mhsoba

History

The MHS Old Boys Association

In 1909, just four years after the foundation of the school, past students associations were formed at the school – the school being at first the Melbourne Continuation School and then in 1912 Melbourne High School. In the spirit of the times there was a separate Old Boys’ Association and an ex-Melbourne Continuation School Girls’ Association. The principal,Joe  Hocking was president of the boys’ association and patron of the girls’. Miss Robertson, the senior mistress was president of the girls association. Staff were also on the committees. There were musical evenings, lectures on topics such as Henry Kendall and Shakespeare, debates, socials, sporting events, and regular reunions.

Among the active Old Boys was George Langley, a footballer and mile athlete of note (in the top four at the university) and foundation treasurer of the association.[1]

In 1918 the two associations joined together as the Melbourne High School Ex-Students Association which was to last until 1929. In 1921 the association published a newsletter, edited by George Taylor, and in 1922 the first issue of the magazine The Link appeared with Percy Feltham as editor. In 1923 Ralph McIntosh took over, followed in 1927 by Edward Jack ‘Choom’ Winchusen. There were celebrations for special achievements by past students such as John ‘Jack’ Eccles, the school's first Rhodes Scholar in 1923, Noel Bayliss Rhodes Scholar in 1926, there were others at British universities, and in the cultural world, Effie Armstrong, was taking major roles in the Gilbert and Sullivan opera season.[2]

Searby was still president of the ex-students Association, with Maurice Ashkanasy and Ralph McIntosh as vice presidents, and Billie Grove as secretary. The Association noted special events such as the marriage of Hilda Lanyon (1918-21), who had been teaching at Kerang, to the Reverend C Blainey from the Methodist parsonage in Jeparit, and in 1927, the marriages of ex-students Glen Shiel and Maisie Brown, of Maurice Ashkanasy and Heather Epstein, and also of Dr Julian Searby, son of the principal, to Miss Winnie Tate, daughter of the Director of Education. In 1926 long–time friends Ada Bickford and John Norris became engaged — ever to be a famous partnership.

The Old Boys lacrosse team founded in 1923 continued to thrive, with founder Henry Volk an able organiser, who was still associated with the club sixty years later. Initially in C Section, by 1925 the club fielded teams in B and C sections, and after a premiership in B Section entered A grade in 1926.[3]

The ex-students continued to hold dramatic nights, with plays such as The Irresistible Marmaduke, A Night At the Inn, Why Kate Smith Left Home, and The Marriage of Kitty. There were regular socials. The annual reunion was the biggest event for the association, usually held in Show week. In 1923 the annual subscription was 5 shillings a year for city members and 2s 6d for country members. The newsletter, called The Link, came out in 1922 with Percy Feltham as editor. It continued in 1923 under Ralph McIntosh, but then faded until 1927 when Edward J ‘Choom’ Winchusen took over. There was an Old Boys blazer available (for 45 shillings) and hopes of building club rooms and boat sheds. The ‘golden years’ of the Association came to an end as the school divided.

The boys’ and girls’ past students associations endeavoured to act together to maintain the close links that they had experienced at Spring Street. However, the division of the school in 1927 meant the official formation of separate boys’ and girls’ associations. Searby was keen to promote the single-sex concept in every way, and insisted that the association should separate into two bodies, in contrast to the views of those past students, male and female, active in the association.

The association was struggling. While both male and female members wanted to continue as before, at the most having two sections and two committees under one president[4], the opposition of Searby meant that such a proposal was doomed. Two separate and unconnected associations were eventually formed. The hope was that the two associations would meet together twice a year. The magazine, the Link, was resurrected after a ‘premature decease’ in 1923.

Searby was honorary president of the new Old Boys’ Association, Maurice J Ashkanasy, president; Jerrold ‘Ron’ Fleming, vice-president; and Jack Richards, honorary secretary. Theatre nights, smoke nights and other social events were the main activities. In October 1928 a special Henley Night Dinner was held in honour of Frank Tate.

