News Adelaide 11 May 1940 P4 Johnny Quinn
News Adelaide 11 May 1940 P4 Johnny Quinn

News Adelaide 16 May 1940 Johnny Quinn Banner 600thumb
News Adelaide 16 May 1940 Johnny Quinn Banner 600thumb

WHEN ANGRY CROWD MOBBED "JOHNNY" QUINN AT HINDMARSH (1940, May 16). News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), p. 19. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from

AT HINDMARSH Former Umpire writes His Reminiscences

As long as football continues, the name of "Johnny" Quinn will never be forgotten. Probably the most colorful football umpire Australia has known, he retired from Amateur League games a few weeks ago after 12 years' umpiring in junior, league, and interstate football.

"Johnny's" reminscences are as colorful as his own career. He has written them for "The News," and they will be published in a series of articles, beginning today.

No. 1-By J. J. Quinn

"'WHO would be an umpire?" This is a remark heard repeatedly from football supporters. It means to imply that an umpire's task is not an enviable one.

But after officiating in league, country, and junior football for 12 years, I found the call of the whistle so strong that I could not resist the temptation of donning the white clothes again last season and officiating in the S.A. Amateur League games.

There is something fascinating about taking charge of 36 trained athletes in the presence of 30,000 or 40,000 people.

It makes up for all the criticism that is heaped on your head. It's impossible to please everybody, as I found out early in my career. I shall never forget my sensational introduction to a crowd's wrath

It was in my first season -in 1921- and it was the last match of the minor round.

Port Adelaide were playing West Torrens on the old Hindmarsh Oval. Port were minor premiers and Torrens had to win the match to gain a place in the final four.

Harold Oliver was captain of Port, and the Port players were quite free with their remarks that they did not mind Torrens winning and going into the four. Oliver repeatedly told his players not to bustle or hurt themselves, but to save themselves until the next Saturday.

Torrens could not win, however, even in those circumstances.

They could not kick straight, and during the closing stages of the game they kicked three behinds from right in front of the posts, when goals would have given them a win.

Was Guarded by Players

In the last moment of the game, "Brick' Stone, Torrens goalsneak, flew for a mark, in the square. He grasped the ball but did not hold it. I called, "Play on.' The bell rang, and Torrens had lost the game by a few points.

Pandemonium broke out. It seemed as if the whole of the spec tators present swarmed on to the oval and made straight for me.

Players of both sides surrounded me. Torrens players escorted me to their room and then to the umpires' room. But the crowd was loth to let me depart.

A thousand or more waited outside my room, and I will always remember the action of a West Torrens committeeman. He came into my room and asked whether I was ready to go. He said he had a car to take me to the Bowden station

He escorted me to the gates behind the pavilion and the crowd surged forward. There he left me to myself. No car was in sight, and I was eventually rescued by a solitary policeman who guarded my progress, to the station, still followed by 1,000 or more angry Torrens supporters.

Stones were thrown and my guardian of the law received a hit on his ribs from a large stone.

When I arrived at the Port road the crowd was so large and hostile that the police took me into the police station.

Vic. Tyler and Dick Tompkins, secretaries of-Port and Torrens respectively, arrived, and arrangements were made to get me away in a taxi.

While waiting for the car, a taxi with drawn blinds came along and passed the police station. The crowd, which had been removed some distance from the station, noticed it, and crying out. "There he goes." stopped the car as it went through the plantation.

A surprised bride and bride groom were the only occupants of the car.

While this little interlude was going on my taxi came along and I made my escape.

There was a rather peculiar decision given by the league on an incident which occurred during the trouble. A Torrens player interested himself in the demonstration while I was proceeding to the police station, and when Dick Tompkins arrived, I informed him that I would report the player for abusing and threatening me.

The rules of the game give protection to the umpire up to 12 o'clock midnight on the day of the match.

The then chairman of the league, Mr. McLachlan, heard the case, but although he found the player guilty, he refused to impose any penalty, referring the matter of penalty to the full league.

The league took the rather curious view that, as I had not informed the secretary of the club before I left the oval that I intended reporting the player as the rules required in ordinary circumstances, they could not impose any penalty.

Seeing that the act was committed after we had left the oval, they had required me to do something that was entirely impossible.

Daily Herald 16 May 1924 P2 Umpire J.Quinn
Daily Herald 16 May 1924 P2 Umpire J.Quinn
Daily Herald Adelaide 23 May 1924 P6 Be Careful
Daily Herald Adelaide 23 May 1924 P6 Be Careful

Courage Needed by Umpire

SEVERAL essentials are necessary if an umpire is to make a success of the profession and withstand the pit falls that surround the task.

If you do not possess these essentials, or cannot acquire them, then surely you will fail.

First it is absolutely necessary to have full knowledge of the rules-so fully that, when necessary, you can disregard something in the rule book and put into operation another instruction that will benefit the game at a particular juncture.

Rigid application of the rules will surely spoil the Australian game, and, to depart from the rules for the game's sake, an umpire must be fully cognisant of what he is doing.

Then there is courage-not only courage of convictions, but physical courage.

