Farewell Jimmy Hill

The weekend brought the sad news that Jimmy Hill had passed on… the following piece appeared in ‘Got, Not Got’… 

Best remembered by the kids of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s for his 30-year run as the opinionated presenter of BBC’s Match of the Day, Jimmy Hill is just as often recalled with a shake of the head by older fans who think of him as the bolshie type / player of principle who stood up and demanded a minimum wage for himself and his mukkas around the dawn of the ‘60s. And yet in-between these times, as manager of Coventry City, Hill undertook an influential, self-proclaimed football revolution for which he’s rarely given credit.

jh prog 76-77

Taking over late in 1961, the great moderniser began a PR onslaught, introducing Britain’s first continental-style one-colour kit, changing the club nickname from boring Bantams to mod-sounding Sky Blues, and leading the third division also-rans on a six-season romp up the leagues.

“Between us, we took excitement into the Third Division towns throughout England,” he wrote in his 1966 New Year programme notes. “We turned League matches into Cup ties, drab monotony into fervent patriotism. The strains of the Sky Blue song and the chants of Coventry City Cha-Cha-Cha often woke up local fans to reply just as noisily… “

Hill introduced Britain’s first electronic scoreboard and the Sky Blue Express supporters train. He rode a white horse around the Highfield Road pitch – mercifully his only Lady Godiva reference – personally overseeing the doling out free Bovril and tea at half-time from Sky Blue backpacks.

“We had started a revolution which was to reverberate around football. Some clubs wagged jealous tongues and ridiculed our so-called gimmicks; some journalists, too, who had willingly used our kinky stories in the headlines…”

He arranged ‘pop and crisp’ days for local kids to meet the stars, and took the lead in corporate entertainment, signing up ‘leading local business people’ as Vice President’s Club members. Before the match and at half-time, Sky Blue Radio rocked the tinny PA system: yet another famous first that was destined to catch on.

Job done, Hill quit for a career in TV two days before the Sky Blues’ debut in the top flight.

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Fully Programmed – Festive Director’s Cut

There was one spread we couldn’t fit into ‘Fully Programmed: The Lost World of Football Programmes’ and now is as good a time as any to show it to you…

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[Click on the image to view large size]

So here it is: Merry Christmas! Everybody’s
having fun on the covers of these seasonal
specials served up with a traditional festive
You can tell Chelsea star David Speedie
is entering into the spirit of Christmas
because of his miniature cowboy hat, and
the way his eyes are silently thanking the
club snapper for seeking him out at what
could have been a memorable moment at
the big works do. Inside the programme
are other pictures from the rip-roaring
night, incuding Pat Nevin on the karaoke.
Brighton’s Steve Foster is equally
chuffed to have been selected for photo-op
duty in a bald wig, red nose and comedy
clown’s trousers. Despite his ‘hard man’
image on the pitch, Steve is always pleased
to take part in club efforts to raise money
for poorly pets at Christmas.
But when it comes to Yuletide fun,
Manchester City have long enjoyed a
reputation as League champions. Here’s
chairman Peter Swales taking centre-stage
in a cover cartoon he commissioned of
himself in a hail of imaginary silverware.
A few years later, Swales was still at the
helm when City’s Xmas cover featured
all their players as choirboys, boss Billy
McNeill as a secret santa and assistant
Jimmy Frizzell in a rather disturbing
reindeer mask.
‘Twas the season to be jolly, at least
until McNeill controversially upped and
left for Villa . Then the truth behind the
jolly seasonal tableau emerged: “City had
horrendous debts in the wake of their
halcyon spending sprees on players. We
could hardly buy a fish supper,” McNeill
complained. “Jimmy and I were left with so
few players we sat for days on end thinking
who we could get for as close to nothing as
At Christmas, remember it’s not how
expensive it is. It’s the thought that counts.


Fully Programmed is available on Amazon HERE.

By P. F. Clayden on 25 Oct. 2015

“Love this. Both a humorous and very informative book. Plus in football programme dimensions!
With programmes now available digitally could eventually go the way of vinyl.
I remember reading them with my grandad on the terraces in the hour and a half wait before kick off in the days of standing. We used to get one each!
Some great covers and elegantly assembled with the programmes taking centre stage.


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Fully Programmed ‘a Treat of Nostalgia’ – Sport mag

Good old Sport. It’s the biggest sports mag in the country with a massive free circulation of over 300,000. And they love our Fully Prog book to bits.

Sport‘s irresistible feature on our London progs* should mean at least 200,000 extra sales on top of the 23 bought as Xmas prezzies by our respective mums.

