Iain Jamieson (with Bobby Gould) celebrating City staying up in May 1984.
Iain Jamieson, who recently died in Scotland aged, 84, juggled careers in football and business, achieving great success in both fields. He is unique in having been a Coventry City player as well as a director and, for one momentous year, chairman of the club. Simultaneously he rose through the ranks of textile company Courtaulds to become one of its managing directors.
The Dumbarton-born son of a Glasgow shipyard electrician, his talents on the pitch were first evident at Dumbarton Academy where he also excelled in the classroom. In 1946 Iain won a place at Aberdeen University to read modern languages and had ambitions of becoming a school-teacher. He was approached by Aberdeen FC and agreed to play as a part-time professional to help fund his studies. He played just one first-team game for the Dons before he received his National Service call-up papers and was whisked off to Dover to do his Army ‘square-bashing’.
It was during his time in the services that he flourished as a footballer, playing in Army teams with stars of the age such as Ivor Allchurch, Bobby Johnstone and Harold Hassall. During that period he witnessed a horrifying incident when two of his fellow players were killed in a lightning strike.
The tragedy, in April 1948, happened during a re-play of the Army Cup Final at the military barracks at Aldershot. Reports at the time described all the players being thrown to the ground by the force and witnesses speculated that the lightning bolt had hit the referee’s whistle.
Having been posted to Uttoxeter his performances for the Army XI attracted the attention of several league clubs and Coventry City’s manager Harry Storer was impressed by the young Jamieson. When Iain’s National Service was completed he decided to take up Storer’s offer of a full-time contract.
Many years later he said: ‘I really liked the atmosphere of the Midlands, especially Coventry which to me was a lively go-ahead industrial area and a good stopping off place when my football career ended’.
As it transpired Iain made the right choice. He quickly settled down in Coventry and soon became established as a firm crowd favourite. His debut was against Leeds United at Highfield Road on 15 January 1949 and Iain, playing at inside-right, scored in a 4-1 victory. Over the next five seasons Iain, whilst a regular for the reserves, was unable to become a first-team regular and played only 37 first team games. After switching position to wing half in 1953 he became a regular in the first team and played alongside some famous City players of that era including Reg Matthews, Roy Kirk, Peter Taylor and Peter Hill and later George Curtis. On a number of occasions he captained the side
One of his playing colleagues of that time, Lol Harvey, remembers Iain well: ‘He was a talented player, good on the ball and very fast. He was a clever man and the banter in the dressing room between him and his good friend Eddy Brown was amusing to us working-class boys. Iain was a great help to me and the younger boys at the club and nothing was ever too much trouble to him.’
Iain was determined however to secure a future beyond football, and he decided to further his academic studies and attended Coventry College whilst pursuing his career on the pitch. In 1955, the same year that he married Harry Storer’s daughter Ann, he joined Courtaulds as a sales executive while still playing for Coventry.
In 1958 his professional football career ended when he left City after 184 appearances and 6 goals, although he went on to spend a spell as player-manager, on a part-time basis, for Southern League side Rugby Town. In his business career he was quickly on the promotion ladder rising swiftly through the ranks to become the general manager of Courtaulds commercial division,
In 1973, following the retirement of Derrick Robins, Iain was invited to join the board at Coventry City and served alongside Joe Mercer and Jimmy Hill. After Hill’s departure in 1983, he was appointed club chairman. It was a difficult time for the club with severe financial problems following the introduction of the all-seater stadium in 1981 and losses from the investments in the NASL at Detroit and Washington and virtually the whole first team squad out of contract. Iain’s first job was to sack Dave Sexton as manager and recruit Cov kid Bobby Gould as his replacement.
Bobby remembers Iain with great affection: ‘At the time he illegally tapped me up to become City’s manager – something he was very uncomfortable about. I was manager at Bristol Rovers at the time and we had a clandestine meeting in a field near Banbury at which we agreed terms. We only worked together for a year until John Poynton bought the club, but he was incredibly supportive to me. I had watched him play from the Highfield Road terraces and admired his elegance as a footballer. He understood football, something rare in football boardrooms and he was very kind to me in a stressful year at Coventry. There was never any histrionics from Iain and he was a true gentleman who was a great representative of Coventry City Football Club.’
In his year as chairman he is credited with re-establishing strong links with the fans and the people of Coventry after a period during which many believed that those links had been severely stretched. He left the City board in 1984 and continued his career in the textile industry until retiring in 1989. He ended his working life as managing director of Sperrin Group, sports clothing.
His job had taken him across Europe, to Australia and the United States and travel remained a key interest for him in retirement when he visited family in Canada and Australia. A Rotarian and keen follower of current affairs, his lifetime love of sport was undimmed and also extended to golf which, at one time, he played off a handicap of six.
Married three times, to Ann Storer, Ann Hansen and Jane Shaw, he spent his last few years in Dumfries and Galloway, latterly in Kirkcudbright, where he is remembered as a good humoured and engaging conversationalist.