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End of an era and sad farewell to two of Beeb's finest

By Billy Weir

Published 24/12/2015

File photo dated 13/07/82 of footballer turned broadcaster Jimmy Hill, who has died at the age of 87 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease, his family said in a statement. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday December 19, 2015. See PA story DEATH Hill. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 13/07/82 of footballer turned broadcaster Jimmy Hill, who has died at the age of 87 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease, his family said in a statement. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday December 19, 2015. See PA story DEATH Hill. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

It was the end of an era on two fronts for the BBC this week with the sad passing of Jimmy Hill and the chequered flag being shown to Formula One.

For folk of my age Jimmy Hill was Match of the Day and no Saturday night would be complete without that familiar jutting chin and varied assortment of facial hair down the years.

It was sad that he was to be looked upon as something of a caricature as football became less about characters and more about cash.

That is perhaps the ultimate irony. For without Hill, today's footballers would still be scraping to survive from a pastime and those lucky enough to have made a living out of it would be looking at a future as a pub landlord or an insurance man.

A classy player in his own right, he was a selfless campaigner for better pay and conditions for his colleagues.

As a manager he is immortalised in statue-form at Coventry City's ground, thankfully not like Lady Godiva, where he changed their fortunes on the pitch.

He even penned songs for the fans and had a stint as a linesman before he then decided that he would transform how the game was treated on TV.

Today we take it as red that the presenter will be joined by pundits, but that was largely the brainchild of Hill and warm tributes were rightly paid to him over the weekend.

What he would have thought of the BBC chucking away yet another of their sporting crown jewels to save cash is another matter.

Sky may have long since secured all the live races on the Grand Prix calendar but the Beeb was the home of the sport. Yes, it may have a brief pit stop elsewhere but when you think of F1 you think of Murray Walker, James Hunt, that music and latterly, the shirts of many colours that Eddie Jordan inflicted upon viewers with flagrant disregard to their screaming retinas.

Yes, Sky's coverage is good, even with Damon Hill, but who knows what Channel Four will do with it now they have picked up the racing gauntlet.

Cars will probably be powered with lentils and Davina McCall will be the new presenter.

So long Jimmy, thanks for everything, as for losing F1, well that's simply the pits.

Belfast Telegraph

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