Jimmy Husband – An Appreciation

Jimmy Husband (15 October 1947 – 9 March 2024)

An Appreciation

The sad news of the death of Jimmy Husband comes just weeks after the passing of John Hurst, his teammate in the 1965 FA Youth Cup-winning side and the legendary championship-winning team of 1969/70.

Harry Catterick spread the net wide in his search for the best young talent in the 1960s, and was hot on the trail of a precocious attacking talent from Newcastle, who had England schoolboy honours, by the name of James Husband. But Everton were not the only side keen to get the teenager’s signature. Jimmy, a Newcastle fan by upbringing, recalled:

‘I had something like 17 or 18 top-flight clubs wanting to sign me, including Villa, Leeds, Sunderland, Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Everton and Burnley. Burnley were then a top team Their chief scout, Jack Hixon, virtually lived at our house, so I went to Burnley in the school holidays with a guy called Louie Henry. We spent a week there in nice digs and trained each day with the youth team.’

However, Everton got their man, eventually:

‘My Dad had passed away that year, so it was hard for me and my Mum – she was still grieving and knew nothing about football, so it was left to me to choose a club. In the end Everton were the most persistent and the whole package was just right. Harry Cooke, the chief scout, would occasionally bring an immaculately dressed, mysterious man with him. This guy was the one who Harry Cooke would look to for “the nod” if I asked a question. I never did know who he was – something to do with the Littlewoods empire perhaps?’

Jimmy was permitted to leave school before completing his O Level studies, on the proviso that the Toffees arranged for him to attend college in Liverpool every Monday. He lodged with a landlady in Tuebrook and, in spite of acute homesickness, made good progress through the youth system. Within a couple of years of joining the club, he was an integral member of the 1965 FA Youth cup side, which also included the likes of Gerry Glover, Aidan Maher, Frank D’Arcy and Geoff Barnett. The Toffees tyros beat Arsenal 4-3 in an epic final second leg at Goodison Park.

His first team bow came around the same time:

‘My debut came on Easter Monday 1965 at Fulham: I had played for the reserves in the Central League but when we got back to Goodison the first team coach was still there, which was strange. Straight away Harry Cooke said: “Come on, we’re taking you back to your digs – grab a suitcase as you’re going off with the first team”. So, I grabbed a pair of trousers, shirt, tie and blazer. The coach was still waiting at Goodison and off we went – a bit of a whirlwind! Harry Catterick decided not to tell me early on that I was playing, then a couple of hours before the match he said: “You’re playing son” and that was it. I think I did okay – some of the oppositions were legends like Johnny Haynes, Bobby Robson and George Cohen. I played Inside-right forward with Derek Temple on the left, Alex Scott on the right and Fred Pickering at centre-forward.’

In fact, Jimmy actually replaced Derek Temple who was injured. The line up in a 1-1 draw that day was; West; Wright, Brown; Gabriel, Labone, Harris; Scott, Harvey, Pickering, Husband, Morrissey. The following morning on Tuesday 20 April 1965, Horace Yates reported in the Liverpool Daily Post,

Everton, with Temple injured, took the opportunity to blood seventeen-years-old Jimmy Husband in League football. He began promisingly enough. It is unfair, however, to expect such youngsters to dominate and although he showed some clever touches, lack of strength deprived him of celebrating his debut with a goal. There was still much to admire in Everton’s play and they were unrecognisable from the side which has so often brought deep despair to their supporters at Goodison Park.

Pacy and blessed with great balance, Jimmy evolved – as team formations evolved – from a traditional inside-forward into an unorthodox (and unpredictable) wide forward in a three-man attack spearheaded by Joe Royle, with John Morrissey on the other side. He reflected on this formation:

‘You would have to class Johnny as a winger, but I could wander anywhere I wanted. My position was to help Joe out more than help Tommy Wright, but defensively I used to retreat to the right-hand. Full backs disliked marking me as I was one of the few forwards to drift across the pitch. I’d wander off past Joe towards the left wing and the defender never knew whether to follow me or pass me on to a colleague. Howard knew this and if the full-back went with me he would drift into space on the right flank ready to receive a ball from Tommy and put in a good cross for Joe to get on the end of – this was just something the two of us worked out together in training.’

