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News > Docco's Diary > Docco's Diary: Some Memories of 1964

Docco's Diary: Some Memories of 1964

With a 60-Year reunion for the Class of 1964 on the horizon, David Docwra looks back at some of the highlights of the year 1964 at Saints.


Class of 1964

Old scholars who left in 1964 are having a milestone reunion on Saturday 7 September. We thought it was appropriate to look back to records of 1964 and remember some of the memorable features of the year at Saints.

The Editorial in the School magazine of December 1964 commented: “This year has been one of continued development and progress…….. The School is flourishing beyond any doubt and worthy of its high reputation”.

Enrolments at St Peter’s College in 1964 were, at the time, the highest they had ever been. School numbers had grown enormously in the years preceding 1964, leading to the formation of Howard and Young Houses in 1963. In 1964 there were 992 boys in the school – 668 in the Senior School. This was an increase of 104 boys in the School since 1961. In 1964 there were 170 Senior School boarders and 57 Prep School (now Junior School) boarders. We had never had had as many as 227 boarders before.

It was a time of confidence, optimism and increasing prosperity in Australia. In the 1960s GDP per capita in Australia was increasing by 3.2 per cent a year on average. It was to be much lower in the 1970s and 1980s. There was rapidly expanding secondary education throughout Australia to cope with the increased birth rate in the years after the end of the Second World War. The rural economy was strong. There was low unemployment and low inflation. It was well before the severe drought in South Eastern Australia in 1967 that led to a big fall in boarding numbers in 1972, with three Senior School boarding houses being reduced to two.

Headmaster Reverend JSC Miller was in the fourth year of his Headmastership. He was on leave overseas for part of the year, when he visited schools in England and in the USA, and attended the Headmasters’ Conference in Cambridge, UK. The Second Master, Mr FH Schubert, looked after the School when he was away.

The Gordon Building was nearing completion. It was to be formally opened on the first day of Lent Term 1965.

Image: Gordon Building 1965

Image: Gordon Building Interior 1965

We needed three boarding Houses (School, Athelney and Wyatt and Allen) in the Senior part of the School to provide accommodation for our 170 Senior School boarders. There was also a Prep boarding House of 57 boys. It was Mr “Trunk” Vollugi’s last year as Housemaster of School House. “A fitting tribute was paid to him at the end of the year by nearly a hundred old members of his House who entertained him and showed their very great appreciation of all he had so conscientiously done for them in his years as Housemaster”.

The 1964 School magazine commented: “Our House system is working as well as, if not better than ever, and is truly the backbone of the whole school, due largely to the calibre and enthusiasm of the Housemasters.

House magazines, House Dinners and House barbecues are all recent innovations……….

Yet another House has been formed this year, a new boarding House named Athelney. It has consisted almost entirely of junior boys, but has settled down well, with several creditable achievements as a House, despite having to use the Wyatt and Allen stables as a temporary home. Its new building, north of and connected to the old Athelney House, will be ready for occupation in 1965”.

Image: New Athelney Dormitories 1965

Howard and Young Houses were in their second year of existence after being founded in 1963, and had begun to make their presence felt in Inter-House Competitions. Howard won the Junior House Basketball Competition and Young made the final of both Junior and Senior House Basketball competitions. The Howard House report says: “This year the House has settled down to the task of improving its status in the School, by giving the more established Houses strong competition in most fields of sport”. The Young House report comments: “The measure of a House’s worth cannot be based entirely on sporting achievements, and it was in other fields that the House distinguished itself. Several members were in Hamlet, and here special mention must go to Portus, Horne and Lindon for outstanding performances”.

Headmaster Reverend JSC Miller commented in his Speech Day Report: “We have been fortunate to have had David Cherry as Captain of the School. He has led with great confidence and a sure touch. We have all come, for many reasons, to look up to him”.

The Young Exhibition, for the best scholar of the Year was awarded to Julian Disney, Vice-Captain of the School. He also won the Tennyson Medal for English Literature. This was the fifth time in nine years that the Medal had been awarded to a St Peter’s College boy. Reverend JSC Miller later commented: “We ought to congratulate Mr Schubert who is responsible for teaching English to so many Tennyson Medal winners”. In 1970 Julian Disney was to become the 33rd Rhodes Scholar from St Peter’s College. He went on to study Law at Oxford.

