Thursday 19 January 2017

'I crashed team bus into the late Jimmy Hill's office' - former Irish youth international

Alan O'Keeffe

Published 02/01/2016 | 11:05

Former Coventry player Rory Linnie (66), holding a photograph of him with his Coventry teammates. Photo: Damien Eagers
Former Coventry player Rory Linnie (66), holding a photograph of him with his Coventry teammates. Photo: Damien Eagers

Rory Linnie will never forget the day he reversed a bus through the office wall of the late Jimmy Hill.

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As tributes continue to pour in for the late English football broadcaster, Dubliner Rory paid his own tribute by recalling Hill's generosity.

"I'll never forget Jimmy Hill - he was very kind to me," said Rory.

Rory was just 15 when he was signed up by Hill as a football apprentice for Coventry City FC in 1964. Hill was the highly-successful manager of the club.

Under his leadership, the club rose from the Third Division to the First Division, now known as the Premier League.

When Rory (66) joined Coventry, the club moved from the Third Division to the Second.

The late Jimmy Hill, who has died at the age of 87 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease
The late Jimmy Hill, who has died at the age of 87 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease

"I remember one day I saw the club's big bus in the club car park and I decided I'd try to drive it," he said.

"But the bus went into reverse and crashed into Jimmy Hill's office. Jimmy was inside his office and there was a lot of damage. I thought I'd be sacked.

"Jimmy couldn't believe it. He was very annoyed and told me he was going to stop my salary over three years to pay for the damage.

"But, by the next day, he had calmed down. Being such a generous man, he let me off," he added.

Hill died on December 19, aged 87. He presented BBC television's Match of the Day from 1973 and racked up over 600 appearances on the show.

Rory grew up in the Maryland Estate, off Cork Street, in Dublin and played for John Bosco's club. In 1964, he received the award for being Ireland's Schoolboy Footballer of the Year.

He played midfield for Ireland's under-15 international team.

The young Dubliner progressed successfully at Coventry, but suffered a devastating knee injury.

Although he continued to play, and appeared for the club's second team, his knee never fully recovered and he ended up returning to Ireland at the age of 18.

Laugh

He signed for leading League of Ireland team St Patrick's and later joined CYM in Terenure. He still works in the packaging business he set up and is now a grandfather living in Templeogue.

"People get a good laugh out of my bus story.

"Jimmy was a really nice man," he said.

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