Jimmy McMillan’s funeral was held at Kibblesworth Methodist Church this morning. “Probably the finest player ever to wear a Crook Town shirt,” said the minister, and none in the crowded chapel would disagree.
A splendidly produced order of service booklet told the story of the man who never left Kibblesworth and who was a stalwart of the church. Jimmy, goodness knows, had even signed the pledge as a youngster, though it’s said that he made a mean drop of ginger wine.
Chiefly, of course, he is remembered as the only man ever to play in four FA Amateur Cup winning sides – Crook Town between 1954-64.
Ray Snowball, goalkeeper in three of those finals, was among the mourners – 85 and still golfing – as were Alan Brown, who played in the last two, and Danny McCourt, right back in the 1964 victory.
Alan Brown’s also affectionately remembered at Shildon, where always he was “little” Alan to differentiate him from a team mate of the same name (who, of course, was “big.”)
Jim was also president of the Durham Amateur Football Trust, well represented at the funeral.
The order of service told of a man whose behaviour was exemplary both on and off the field, a player never so much as booked throughout a long career, a fixture in the village cricket team and a senior planning officer with Durham City Council.
“Quite simply,” it concluded, “there’ll never be another like Jim.”
*Kibblesworth’s a pleasant former pit village a few miles north of the road from Chester-le-Street to Stanley. It should on no account be confused with Kimblesworth, a few miles south-east, though no doubt often has been.
There’s a pub, a workmen’s – where the wake was held – a school (which, of course, is now an academy) and an hourly evening bus to Whitley Bay bandstand, should Kibblesworth folk ever fancy a blow.
We approached it through Perkinsville. Perhaps one of the Chester-le-Street lads, the learned Lenny Lauchlan maybe, can tell us who Perkins was. And is there anywhere else in the North-East – save, of course, for Washington – named after someone with roots thereabouts?