Newcastle born right back James “Parson” Jackson began his football career with Scottish junior club Queen’s Park Strollers in 1917 and graduated with their senior entity, Queen’s Park, in December that year, making his Scottish League debut for The Spiders in a win over Falkirk at Hampden Park the following August. He made 27 appearances for The Spiders during 1918-19 before signing for Motherwell in May 1919. At Motherwell he developed into a noted footballer and won a representative cap for The Scottish League when he played in a 3-0 win over The Irish League at Parkhead in October 1922.
After a single goal in 97 appearances for The ‘Well, Aberdeen signed him for a club record £2,000 in June 1923, for whom he scored 6 goals in 76 appearances over the next two seasons before First Division Liverpool signed him for £1,750 in May 1925. He made his Football League debut against West Bromwich Albion that November but didn’t establish himself as a first team regular at Anfield until March 1927, after which he only missed four games in the following three seasons, being an ever present for The Reds in 1928-29, becoming club captain from October 1928. He tore a knee ligament in the club’s tour of Scotland at the end of 1929/30 and missed the last game of the season as well the first two months of the following campaign after ill-advisedly playing in the first game.
While he never won an international cap for Scotland, he became one of the few players to play for both The Scottish League and The Football League when he was selected for the latter, playing in a 4-0 win over The Irish League at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool in September 1931.
A man of deep religious convictions, Jackson started his divinity studies at Aberdeen University and finished them at Cambridge while still an active player for Liverpool so he missed almost three months during the 1932-33 season. Jackson’s was not at all comfortable playing in front of Liverpool’s Irish ‘keeper, Elisha Scott, as Everton great, Dixie Dean, explained: “Elisha’s language was unbelievable and the things he called me. Jimmy Jackson, who was called the Parson, was one of the Liverpool full-backs that day and he just couldn’t stand Elisha’s lingo and the words he came out with. Just after I had scored the third goal Jimmy turned to me and said, ‘William, I shall never play in front of this man again.'”
One dumbfounded football writer asked after a game: ‘Is Jackson really going to be a minister? If so, if he prays as hard as he plays he ought to be Archbishop of Canterbury in record time!’ When Jackson left Liverpool after 2 goals in 224 appearances over eight seasons, having finished his degree at Cambridge University, where he read Philosophy and Greek, he was ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church and inducted into the charge of St. Andrew’s Church, Douglas, Isle of Man on 29th June 1933.
His father, Jimmy, his younger brother and his cousin, both called Archie, were all professional sportsmen. Jimmy played for several football clubs in both England and Scotland, most notably for Newcastle United, Woolwich Arsenal, West Ham United and Glasgow Rangers whilst his younger brother Archie played for several clubs in the 1920’s and 1930’s including Sunderland, Third Lanark and Tranmere Rovers. His cousin, also called Archie.was an Australian Test cricketer who played in the same side as the great Don Bradman.
NB in the photograph Jackson appears with Liverpool team mates Tom “Tiny” Bradshaw, Gordon Hodgson and Jimmy Smith.