History of the Jackson Cup
Percy Jackson and Merimbula Public School:
A Wonderful Partnership
(The author of the accompanying text would like it to be known that it is merely an account of her personal contact, recollections and memories over many years with Percy during his association with the school, supplemented by information and comments given to her by several wonderful colleagues. The photographs are from a number of different sources. If there are any historical inaccuracies that you, the reader, are aware of, please contact the school.)
Having emigrated from England in 1951, Percy Jackson's association with Merimbula Public School began after his retirement from a banking career. He lived in nearby Collins Street, and, being a lifetime sports/soccer enthusiast,took an interest in watching the boys play soccer at lunchtime, chatting to the children when they came over. He was invited into the playground and this was when his long association with the school began.
So from the late 1960's he was a familiar part of the playground scene at lunchtimes. In the cooler months he would be running up and down playing soccer, encouraging and coaching the children. In the warmer months he would be coaching cricket. He was also a regular spectator at weekend club games in these two sports, so he came to know the children very well. (As a matter of fact, he was also a former chairman of soccer and cricket clubs and a founding member Pambula-Merimbula Golf Club).
Percy, known to many of the children as " Mr Jacko", had the amazing ability to remember not only the children's names, but their interests, likes and dislikes. He always maintained that manners were most important and would gently admonish if manners were lacking (for example, removing your hat when speaking to someone). He cared about the children and always encouraged them in a meaningful and positive way. His arrival in the school grounds was very noticeable as the staff could see children deserting their games to greet him, then following him around as if he were the Pied Piper (of Hamelin), the younger ones clamouring to be the one to hold his hand.
Percy was designated Friend of the School early on. Later this was changed to School Patron, but a much-loved friend was what he really was and wanted to be known as.
THE JACKSON CUP
The much coveted and hotly contested Jackson Cup was originally, and for several years, only challenged in senior boys' soccerbetween the two school sporting Houses at the time, Kookaburras and Swans. This inaugural cup was first contested in 1973 when Mr Pritchard was principal. A keen sportsman, playing a variety of sports in his younger days, Percy had suggested the competition and was always closely involved in its implementation. It was the start of a tradition that continues to this day. Successive principals also warmly welcomed Percy to the school, in particular Mr Osmond, Mr Scott and acting principal Mrs Sheedy.
Senior girls' netball was introduced in 1977, as well as the presentation "Cup's", which were later replaced by shields. In 1986 junior soccer and netball were introduced.
Percy was present for most of the games, absent only when he was away travelling. Initially he played with and coached the students and in later years refereeing. No-one disputed his calls or decisions (or no-one dared to!), as he was held in such high esteem.
When he could no longer participate physically, he would still be there watching matches, keeping a sharp eye on the referees, reminding them of the rules. At one stage the staff tried to convince him that teams made up of set mixed genders was the way to go. He was opposed to this as he felt it shouldn't make any difference what gender the player was, as the best and most enthusiastic players, regardless of gender, should make up the teams. He reluctantly agreed to the proposal.
This idea was scrapped shortly after. However, from this time on, the children could choose to play either sport, provided they remained true to their choice throughout the competition.
Team practice - organised by the students themselves - and the playoffs took place at lunchtimes running over several weeks. After the finals were played there would always be a lengthy (very lengthy!), inspiring speech, the students listening with rapt attention to Percy. A much-prized award was the presentation of a packet of Smarties. Thesewere given to the children considered to have given their all and showed excellent sportsmanship, not necessarily the most talented. Initially the awards were always chosen by Percy, but as the number of players grew it was impossible for him to keep track of everyone, so he called on the staff to assist in selection (although he still had the final word). This was followed by Percy's treat of "junior champagne" (lemonade), firstly for the winning teams, next the losing teams, then the rest of the school.
Percy delighted the school community by dressing accordingly in the four different house colours, including differently coloured, unmatched socks, showing support for ALL the house teams. Although the emphasis of the Jackson Cup has changed a little, from being highly competitive to one of "everyone have a go, and have fun", the spirit of the event - good sportsmanship and participation – remains. To this day it is a very important part of the school's sport program.
In addition to the sporting side, Percy was involved in many other facets of school life. He was present at many morning teas and lunches, presentation nights and athletics carnivals; he judged talent quests, watched the debating teams and other sporting events, for example athletics carnivals, tunnel ball and captain ball interschool competitions, softball games. He also visited classrooms, answering questions about his earlier life in England.
Percy's birthdays were special occasions. Milestone birthdays received particular attention, when all the students were involved in the making of birthday cards, often on a class basis. A huge cake was provided each time and shared amongst the students.
As the school population grew, a tiered outdoor seating area was built at the eastern end of the oval and named The Jackson Stand in his honour. This no longer exists as it was removed to make way for the new oval. The Percy Jackson Award for Endeavour was established in 1996 for a senior student who had a positive attitude, showing perseverance and enthusiasm in all endeavours.
The new school hall, Jackson Hall, opened in 2005, was also named in his honour.
Percy passed away in June 2005 at the age of 98, just a few weeks away from his 99thbirthday. His wife Kate, as he said, "the love of my life", had predeceased him in 2003. Although present at some morning teas, she was not heavily involved with the school, as she believed it was really Percy's passion.
Percy Jackson was truly a very special man and a true friend of the school, and it is actually quite difficult to explain in words what he meant to the children, the staff and the community. He was charismatic, sharp minded, had a great sense of humour, was the epitome of good sportsmanship and young at heart. As ex-principal John Scott said, he "broke down the age barriers between the young and the old". I feel so privileged and honoured to have been associated with this wonderful gentleman, and I know that other staff and community members feel the same way.
To see all the photos please check out the Jackson Cup History album in our gallery.
Special thanks to Mrs Eva Mutch who has collated all the information
and photos for this celebration of Percy Jackson's contribution to MPS!