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On 19th December 2015,

Sky Blue legend, Jimmy Hill, sadly passed away.

Our Jimmy - Coventry City legendBefore carving a illustrious career as a football television presenter, he took Coventry City from the edge of the abyss to top flight football. Off the field, he masterminded many innovations that saw the football fan no longer taken for granted.

Pre-Coventry, Jimmy was a decent player winning the hearts of the Fulham faithful. He became the chairman of the PFA and was responsible for the scrapping of the maximum wage. This paved the way for the untold riches top players earn today and many should be grateful to him for that hard fought campaign.

Most will remember him as forthright presenter of Match of the Day. Many of the things he took issue with were addressed later by the authorities who dismissed his ideas as fanciful. The straight red card for gross foul play, denying the skill player his rightful advantage was long something Jimmy hankered for. When he returned to Coventry City as managing director and later chairman, it was he who made Highfield Road an all seater stadium.

An idea again ahead of its time, it was a limited success but paved the way for modern stadia that treated the spectators as deserving customers rather than cattle. He was also instrumental in trying to gain a foothold for football in the USA, seeing the potential stateside, setting an early day benchmark for the success the game is today in America.

Jimmy Hill was a visionary. Not all of his ideas worked but many became successful years after he had touted them and his views often patronised and dismissed. For he was also a moderniser, who believed football had to evolve with the times, something the game’s ruling bodies were slow to grasp.

For my part, I was brought up on the vast magnificent Sky Blue legacy of what he did for the club and the City. His remarkable tenure at the club was before my time yet I was brought up on his legend. A manager who was ruthless in his pursuit of success. Goal scoring heroes of achievement and repute were jettisoned if he felt it was right often causing much controversy. But he was nearly always right and great success followed.

Our Jimmy - Coventry City legend

His attention to detail was impeccable. He had a hand in everything at the club, from the setting up of the Sky Blue Express train that ushered fans to away games in style, to the co-writing of the Sky Blue song, still sung by Coventry City supporters today. Our anthem gains fresh meaning with Jimmy’s passing. “We will never lose” “Fight till the game is won”. It was all about belief. If you believe enough, want it enough, work hard enough, then anything is possible. That was the mantra Jimmy Hill instilled doing the Sky Blue era and has a strong message for life never mind football.

It is virtually unfathomable to grasp the state of the club Jimmy took on at Coventry, a ramshackle outfit going nowhere. In less than a decade under his successor, Noel Cantwell, the club were playing European football and becoming the first English team to beat Bayern Munich.

As Coventry City rose to the heights, it coincided with the swinging sixties. Well paid jobs in industry for nearly all, a new exciting era in art and culture and a successful football team. Something was happening. You could feel in the air and Jimmy Hill milked it to Coventry’s advantage for all it was worth.

It is impossible to give full justice to the man in a shortish written tribute. But if you play the game, go to football, watch it on the telly, then Jimmy Hill did something to ensure the the evolution in football we often take for granted.

He died aged 87. The same year as our greatest triumph. My fondest memory of him is the undisguised glee as he presented MOTD that night as his protégées, Sillet and Curtis hugged the FA Cup.

Jimmy Hill was wrongly named. He was a mountain of a man who dragged football into the future and led my club to the top. The game owes him a debt. The people of Coventry owe him our thanks. A pioneer in so many ways.

Thank you Jim. Rest well.

Post written by Rob Summerfield
Blog: rob-summerfield.jimdo.com, Twitter: @RobSummerfield1

Note: The views expressed within this blog post are those of the contributing author, and may not necessarily reflect those of MatchDayApp Limited, its representatives or associated partners.

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