Jimmy Melia

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Jimmy Melia
Personal information
Full name James Melia
Date of birth (1937-11-01) 1 November 1937 (age 76)
Place of birth Liverpool, England
Height 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
1952–1954 Liverpool
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1954–1964 Liverpool 269 (76)
1964 Wolverhampton Wanderers 24 (4)
1964–1968 Southampton 139 (11)
1968–1972 Aldershot 135 (14)
1972 Crewe Alexandra 4 (0)
Total 571 (105)
National team
1963 England 2 (1)
Teams managed
1969–1972 Aldershot
1972–1973 Crewe Alexandra
1975 Southport
1979 Cleveland Cobras
1982–1983 Brighton & Hove Albion
1983–1986 C.F. Os Belenenses
1986 Stockport County
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Jimmy Melia (born Liverpool, Merseyside, England on 1 November 1937) is a former English footballer who spent most of his career playing for Liverpool and went on to become a manager.

Playing career[edit]

Liverpool[edit]

Jimmy joined the Reds straight from St. Anthony's School[1] as a 15-year old, when manager Don Welsh saw the potential in the young schoolboy international's feet, he signed professional forms on his 17th birthday, 1 November 1954. After 23 appearances for Liverpool's reserve team, he made his début aged 18 on 17 December 1955 at Anfield in a 2nd Division fixture against Nottingham Forest.[2] The visitors came up against an in form Billy Liddell who scored a hat-trick in the 5–2 victory, Jimmy also scored his first goal for the club in the 48th minute, John Evans got the other.

Although Jimmy received rave reviews about his performance, Welsh held him back and brought him in to the set up slowly; it wasn't until the following season that he got a real run in the side starting 27 matches. Melia followed this up with a 36 match season scoring 10 goals; he had made his name and would be difficult to shift.

Melia, along with the rest of the staff at Anfield, would feel dejection three seasons on the run as they just missed out on promotion on each occasion. It was all too much for manager Phil Taylor who resigned in 1959. He was followed by the man who would return Liverpool to the top division, Bill Shankly.

Shankly liked Melia and used him as part of his plan for Liverpool to rule English football. The first attempt at promotion fell short again by eight points as Cardiff City finished second behind champions Aston Villa. The frustration continued in 1960–61 as, for a fifth straight time, Liverpool finished third, seven points adrift of winners Ipswich Town and six short of Sheffield United.

Something had to change to break the third spot hoodoo, so Shankly went north of the border to buy Ian St John from Motherwell and Ron Yeats from Dundee United. These two along with the likes of Alan A'Court, Gerry Byrne, Gordon Milne, Ian Callaghan, Ronnie Moran, Roger Hunt and Melia, who was an ever-present, scoring thirteen goals, would help guide the club to the second Division title by a clear eight points over Leyton Orient.

Melia flourished in the first Division and played thirty nine times as Liverpool finished a very respectable eighth place. Unfortunately for the red half of Merseyside Everton won the league and were seventeen points better.

During this spell Jimmy caught the eye of England manager Alf Ramsey who gave him his debut on 6 April 1963 in the 2–1 British Championship loss at Wembley to Scotland. Melia's one and only goal came in his second and final appearance for his country, on 5 June 1963 at St. Jakob Park, Basel as England beat Switzerland 8–1.

The next season Liverpool won the championship by four points from Manchester United. Melia, now aged 27, could add a championship medal to the second division title medal he already owned. By this time, however, he had joined Wolves, moving in March 1964 for a club record transfer fee of £48,000,[3] but had played enough games for Liverpool to get the medal.

Wolverhampton Wanderers[edit]

His stay in the Midlands was a short one. While he had a good run in the first team, this came to an abrupt end when manager Stan Cullis was sacked and replaced by Andy Beattie. Beattie decided that Melia was not the type of player he wanted and quickly offloaded him to Southampton.

