Jimmy Hill

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Jimmy Hill
MauriceCookJimmyHill.jpg
Hill (left) with former Fulham team-mate Maurice Cook
Personal information
Full name James William Thomas Hill
Date of birth (1928-07-22) 22 July 1928 (age 85)
Place of birth Balham, London, England
Playing position Forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1949–1952 Brentford 83 (10)
1952–1961 Fulham 276 (41)
Teams managed
1961–1967 Coventry City
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

James William Thomas "Jimmy" Hill OBE (born 22 July 1928) is an English association football personality. His career has taken in virtually every role in football, including player, union leader, coach, manager, director, chairman, television executive, presenter, analyst and match official.

Early life[edit]

Hill was born in Balham, London, the son of Alice Beatrice (Wyatt) and William Thomas Hill, a World War I veteran, milkman, and bread delivery worker.[1] He was a pupil at Henry Thornton Grammar School, Clapham (1939–45), and is now President of the Old Boys' Association. He then did national service as a clerk in the Royal Army Service Corps in which he attained the rank of Corporal and was considered a potential candidate for officer training.[2]

Football playing career[edit]

Hill first came into football as a fan, regularly watching football at local club Crystal Palace, but, despite this, he started playing in 1949 with Brentford, making 87 appearances before moving to Fulham in March 1952, for whom he played nearly 300 games, scoring 52 goals. He set up a club record by scoring five goals for Fulham in an away match against Doncaster Rovers in 1958 and was part of the team that gained promotion to the First Division.

In 1957, he became chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) and campaigned to have the Football League's £20 maximum wage scrapped, which he achieved in January 1961,[3] when Fulham teammate Johnny Haynes became the first £100 player.

Football management[edit]

In November 1961, after retiring as a player aged 33, Hill became manager of Coventry City. His time at Coventry was marked by great changes to the club, nicknamed "The Sky Blue Revolution". He changed the home kit's colours to sky blue, coining the nickname "The Sky Blues". He also penned the club song "The Sky Blue Song", sung to the tune of the Eton Boating Song. Among his other innovations were the first full-fledged match programme in English football, and organised pre-match entertainment to encourage fans to arrive early. His partnership with the chairman D H Robbins also led to a redevelopment of the stadium, Highfield Road, with two new stands being built.

After winning the Division Three championship in 1963–64, and the Division Two title in 1966–67, Hill quit the club shortly before the start of the 1967–68 season as the club entered the top flight for the first time.

Broadcasting career[edit]

After leaving Coventry in 1967, Hill moved into broadcasting, acting as technical adviser to the BBC's football-based drama series United! before becoming Head of Sport at London Weekend Television from 1968 to 1972. He also fronted their World Cup 1970 coverage which, at his suggestion, used the first panel of football pundits.

He was briefly LWT's Deputy Controller of Programmes, before joining the BBC to present Match of the Day. Hill racked up 600 appearances on the show, and became a television icon, instantly recognisable and often caricatured for his long chin and distinctive beard. As a presenter or analyst, he worked on every major international championship from 1966 to 1998. As a broadcaster with the BBC he was present at the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, whilst covering the game for Match of the Day.

In 1999, Hill moved from the BBC to Sky Sports, where he featured on Jimmy Hill's Sunday Supplement, a weekly discussion show between Hill and three football journalists conducted over a Sunday breakfast. In 2007, he was replaced by his co presenter Brian Woolnough and the programme was renamed Sunday Supplement.

Directorships[edit]

Despite his surprise departure as manager in 1967, Hill returned to Coventry City as managing director in April 1975 before becoming the chairman. As chairman, at a crucial relegation match at home to Bristol City at the end of the 1976–77 season, Hill was advised to delay the kick off by 10 minutes for fans still outside caught in the heavy traffic. Relegation rivals Sunderland, playing at Everton kicked off on time. Sunderland eventually lost the game 2–0. The Sunderland result was flashed up on the scoreboard. Hill was accused by Sunderland fans of making his players pass the ball around in their own half for the last 10 minutes of the game, thereby saving Coventry from relegation at the expense of Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City. A subsequent Football League inquiry was held but Hill, who at the time was in a senior position at the Football League, did not stand to one side while the inquiry was held. Coventry were asked not to interfere again but the result stood.[4]

He made a dramatic return to Fulham in 1987 as chairman of a driving force to save the club from extinction. In fact if it hadn't been for Hill's tireless efforts, Fulham F.C. could have gone under. The fans owe him an enormous debt. Hill is still considered a legend by Coventry City fans for the various achievements made under his reign as Chairman. When Coventry played their last ever match at Highfield Road in 2005, he received a post-match hero's welcome from the capacity crowd, and led them in a rousing chorus of "The Sky Blue Song". In 2007, fans voted for a bar at the new Ricoh Arena to be named "Jimmy's" in his honour.

