Tribute to Lancaster footballer
An historian has paid tribute to a Lancaster footballer who passed away this month.
Jimmy Fagan played football in Lancaster after moving to the city from Liverpool.
“He was my friend, mentor and football hero,” said Terry Ainsworth.
Jimmy (pictured as a young boy far right) was born on August 10, 1935 in Knotty Ash, Liverpool and attended St Dominic’s Primary School in Huyton and then Finch Road Secondary before leaving education six months after his 14th birthday.
When he was a youngster Jimmy collected shrapnel from the many bomb sites around the city.
His grandmother was blind, and she lived in the basement of a four-storey terraced house where she plied her trade as a moneylender.
Jimmy’s Irish descendants came from County Cork in the Republic of Ireland.
His first job after leaving school was on a milk round where he pulled the milk cart round the streets of Liverpool.
From there he went to work down at the docks for a cattle food company and he made sure the bottom of his trousers were always tied up because of the rats that infested the place.
At 18, he joined the Army and reported to Bowerham Barracks, Lancaster for his national service duties where he played football as a right full back with future England international Jimmy Armfield at centre forward, roles that were soon reversed.
He was later transferred to Fulwood Barracks, Preston but met his future wife, Ellen, at the Floral Hall, Morecambe and they married in 1956.
He never returned to Liverpool but instead fell in love with Lancaster.
It was during this period that he was invited for a trial with Sheffield United whose manager was Joe Mercer and described by Jimmy as a true gentleman.
In August 1957 along with many other budding players he had a trial for Lancaster City but in season 1958-59 elected to play for the Lancaster Lads Club Old Boys where for many years he was the outstanding centre forward of his generation in the North Lancs League.
In a 2010 survey Jimmy polled the highest number of points from those who played with him and against him for so many years and was selected as the best centre forward in the North Lancs League in the 25 years after World War II.
“He was a player of finesse who with deft touches unselfishly brought his colleagues into the play and he scored many goals of exquisite quality,” said Terry.
“Lancaster Lads Club’s highly regarded coach, Jimmy Downham, rated Jimmy highly.
“Although slightly built he was a giant on the field and his reputation was further enhanced by the plaudits he received from his opponents.”
Jimmy moved to Newton and played in another team before finishing his playing career at the Royal Albert Hospital. “We will miss you Jimmy but the memories you left us with are locked away for ever,” said Terry.