Jimmy Hill

Last updated

Jimmy Hill
Hill (left) with former Fulham team-mate Maurice Cook
Personal information
Full nameJames William Thomas Hill
Date of birth(1928-07-22)22 July 1928
Place of birth Balham, London, England
Date of death 19 December 2015(2015-12-19) (aged 87)
Place of death Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex, England
Playing position Inside right
Senior career*
1949–1952 Brentford 83 (10)
1952–1961 Fulham 276 (41)
Teams managed
1961–1967 Coventry City
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

James William Thomas Hill, OBE (22 July 1928 – 19 December 2015) was an English football professional and personality. His career included almost every role in the sport, including player, trade union leader, coach, manager, director, chairman, television executive, presenter, analyst and assistant referee.

Order of the British Empire British order of chivalry

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

Football in England Overview of Football in England

Association football is the most popular sport in England, where the first modern set of rules for the code were established in 1863, which were a major influence on the development of the modern Laws of the Game. With over 40,000 association football clubs, England has more clubs involved in the code than any other country as well as the world's first club, the world's oldest professional association football club, the oldest national governing body, the first national team, the oldest national knockout competition and the oldest national league. Today England's top domestic league, the Premier League, is one of the most popular and richest sports leagues in the world, with six of the ten richest football clubs in the world as of 2019.

A trade union is an association of workers forming a legal unit or legal personhood, usually called a "bargaining unit", which acts as bargaining agent and legal representative for a unit of employees in all matters of law or right arising from or in the administration of a collective agreement. Labour unions typically fund the formal organisation, head office, and legal team functions of the labour union through regular fees or union dues. The delegate staff of the labour union representation in the workforce are made up of workplace volunteers who are appointed by members in democratic elections.


He began his playing career at Brentford in 1949, and moved to Fulham three years later. As chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, he successfully campaigned for an end to The Football League's maximum wage in 1961. After retiring as a player, he took over as manager of Coventry City, modernising the team's image and guiding them from the Third to the First Division. In 1967, he began a career in football broadcasting, and from 1973 to 1988 was host of the BBC's Match of the Day .

Brentford F.C. Association football club

Brentford Football Club is a professional association football club based in Brentford, Greater London, England. They currently compete in the Championship, the second tier of English football. The club was founded on 10 October 1889. They have played their home games at Griffin Park since 1904, after a nomadic existence playing at five previous grounds.

Fulham F.C. Association football club

Fulham Football Club is a professional association football club based in Fulham, London, England. Founded in 1879, they compete in the Championship. They are the oldest football club from London to play in the Football League.

Professional Footballers Association

The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) is the trade union for professional association footballers in England and Wales. The world's oldest professional sport trade union, it has 4,000 members.

Early life

Hill was born in Balham, London, the son of William Thomas Hill, a World War I veteran, milkman, and bread delivery worker and Alice Beatrice Hill née Wyatt. [1] He was a pupil at Henry Thornton Grammar School, Clapham (1939–45), and later became President of the Old Boys' Association. [2] He did national service as a clerk in the Royal Army Service Corps in which he attained the rank of Corporal and was considered a potential candidate for officer training. [3]

Milkman milk delivery person

A milkman is a delivery person who delivers milk, often directly to customers' houses, in bottles or cartons.

Henry Thornton (reformer) British politician

Henry Thornton was an English economist, banker, philanthropist and parliamentarian.

Conscription in the United Kingdom has existed for two periods in modern times. The first was from 1916 to 1920, the second from 1939 to 1960, with the last conscripted soldiers leaving the service in 1963. Known as Military Service from 1916 to 1920, the system of conscription from 1939 to 1960 was called National Service, but between 1939 and 1948, it was often referred to as "war service" in documents relating to National Insurance and pension provision.

Football playing career

Hill first came into football as a fan, regularly watching football at local club Crystal Palace. During his national service, Hill played 3 trial games for Folkstone Town before suffering a serious cartilage injury. However, he was recommended to Reading who he joined as an amateur, playing mainly for their 3rd team before being told they would not offer him a professional contract. [4] In 1949, he joined Brentford, making 87 appearances before moving to Fulham in March 1952, for whom he played nearly 300 games, scoring 52 goals. He set up a club record by scoring five goals for Fulham in an away match against Doncaster Rovers in 1958 and was part of the team that gained promotion to the First Division.

