Shape Up or Ship Out Constable Moon

       Jack Moon

Jack Moon was a railway porter come shunter at Narrandera who successfully joined the NSW Police Force in 1949. He was 20 and married.

John Brian Moon was born and raised in Culcairn, New South Wales and went on to play in the firsts with the Narrandera Imperials in the 1940s. He was a big 1.82cm ruckman 90kg and full of strength. But probably like a lot of young footballers, he played rugby league on Saturdays. Certainly we have recorded him playing for Culcairn with his brother, Clive in the mid 1940s.

Jack moved to Sydney without his wife, Betty and resided in Newtown whilst he underwent the then limited training at the police training centre in Bourke Street Redfern. Following his time there he was stationed at Randwick Police Station in Coogee Bay Road.

The Eastern Suburbs Club were altered to the presence of this big fella and quickly signed him up; he went straight into their first grade and fitted in well. Easts were becoming a strong hard to beat combination peppered with many stars.

In 1951 Jack took an interest in Rugby League and tried out with the Balmain club. In early April he was playing in their reserve grade. It is likely he was encouraged to move to Rugby League by fellow policeman, Roy Dykes, who was living at Marrickville and had switched from Newtown to Balmain also in 1951. At the time Dykes was stationed at Redfern.

Jack continued to play both codes, Rugby League of a Saturday and Australian Football on Sundays. The Balmain club seemed happy with the arrangement but it wasn’t long before there was some reaction.

On 19 May, Eastern Suburbs secretary, Norm Ferguson handed Moon a letter asking him to choose codes and if he chose to keep playing Rugby League he could have a clearance to any Australian Football Club of his choice.

Easts then were dripping with good footballers and could afford to lay down the law even to players like Moon who only in the previous year had represented the state in an All-States carnival in Brisbane.

Moon said he intended to play for Balmain when Easts were not playing however took the option of a clearance telling club officials that he intended to transfer to the Newtown Club (Moon at the time was living in Newtown).

On 23 May, Moon announced that he would give Australian Football away in favour of Rugby League and confirmed his commitment to Balmain Rugby League Club. He had, however, to wait until 12 July 1952 before he played in his initial first grade game for the Tigers, against South Sydney at the Sports Ground; Jack was sent off early in the match for kneeing an opponent.

By the middle of July 1952 Jack was transferred in the police force to the NSW Country town of Coonabarabran but by May 1954 he was back in Sydney and again playing for Balmain.

Jack was a tough customer, always getting into strife and he loved confrontation on the field however his biggest notoriety came in August 1954 when he illegally played a game for the Bargo club in Group 6 (competition name) against Picton at the Bargo Showground.

He was identified by many people as the current Balmain player, Jack Moon but played under the name of J Clissold. The controversy went on for over two months with the NSW Rugby League, Country Rugby League and Group 6 all holding inquiries as to what took place. Moon denied playing on that day even though he was identified by many, including the referee who sent him off for rough play and subsequent abusive language. The issue made headlines in newspapers for weeks and he was eventually suspended for four competition matches.

Jack continued to play into 1955 but in 1958 found himself transferred to the NSW Coastal town of Urunga. He died in Sydney in 2010.  Jack only played 56 games with Balmain and was a member of the 1956 Balmain team who were defeated by St George in the grand final, 18-12.