John O’Connor (SPC 1950) reminisces about school life
September 11, 2020
One of John O’Connor’s favourite memories of his time at SPC is playing footy.
John remembers playing in the U15 school team during his one year boarding at SPC in 1950.
“I remember playing St Kevin’s, but I never got to play in the seniors,” he told the GWB recently, from his home in Warrnambool, now aged 84.
“I really enjoyed my time at St Pat’s,” he remembers.
John was a boarder from Penshurst, where his parents operated the township’s bustling pub.
John remembers life as a 16-year-old boarder and going to mass every morning. He recalls his parents sending him to SPC in the hope that he may train to become a priest.
However, John’s true calling revolved more about St Pat’s sporting program and he completed his sub-intermediate studies while playing school football and enjoying athletics.
After leaving SPC, John went home and worked in his parent’s pub for a while as a barman.
It was a busy and good time, John recalls, where pubs did a roaring trade as popular destinations in country towns, and John was kept busy behind the bar.
“We used to go through 18 18s (18x 18-gallon barrels) in a week, and if you don’t know how much that is, that’s a lot of beer!” laughs John.
John then moved to Hamilton and worked in the popular Millers menswear store about 12 months, before moving to Warrnambool, where his parents had moved to.
John spent the next 14 years working at the iconic Fletcher Jones clothing business, where he pleated skirts before moving into a different industry, selling farm supplies.
John built up the business, Warrnambool Chemicals, and spent more than three decades doing a job he loved before retiring only three years ago.
“I had great times there and I really enjoyed it.”
John and his wife Joan have three sons, Robert, Wayne and John, who provide much support.
“We are very lucky,” he says.
Bad knees and a pacemaker may be the consequences of a life filled largely with footy though.
John played an incredible total of 720 games of footy, from junior footy at Penshurst to footy with South Warrnambool.
“I was a full back, I was pretty small… I was only five foot, eight inches, and my dad was a good footballer.”
His love of footy, glimpsed during his time at SPC, continues to shine bright for the O’Connor family, with John taking great pride in watching his own sons and grandsons experiencing numerous premiership and best and fairest triumphs of their own in the Warrnambool FC over the years.