Glen James OAM

Sports Hall of Fame Inductee

Category: Sports Hall of Fame

Sport: Football Umpire

In the 1950’s the name James started to appear in sporting teams in Shepparton. The James boys were natural sportsmen and excelled in whatever they played. They loved Football and cricket and played in teams together. Carey, Glenn and Lance James joined a friend, John Joyce when he coached the Wunghnu football team. They played in Wunghnu premiership teams. The boys, along with young brother Des were also associated with the Shepparton Swans, formerly known as the Lemnos Football Club.

Glenn James sporting career came to a halt in 1968 when he was drafted into the Army and during his Army service he proudly served his country in Vietnam.

On his return he took up football umpiring in the Goulburn Valley Umpires Association.

Glenn was an immediate success and he soon showed that his friendly smile and easy going nature made him popular with footballers and umpires alike.


He was soon recognised as one of the top local umpires. On one occasion, when a Melbourne umpire failed to arrive for a game at Princess Park Glenn was called on to fill his place. His performance that day was very impressive and reports of his skill reached the Umpires association in Melbourne. They were keen to recruit this country athlete into their ranks.

Glenn moved to Melbourne to undertake teacher training and joined the VFL Football Umpires Association.

It didn’t take Glenn long to rise through the umpiring ranks and he soon burst onto the scene umpiring VFL senior games.

Glenn’s easy style and infectious smile made him a favourite with the players and officials alike.  


He was well respected as both an umpire and a person and it wasn’t surprising to see him selected for top line games and finals. In 1982 he became the first indigenous umpire to take charge of a VFL Grand Final. In total he umpired 166 senior VFL games and added the 1984 Grand Final to his record.

Away from umpiring, Glenn received a Bachelor of Education and lectured at Swinburne University.

He was much respected as an umpire and he was honoured with life membership of the Victorian Football Umpires Association.

In 1984 Glenn received an Order of Australia Medal and was named Victorian Aborigine of the Year.

He was also Chosen as the umpire in the Victorian Indigenous team of the century.

He was elected as president of the VFL Umpires Association.

He was also appointed as umpires’ careers advisor with the VCFL.

Glenn James set a wonderful example to other sportsmen and thoroughly deserved the many accolades bestowed upon him.

He reached the pinnacle of umpiring and became admired by all who met him. Glenn is proud to have grown up in Shepparton and Shepparton is justly proud of Glenn James the City in which he grew up.