THE STORY OF BILL JACKSON’S BATTLE TO PLAY VFL FOOTBALL
What started out as a fairly straight-forward and brief story for the Virtual Yallourn website, about Bill Jackson, ‘mushroomed’ into an article of some length.
Life’s journey is rarely a straight line; and this tale begins almost seventy years ago and has a few tricky twists and turns. Consequently, it seemed best to tell the story in two parts. The first deals with Bill Jackson’s attempt to play VFL football with Geelong; and the other part of the story centres upon Bill’s time as a pupil at the Yallourn High School in 1952 and 1953.
It is hoped that the article does justice to Bill not only as an accomplished footballer with the Blues but also as a dedicated student at YHS.
Pictured on left: 1. 1958 Yallourn Football Club 2. 2020 Bill and Betty Jackson
THE DOGMATIC DEMONS
SETTING THE SCENE
Late in 1953, one of the emerging young stars in local football, Bill ‘Ginger’ Jackson, was signed by the Melbourne Football Club. It was thrilling news for the sports-loving town of Yallourn; and a just reward for Bill’s dedicated training on the track and his courageous style of play on the field.
In that era, Melbourne FC, under the leadership of the legendary Coach Norm Smith and Secretary Jim Cardwell, was undertaking an aggressive recruiting campaign to re-build the Demon’s stocks. Mr Cardwell was a ‘man on a mission’ in the way he hunted far and wide for potential senior footballers; and Bill Jackson was just one of many young footballers pressed to sign with Melbourne in those times.
Note: Three of the mentioned players (in the extract) became household names during Melbourne’s Golden Era: Laurie Mithen, Ian Ridley and Clyde Laidlaw would, in time, become champions for the Demons. It is fair to say that Bill Jackson was in ‘good company’ at Melbourne in 1953. Initially, Bill was as ‘pleased as Punch’ to be listed with Melbourne. What youngster would not be?
However, Bill’s personal circumstances changed when, at the completion of his studies at Yallourn High School, he was granted a studentship to undertake Primary Teacher training at Geelong Teachers’ College.
Bill was without a car at that stage of his life; and to practise with Melbourne was not only onerous but quite expensive. Travelling to training (twice a week) and on match days by rail, stretched his ‘student budget’ and, more importantly, the time involved in such journeys could be best used in studying.
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