During 1964 it was announced his older brother Shaun Disney, who had left in 1960, also Vice-Captain of the School, was to be awarded the 1965 Rhodes Scholarship to be our 32nd Rhodes Scholar. He went on to study Mathematics at Oxford.

There was an outstanding performance of “Hamlet” and there was a House Music competition that was won by School House. Reverend JSC Miller commented: “Music, drama, art — these are three, out of many, sides of school life which do not feature in Public Exam results or in inter school competitions — but they enrich our corporate life and also provide valuable means of expression and enjoyment for many boys”.

A feature of school life in 1964 was a vast array of Societies that boys could join. These included Senior Literary, Junior Literary, Senior Science, Junior Science, Film, Debating, Philatelic, Automotive, Chess, Rural Youth and Field Naturalist. All of these had regular meetings across the year.

In sport it was a year of successes.

We won the Intercollegiate Tennis for the third year in a row. We shared top place in Students Grade and we won the Metropolitan Grasscourts Premiership. The 1964 magazine records: “It was the even strength of the S.P.S.C. team which was mostly responsible for their win in the Intercollegiate match. The doubles combinations were strong enough to win six of the eight matches, whilst in singles we won five out of eight. The fitness and steady play in the critical stages were very pleasing and showed out clearly when Saints won all except one of the three-set matches. SCORES: S.P.S.C. 11 rubbers 23 sets. P.A.C. 5 rubbers 15 sets”.

We won the Intercollegiate Football on Adelaide Oval 11.21.87 to 5.15.45. David Cherry kicked four goals and the best players were R.H. Muecke, R.L. Abbott, M.M. Jay, C.U. Macklin, G.D. Debelle, N.J. Lewis, G.L. Muecke, and D. A. Cherry.

The First XVIII also had good win against Melbourne Grammar School: “In the third quarter the Grammar defence was sound until almost the end, when two quick goals gave Saints a pleasing lead. However, it was in this final quarter against a wind that Saints played their best football for the season. First-class defence and intelligent forward play enabled them to outscore their opponents for the quarter and run out easy winners by 32 points”.

S.P.S.C. — 3-2, 5-3, 7-7, 10-10 (70).
M.G.S. — 0-0, 3-4, 3-6, 5-8 (38).
Goals: Cherry 7, Basten 1, Sangster 1, Jay 1.
Best Players: Jay, G. Muecke, Sangster, Abbott, Cherry.

At the Head of the River, we won five out of the six finals and the First VIII took seven seconds off the Head of the River record. The Second VIII also bettered the old First VIII record. “The Rowing Club was proud to report its most successful season ever. A record number of boys rowed in a record number of boats, and won a record number of races”.

In the Intercollegiate Cricket March on the PAC Main Oval we played well against a strong PAC side that included Greg Chappell and Ashley Woodcock, both of whom went on to play for Australia. They opened the batting for PAC. In the first innings they had a partnership of 87 and in the second innings they had a partnership of 85. Greg Chappell took six of our second innings wickets. We had a lead of 49 on first innings and when the game was finally drawn, PAC needed 27 runs to win with four wickets in hand in a tight game.

In Inter-House sport, Da Costa were strong in the Senior Division winning the Cricket and Rowing competitions. They were second in the Football and third in Athletics and Swimming. They won the Tolley Cup. Farrell were strong in the Junior Division winning the Cricket and Football competitions.

The Sir George Murray Shield (for the best House in work) was won by MacDermott House in 1964 for the seventh year in a row. They went on to win it every year for eleven years from 1958 to 1968! It had already become known as the Great MacDermott Shield!

The Class of 1964 (including leavers from 1963) are warmly invited to attend their 60 Year Milestone Reunion on Saturday 7 September at St Peter's College. Please click here to learn more.

Researched and written by David Docwra
David Docwra retired from St Peter’s College in December 2015 after 37 years’ service and is fondly remembered by many as a dedicated teacher, a committed coach of squash, cricket and soccer, and most especially as a passionate Head of Hawkes House for 21 years. David remains connected to St Peter’s College and regularly provides historical articles for the St Peter’s Old Collegians’ newsletters. In 2023 David was made an Honorary Member of the St Peter’s Old Collegians’ Association.

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