For the benefit of our many overseas supporters, here is the interview with Jim Reid which appeared in last Saturday's Look at Linfield. The article was completed by Roy McGivern.
This week’s former player interview features another of Linfield’s seven trophy heroes from the memorable 1961/62 season. Jim Reid was an integral member of that immortal team which wrote itself into the history books almost fifty years ago. He made 44 appearances that season, scoring a vital 31 goals including two in the league play-off game against Portadown.
Reid joined Linfield in 1959 and it was a famous name from the club’s past who was instrumental in bringing him to Windsor Park. Jim explains “It was Joe Bambrick who signed me for Linfield. I was working as a lab technician in the City Hospital along with his nephew. I was 18 at the time and had played for Islandmagee and Lower Shankill Boys Club. After playing for the Swifts I made my first team debut in December 1959 against Derry City at Windsor Park. The game ended scoreless but I remember their goalkeeper making a great save from me during the game.”
Linfield entered the 1961/62 season under coach Isaac McDowell and, having lost legendary striker Jackie Milburn, hopes were not high of a successful season. Jim Reid and his playing colleagues were up for the challenge ahead though and what a remarkable season it turned out to be. Whilst he was not an automatic choice in the starting line-up, Reid was always ready to play his part when the call came. He explains “We had a rotational system and if anyone got injured there was always someone to come in. If Tommy Stewart was out then Fergie would move to the right wing with Hubert Barr at inside right. 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. “
Reid played in all three cup final wins against East Belfast rivals Glentoran in the 61/62 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 North South Cup Final. He also appeared in seven out of eleven games in the City Cup which was played in a league format, Linfield losing only one game to top the table. The game he remembers most from that season though was the league play-off against Portadown at Solitude when he scored twice in a memorable 3-1 win. He recalls “Wilbur Cush gave away a penalty after about 15 minutes but Hubert Barr missed it. As we neared half time we got a corner and Fergie took it. I scored with a powerful header and the Portadown goalkeeper, a short-term signing from Dunfermline, said to me on the way off at half time that he never expected to be beaten by a header from so far out. I scored a second after the ball rebounded off the crossbar and Bobby Braithwaite got the other goal. Every one of us was carried off the pitch by the Linfield supporters at the end of the game.”
Reid remained at Linfield until 1964 and has vivid memories of some big games in Europe. He recalls “My first match in Europe was against Vorwaerts from East Germany. We lost the first leg 3-0 in Berlin and unfortunately the Germans were not permitted to travel to the UK for the return leg and we forfeited the tie. They played Rangers in the next round and were able to travel to a neutral country to play the away game. We also played Esjberg from Denmark in the European Cup and lost 2-1 over the two legs.”
The Linfield side from that era contained many gifted players but Reid has no doubt about the one player who stood out from all the rest. “Tommy Dickson was the best player never to leave Northern Ireland. 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”
After making a total of 94 appearances for Linfield and scoring an impressive 68 goals, Reid moved to Distillery in 1964 but his career was to be cruelly cut short at a young age due to illness. He explains “I moved to the Whites but had contacted TB and the consultant advised me not to continue full time training. I was only 23 but had previously played rugby at school and went on to play at senior level for Academy. I played against the likes of Willie John McBride and really enjoyed it.“
Reid had no further involvement in football but did watch his son Gavin play a few games for Linfield Swifts. He still enjoys a few rounds of golf and meets up occasionally with some of his playing colleagues from those glory days in the early 1960’s. “I used to attend the annual Jumna Street ex-players function which David Crawford organised. I also went to the club’s 125th Anniversary Dinner at the City Hall in May. There aren’t many of us left but it is great to meet up with them all again. I loved playing for Linfield and always played for the shirt. The supporters were like a 12th man on the field and really lifted you.”