No set of articles about NIACUS could possibly be published without reference to the man I remember as the founder of our formal umpire training.

It is beyond doubt that the majority of current members of the Association have no idea about whom I am writing. After all, he died twelve years ago at the grand old age of 90 years.

NICUA (as it then was) was just a group of like - minded individuals who took up the job of umpiring. They took their instructions from the NCU – a situation that did not rest easy with our Honorary Secretary at the time , Walter (Jock) Russell who – apparently – seemed to be at perpetual loggerheads with his NCU counterpart Major Gordon Ormsby over appointments and reimbursement. Our very own Arthur Scargill!

At this time of no formal training for the job, nor any links with the North West or Leinster, Joe joined the International body, the Association of Cricket Umpires (ACU) and encouraged the rest of his colleagues to do likewise, citing that its monthly newsletters would be of immense value to everybody. Indeed it was!

It was full of technical advice and lots of question and answer information. Initially, our Association's membership of this body was under the North West of England branch. Each region had a Training Officer and a team of instructors.

Unknown to any of us, Joe approached the ACU to enquire about him being formally trained as an instructor. I am unsure of the full story, but Joe travelled to England at his own expense and underwent a weekend of interviews and discussions and returned as an accredited ACU umpire tutor.

He, in turn, formed a small team and official training began. Around this time, Leinster's Liam Keegan was making overtures to NICUA with the aim of having umpire exchanges. This was in the 1970's and there was some disquiet and hostility from a few NICUA members who wanted no truck with the Leinster Association. But plans went ahead and Joe – ever the diplomat – arranged the first visit, but it had to be described as a private visit and not under the aegis of NICUA!

These exchanges became regular events on our umpiring calendar and there were many hair-raising stories of the late night homeward journeys across the border, with as many as four or five police and army checkpoints having to be negotiated. I think the Garda and the British Army got to know who we were!

Joe Vaughan became an International umpire, but with the paucity of international fixtures during the ‘troubles’ era , stood only three times - a first appointment in 1976 and had to wait until 1982 for his second – Ireland v India at Ormeau.

Many very well deserved honours were accorded to him in his latter years. President of his home club Armagh, President of NCU and elected as Honorary Life Member of both NCU and NIACUS.

Rightly regarded by all of us as the “father of NIACUS umpiring” he was a most courteous and personable man, and while many of his achievements may have gone under the radar, the modern umpiring fraternity has cause to be thankful for the quiet determination of “Gentleman Joe” Vaughan.