Former Football League linesman Jim Hill has retired from his post as welfare officer at Suffolk FA after a lifelong involvement in the game.
Hill, who celebrated his 69th birthday last Thursday, has been a referee since 1963, but has only worked full-time in football since 2000, when he was appointed as a football development officer at Cambridgeshire FA.
Three years later he took on the role of the county’s first football development manager, a post he held until 2012.
Hill, who moved to Suffolk FA in February 2012 as part-time county welfare officer, was a Football League linesman throughout the 1980s prior to the start of the FA Premier League in 1992-93.
In those days officials worked within a 100-mile radius of where they lived, so he officiated at Ipswich Town, Norwich City and London clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United.
He was twice involved in internationals — the first occasion coming when he was a linesman for a friendly between England and Eire (the Republic of Ireland) at Wembley in 1987.
He said: “I am probably the only English linesman, certainly in the modern era, to have run the line in an England international. The referee was Scottish and the other linesman was an English referee.”
He was also a linesman when Germany faced Denmark in a friendly in Gelsenkirchen in 1990 prior to winning the World Cup in Italy that summer.
Hill, who was an active referee until two years ago and now works as an assessor, was presented with an FA 50-Year Long Service Award and also a Referees’ Association 50-Year Award last year.
He said: “I have enjoyed working at Suffolk FA tremendously with the clubs and leagues.
“I think one of the biggest issues we have got at the moment is that there are a number of people with special needs playing in mainstream football, and I believe it is really important that we integrate them and give them opportunities to play.
“We have some great volunteers in the game that enable football to continue and without them the game would not happen. The time and commitment they give is tremendous.”
Hill, who lives in Cambridgeshire, plans to stay involved with the grassroots game in a number of different roles.
Suffolk FA chief executive Laura Smith said: “Jim has been an outstanding servant to the grassroots game.
“He has been a very popular member of staff and we shall miss his presence in the office. We wish him well in his retirement.”
n As part of their year-long consultation on a new business plan, Suffolk FA has appointed two new full-time members of staff; Darryn Marsh as the new football services officer (regulation and welfare) and James Morley as county support officer.
A reshuffle of roles means Michael Cornall will take on a new position of senior football development officer, Gary Pinyoun youth to adult transition officer and Phil Woolnough the mini soccer and youth football development officer.