Great players: Jimmy Jackson

James Jackson was born in Glasgow, Scotland on March 26, 1931. He moved to Nottingham in England at the age of five. At an early age he was noticed for his footballing ability and was the captain of the Trent Bridge School side for four seasons. He was signed as an amateur at the age of 13 by Notts County and the legendary manager Major Buckley.

Jimmy then spent two seasons with Mapperley Celtic before signing a professional contract with Notts County in February 1949. He made his league debut on April 16, 1949 in a game against Bristol City in the English Football League’s Division Three South. However, after only a few seconds of play he was injured and had to leave the field. Due to this injury he missed the rest of the 1948-1949 season.

In his third league game for Notts County, Jimmy scored four goals against Everton in a Second Division match on October 20, 1951. He finished the 1951-1952 season having scored seven goals in eleven games. He broke his jaw in two places in a match with Sheffield United on November 15, 1952. Jimmy usually played at inside right for Notts County.

Jimmy failed to fulfil his early promise and in the summer of 1953 he did not re-sign for County. Instead he was considering emigrating to Canada. He decided to concentrate on his other trade as a dental mechanic and on October 30, 1953, he sailed for Canada.

According to media reports he had said “I am sick of football and I don’t care if I never play again”, before leaving for Canada.

In Canada he settled in Hamilton, Ontario, and started playing soccer with his works club. He seems to have found his love for the game again and in May 1954 he signed for Toronto-club Olympia as a player-coach. Playing as a centre-forward Jimmy scored 15 goals in 20 games during the 1954 National Soccer League season. He also played in several all-star games while in Canada.

On Saturday May 22 Glasgow Rangers defeated the Toronto All-Stars 4-1 at Varsity Stadium. Jimmy was Toronto’s centre-forward and scored Toronto’s only goal.

On Sunday September 12 the Toronto All-Stars played against the American Soccer League All-Stars at Zerega Oval in New York in front of a crowd of 1,500. The ASL All-Stars won the exhibition match 3-2, Jimmy scored Toronto’s two goals. On one his goals former Tottenham Hotspur star Les Medley had the assist.

A return match against the American Soccer League All-Stars was played in Toronto the following Saturday. Toronto All-Stars won 4-1 and Jimmy scored two goals.

On Wednesday December 1, 1954, Jimmy arrived in Liverpool on the Canadian Pacific liner the Empress of Scotland. In an interview with the Liverpool Echo he said “I am coming back for a few months to have a look round and see some relatives. But if I can come to a satisfactory arrangement with a good club here then I shall remain in this country.”

While staying with his parents in Nottingham he took the ten-minute walk to Notts County’s stadium. After a few visits and meeting manager George Poyser, he ended up signing a new contract with Notts County on December 9, 1954.

Daily Mirror December 9, 1954

On Saturday December 10 Jimmy scored four goals for the Notts County third team. The next Saturday he scored four goals for the Notts County second team.

On December 25th he made his comeback for the Notts County first team in a Second Division game against Bristol Rovers. County tied Rovers 1-1 and Jimmy assisted on Albert Broadbent’s goal for Notts County in Nottingham.

Two days later, on December 27th, County again played against Bristol Rovers and Jimmy scored two goals as County won 4-1 in Bristol.

Jimmy scored four goals for Notts County against West Ham on Saturday January 1, 1955, in a 5-1 win in a Second Division game. On January 15 he scored two goals in a 5-4 win over Blackburn Rovers. Much thanks to Jimmy’s goalscoring County had gained 15 points out of a possible 16 in its last 8 games by the end of January.

Jackson’s goalscoring made headlines back in Canada. Nanaimo Daily News, January 3, 1955.

On February 3 Jimmy scored County’s goal in a 1-0 win over First Division-team Sheffield Wednesday in a FA Cup fourth round replay game. He also scored a goal against local rivals Nottingham Forest in a 4-1 win on February 12. By the beginning of March he had scored nine goals in eleven senior games for Notts County. In the last game of the 1954-55 season Jimmy scored a goal in the last two minutes of play to help Notts County to a 2-1 win over Ipswich Town on April 30.

The start of 1955-1956 season was a struggle for Jimmy. Injuries and a loss of form forced him to play mostly for Notts County reserves. However, he regained his stride, and by mid-April he had scored seven goals in 22 league matches for County’s first team in the English Football League’s Second Division. The next two seasons he was in and out of County’s first team. When he left the club in 1958 he had scored a total of 47 goals in 113 league games since his debut in 1949.

Jimmy then played in English non-league football with Headington United, Sutton Town and Arnold St. Mary’s.

Jimmy Jackson died at the age of 81 on March 2, 2013.

1954 National Soccer League season: https://thecnsl.com/1954-2/

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