Football mourns the loss of Jimmy Hill, who died on Saturday at the age of 87. Most will remember him as the host of BBC’s Match of the Day, long before fellow striker Gary Lineker took over the reigns. Aside from his 276 appearances for Fulham, and his managerial stint with Coventry City (in which he won the old second and third divisions), Hill’s name will go down in football history in more ways than you think.
Jimmy Hill was solely responsible for scrapping the then players wage cap in 1961 to allow his team-mate Johnny Haynes to become the country’s first £100-a-week player which, as the years went on, effectively changed the game to what it is today.
Not only a manager, Hill went on to become director and chairman at Coventry, where he was also credited with coining the nickname Sky Blues after changing the team’s colours. He also wrote the club’s new song and even introduced the first modern matchday programme.
There is a famous story of Hill emerging from the crowd at Highbury in September 1972 to work as a linesman when the official became injured. An announcement was made in the stadium that the game between Arsenal and Liverpool could not continue unless a qualified referee could be found to help out. At the game as a spectator, Hill was also a qualified referee. And there he was with the linesman’s flag for Arsenal v Liverpool. Would that happen today?
RIP Jimmy Hill.
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