George Watson was quite a sport. He played football alongside 'Topsy' Waldron at Norwood and later umpired Test cricket.
Some 40 years after his 1885 debut with Norwood, he remembered 'Topsy' as a very firm but just skipper who did not beat about the bush if a player was not up to the mark . . . a great judge of the game who always made his men play the shortest way to goal - straight down the ground every time.
George was born in Adelaide on 8 March 1863 to William Watson and his wife Eliza (née Horne), of Gover St, North Adelaide.. The third of five boys, he played his early football in the "Tigers" jersey of the Victorians club, which later became North Adelaide. He represented South Adelaide in 1883 and 1884, then moved to Norwood, which finished second in his two years with the club. He kicked a goal in 1885.
George first umpired cricket for Middlesex, one of the leading parklands clubs, and for a quarter of a century officiated for the SA Cricket Association. He umpired in more than a dozen college matches and a number of interstate contests. Paired with the experienced Bob Crockett, he umpired two Test matches in Adelaide: in 1911, when South Africa beat Australia for the first time, and in 1912, when England defeated Australia.
George married Mary Bristow Ranford, daughter of Octavius Ranford, of Kent Town, at the College Park Congregational Church in 1886. They lived at Colliver St, Norwood, and raised sons Jack, Arthur and George. Mary died in 1921.
George worked at The Register newspaper from his early years. He was a member of the Norwood Football Club and the East Torrens Cricket Club. On his retirement from umpiring, the SA Cricket Association sent him a highly appreciative letter acknowledging the valuable service he had rendered the association and the game.
George Watson was 85 when he died in Adelaide on 7 February 1948, survived by his sons, second wife, Gertrude, and her daughter Faith, both of Malvern
P Robins Oct 2018
* Picture kindly supplied by Kristen Thomas, historian of the SA Cricket Umpires & Scorers Association