Where are they now- Shane Murphy (SPC 1993-98)
author: Lorrie Liston
The College chats with Shane Murphy (SPC 1993-98, current staff) who is sure to stir up your memories with his many candid recollections of his time as a student. Shane is still heavily involved with the College teaching for the past seven years, currently in senior English.
Where has life taken you since leaving SPC?
Since leaving the College as a student I have travelled to Europe and the US, and I have worked here in Ballarat, in Melbourne, and in Horsham. In my teaching vocation, I have generally taught Year 12 English, along with some senior History and Literature over the past 12 years. I acted as Head of English at Horsham College, Staughton College, and St Patrick’s College, as well as being Head of Humanities at Staughton also. I also coach baseball here at SPC in the summer.
What are your fondest memories of your time at St Patrick’s College?
There is no one particular memory that is defined in my mind, but more of a feeling. The sense of mateship and comradery that one gets as a ‘Patty Boy’. The friends I made at school are still my best friends now, and I still fondly recall playing Jerks with them after school, waiting for our parents to pick us up. The shared love of some subjects and teachers, and the shared dread of others, all helped to crystalize the sense of brotherhood that SPC breeds. I have other friends from other schools and none of them have the brotherhood we do.
Which teacher from your time at SPC had the greatest impact on you? Why?
There were quite a few who I remember fondly, but to name one, it would be Mr Martino, who taught Year 7 Social Studies. Ever knowledgeable and friendly, and with a broad streak of humour, Martino was an engaging and compassionate teacher. As we stood at the beginning of class and he inspected us, he had a habit of calling us “men”, which is quite a thing for a Year 7 boy wearing a neck tie for the first time. It made us feel proud and strong, and utterly crestfallen if our homework was not completed and he called us “boy”. It gave you a sense of your worth, and of the consequences of failure, and instilled a drive in you to be that man that he thought you to be.
What do you think the boys would remember most about you (as their teacher)?
If I were to be remembered at all, I would hope it was as a good teacher who cared about them as students, and as men. One can only hope, after all.
What was, or is, your favourite college event?
Boat Race Assembly, far and away, was the highlight of all the College events. It has changed significantly, and nowadays is more formal and subdued. But back then it was a hilarious, raucous show of crazy sketches and acts, with “Captain Pat” (usually the biggest student available stuffed into an undersized rowing uniform and wearing a black balaclava) leading the whole College in a huge war cry. I remember the O’Malley Gym being in darkness and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” playing loudly as the Captain entered the Gym, holding a running (if not operating) chainsaw over his head, screaming like a madman as he and his minions ran around the gym causing chaos. It was a site to behold.
Then, the rowers would be presented to applause, and when the Firsts were presented, the sound of stamping feet and cheering was deafening. In fact, the stamping of feet in defiant respect and admiration is one of the few traditions that remains of that assembly, and I like hearing the boys do it in the gym.
How has your education shaped your professional life?
I grew up in Melbourne in a loving working class family, and education was not a focus for me initially. The kids I played with on the streets of West Heidelberg have all taken many different paths to myself (some of them, not happy ones), and I can only attribute my avoidance of a similar fate to SPC.
My parents brought my family to Ballarat so my older brother Lee and I could attend St Patrick’s College. I made friends quickly, loved the footy, but academic excellence was, shall we say, developing. Then I stepped into Mr Farley’s Year 10 English class in the Upper O’Malley Wing, and then my world changed. I have never been so scared of anyone in my life as I was of that man, and all of us had long heard the dreadful rumours of his Spartan discipline, and the stories of his past. Had he really killed a boy for clicking his pen and buried him on Hill Oval? Had he burned down a classroom because of drawing on a desk? Had he really played 50 games for Fitzroy back in the 1970’s?
We all knew, in our hearts that these were just traditional stories Year 12s tell their lesser brethren, but part of us, as he would thump down the narrow halls towards us, wondered.
In such an environment, like in front of an unforgiving corporal, one made sure everything was meticulous. Homework always done. Novels always read. I was stunned to discover that upon reading Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, I understood it. And when asked about it in class, I remembered it. And, more importantly, that I loved the prose and narrative. Turns out he knew what he was talking about.
And now, here I am, an English teacher like (hopefully not too “like”) Mr Farley, trying in my own way to bring inspiration to the uninspired.
How has your time at SPC shaped your personal values and your family life?
I was married at the College in 2010, and my best man and groomsmen were all Old Boys, as were several in the crowd. Simply put – I am the man I am today because of the College. The traditions, the mateship, the discipline and drive for success. All these define how I see the world.
If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?
Remember this, and be worthy of it. One day, you’ll wake up and be responsible and old, so take as much as you can from the journey, so remember this; and be worthy of it.