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Daily honours patch’s ‘greatest son’ after death at 82

A regional daily has paid tribute to a former international footballer and journalist at the newspaper – describing him as its patch’s “greatest son”.

The Gazette, Blackpool, marked the death of Jimmy Armfield with eight pages of coverage and a special 16-page tribute supplement yesterday.

Jimmy, who died on Monday aged 82, played around 600 games for Blackpool FC and won 43 caps for England, before a career in management which saw him lead Leeds United to the 1975 European Cup Final.

He also spent nine years at The Gazette, writing about sport on a part-time basis, and became a well-known broadcaster and commentator nationally.

The front page of yesterday's Gazette

The front page of yesterday’s Gazette

Deputy editor Andy Sykes told HTFP: “Jimmy Armfield is Blackpool’s greatest son and he meant more to the town than simply being its most famous footballer. He never moved out of Blackpool and spoke with great warmth about his adopted town.

“The outpouring of grief and array of tributes were wonderful to read and it just showed how loved and revered he was not only by Blackpool fans but also football fans across the world. Our task was to provide a fitting tribute to Jimmy, chronicling the life and times of a man who excelled in football, the world of broadcasting and in his community.

“One of the best quotes I read was ‘Jimmy was a nice cup of tea in a world of Blue WKDs’ when discussing his skills as a commentator. He spoke with an authority and poise few possess and Blackpool will never forget him.”

Jimmy moved from the Manchester area to Blackpool as a child, and lived in the town for the rest of his life.

Andy added: “We spoke long and hard about the front page design – it depicts three elements that are ingrained in Blackpool’s DNA – the Tower, the sands and Jimmy himself and it has been warmly received by our readers.

“I am immensely proud of everyone who worked on producing yesterday’s coverage, with special mention to football reporter Matt Scrafton and sports editor Andy Moore who did a remarkable job.”

In 2015, The Gazette marked Jimmy’s 80th birthday by commissioning a special cake, in the shape and colour of a Blackpool FC shirt, to be presented to him.

Former editors of the newspaper have also paid tribute.

Jon Rhodes, who edited The Gazette from 2012 to 2015, posted on Twitter: “I am truly devastated to learn of Jimmy’s passing. A true gentleman whose greatness transcends the sport he graced with such honour and dignity. A true hero to all Seasiders fans and everyone who ever had the pleasure to be in his company.”

And David Helliwell, who edited the paper from 2003 to 2011, added: “Very sorry to hear about Jimmy Armfield passing. As many will say, he was a lovely man. Very generous with his time when I was at The Gazette to talk football and newspapers. Thoughts with his family.”

The cover of The Gazette's tribute supplement

The cover of The Gazette’s tribute supplement

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  • January 25, 2018 at 9:45 am

    Great cover shot of Armfield training on beach. Great player. No wonder top clubs like Man United were chasing him but he was an example of loyalty, sadly too rare in today’s money-chasers.

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