10th Dec, 2016

Call for city of Coventry to honour Sky Blue giant Jimmy Hill after death, aged 87

Les Reid 21st Dec, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

CALLS for the city of Coventry to pay tribute to the late Jimmy Hill are amounting after the Sky Blues’ legend’s death, aged 87.

The football club’s managing director Chris Anderson said they were considering how best to mark the passing of the creator of the 1960s Sky Blue Revolution, which has defined the club ever since.

Former club president and businessman Joe Elliott MBE, who also chairs the transport museum, said preliminary conversations were taking place over how best to honour Mr Hill.

Some have suggested a civic event, possibly at Coventry Cathedral, or a memorial in the city to add to the Jimmy Hill statue outside the Ricoh Arena.

Saturday’s crowd of more than 15,000 paid their respects with a moving round of applause on the 87th minute of the match against Oldham – ’87 also being the number indelibly etched in the club’s steep history since they won the FA Cup in 1987.

Fans also gathered at the Jimmy Hill statue outside the ground before and after the game.

His death was announced on Saturday lunchtime, after years of living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Mr Hill has been celebrated nationally with leading football figures and broadcasters marking the former Match of the Day presenter and Professional Footballers’ Association chairman’s massive contribution to the sport.

Mr Elliott told the Observer: “I’ve already had a number of conversations pre-emptively about a fitting tribute.

“Whatever we do we need to do it together. We’ll all be fighting together to make sure it happens.

“Jimmy Hill is iconic. He loved Coventry. We got the statue done and it was his last appearance. We got it done in the nick of time.

“He was able to be there for the last match at Highfield Road, the first match at the Ricoh Arena, and it means a lot to the people of Coventry that he was there for the statue unveiling.

“He loved Coventry. And what a job he did for us. We were lucky to have what was arguably the biggest brain in football as our manager.

“Only Jimmy Hill could die at 87, arguably the most important number for Coventry City fans, and pass away the night before a matchday when we had our biggest crowd for years.

“We could all get together to sing, cheer, shed a tear and thoroughly enjoy remembering Jimmy Hill. It was so spontaneous.”

Mr Anderson is yet to state what the club will do in the short term and long term to honour Coventry City’s biggest legend, but revealed discussions are taking place.

Bobby Gould, former Coventry City player who was managed by Jimmy and later became Sky Blues’ boss, said: “Everything I have at this moment in time I owe to that man.

“As a manager and an individual I’ll never come across the likes of him ever again.”

All-seater stadiums, commercial sponsorship and three points for a win were all pioneered by Mr Hill.

He was instrumental in the successful campaign to scrap the maximum wage for professional footballers in November 1961 – his former Fulham teammate Johnny Haynes later became the first player to earn £100 a week.

Legendary Match of the Day commentator, and a former BBC colleague of Jimmy Hill, John Motson said: “How do you sum up a life like that of Jimmy Hill – it’s impossible.

“He was an innovator, an instigator and an inspiration.”

Current Match of the Day presenter and former England striker Gary Lineker said: “He was a great man.

“Extraordinary things like three points for a win and the electronic board stand out.

“He lived an amazing life and football is much the better for Jimmy Hill.”