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The Association, known as the Associated Catholic Colleges of Melbourne, grew out of earlier organisations that provided boys’ colleges with formal and informal meetings for inter-College sport competitions. The earliest recorded mention of such meetings dates back to 1898 when CBC St Kilda met Wesley College and Parade encountered Melbourne Grammar in their annual football and cricket matches. Competition among Catholic Colleges grew out of the St Patrick’s Day Sports. It is hard to establish which came first, the St Patrick’s Day Procession or the St Patrick’s Day Sports.
Around 1906 the Procession was firmly established as an important official function and the custom was to have a gymkhana picnic sports day at its completion. The competition, open to all Catholic Colleges, country as well as metropolitan, was limited to athletics. All trophies, including the Archbishop’s Shield, were provided by the Archbishop of Melbourne.
In the early years of the century an organisation called the Secondary Colleges Competition included eight teams for football and cricket from the following Catholic and non-Catholic colleges: C.B.C North Melbourne, CBC St Kilda, St Vincent’s College South Melbourne, Carlton College, Caulfield Grammar, Brighton Grammar, Assumption College Kilmore, and an unknown College, possibly Stotts Business College. This association ended in 1909.
To replace the Secondary Colleges Competition a group of six Brothers’ Colleges established the Secondary Teams Association on April 2, 1909, and started competing in 1910. The names of these Colleges remain unknown. At the time football and cricket were the only sports offered. It was not until 1914 that regular matches (fixtures) were drawn up. Athletics was still provided by the St Patrick’s Day sports until the early 1930s.
The Secondary Teams Association later emerged as the Metropolitan Catholic Colleges. It offered competition in football, cricket, and swimming. Thus was formed an association of Catholic boys’ colleges in the city of Melbourne as distinct from a Catholic country sporting organisation.
The Associated Catholic Colleges came into being in June, 1948. The founding members were seven Brothers’ Colleges of Melbourne: CBC Parade, CBC St Kilda, CBC North Melbourne, CBC Essendon, CBC Toorak, De La Salle Malvern and St Bede’s Mentone. The first president, Br. Peter, Principal of De La Salle College Malvern, presented the Premiership Cup for football to Parade College, the winner of the first official ACC competition.
The new association, restricted to city and suburban Catholic colleges, proposed to offer its members cultural and sporting activities. It also provided Principals with an opportunity to discuss matters affecting the affiliated colleges. Cultural activities among ACC Colleges were never really developed. The sporting activities, however, from the original football, cricket and swimming, came to include athletics, cross-country, hockey, soccer, tennis and basketball. From time to time other sports, such as handball, have been played.
The general management of the association is placed in the hands of the Principals who meet at least three times a year. The practical organisation of ACC sport competitions is the responsibility of the Sporting Activities Committee which groups the Sports Co-ordinators of the member colleges under the chairmanship of one of the Principals. A secretary and an assistant secretary, appointed by the Principals, plan and co-ordinate the business of the Sporting Activities Committee.
The first twelve years of the association were followed by a period of expansion. St Kevin’s, Toorak left the ACC, but the following colleges increased the membership to ten: St Joseph’s Marist Brothers College, North Fitzroy (1958), Salesian College, Chadstone in I966, St John’s College, Braybrook (1970), and St Paul s College, Altona North (1978).
In 1979 St John’s College became a Junior Secondary College; Chisholm College was formed to cater for co-educational senior secondary classes. Both Colleges constituted one member in the ACC. St Joseph’s College, North Fitzroy, left the association in 1978 and Salesian College, Chadstone, withdrew at the end of 1983.
At the end of this second period, the Associated Catholic Colleges of Melbourne was comprised of the following eight members: Parade College Bundoora, Christian Brothers’ College St Kilda, St Joseph’s College North Melbourne (incorporating St Joseph’s College Pascoe Vale), De La Salle College Malvern, St Bede’s College Mentone, St Bernard’s College Essendon, St John’s/Chisholm College Braybrook, and St Paul’s College Altona North.
The late 1980s saw a further broadening of the range of sports offered as part of the ACC and the introduction of junior competitions in a number of additional sports.
Chisholm College withdrew from the Association at the end of 1987, but St John’s Braybrook continued to compete in the Junior and Juvenile sections of the Athletics, Swimming and Cross-country competitions and the Year 10 competitions of the other sports. St Joseph’s Pascoe Vale also withdrew from the Association in 1988 and Cathedral College, East Melbourne with Trinity College, Brunswick, both feeder Colleges for CBC North Melbourne, formed a combined squad to participate in the three major carnivals.
Increasing concern at the one-sided nature of many matches and competitions due to the ever-widening gap in enrolments between some Colleges led to the creation of the Division 1 and Division 2 competitions in some sports in 1990.
Geelong competed in the First XVIII, Division One, Football competition by invitation commencing in 1992. To cater better for younger students a series of one-day competitions was introduced in the second half of the 1990s for Year 7 and 8 students.
The establishment of new Colleges by amalgamations resulted in the closure, and consequent withdrawal from the Association, of Cathedral College at the end of 1995, and St John’s Braybrook at the end of 1996. From 1996, North Melbourne competed in Senior events only and in 1997 St Joseph’s College Geelong became a full member.
1999 saw the expansion of the Association with Salesian, Mazenod and Whitefriars Colleges becoming full members and the employment of part-time Executive Officer in John Morrison. This year also saw the introduction of separate fixtured competitions for Years 7, 8, 9, and 10. This expansion of the program resulted in the ACC competition being held over three afternoons rather than on Wednesday afternoons only.
In 2000, Samaritan College (an amalgamation of Redden Preston and St Joseph’s North Fitzroy) joined as a full member of the ACC whilst Trinity College Brunswick and Simonds College West Melbourne both joined as Associate members which enabled competition in Carnivals and Rally Days, but not weekly fixtured competition. 2001 saw Trinity Brunswick withdrawing from ACC competition and the introduction of Debating and Music to extend the ACC program of activities.
At the end of 2004 John Morrison completed six years of service before passing the Executive Officer baton to Paddy McKenna. Given the consolidation and further development of ACC sport and the extension of ACC activities into the areas of Music, Debating and Student Leadership, ACC Principals have seen fit to make the Executive Officer position full-time in 2005. As further demonstration of the ACC’s commitment to provide students with a diverse range of activities, an ACC drama workshop was held for Yr 9/10 boys for the first time in 2005. Public Speaking was also added to the program for the first time in 2007.
The ACC Music program was expanded in 2008 to include a combined concert at Hamer Hall (The Arts Centre) in Melbourne. St. Paul’s College in Altona North opened a new co-educational campus in Point Cook to complement the boys campus and changed its name to Emmanuel College . At the conclusion of 2008, Samaritan College closed, ending their involvement with the ACC. In late 2009, St. Joseph’s Melbourne closed its Junior Campus in Pascoe Vale, leaving its Senior Campus to close at the end of 2010. The Association became an Incorporated entity in early 2009.
In 2013, the Activities program was extended further to incorporate an Arts & Technology Exhibition for the first time. The Exhibition was held at Federation Square, Melbourne. Badminton was included for the first time as an Open and Junior tournament.