Here Comes the Judge

Jeez, St Peter had better watch out. David Bowie, Alan Rickman, a relative of ours, and now Ken Judge all in the one week.

And hasn’t cancer had a big week. Just when I’m reading “Breakfast with Bails”.  Ripper read, but I better put it down before I jinx myself.

Ken Judge brings three images to mind. The first was the slight, little curly haired bloke – always in a long sleeved jumper – lurking in a forward pocket or on a forward flank for the great Hawthorn sides of the mid 80’s.  He was a deadly kick, who only ever needed a dozen touches to hurt you.

My fading grey matter recalls a big game (a final? – Hawks diehards – there are a few of you – help please) where Judge did not get a kick playing on the ball in the first 3 quarters. With the Hawks in trouble, Alan Jeans shifted him to the forward pocket, where he crumbed everything that came off a pack.  If the ball came to the front he was there to snap over the shoulder.  If it fell over the back, he was there for the toe poke.   He was not a physical player, but his skills and ability to read the play were exquisite.

Fast forward to 2000/01 and he is coaching my West Coast Eagles in the wake of Mick Malthouse’s March through Georgia scorching the fields behind him. They are my first years as an Eagles member and I recall the team of hopeless jokes, with Ben Cousins our only regular contributor.  Abusive parochial West Coast fans accustomed to success as birth right, heaped endless scorn on Judge.

His hoped-for return as the prodigal son – he was an East Fremantle premiership coach and player – was lost in lost in the mindless screams to “go back to Victoria you little pr…”. Must have been hard to take, but as the coach who blooded Dean Cox, Darren Glass, Daniel Kerr and Andrew Embley he laid the foundations for the prolonged success of the mid 2000’s Eagles and the 2006 flag in particular.

Since then he has been a regular ABC commentator on TV for his beloved WAFL, and doing radio special comments on the AFL. His commentary style was tough, honest and straight to the point, in the style of his mentor Alan Jeans.

He thought Nic Naitanui couldn’t take a mark and didn’t do enough around the ground. Being an East Fremantle person, that proved to every died-in-the-wool Eagles fan that he was biased against them.

He thought the Dockers didn’t kick enough goals and Chris Mayne was a sheep in wolf’s clothes. As a former Eagles coach, that proved to ever died-in-the-wool Dockers fan that he was prejudiced against them.

I thought it made him worth listening to.

We always want our leaders to give it to us straight. Except when it affects us or those we love.

On the field as well as off, Ken Judge was always a straight shooter.

We shall not see his likes………….



  1. Cat from the Country says

    Sorry you lost a relative. It is always hard.
    The other for the week is Celine Dion’s husband, also from cancer, so that is 5 for you this week.
    Far too mzny really?

  2. Yes sad stuff, PB. He goes down in the immortal Jack Dyer list, as a “good ordinary player”. For some reason I always felt he had more than he showed. Sad news.

  3. Dennis Gedling says

    Listening to Judge most Saturday mornings on ABC 720 he still had some scar tissue there from the way he was dumped by the Eagles. Especially when it came to Nisbett. Right place at the wrong time in his stints at Hawthorn and the Eagles as coach.

  4. Glen Potter says

    Agreed, Peter. His commentary will be sorely missed from the eastern seaboard. His blunt, honest assessment made tuning into the ABC for a Perth match quite the drawcard. A good player and a sharp-shooter too. RIP Ken Judge.

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