Jeff Hall (footballer)

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Jeff Hall
Personal information
Full name Jeffrey James Hall[1]
Date of birth (1929-09-07)7 September 1929[1]
Place of birth Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, England
Date of death 4 April 1959(1959-04-04) (aged 29)[1]
Place of death Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Position(s) Right back
Youth career
Bradford Park Avenue
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
REME
1950–1959 Birmingham City 227 (1)
National team
1955 England B 1 (0)
1955–1957 England 17 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Jeffrey James Hall (7 September 1929 – 4 April 1959) was an English footballer who played as a right back for Birmingham City and England.

It was the death of Hall – a young, fit, international footballer – from polio which helped to kick-start widespread public acceptance in Britain of the need for vaccination. Though the disease was generally feared and the Salk vaccine was available, takeup had been slow. In the weeks following Hall's death, and after his widow, Dawn, spoke on television about her loss, demand for immunisation rocketed. Emergency vaccination clinics had to be set up and supplies of the vaccine flown in from the United States to cope with demand.[2][3][4]

Biography[edit]

Hall was born in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, and brought up in Wilsden, West Riding of Yorkshire. He had an older sister, Joan.[4] After leaving school in 1945 he played for various junior clubs in the area before joining his local Football League club, Bradford Park Avenue, then in the Second Division, where he remained an amateur and never made a first-team appearance.[5] It was while playing at right half for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers during his National Service that he was spotted by Birmingham City chief scout Walter Taylor, whose other successes included Gil Merrick, Trevor Smith and Ken Green. Hall signed on professional forms in May 1950.[6]

He was converted to full back while playing for Birmingham City's reserve team, and made his first-team debut in that position in January 1951, though did not become a regular for the first team until 1953. He was part of the Birmingham City side that won the Second Division Championship in the 1954–55 Football League season. In 1955–56, he was part of the team that reached the club's highest ever finishing position, sixth in the First Division, and the Cup Final, losing 3–1 to Manchester City. He also played in Birmingham's Inter-Cities Fairs Cup campaign.

Also that season, he won his first representative honours, a cap for England B against West Germany B,[7] soon followed by his first full cap for England, in a 5–1 victory in a friendly away to Denmark. He played every minute of this and England's next 16 international matches, until losing his place to West Bromwich Albion's Don Howe in October 1957.[8] He finished on the losing side only once for England, and formed a fine understanding with regular defensive partner Roger Byrne of Manchester United.[9]

Hall's last match for Birmingham City was away to Portsmouth on 21 March 1959. He became ill two days later and was admitted to hospital where he was diagnosed with polio. Over the next twelve days, his condition deteriorated; he became paralysed and lost his speech before dying on 4 April, aged 29.[4] A clock and scoreboard were erected in his memory in Birmingham City's ground, St Andrew's, later that year; they did not survive the ground redevelopments of the mid-1990s. In his home town of Keighley, a trophy was presented in his honour to the newly formed Sunday League in the early 1960s for their cup competition which was still competed for until the league went into abeyance in 2010.[10]

Birmingham City commissioned a second memorial clock to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Hall's death. Centrally sited above the main stand at St Andrew's, it was unveiled in September 2008 by Hall's teammates Alex Govan and Gil Merrick.[11] However, adverse reaction to the clock's size and position provoked the club into ordering a larger replacement.[12]

Style of play[edit]

In Hall's obituary in the Birmingham Post, he is remembered as "one of [Birmingham City's] most skilful and popular players … who harnessed a keen intelligence to natural footballing ability to make a mark of considerable distinction on the game", adding that "his style of play, which tried to ensure any defensive move was turned smoothly and quickly to attack, and his demeanour on and off the field were classic examples to young devotees of the game".[13] Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph remarked that Hall "met the physical challenge on the field without flinching and with a fair tackle. Few defenders ever mastered the handicap of lack of height so competently".[13] In 1956, The Sunday Times paid tribute to a Birmingham City defence termed "superb" and opined "clearly if [Gil] Merrick is an emperor among goalkeepers, then Hall and [Ken] Green, Birmingham's backs … are very worthy paladins".[13]

Honours[edit]

Birmingham City

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Jeff Hall". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  2. ^ Gould, Tony (30 April 1995). "I thought my polio was over, but not any longer". The Independent. Retrieved 9 October 2010. In the same month and year that I contracted the disease in Hong Kong, the international footballer Jeff Hall died of it in England. Before the end of the Second World War polio had been a comparatively rare disease in Britain. But the late Forties and early Fifties were the polio years here as elsewhere, the time when parents grew anxious as the summer approached and kept their children away from swimming pools where the disease was thought to spread. Though polio was never a killer on the scale of cancer and heart disease, it was feared because of its capacity to maim young and healthy bodies. Despite this universal fear, take-up of the Salk vaccine when it became available in this country in the mid-Fifties was sluggish. Jeff Hall's death changed that. The message finally got through to teenagers on the terraces at football matches and in the Mecca dance-halls. Emergency clinics were set up, and there was such a run on the vaccine that further supplies had to be flown in from the United States.
  3. ^ "Dr Salk promotes polio vaccine in UK". On This Day. BBC. Retrieved 9 July 2007. There has been a sharp rise in the demand for the vaccine following the death from the disease of Birmingham City full back Jeff Hall last month. Local health departments have been overwhelmed with applicants and have ordered an extra million doses. On 22 April daily inoculations at Manchester Town Hall were suspended because of a shortage of the vaccine.
  4. ^ a b c Varma, Anuji (19 June 2009). "Tragic Birmingham City star Jeff Hall inspired polio fight". Sunday Mercury. Birmingham. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  5. ^ Matthews, Tony (1995). Birmingham City: A Complete Record. Derby: Breedon Books. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-85983-010-9.
  6. ^ Matthews, p. 24.
  7. ^ Courtney, Barrie (21 March 2004). "England – International Results B-Team – Details". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF). Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2007.
  8. ^ Courtney, Barrie (5 June 2005). "England – International Results 1950–1959 – Details". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF). Archived from the original on 25 September 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2007.
  9. ^ Giller, Norman. "England Postwar Lineups and Match Highlights Part 3: 1955–56 to 1959–60". England Football Online. Archived from the original on 10 March 2008. Retrieved 9 July 2007.
  10. ^ "Soccer: Life's a beach for Maurice". Telegraph & Argus. Bradford. 16 March 2001. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
    "Team Talk: Wilsden 1930/31 and a future England international". Keighley Kicks. Steve Penny. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  11. ^ Cowan, Mark (15 September 2008). "Birmingham City legends unveil new Jeff Hall memorial clock". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  12. ^ Tattum, Colin (22 September 2008). "Jeff Hall clock to be replaced by Birmingham City". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  13. ^ a b c Burnton, Simon (9 December 2016). "The forgotten story of … Jeff Hall, the footballer whose death turned tide against polio". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2017.

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