Sport early days memories

The Sportsmasters perspective by Br Bill Dillon (Br Stanislaus)


I arrived at Marcellin in 1953 and stated for three years. At that time, I was 23 years old. The Brothers were up early - 5,25am and spent time at Morning Prayer, etc. with Mass at 7.00am, often at Deepdene. We walked both ways and had breakfast at approx. 8.00am and across to School at about 8.30a.m . There were no free periods and lessons closed at approx 3.40p.m.

I give this as the background as the role of Sportsmaster had to be organized in the spare time outside of school time.

One of the first things to do was to contact Ground Management Committees to seek permission to use local grounds such as Camberwell Oval, Rathmines Oval and others. The Swimming Pool also needed to be booked for use on sports afternoons. Contact was generally personal so I would ride a bicycle to the homes of the various Secretaries to make sure permission was granted.

This was done after the Evening meal. Sports Gear had to be purchased and then cared for - cricket bats oiled, balls painted red to be made to look new.  At school, I had to distribute the gear for yard use and ensure that it was fully collected when the bell tolled.

Another duty was to try to have equal ability in House Teams; so new boys were assessed with the more able placed in house teams, which were weaker. This involved a great deal of luck.

We were to enter the Catholic College Competition in 1955 so we needed to prepare for that, The Sportsmaster organized the Swimming Meeting -this involved contacting parents to be judges, timekeepers and others. lt also meant the programme had to involve all students so House Points could be won. The programme needed to be typed out and multi-photocopies made - not an easy task for me as I was not an expert on the typewriter or on the old Gestetner.

While this was being prepared, I took teams every Saturday morning for Cricket Matches against other Schools - naturally, these matches needed to be organized well in advance.

As part of our Curriculum we had a Sports afternoon once a week. ln the Swimming Season this was easy enough as all went to the Swimming pool. Teachers had to be organized to take groups to the Cricket Grounds for mainly House Competitions. As the young one in the Brothers' Community, I found the older Brothers very supportive and prepared to accept my directions.

When the Cricket Season was over, the same arrangements had to be made for the Football season, here again, matches against other Schools needed to be organized, umpires (mostly Brothers) nominated and grounds available. On Sports Afternoons, House Competition matches were arranged.

Most Saturday mornings for me, were taken up in matches against other schools. As an aside, the Brothers, as part of their commitment, had just a slice of toast and a cup of coffee for breakfast on Saturday, so often hunger pangs would be part of the deal on these days.

Naturally enough, I found teams needed to be coached so I found myself with the students on at least two afternoons per week at the nets or at Rathmines Oval. This involved rushing back to Marcellin for the Religious Exercises which, for us, commenced at 5.15p.m.

Next came the Athletics Carnival. This involved preparing a suitable program for all students so they could compete for their House. For the Sprint Race, as for the Swimming, all students were graded off to their ability and, as a result, more than 25 100 and 200 yard races would be held as well as the distance and field events which were for those with ability -preparation needed to be done before and so all students had an opportunity to show their relative abilities. The typing and printing of programs were onerous tasks,

In those days, the March past was a feature - practice was done at School. A Judge, usually from Puckapunyal Army Camp, had to be contacted. parents, again were heavily involved in the running of the Carnival with Afternoon teas provided by our Mothers Club.

The marking of the Oval and its set up was another task for the Sportsmaster. Generally, a few boys were enlisted to help out.

ln 1955, we joined the Catholic College competition. Cricket and Football Matches were played on Wednesday Afternoons. I coached both the cricket and Football First teams but had to make sure the rest of the students were organized for the House Competition.

Incidentally, our 1st XV111 won their very first Match in this Competition defeating North Melbourne CBC. Other victories were against St. Bede’s, Mentone and St. Kevin’s CBC Toorak who were then part of the Competition.

Saturday mornings were as usual as I took teams of mainly the younger age groups.

Also in 1955, the Camberwell Oval was not available for our Athletics Carnival so we were able to have the use of the Victoria Park (Collingwood) Oval - a great venue for Athletics.

In joining this competition for athletics, a uniform needed to be provided and this also was a task for the Sportsmaster.

Specialist activities such as hurdling, high jumps, shot put and others were lunch time activities on a small strip of grass at the back near the Babies Home next door. This was all part of the Coaching by the Sportsmaster.

Obviously, in recording the above, some activities may have been forgotten and not mentioned - I'm sure some of the students would call to mind forgotten memories.

ln recalling all of this, it seems to be a mammoth task for one person who had this as an extra after teaching all day and fitting in Community Obligations required.

As far as I was concerned I was young, able and willing. It did not seem a hardship as I enjoyed the time spent with those who were keen to learn and who  seemed to enjoy the times spent in practice and playing.

Would I do it all again? As an old Good Samaritan Sister said to me on another occasion: “I wouldn’t miss it for quids".

All I have of those days are happy and wonderful memories. 

Cheers and God bless.

Br.Bill Dillon (Or as you knew me, Stanislaus)