Stab Punt Jim Johnson – one of the Almanac’s many characters

The Almanac throws up a remarkable array of characters – some serious and others facetious, the talented and the trundlers, some witty and some wise, the creative and the pedestrian, journalists and reporters, stars and wannabes, the portentous and the pretentious, old timers and up-and-comers. We’re all here.

 

Today, let’s spend a few moments honouring one of the old timers, ‘Stab Punt’ Jim Johnson, once described as the Almanac’s favourite 80-something-year-old. Jim’s favourite topic is the art of kicking the footy and, in particular, the development of the drop punt and the stab punt. He has a passion for getting footy history recorded accurately and continues his campaign to have the influence of players like Dick Lee, the Collier brothers and Jack Dyer acknowledged, especially when it comes to the development and introduction to these kicking styles. He’s researched these in some detail and contributed his findings to the Almanac on previous occasions. Unfortunately, not all clubs have been as keen as Jim to get the story correct.

 

Read Jim Johnson’s detailed research into the stab punt here.
Read more of Jim Johnson’s earlier work here.

 

What we haven’t heard previously is Jim’s life story, aspects of which he’s shared with me in a series of recent emails. It goes something like this:

 

Jim was born in Carlton but grew up in the Montrose area in the 1940s. His father, Arthur ‘Charlie’ Johnson, was a French polisher by trade, one of the best in Melbourne according to Jim. His mother, Ruby, was a typical ‘country housewife’ of the time and bore five children, Charlie, Alan, Pearl, Betty and Jim.

 

The family lived in a modest home and had to make do without electricity or running water until they moved to East Brighton in the late 1940s. The children attended primary school in Lilydale, walking four miles to and from school for many years. Homework was completed with light provided by a kerosene lamp and candles but that didn’t stop Charlie from being Dux of Lilydale Higher Elementary School in 1947 (Fourth Form) and 1948 (after Fifth Form was added). Jim was House Captain of Cummins House in Fourth Form in 1949. Charlie and Jim played both cricket for their school as well as for the Mooroolbark First XI where their father captained the team.

 

It was at about this time that Jim was developing his drop punt and stab punt skills. In some ways, the latter came about as a way of coping with the soft and muddy fields the lads played on. The commonly used drop kick and stab kick were not suited to the conditions while the flat punt was just plain inefficient. You can read all about that in the links provided.

 

Jim went on to have just over one year at Melbourne High School where he played in their first teams in both cricket and football, at the same time continuing to play footy for the Ringwood First XVIII in the Eastern Suburbs Football League and cricket for Ringwood ‘A’ Grade in the Ringwood District Cricket Association and then in the Eastern Suburbs Cricket Association. Although small in stature, Jim was a more than handy player as a rover, centreman or on the wing. Always willing to try something new, Jim also played a season of baseball with Ringwood in 1959.

 

In all, Jim played footy for Ringwood for four seasons before moving to South Belgrave where he played for another five seasons. At various times he was approached to play for Box Hill, Prahran and Richmond. In cricket, he stayed with Ringwood for eight seasons, was a member of four premiership teams and took out the bowling averages award in his first and final seasons.

 

Initially, Jim worked for the National Bank. His mother wanted her boys to be bank clerks as it was a secure job in tough times.  Jim worked in the bank for 6 years (interrupted by National Service in 1952), serving as a relief staff member in places such as Caulfield East, Richmond, Wangaratta, Colac and Dookie before a stint of five years in the newly opened branch at Belgrave. He then moved on to Warburton before completing his service in North Melbourne. From there he became Assistant Rate Collector for the City of Ringwood before he moved into the antiques trade with his father.

 

‘Charlie’ Johnson purchased an antiques dealership at 28 High Street, Glen Iris from Graham Brown in late 1960.  Jim knew nothing about antiques, not having even heard of the word to that time. Talk about starting from scratch! Along with his wife, Helen, Jim went on to spend fifty successful years in the business. He regularly undertook overseas trips to the UK and France to acquire pieces which he then shipped back to Australia for sale. Together with Helen, he ran Antique Trade Fairs in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra for thirty years. He also acquired an auctioneer’s licence to broaden his skills.

 

A man of many talents and interests, Jim sang with the ‘Gold Tones’, a jazz/swing combo, in the early 60s and, at one time, appeared on a Channel 9 variety programme which aired in both Melbourne and Sydney.

 

In his retirement years, Jim has been a keen researcher , particularly with regard to football, and has contributed to local historical societies such as the Mt Evelyn History Group. He has also been involved in preparations for the Lilydale High School centenary celebrations to be held this year.

 

It’s clear from my correspondence with Jim that he loves to share his knowledge and experiences, being very rich in both. He may be well into his ninth decade, but he retains a sharp mind and is still keen to exercise his faculties for the greater good as well as follow his favourite footy team, Collingwood.

 

Maintain your campaign for accurate football history, Jim, and may your light shine brightly for many more years to come.

 

Charlie (left) and Jim Johnson pictured before his first
game for the Mt Evelyn Second XVIII, 1949
Photo courtesy of Jim Johnson

 

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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au

Comments

  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Ian and Jim. This sure beats knowing about Jim’s favourite meals and movies.

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