I can assure readers that it does require that very essential attribute courage-to take charge of even a junior game. This was especially so in the days when there was no league control over junior football associations, as there is today.

Then an umpire had to be prepared to withstand the wrath of the losing side's supporters, who were only too eager to lay the blame for their side's defeat on the unfortunate umpire.

News Hobart 18 Jul 1924 P3 An Incident At Adelaide Oval
News Hobart 18 Jul 1924 P3 An Incident At Adelaide Oval


A sense of humor is also necessary. At times, when a very serious situation may arise, some small joking remark may save a melee or an attack on oneself.

Although pace is a factor in an umpire's make-up, this would be of no value without anticipation.

By anticipation I mean the know ledge of the trend of the game, so that you may be in the best position to give decisions without having to cover long distances, to keep up with the game.

Naturally physical fitness is one of the chief essentials. Without stamina, it is impossible to keep a clear head, and a clear head is absolutely necessary to control fast games of football.

If your limbs are weary it reacts on your brain. Your vision is dulled with the result that you are not alert, and the game gradually slips out of control.

In his next article, to be published on Saturday, Quinn tells how he became an umpire, and how he worked out idea's for signalling frees to players.

News Adelaide 18 May 1940 P4 Johnny Quinn Banner
News Adelaide 18 May 1940 P4 Johnny Quinn Banner

Mail Adelaide 12 Aug 1922 P3 SA Team
Mail Adelaide 12 Aug 1922 P3 SA Team

ANTICS ON FIELD Gestures Won Fame For Quinn

"Johnny" Quinn was a personality in South Australian football. Everyone misses that active little figure in white gesticulating in a manner that once earned him the name of the theatrical umpire from a football writer.

Now "Johnny" is writing his colorful reminiscences, and in the second article of the series he reveals how he launched out as a league umpire and how he brought his plans for signalling frees into action. No. 2--By J. J. Quinn

MY umpiring career began in the Port Adelaide and Suburban Football Association. I played until 1913 and was secretary of the Semaphore Centrals in 1914. 1915, and 1919. At the conclusion of the 1919 season I resigned as secretary, sent in an application as umpire, and was accepted.

On the whole I was considered a "pretty fair kind of umpire" in the Port Adelaide and Suburban Association, and when the finals approached there were two umpires in the running - Arthur Raven and myself.

We were given a semi-final each, and then the deadlock occurred.

One club wanted Raven and the other myself. Neither would budge, and then it was suggested that they toss a coin to decide.

Luck went my way, as the team who wanted me won the toss and I was appointed.

During the summer months the Port Adelaide and Semaphore footballers congregated on the Semaphore beach on Sunday mornings and indulged in a game of rough and tumble.

Two or three balls were used, and 1 can well remember Mick Donaghy, the old Port Adelaide captain, going home nearly every Sunday with his silk shirt torn off his back.

After the game we would lie on the seaweed and relax. It was during one of these relaxations that I announced that I intended applying to the league for the position of field umpire.

What an uproar it caused. Knowing my quick temper the boys regarded it as the joke of the year, and predicted that when the crowd showed their displeasure at my decisions during the game I would jump the fence and "have a go at them." But the year in junior' football had given me a little balance.

I replied that the laugh would be mine when I was appointed to control the interstate game the following season.

I was confident that I would be successful, but their "throwing off" had made me a little dubious and my remark about being appointed to the interstate game was sheer bravado.

Job to Get Matches

APPLICATIONS closed on the following day at 4 p.m. at the league rooms. I was standing near the Port Adelaide Post Office just before 12 noon and was considering whether I would post my application.

The mail closed at that hour, and Jim Hodge. the genial secretary of the Port Adelaide Club, happened to come along.

He advised me not to heed the remarks of the previous day. I posted the letter and the die was cast.

I still had to be chosen by the league, and so eager was I to continue my career as umpire, in case my application was refused by the league, that I had applied to several junior associations who required umpires.

To my great surprise and delight I was chosen by the league to participate in the preliminary matches.

But league matches were not so easy to obtain in those days. Men like Charlie O'Connor, "Buck" Johnstone, Jack Morton. and Charlie Waters were hard to displace, and with monotonous regularity I was appointed to the boundary of league matches with a B Grade match sometimes thrown in.

Then one Wednesday night it happened. I received my notice on Thursday morning that I had been appointed to officiate in the match Sturt v. West Adelaide on the Adelaide Oval.

I could hardly wait for the Saturday to come, so eager was I to put into operation the ideas I had formulated for becoming a first class umpire.

There was quite a big crowd in attendance - some 10,000 people - and I sallied forth to do my duty. It was not quite so easy as I imagined it would be to face this huge crowd.

The roars coming from their throats unnerved me, and I felt like throwing in the towel.

But instead I decided that I would show the crowd and the players why I was giving the free kicks.

When a trip occurred 1 grasped my ankle. A push in the back would be demonstrated by putting out my arms in front of me and extending them.

I would grasp my neck when I gave a free for "round the neck."

Also I could see that if I took notice of the crowd's hoots and cheers I would fail. So I took the "bull by the horns" and smiled through it all.

In after years those momentous decisions of my first match helped me considerably.

