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50 years of friendship

In February 1973, Mike Hibbs (OW1978), Steve Godwin (OW1978), Neil Croft (OW1978) and Dave Okey (OW1978) all started Year 7 at Wesley’s Syndal Campus (now the Glen Waverley Campus) from various primary schools, joining the ‘old boy’ (who had started in Year 4) Graham Charlton (OW1978). Placed into the four Houses of Nicholas, Draper, Powell and Waugh, the five sports nuts quickly formed a bond through a mutual passion for cricket and football on the Stewart or Williams ovals.

The undefeated 1974 Wesley College Football Team

Neil shares his recollections:

'We all got into trouble (Charlton always the cause) with the kindly Head of Campus, Bruce Gregory (OW1944) or the fierce assistant Mr Chesterfield, and we all were in awe of the sports master, Mr Thomas (who we all knew had run the boundary in the 1969 VFL grand final). We sang all the Wesley songs such as 'Grey Towers' and the hymns as well, 'Jerusalem' a favourite, now preferred by the English cricket supporters before play in a test match. We sang these and many others, firstly under the tutelage of music teacher Jim Wastell in Cato Hall, and then later of course, in Adamson Hall.

We were treated to somewhat risqué jokes from soon-to-be Head of Campus, Tony Conabere, in English in Year 9. We were scolded by Mr James or Mr Tozer in Maths, we were treated to the loud American twang of John Pogany-Powers in Year 10 English as he taught us Arthurian Legend. We had trips to Chum Creek where ex-Melbourne VFL star Bryan Kenneally ran the show. They were amazing memories.

Celebrating 50 years of friendship! Back row (L-R): Graham Charlton and Neil Croft Front row: Dave Okey, Mike Hibbs and Steve Godwin

None of us were super scholars but a few of us achieved ‘Colours’ in our respective sports which not surprisingly, meant more to us at the time (and probably now for that matter!) Fifty years on our friendships and memories remain, despite the tyranny of distance. We all attended each other’s weddings and together have represented the school several times at OWCA v OSCA Golf Days and APS Golf days as well.

We caught up at Christmas last year to cheer up Hibbsy after a knee replacement and recently gathered for a weekend to celebrate 50 years of friendship. We talked about our wives, ex-wives and kids, old memories of the school, teachers and schoolmates. We toasted to our friendship, which began at Wesley all those years ago and has endured to this day.'