LOOKING out from the pavilion over the football oval, Brian Gleeson fondly remembered his time as a boarder at St Patrick’s College.
The 1957 Brownlow medallist was humbled to return last night, more than 60 years after graduating, to be named in the St Pat’s all-time greatest football team from the college’s 120-year history.
“Well, it’s nice to honour those that have done well and the college gave us the opportunity to do well, but for everyone that’s raised up it unfortunately means someone else misses out,” Gleeson said.
“This college has been an incubator place for footballers in the VFL/AFL ... I’m just another one of those to do OK.”
Gleeson (St Kilda) was the first St Pat’s player to win the Brownlow Medal. He sustained a career-ending knee injury in the first practice match the next year.
Carlton great John James, who finished runner-up to Gleeson in the 1957 count, became the second in 1961.
Legendary Geelong premiership captain and coach Reg Hickey, who attended St Pat’s for one year, was named the college’s all-time captain and was represented by his two daughters at the gala dinner.
Four active players received all-time honours: Drew Petrie (North Melbourne), Matt Rosa (West Coast Eagles), Nathan Brown (Collingwood) and Clinton Young (Collingwood).
St Pat’s football director and chairman of selectors for the all-time team Howard Clark said it had been a fascinating but tough four-month process.
“How do you compare school footballers from generation to generation, like Robert Johnson (Melbourne) when he was a junior in the 1920s to players like Nathan Brown (Collingwood), Nick O’Brien (Essendon) and Jake Neade (Port Adelaide) in recent times,” Clark said.
“It became clearer after sticking to criteria based on careers that we decided on.”
The result was impressive.
Clark and his team started with a list of 102 VFL/AFL players that had been students at St Pat’s for at least one whole school year.
St Pat’s football captain Liam Duggan said it was amazing to look about the room at those who had played before him.
“It’s a big honour to captain a side with such a history,” Duggan said.
Duggan will lead a St Pat’s team vying to create its own history this year as the first school to win five consecutive Herald-Sun Shield titles, schoolboy football’s top prize.
St Pat’s equalled the record of Assumption College last year.
The college was prompted to create its greatest line-up after an initiative from governing body Edmund Rice Education Australia, which is sourcing nominees for its greatest-ever Christian Brothers’ footballers.
ST PAT’S ALL-TIME GREATEST LINE-UP
BACK: John Devine (SPC 1952-55/GEELONG), Danny Frawley (SPC 1976-79/ST KILDA), Gerald “Terry” Gleeson (SPC 1947-50/MELBOURNE).
HALF-BACK: Dick Hingston (SPC 1927-29/MELBOURNE), Reg Hickey, captain (SPC 1921/GEELONG), John James (SPC 1948-52/CARLTON).
CENTRE: Tony Sullivan (SPC 1963-66/MELBOURNE), Mick McGuane (SPC 1980-85/COLLINGWOOD/CARLTON), Matthew Rosa (SPC 2004/WEST COAST EAGLES).
HALF-FORWARD: Clinton Young (SPC 2003/HAWTHORN/COLLINGWOOD), Barry Richardson (SPC 1961-64/RICHMOND), Alex McDonald (SPC 1982-87/HAWTHORN/COLLINGWOOD).
FORWARD: Peter O’Donohue (SPC 1931-36/HAWTHORN), Robert Johnson senior (SPC 1918-20/MELBOURNE), Drew Petrie (SPC 1995-2000/NORTH MELBOURNE).
FOLLOWERS: Brian Gleeson (SPC 1947-52/ST KILDA), Anthony McDonald (SPC 1988-89/MELBOURNE), James McDonald (SPC 1989-94/MELBOURNE/GWS).
INTERCHANGE: Mario Bortolotto (SPC 1972-75/GEELONG/CARLTON), Les Mogg (SPC 1942-48/NORTH MELBOURNE), Maurice Sheahan senior (SPC 1920-25/RICHMOND), Nathan Brown (SPC 2002-06/COLLINGWOOD).