A Football Man For All Seasons

A personal appreciation of Jimmy Hill   by Ken Goldman

I first met Jimmy Hill when I was 18 years of age and went on an FA Preliminary Badge course run by the The Central Council for Physical Recreation (CCPR) at their famous Paddington Street gym in Baker Street where he was one of the three coaches led by one of our previous Vice Chairmen the late Jackie Goodwin.

At the time Jimmy was playing for Fulham and one was immediately struck by his enthusiasm and ability to put over his coaching ideas as well as his easy going manner.  He was happy to stay on after the session to share a cup of tea and to talk football with any or all of the attendees.  Indeed some years later when we met we discussed those evenings and measuring it against other aspects of his career he confided that they were actually some of his happiest days in the game when he was involved in coaching.  Yet it seems amongst his many attributes few people have highlighted or majored on that ability to coach.  However anyone who has read Graham Morse’s book on Sir Walter Winterbottom will appreciate how much he helped Walter in early coaching developments In deed Jimmy himself wrote an excellent paperback book on coaching published by the Penguin Press containing many useful tips including one I remember to this day –“run late and jump early” when engaged in attempting to head the ball.  As not a very tall player it helped my timing in a lot of my grass roots playing days and is a tip I am always happy to pass on.

I also had the privilege of joining Jimmy on the committee of the Goaldiggers Charity which raised considerable funds for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Playing Fields Appeal. He and his good friend the late Brian Moore were always the life and soul of things, organising and supporting dinners and football matches in one of which Jimmy played as a defender. He was always available for interviews especially for our magazine Soccer Coach and attended several of our annual dinners and was even a speaker at one or two.

When our first President Sir Walter Winterbottom unfortunately died I had no hesitation in putting forward Jimmy’s name as our new President and our then Chairman Bob Wilson also a personal friend of Jimmy’s immediately seconded the proposal. When approached to be President Jimmy readily accepted and indicated he was proud to do so. From that time onwards he was always keenly interested in the LFCA but as his health faltered he found it more difficult to attend our Dinners. However we were able to offer and he to accept from us a Lifetime Award for Services to Football especially coaching and this was an entirely fitting recognition of a great footballing man who will forever be remembered but never forgotten despite the fact he was wickedly overlooked for the Knighthood he thoroughly deserved.

Rest in Peace and the LFCA will always be proud to say your name.