Southampton[edit]

In December 1964, Melia was signed for a fee of £30000 by Southampton's manager Ted Bates "who was keen to acquire his scheming visionary skills".[4] Melia was reluctant to move to the south coast, but when he was eventually persuaded, "Saints' (then) record signing added finesse"[4] to the midfield. Although Saints missed out on promotion at the end of the 1964–65 season, Melia linked up well with Terry Paine and Martin Chivers in the following season, helping them to promotion from Division 2, finishing five points behind champions Manchester City.

He remained an ever-present for Southampton in their first season in Division 1, as they narrowly hung on to their place in the top flight, with Melia's crosses helping Ron Davies and Martin Chivers score 37 and 14 goals respectively, adding four for himself, the best being a header in a 2–1 victory over Arsenal on 27 December 1966.[5]

He continued to make a valuable contribution to the team but lost his place to Mick Channon and in November 1968 he moved on to Aldershot for a £10000 fee and the player managers job.

In his four years at The Dell he made a total of 152 appearances, scoring twelve goals

Management career[edit]

Aldershot and Crewe Alexandra[edit]

Melia joined Aldershot as player-coach in November 1968, taking the management position in April 1969. Melia moved on from Aldershot in February 1972 to take up a similar role at Crewe Alexandra; after retiring as a player in May 1972, he took on the managerial role at Gresty Road full-time. While at Aldershot, Melia gained a reputation for his hard-hitting and occasionally controversial column in the club's match day programme.

Brighton & Hove Albion[edit]

He went on to manage Brighton & Hove Albion during the 1982–83 season - being promoted from his former role as Albion's chief scout[6] - where his greatest managerial feat occurred when he took them to the 1983 FA Cup Final. The run took Melia back to his old stomping ground of Anfield where a goal from another ex-Liverpool player Jimmy Case won the game.[7] During the cup run Melia became famous for his 'disco' style of dress and his glamorous younger girlfriend, Val Lloyd.[7] Brighton drew the final, and then lost the replay, to Manchester United and were also relegated from the first division. Melia, who had only been appointed as an interim manager, resigned his post on 19 October 1983, reportedly due to his disdain at backroom meddling by first-team coach Chris Cattlin.[8][9]

After Brighton[edit]

Melia went on to spells in charge of Southport, Portuguese side Belenenses and Stockport County.

In 1989 Jimmy had a stint in youth training when he travelled to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates where he set up an academy. He currently coaches youth teams for Liverpool FC America in The Colony, Texas, after joining them in 2008.[10] He had gone to America to coach in the 1970s, as an assistant to Laurie Callaway with the Southern California Lazers in 1978 and head coach of the Cleveland Cobras in 1979.

Honours[edit]

As a player[edit]

Liverpool
Southampton

As a manager[edit]

Brighton & Hove Albion

References[edit]

  1. ^ "St. Anthony's Church – Scotland Road". Scotland Road 2003. Scottie Press. Retrieved 5 February 2008. 
  2. ^ "Youth star Melia to make his debut". Daily Mirror. 15 December 1955. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Wolves pay up £48,000 for Jimmy Melia". Daily Mirror. 9 March 1964. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Duncan Holley & Gary Chalk (2003). In That Number – A post-war chronicle of Southampton FC. Hagiology. p. 551. ISBN 0-9534474-3-X. 
  5. ^ Holley & Chalk. In That Number. p. 90. 
  6. ^ Ivan Speck (22 January 2010). "Brighton Rock: Sportsmail looks at what happened to Albion's Wembley heroes of 27 years ago". Sportsmail (Daily Mail). Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Rob Smyth (15 April 2011). "The Joy of Six: FA Cup semi-final memories". theguardian.com (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "Dark deed at Brighton". Shoot View! (Shoot!). 12 November 1983. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Kuen-Wah Cheung. "Jimmy Melia: So near but yet so far" (PDF). vivabrighton.com (Viva Brighton). p. 53. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  10. ^ "Jimmy Melia". liverpoolfcamerica.com (Liverpool FC America). Retrieved 19 June 2014. 

External links[edit]