Celebration of 130 years of athletics at SPC

May 7, 2024

This year marks 130 years of athletics at St Patrick’s College. So, how did athletics begin?

In 1893, Br Ryan, despite his disappointment that the College couldn’t hold an athletics competition, vowed to change this. His unwavering determination led to the first athletics carnival in 1894 at Eastern Oval—the competition, though not fiercely competitive, with only seventy-seven students. The contests were on a handicap basis, a fair approach to even the competition. By the early 1900s, Br. McCarthy and Br. Hughes purchased most of the land you see today, establishing a more permanent location for future athletics on home ground.

1928, the Annual House Championship Teams were established, with House Captains and House colours: green, red, and blue. This marked a new era of not just competitive spirit but also a strong sense of camaraderie among the students, a testament to the sporting growth and progress of the College.

Blue House (P. Kelly. Captain) scored 329 points,

Green House (C. McPherson. Captain) scored 306 points, and

Red House (F. Cody. Captain) scored 298.

In 1933, the Annual House Championships added names to the House colours and another House. Unfortunately, the context of the names is yet unknown.

Ionian House, of which Br. O’Neill was the patron and G. Hayes was the captain, was green.

Midvale House was patronised by Br. Molloy, led by F. Hogan, and was blue.

Olympian House, which was under the guiding hand of Br. Ryan had L. Malcolm as captain and was red.

Calford House, directed by Br. O’Malley and captained by C. Jenkins, this team competed in gold-coloured jackets.

Let’s step back to 1933, a day that started considerably cold but gradually transformed into a pleasant afternoon, creating an ideal atmosphere for competitors and spectators alike. Brother O’Malley arranged an orchestra for their entertainment. The SPC ladies’ committee served afternoon tea, adding a touch of elegance to the event. Dignitaries Dr. Foley and Rev. Fr. McGloin, Conlan, Gleeson, Mclnerney, McMahon, and McDermot graced the event with their presence, underscoring its significance. The Mayor of Ballarat (Cr. Darling), Doctors Greening, Capell, Podger, Spring, and many leading old boys, together with parents and relatives of the competitors, added to the festive atmosphere, making it a truly memorable event.

It was not until November 5, 1938, that the house names changed to naming after Principals and founders of St Patrick’s College, McCarthy, Galvin, Nunan and Treacy, saying,

 “The ‘House Competition’ aimed to promote a spirit of rivalry and encourage more rigorous training. The names chosen for the House names can never be forgotten in the history of the College”.

Due to the dry season, the ground did not look its best, and the day had strong headwinds. Training had been intense leading up to the competition.  Keeping with tradition, teams contending for superiority dressed in house colours. Although the sports competition was not up to the high standards of the Melbourne or Ballarat Combined School sports, some unexpected wins and closely contested finishes made the event successful.

The final scores in the House Competitions with the introduction of Vice Captains.

McCarthy          248 ½ – J. Flanagan (Captain), P McNamara (Vice Captain).

Treacy                 191 – M. Gill (Captain), K. de Lacy (Vice Captain).

Gavlin                 170 – L. Horgan (Captain), G. Jongebloed (Vice Captain).

Nunan                111 ½ – A. Jones (Captain), R. McKee (Vice Captain).

In 1992, after a 20-year break, the House Competitions were reintroduced. Due to the increase in student numbers, the Student Council, headed by Karl Seketa, Greg Castle, and Matt Torney, decided to add two more houses to the existing ones: Keniry light blue and Ryan white.

So, let’s look at why the House names were chosen.

Ryan House, Brother J. L. Ryan, founding Principal in 1893, with extensive experience in boarding schools in Gregory Terrace, Brisbane, was appointed as having the skills required to keep the school open and thriving.

Treacy House, Brother P.A. Treacy founded the Christian Brothers in Australia and St Patrick’s College in 1893. He is described as one who did so much for Catholic education in Australia.

McCarthy House, Brother W.M. McCarthy M.A. Principal 1899-1904, 1908-1909, and 1919. He was a principal for many years and the force behind the buildings, such as the senior dormitory wing and handball courts. He was respected by many students and staff at the College.

Nunan House, Brother M.P. Nunan, Principal from 1910-1913, completed the unfinished works, including the furnishings of the library, recreational rooms, and science laboratories. He also introduced trade in the form of woodwork (Sloyd) to the students. Most importantly, he had a great interest in sport.

Gavlin House, Brother T.B. Gavlin B.A. was a great scholar and Principal from 1925 to 1926. He had an enormous influence on the senior boys of the College. Br. Galvin was described as a gentle spirit, kind and pleasant to all, not given in any way to severity.

Keniry House, Brother E.F. Keniry, Principal 1912-1915, 1920-1924, was known for his unwavering teaching, generosity of heart, and sincerity.

Later, changes were made, with the addition of houses in honour of Br E.F. Keniry and Br J. L. Ryan and the removal of Treacy and McCarthy Houses in 2006. In 2017, House flags with crests hanging in the Waterford wing were introduced. The College continued to acknowledge Br. McCarthy has a House Shield that awards the House with the greatest aggregate points over four terms.

Two of the four flags have inscriptions in French and Latin: Keniry, I ’antiquite,’ne peut pas I’abolic Antiquity, with its meaning, you can’t erase the greatness of the past. This is a nod to tradition and all that has come before. And Ryan, I would rather die than suffer dishonour.“Malo mori quam foedari.”

Further, surnames named in honour of our Principals can be interpreted. Galvin. Before being translated into English, Galvin appeared as Ó Gealbhain, derived from the words “geal,” which means “bright,” and “ban,” which means “white.”

Nunan. The name Nunan in Gaelic, Ó Nuanáin, a corruption of Ó h-Ionmhaineáin from ionmhain, meaning “dear or beloved”.

In 2007, the College introduced awards to one student in each House who displays outstanding House spirit and leadership. The honour board with these names are shown in Kennedy House.

In 2024, Kevin Robillard, Assistant Principal for Pastoral Care and Wellbeing, introduced competition among College Staff, with each member supporting a designated House.

St Patrick’s College continues to pay tribute to the Christian Brothers, who have significantly contributed to the College in sports and its foundations. To this day, students continue to honour the House names, proudly wearing their House colours and raising flags during assemblies and sports days with competitive and joyous spirits.