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!