In action with Bobby Charlton….
…and Jackie Charlton

A Liverpool Echo profile accurately described him as an ‘all-purpose winger in the new mould.’  Jimmy, who acquired the nick-name Skippy on account of his running style, told the newspaper that some supporters didn’t always appreciate the role that he (and sometimes Alan Whittle) performed: ‘Both Alan and I often hear the fans on the terraces shouting at us to stay on the wings. They don’t understand that the move inside is a vital part of our attacking style.’

Jimmy was also quite unconventional off the pitch, with a deep passion for music* – notably Bob Dylan – and a penchant for cars. He was photographed with his sporty mini and, subsequently, a Jaguar E-type. Jimmy was particularly fond of Ray Wilson, the Toffees’ world class left-back who certainly didn’t share the young forward’s taste in music or clothing: ‘He did things that seemed to a 19-year-old like me very different. Ray smoked a pipe for a start. He used to take the mickey out of my clothes, as I was wearing the type of clothes that the Rolling Stones were wearing at the time. He was wearing stuff the like of which Tony Bennett or Frank Sinatra would wear.’  Jimmy also rated Brain Labone, whom he described as ‘the father of the team.’

[*Jimmy was spotted at the memorable Led Zeppelin gig at the Liverpool Stadium in 1971. I was there too, a fantastic night! – Mike Royden, Ed.]

Jimmy would marry Valerie Evans, a Liverpool girl, in late 1970 – they remained together for the rest of his days and had two children, Jamie and Jilly.

He had a prolonged run in the first eleven in the final stages of the 1966/67 campaign and was firmly established in Catterick’s revamped side as the 1967/68 season reached its conclusion. Jimmy was at Wembley for the FA Cup final (two years after being there as a spectator) but experienced the bitter taste of defeat to West Brom. He also had to live with a missed header (due, in part, to being distracted by a shout from Alan Ball) from one of the side’s few clear opportunities to score: ‘The defeat still haunts me to this day, but I don’t blame myself 100 percent now. I wasn’t allowed to forget the miss…if I was ever in conversation with Everton fans they would remind me about it.’

Jimmy at Wembley in 1968
Jimmy Husband was substituted at half-time following Mackay’s crunching tackle

Many observers believe that Jimmy was never quite the same effervescent player after being injured by a brutal challenge by Dave Mackay of Derby County in October 1968. He disagreed with this view (he was only out of action for a month): ‘The foul by Dave Mackay is a bit of a myth. It was the most diabolical foul that you could wish to see, Dave was 13 stone of muscle; the tackle came in on my knee and damaged my ligaments. The fans just remember the foul being awful, but I came back and scored 20 goals in the season.’

As the Blues launched their 1969/70 assault on the title, Jimmy remained in the side, contributing six goals before sustaining an injury in late February. Alan Whittle came in, pepped up the team, and kept the Geordie out of the side for the run-in: ‘It was hard on me as we were on the run-in to the championship, and I was in the stand in my suit and tie, these days I would have got a run in some of the games. I asked for transfer. Harry Catterick never called me in for a chat, but [trainer] Wilf Dixon was trying to persuade me to stay. He said: “There’s about three or four teams that could afford you and all those teams have players fighting for their positions.”’

Everton FC with the First Division Championship trophy at Bellefield, circa July 1970.
Back row (left-right): Joe Royle, Brian Labone, Gordon West, Andy Rankin, Sandy Brown and Frank D’Arcy. Middle row: Wilf Dixon (trainer), Jimmy Husband, Tommy Wright, Roger Kenyon, Steve Melledew, Howard Kendall and Keith Newton. Front row: John Hurst, Tommy Jackson, Johnny Morrissey, Harry Catterick (manager), Alan Ball, Alan Whittle and Colin Harvey.
(Photo by W & H Talbot Archive/Popperfoto via Getty Images)

Jimmy did get back in the side during the subsequent season but, like most teammates, could not replicate his previous form and began to struggle increasingly with hamstring issues. He did, however, score what is generally accepted to be one of the finest goals scored at Goodison. In January 1971, a flowing move involving John Hurst, Colin Harvey and Alan Ball, saw Jimmy apply the coup de grace with a tremendous, volleyed finish past the Chelsea goalkeeper. Sadly, there were no cameras to capture it on film.

