Fulham Football Club are deeply saddened to learn of the death of former player and chairman Jimmy Hill at the age of 87.
Born in Balham, South London, Hill appeared briefly for Fulham juniors in 1943, but didn’t become a professional until May 1949 when he signed for Brentford. He went on to score 10 goals in 86 appearances for the Bees, mostly from wing-half.
Hill joined Fulham in March 1952 as a half-back, moving to the inside-right position when Bobby Robson was sold to West Bromwich Albion. His hard-working style enabled his more skilful colleagues the opportunity to shine.
Hill helped Fulham reach an FA Cup Semi-Final against Manchester United in 1958, scoring in every round. The following season he made 32 appearances as the Whites returned to Division One. In scoring five times at Doncaster Rovers in March 1958, he equalled the Club record for goals in a single game.
As chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association, Hill played a major part in the scrapping of the maximum wage. This momentous decision, taken by the Football League in 1961, led to Fulham teammate Johnny Haynes becoming the first £100-a-week player.
After a 12-year playing career, Hill was forced to retire in June 1961 due to a knee injury. In total, he played 297 times in the league and cup for Fulham, scoring 52 goals. The following November he became Coventry City manager, spending six years at Highfield Road and leading them from the old Division Three to the top flight. Among his innovations were the first colour matchday programme in English football, pre-game entertainment and an electronic scoreboard.
In 1967 he moved into broadcasting as head of sport for ITV, helping revamp the way football was presented on television. He also had a spell as commercial manager at Fulham around this time. He moved to the BBC six years later where he became presenter of Match of the Day. He presented the programme more than 600 times. Hill joined Sky Sports in 1999.
Hill enjoyed another moment of notoriety in September 1972 when, during an Arsenal-Liverpool match at Highbury, he volunteered to become a substitute linesman after Dennis Drewitt had pulled a muscle and the match was in danger of being abandoned.
Hill returned to Coventry as managing director in April 1975, before becoming the chairman.
Hill also successfully lobbied for the introduction of the three-points-for-a-win system in 1981 and fought for the right for clubs to wear sponsors’ logos on their shirts.
After a spell as chairman at Charlton Athletic, Hill returned to Fulham, helping form the consortium that saved the Club when property speculators tried to merge the Whites with Queens Park Rangers in 1987. Fulham held on to Craven Cottage and Hill stepped down as chairman in 1997 with Mohamed Al Fayed taking over.
The thoughts of all at Fulham are with Jimmy’s family and friends at this sad time.