In 1932 Henry Volk was president and the association showed signs of growth again after re-forming. Six groups were brought together to form a federation: the active lacrosse, football, baseball and cricket clubs together with a 1931 group and a pre-1931 group, each sending a representative to a council. Each group had its own executive and identity. The MHS Old Boys football club, which had been formed in 1929, struggled on.

In 1934 Norman Harper, indefatigable in his efforts for the school, became vice-president of the Old Boys, with George Stirling the other vice-president, Henry Volk was president and John Wagstaff secretary. In 1933 a new MHSOBA badge was designed, and a new blazer with an appropriate pocket was produced. In 1934 a dinner was given to honour Searby on his retirement.

A new group—‘The Unicorns’—was formed. It was an MHSOB university graduates and undergraduates debating society, meant to encourage Old Boys at the university.

Also making a mark was John Elden, now assistant general secretary, who had been an active force since 1936. The membership fee was five shillings, and in 1937 they held hopes of obtaining clubrooms in the city. An athletics club was formed in 1937, a year in which the MHSOBA Football Club won a premiership. Old Boys blazers, badges, ties and scarves were also produced. In 1938 Norman Harper was still president, Jack Benjamin and John H Wagstaff vice-presidents, John Elden had become general secretary and N White was treasurer. John Elden wrote a stirring page for the Unicorn pointing out the value of supporting the Old Boys. In addition to the established sporting teams in cricket, baseball, lacrosse and football were newly formed teams in hockey, soccer and athletics. An annual dinner was held, and a magazine was financed by the 2s 6d subscriptions.

The Old Boys’ Association struggled in the years during World War II, with so many of its members on active service.The war also affected many of the sporting teams, and the organisation slowly reactivated itself after the war. Norman Harper continued his good works by holding the association together as president. The annual dinner in 1948 was a high point, with many Old Boys resuming activity, and with important changes at the school. The official party included George Langley, principal-designate; Bill Woodfull, acting principal; Harry Revell, former principal; and Leslie R Brookes, former teacher but now principal of UHS. Langley and Woodfull were famous and popular even beyond the wide circle of the school and the Old Boys. People such as John Elden, Len Boyd-Gerny, Jack Benjamin, Harry Martin[5], Harry Tredinnick, and Maurice Cohen who organised the dinner were becoming important for the Old Boys’ Association. In 1948 George McTaggart had retired as general secretary of the MHSOBA. Active since 1935, and general secretary since 1941, he was made an honorary life member in appreciation of his service. The new general-secretary was Len Boyd-Gerny, a popular and energetic member who had been an outstanding athlete and sportsman during his school years, in 1934 receiving school colours in football, cricket, baseball, lacrosse and athletics. He served with the AIF in New Guinea and then became an accountant with Beaurepaire Tyre Service.[6]

In 1948 the hockey team was going well, fielding six teams. The football team was having a difficult year with many retirements, but was in A grade of the amateurs, and Geoff Byrne and Jack Backhouse were selected in the Victorian amateur side. The Old Boys’ athletics club was in A grade. The lacrosse club was also in A grade, but did not do well. Ian Ternes and Bruce Moore gained Victorian team selection. Norman Harper continued to strive for the OB baseball team, which was in A grade despite a poor season. In the VCA metropolitan competition, the cricket team came second on the ladder but lost in the semi-final.

The OBA became involved in the compilation of the honour roll and the inscribing of names began in 1949. In that year the OBA had clubs playing football, hockey, baseball, lacrosse, cricket and athletics. The football club was in B grade in the amateur competition (being premiers in 1952), the hockey club had a team in the A1 section, the baseball club was still rebuilding but had two teams, and the lacrosse club had a senior team doing very well (usually in the finals) with Bruce Moore, Ian Ternes and Don Lee in the Victorian team. The OB athletics team was in A grade for the VAAA, and they also ran a junior team.

The Old Boys’ Association, with Len Boyd-Gerny as secretary and John Harper as treasurer, continued with its regular functions.

