Hall of Fame: Tom Jack

Tom Jack

Tom Jack was one of the stars of post-Second World War football in Victoria. A big, burly centre-half, he began his career in Scotland, playing for three years with Third Lanark in Glasgow, followed by another three and 37 appearances with Dunfermline Athletic. He arrived in Australia in 1948 and joined the Brighton club, captaining it to the First Division championship in 1949. Brighton went through the season undefeated and Jack’s sound play at the centre of defence was a key reason for its success.

On 10 August 1949 when Hajduk Split from Yugoslavia toured Australia, Tom Jack captained Victoria which held the impressive visitors to a three-all draw. He was also a member of the Australian team which lost by six-goals to nil in Adelaide and narrowly by a goal to nil in the Sydney game.

Brighton 1949 First Division Champions
Brighton Soccer Club, with captain Tom Jack seated front and centre with the ball at his feet. Source: Soccer News, April 1, 1950.

In 1950, Tom Jack toured southern Africa with the national team. The only other Victorian in the squad was locally-born Jackie Wilson of Park Rangers. Tom Jack’s first full cap was against Southern Rhodesia, modern day Zimbabwe, on 14 June 1950, when Australia won by five goals to nil. Jack played in three of the four games against South Africa, a series which was shared in two wins apiece. Soccer News quoted New South Wales sources that said he was the man who did most for the team on the tour and for Australian soccer tactics.

The following year England toured Australia with a strong professional side including Jackie Sewell, who scored seven times against Victoria. Poor Tom Jack was in that side, but worse was to come when the full Australian team took on the English in the second of three matches in Sydney. Stung by what they regarded as inappropriate treatment, the English ran in 17 goals without reply against the hapless home team. Though he was dropped after that match, Jack showed his mettle by returning to the national team and captaining it in a three-match series against New Zealand in 1954 which resulted in two 4-1 wins and a single loss by 2-1. In 1953 when Victoria went north to play Queensland, the father of the Australian and Queensland captain, Bob Lawrie, wrote that it was a privilege for the locals to see Tom Jack play. He also turned out for Victoria against the Chinese touring team that year.

Victoria 1949 State Team
Tom Jack (standing, far left) as captain of Victoria in 1949, the team which took on the touring Hajduk Split at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Source: Soccer News, April 1, 1950.

Jack left Brighton and moved to Box Hill for the 1952 season, then in 1953 he transferred to Hakoah, where he was to have some of his most successful years. Though it did not win the league title, Hakoah won the Dockerty Cup four times in succession from 1953 to 1956. The reserves also won the Harry Armstrong Cup twice in the 1950s.

After he drifted out of the game in a coaching capacity Tom Jack still occasionally attended matches and provided young coaches like Ted Smith with sound advice on occasion.

Tom Jack was an inaugural inductee into the Football Australia Hall of Fame in 1999.