By Jarrod Potter
Looking back to 9 June, 2014…
After 35 years in the sport and blowing the whistle on 1000 junior football matches, Noble Park’s Ron Harris still enjoys his Sunday passion.
Harris, 64, has been officiating junior footy since early 1980s, after retiring as a footballer following a back injury.
He has been a mainstay in the Dandenong District Junior Football League (DDJFL), now known as the South East Juniors, throughout those years and has only missed two grand finals
in his long career.
“Back in about 1979 to 1981 give or take a few years,” Harris said, “I played football and got a back injury and after that I was the trainer for Noble Park for my son’s team while he played then I got conned into umpiring.”
Staying fit for his day job as a CFA fire-fighter with the Springvale Fire Brigade was an important reason for picking up the whistle.
“I thought, working with the fire brigade, I needed something to keep me fit besides what I do at work, and I enjoyed it,” Harris said.
Harris ran out onto Frederick Wachter Reserve to officiate his 1000th game on Sunday 11 May – an under-15 match between Parkmore and Pakenham – and enjoyed umpiring with good friends in the milestone match.
“When I did my 1000th game, I umpired with Paul Winterton and Emily Escort,” Harris said.
“It was really good to umpire in that match with those people that I’ve umpired with over a long time.”
Giving back to the next generation is important for Harris and he loves guiding the rookie umpires – who wear green shirts – in their first steps as junior officials.
“When you’re learning to umpire you need someone more experienced to help and I’m really pleased that I can give something back to the SEJ for what they’ve done for me over the years,”
“I go umpire with the green shirts, give them advice and that’s very good for me when you’re retiring.
“It’s also the comradeship with the umpires and being able to help the other umpires out with my experience as well.”
Retirement is on the horizon for both his weekday and weekend careers with Harris set to hang up his whistle either this season or next to relocate to Queensland.
Harris wanted to thank his family – wife Terry, daughter Sallyanne and son Dean, for their support over his three-and-a-half decade-long umpiring journey.