JACK HARRISON — A VERY PROUD EX BALMAIN TIGERS PLAYER 1953-1954
Norm Pounder and Ken Vessey, Northern Sydney Wellbeing Officers always look forward to meeting up with any ex-players from the glory days of our great game and this was the case recently when we met up with 86 years old Jack Harrison at his family home in a leafy Northern Suburbs suburb. The visit had been made possible with the cooperation of his daughter Louise.
Jack was born and grew up in Balmain, being the second eldest of 10 children in the family; his wife Shirley is deceased and he has another daughter Amme, who along with Louise see he wants for nothing. He played his junior rugby league with the strong Leichhardt Wanders JRL Club, who is the oldest continuous running JRL Club in Australia since 1911. He was School Captain and Dux at Christian Brothers High School, Lewisham and went on to be an accomplished mathematics teacher with the then Dept.of Education, teaching in many country areas and working in the development of indigenous /multi-cultural education programs.
He told us he was very proud of the fact that his family knew “Bumper” Farrell and “Bumper” was instrumental in getting him graded with the Newtown DRL Club, whilst he was a teenager. However, his heart was with the Balmain Tigers DRL Club and he subsequently played for that Club. It became very evident during our visit that he was so proud to have played for the Tigers.
Jack is recorded as Number 419 player to have played 1st grade for the Balmain Tigers, playing 1st grade during 1953-1954 and many other grade matches wearing the Number 17 jersey as an inside centre. Words cannot describe Jack’s facial expressions, when we showed him a copy of the Balmain DRL Club Players’ Roll listing their 1st-grade players and saw his name at Number 419 and then showed him extracts from the bygone The Rugby League News Programs in 1953 listing him in the Balmain’s 2nd-grade teams in the centres at Number 17.
Louise told us she took her Dad to the NRL Grand Final in 2005 when Balmain triumphed over the Nth Queensland Cowboys 30 – 16 and she knows he will never forget that experience, as she won’t. Jack still completes the daily Sydney Morning Herald crosswords and Sudoku page, fully every day.
It was a real pleasure to meet this thorough Gentleman, Jack and we will stay in touch with Louise and visit him down the line. We presented Jack with a Men of League polo plus cap and wished him continued health.