Life On The Job


Indigenous Famous Person's Story

Glenn Robert James (1946 - ?) - UMPIRE (other occupation: TEACHER)

Glenn James

Introduction

"Glenn James is a proud Aboriginal man with an interesting family history:

I'm Yorta Yorta man whose mob are located on the Murray and Goulburn Rivers and both on my Mum and Dad's side. Mum is a total Aboriginal but my father is a bit of a mixture. My Dad's father was a Mauritian and he came to Australia and married an Aboriginal lady who was my grandmother, Ada Cooper. His name was Thomas Shadrach James. He was training to be a doctor at University of New South Wales but he got the shakes halfway through and that was a no-no. He then went to a place called Barmah in Victoria which is right on the river between Moama and Nathalia. He became the headmaster of the school, the herbalist, the doctor and the minister. He was out of this world in terms of what he did for the community at that time up there. My mother came from a place called Moonaculla which is further up into New South Wales near Deniliquin and Dad grew up on the mission at Barmah across the river at Cummeragunja....

I grew up in Shepparton and Mooroopna. (Source: Legends: The AFL Indigenous Team of the Century, p. 93)

Shepparton Victoria
Map showing Shepparton, Victoria where Glenn James grew up

Glenn was born in Shepparton in Victoria and is the 10th of 14 kids. His father worked in the Ardmona Cannery - the first indigenous employee to get long-service leave - 20 years. Glenn and his brothers were terrific junior footballers before playing in senior premierships at Wunghnu in the Picola League.

In 1968, Glenn was drafted. He spent a year in Vietnam. He once played on Geelong centreman Wayne Closter in a serviceman's match. Having left the army, he finished his carpenter's apprenticeship and eventually taught building studies at technical colleges, TAFEs and finally at Swinburne University. (Source: The Age 2008)

Glenn Robert James OAM is a former Australian rules football umpire in the Victorian Football League. James umpired the 1982 and 1984 VFL Grand Finals and is recognised as the only Indigenous Australian to umpire VFL or AFL football. (Source: Wikipedia)

"Forty years ago, Australia was a less educated country when it came to respect for indigenous Australians, and the footy field was, sadly, no different.

Which makes the epic success of umpire Glenn James, a black man officiating in the days of single umpires in a VFL match, all the more astonishing.

James was so good that he umpired 166 games between 1977 and 1985. He umpired two grand finals, in 1982 and 1984. He was named umpire of the indigenous team of the century and spent time as president of the VFL Umpires Association, as well as mentoring and coaching prospective AFL umpires.

James was named Victorian Aborigine of the Year in 1984 and was awarded an Order of Australia medal in 1987 for his services to teaching and his work in the community, which has included mentoring young indigenous inmates at Pentridge Prison.

James is an Elder of the Koori Courts in Melbourne and works for the Worawa Aboriginal College as a student ambassador, supporting Aboriginal students. You might know him these days as a panellist on the Marn Grook Footy Show, Channel 31's indigenous footy show in Melbourne, and he also commentates AFL matches for the National Indigenous Radio Service.

Glenn James was a trailblazer."
(Source: Blowing the Whistle)

"From 1977 on, Glenn James became one of the most popular umpires in the league, despite the fact he was regularly abused based on his identity. Perhaps the reason he was able to handle many of the players was due to a very simple strategy, rapport:

Wherever I went to umpire a game of footy, whether it be Wagga in the South West Footy League or the Diamond Valley League I knew everybody's nickname by quarter time. Whether it was Badger, Springer or Spinner, because if you knew them by their nickname then you had them eating out of your hand.....Also, I had really good hand-eye coordination as do most Indigenous players. (Source: Legends: The AFL Indigenous Team of the Century, p. 97)


Education:

Glenn James was the tenth child in a family of 14. His father, an Indigenous Australian of the Yorta Yorta people, worked in the Ardmona Cannery in Shepparton. The young James attended school at Gowrie Street School in Shepparton.

He has a Bachelor of Education degree as well as a Diploma of Technical Teaching.

James was a lecturer at Swinburne University for many years.


Swinburne University of Technology
Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne

James currently works for the Worawa Aboriginal College as a student ambassador, providing support for Aboriginal students. (Source: Wikipedia)

Glenn James

Worawa Aboriginal College
Worawa Aboriginal College

Former AFL umpire Glenn James has the distinction of being the first and only Indigenous umpire to make the grade at VFL/AFL level. Glenn officiated in Carlton’s premiership win over Richmond in 1982 and Essendon’s victory over Hawthorn in 1984. He is one of the most respected umpires of all time.

 Glenn saw service in the Australian Army and is a Vietnam veteran. He has a Bachelor of Education and a Diploma of Technical Teaching and has been in the teaching service for 35 years. Glenn is an Elder on the Children’s Court Section of the Koorie Courts. Glenn will take an active role in youth leadership development. He said ” I look forward to pursuing my role as Worawa Ambassador in contributing to a healthy and happy life for Worawa students”. (Source:
Worawa Aboriginal College)

Employment & Training:

Glenn James was an apprentice carpenter at  20 when he served in Vietnam in 1968. (Source: AAPNewswire)

With his brothers, James played for Wunghnu in the Picola & District Football League. After a broken jaw ended his playing career James turned to umpiring.