Crystal Palace F.C. Association football club

Crystal Palace Football Club is an English professional football club based in Selhurst, South London, that competes in the Premier League, the highest level of English football. They were founded in 1905 at the famous Crystal Palace Exhibition building and played their home games at the FA Cup Final stadium situated inside the historic Palace grounds. The club were forced to leave the Palace in 1915 due to the outbreak of the First World War, and played at Herne Hill Velodrome and the Nest until 1924, when they moved to their current home at Selhurst Park.

Reading F.C. Association football club

Reading Football Club is a professional association football club based in Reading, Berkshire, England. The team play in the Championship, the second tier of English football.

Doncaster Rovers F.C. Association football club

Doncaster Rovers Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England. The team competes in League One, the third tier of the English football league system, after promotion from League Two in 2016–17.

In 1957, he became chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) and campaigned to have the Football League's £20 maximum wage scrapped, which he achieved in January 1961, [5] when Fulham teammate Johnny Haynes became the first £100 a week player. [2]

English Football League league competition featuring professional association football clubs from England and Wales

The English Football League (EFL) is a league competition featuring professional football clubs from England and Wales. Founded in 1888 as the Football League, the league is the oldest such competition in world football. It was the top-level football league in England from its foundation until 1992, when the top 22 clubs split away to form the Premier League.

A maximum wage, also often called a wage ceiling, is a legal limit on how much income an individual can earn. It is a prescribed limitation which can be used to affect change in an economic structure, but its effects are unrelated to those of minimum wage laws used currently by some states to enforce minimum earnings. A maximum wage does not directly redistribute wealth, but it does limit the nominal income of specific workers within a society.

Johnny Haynes English footballer

John Norman Haynes was an English footballer, best known for his 18 years at Fulham. An inside forward, Haynes is widely regarded as the greatest footballer ever to play for the west London club, particularly noted for his exceptional passing skill and ability to read a game. An accomplished international, he made 56 appearances for his country, including 22 as captain. His passing ability earned him the nickname "the Maestro". Haynes became the first player to be paid £100 a week, immediately following the abolition of the £20 maximum wage in 1961. Pelé was once quoted as calling Haynes the "best passer of the ball I've ever seen".

Football management

In November 1961, after retiring as a player aged 33, Hill became manager of Coventry City. His time at Coventry was marked by great changes to the club, nicknamed "The Sky Blue Revolution". He changed the home kit's colours to sky blue, coining the nickname "The Sky Blues". Alongside journalist John Camkin, he also penned the club song "The Sky Blue Song", sung to the tune of the Eton Boating Song. [6] Among his other innovations were the first full-fledged match programme in English football, and organised pre-match entertainment to encourage fans to arrive early. His partnership with the chairman, D H Robbins, also led to a redevelopment of the stadium, Highfield Road, with two new stands being built. [7]

Coventry City F.C. Association football club

Coventry City Football Club is a professional football club based in Coventry, West Midlands, England. The club competes in League One, the third tier of the English football league system, following promotion via the playoffs from League Two in the 2017–18 season.

William John Camkin, MA was an English journalist, football, business and sports administrator.

The "Eton Boating Song" is the best known of the school songs associated with Eton College that are sung at the end of year concert and on other important occasions. It is also played during the procession of boats. The words of the song were written by William Johnson Cory, an influential Master at the school. The melody was composed by an Old Etonian and former pupil of Cory, Captain Algernon Drummond and transcribed by T. L. Mitchell-Innes. The piano accompaniment was written by Evelyn Wodehouse. It was first performed on 4 June 1863. Ordinarily, only the first, sixth, seventh and eighth stanzas are sung. Contrary to popular belief, the "Eton Boating Song" is not the school song of Eton College, that being "Carmen Etonense".

