Mr Crotty

Mr Crotty took me for Geography at Ward Hall, my first year at Xaverian. His teaching technique was, shall we be kind and say, somewhat old fashioned. As far as I can recall it consisted entirely of dictation. He would write some headlines on the blackboard and then proceed to dictate to the class so the whole lesson was spent writing his notes. One or two of my classmates became a bit restless and the usual technique of distraction was employed to dispel the boredom. It was widely believed that he was shell-shocked from his experiences in World War II but it could equally have been as a result of manning the teaching trenches for too long – who knows?

He always wore a trilby hat and would occasionally umpire cricket matches. I remember once when the assembled team saw him in the distance while we were preparing to take on one of the local grammar schools. Instead of walking round the perimeter of the field to find the entrance, he decided it made more sense to attempt to climb over a six foot fence, complete with his trilby firmly on his head and dressed in his best Gannex coat looking for all the world like the bumbling comedian, Harry Worth. We could hardly concentrate on the game for quite a long time afterwards.

On another occasion, several of the remedial members of the class decided to liven the lesson somewhat, putting a dead mouse in the teacher’s desk at the front of the class would be a spiffing idea. A good ten minutes were spent attempting to get Mr Crotty to open the desk. When he did and saw the deceased rodent, he appeared to jump vertically a good foot in the air. Having said that, he took the jape well and gained a lot of respect from the future delinquents that made up my class. God bless Mr Crotty!

7 thoughts on “Mr Crotty”

  1. I have some hilarious memories of Mr. Crotty (or as we called him Bernard). I was there from Sept 1957 until June 1962. Think the funniest one was in Lower 5/2 and the entire form were in detention for someone having committed some misdemeanour or other. Bernard was charged with looking after our detention. We’d probably been there for 20 minutes or so when Bernard fancied a smoke so he lectured us to behave as he departed. One lad I remember well was a be-freckled Francis Green from Woodhouse Park Wythenshawe. He was a bit of a loner who had a ginger Beatle cut and he was known to be a bit of a one-off chancer. His desk was beside the window looking out onto the playground and he’d clearly had enough as he lifted up said window, just as Bernard opened the door returning to his detention overseeing duties. Quick as a flash, Francis disappeared head first through said window leaving Bernard witnessing his disappearing legs. He was fairly perplexed and somewhat befuddled! All in all, Bernard was a square peg in a round hole but from my point of view, not a bad man at all. May he rest in peace.

    • Excellent, John, thanks so much. I seem to remember you used to play cricket for the school team? If that’s the case, we share a cricketing experience I remember vaguely…. Bob

      • Hello Bob, Thank you for the welcome to the fold! Immediately, I have to confess, whilst we HAD to play the leather on willow game (compulsory summertime sport and occasionally, I would even enjoy those moments) the game of my heart was football. I never played cricket for the school.It wasn’t that I didn’t like it at all but more that I enjoyed the dynamism and immediacy of the one on one challenge of the 11 man game ALL of the 11 on the pitch together. My dear Dad was a cracking amateur footballer and was a more than useful “striker” (although God bless him, he wouldn’t ever have recognised that terminology. As far as he was concerned, his position was number 8 inside right.) In my case, I was number 2, right full back and defender – in truth, think Dad was a bit disappointed TBH !! Sadly, he never lived long enough to see my son play the game having died suddenly at 48. To use an old Irish phrase “if God had spared him”, he would have been overjoyed to see his eldest grandson play – because Anthony was a striker and every bit as good a goalscorer as his grandad! Although slim and gangly as a boy, when he’d finished growing, he became physically bigger and stronger than both ME and the grandad he only vaguely remembers. Anthony is 53 now and he both managed and played in a team until he was 40 – the swine beat my record of playing until I was 39!! Anyway, to change the focus! The lads I played with for Xavs both come and go in terms of my recollection now – I am 76 – and sometimes I fleetingly recall some names more readily than others which both puzzles and annoys the bloody life of me!! So I’m going to stop at this point but I do still have numerous questions (as well as anecdotes to share!) about those youthful days so I will indeed return – if God spares me Bob!!

        • Thanks John, I am quite sure I do remember you but maybe my cricket memory (a last wicket stand when I was drafted into the Second XI) was with another partner.
          Any anecdotes you have would be greatly appreciated – the site will only survive with a constant refresh! Any details you have of how your life subsequently turned out would also be useful.
          Send any contribution directly to me at

          Thanks Bob

    • I can confirm that this did happen. My foot caught the frame of th window as made my exit, This caused me to land on the path on my knees. I was unable to move. I was taken to hospital for observation and was told I was suffering from “traumatic arthritis”. Strangely, no one asked how I came to be face-down on the concrete path with my satchel in hand. My knees are ok today. No lasting effects.

  2. Memories of some of the teaching staff are sometimes on point and sometimes blurred. Mr “Jack” Gleason was a good Geordie lad who managed to strike a very good rapport with a good many of my class mates. A bit of a laugh was normally always present about the weekend football clubs – of course he was a Magpie but we were always very sympathetic and never held that against him! I remember with crystal clarity the day that he handed back our English homework always accompanied by a remark or quip that gave the pupil a “flavour” of his opinion on their previous night’s scribing efforts. Calling out pupil by pupil, you went to collect your submission and always I will remember his comment on mine. “White – never uses 6 words where 12 will suffice!” Absolute class – and in all truth, he was smack on the mark – as is STILL evident in any composition of mine!! I remember too father and daughter Eaton – our Maths teachers with a fair amount of affection, particularly for “Pop”. I well remember one morning maths period with him which just happened to be the Monday morning following St. Pat’s Day that weekend. As I am descended from Irish immigrants, I attempted to lighten the opening minutes (and of course keep him away from the tedious geometry! he was going to deliver!) by asking him whether he had enjoyed a Happy St.Pat’s day. His reply was a gem and I still see him delivering his response which was “NO I did not”. So I followed up immediately with “An Irishman who didn’t enjoy St. Pat’s day sir how’s that?” Quick as a flash, his reply which I can hear even now, was “I never enjoy meself when I’m unconscious!” Superb!!


Leave a Reply to John White Cancel reply