A special project of the association was to erect a war memorial in the form of a scoreboard for the school oval, with a modest pavilion attached. It was estimated that such a building would cost £3,000. The Old Boys were keen to give such a facility to the school, and there was a side benefit to them, in that they hoped that they could use part of the space. The then principal, Brigadier Langley was sympathetic to this hope, and also endeavoured to see if the portion of land on which the building was to be erected could be ‘sold’ to the Old Boys, so that the prohibition of alcohol on Education Department premises could be overcome. The project was completed and an attractive modern scoreboard pavilion was dedicated and opened by Major General Ramsay, with a cadet guard, an ATC squad, and the band, which was also pressed into service for the dedication of a clock in the tower to honour and commemorate C A H Searby. Memorials to Bluey Truscott and Ted Parkes were also unveiled on this day. The clock was much needed—the tower always looked incomplete without it. The first use of the memorial pavilion was at a cricket match against a Government House team captained by the Governor himself.[7]

A central council still operated. There were two dinners a year, and the association financed four scholarships: the Charles Breen Memorial, the Keith Truscott Memorial, the J F Hill Memorial and, more recently, the Joseph Cohen scholarship donated by Maurice Cohen in memory of his brother, a pilot, who was shot down in the Indian Ocean.

The Echo newsletter magazine was still produced quarterly, as it had been since 1935. John Elden, a former secretary of the association, had been editor before the war, and he was persuaded to resume the job in 1948. Elden ensured that something of the history of the school and of notable Old Boys were included in each issue. Harper had given dedicated and loyal service as president, but the association badly needed a lift and a higher profile.

In 1951 former teacher John Benjamin became the eleventh president, having been a vice-president since 1937. He took over from Norman Harper who had been president since 1936. Benjamin was dedicated to the school and his business experience and drive was soon shown in the way in which he secured the pavilion for the Old Boys.[8] Maurice Cohen took over in 1953, with the loyal Len Boyd-Gerny as secretary, John Harper as treasurer and John Elden editing The Echo. Maurice Cohen was a dynamic force both in the association and on the school council, and transformed both. He retired as president of the OBA during 1955, being replaced by Harry Tredinnick. In 1954 Ernie Drinkwater became the twenty-ninth secretary of the OBA, following Len Boyd-Gerny's retirement. Boyd-Gerny had been secretary since 1948. It was noted, with gratitude, that Boyd-Gerny had served the association and school actively for over twenty years. John Elden was made an honorary life member in recognition of his remarkable service to the association, only the seventh Old Boy so honoured. He had been on the council since 1937, had served as general secretary, and was editor of The Echo, and a key person in developing many of the association’s activities: the March edition of The Echo in 1954 included a Who's Who. The Old Boys had six affiliated clubs in 1949: athletics, baseball, cricket, football, hockey and lacrosse. Many were thriving.

In 1954 a new development was the consecration of the Melbourne High School Lodge No. 759, with George S Peters installed as its foundation master. In the early 1960s, there seemed to be despondency among the Old Boys’ Association as membership numbers fell: with only two hundred financial members, the committee felt that the association was failing. The socio-economic background of most of the students of MHS had been such that there was not a culture for joining organisations in general or past students’ associations in particular. Although there was generally a pattern of students taking occupations better paid than those of their parents, the number of Old Boys in higher income employment was still limited. Those who did make it to top jobs tended to be academics, teachers, medical practitioners, research scientists and engineers whose incomes were not of a level that would enable large-scale giving to their old school. The OBA did all that they could to lift its profile, especially given the growing success and status of the school in the 1950s. Letter were sent, The Echo was put into a ‘more attractive format’, and the Governor of Victoria, who especially in the Langley years had become close to the school, became Patron-in-Chief of the association, and attended the annual dinner in 1959. Because 1955 was the fiftieth anniversary of the school and of state secondary education, the OBA, anxious to arouse interest, held a series of jubilee celebrations and related activities from 1955 to 1959. The various events furnished an excuse for convivial occasions to attract more members. Effectively the association had been founded in 1907 when the first football and athletics events were held by Old Boys.