Untitled-1More top reviews to follow in next week’s GNG blog spots – until you’ve all mailed us to say we can leave off ‘cos you’ve put your order in with your missus.

It’s the price of two pints of lager** on Amazon, for gosh sakes.

* Yes, we did include a Millwall prog – an all-time fave – and an Oriental News in our big fun pack of prog covers sent to the Sport art director!

millwall (2) copy** If you live in London.

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Programmes by Helicopter

Our new book ‘Fully Programmed celebrates our love affair with football programmes, and this story illustrates just how important they were…

oldham chopper

There is something about the British. They like to keep records and tick off lists. Whether it be football programmes or railway trains or all the other hobbies. It seems to be very important to us that there is a programme representing each game.
When Leicester played in the UEFA Cup against Atletico Madrid in 1997 Leicester fans were desperately trying to get hold of a match programme and there just wasn’t one. They had to make do with a newspaper supplement that was on sale in the afternoon, which didn’t quite satisfy the need.
We once travelled up to Oldham Athletic at the start of the season and they had employed a new firm to print their programmes and they hadn’t arrived by kick-off. There was panic!
In most countries the fans would shrug their shoulders and say “Oh well, there is no programme.” but in England that can’t happen…
The completists were sweating. Decades old collections would be ruined.
And then… at half-time a helicopter appeared out of the setting sun, like a scene from a Vietnam war movie, and landed in the car park behind the stand.
It was the programmes!
A small army of sellers unloaded the boxes and went round the terraces selling the programmes to relieved punters, and everyone was happy.


You can buy ‘Fully Programmed’ from Amazon HERE.


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Your 3 favourite programme covers…

Tell us what your three favourite programme covers are and win a copy of ‘Fully Programmed: The Lost World of Football Programmes’…

It’s as easy as that.
The ones we like the best will win. Contact us on here, email garysilke@sky.com or via our Twitter or Facebook pages.

Here are ours.

No 3: Aston Villa’s ‘documentary series’ – 1975-76. 
Getting into the heart and soul of AVFC.

aston villa 7576 2 fp

No 2: Manchester United’s ‘Prog Rock Prog’ – 1970-71. 
Perfect for the times…

man united 7071 fp

No 1: West Bromwich Albion’s ‘Acid Trip through the 20th Century Masterpiece.’ – 1974-75. 
Edwardiana meets the 70s seamlessly in a colourful splash of cutting-edge
nostalgia that’s right up there with Sergeant Pepper and Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid.

wba 7475 fp

There’s ours. Send us yours.
A photo would be a big help. If not tell us the club, opposition and the season.


Fully Programmed “enables football fans of a certain vintage to look back fondly on the football programme’s ‘Golden Era’ of the 1960s-1990s,” it says here. “This beautiful, hilarious, evocative book is a must-have for football collectors and nostalgics – and for any fan who remembers mud, mavericks and men in white coats standing on street corners.”

Yours for £16.99. Nah, £11.89 … at least before Amazon notice and change it.

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Scorcher… the best comic ever?

Scorcher was launched in January 1970, joined forces with Score, and was then swallowed up by Tiger…

scorcher everton copy

It launched several legends of the football comic world including ‘Nipper’, ‘Billy’s Boots’ and ‘Hot Shot Hamish’, as well has having some great arty club-based covers and features on the (actual, real) game.

Send us your memories of Scorcher… Remember prison side ‘Lags Eleven’; ‘Bobby of the Blues’ young captain of Everpool City (local rivals – Mersea Port); Jimmy Jinks – Wanderers Jinx supporter; and The Boy in the Velvet Mask – Alan Hemmings had to play in a mask as his father had forbidden him to play football?

We have bought several issues of Scorcher from eBay to feature in our various ‘Got, Not Got’ club editions, and we still get a thrill when they arrive through the letterbox.

scorcher hull copy


All ‘Got, Not Got’ titles are currently available on Amazon…








titles 640

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Win a copy of ‘Shirt Tales & Short Stories’ in our competition.

If you haven’t got a copy of last year’s hit ‘Shirt Tales & Short Stories’ yet, now is your chance to win a copy, using your almost frightening knowledge of old football shirts…

Tell us which club each of these shirts belongs to…

quiz copy

We think it is difficult, but you usually prove us wrong, so if we have more than one all correct answer then the winner will be drawn from the blue and white Got, Not Got Bobble Hat of Truth.

Good luck – send your answers to: garysilke@sky.com by Thursday 19th November.

If you can’t be arsed to work out the answers, just buy a copy HERE.

shirt tales amend

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