Sunday, 12 November 2017

Jim's column 11.11.2017

Older City fans will know that Coventry City had a player called Jimmy Hill in the 1950s – not the JH who became the club's most successful manager in 1961. I had an email recently from Stuart Fraser. His wife's grandfather was Jimmy Hill and they knew little about Jimmy's playing career and asked for my help.

Jimmy was born in Wishaw in Scotland in 1931 and was signed by City's nursery club, Modern Machines as a teenager where he played alongside many future City players including Reg Matthews who went on to play in goal for England. In August 1948 he was offered professional terms by City and he made his first-team debut for City on the left wing at Hull in November 1949, deputising for the injured Norman Lockhart. City lost 1-2 to a very good Hull side which had the legendary England international Raich Carter as player manager, and Carter scored both the Tigers goals that day in front of a crowd of 40,170. Jim didn't play for the first team again that season but played four times the following season and scored the only goal of the game on his home debut against West Ham in March 1951.

He didn't appear in the first team the following season but became fairly regular towards the end of 1952/53 season. His best season was 1953/54 when he played 31 games scoring three goals. He played regularly when Jesse Carver was manager in the first half of 1955/56 but when Carver walked out to join Lazio at Christmas Jim's career at City was virtually over.

He left City in July 1956 to join Millwall but played only one first team game before joining Shrewsbury Town the following summer where he played eight games. He did return to live in the City at some stage and in 1958-59 he was playing for Lockheed Leamington in the Birmingham League. He died in 1993.

City fan Roy Evans sent me a great City team picture this week and one I had never seen before. It was taken before the opening game of the 1940-41 season against Leicester City at Highfield Road. With the war underway the Football League was suspended and regional leagues were introduced to reduce travelling. City would only play 10 games before the blitz in November resulted in Highfield Road being bombed and rendered unplayable. Ten of the team had played for the Bantams before the outbreak of war in September 1939, although George Lowrie, City's last signing before the war, had only made his debut on the day before Neville Chamberlain's fateful radio broadcast to announce that war had been declared, scoring in a 4-2 home win over Barnsley. The odd man out is Dave Murray, the centre-forward. Mike Young has provided me with some details of this player who never played for the club in peace-time. Apparently he was a local mechanic who owned a garage in Whitefriars Lane who played in local amateur football. He was one of the first local amateurs to be invited to play for the club as the regular professionals joined the services and were unable to turn out regularly for the club.

Murray had played four games at the end of the 1939-40 season, scoring five goals including a hat-trick in a 4-0 home win over West Brom. The Leicester game would be his only appearance before City withdrew from football in November but he did reappear in 1942 when football re-commenced at Highfield Road, making five appearances and scoring one goal. For the record City drew 1-1 with Leicester with George Lowrie netting in front of a crowd of 2,165.

I am signing copies of my new book 'Play Up Sky Blues: Coventry City champions 1967' in the casino before and after today's game with Mansfield. Legends from the 1967 team, Mick Kearns, Dietmar Bruck and Ronnie Farmer will be with me at 1.30 and after the game until 6pm. The book, which costs £16.99, tells the story of the greatest season in the club's history when First Division football was achieved for the first time.

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