The former pit lad who become one of Britain’s top footballers

Jimmy Seed, front row centre, while manager of Charlton Athletic in the 1930s.
Jimmy Seed, front row centre, while manager of Charlton Athletic in the 1930s.

He enjoyed a successful career as a player and manager with some of England’s best known professional soccer sides – not bad for an ex-Whitburn pit lad.

But what happened to the film that was made 40 years ago about Jimmy Seed, who ended his days as a director of Millwall after five decades in the game?

A reader’s query turns out to have been slightly ‘off side’ when she asked for details of a film she recalled being made in the mid-1970s, about a South Shields-born footballer who had played for Sunderland.

Certain scenes featured pupils of Baring Street School, but who was the player, she wondered?

Well there were subsequent suggestions that it may have been Shields-born Warney Cresswell, who went by the nickname The Prince of Full-backs.

But after some digging, I am pretty sure the film she is thinking of was about Seed, who was signed by Sunderland just before the outbreak of the First World War.

But he wasn’t born in Shields. He came originally from Blackhill, near Consett, but moved with his family, while he was still a child, to Whitburn. where he went down the pit after leaving school.

The film, a TV documentary, was made (though I’ve not been able to establish by whom) in 1976, and was called Ho’way The Lads.

An 11-year-old boy, Richard Hobson, who lived in Beach Road, was chosen to play, I think, the role of the young Jimmy, but I don’t at the moment have all the details to hand.

Jimmy - and his brother, Angus - played for Whitburn FC in the Wearside League.

Jimmy did try for South Shields, but it was Sunderland that gave him his chance. He played for the reserves during the 1914-1915 season, but then joined up with the West Yorkshire Regiment, with which he served in France, where he was gassed. Thinking him unfit, Sunderland gave him a free transfer.

But he was to prove them wrong. Seed subsequently played for the Welsh side Mid Rhondda, before going on to join Tottenham Hotspur, who went on to win the FA Cup in the 1920-21 season.

He was also capped five times for England in the 1920s.

From Spurs, he joined Sheffield Wednesday, but after damaging his knee in a match against Newcastle, he changed to management, first of Clapton Orient and then Charlton Athletic.

He finally moved to Millwall in 1958.

He died in Farnborough, London, in 1966, aged 71.