There’s an English saying that sports fans have memories like goldfish, but for soccer supporters who booed an 80-year-old man last week, their memories might be closer to those of elephants.
(Jimmy Hill: OBE, short order cook, and all-around douchebag.)
Jimmy Hill, now a TV analyst, was on hand at a match in London to honor a former teammate. But as soon as he was spotted, thousands of visiting Sunderland fans let Hill, who hasn’t played since 1961, know he wasn’t welcome. Why? A brilliant, machiavellian move more than 30 years old.
Hill was chairman of Coventry City in 1977, when his team, Sunderland and Bristol City were tied for last place on the last day of the season. Hill had the Coventry-Bristol City game held up 15 minutes because of “crowd congestion.” When Sunderland lost, he had the result announced in the stadium, a message to the teams that if they tied, they’d both avoid relegation. What followed was an excellent passing clinic, with neither team trying to score or defend. They finished in a scoreless tie, and Sunderland was relegated.
Sunderland fans didn’t forget. The bitterness still runs, in a great example of British newspaper prose, “miners’ strike deep.”
Towards the end of the first half of Saturday’s game against Fulham, thousands of Black Cats supporters spotted him standing yards away and reacted angrily with boos and abuse. When Hill waved and blew kisses, their anger escalated and he had to be led away by police for his own safety.
Jimmy Hill better hope he never dies, because Sunderland fans are going to dig up his corpse and rape it with the shovel.
(Would you boo an 80-year-old? If you said Al Davis, wrong - he’s 143.)