At the time, however, other people thought differently. I was eager to know how the press viewed my performance and eagerly bought "The Mail" on Sunday morning.

Mail Adelaide 14 May 1921 P5 Sturt v West Adelaide
Mail Adelaide 14 May 1921 P5 Sturt v West Adelaide

And what a "flop." I still have the cutting that I read. I was dubbed the "theatrical umpire," and the press man demanded to know why the league should appoint such an incompetent umpire to officiate at league matches.

No Semaphore beach for me that Sunday. I was not prepared to stand the gibes of those "who told me so."

During the week, however, I met that reporter, and he was quite candid that he wrote what he thought was true. But I recall his words:-"Let me see whether you have the courage to go on. I will help you if you deserve it."

I am sure that journalist, who is now an editor on a South Australian newspaper, will remember the incident. In after years he helped me in more ways than one.

Colorful Football

MY first season in league umpiring was a little disappointing, but I thought perhaps things would take a turn the next year, and I awaited the coming football season impatiently. I had to make good a boast that I would officiate in the interstate game in 1922.

Older football enthusiasts will not forget those colorful days of 1921 and 1922 when the Sturt-Norwood battles excited tremendous interest.

Thousands congregated at Norwood and Sturt Ovals when these two teams met, and excitement was at fever heat during the week.

I cannot explain the great rivalry. Most of the players were intimate friends off the football field. Many of the players worked together in banks or offices in Adelaide, but on the field they were bitter enemies for the match. Norwood giants in those days included "Tiger" Potts, "Betts" Schumacher, Dick Grantley. "Wac" Scott, Guy Stevens, Syd Ackland, and Syd White, while Sturt had players of the calibre of Vic Richardson, Horrie Riley, Frank Golding, Stan Scrutton, and "Snowy" Whitehead.

A typical example of the peculiar friendship and rivalry was between "Tiger" Potts and "Snowy" Whitehead.

Off the field, especially on interstate trips, these two players were bosom pals, but on the field they were at each other all through the match.

News Adelaide 1 Aug 1923 P10 Keith Potts Norwood
News Adelaide 1 Aug 1923 P10 Keith Potts Norwood
News Adelaide 16 Sep 1924 P1 Snowy Whitehead Sturt
News Adelaide 16 Sep 1924 P1 Snowy Whitehead Sturt

One of the matches on the first day of the 1922 season was Norwood and Sturt at Norwood, and I was appointed as field umpire.

This seemed a rather peculiar appointment. I had done nothing since the West Torrens-Port Adelaide match the previous year to warrant my appointment to this important game, while Arthur Raven, who had charge of all the final matches in 1921 (his first year as league umpire), was not appointed to a match in the new series.

It was a fierce game and knocks were plentiful, but Sturt were unfortunate, It seems incredible, but they had five players injured during the game, including Richardson, Riley, and Whitehead.

I saw both Richardson and Riley injured. They slipped on muddy patches. The incident, however, which caused so much bitterness was the injury to Whitehead. No one actually saw what happened, but some time afterwards a player informed me that he and Whitehead were threatening each other during the game and when they were behind my back he got in first and "Snowy" was carried off the ground.

The injuries caused a deal of controversy for some time afterwards.

The incident was the only one that was intentional, and I doubt if a dozen of the 15,000 people present saw the incident. None of the players did.

Victorian Campions

I CONTINUED to receive appointments until the interstate match came near, and then I achieved my ambition.

I was appointed to take charge of the match Victoria v. South Australia. It was indeed a proud moment for me, and I just lived for the Saturday to come.

Victoria had chosen a strong eighteen. I had heard of their champions, and now I was to control a game in which they were actually playing.

They were Dick Lee, Australia's champion goalsneak, Roy Cazaly, peerless ruckman, Horrie Clover, champion half-forward, Paddy O'Brien, half-back, who went straight through without turning corners, and Mark Tandy, cleverest rover in Victoria.

These are just a few men in the powerful Victorian team. South Australia had Vic Richardson (centre), "Snowy" Hamilton and Wally Allen (wings), Lal Bryant. and Arnie Caust (ruck), Jack Daly and Percy Lewis (rovers), and the thrice Magarey Medallist Dan Moriarty, centre half back.

It was a tremendous struggle, and South Australia won by seven points. The great disappointment to me was the report on my umpiring. I had failed, somehow or other, and I knew it.

Charlie Brownlow, the manager of the Victorians, was a bluff personality, and he told me straight that I should learn the rules of the Australian game.

Here was a state of affairs. I had lived for this day and had failed dis mally. But I had learned a lot that day.

I had seen the difference between the methods adopted by the Victorians and those which had previously been played by South Australian footballers. I was determined to follow it up.

Their methods were not so gentle, and it was the first time I had been in control of footballers who adopted such vigorous, go-through methods.

Naturally I was Inclined to be a little strict in my interpretations.

