Jimmy Sirrel 1922-2008

26/09/2008

Jared Wilson pays tribute to Notts County legend Jimmy Sirrel who died on 25 September 2008


Read an interview with Jimmy Sirrel from 2007


"Jesus Christ, you're playing, son, but you're no really playing, aye,"
Jimmy Sirrel to Dave Mcvay, as immortalised in Steak Diana Ross


Most people with even a passing knowledge of English football know all about Brian Clough and his association with Nottingham. But only those who really know about the game, appreciate the other football mastermind who operated a short distance across the River Trent.

Jimmy Sirrel managed the far less fashionable Notts County for many years over two stints as manager. Remembered for taking the old club through three promotions, from the basement of English football through into the top-flight, he is deservedly commemorated at Meadow Lane with a stand named after him. Indeed, his name is a byword on the lips of Magpies fans young and old for the most successful era in the club’s near-150-year history.

There are of course those outside of the black and white half of Nottingham who remember him fondly too. Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson, the most successful British manager in the modern game, has cited him as the major managerial influence on his career. Former Notts player and now Times Journalist Dave McVay wrote fondly of him in his book Steak Diana Ross and in an interview with LeftLion described him as “one of the great unsung heroes of local football.”

Jimmy was certainly no oil painting, but when the statue of Brian Clough was unveiled in Nottingham City centre, Notts County fans wanted to make sure their old gaffer got some recognition too. So they had a whip round and made him into one - which now hangs proudly inside the main entrance to Meadow Lane, for all to see.

Bizarrely he is also responsible for designing of the present Sheffield United club badge! Up until Sirrel's tenure in charge at Bramall Lane, the Blades used Sheffield's coat of arms. Then Sheffield City Council copyrighted it forcing them to look elsewhere. Rather than spending thousands on designers and consultancy, as even a small club would do in the modern day, Sirrel sat down with a pen and paper  and drew the badge that is still used today.

It’s fair to say that he achieved an awful lot with very modest resources. He had a great eye for a player and was renowned for emphasising the importance of the team. Rarely if ever would he single out a player for praise, but he would regularly give plaudits for a good team effort. Seldom would he criticise his players in the press, it just wasn't his way.

Jimmy retired only a very few years ago, well into pensionable age, despite being still in demand as a scout with Derby County. He passed away peacefully at his home on the morning of Thursday 25 September 2008 at the age of 86.

There’s only one Jimmy Sirrel!

Interview with Jimmy Sirrel on LeftLion



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