The club are sad to report that James “Jimmy” Thompson has passed away.
Born in Windy Nook County Durham in 1943, he first signed with Preston NE as an amateur before coming to Blundell Park as a professional in September 1961.
He made his debut at Blundell Park on 23rd March 1963 – the year of the big freeze. Brian Keeble was out, and the normal right back – Don Donovan switched to the left to accommodate Jimmy in the right-back slot. Jimmy immediately became a fixture in the side, playing all the games in the crowded 15-game completion of the season.
The always-smartly-turned-out Jimmy, was a great tackler and distributor of the ball, partnered by Donovan, occasionally by Brian Keeble, and then by Graham Taylor. Watching from behind Charlie Wright's goal, both Jimmy and Graham had similar styles and could easily be confused for one another. With five of the back six being Charlie Wright, Jimmy Thompson, Graham Taylor, Keith Jobling, and sometimes Brian Clifton, we were really honoured to watch that Town team! Then add George McLean, Matt Tees and Brian Hill ….
Jim was ever-present at right-back during the 1964-5 season, almost always partnered by Graham Taylor on the other wing.
One of the highlights of his career must have been the 1965 League Cup game versus West Ham, which included Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters! Town, and Jimmy, held the Hammers to a 2-2 draw, losing in the mid-December replay 1-0. West Ham went on to the final, losing over the two legs – and the three players mentioned went on to play a major part in England winning the World Cup for the only time.
Later that same season, Jimmy also played at right half (right midfield), partnering Keith Jobling and Ron Cockerill, where his speedy runs and perfect passing saw Town gain some creditable results.
In 1967, Jimmy put in a transfer request. Town weren't keen to let him go, and put a £10,000 price on him to deter other clubs (quite a sum at the time). After appealing to the FL he was released from his contract on condition that he didn't sign for another FL club, or a fee would be forthcoming. Jimmy left for South Africa, playing for Port Elizabeth, later returning to play for Cambridge United, a club he helped gain football league status – Jimmy playing in their inaugural League game, against Lincoln City.
After an injury caused his retirement, he returned to the Grimsby area worked at Nunsthorpe Youth centre. His cousins included Dick Young, and Derek and Clarrie Williams.
A great player, whose displays I, and many Mariners fans, remember from more than half a century ago! A true Town legend.
Jimmy Thompson 1943 - 2020