In 1957 Rex Matthews took over as president of the OBA from Harry Tredinnick, with Ernie Drinkwater continuing as secretary. John Elden still worked ‘unceasingly' for the association and the school in various projects, including The Echo, although he was no longer officially the editor, having retired after thirteen years of service In 1957 Elden, now a squadron leader, was posted interstate.[9] There were successions of stalwarts who took the presidency in this period. Len Boyd-Gerny, formerly General Manager of Beaurepaire Tyres and then Marketing Manager Australia for The Olympic Tyre and Rubber Company, was president in 1959 and 1960, and was followed in 1961 by Alan Middleton. Jim Mountford was treasurer.

The association in its various forms could look back on some significant achievements in its history. It had done a good deal more than merely survive. As well as the sporting teams, all now generally well established, there were scholarships given by the association to students at the school: The Keith Truscott, Joe Cohen, J F Hill, C J Breen, Ralph Madden and Norman Harper scholarships. They also gave some of the prizes for speech night. The Old Boys took up the issue of careers to help current students, and the December edition of The Echo was devoted to the topic, with letters from the Premier, leading employers, firms, union leaders and educators. It was a time when jobs were plentiful, but wise vocational decisions were hard to make. The vocational panel night at the school continued, with speakers covering the fields of education, commerce, medicine, engineering, agricultural science, industrial chemistry and pharmacy.

An important project undertaken by the Old Boys Association was the ‘A Book for a Boy’ scheme. For most of its history the school had pupils who came from very deprived economic circumstances. Illness, broken families, unemployment all created problems. It has been noted that many boys left school as soon as a job presented. Hocking and Searby and more recently Langley and Woodfull had all taken up the theme of urging parents to allow boys to stay longer in the school. Aside from this were often cases of severe hardship. Woodfull stated that he was ‘very often confronted with a situation where a lad has ability but his parents are in financial straits and the boy's education is terminated at the Intermediate Certificate level’.[10] So Old Boys were urged to donate to ‘A Book for a Boy’ fund - a strange name, but donors were given a book as a thank you.[11] The fund immediately attracted donations, and by 1961 it had reached £1,000.

In addition the association had built the new memorial pavilion and scoreboard, installed the tower clock, and maintained a ‘Who's Who’ of Old Boys.

The OBA had five sports clubs in 1957: football (B grade amateurs), junior and under-16; lacrosse (five teams, A, B, C, under-14 and under-16); Hockey (five competitions, A1 A2, B C and under -16) cricket, A South VJCA, athletics five teams, A, D, H, and Junior A and C. In 1957 the athletics club saw twelve club records broken during the season. In 1957 the club had three athletes selected in the Victorian team: Ron Clarke in the mile and three mile events, Bill Angus in the hammer, and Graeme Noden in the broad jump. Meanwhile Merv Lincoln in the USA won the national mile championship.

In 1960 there was a C grade and junior section premiership for football. In 1961 the B grade team were premiers as was the junior team. Winning premierships for both the senior and junior teams, the Old Boys’ Football Club became only the second club in the history of amateur football to achieve a double in successive years.[12] Geoff Paul was coach, with players such as John ‘Jock’ Nelson and Bob Hance. Nelson won the VAFA best and fairest award for the third time in succession, an amateur record: in 1962 he was selected as captain of the Victorian Amateur team, and captain of the Australian team. In the successful junior U19 team in 1961 Colin Green kicked 100 goals in his first year. Bill Pole who was not only a founder but also key member of the rejuvenated football club was deservedly made an honorary life member. Bill and his wife Lorraine also continued their sterling efforts working for the school.

The cricket club had disbanded in 1942, but re-formed in 1962. The lacrosse team celebrated its fortieth anniversary in 1962, with Henry Volk, a founder, still active in the club, and with two teams still in the VALA.

