Crusaders FC are saddened to learn of the death of one of our legendary players, Jimmy Shields, in the early hours of 9th January 2019. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.
Jimmy had most recently returned to Seaview as our guest at the home fixture against Glentoran on Saturday 13th October 2018 and was introduced to the home support, a trip that he and his family treasured..
A Londonderry native, Jimmy sent has latter years in Gateshead in the north of England. He started out his career with the Londonderry Boys' Club 'A' Football Team where he was team captain in 1948 and 1949, when they won the Minor Cup and were runners-up in the Minor League. The five-feet eight-inch footballer played centre-forward. Shields was born in Londonderry and was a Northern Ireland youth international. He started his professional career in Belfast with Crusaders and was part of the Crusaders side which claimed their first senior honour, the 1953 Ulster Cup. Jimmy is pictured, front row, 2nd from right. He was rewarded with an inter-league appearance (in a 5–0 defeat by the Football League at Windsor Park in September 1953) and an Amateur cap, when he scored in a 3–2 win over Wales in January 1954. He moved to England in March 1954 when was signed by Sunderland for £10,000 – an enormous sum in those days (worth around £266,000 today) – money which allowed the Crusaders to build the South Side “Shed” terrace stand.
Jimmy moved, in July 1956 to the south coast to join Southampton for a fee of 1,000 which was funded by the Saints Supporters Club. He was the first signing of 'Saints' newly appointed manager Ted Bates, having set the deal up on his way to Scotland for a holiday. Described by Holley and Chalk as a "strong, forceful forward" he was selected for the Northern Ireland team for a match against Scotland on November 7, 1956. He scored on his 'Saints' debut on August 18, 1956, and scored eleven goals in the opening 12 matches. The goals then dried up somewhat, until a flurry of four in the final four matches. Over the season he was almost a match for fellow striker Derek Reeves scoring a total of 18 league goals as Saints narrowly missed out on promotion from Football League Third Division South. A broken leg suffered in a reserve match in September 1957 resulted in Shields missing the entire 1957–58 season.
He played just three times in 1958–59 before leaving Southampton for Headington (now Oxford) United of the Southern League in March 1959. In 1961 he returned to the north east where he played for South Shields whilst resuming his original career as a joiner.
Jimmy's memories of his early days are very clear: "It all started with the Londonderry Boys' Club and I would say we had one of the best teams in the city. In fact Jim Mitchell, Jim Young and myself were all picked for Northern Ireland Youth Team and we shared the Championship with England.” The next chapter in his footballing career was with Linfield, then Coleraine, but it was with Crusaders that he made his name. “I helped them to win their first senior trophy, the Ulster Cup, and then I was transferred to Sunderland for £10,000, which at the time was a lot of money," he recalled, adding: "I did not do as well as I should have and then I was transferred to Southampton, when I started to play well and got a lot of goals. In the 1956-57 season I got my one and only international cap against Scotland and in that season I got my left leg broken. I was out for the rest of the season. After that I moved to Headington Utd, which today is called Oxford Utd, and then I moved back to the north east of England and played for South Shields in the North Eastern League. So, time was getting short for me and I had to call it a day and finished football for good," he said.
Jimmy is pictured with Chairman Ronnie Millar in 2018