Jimmy Hill

Revolutionary in a goatee

Player Biography
Full name: James William Thomas Hill
Date of birth: July 22, 1928
Clubs played for: Brentford, Fulham
Clubs managed: Coventry
Jimmy Hill, Fulham
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Club Career

One of the most remarkable figures in the post-war history of British football, Jimmy Hill began his unlikely rise to prominence at Brentford, before moving on to Craven Cottage, where his team-mates included Johnny Haynes, Bobby Robson and George Cohen.

A bustling wing-half, Hill helped Fulham gain promotion to the top-flight in 1959. But arguably his greatest success while a player came off the field, as he led the successful campaign to abolition of the £20 maximum wage while chairman of the PFA.

Club Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1949-53 Brentford n/a n/a
1953-61 Fulham 298 n/a

Managerial Career

Hill’s two promotions as Coventry boss are among the least of his achievements at Highfield Road. He pioneered matchday magazines and pre-match entertainment, introduced Coventry’s sky blue kit, sketched out the first all-seater stadium and even wrote a club song.

He continued to innovate and cause controversy on his return to Coventry as chairman in 1975, before quitting in 1983, citing the club’s “monotonous competence”. More adventures awaited in the TV studio and at Fulham.

Key Games

Coventry 1-0 Colchester (Third Division, April 25, 1964)

Promotion to the Second Division was achieved as champions but only after a nail-biting last few games and a final-day 1-0 victory over Colchester, thanks to a strike by George Hudson. The club celebrated by opening their soon to be famous Sky Blue Stand.

Coventry 3-1 Wolves (Second Division, April 29, 1967)

Coventry had gone 25 games unbeaten before the season's climax, the visit of their nearest rivals Wolves, for what was dubbed 'the Midlands match of the century'. Backed by a record Highfield Road crowd of 51,455, Hill's fast-rising Sky Blues won 3-1 to clinch the Second Division championship.

Coventry 2-2 Bristol City (First Division, May 19, 1977)

Jimmy was chairman of Coventry in 1976-77 when three teams went into the last day of the campaign facing relegation – Sunderland, Bristol City and the Sky Blues. Hill had the kick-off at the Coventry-Bristol City game delayed for 15 minutes due to 'crowd congestion' and when news came through that Sunderland had lost to Everton, he ensured the result was announced over the PA. It sent the message to both teams they would stay up at Sunderland's expense, if neither scored again. What followed was a passage of keep-ball in which neither side attempted to win and the score conveniently remained the same.

Honours

Club Competition Year
Fulham Second Division Championship 1959
Coventry (as manager) Third Division Championship 1964
Second Division Championship 1967

Did You Know...?

As a TV pundit, Hill was covering an Arsenal v Liverpool game in 1972 when an appeal was broadcast over the PA system for a qualified official to replace a linesman who had succumbed to injury. Hill came to the rescue and ran the line for the rest of the game, in a sky blue tracksuit.

Before hosting Match of the Day – whose 1980s credit sequence memorably featured a crowd making a giant image of Hill from cards placed under their seats - he was head of sport at London Weekend Television from 1967 to 1972 and helped introduce the first panel of football pundits.

In later TV years, Hill was famous for wearing St George cross bow-ties during England matches and for his celebrated double-entendre links into ad breaks while hosting the early series of Sky’s Sunday Supplement. Since the programme was ostensibly set in Hill’s kitchen, these included “I’m just off to baste my meat” and “I need to drain my spuds – back in two minutes".

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From the back pages

Shock For Players – 'New Deal' Slashed Published: January 14, 1958

Maximum wage news story

'That's Real Comfort!' Published: September 9, 1959

Jimmy Hill Remington advertisement

Players Ready For Pay Fight Published: March 29, 1960

Maximum wage news story

League Facing Strike Threat Published: November 9, 1960

Maximum wage news story

Man Behind The Beard Published: December 20, 1960

Maximum wage news story

Players Fight Against 'Slavery' Published: January 11, 1961

Maximum wage news story

Hill's Hour Of Triumph Published: January 19, 1961

Maximum wage news story

Coventry 1-0 Colchester Published: April 27, 1964

Third Division match report

Coventry City 2-2 Bristol City Published: May 20, 1977

First Division match report

Hill's Reign Is Ended Published: May 3, 1983

First Division news story

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