MHS Masonic Lodge

Freemasonry was popular among men in this period, and many Old Boys belonged to various Masonic lodges. A large number of the existing lodges were school based, and so it was not surprising that Masonic Old Boys pushed for the formation of a MHS lodge. The Melbourne High School Lodge No. 759 was consecrated on 9 September 1954. The first Master was George S Peters, and he was followed in successive years by Frederick W H Schulz and R J Peters, all Old Boys who had considerable Masonic experience and held high office. Maurice Cohen was Secretary of the Lodge, and foundation members included George Langley, Bill Pole, George Stirling, Harry Tredinnick, Henry Volk, Edward McNicol, Paul Walshe, Keith, Noel and Malcolm McDonald, Rex Matthews, Maurice Ashkanasy and Leslie and William Batrouney. Among the first initiates into the Lodge were several teachers including Ben Munday, and prominent Old Boys such as John Elden, Leonard Boyd-Gerny, Ernie Drinkwater, John Harper and Geoffrey Walker. The Lodge, as well as undertaking its masonic work, became an important source of scholarships and financial help for students, but because of declining membership it wound up on Thursday 10 December 1987, its 368th regular meeting.[13]

In 1963 came the news that the 1963 Nobel Prize for medicine had been awarded to Sir John Eccles.

Membership of the MHSOBA had increased to a thousand, which was pleasing to the ever-anxious council. Thanks to active Old Boys in country areas, successful reunion dinners were held at Colac and Benalla, and the association maintained its support for the school with prizes, awards and funds. The Old Boys' memorial pavilion was substantially enlarged at mutual benefit to the association and the school.

The Old Boys continued to assist with scholarships, prizes and funds for such projects as new instruments for the band and an electric roller for the oval. There were still vocational guidance nights. The association itself now held a number of regional functions in country Victoria which were enthusiastically attended. There was also a link with Sydney High School, and MHS had a group at the Sydney dinners. In addition, in 1969 an annual cricket match was inaugurated between Sydney and Melbourne High Old Boys’ teams competing for the John Elden Cup, which Sydney donated.

Alan Middleton was president from 1961 to 1965, and Rob Stephenson was secretary from 1962 to 1967. In 1965 Alf Keam (MHS 1939-1941), a stockbroker famous as a student and Old Boy sportsman, took over as president. The OBA continued with its range of sporting teams and social activities, and each year it took on a special project. In 1966 it was the library, and books and money for books were donated. In 1967 rowing was the OBA project, providing boats for the generous pavilion donated by Harry Joffa.

John Elden became the eighteenth president of the OBA in 1967. Elden had been on the council of the OBA since 1936 and had given thirty years of remarkable service. He had taken a keen interest in the doings of Old Boys and in the history of the school. He compiled a first edition of a school register, and prepared a Who's Who of famous Old Boys. His outstanding service to the association had been recognised by honorary life membership in 1954. An officer in the RAAF from 1940, he had retired with the rank of Squadron Leader and in 1961 became Director of the Exhibition Buildings.

In 1967 the OBA celebrated its sixtieth anniversary. Middleton, concerned at decreasing membership, had launched a membership drive known as ‘Operation Socks Up’. In 1969 life membership cost £20 and annual membership £2. In April 1969 the OBA presented to the school a bronze plaque recording the names of the head prefects and school captains of MHS. Ten former Head prefects attended the ceremony, including the 1905 Head prefect. The press featured a photo of the first school captain A T S (Stan) Sissons, long serving Dean of the Victorian College of Pharmacy, with then current school captain Eric van Cuylenburg.[14] Another plaque was donated by the OBA, recording the headmasters of the National Model School which housed the first Melbourne High School.

Some success attended OBA sporting activities. Lacrosse began to thrive once again. Lacrosse pioneer Henry Volk chaired the club. In 1968 and 1969 there were three premierships won by the four teams, and by 1970 the senior team was back in A grade.

In 1969 Ron Seaman, president of the hockey club, could take pride in the A Grade and under-16 premierships, with all six teams doing well. In athletics the association had three senior teams and a junior team, and they were regularly in the finals.

The OBA journal, now called the Old Unicornian, appeared regularly with news of school and Old Boy events. John Dew had taken over from John Elden as editor, although Elden still contributed a good deal, including thoughtful editorials. There were items on many Old Boys each issue.