As an umpire James faced abuse from spectators on the basis of his racial background. In 1978 as a result of the nature of the abuse of James, lawyer Greg Lyons studied the legality of this abuse.

In 1985 James was President of the Victorian Football League Umpires Association.

VFUA
Victorian Football Umpires Association - website

Immediately after retiring from VFL umpiring, James was appointed in 1986 as Umpiring Careers Advisor with the Victorian Country Football League.

Between 1994 and 1996 James was AFL Assistant Umpires Coach.

James commentates AFL matches for the National Indigenous Radio Service.

National Indigenous Radio Service
National Indigenous Radio Service - website

 

He also is a panellist for the Marngrook Footy Show on NIRS  (Source: Wikipedia)

Marngrook Footy Show

Did You Know?

Marngrook - or ''game ball'', the Aboriginal name for the game played with a possum-skin ball in western Victoria in the 1800s - began as a radio program on community station 3CR in the late 1990s.
(Source:
The Age)

Experiences:

In 1968 James was drafted into the Australian Army and spent a year in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. James is one of two VFL umpires to have served in Vietnam, the other being goal umpire Trevor Pescud. (Source: Wikipedia)

Glenn James with his medals
This selection of three photos shows Glenn James with all his service medals.
 
Information with these photos: "Glenn James, an Aboriginal umpire and Vietnam War veteran poses for a photo in Melbourne, Wednesday, April 21, 2010. James, who presided over more than 150 VFL games, served in the Vietnam War. The then 20-year-old apprentice carpenter touched down in Vietnam in 1968, one year after the 1967 Referendum changed Australia's constitution to include indigenous people in the census."
(Source: AAPNewswire)

In 2008 James with former umpires Peter Cameron, John Sutcliffe and Andrew Coates; and then-current AFL umpires Scott McLaren, Mathew James and Ray Chamberlain recorded a song entitled The Man In White. (Source: Wikipedia)


“Glenn James was my mentor when I first got on the list. We trained from his place pre-season until he retired.

The main things he impressed on me were:
(1) to make each training session a quality one;
(2) incorporate a balanced lifestyle with umpiring, i.e. family and work;
(3) watch your diet!

He also taught me a lot about tolerance, as being an umpire requires you to have a thick hide and focus on the things that are important to you in your job and ignore the idiots around you. The comments people threw at him as we ran around where we trained really shocked me, but this was 23 years ago!


Field umpire Gavin Dore umpired 302 senior AFL matches including the 1996 AFL Grand Final. (Source: AFL Umpire Mentor Program Manual - page 16)


Glenn James
"Umpire Glenn James celebrates a goal with Dermott Brereton #23 for Victoria during the EJ Whitten Legends match between Victoria and the Allstars at the Shell Stadium in Geelong on August 29, 2000."
(Source: AFL Photos)

Honours:

  • Victorian Aborigine of the Year: 1984

  • Life Member of the Victorian Football League Umpires Association: 1984

  • Medal of the Order of Australia: 1987 - "For service to Australian Rules football and to the community." (Source: It's an Honour)

OAM
Medal of the Order of Australia
To read more about this medal, click
here.

 

Links

At Drysdale Football Day (2011)

At Drysdale Football Day
Legends - The AFL Indigenous Team of the Century 1905 - 2005

Legends
   

YouTube: AFL Explained:

 

YouTube: AFL Grand Final 1982

 


Activities

Online: Create a Slideshow to go with a recording of the Umpire's Song

PrimaryPrimary & MiddleMiddle

ICT Capability Australian Curriculum General Capability: ICT Capability

Critical & Creative ThinkingAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical & Creative Thinking

LiteracyAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and culturesAustralian Curriculum: Cross Curriculum Priorities: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

 

The AFL Umpires’ Theme Song to the tune of "As the Caissons Go Rolling Along"

1. Listen to the tune of "As the Caissons Go Rolling Along"

2. Work out how this song is sung to the tune and record your group's singing this song.

"Send a cheer over here
When the umpires appear
Nown they're wearing the red green or gold

Waving flags - paying frees
Running 'round the boundaries
The traditions of old they uphold

Remember human beings
Are not well oiled machines
When you think they may be wrong

So send a cheer over here
When the umpires appear
For without them the game can't go on"

3. Collect images, create a timeline, and, collect information about Glenn James.

4. Create a slideshow using your recording of the Umpire's song as the background music using Prezi

Prezi

 

Offline/Online: Create a new Umpire Football Card staring Glenn James

High SchoolSecondary

ICT Capability Australian Curriculum General Capability: ICT Capability

Critical & Creative ThinkingAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical & Creative Thinking

LiteracyAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and culturesAustralian Curriculum: Cross Curriculum Priorities: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

 

1. Using the following resources, create a new Umpire Football Card on Glenn James

 

Blueseum

Blues Museum

Look at the caricatures presented here - will you draw a caricature of Glenn?

Pimp the Face

Pimp the Face

An online face creator!

Postcard - Team of the Century
Or will you take inspiration from this postcard celebrating the Team of the Century?

Australian Rules Football Cards

Football Cards

A huge collection of AFL Football Cards

Material sourced from 

AAPNewswire

Blowing the Whistle

Sean Gorman, 2011 Legends: The AFL Indigenous Team of the Century, p.93 - 97.

The Age

Wikipedia

Worawa Aboriginal College

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