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Linnets Legends - Jim Cumbes

Jimmy Cumbes was probably the best goalkeeper Runcorn ever had. He played for us for a spell from 1964 -1965 and returned for a short period to help out in 1977. I say “probably” because Runcorn have had many good goalkeepers over the years but none of them emulated the career of Jim.

Derek Greenwood was in contact with him just over a year ago when he kindly offered to donate a cricket bat to help us raise funds for the club. He is, of course, nowadays the Chief Executive at Old Trafford for Lancashire CC where he once played as a medium pace bowler. Jim was one of those rare breed of sportsmen who played two sports at the highest level, football for Aston Villa and cricket for Lancashire in his prime.

In a letter he sent to Derek Greenwood, he thanked him for a copy of a programme he had sent to him. This was the Cheshire Senior Cup Final against Tranmere Rovers in 1965. Jim recalled “It is a match I will actually never forget as it was probably my best match for Runcorn in a 0 – 0 draw (we went on to win the replay 3 – 2). It was this game, I felt, that eventually got me transferred to Tranmere Rovers at the beginning of the next season and, of course, led to my career progressing onwards to West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa”. Jim recalled his time at Runcorn with affection and mentioned players such as Alan King and Eddie Moss (who is an occasional visitor to Old Trafford cricket ground as he is the uncle of one of the players). I should be grateful if anybody knows which player?

Jim also recalled two “great characters” of the time in Jack Boothway and Freddie Pye, the then Altrincham manager, who now lives in Spain.

Jim was born in East Didsbury in Manchester in May 1944. He played for just one season at Runcorn taking over for a period from the legendary Brian Pendlebury who will be featured in a later article. He played for Tranmere from 1965-69 and then spent 3 years at WBA (£33,500) before being transferred to Aston Villa in 1971, (£35,000) where he stayed until 1976, helping them to get back into the First Division and win the League Cup. He played 182 times for the Villa and kept 69 clean sheets. He then spent a time in the USA with Portland Timbers before rejoining Coventry. He came back to Runcorn to help out for a brief spell in 1977 and ended his career at Kidderminster in 1982 having spent 3 years at Worcester City, also playing cricket for that county and winning the Gillette Cup and County Championship. Jim was indeed a gifted sportsman and deserves to be one of our Linnets Legends.

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