A disaster occurred for the OBA in November 1969 with the burning down of the much-prized memorial pavilion by an arsonist. The OBA had always battled to raise funds both for the school and their own purposes. Building the pavilion had been hard work, and it took fund raising over many years. The pavilion not only included dressing rooms for school teams and clubrooms for Old Boy teams, it also was a social centre for Old Boy events. It had been proudly opened in June 1953, and extended in September 1963, but now in 1969 it was a mass of scorched bricks and twisted metal.

The MHS Lodge continued actively during this period, the Master in 1967 being Carl Stewart, who was later to attain the rank of Grand Master.

In 1971 John Dew stepped down as editor of the Old Unicornian.  Sporting clubs continued in athletics, cricket, football, hockey and lacrosse, the lacrosse and hockey clubs being the most successful. The fitness club, which had been run since 1960 in association with the school gymnasium and pool, continued in the seventies.  The OBA devised a grand scheme to obtain ovals and a club house with sporting facilities at Albert Park, but it foundered for lack of funds.

In 1970 Jim Mountford took over from John Elden as president of the OBA, serving a three year term, and being succeeded in 1973 by Graham Worland.

The Association maintained its links with its Sydney High equivalent, sending a delegation to the annual Sydney dinner. In February 1970, former principal Brigadier George Langley attended an assembly to present a grand piano and a scholarship that Old Boys had given in his honour.[15]

In December 1971 the rebuilt memorial pavilion was completed. A re-creation of the original pavilion but with a larger first-floor area, it was first used at the match against Sydney High Old Boys on 2 January 1972, when MHS won the John Elden Cup.

The OBA continued to be an active force in School life:  in 1976 there were seven past presidents of the Association on the School Council. Ron Seaman was the Association's twenty-first president, and Lindsay Weate was general secretary. John Elden and Harry Tredinnick were elevated to be patrons of the Association, which now included seven affiliated clubs:  Athletics, Cricket (three senior teams and one junior), Fitness and Recreation, Football (two senior teams and two junior teams), Hockey (four senior teams and a junior team), Lacrosse and Swimming. There was also a MHSOBA Masonic Lodge. In 1976 the Association placed in the school foyer a plaque listing past presidents that was unveiled by Judge Jim Moore. On 12 December 1977 the upstairs room in the Memorial Pavilion was opened, and Bill Pole (MHS1930-34) was appropriately President for the 1977 Jubilee Year. In 1978 there were four hockey premierships, and two football teams made the finals. There was also a Water Polo Club. In 1979 Bob Kilby became President. In 1980 the senior hockey and cricket teams both won premierships. Reunions continued: when the exit students of 1955 had a twenty-five year reunion they filled the Memorial Hall.

The annual dinner continued as a feature of the year. Speakers (usually Old Boys) were David Parkin in 1981, Norton Hobson in 1983 (his retirement year), Senator the Honourable Allen Missen in 1984, the Honourable Evan Walker in 1985, and in 1986 as he retired, the Principal, Lou Barberis. The Governor of Victoria spoke in 1982. In 1982 the first of two live-wire presidents came into office, Campbell Bearlin, Old Boy and teacher at the school. By 1985 when Colin Green, also a teacher, took over, membership had increased to 1,500. In 1985 an Old Boys Luncheon club began, meeting each month except January, June and December with a guest speaker, initially at the South Yarra Club in Toorak Road then the Air Force Club in Cromwell Street South Yarra. These provided fellowship and first class speakers, usually Old Boys, on a wide range of topics, and soon a solid core of Old Boys, including former teachers, attended regularly. Lindsay Fox provided a pool of contract typists to place all School records since 1940 on the computer to provide a data base for the OBA and for the Building Appeal. The Association also helped to finance the new flag court in front of the school. In 1986 annual days for bowls and one for golf were added to the activities. Kenneth Jack, who had been a good friend of the school since he was a school boy, generously did a series of watercolours of the school for the Old Boys to sell as fund raisers: the Pavilion extension particularly needed funding. The past dramatic and musical talent of the school was drawn upon to form Melbourne Productions, an OBA affiliate that raised money by presenting a pantomime, and a musical show at the Palais Theatre: 25 Years of Opera.

