Sunday, 18 April 2010
JIM'S COLUMN 17.4.10 Charlie Timmins R I P
It is sad to report the death earlier this week of former Coventry City player Charlie Timmins (pictured above, right, with Gordon Nutt). Birmingham-born Charlie died on Tuesday 13 April, aged 87, after a fight with cancer.
After many years away from Coventry he had in recent years become a regular visitor at City home games with his son and grandson, Stephen, and brightened up the Legends Lounge with his impish sense of humour. He was a regular attendee at the Former Players’ Legends Day and loved mixing with his former City teammates.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Charlie and his family when I gave them a tour of the new stadium. Charlie could hardly believe his eyes at the facilities available at the Ricoh and spent more than hour with me reminiscing about his tn happy years at Highfield Road from 1948-58.
Charlie’s memory that day was remarkable. We talked about a famous game in the 1950-51 season when City beat Blackburn 6-1 to go top of Division Two – and he was able to rattle off the names of nine of the City team. He also remembered the day Preston North End, then a top First Division side, including the legendary Tom Finney, came to Highfield Road. It was in January 1956 and with both teams out of the FA Cup a hastily arranged friendly took place. Finney was at the time one of the top players in Britain, if not Europe, and he gave Charlie a real chasing in the mud. Charlie described the experience: ‘Finney played on the right wing that day but his left foot was stronger and whilst I could get close to most wingers, he was unorthodox and so fast. I was puffed out at half-time and the manager George Raynor had to switch Frank Austin and I to give me a breather. At the end I didn’t have enough energy to shake his hand”.
Charlie did service in the Royal Engineers in the war and was playing for a Birmingham non-league side, Jack Moulds Athletic, when City spotted him. ‘I was 27-years old and working at the Morris in Birmingham with no thought of playing football professionally. One night there was a knock on the front door and a chap called Harry Storer was there, saying he wanted to sign me for Coventry City. I played a game for the reserves on the first day of the season in August 1949. We won and I was picked for the first team game at Luton four days later. We lost 0-2 but Storer was pleased with me.’
Charlie played 23 times that season, at either right or left back and helped the Bantams to an eight-game unbeaten end to the season, lifting any relegation worries. The next season he was a regular as the team set the pace at the top of the Second Division. Promotion looked a strong possibility until the New Year when the team stuttered and finished seventh. Charlie showed me his press cuttings and his outstanding performances that season prompted the media to tip him for international honours with a big money move to Newcastle mooted at one time.
A loss of form cost him his place the following season and with City’s ageing team suddenly looking tired the team were relegated to Division Three. Charlie played a total of 165 games for the club between 1949 and 1958 and scored five goals for City, four of them penalties. He played under six managers Storer, Jack Fairbrother, Jesse Carver, Raynor, Harry Warren and Billy Frith. His only outfield goal came on Christmas Eve 1955 in a 5-3 win over Norwich. His final game was a 0-0 home draw with Brentford in February 1958. He was released at the age of 36 and joined Lockheed Leamington, managed by former City colleague Les Latham.
Charlie remembers travelling to Coventry from Birmingham every day for training on the Midland Red 159 bus with other Brum-based players like George Mason, Martin McDonnell, Gordon Nutt and Don Dorman. ‘Very few players could afford a car in those days and we had great fun on the bus every day. When I joined Lockheed I used to cycle to Olton station and catch the train to Leamington, taking my bike with me. At Leamington I would cycle up Tachbrook Road to the Windmill Ground in time for the kick-off.’
After hanging up his boots he went back into the motor industry and joined Rover at Solihull in the Car despatch division where he spent 28 happy years before retiring in 1986 continuing to live in the Sparkhill district. Charlie was a great supporter of the Former Players Association from its inception three years ago and the Association committee and members have asked me to express their condolences to Charlie’s family.
In turn the Timmins family would be very happy to see any Coventry City fans at the funeral which takes place next Wednesday (21 April) at 11.30 at Yardley Crematorium, Yardley, Birmingham and afterwards at the Westley Arms in Acocks Green.
The Former Players Association is running transport to the funeral and anybody who would like a lift can contact Bob Eales on 07795 283955.
Last week’s appeal on behalf of Bob Weeks and the picture of the Midland (Coventry) Telegraph Cup winners of 1908 prompted a couple of replies. Gordon Rouse is vice-chairman of the Telegraph Cup committee and revealed that Great Heath were the winners of the trophy in 1908. Fellow historian Mike Young was able to provide me with some more information:
Foleshill Great Heath (as they were known) beat Leamington Town 4-3 in the 1907-08 Final of the Midland Daily Telegraph Cup after beating Exhall Colliery 4-1 in Round 1; Budbrooke 6-0 in Round 2; Nuneaton Wanderers in Round 3; and Lord Street 3-2 after extra time in the Semi Finals.
It was so predictable that I wish I had put money on Richard Cresswell to score for Sheffield United last Saturday at Bramall Lane. His eighth goal in 12 appearances against City since 2001 makes him the highest scorer against Coventry since they left the Premiership. Cresswell has a pretty good record in the Championship but it is interesting to note that in his one recent season in the top division, with Stoke last year, he failed to find the net in 29 appearances.