Ron Moroney (1962) helps out in Joeys’ archives once a week. A stellar student, he was College dux and a champion debater. He also played First XI cricket, and returned in the mid-1960s to teach alongside the Brothers that had taught him. His dad, Jack (1935), played seven Test matches for Australia. Joeys and cricket are in Ron’s DNA.
I came to Joeys because I got an Old Boys’ scholarship based on my Dad who did his final year in 1935.
Because Dad was working as a teacher at an Aboriginal settlement school at Nulla Nulla Creek near Kempsey, I was sent to Homebush in Sydney in Year 6 to live with Nana and Pop and attend Christian Brothers Lewisham. I was set to continue there in Year 7 on a bursary, too, so they weren’t very pleased when during the holidays word came through that I’d be going to Joeys in 1957.
I wasn’t unfamiliar with what happens in boarding because prior to coming to Homebush I had done it for a year at Smithtown Convent on the Macleay River.
I have nothing but fond memories of Joeys. I was so busy I didn’t have time to be bothered about fitting in. Academically, it was head down, bum up. I don’t remember ever sitting and talking to other people in class!
There was a lot of listening and doing exercises out of a book – and I don’t recall using the library in six years because I didn’t have time. It was just activity after activity, sport, evening meal, study, dormitory…
Talking sense: Ron Moroney (right) and his GPS debating teammates Terry Heinrich (1962) and Mark Walters (1962) won the 1962 competition by defeating Riverview in a debate with the subject “The Best Things in Life are Free”.
Br Liguori, the famous maths teacher, was my favourite. He was a gun – he was senior maths master for 44 years. I repeated via the Br Liguori scholarship so that I could have another year with him and did honours maths (now 4 unit).
When I was a teacher at Joeys from 1966, Tony Lantry OAM (1956) and I used to have a scotch with Br Liguori every year on his birthday, which lasted until 1972, when he died aged 84.
The food at Joeys varied. Sometimes they made a genuine effort, like with lamb chops. But by the time we got them – there were 580 boys and not many genuine cooks – they were cold and congealed and inedible.
In 1967 the caterers came in, but before then it was a bit of a halfway house – quite a few blokes from Long Bay Gaol used to come here to work in the kitchen and dining room. But the food didn’t do us any harm. Undoubtedly, we were some of the fittest 13- to 18-year-old boys on the planet! So what we were eating worked.
I played for the First XI but Trevor Boyd (1961) was our best batsman by a long way. Mentally, he was about 10 years older than the rest of us. He played in the firsts in Year 7! We rated him a level above Rick McCosker, who played Test cricket for Australia and with us at the Sydney Cricket Club in 1967.
Trevor had led the Sydney grade averages in 1966, but played only five games for NSW in the Sheffield Shield because he was married and studying law and couldn’t afford to put the time in.
Dad hardly ever saw me bat because he was always playing or coaching. He never looked over my shoulder. The only advice he gave me was: “You won’t make any runs in the grandstand.”
“The food at Joeys varied, but it didn’t do us any harm – we were undoubtedly some of the fittest 13- to 18-year-olds on the planet.”
I was the dux in my final year, and second the previous year. Back then a lot of guys repeated because they didn’t get a Commonwealth scholarship for university the first time around.
I did science at the University of Sydney – but I didn’t enjoy it because it was far too impersonal. If I had my time again I would have lived in at the university, but the colleges weren’t exactly hotbeds of learning either! I did maths, physics and chemistry under sufferance – plus psychology.
Towards the end of third year, I was thinking of teaching. I was playing grade cricket at Waverley for Sydney in 1966, and one of the Brothers came out to see me and asked if I would be interested in teaching maths at Joeys.
When I look back, I can see that teaching put a bit of a hole in my cricket career with Sydney in the first grade cricket competition. I wasn’t going to many practice sessions because I was helping out with the First XI at Joeys – I was effectively the coach. I had done well enough to be picked in the NSW colts practice squad with John Benaud and Trevor Boyd, but practice was on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the SCG and I couldn’t go because I was at school.
It didn’t bother me. If I’d been able to attend practice I would have been knocking on the door of the state team, but I don’t think I would have gone beyond that. I was enjoying everything at Joeys so much anyway.
By 1973 I’d completed eight years of teaching at Joeys. I was 29, and my mates had been to other parts of the world and I thought I’d like to go and have a look. I went to England and ended up at Cheshunt School just out of London.
The Class of 1962: Ron Moroney (front row fourth from left) with his cohort, the Leaving Certificate A Class.
It was my first experience of a state, co-ed school. I enjoyed it, plus they played cricket and rugby. At the end of 1974, they were silly enough to put me in charge of the new fifth year.
The next year the first cricket World Cup was on. I went to a lot of the games because Rick McCosker was playing in the Australian team and he gave me tickets. I also played a bit of club cricket, which wasn’t quite the same level as here but still enjoyable.
My last full-time teaching job was in 2005. For several years I have been marking maths papers at Parramatta Marist High School, which I really enjoy.
I pretty much stumbled into the archives at Joeys. In 2016, I got a call from Chris Deegan (1977) who was coaching cricket here. He’d been captain in 1977 when Joeys were GPS premiers and he wanted to revive the Old Boys game against the First XI, which had been allowed to die in the mid-’90s. Because they would be playing for the Tony Lantry Trophy, he asked me to find old photographs of the teams Tony coached to display at The Park pavilion. That’s where my association with the archives began.
In 2017 Joeys invited me to present cricket caps to the First XI – a real honour.
Earlier this year, I was at Trevor Boyd’s funeral at the Lake Macquarie Crematorium. There were lots of Old Boys present and it was good to see Michael Hill (1961) who also played for NSW. We are all getting old!
I still enjoy coming back to Joeys. I’m fascinated by the number of boys who will say “Hello, Sir” – even though they don’t know me from a bar of soap. It’s always been the way. I love the lack of pretence. It’s always one in, all in together. I have worried that with day boys coming to the College it would become just another wealthy independent school but that isn’t the case.
What really stands out for me are the achievements of the College and how inspiring they are. You always knew that the rugby and academic achievements at the College were great, and it gave you momentum to want to do well, too.