The OBA, celebrating its eightieth birthday in 1987, continued to be an active force with its membership rising in the period from 1,700 members in 1987 to an all-time high of 3,500 in 1991. Colin Green proved to be an active and successful President. The Association was restructured in 1988 into one corporate entity, with semi-autonomous sporting clubs associated with it. There were various reunion dinners: twenty-five-year dinners were now regular occurrences and a special ‘forty years on’ dinner was held for 1950 students, as well as a ‘Golden Oldies’ for students from 1936 to 1945. The Annual Dinner continued to feature Old Boys as speakers, such as Bruce Woodley in 1988, Professor Glen Withers in 1989, and Simon Crean in 1990.

A major move was the renovation of the South Pavilion and, established above it, the Unicorn Club. The new club rooms were appropriately opened by John Elden in 1987. Much of the fund raising came from the generosity of Old Boy and artist Kenneth Jack, who painted a series of four watercolours of the School. A limited edition of signed reproductions was sold. The Students Assistance Fund continued to provide help to needy students. A bowls day and a golf day had become regular events. The sporting teams were most active in football, hockey, and water polo, but lacrosse had languished. In 1989 a rowing group started. The football team, a strong force in amateur football, was sadly relegated to D grade in 1988. However, a premiership in 1991 saw them climb back. A monthly luncheon club continued to function at the Air Force Club in South Yarra, providing stimulating speakers and enjoyable fellowship for Old Boys and for former teachers.

Colin Green involved Old Boys in the vital Building Appeal, which proved helpful to the School and to the Association in generating member interest. Premierships were achieved by the under 17 football team in 1989, 1990 and 1991; the under 17 hockey team in 1989;  and the under 16 cricket team in 1990. When Colin Green stepped down In 1991, his ‘outstanding achievements’ were noted by the Principal. Steve Pilmore took over as President.

The Melbourne High School Lodge gave financial support to the School, and, especially, help for needy students. With twenty-seven members at its foundation in 1954, the Lodge by 1966 had a hundred members. However, interest in Freemasonry declined from the 1970s, and by 1986, with attendance poor and few eligible members being moved to join, the Lodge decided to close, surrendering its warrant after a final meeting on 10 December 1987.[16]

There were several affiliated groups associated with the OBA: football, cricket, hockey, water polo, rowing, the Fitness and Recreation Club, Melbourne Productions, the Early Morning Fitness Group, and the Staff Association. In 1993 three of the four cricket teams won premierships, three of the four football teams were in the finals, and the water polo teams did well—the A team winning the pennant. The four hockey teams did well, and in 1994 a veterans’ team was fielded. Also in 1994 the football team was back in B grade, the hockey team was promoted, and the cricket club was also in senior division. There were ups and downs for the sporting teams: in 1996 the hockey League 1 team were minor premiers and the League 2 team major premiers. In 1998 the under-19 football team were premiers. In 2000 the hockey under-17 team were premiers.

In 2001 the cricket club reached the grand final, the football club remained in A grade and the water polo team continued in the top grade of the state league. The hockey club boasted several premierships. After three good years in A grade, the football club slipped to B grade In 2002: that year was one of the hockey club’s best years with five men’s teams, two women’s teams and a veterans team. Three teams were in grand finals, and two won. The top men’s team was in the top grade of the state league.

The early nineties saw the adverse economic climate which brought a slowing in the growth that Colin Green had generated in the Association. However, the luncheon group continued, there were social and sporting activities and regional dinners were held.

Old Boys were generous in supporting the school, especially with the Student Assistance Fund and Scholarships. In addition to the Bluey Truscott Scholar awards to Year 10 students, Old Boy Alan Kermond made a generous donation to provide at least one and sometimes two students with scholarships for university courses. The programme began in 2001, Robert Pulham being the first recipient, and in 2002 George Fincham financed a similar scholarship. There were scholarships at all levels, some recognising achievement and some providing financial help: many of the names evoke famous names of the past: the Truscott awards, the Arthur and Francis Moy Scholarship, the Marius Bannister award, the Simon Bergman scholarship, the W M Woodfull scholarship, the George Langley Citizenship award, the Myra Brown bursary, the Grigsby Family Performing Arts award, the H G Tredinnick gift, and the George Camakaris Library Resources Scholarships.