Following a spell as chairman of Charlton Athletic, Hill became chairman of Fulham in 1987, helping his old club survive near-bankruptcy, and blocking an attempted merger with Queens Park Rangers

Hill is a trustee of the Stable Lads' Association, and a patron of Labrador Rescue South East and Central.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Hill married three times, having three children by his first wife, Gloria, and two by his second, Heather. In September 2013 it was revealed that he was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease in 2008 and was currently living in a nursing home near the south coast. His children by his second wife expressed concern that they have no role in determining his care, as Hill had assigned power of attorney in 2005 to his third wife, Bryony, and a solicitor.[6]

Hill is the president of non-league team Corinthian Casuals. He resided in Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex.[7]

Controversy[edit]

In 2004, Hill defended fellow pundit Ron Atkinson over racist comments he had made which were broadcast in the Middle East. Hill was asked whether he thought Atkinson should resign over the comments, to which he insisted it was the "language of the football field". He went on to say "In that context, you wouldn't think that words like nigger were particularly insulting: it would be funny. Without meaning to insult any black men, it's us having fun ... I mean, nigger is black - so we have jokes where we call them niggers because they're black. Why should that be any more of an offence than someone calling me chinny?" His comments were described as "mind-boggling" by the then director of Kick it Out, football's anti racism group. He went on to say "Jimmy Hill's comments are as offensive as Ron Atkinson's". [8]

Statue[edit]

Sculptor Nicholas Dimbleby was commissioned to build a statue of Hill at a cost of £150,000. The statue is located at Coventry's Ricoh Arena ground and was unveiled by Jimmy Hill in person on 28 July 2011.[9] The money to build the statue was raised from public donations. Other former Coventry City legends, who played for the Sky Blues in the 1960s during Hill's 6 year term as manager, were there too for the short unveiling ceremony, including Bobby Gould, John Sillett and George Curtis, all of whom went on to manage the club in the 1980s.

Footballing legacy[edit]

He has a reputation as an all-round innovator in football: as well as helping to get rid of the maximum wage, he commissioned the first all-seater stadium when at Coventry, and has been credited [10] with the introduction of the 3 points for a win system, which was pioneered by The Football Association in 1981, and was credited [10] with the idea of using the first panel of football pundits for the 1970 World Cup.

Public image[edit]

One of Hill's more light-hearted football moments took place in 1972. Arsenal were hosting Liverpool at Highbury on 16 September, when linesman Dennis Drewitt pulled a muscle and was unable to continue. FA rules state that the match could not be completed without a referee and two linesmen, so the game was in danger of being abandoned. The matchday announcer put a message over the loudspeaker asking if anyone was a qualified referee and would volunteer to run the line. Hill was a qualified referee and had been at Highbury that day as a spectator. He quickly donned a tracksuit before stepping in for the injured Drewitt.[11]

Honours[edit]

As a manager:

Coventry City

  • Division Three Championship: 1963-64
  • Division Two Championship: 1966-67

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nick Barratt Published: 12:04 am GMT 10 March 2007 (10 March 2007). "Family detective". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 8 June 2009. 
  2. ^ Jimmy Hill (3 September 1998). Jimmy Hill Autobiography. Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. ISBN 978-0-340-71248-1. 
  3. ^ Harding, John (2009). Behind The Glory 100 Years Of The PFA. pp. 141–145. ISBN 978-1-85983-682-8. 
  4. ^ Daily Mirror
  5. ^ LRSEC Staff. "Labrador Rescue South East and Central". lrsec.org.uk. "Patrons: The Lord Swinfen, Mrs. Robin Wise, Allen Parton and Endal (Dog of the Millennium), Jimmy Hill and Bryony Hill." 
  6. ^ Mendick, Robert (29 September 2013). "Jimmy Hill’s family in turmoil over his battle with Alzheimer’s". Sunday Telegraph (London). Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  7. ^ Rees, Jasper (30 August 1998). "and into extra time Profile: Jimmy Hill – Opinion". The Independent (London). Retrieved 8 June 2009. 
  8. ^ Judd, Terri (13 May 2004). "Hill defends Atkinson over racist remark". The Independent (London). 
  9. ^ "Jimmy Hill statue unveiled at Coventry's Ricoh Arena". BBC News (BBC). 28 July 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  10. ^ a b "Jimmy Hill awarded". www.fulhamfc.com. 2009-04-01. Retrieved 2013-06-10. 
  11. ^ "TV pundit Jimmy Hill runs the line". 

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
David Coleman
Regular Host of Match of the Day
1973–1988
Succeeded by
Des Lynam