News Adelaide 21 May 1940 P7 Johnny Quinn Banner
News Adelaide 21 May 1940 P7 Johnny Quinn Banner

BENT CASE THAT STIRRED FOOTBALL WORLD (1940, May 21). News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), p. 7. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from


Norwood Crowds Move To Ban Umpire Quinn

"Johnny" Quinn, South Australia's best-known umpire, who is writing his reminiscenses for "The News," today tells of the football stir that was caused when the Norwood idol of his day, Alec Bent, was suspended and an indignation meeting of Norwood supporters urged that the redlegs should not play in the finals under Quinn. No. 3-By J. J. Quinn

BEFORE the 1923 finals began an incident occurred that shook the foundations of the South Australian football world.

I was in charge of the last match of the minor round-South Adelaide v. Norwood, on the Adelaide Oval. South had to win to gain a place in the final four. while Norwood were secure. Football was beginning to boom and the players of the various teams were idols.

Alec Bent. of Norwood, was the idol of idols. He was a remarkable goal sneak and was uncanny in his shooting for goal.

In this match Norwood were a few points behind and were making a concerted drive towards the scoring board end a few minutes before the final bell. Bent obtain possession near the boundaries just a little south of the behind post.

"Buck" Johnstone was the boundary umpire and he was left far behind, being about 40 or 50 yards away.

Bent dodged an opponent and was making a bee-line for the goals with no one to attack him when Johnstone waved his flag to signal the ball out of bounds.

Of course I had to acknowledge the boundary umpire's decision, and blew my whistle.

When play was stopped Bent was only a yard or two from the goal line and was in the act of kicking the ball through the posts.

He walked back and 'threw the ball smartly to Johnstone.

All this time the oval was in an uproar. Hoots and groans came from the thousands present, especially from those who were near the spot where the incident occurred.

But it increased tenfold when John stone walked over to Bent and spoke to him. He then informed me that he intended reporting Bent for throwing the ball at him.

I could do nothing. Personally I could see nothing wrong in Bent's action.

Unfortunately for Bent and Norwood the ball was not out of bounds. I was quite close and although Bent's foot in turning was on the boundary line the ball was always feet in.

Well. Bent was reported and appeared on the Wednesday night before the chairman of the league. He was suspended for six months.

This caused a sensation. and on top of that I was appointed to officiate in the semi-final, which happened to be between the same teams the next Saturday.

Norwood supporters called an indignation meeting in the Norwood Town Hall on the Friday before the game and among other business it was mooted that they should not play under me.

However, the Norwood delegates, who were aware of my evidence at the trial, which was entirely in favor of Bent, soon ended the discussion on those lines.

All sorts of protests were sent to the league, but although the sentence was reduced the next season, Bent did not play again that year.

Norwood won the semi-final and went on to annex the premiership while heated arguments raged over the incident for days.

I saw Johnstone and Bent having a drink at the oval bar after the match.

Register Adelaide 13 Sep 1923 P18 Bent Out For Six Matches
Register Adelaide 13 Sep 1923 P18 Bent Out For Six Matches

Torrens' First Premiership

THERE were some terrific battles in the finals of the 1924 season. Torrens, minor premiers, were beaten by Norwood, Bent kicking 10 goals.

Sturt eliminated Port, and then the Norwood-Sturt game brought the hardest match I have ever umpired.

No quarter was asked, and no quarter given.

Sammy Weller (Sturt.) shadowed Bent so closely that he won the match for Sturt.

Sturt then had to meet West Torrens in the final. It was Torrens's first premiership game, and I am sure there must have been very few people left in Hindmarsh and districts, as 45,000 flocked to the Adelaide Oval.

And what a struggle! First one and then the other gained the lead. During the last few minutes of the game I awarded Tommy Hollis, of Torrens, a free in front of goals.

He was flying for a mark, and was pushed by a Sturt player in the back.

Hollis grabbed the ball, and shouted, "It's mine, it's mine." and kicked straight. Torrens had won their first premiership.

Glenelg had entered the league ranks in 1921, and had up to date not enjoyed one win.

We had an Umpires' Association in those days. There were 20 field umpires, who met every Thursday night to discuss rules.

Everyone was sympathetic toward Glenelg, but it was openly stated by various umpires that they would not like to be the umpire when Glenelg won their first match.

It was considered that the losing side's supporters would not relish the idea of the Cinderella of the league defeating their favorites.

Well, they were right. Torrens, who had won their first premiership under me the previous year, were drawn to meet Glenelg at Glenelg in the first match of the 1925 season. I was the umpire.

Torrens resented the new handball rule being brought into force, and from the first bounce refused to acknowledge it.

Of course, I penalised them. and by the time they realised their foolishness, Glenelg were in an un beatable position.

At the same time, Glenelg played superior football on the day. and at the final bell had won their first game. They were rightly jubilant. Torrens players took their defeat like sportsmen except one.

As I came through the gate and reached the top of the mound, he ranged alongside me, and gave me a heavy punch behind the head, and down I went to the bottom of the mound.

As I fell, he jumped over me, but I managed to catch sight of his number, and, of course, he was reported.

The trial took two nights, and the Torrens Club called the policeman on duty at the Glenelg Oval. This turned out to be evidence in my favor. He, unknown to me, saw the incident, and followed the player into the dressing room.

But the numbers had been switched, and for the time being the policeman could not recognise my assailant.

