Coventry & Warwickshire

Fans queued for Jimmy Hill celebration service tickets

Jimmy Hill Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption Jimmy Hill died in December, aged 87

Football fans queued for tickets for a service honouring pioneer of the game Jimmy Hill.

The ex-Coventry City manager and chairman, who led the club through two promotions in the 60s, died in December.

The service, at Coventry Cathedral on 12 February, will celebrate his life and contribution across football and broadcasting, Coventry City FC said.

A total of 700 free tickets were set aside for Sky Blues fans.

Around 2,000 people are expected inside the cathedral.

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Media caption700 tickets to the celebration are for fans
Image caption Dave Jones from Earlsdon said Jimmy Hill had a big influence on his life

Dave Jones, from Earlsdon, has been following Coventry City since 1959.

"He had a big influence on my life, because as a teenager growing up in the city he changed everything," he said.

"He made it a pleasure to go and watch them, and his influence in football with a lot of different individuals was very important. He was a wonderful man."

Image caption Mike McCarthy from Earlsdon, met Jimmy soon after he joined the club.

Mike McCarthy, aged 67, from Earlsdon said: "I met him at St Filburn's Club when he was taking the team around to meet the fans.

"Though I was only a young lad he was very open and really listened.

"He was so impressed once by our singing at Crystal Palace he got someone to come down to us and ask if we could do it again at Highfield Road.

"It was such a tragedy when he left us [in 1967, as opposed to last month], but everyone knows the impact he had."

Hill is credited with introducing a number of changes in the national game but is probably most famous for campaigning to scrap the maximum wage for footballers.

He also presented Match of the Day for 16 years from 1973.

Image caption Jimmy Hill remains the longest-serving Match of the Day presenter

Former Coventry City chairman Joe Elliott said the response from those wanting to attend the memorial was so big they were looking at bringing in an audio feed to allow as many people as possible to hear the service.

"There will be some sadness, but we want it to be a real celebration for our city and to say thank you to Jimmy for everything that he did," he said.

Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption Jimmy Hill became Coventry City manager in 1961, setting them on their way from the Third Division to the First Division

Tickets are available from the Coventry City offices at the Butts Park Arena.

BBC Midlands Today will be coming live from the memorial service on 12 February.

Jimmy Hill

  • Born in Balham, London, on 22 July 1928
  • Played as a forward for Brentford and Fulham
  • As chairman of Professional Footballers' Association led the campaign to abolish the maximum wage, which was scrapped in January 1961
  • Became Coventry City manager, leading the club to two promotions before leaving to work with ITV in 1967
  • Presented Match of the Day for 16 years from 1973
  • Returned to Coventry as managing director in 1975, later becoming chairman
  • Made Highfield Road the first all-seater football stadium in the UK
  • Credited with introducing three points for a win instead of two

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