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.
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.
1 Early life
2 Football playing career
3 Football management
4 Broadcasting career
6 Match-fixing allegations
7 Personal life
9 Footballing legacy
10 Memorial garden
11 Public image
13 Managerial statistics
15 External links
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. He was a pupil at Henry Thornton Grammar
School, Clapham (1939–45), and later became President of the Old
Boys' Association. 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.
Football playing career
Hill first came into football as a fan, regularly watching football at
local club Crystal Palace. He started playing in 1949 with 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
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, when
Johnny Haynes became the first £100 a week player.
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.
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.
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.
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
He was briefly LWT's Deputy Controller of Programmes, before joining
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.
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.
In 2007, he was replaced by his co presenter
Brian Woolnough and the
programme was renamed Sunday Supplement.
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".
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
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
Hill was a trustee of the Stable Lads' Association, and a patron of
Labrador Rescue South East and Central.
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
flashed up on the scoreboard. Hill was accused by Sunderland fans of
making his players pass the ball around in their own half for the last
10 minutes of the game, thereby saving Coventry from relegation at the
expense of Sunderland (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 Hill,
who at the time was in a senior position at the Football League, did
not stand to one side while the inquiry was held. Coventry were asked
not to interfere again but the result stood.
Hill married three times, having three children by his first wife,
Gloria, and two by his second, Heather. Hill published his
Jimmy Hill Story, in 1998. Hill also wrote
Striking for Soccer in 1963 and Tips from the Top, a football coaching
book, in 1970. 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. Bryony Hill published a memoir in
2015, My Gentleman Jim, detailing her husband's illness. Hill died
on 19 December 2015, aged 87. A celebration of Hill's life took
Coventry Cathedral on 12 February 2016.
Hill was the president of non-league team Corinthian Casuals. He
resided in Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex.
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.
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
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. He has been credited with the
introduction of the three points for a win system, pioneered by The
Football Association in 1981. He was also credited with the idea
of using the first panel of football pundits for the 1970 World
A memorial garden was opened back in 2006 in honour of Jimmy Hill
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.
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.
As a manager:
Third Division Championship: 1963–64
Second Division Championship: 1966–67
Managerial record by team and tenure
1 November 1961
30 September 1967
^ Nick Barratt (10 March 2007). "Family detective". The Daily
Telegraph. London. Retrieved 8 June 2009.
^ a b c d Wilson, Paul (19 December 2015). "
Jimmy Hill changed the way
football is played, watched and talked about". The Guardian. Retrieved
19 December 2015.
Jimmy Hill (3 September 1998).
Jimmy Hill Autobiography. Hodder
& Stoughton Ltd. ISBN 978-0-340-71248-1.
^ Harding, John (2009). Behind The Glory 100 Years Of The PFA.
pp. 141–145. ISBN 978-1-85983-682-8.
^ a b c d Day, Harvey (19 December 2015). "Football legend Jimmy Hill
dies aged 87". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
^ "Take a tour around the home of the Sky Blues". BBC. October 2003.
Retrieved 21 December 2015.
^ Sheen, Tom (19 December 2015). "
Jimmy Hill dead: How the former
Match of the Day
Match of the Day pundit changed football forever". The Independent.
Retrieved 21 December 2015.
^ "Brian Woolnough". The Daily Telegraph. 19 September 2012. Retrieved
21 December 2015.
^ Judd, Terri (13 May 2004). "Hill defends Atkinson over racist
remark". The Independent. London.
^ 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
Jimmy Hill and Bryony Hill.
^ "Jimmy Hill". Archived from the original on 1 December 2011.
Jimmy Hill (1998). The
Jimmy Hill Story: My Autobiography. Hodder
& Stoughton. ISBN 978-0-340-71248-1.
Jimmy Hill (1963). Striking for Soccer. Sportsmans Book Club.
^ Tips from the Top. Pictorial Coaching Series Compiled by Jimmy Hill
& Jim Clarkson. 1970.
^ Mendick, Robert (29 September 2013). "Jimmy Hill's family in turmoil
over his battle with Alzheimer's". Sunday Telegraph. London. Retrieved
29 September 2013.
^ Bryony Hill (5 November 2015). My Gentleman Jim. Book Guild
Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-1-910508-93-0.
^ "Jimmy Hill: Former
Match of the Day
Match of the Day presenter dies aged 87". BBC
Sport. 19 December 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
Jimmy Hill tribute event takes place in Coventry". BBC. 12 February
2016. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
^ Rees, Jasper (30 August 1998). "and into extra time Profile: Jimmy
Hill – Opinion". The Independent. London. Retrieved 8 June
Jimmy Hill statue unveiled at Coventry's Ricoh Arena".
BBC. 28 July 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
^ "Did one man change modern football worldwide?". www.bbc.co.uk. 26
April 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
^ a b "
Jimmy Hill awarded". www.fulhamfc.com. 1 April 2009. Retrieved
10 June 2013.
^ "Coventry City announce new memorial garden for Jimmy Hill".
www.todaysbetting.co.uk. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
^ "TV pundit
Jimmy Hill runs the line".
^ "Managers: Jimmy Hill". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 30 March
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jimmy Hill.
Jimmy Hill on IMDb
Jimmy Hill management career statistics at Soccerbase
Coventry City F.C.
Coventry City F.C. – managers
Ogrizovic & Peakec (2002)
Harbin & Bunnc (2008)
Harrison & Thornc (2011)
Shaw & Carsleyc (2012)
MacFarlane & Hockadayc (2015)
(c) = caretaker mana