At the trial, however, he recognised the player, and he got three years.

On the Saturday I was umpiring a game between West Adelaide and West Torrens on the Adelaide Oval. On my way down to the oval I met this player. We shook hands, and proceeded along together.

As we entered the grandstand I met Alby Wright, who was curator of the oval. I introduced him. Alby stared at us, and said: "Didn't you get him three years last night?"

I said I did, but that did not stop us being friends.

Saturday Journal Adelaide 9 May 1925 P1 Assault On Umpire
Saturday Journal Adelaide 9 May 1925 P1 Assault On Umpire

"My Most Exciting Game"

AFTER West Torrens lost their first match they pulled themselves together and gained a place in the final four. They were fourth and defeated Port in the first semi-final.

Norwood, minor premiers, defeated Sturt, and then came what I consider the most exciting game I have ever umpired.

It was a cold day with the wind so strong that it was hard to kick against it. Norwood were on top for all the first three quarters, and at the third quarter interval it seemed all over bar the shouting, especially as Norwood had the wind in their favor and were nearly five goals in front.

Torrens were kicking towards the northern end and the crowd were going home. But Torrens unleased a brand of football that I had not witnessed before.

They combated the strong wind by long, low, zig-zagging foot passes, so accurate that they had Norwood transfixed. Goal followed goal until Torrens held a five-point lead with a few minutes to go.

Norwood. with the strongest of winds in their favor, had not scored. Then the redlegs at last gained possession at the centre and kicked forward.

Len. Martin, the present Norwood secretary. flew for the ball, grasped it. and dropped it. Alec Bent secured possession and at half-forward was tackled by Torrens' half-backs.

He was steered towards the pavilion when he kicked over his left shoulder. The ball soared with the wind and landed about 20 yards from goal.

Ernie Hine, Torrens goalkeeper, was out of position and surged after the racing ball. But it beat him to the line and went through for a goal.

As the ball was being brought back to centre the bell went and Norwood were premiers by one point. It was bad luck for West Torrens.

To this day Len Martin claims the honor of Norwood's 1925 premiership. He works it out this way.

He's longest kick covered a distance of about 20 yards, and was about 50 yards high. Therefore. he says, if he had marked the ball, he would never have kicked the distance. so he deliberately dropped it because he knew Bent was near at hand.

Register Adelaide 28 Sep 1925 P5 Sensational End To Football Season
Register Adelaide 28 Sep 1925 P5 Sensational End To Football Season

Port Adelaide News 2 Oct 1925 P6 Norwood Win Football Premiership
Port Adelaide News 2 Oct 1925 P6 Norwood Win Football Premiership

(Watch for another article by Johnny Quinn in "The News" on Thursday.)

News Adelaide 23 May 1940 P7 Johnny Quinn Banner
News Adelaide 23 May 1940 P7 Johnny Quinn Banner

Johnny Quinn Tells HOW HE HELPED To REDRAFT FOOTBALL RULES (1940, May 23). News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), p. 17. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from


The part he played in redrafting several important football rules with Mr. T. S. O'Halloran, K.C., the former president of the South Australian National Football League, is told today by "Johnny" Quinn who was at the time the State's No. 1 umpire. Quinn also describes the Alberton match in 1927, when GIenelg beat Port and 3,000 spectators jumped the fence and urged on the magpies from the boundary line. No. 4--By J. J. Quinn

IT was in 1925 that perhaps I had the greatest praise as umpire bestowed on me.

In 1922 the Victorians were greatly critical about our decisions, and when I was appointed to the interstate game I remember Horrie Clover saying to me when I entered their room, "Weren't you the umpire who Charlie Brownlow told off in 1922?

I said I was, but added that I was accused then of being a South Australian umpire, and that now I considered I was an Australian umpire in the true sense of the word.

What a glorious game it was. I can still see Alec Duncan at centre half back for Victoria. with his towering marks and long drop kicks, Tom Fitzmaurice rucking and knocking out with great accuracy, Bert Chadwick, a grim ruckman. Colin Watson, one of the fastest players I have ever seen, who broke his jaw during the game, Lloyd Hagger, the flying forward, and Frank Maher. a peerless rover.

But South Australia held too many guns for Victoria. Men like Bruce McGregor, Alec Lill, "Wac" Scott, Dan Moriarty. Roy Townley, Alec Bent, and Frank Golding battled like giants against their reckless and versatile opponents, and won a magnificent game by five points.

After the game Chadwick and Mr. Clota. the manager, with Mark Green and Stan Thomas, other delegates, came to my room and offered me all sorts of congratulations.

In 1926-7 Mr. T. S. O'Halloran. K.C. was commissioned by the Australian Football Council to redraft the rules of the game. and he did me a great honor when he invited me to collaborate with him in his task.

It was an opportunity that 1 gladly seized, because for some time past I had had in my mind alterations to the rules which I considered would benefit the game, and I propounded my ideas to him.

The first one was the cancellation of a free kick if the umpire thought it was not advantageous to the side due to receive the penalty kick.

I had discussed this aspect of the game some years before with Jack McMurray, the prominent Victorian umpire, but he was against the idea at the time.