Jimmy Husband scores in an FA Cup tie against Middlesbrough in 1971
Back to school with Colin Harvey, Keith Newton and Henry Newton
Jimmy gets a shot in before Charlie George of Arsenal can close him down

Jimmy’s career was going stale at Everton, but in November 1973, it was given the fillip it needed when Billy Bingham, himself a former Blues wide man, sold him to Luton Town. Away from the pressure cooker of Merseyside football, Jimmy enjoyed his football again alongside the likes of Andy King and the Futcher brothers. He also found manager Harry Haslam to be very different to Harry Catterick: ‘Catterick was God and not approachable, whereas Harry Haslam was the sort who would say: “Jimmy, can you pop up to my office, whenever you are ready. Just a quick word…”’

In his early thirties, he took the opportunity to sample the burgeoning soccer scene in the USA. First, he was with Memphis Rogues (giving him an opportunity to indulge his love of rock and roll and country in that famed musical city). A period with Major Indoor Soccer League side Cleveland Force was less pleasant due to the awful early artificial pitches and severe winter weather. He would move on to Oklahoma City Slickers of the ASL, coached by Colin Harvey’s brother, Brian.

North American Soccer League

Jimmy’s record in the States with Memphis Rogues (1978-80), Cleveland Force (1981-82) and Oklahoma City City Slickers (1982-83)

(Click image)

Back in England, Jimmy, Val and their children put down roots in Bedfordshire. After a spell running the Chequers Inn pub in Roxton in the mid-1980s, Jimmy worked in sales until his retirement. He found time to turn out on a few occasions for a local village side called, appropriately, Everton. He told the Echo: I thought I’d find a local team and play for fun. Then, one day, a chap rang to ask if I’d play for his team called Everton. I thought he was kidding at first! Of course, that had to be the team for me.’ Naturally, he scored on his ‘new’ Everton debut, appropriately playing in a blue shirt with the number seven on the back, in a local derby against Potton FC.

He’d make regular returns to Merseyside, either to visit his wife’s family, or to attend Everton-themed events, including the legendary Gwladys Street’s Hall of Fame nights. In 2015, Everton FC Heritage Society and Everton FC had Jimmy as a guest at St Luke’s and Goodison Park to mark the 50th anniversary of the FA Youth Cup win – he got a great ovation when introduced onto the hallowed turf. Four years later, he was a guest of honour at the Catterick 100 night held at the People’s Lounge.

At St Luke’s with the 1965 FA Youth Cup team
The reunion of the 1965 FA Youth Cup team
Signing copies of Rob Sawyer’s Harry Catterick biography at the Harry Catterick celebration evening, Goodison Park 2019
Jimmy Husband & Mike Royden (EFCHS) – Harry Catterick celebration evening, Goodison Park 2019
Jimmy enjoying the video re-run of the 1960s side at the Harry Catterick celebration evening

Anyone spending time in Jimmy’s company at these events appreciated his warmth, humbleness and gentle sense of humour. Our condolences go to Val, Jamie and Jilly and the rest of the Husband family.

Rest in peace, Jimmy, and rise in glory.

Rob Sawyer

with additional material and photo research by Mike Royden


Rob Sawyer, Toffeeweb articles (2013 and 2015)

Steve Johnson, evertonresults.com

Berman and Dome, Everton Greats: Where Are They Now

EFCHS on Twitter;

Very sad news today of the passing of another of our 1969/70 title-winning team. Jimmy Husband, like the late John Hurst, was a successful product of the Everton FC youth development system. A warm man with a lovely, gentle sense of humour, he was our guest at events in 2015 and 2019. RIP, Jimmy.

Rob Sawyer of EFCHS on Twitter

Back in 2013, I was lucky to interview Jimmy Husband for this article on @ToffeeWeb below. He was warm, self-deprecating, funny and generous with his time. Rest in peace, Jimmy.

North Country Blues – The Jimmy Husband Story by Rob Sawyer on ToffeeWeb

EFC Statto (Bradley Cates of EFCHS) on Twitter)

Jimmy Husband (1947–2024) RIP

Husband joined #EFC as an apprentice in 1963, making his debut aged just 17 against Fulham in April 1965. He made 199 appearances for the Blues, scoring 55 goals, including 30 games and 6 goals in the title-winning 1969/70 First Division campaign.

Mike Royden of EFCHS on Twitter

So sad to hear of the passing of Jimmy Husband, one of my favourite players when growing up back in the 60s. He frequently attended Everton events, including the Hall of Fame nights (pictured here with Dr David France) and those organised by @EvertonHeritage.

Jimmy Husband – goals on YouTube

Jimmy Husband

(15 October 1947 – 9 March 2024)

By Rob Sawyer

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