After winning the Division Three championship in 1963–64, and the Division Two title in 1966–67, Hill quit the club shortly before the start of the 1967–68 season as the club entered the top flight for the first time. [6]

Broadcasting career

After leaving Coventry in 1967, Hill moved into broadcasting, acting as technical adviser to the BBC's football-based drama series United! before becoming Head of Sport at London's co-ITV region, London Weekend Television, from 1968 to 1972. He also co-hosted their World Cup 1970 coverage which, at his suggestion, used the first panel of football pundits. [8]

He was briefly LWT's Deputy Controller of Programmes, before joining the BBC to present Match of the Day . Hill racked up 600 appearances on the show, and became a television icon, instantly recognisable and often caricatured for his long chin and distinctive beard. As a presenter or analyst, he worked on every major international championship from 1966 to 1998. As a broadcaster with the BBC he was present at the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, whilst covering the game for Match of the Day. [2]

In 1999, Hill moved from the BBC to Sky Sports, where he featured on Jimmy Hill's Sunday Supplement , a weekly discussion show between Hill and three football journalists conducted over a Sunday breakfast. [2] In 2007, he was replaced by his co presenter Brian Woolnough and the programme was renamed Sunday Supplement. [9]

In 2004, Hill defended fellow pundit Ron Atkinson over racist comments he had made which were broadcast in the Middle East. Hill was asked whether he thought Atkinson should resign over the comments, to which he said it was the "language of the football field". Hill went on to say: "In that context, you wouldn't think that words like nigger were particularly insulting: it would be funny. Without meaning to insult any black men, it's us having fun ... I mean, nigger is black - so we have jokes where we call them niggers because they're black. Why should that be any more of an offence than someone calling me chinny?". His comments were described as "mind-boggling" by the then director of Kick it Out, football's anti-racism group. He went on to say: "Jimmy Hill's comments are as offensive as Ron Atkinson's". [10]


Despite his departure as manager in 1967, Hill returned to Coventry City as managing director in April 1975 before becoming the chairman.

When Coventry played their last ever match at Highfield Road in 2005, Hill received a post-match hero's welcome from the capacity crowd, and led them in a rousing chorus of "The Sky Blue Song". In 2007, fans voted for a bar at the new Ricoh Arena to be named "Jimmy's" in his honour.

Following a spell as chairman of Charlton Athletic, Hill made a return to Fulham in 1987 to become chairman, helping his old club survive near-bankruptcy, and blocking an attempted merger with Queens Park Rangers.

Hill was a trustee of the Stable Lads' Association, and a patron of Labrador Rescue South East and Central. [11]

Coventry vs Bristol City controversy

As chairman, at a crucial relegation match at home to Bristol City at the end of the 1976–77 season, Hill was advised to delay the kick off by 10 minutes for fans still outside caught in the heavy traffic. Relegation rivals Sunderland, playing at Everton, kicked off on time. Sunderland eventually lost the game 2–0. The Sunderland result was announced over the PA. Coventry City and Bristol City players played out the last ten minutes of the game apparently without any intent to attack each others half, thereby ensuring that Coventry and Bristol avoided relegation. (Coventry's game with Bristol City stood at 2-2, and a goal for one or the other of the teams would have led to Sunderland staying up and either Coventry or Bristol City being relegated). A subsequent Football League inquiry was held but the result stood. [12]

Personal life

Hill married three times, having three children by his first wife, Gloria, and two by his second, Heather. Hill published his autobiography, The Jimmy Hill Story, in 1998. [13] Hill also wrote Striking for Soccer in 1963 and Tips from the Top, a football coaching book, in 1970. [14] [15] In September 2013 it was revealed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2008. His children by his second wife expressed concern that they had no role in determining his care, as Hill had assigned power of attorney in 2005 to his third wife, Bryony, and a solicitor. [16] Bryony Hill published a memoir in 2015, My Gentleman Jim, detailing her husband's illness. [17] Hill died on 19 December 2015, aged 87. [18] A celebration of Hill's life took place at Coventry Cathedral on 12 February 2016. [19]

Hill was the president of non-league team Corinthian Casuals. He resided in Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex. [20]

Hill is credited with writing the words to Arsenal's 1971 Top 10 hit, Good Old Arsenal. [21]


The statue of Hill outside Coventry's Ricoh Arena JimmyHillStatue.jpg
The statue of Hill outside Coventry's Ricoh Arena

Sculptor Nicholas Dimbleby was commissioned to build a statue of Hill at a cost of £150,000. The statue is located at Coventry's Ricoh Arena ground and was unveiled by Hill in person on 28 July 2011. [22] The money to build the statue was raised from public donations. Other former Coventry City players from Hill's six-year term as manager were there for the unveiling ceremony, including Bobby Gould, John Sillett and George Curtis, all of whom went on to manage the club in the 1980s.

