Jimmy Mc Morran was born on October 29th, 1942 at Muirkirk and was good enough in his school days to be selected for Scotland schoolboys on two occasions, against England at Ibrox in 1957 - where he was up against Terry Venables - and against Northern Ireland at Belfast. It didn't take long for big clubs to sit up and take notice.
" I was training with Kilmarnock and I had a chance to join Everton. My dad and I went down to Goodison Park to have a look around and speak to them but I settled on Aston Villa. Eric Houghton was their manager at that time and I eventually signed full professional terms ( in October 1959 ) for Joe Mercer. He was a good man - until you got on the wrong side of him!"
Eventually first team football came his way. " My debut came at Bolton one Easter time (3/4/1961). That was on the Good Friday and we played them again the following day. Those were the days when you would have such reverse fixtures in successive days. (Villa lost 0-3 away then next day won 4-0). I scored my first goal for Villa in a 2-1 win against Blackpool. I scored the first and Jimmy MacEwan, who later linked up with me at Walsall, scored the other."
"My team mates at Villa Park included George Graham and Mike Kenning, who later sent Walsall down on their last game of the 1962-3 season against Charlton whom he then played for. I was at that game. I didn't see eye to eye with Joe Mercer. I was young and had my say so I got myself a club and headed back to Scotland.."
That was for Third Lanark, who eventually went out of business in 1967. He scored 8 goals in 41 games for them and spoke of his time there. " We beat the mighty Celtic 2-1 in the Glasgow Cup Final at Hampden Park (8.4.1963 ) at a time when they were geared up for the success they were about to have and I once scored all four goals in a 4-1 win against St Mirren."
Then came a move back to the West Midlands, to Walsall, around the time when Bill Harrison had taken over the club, In November, 1964. Ray Shaw, who had only been in the Fellows Park hot seat for a month, snapped him up for a reported fee of £6,000. "Ray remembered me from my Villa days and his trainer was Arthur Cox who trained us hard but our fitness was always good. "
Jimmy made his Walsall debut a 1-2 defeat at Oldham just after he signed and in his second game starred in a 4-3 win over Brentford. He soon settled in to his new surroundings and only missed one game for the rest of that season stacking up 26 appearances and scoring the only goal of the game at Bristol Rovers.
1965-6 saw Jimmy have another steady season and starred in that much talked about Football League Cup tie at The Hawthorns in the September. "We played really well that night, we could have won it." Then he had the misfortune to sustain a bad injury at Stoke in the FA Cup 3rd Round clash, something that caught up with him in later life. "Roy Vernon did me good and proper. I was hobbling around in a lot of pain, mind you , a half bottle of whiskey in the dressing room after that victory helped to numb the pain for a while!"
Jimmy completed 31 games that season and a further 25 more in 1966-7. He played in the West Ham FL Cup tie in September 1967, up against world cup winners Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters and Bobby Moore and was in and out of the team that stormed to the top of Division Three and stayed there for several months. However after 94 games and 9 goals he departed for Swansea in the summer of 1968. He was signed by Billy Lucas, however after 14 games he re joined Walsall in the November in a swap deal that took Alfie Biggs to the Vetch.
Two months later he played his part in that FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur and observed, "We could have won that one. Dave Wilson missed two or three easy chances whilst we were attacking the Laundry End. They were easier to score than miss. Terry Venables came into our dressing room after the game to offer his commiserations and told me I'd ran the show. " By the end of that season, after playing in 120 games and scoring 10 goals in our colours it was time to move on again.
Jimmy was sold to Notts County where he made 6 appearances for the Meadow Lane club, before a blast from the past got in touch. "My old Walsall team mate George Kirby contacted me about a switch to Halifax Town. He and Alan Ball senior were the management team and I signed for them. Things didn't work out too well for me and that was a cold experience. I was never so cold in all my life as being in Halifax. They say Scotland is always cold, this was colder. I think I slept in my sheepskin coat every night!"
On leaving The Shay there were spells with several non-league clubs. Worcester City was his first port of call where he linked up with another ex -Villa team mate, Gerry Hitchens. He then moved on to Hednesford Town, Rushall Olympic, Blakenall and Redditch United. He remembers one particular goals haul for them. " In one game I scored a hat trick of penalties. We must have had some good divers in our team! "
Then there was a a big change of direction in his career. "In 1974 I emigrated To Australia to play for a team in Melbourne. Football was really taking off at that time after the Socceroos World Cup qualification for the finals for their first time ever and there was lots of live games on television there." He retired as a player in 1977 and came back home here. He then had a long spell in management with one local non-league club.
"Rhys Davies took me to game at Nuneaton who were playing Darlaston. Afterwards he asked me if I fancied a crack at management. I assumed he meant Nuneaton. No it was Darlaston! I had a long spell in charge there, enjoyed it and we won a few trophies. We also had a good fan base for that level."
Away from football, one of Jimmy's other passions is golf. When asked if he still plays the game these days he replied, "I did until I had a recent knee replacement. I'm waiting for the other one to be done sometime. Asked about some of the best players we had during his time at Fellows Park he answered, " Allan Clarke, obviously, he was a terrific player. Big George Kirby and Gerry Summers all spring to mind." Asked who was the most difficult he played against he quipped, " Nobody in particular. I could look after myself and I wasn't frightened of anybody. If someone kicked me I'd kick them harder! It got the better of me one time though, I was sent off at Leyton Orient."
Jimmy was such a class act. A really skilful industrious player who could spray the ball around. He's another who has recently attended an ISSA fundraising evening and is another welcome visitor to the Railway Club pre-match. He was told there would be another half bottle of whiskey waiting there for him if he did!
'Jimmy Mac' speaking at a recent ISSA charity fundraiser at Bentley Moor Club.