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News > Alumni News > Families Of Sydney High School: The McKays

Families Of Sydney High School: The McKays

Three Generations at High
22 Jun 2024
Alumni News

The McKay family’s connection with High commenced in 1930 when twin boys Laurie and Jack McKay entered the newly-constructed campus at the old Sydney Zoo at Moore Park. The identical twins had memorable times at school and, according to Laurie, were often in trouble but stuck together as twins usually do. On at least one occasion, one of them was given a detention but had other commitments and the other agreed to substitute for him. They were both competent tennis players and represented the school in what was then a very popular sport. Laurie McKay (1934) was Captain of Second Grade premiers in 1934 but his schooldays were cut short when he left school that year to take up a full-time trainee accountant position. Due to ongoing health issues, Jack McKay (1935) spent considerable time absent from school, but still managed to play in the successful 1935 First Grade Tennis team and attain the Leaving Certificate. Laurie worked as a public accountant and tax agent until his passing in 2007. Jack worked at the ANZ Bank but faced ongoing health issues and passed way too soon in 1958, aged 39. Both brothers spent time in the army in the 1940s.

The second generation commenced with Jack’s son John McKay (1960). John’s time was emotional, with his father’s ongoing poor health and subsequent passing when he was in Year 9. He has fond memories of the choir and working with the girls of SGHS in musicals and still has a number of good friendships which were formed at school. John spent a season rowing in the 6th IV and represented the school in Rifle Shooting. He went on to study medicine at Sydney University and specialise in nuclear medicine. He currently lives in Melbourne and in 2023 was awarded an AM for his services to the study of diagnostic PET scanning. Laurie’s son Bob McKay (1964) came from out-of-area Berala Public School, thanks to the then-Education Department rules which allowed academically-qualified sons of Old Boys to attend. He enjoyed participating in school life, even though it involved daily travel by train, tram and bus. Bob was School Captain in 1963 and represented the school in Cricket, Rugby, Swimming and Athletics. He won the SGHS Cup for games and sportsmanship in 1964 and was the senior CUO in Cadets and the first recipient of the DJ Duffy Sword of Honour. On leaving school, Bob played with the SHOBs rugby team whilst he pursued a degree in Civil Engineering at Sydney Uni. He subsequently worked for the NSW Government in highway construction and maintenance and played a significant role in the Hume Highway, F3 Freeway and Pacific Highway construction projects. Bob now lives in the Newcastle region.

The third generation commenced in 1985 when Bob’s eldest son Joshua McKay (1990) led the way for his two brothers. He represented the school in Swimming, Cricket and Rugby, and later dropped Cricket for Rowing, a love that he passed on to his children. Josh rowed in the First VIII for two years, was Captain of Boats and Senior Prefect. He went on to study Economics at Sydney Uni, and pursue a successful career in commerce and marketing, working overseas since 2007. Matthew McKay (1992) followed Josh into sport, representing the school in Cricket, Swimming and Rugby, also switching from Cricket to Rowing. Matthew rowed in the First VIII for two years and was the champion sculler, stroke of the VIII and Captain of Boats. He also played Rugby in the First XV for two years, culminating in being selected as hooker for the Representative GPS First XV and NSW schools in 1993. He and brother Ben played together in the front row of the 1993 First XV which had the honour of beating Joeys at McKay. Matthew earned a Sports Science degree from Sydney Uni and currently works as an ambulance paramedic in the Lake Macquarie area. Ben McKay (1993) represented the school in Tennis and Swimming and also rowed for a couple of years. His real passion was Rugby, and he was fortunate to have a cohort which included several good players. Ben played two years in the First XV as hooker and was selected to the GPS First XV and Australian Schools First XV, playing a Test against the touring Welsh Schools in Brisbane. After leaving school, Ben played in the Australian Under 19 Rugby team which played and beat the All Blacks U19s in 1995. That same year, he captained Randwick Colts Rugby, in a team coached by Old Boy Alan Gaffney (1964) which won the Sydney competition. Ben pursued a career in logistics management and currently lives in Sydney.

Footnote: When Bob was School Captain, the teacher/editor of The Record rang Bob’s dad for a story about his late father and the history of McKay Oval. Laurie took great delight in advising with a chuckle that his dad was still alive and had nothing to do with the establishment of McKay Oval. The three generations of McKays in this story loved playing there, but are not related to the McKays of McKay Oval fame.

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