The association was involved in career and vocational nights for the school. Regular reunions of the cohorts according to the years in which they left School were an important part of OBA activity, thanks to the energy of Colin Green.

In this period the Association had three presidents: Steve Pilmore from 1991 to 1997, Colin Foley from 1997 to 2000 and from 2000 to 2009 Scott Green. Scott, son of Colin Green, had made a significant contribution to the association by means of his computer skills, establishing a MHSOBA website, and establishing a proper data base of Old Boys. Since late in 2009 Scott continues to be a driving force for directional change through the current Strategic Planning Committee.

Closely allied to the OBA was the Green Maroon and Black Foundation. In 1997 John Wertheimer was patron-in-chief. The founding Patron-in-Chief was Harold Seeley, a significant and generous benefactor of the OBA.

A notable event in 1996 was that John Elden stood down as editor of the Old Boys magazine, The Old Unicornian. It was not to be the end of his sixty years of service to the school, for he continued to work for the Association and the school. In acknowledgement of the extent and value of his contribution he was accorded the rare honour of having his portrait hung in the school. The Breakfast Club, a fitness group, continued. Colin Green continued to be a vital force, officially as Registrar, as president of the OB football team, Executive Officer to the Green Maroon and Black Foundation, organiser of Old Boys reunions, and the monthly luncheon. Dinners attended by Old Boys in Bendigo, in Sydney, and in London were other highlights.

Over its 100 years the association has had different forms, and different activities and it has had its ups and downs, but the fat is the association has endured and continued to be a vehicle to serve the school.

In 2005 the association appointed Margie Burton to take on the role as Administration Officer and PA to Colin Green. Since the end of 2005 the association’s output has grown significantly through the joint work of Colin and Margie.

In 2009 Andrew Neilson, former treasurer and long serving council member took over from Scott Green as president of the association. In 2010 the association restructured and welcomed specialist old boys onto council as ‘portfolio chairs’. The future will see further restructuring as the council of the OBA responds to increasing demands on its time from the school, the various interest groups of the association and the new MHS Foundation, now being run on a part time basis out of the MHSOBA office.

Alan Gregory



[1] Ours, September 1910.

[2] Ours, September 1926

[3] Ours, December 1925

[4] Unicorn, May 1928

[5] Harry Martin, Spring Street 1908-1910, served in the 1st AIF, held senior public service posts—Chief Accountant, Mental Hygiene; Chairman, State Tender Board—and was an active member of the MHSOBA council for many years.

[6] The Echo, 9: 2 September 1948, p. 3.

[7] The abbreviation 'HE' was short for 'His Excellency'. General Sir Dallas Brookes was the Governor.

[8] An old boy of Ballarat High School, he is the only man not an Old Boy to be president. However, it has been a strong tradition in the association for former teachers to have the same status as Old Boys.

[9] Elden continued to work on the school register.

[10] The Echo, December 1957.

[11] The book came in the form of a box, with the school badge on the lid: it was filled with sheets to take telephone messages.

[12] The junior team went on to win a third successive premiership.

[13] MHS Lodge No. 759 was re-established on Saturday 1 December 2001.

[14] The photograph was in the press 25 May 1969.

[15] This presentation was the work of the 1955 prefects and Lindsay Fox: Fox was responsible for many anonymous benefactions to the school.

[16] See James Holt A Short History of Melbourne High School Lodge, No. 759, 2002. After former members of the lodge had met socially for many years, an honour hoard commemorating the lodge was unveiled in the School on 7 May 2000 by the Grand Master, Old Boy Carl Stewart. A group of the former members determined to reopen the lodge, and in 2001 steps were taken with the help of Past Grand Master Henry Nathan, another Old Boy, and Grand Master John R Wilson, yet another Old Boy