Footballing legacy

He had a reputation as an all-round innovator in football: as well as helping to get rid of the maximum wage, he commissioned the first English all-seater stadium, lifted a ban on media interviews, introduced the first electronic scoreboard in 1964, the first colour matchday programme and in 1965 the first to show a live match via CCTV on four giant screens at Coventry. [23] He has been credited with the introduction of the three points for a win system, pioneered by The Football Association in 1981. [24] He was also credited with the idea of using the first panel of football pundits for the 1970 World Cup. [24]

Memorial garden

A memorial garden was opened in 2006 in his honour outside Coventry City's arena Ricoh Arena. A new memorial garden that will be twice the size of the old was revealed on 30 April 2016 before the game against Sheffield United. [25]

Public image

In 1972, Arsenal were hosting Liverpool at Highbury on 16 September, when linesman Dennis Drewitt pulled a muscle and was unable to continue. FA rules state that the match could not be completed without a referee and two linesmen, so the game was in danger of being abandoned. The matchday announcer put a message over the loudspeaker asking if anyone was a qualified referee and would volunteer to run the line. Hill was a qualified referee and had been at Highbury that day as a spectator. He quickly donned a tracksuit before stepping in for the injured Drewitt. [26]


As a manager:

Coventry City

Managerial statistics

Managerial record by team and tenure
Coventry City 1 November 196130 September 19672901298378044.5 [27]

Related Research Articles

Chris Coleman (footballer) Welsh association football player and manager

Christopher Patrick Coleman, OBE is a Welsh professional football manager and former player who last coached Hebei China Fortune.

Ron Atkinson Football player, manager and commentator

Ronald Frederick Atkinson, commonly known as Big Ron, is an English former football player and manager. In the 1990s and early 2000s, he was one of Britain's best-known football pundits.

William James Alexander McKinlay is a Scottish footballer and coach, who played as a midfielder. He began his career with Dundee United, making over 200 league appearances, before joining Blackburn Rovers in 1995 for £1.75 million. He later played for Bradford City, Clydebank, Leicester City and Fulham. McKinlay appeared 29 times for Scotland and played at Euro 1996 and the 1998 World Cup.

Steve Cotterill English association football player and manager

Stephen John Cotterill is an English former footballer who played as a striker. He was most recently manager of Championship club Birmingham City.

Jimmy Bullard English footballer

James Richard Bullard is an English former footballer, coach and television presenter. He is currently co-host of the Saturday morning Sky TV show Soccer AM.

Ricoh Arena football stadium

The Ricoh Arena in Coventry, England, is a complex which includes a 32,609-seater stadium, used by Wasps rugby union and Coventry City football clubs, a 6,000 square metres (65,000 sq ft) exhibition hall, a hotel and a casino. The site is also home to Arena Park Shopping Centre, containing one of UK's largest Tesco Extra hypermarkets. Built on the site of the Foleshill gasworks, it is named after its sponsor, Japanese company Ricoh, which paid £10 million for the naming rights over 10 years. For the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, where stadium naming sponsorship was forbidden, the stadium was known as the City of Coventry Stadium.

Paul Trollope Welsh footballer and football manager

Paul Jonathan Trollope is a former professional footballer who played as a midfielder. He is currently the assistant manager of Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion.

The 1976–77 season was the 97th season of competitive football in England. This year The Football League revamped the tie-breaking criteria for teams level on points, replacing the traditional goal average tie-breaker with one based on goal difference to try to encourage more scoring. Coloured red and yellow cards were introduced for the first time in domestic English football.

Ben Turner (footballer) Footballer

Ben Howard Turner is an English professional footballer who plays as a defender for League Two club Mansfield Town.

