Ken Jackson

The highpoint of Ken Jackson’s umpiring career came in May 1958. For three weeks he was a VFL Senior umpire and compiled three-quarters of his eventual senior total. Four matches in a total of 182 on the Senior List but they were as high as it was possible to go and highlighted a nine year career.

Born Kenneth Martin Jackson on 21 April 1923 Ken was known throughout his umpiring life as ‘Action’. He joined the VFL Second Eighteen umpires in 1951 and was promoted to the Senior List in 1953. Promisingly he was appointed to three Second Eighteen matches and a country a final in his first season, an indicator of promise and of good things to come.  Injury affected his 1954 season and it took until 1956 before he was back in the Seconds again but by 1957 he was a regular and was also appointed to his first senior VCFL Grand Final – the Omeo and District.

On 17 May 1958 Ken took control of his first VFL senior match, North Melbourne versus Essendon, earning Heritage Number 229

It was a terribly windy day and both sides struggled to score against the wind. the Kangaroos held on to win in a tight last quarter against the breeze. Writing in The Sun-News-Pictorial Rex Pullen noted “Umpire Ken Jackson in his first game gave a fairly competent display. He always had control and gave the man with the ball every chance. He did not deserve to be slow-hand clapped, hooted and counted-out by supporters of both teams.”

A trip to Geelong the following week for their game against St.Kilda caused upset for the Saints who complained about the 45-21 free-kick count against them and a 15 yard penalty  against skipper Neil Roberts that ‘was a good 30 yards!’. The Age noted he would not tolerate St.Kilda’s ‘spoiling or mauling tactics’. The following week he had control of Carlton and Hawthorn and it was a year after that match that he had his fourth.

Bought in to replace Bill Barbour who was umpiring the inter-state match in Adelaide Ken had the North-Footscray clash in round 9. It was a tight match The Sun reporting, “…frustration bred spite. Punches were thrown, back-handers were dispensed liberally behind the play and every pack became a scragging spree.” Barbour returned the following week but it was Ken’s final VFL senior match.

In his final seasons Ken umpired numerous Grand Finals. In September 1959 he officiated in three in four weeks – Alberton, Canberra and Mildura -separated by the La Trobe Valley Preliminary Final. The following year he went one better doing four Grand Fianls in five weeks – South Gippsland, North Central, Western District and Edward River -separated by the South West District Preliminary Final. Even his last year showed three more.

Following retirement in 1961 Ken moved on to the East Suburban Churches Football League umpires before giving away the whistle altogether. His time at the VFL totaled four senior, 27 Second Eighteen and 151 VCFL matches.

As well as umpiring Ken had previous involvement in football through two years with St.Kilda Seconds and six seasons with Kew in the VAFA. The latter garnered the 1950 C Grade premiership.

After 45 years away from the Association Ken took the opportunity to become an Associate Member in 2007 thus completing ten years service and making him eligible for Life Membership which was conferred after a successful vote.

‘Action’ Jackson passed away on 2 January 2009.

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