A well known face in Wansbeck who dedicated a lifetime in local voluntary community sports has been forced to retire due to health reasons.
Stakeford-born Jim Nichol has given 55 years of service to football, but at the age of 78 he is stepping down.
“From 1949 to 1953 I played for Guide Post School football team and was selected for East Northumberland District trials at inside left against the great Bobby Charlton,” he said.
Jim played under-18 football for Bedlington Juniors and also senior soccer for Choppington Welfare, where he broke his ankle.
He began working for North Seaton Whippet Club and started his own football team at under-14 level.
“There was a serious need for organised sport in Ashington as young boys were only playing back street football,” said Jim.
In 1974, he started the Ashington Premier Juniors FC and continued running teams for 23 years, winning 25 trophies.
In 1990, he took up Junior Pro Club scouting with Coventry City before linking up with Leicester City, Newcastle United, Carlisle United, Notts County and Blackpool – a role which spanned 26 years.
“I had many, many players signed,” he said, “but the two that got away at the age of 14 were Darren Fletcher (Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion) and Andros Townsend (Tottenham and Newcastle United), both of whom went on to become internationals with Scotland and England respectively.
“I’ve made countless friends in the game and of the hundreds of players who played for me, there wasn’t one bad one amongst them.
“My advice to all our local future stars and tryers in simple, play football and make friends for life.”