Coventry City is an English football club based in Coventry in the Midlands. The club was founded in 1883 as Singers F.C. by Willie Stanley, an employee of cycle firm Singer Motors. In 1898, the name was changed to Coventry City. The club first joined the Football League after World War I and in 1938, the club missed out on promotion to the First Division by one point.

Cyrus Christie association football player

Cyrus Sylvester Frederick Christie is a professional footballer who plays as a defender for Premier League club Fulham and the Republic of Ireland national team.

Jonson Scott Clarke-Harris is an English professional footballer who plays as a striker for Bristol Rovers. He set a new record during his first spell at Coventry City when, aged 16 years and 21 days, he made his debut becoming the youngest player ever to play for the Coventry first team.

Max McAuley Power is an English footballer who plays as a midfielder for Sunderland.

The 2013–14 Football League One is the tenth season of the league under its current title and twenty-first season under its current league division format. The season began on 2 August 2013 and finished on 3 May 2014 with all matches that day kicking off simultaneously.

Daniel Ebenezer Kwasi Agyei is an English professional footballer who plays as a forward for Premier League club Burnley.

The 2017–18 EFL Championship was the second season of the EFL Championship under its current name, and the twenty-sixth season under its current league structure.


  1. Nick Barratt (10 March 2007). "Family detective". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 8 June 2009.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Wilson, Paul (19 December 2015). "Jimmy Hill changed the way football is played, watched and talked about". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  3. Jimmy Hill (3 September 1998). Jimmy Hill Autobiography. Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. ISBN   978-0-340-71248-1.
  4. Hill, Jimmy (1963). Striking For Soccer. The Sportsmans Book Club. p. 6.
  5. Harding, John (2009). Behind The Glory 100 Years Of The PFA. pp. 141–145. ISBN   978-1-85983-682-8.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Day, Harvey (19 December 2015). "Football legend Jimmy Hill dies aged 87". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  7. "Take a tour around the home of the Sky Blues". BBC. October 2003. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  8. Sheen, Tom (19 December 2015). "Jimmy Hill dead: How the former Match of the Day pundit changed football forever". The Independent. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  9. "Brian Woolnough". The Daily Telegraph. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  10. Judd, Terri (13 May 2004). "Hill defends Atkinson over racist remark". The Independent. London.
  11. LRSEC Staff. "Labrador Rescue South East and Central". lrsec.org.uk. Archived from the original on 10 February 2007. Patrons: The Lord Swinfen, Mrs. Robin Wise, Allen Parton and Endal (Dog of the Millennium), Jimmy Hill and Bryony Hill.
  12. "Jimmy Hill". Archived from the original on 1 December 2011.
  13. Jimmy Hill (1998). The Jimmy Hill Story: My Autobiography. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN   978-0-340-71248-1.
  14. Jimmy Hill (1963). Striking for Soccer. Sportsmans Book Club.
  15. Tips from the Top. Pictorial Coaching Series Compiled by Jimmy Hill & Jim Clarkson. 1970.
  16. Mendick, Robert (29 September 2013). "Jimmy Hill's family in turmoil over his battle with Alzheimer's". Sunday Telegraph. London. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  17. Bryony Hill (5 November 2015). My Gentleman Jim. Book Guild Publishing Limited. ISBN   978-1-910508-93-0.
  18. "Jimmy Hill: Former Match of the Day presenter dies aged 87". BBC Sport. 19 December 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  19. "Jimmy Hill tribute event takes place in Coventry". BBC. 12 February 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  20. Rees, Jasper (30 August 1998). "and into extra time Profile: Jimmy Hill – Opinion". The Independent. London. Retrieved 8 June 2009.
  21. Wilson, Bob (2008). Life In The Beautiful Game. Icon Books Ltd. p. 248. ISBN   978-184831-018-6.
  22. "Jimmy Hill statue unveiled at Coventry's Ricoh Arena". BBC News. BBC. 28 July 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  23. "Did one man change modern football worldwide?". www.bbc.co.uk. 26 April 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  24. 1 2 "Jimmy Hill awarded". www.fulhamfc.com. 1 April 2009. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  25. "Coventry City announce new memorial garden for Jimmy Hill". www.todaysbetting.co.uk. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  26. "TV pundit Jimmy Hill runs the line".
  27. "Managers: Jimmy Hill". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 30 March 2017.