Belfast Telegraph

Heavy hearts in the Linfield family after loss of seven trophy legend Jim Reid


By Graham Luney

The Linfield family will say a fond and emotional farewell to one of its special heroes tomorrow.

A funeral service for the late Jim Reid will take place and no doubt memories of a truly golden era in the history of the football club will warm hearts on a cold day.

It's only with the passage of time that remarkable sporting achievements are given the recognition they deserve and that's why Bluemen will have a tear in their eye as they salute Jim and his comrades who conjured up magic in the 1961/62 season.

Today's younger generation of Linfield fans loved every minute of the six doubles in seven seasons masterminded by legendary boss David Jeffrey, another achievement that gathers appreciation with each passing campaign.

But the seven trophy heroes from the early 1960s became football immortals, their success a reflection of their togetherness and will to win. Their total trust and faith in one another.

Jim Reid, who was born in 1940, was an integral member of that special group 54 years ago.

He made 44 appearances that season, scoring a vital 31 goals including two in the league title play-off game against Portadown to complete the seven trophy haul.

The 44 appearance tally was impressive given the quality of that Linfield squad under the guidance of coach Isaac McDowell.

Jim's sad passing at the age of 76 means there are now six survivors from that squad - Bobby Irvine, Ken Gilliland, Isaac Andrews, Ray Gough, Hubert Barr and Billy Wilson.

The Linfield family continues to mourn the loss of Jackie Graham, Sammy Hatton, John Parke, Tommy Stewart, Billy Ferguson, captain Tommy Dickson, Bobby Braithwaite and Isaac McDowell.

In April 2012 several of the squad reunited in Belfast for the 50th anniversary celebrations of the 'magnificent seven' record.

Jim's brilliant brace in the crucial 3-1 play-off victory over Portadown at Solitude left him bursting with pride.

He later reflected: "Every one of us was carried off the pitch by the Linfield supporters at the end of the game.

"We all had great pride in playing for Linfield and wearing that famous royal blue jersey."

Joe Bambrick brought the man from Duncairn Gardens to Windsor Park in 1959 and, while he was not an automatic choice in the starting line-up, he answered the call when it came.

He explained: "We had a rotational system and if anyone got injured there was always someone to come in.

"There were six of us challenging for five places and competition was intense.

"The Blues almost released me the previous season but I was called in for the last four matches and scored a few goals."

The talented teenager, who had turned out for Islandmagee and Lower Shankill Boys Club, was destined to hit the big time with Linfield.

Reid played in all three cup final wins against Glentoran that season.

These were a 2-0 win in the Ulster Cup Final, a 4-0 triumph in the Gold Cup Final and a resounding 7-1 aggregate victory in the North-South Cup Final. He also appeared in seven out of 11 games in the City Cup, which was played in a league format, Linfield losing only one game to top the table.

After making a total of 94 appearances for the Blues and scoring an impressive 68 goals, the former Belfast Royal Academy pupil moved to Distillery in 1964 but he carried with him the memories of sharing a pitch with many gifted players.

"Tommy Dickson was the best player never to leave Northern Ireland," he recalled.

"There were chances for me and other players to move across the water but the maximum wage in those days was £20 per week in the First Division and less in Scotland or the Second Division.

"We were earning more with Linfield and from our day job. Ray Gough was another great player as was John Parke who was something else."

Illness cut Jim's career short - at the age of 24 - but his legendary status was assured.

The team that won the Irish Cup, County Antrim Shield, league title, Ulster Cup, City Cup, Gold Cup and North-South Cup will never be forgotten.

"I loved playing for Linfield and always played for the shirt," he said.

"The supporters were like a 12th man on the field and really lifted you."

Jim's funeral will be at 11am tomorrow at Whitehead Methodist church, off Balmoral Avenue in the town.

The memories will never die.

Belfast Telegraph

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