The rule then insisted that the player receiving the free had to come back to the spot where the breach had occurred before taking his kick. But my idea was to allow the player to proceed if it was to his advantage to do so.

Further, I was in favor of the free kick being cancelled if another player of the same side was in possession of the ball in an advantageous position.

Mr. O'Halloran was in agreement with me and embodied the proposal in the redraft of the rules.

I also proposed the cancellation of the rule which allowed a player who had a mark or free kick to work in a 20-yard half-circle without being tackled by an opponent. I wanted something included that would not hold up the game.

The rule then allowed the player in possession of the ball from a free or mark to go nine yards to one side of his mark. Then if he did not travel over the imaginary line where an opponent was standing his mark, he could retrace his steps and go nine yards to the other side and no opponent was allowed to tackle him.

It was a general practice for players to wait for a team-mate to break to receive the ball. My idea was to allow the player in possession to kick over his mark without hindrance, but if he veered to the sides to run or kick other than over his mark, "play on" was to be called.

The game as a consequence would be speeded up.

This was also included by Mr, O'Halloran, and when the redrafted rules were placed before the council at the carnival in Melbourne in 1927, they were adopted.

Hectic Game at Thebarton

ALTHOUGH the "play-on" rule has been carried out with great success since its adoption by the Football Council, the cancellation of the free has not been put into operation by the umpires of South Australia to any great extent.

This is a great pity as the opportunity is there for umpires to impart common sense and judgment into their umpiring. It will improve the game to a large extent.

The 1927 season was fated to be my last in league football, and was really hectic.

The National Football Council was staging the carnival in Melbourne, and an umpire from Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia was to be chosen to officiate in the games. I was anxious to be honored to represent South Australia as its umpire, but I had many anxious moments before being chosen.

West Torrens and Port Adelaide in those days could always be relied on to provide a match with plenty of thrills, and the one played on the Thedbarton Oval in 1927 was no exception.

I was appointed to take charge of the game.

It developed into a grudge match. Weeks before the match supporters of both sides were waiting anxiously for the game and rumors of players having grievances were continually broadcast.

The propaganda achieved its object. I could sense the hostilities when the players took the field. An enormous crowd was in attendance and feeling ran high. The first quarter was only half through when the first long awaited clash occurred.

I stopped the game and it took me some time before I could soothe the two players concerned and also others who were anxious to join in. The air was electrical after that and I had to exert all my powers to control the game.

Several minor altercations broke out before the game finished. It was the most gruelling game I had ever controlled.

The most peculiar part of the whole thing, however, was that the players did not know what all the trouble was about. It was instigated by the sup porters of both sides, out of some imaginary grievance, and it was like a snowball. It grew as it went along.

I was greatly worried over the whole affair, as I was keen to have good reports on my umpiring to assist my carnival umpiring prospects.

There was another obstacle in the distance, however, even bigger than the Torrens-Port game.

Some weeks later Port and Glenelg met at Alberton. Port were considered in those days practically unbeatable at Alberton Oval.

Glenelg were still trailing at the rear of the field, having an isolated win at rare intervals. I was appointed for this match and it was considered a rather soft snap.

Usually when we umpires met on Thursday nights the remark was, "A bob in for a wreath for the umpire at Alberton Oval."

Umpiring in those enthusiastic days was no easy task. It was always "Open season for umpires," and attacks on officials by over-enthusiastic football supporters were all in the game.

When Glenelg Downed Port

NO wreath was suggested for me for this match. and what a boilover it was.

Port could not combat their rugged opponents at all, and Glenelg won by a few points. The Port supporters were in a fierce mood when they saw their champions being matched by the cinderella team of the league and on their home ground, too.

To urge their team on during the last quarter about 3,000 jumped the pickets and lined the boundary line, hurling abuse at me.

One kind individual shouted, "Quinny, we'll send you home on a shutter if we lose." The minutes were ticking away and Glenelg were hanging on to their slender lead, when Port made a rush forward. A scramble occurred and I bounced the ball about 20 yards from goal.

Vic. Johnson, Port captain, flew for the knock out. L. C. Dayman was unattended in front of the posts when a voice was heard. "Over your head, Vic."

Over the ball came into Jim Handby's arms, and Handby's kick sent the ball out of danger.

He had worked an old trick and saved the game for his side.

The bell then went, leaving me in the midst of a swirling crowd who seemed determined to carry out their promise of "sending me home on a shutter." It took me some hours to get away from the oval.

As I work in Port Adelaide, the police thought it expedient to meet me at the Port Adelaide Railway Station on the following Monday morning and accompany me to my office. The Port supporters however, did not continue their attack on me during the week.

We were all good friends and numerous supporters expressed their sorrow at the incident. They stated that they should have vented their spleen on the players who played and kicked so badly.

I can recall the scores:-Glenelg, 8 goals 8 behinds; Port Adelaide, 6 goals 18 behinds.

