By David Harrison - Vice President of Corinthian-Casuals
Jimmy Hill was President of Corinthian-Casuals from 1996 as part of an extraordinary career in the game as player, manager and administrator as well as a pioneer of football broadcasting including 20 years as a pundit on BBC's 'Match of the Day'.
Jimmy was born in Balham in south West London, went to the local primary school, then won a scholarship to Henry Thornton Grammar School where he was known as much for his cornet playing as for football, cricket and athletics. He did two year's National Service as a Corporal in the Royal Army Service Corps then started a job as a clerk in an insurance company in the City before being signed as a professional by Brentford in 1949 . He played 87 games for them before moving on to Fulham for whom he played close to 300 games, including one away to Doncaster in 1958 where he set a club record by scoring five goals. The same year Fulham won promotion to the First Division.
While a player he also qualified as a coach, coaching from 1954 for two years at Oxford University and two more at London University. During the same period he became chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association leading the campaign to have the £20 maximum wage scrapped, which he achieved in 1961 when his Fulham teammate Johnny Haynes became the first and much heralded £100 a week player.
In November 1961, after retiring as a player at 31, Jimmy began a long association with Coventry City. As manager he took them up two divisions, from the Third to the First. As Managing Director then Chairman he never stopped introducing new ideas all part of his "Sky Blue Revolution". He changed the Coventry colours to sky blue and wrote a new club song "The Sky Blue Song", he made their ground at Highfield Road the first all-seater stadium in the country, he introduced pre-match entertainment and took fans to away games in the Sky Blue Train. To encourage more attacking football he promoted three points for a win, tried out first in the Isthmian League and adopted by the Football League in 1981.
Meanwhile in 1967 he had moved into broadcasting, becoming Head of Sport at London Weekend as well as fronting their coverage of the 1970 World Cup, using, at his suggestion, the first panel of football pundits. Then came the move to the BBC where he racked up 600 appearances on 'Match of the Day', an instantly recognisable figure, often caricatured, with his long chin and distinctive beard. Meantime he was an FA Councillor and over the years served on no less than eight F.A. and Football League committees.
Outside football he was a keen horseman and no mean tennis player, a 10 handicap golfer, trustee of the Stable Lads' Association, an energetic fund raiser for charities, lively auctioneer and a Patron of Labrador Rescue.
As President of Corinthian-Casuals he was a strong supporter of the club's determination to remain strictly amateur in the paying world of non-league football. In the match programme celebrating the centenary of the 11 - 3 defeat of Manchester United by our founders the Corinthians he wrote: "It is a special pleasure to find myself as a tiny part of a group of young men, who play purely because of their love of the game but who try no less hard to achieve the standard necessary to hold their own against their part-time but professional opponents". Also, if behaviour wasn't up to the Corinthian mark, Jimmy was always ready to go into the dressing room to say so.
One of the club's most enduring images is of Jimmy with a group from one of our Youth Teams. His words to the boys as the photo was taken: "If you want to be famous you've got to learn how to smile."
Jimmy's son Jamie, from his marriage to his second wife Heather, played a number of games for Corinthian-Casuals' Schools team. Since 1991 Jimmy was married to Bryony who nursed him through Alzheimers, first diagnosed in 2008. She recently published the book "My Gentleman Jim" telling the story of their 40 years together with the moving account of how this icon, so full of life and vigour, was slowly brought down by disease.
It's as a man of extraordinary energy that Jimmy will be most remembered. Desmond Lynam, a fellow broadcaster on Match of the Day, once said: "Jimmy gets more into one day than most people do in three weeks". Once in 1972, when Jimmy was watching Arsenal play Liverpool at Highbury, a linesman pulled a muscle and was unable to continue. FA rules say the game can't be completed without a ref and two linesmen. When the matchday announcer asked if anyone present was qualified and would run the line Jimmy stepped forward. Than night, on Match of the Day he duly commented on the linesman's performance.
Corinthian-Casuals remember Jimmy with much affection and gratitude for the energy he brought to our club affairs. We would particularly like to send warm wishes and support to Bryony at this most difficult time.
David Harrison - Vice Pres