinary young men who went to St Pats and when their time was finished they went back to the ordinary. Back to the farm or country town or city suburb. Back to become farmers and fathers, husbands and teachers, to become the very extraordinary ordinary men who have helped make Australia.
I have had little to do with the college in the years since 1973, although social media now means that I can follow the college more. I’ve seen none of my fellow boarders for decades. The last time I saw any of them was in Melbourne in 1976, but I can still remember their faces.
I remember the impromptu comedy skit of Wayne Nash and Dean Gardner in the Form 5 common room – hilarious. The guitar playing of James Paul. James Camille and the voodoo stories he told us in the old grandstand at 2am in the morning. Luis Tence and his stories of the Philippines. Luciano Corazza and his stories of VWs (or did I make that one up). We were a multicultural bunch before multiculturalism became a thing. I only had two years at St Patrick’s yet I still hold them as two of the best years of my life.
Since leaving St Patrick’s…
Out of St Patrick’s and into the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), joining in August 1974. I guess I looked for a structured and disciplined environment. The discipline results were different from St Patrick’s – in the RAAF you just ended up "confined to barracks" or "cleaning toilets", however they never did give me extra guard duty for falling asleep on guard duty – most likely would have been counterintuitive. (Possibly the same thinking at St Patrick’s, they never made me smoke a full packet of cigarettes after getting caught smoking). The RAAF also gave me an opportunity to see Australia and overseas. Edinburgh in South Australia, Wagga, Williamtown and Glenbrook in New South Wales, Amberley in Queensland (with short trips to Rockhampton and Townsville), Darwin in the Northern Territory, Butterworth/Penang in Malaysia and finishing off with a tour in Canberra (everything ends up in Canberra one way or the other) - 18 ½ years of service to Australia, finishing in January 1993.
After the RAAF I did a short period of time as a car cleaning franchisee, but all those hot days in hot cars made me pine for the cooler days of air-conditioning, so I didn’t stay long.
Returning to a more structured environment, I joined the Queensland Public Service in August 1994. I have worked for a number of Departments over the years but the longest time was spent between Queensland Transport and the Department of Main Roads. I’m thinking of giving it all a miss in about 6 years – not that I’m counting (5 years, 11 months, 23 days)
August seems to have been a productive month for me, what with joining the RAAF – 20th August 1974, joining the Public Service – 1st August 1994 and getting married the 23rd August 1980 (and I didn’t have to check up on any of the dates). I have two well rounded boys (although maybe not as round as I am) and two grandchildren. My youngest son is 33 this year and is heading into his 26th year of playing rugby league (not union) and although he was bought up on a different code, he is still a fanatical supporter of the Sydney Swans, just like his father. Go Swannies.”