Sporting Globe 20 Jul 1927 P9 Port Adelaide v 600thumb
Sporting Globe 20 Jul 1927 P9 Port Adelaide v 600thumb
(A few weeks before this event) Recorder Port Pirie 4 Jul 1927 P3 Umpire Quinn Assulted
(A few weeks before this event) Recorder Port Pirie 4 Jul 1927 P3 Umpire Quinn Assulted

Mail Adelaide 23 Jul 1927 P9 Armour For Umpires Frank Kocty
Mail Adelaide 23 Jul 1927 P9 Armour For Umpires Frank Kocty

Soon after this match I was chosen as umpire for the carnival in Melbourne. My ambition had been achieved.

Here was the opportunity that I had waited years for-to umpire on the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the home of the Australian game of football. After a fortnight of brilliant football Victoria and Western Australia met to decide the championship of Australia. and I was appointed to officiate in the match.

On the Friday before the match I was talking to Phil. Matson, coach of Western Australia, Paddy O'Brien. and Mr. J. Worrall, football editor of the '"Australasian."

The discussion naturally veered to the match on the following day, and I had a suspicion that both Matson and Mr. Worrall thought that I, being a South Australian umpire, would be a little technical. Paddy and I assured them that they need not worry over that.

I remember Mr. Worrall saying, "I like South Australian football. It is pretty to watch, but we in Victoria like a little meat on the menu."

Well they had some on the Saturday. Western Australia were like wild cats from the bounce. They were absolutely reckless, and led Victoria by four goals at quarter-time.

They continued to lead until the final quarter, when rain began to fall, and the Victorians are in their element in the rain. They took charge and won a strenuous game by 13 points. Free kicks were conspicuous by their absence during the game.

The players of these two States do not handle their opponents as players do in this State. They use their hips in attack Their hands are kept for the ball.

I had occasion to award only 50 free kicks during the game.

Mr. Worrall's commentary included a write-up on my umpiring, arid among other comments said that I was the "least technical of the three carnival umpires."

(Watch for another interesting article by "Johnny" Quinn in "The News" on Saturday.)

News Adelaide 24 May 1940 P4 Johnny Quinn Banner
News Adelaide 24 May 1940 P4 Johnny Quinn Banner


During his long association with league football in South Australia, "Johnny" Quinn came to know players personally, and he made many lasting friendships. , In this article, the last of the interesting series he has written for "The News," he tells of many unusual incidents in which he was involved, including a canary chase on the Adelaide Oval, and an experiment he made with a new out-of-bounds rule.

No. 5--By J. J. Quinn

I HAVE often brought down the wrath of a crowd on my head, but I shall never forget the time when I had nearly the whole of an Adelaide Oval crowd roaring with laughter.

It happened this way:

Before one big game at the oval in 1924 "Herky" Thompson, the old West Torrens and Interstate player, who was my trainer, and Fred Gould, were with me in the members' stand.

"Herky" was a great bird fancier, and he espied a canary on the oval. He suggested going out to catch it.

I volunteered, and stalking the bird quietly I threw my coat over it. As I thought. Then as I lifted the coat very gingerly, Herky was ready to grab the bird.

We heard a great roar from the thousands who were then present, and looking behind we saw the canary about 20 yards away.

This was great fun. We made after it, and it flew over to a seat near Fred Gould, who caught it, and placing it in a cigar box gave it to "Herky."

Prominence was given at the time in the press of the incident, and I received a ring on the phone on the Monday from a man who said that he had lost a canary and would I give it to him.

The canary, however, stayed in "Herky's" aviary. Had a Mud Bath Another amusing incident was this one:

Had a Mud Bath

Another amusing incident was this one :-

During 1925 South Australia played Broken Hill on the Adelaide Oval. It started raining on Thursday night, and rained continuously until the bell rang on Saturday to end the game.

I have never seen the oval in such a state, not even in 1923, when the fire brigade was commissioned to pump the water from the ground, was the oval in such a condition. It was just a sea of mud.

Broken Hill. who were used to hard grounds, were absolutely demoralised and the game was a farce. I have never enjoyed a game less, and an incident happened during the game which put the crowd in great humor.

The players were mud from head to foot. and I was no different.

At half-time I changed into spot less white, and when I came out the players were like drowned rats. They had not changed.

It was impossible to bounce the ball, so I blew my whistle and threw the ball into the air to start the game for the second half.

Percy Furler, of North, and Arthur Hoffman, of Port. were rucking, and as I stepped back Furler knelt down behind me and Hoffman pushed.

I turned a half-somersault and disappeared in the mud.

A roar of laughter went up from the crowd in the stands. There was no body on the mounds.

I pulled myself out of the sticky mess on the centre of the oval. My whistle was clogged, and although I felt pretty miserable I saw the humor of it when Furler said, "You looked so nice and clean, Johnny, we couldn't resist."

Karney's Bad Luck

This probably is a piece of unwritten history of league football.

When the votes for the Magarey Medal were counted in 1921 it was found that Dan Moriarty, "Wack" Scott, Charlie Adams, and Johnny Karney had tied.

The umpires met at the end of the week and Dan Moriarty was selected at that meeting.

Johnny Karney can consider himself very unlucky that he did not win the coveted trophy that year.

When I arrived home from the match I made my decision.

I had two players before my mind Johnnie Karney and Len Mills, both of Torrens. Eventually I gave it to Mills, and Karney did not get the extra vote that would have given him the medal.

