Referee John “Jake&rdquo Ireland – one of the league's all-time greatest officials – will call his 500th CFL game this Friday, Sept. 2, 2005 in the Labour Day Classic contest between the Ottawa Renegades and the Montreal Alouettes at Percival Molson Stadium.
The 58-year-old Ireland is in his 27th year of CFL officiating. He has officiated in 12 Grey Cups, including a remarkable run of four consecutive years as the big game's head referee (1985-1988). He has been a football official for a total of 40 seasons when his days as an amateur arbiter are counted.
Ireland accelerated quickly to the position of referee in the CFL. He was a back judge for one season and a head linesman & line judge for three other campaigns before obtaining his first refereeing assignment.
The first game of Ireland's illustrious career was June 12, 1979 when the Ottawa Rough Riders visited the Montreal Alouettes – the same two teams in the same city as Ireland's 500th contest.
Not only does Ireland's 500th game feature the same two teams that participated in his first CFL game, it also features two individuals that were part of the officiating crew on No. 62's first outing. Field judge Al McColman was the head linesman for the game in 1979 while game observer Jacques Décarie was the field judge that day. Both McColman and Décarie are members of the CFL's “500 Club&rdquo for games officiated.
A retired manager from Stelco Inc., Ireland is the second CFL official to reach the 500-game milestone this year. Referee Ken Lazaruk called his 500th game July 30, 2005 when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats played the Edmonton Eskimos in Commonwealth Stadium.