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James William Thomas "Jimmy" Hill OBE (born 22 July 1928) is an Englishmarker football personality. His career has taken in virtually every role in football, including player, union leader, coach, manager, director, chairman, television executive, presenter, analyst and match official.

Personal life

Hill was born in Balham, Londonmarker, the son of Alice Beatrice (Wyatt) and William Thomas Hill, a World War I-veteran, milkman, and bread delivery worker. He was a pupil at Henry Thornton Grammar School, Clapham (1939-45), and is now President of the Old Boys Association. He currently resides in Hurstpierpointmarker, West Sussexmarker.

Football career

Hill first came into football as a fan, regularly watching football at local club Crystal Palace, but, despite this, he started playing in 1949 with Brentford, before moving to Fulham in March 1952, for whom he played over 300 games. He scored five goals for Fulham in an away match against Doncaster Rovers and was part of the team that gained promotion to the First Division.

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

Coventry City

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". 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 fully-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 Roadmarker, with 2 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.

In the 1978 season, he is known to have made Coventry City Vs Bristol City kick off 10 minutes late, allowing them to know what their relegation rivals Sunderland were doing at Everton . Sunderland eventually lost the game 2-0. Knowing that all Coventry needed to stay up was a draw, Hill made his players pass the ball around for the last 10 minutes of the game, saving Coventry from relegation (at the expense of Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City).

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 Weekend Television from 1967 to 1972. He also fronted their World Cup 1970 coverage which, at his suggestion, used the first panel of football pundits.

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.

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.


Despite his surprise departure as manager, Hill returned to Coventry City as managing director in April 1975 before becoming the chairman. He is still considered a legend by Coventry fans. When Coventry City played their last ever match at Highfield Roadmarker in 2005, he 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 Arenamarker to be named "Jimmy's" in his honour.

Following a spell as chairman of Charlton Athletic, he became chairman of Fulham in 1987, helping his old club survive near-bankruptcy, and blocking an attempted merger with Queens Park Rangers

Hill is a trustee of the Stable Lads Association.

Like Roger Swinfen Eady, 3rd Baron Swinfen, and Allen Parton and Endal, Hill is a patron of Labrador Rescue South East and Central.

He is currently the President of non-league team Corinthian Casuals.

Footballing legacy

He has a reputation as an all-round innovator in football: as well as helping to get rid of the maximum wage, he commissioned the first all-seater stadium when at Coventry, and has been credited with the invention of the 3 points for a win system, which was pioneered by The Football Association in 1981. In the 1950s he was the first footballer since Victorian times to sport a beard.

Public image

Jimmy Hill has become a cult figure, with many British comedy shows parodying his personality and prominent chin. He was a regular character called 'Knobchops' in the comedy series Stella Street (impersonated by Phil Cornwell). Hill is routinely drawn into panels of various Viz comics, typically in locales which the real Hill is unlikely to frequent.

He was also spoofed in The Goodies episode "2001 and a Bit", and parodied himself in an appearance in Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Hill's large chin was referenced by popular British schoolboy slang in the 1980s and 1990s, with the phrases "Jimmy Hill!", "Itch my chin!" and "Chinny rackon!", accompanied by the exaggerated stroking of an imaginary lengthened chin, being used to convey the expression of mocking disbelief.

Jimmy Hill has been immortalised in the Scottish football chant "We hate Jimmy Hill, he's a poof, he's a poof". He had become unpopular with Scotland fans, better known as the Tartan Army, for describing David Narey's goal against Brazil in the 1982 World Cup as "a toe-poke" during the BBC's live coverage. He did apologise for this on BBC Scotland TV coverage of the World Cup in France 1998.

One of Hill's more light-hearted football moments took place in 1972. Arsenal were hosting Liverpool at Highburymarker 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 and stepped in for the injured Drewitt.

Hill is also well known for his ability to make ‘Colemanballs’ statements such as:

“I would undoubtedly pick him in the next England squad if I was the England manager and he wasn't actually Bermudan.”

“We're not used to weather in June in this country.”

“They're still in the game, and they're trying to get back into it.”

"That's a wise substitution by Terry Venables: three fresh men, three fresh legs."

"If England are going to win this match, they're going to have to score a goal."


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