JIM WALLINGTON | 1951 – 2023

Jim on duty, taken by his successor as M1 manager, Simon Parker.

We have lost one of our finest. Jim was one of those people without whom no club can thrive, whose answer is always ‘yes’. His infectious warmth, energy and quirkiness endeared him to all who met him. He will be remembered most for his 17 seasons as men’s 1s manager, from 2001 to 2017.

Jim joined us from Southgate Adelaide, where he’d been a leading member, as we were planning our move from the Walker Ground to Trent Park. He found his feet as captain of the relatively new Flagons (over 40s). Well aware of his own abilities as a dogged left half, he pulled in friends from other clubs – some of whom are now playing in the Titans – building a strong side with enormous team spirit.

To say Jim loved winning would be an understatement. He charmed legends like John Shaw and James Duthie to join the Flagons from the men’s 1s for a few games. On one occasion, a team pleaded for the match to end early after the 13th goal went in – a cup game! Jim, always the gentleman to the opposition and match officials, absolutely loved it, and revelled in every victory he had a hand in.

As men’s 1s manager he worked alongside coaches John Shaw, Chris Hibbert, Danny Newcombe and Matt Grinham. On the national league circuit, teams and officials knew they were in for a warm Jim welcome on arrival at Southgate and that they would be well looked after throughout the day. He never forgot the supporters and began the tradition of the team going across to applaud them after every game.

His competitiveness and sense of right and wrong were powerful drivers for everything he did for the club. He never understood why others didn’t put in the same 100% that he did for the good of the club, and his frustrations sometimes got the better of him.

For many years he welcomed overseas players into his home as guests – an extraordinary contribution to the success of the men’s 1s. He eased these newcomers into the club; into life in a strange country, becoming friend and father figure. He became Uncle Jim.

The camaraderie he naturally inspired within the team was quite something. Everyone loved him for the spirit he created, and he loved the role he played.

He became part of the club’s establishment without ever sitting on a committee. He won the club’s highest accolade, the Dunlop Johnson Award, in 2004, and was later elected a Vice-President.

Jim was in his element hosting friends around his table at home into the small hours, with red wine, pastis, and a smoke. Lifelong friends were made there.

He was a DIY obsessive, and one of the hard-working helpers who got the Centre into shape after the builders left in 1997. The boot scraper, by the end of the water pitch as you walk round to the far pitch, was one of Jim’s many little projects. Give it a nod the next time you walk past.

Jim with M1 coach and close friend Chris Hibbert