Bad luck, Johnny!

Tricked the Umpire

One of the many fine fellows I came to know was "Snowy" Whitehead.

I recall one match against West Torrens in 1924. Len Mills, the giant follower for Torrens. was rucking against "Snowy."

At the throw-in from the boundary Whitehcad put his head under Mills's arm. I was tricked and gave him a free for "round the neck."

He did it a second time, but I was wide awake and no free was forthcoming.

A great hoot came from the Sturt barrackers. I ranged up alongside Whitehead and said, "Did you hear that hooting?"

He said. "What was it for?"

"For me," I replied. "You did it. I was wide awake when you placed your head under the big fellow's arms."

Whitehead said: "Sorry. It won't happen again."

And it did not. "Snowy" was a man's man.

Great Victorian

There was one Victorian player who showed me great friendliness and this friendship has been one of many made during my umpiring career.

He was Paddy O'Brien.

This genial Irish "giant," off the field, was a delightful personality. We became great friends and the last time Paddy visited Adelaide was when he was going to England for the coronation of our present King.

On the Sunday night after the match I sought Paddy out at his hotel and we had a long talk on the rules of the game.

I saw the game in a different light, and became so interested in the discussions that I did not leave him until 1 o'clock in the morning. I walked to the Semaphore, a distance of 10 miles.

But it was worth it. I had gained more knowledge of football during those four or five hours than I had during my whole lifetime.

Dared to Try Rule

During the summer of 1924-5 the Australian Football Council decided to alter the rule governing hand passing.

In those days South Australia used the flick pass, that was considered by other States to be a throw. Victoria, although they punched the ball, threw it up before they did so.

The new rule provided, that the ball should be "held firmly in one hand and punched with the other."

Besides the hand-pass rule the council brought into operation a new out of-bounds rule which provided that a free kick should be given when the ball was kicked or forced out of bounds.

It was advocated that when a player ran alongside of the ball and let it go out of bounds, he should have a free kick awarded against him.

We discussed the matter at the Umpires' Association meetings, but no finality could be reached.

I stated that I would put it into operation during a game. I was dared to do it by my colleagues.

It happened during a Norwood Glenelg game in the 1925 season.

Settled Argument

Syd Ackland, of Norwood, was chasing the ball previously kicked by a Glenelg player, and finding himself cornered he was told by a team-mate to let the ball go out.

He ran alongside of it for several yards until it finally went out. My whistle went. and as Ackland bent to pick up the ball I called. "No. A free against you, Syd."

He cried, "What did I do?' "For forcing the ball out," I said, and awarded a free to Sammy Gatts. of Glenelg.

This started the Norwood supporters hooting me. They kept it up until the final bell.

Norwood. who won by about 10 goals, treated it as a joke, and bantered Ackland in the room.

In those days the umpires changed in a corner of the Norwood dressing room. In fact, the same procedure was adopted at Port Adelaide and Sturt.

Ern Rugless and Roy Kappler, Glenelg's delegates, and Eric Tassle, of Norwood, questioned me on the matter, and asked my reason for doing it.

"Just to settle the question which has been raging for some weeks," I said. "Now you have something to go on."

Later I received a letter from the league to the effect that although the delegates could see the merit in my decision, in future I must enforce the laws as provided in the rule book.

But it did not provide for a free kick in such circumstances, and there it stood until the rule was deleted last year.

Career Terminated

I was not destined to continue umpiring longer than the 1928 season.

In the second match, Sturt v. Glenelg, at Unley Oval, during the second quarter, I slipped on a muddy patch, and, in trying to save myself from falling, badly wrenched my knee.

I could only hobble during the remainder of the quarter, and at half time found that it was impossible for me to continue. The boundary umpire acted as field umpire, and the goal umpire as boundary.

I foolishly officiated as goal umpire. At the end of the game I could not walk. The damage had been done, and, after some weeks under a doctor, decided to retire.

I came back in later years to umpire in the Amateur League, but, because of health reasons, I have had to give that up, and now I follow the game from outside the pickets.

Saturday Journal Adelaide 19 May 1928 P1 Johnny Quin Resigns
Saturday Journal Adelaide 19 May 1928 P1 Johnny Quin Resigns


Editors Note

News Adelaide 17 Aug 1923 P11 Hal Gye Visits The Umpires Association
News Adelaide 17 Aug 1923 P11 Hal Gye Visits The Umpires Association

Register Adelaide 1 May 1925 P5 Ready For The Bounce
Register Adelaide 1 May 1925 P5 Ready For The Bounce

Mail Adelaide 21 Aug 1926 P1 Mr Quinn Umpire Krishock
Mail Adelaide 21 Aug 1926 P1 Mr Quinn Umpire Krishock

Sporting Globe 20 Aug 1927 P6 Umpire Johnnie Quinn
Sporting Globe 20 Aug 1927 P6 Umpire Johnnie Quinn

Mail Adelaide 16 Jun 1945 P6 Johhny Quinn Lionel Coventry
Mail Adelaide 16 Jun 1945 P6 Johhny Quinn Lionel Coventry