Where are they now – Mike Hanrahan (SPC 1951-55)

July 31, 2023

The College recently reconnected with Old Collegian Michael (Mike) Hanrahan (SPC 1951-55) who has a strong family connection with SPC and shares some of his fabulous memories as a spectator during SPC sporting heydays in the 1950s.


Mike Hanrahan and his wife Gay.


“I was a second-generation enrolment at SPC – my father studied there in 1909-10. Our family still has the letter from the College Principal of the day encouraging him to return for further study as his academic grades were outstanding.

However his family decided that Dad should begin a farming career at Bungaree on land his grandfather, Michael, had bought in the years after the Eureka Stockade rebellion.

Michael was chosen as Captain Hanrahan, leader of the Irish Pikemen and was one of Peter Lalor’s lieutenants in those turbulent days on the Ballarat goldfields.

My arrival at boarding school was a little different – on crutches and a left leg in plaster for the next two terms was one way of getting notice in Term 1, 1951!

I think Br (Bill) O’Malley would have thought it unlikely I would ever wear a 1st XVIII jumper!

Given this circumstance, I would like to express my appreciation to the Brothers and students who assisted me on many occasions at that time. The Brothers also quietly arranged for two senior students to check on me from time to time – John McCarthy (later Fr John) and Brian Gleeson.

There were so many students who assisted me in class, in the Refectory, in the Chapel and getting to events safely and on time – an example of the collegiate spirit that existed at SPC. I shall mention only one student – Frank Moloney. Frank said to me in class one day “Mum said if you could walk down to our place for lunch on Sunday, Dad will drive you back to College”. How could I refuse! The start of a long friendship with the Moloney family. Thanks, Frank.

As a spectator of sport at SPC, a few memories stand out.

John James and Kevin Hogan pictured in the First XVIII BPS Champions team photograph in 1951.

In 1951 the Brothers allowed me to travel on the 1st XVIII bus to the Grammar School/SPC match. Kevin Hogan (1st Rover for Richmond the next year) kicked 16 goals and was given Three Cheers on the way home.

Someone then called out “And Three Cheers for Goal Sneak John James – four goals!” Little did we know that Jamesie would kick 24 goals the next year against High School.  A great performance indeed but in that game Brian Gleeson gave a brilliant display of ruck skill,  marking around the ground and kicking so accurately to position. Br Bill would have ecstatic about his two Brownlow Medalists to come!


A Collingwood Football Club team including Bill Twomey and Thorold Merrett played SPC on a rain soaked oval one Sunday. Despite the conditions, Merrett was able to send a 30-metre “stab pass” to the leading Bill Twomey, who sank to his knees as he took the mark and his legs created  “bow waves “ – such skill by both players given the conditions!

In the cricket season – 1952 – the Australian Test Captain, Lindsay Hassett, captained a South Melbourne team against our 1st X1. After a masterly display of shots all around the wicket, Hassett chose to loft a ball to “long on“ – into the hands of John James, to the excited delight of the bowler. A deliberate shot by Hassett to give two students a wonderful cricketing memory, I am sure.

Academically, SPC provided me with the opportunity to study for a B.A. Degree at Melbourne University and residency at Newman College. There I was able to continue my friendship with many Old Collegians, particularly Kevin Leitch, Joe Gallagher, Peter Morris, Mick Bourke, Geoff Torney and Gerald Joyce.

Mike, pictured in his matriculation class photograph, as published in the 1955 College Annual.

Mike was active in the St Vincent de Paul Society and Holy Name Society during his time at SPC.

Professional work has been as a secondary school teacher and Principal, and later as Manager in the Loddon, Campaspe, Mallee Region of the Integration Program to assist students with Special Needs to be enrolled in their neighborhood schools. Wonderful to see many of these students feel included. In those years, an interest in cattle and sheep farming was my personal therapy.

An aspect of my experience at SPC I valued more and more over the years was membership of the Sodality of Our Lady, and of the Junior Chapter of the St Vincent de Paul Society.  At Newman College the Sodality added a practical feature – regular assistance to the Homeless attending Ozanam House in Flemington. Rewarding work for the volunteer too.

Visiting hospitals and volunteering as a reader at the Blind Home – at first daunting! – was later recognised as character building. At the Blind Home one Sunday morning after reading about a naval battle in the Pacific in which an Australian ship was sunk – I was interrupted by a resident who said “So true, Michael, I was a picked up survivor of that battle!”  Hard to forget that moment!

Finally, an appreciation to those at the College who had a positive influence on my spiritual, social and academic development. In this regard I recognise the positive influence of Br Kelty, particularly as supervisor of McCann House 1954-55.”

Mike was president of the Sodality of Our Lady Society during his matriculation year in 1955.

Mike was also a member of the cadets at St Patrick’s College during his time as a student.