In 1976 when the grind and knocks of rugby finally forced his body to give up the sport that he so clearly loved, Theo Jackson discovered a new passion – ROAD RUNNING. The sport and Theo fitted like a hand in a glove. It was physically and mentally hard and being the ultimate clubman, he could enjoy his sport while socializing and building the camaraderie that he was so good at.
Theo was a born leader and his strong character would dominate the running section and the club right up to his untimely death in 1995. It was not difficult for Theo to convince some of his club mates that running the Comrades Marathon was the ultimate challenge. The legendary picture on the wall in the Theo Jackson Pavilion at the club shows eight of the original nine runners who completed the Comrades in 1976 in Jeppe colours. With Theo in the picture are Fred Hattingh, Lennie “Boss” Bawden, Benny Friedman, Mike Wolff, Mike Mallet, Jackie Drutman and Kenny Holm. Inset in the photograph is the ninth original Comrades runner – Cliffie Cole. Sadly Jackie Drutman was murdered a number of years ago and amazingly Kenny Holm, who is the only one of the original nine still running, and has just completed his 33rd Comrades Marathon.
Theo came from humble beginnings and had an extremely difficult childhood. He was an orphan, who, after his mother died, was adopted by his uncle John Jackson and came to South Africa from Zimbabwe at the age of 13. He was enrolled at Jeppe Boys as a boarder in 1961 and matriculated in 1964.
Theo was neither a particularly gifted sportsman nor a great academic. He was however intensely passionate about the school and from the time he walked through the Dashwood and Von Linsingen Gates; Jeppe High School for Boys was to become the defining influence in his life. The School and Quondam became a broad canvas on which he left his indelible mark. He was Chairman of the Governing Body of the School. At the club he played for and eventually coached the First XV Rugby Team. He was President of the club from 1982 to 1985 and he was made an Honoury Life Member of the club, true recognition bestowed on very few. He was of course the founding Chairman of our Athletics Section.
Morning runs sometimes go along St Matthew’s Road in Hurlyvale. Few Jeppe runners realize, as they pass number 11 that this is in fact where Jeppe Quondam Athletics Section was born. In 1976 Theo and a few of his hardy running mates trained from his home to run the Comrades Marathon. His legacy is a running club of 300 members. A club, that rates as one of the finest in South Africa. A club, which has organisational skills without peer. A club of spirit and camaraderie second to none.
From St Matthews Road to the Jeppe Quondam car park, Theo Jackson’s towering character will for all time be part of the life blood that runs through the athletics section.