Jimmy Kiervan, me Mam’s youngest brother came into my life when me Dad died. I was only 9 years old so he was a big influence in my life. I used to spend a lot of time at his house and lived with him at times.
Jimmy was a great footballer and was on Liverpool’s and Blackburn Rovers books but when the 2WW started he joined Montgomery’s 8th Army in North Africa where he spent the whole war.
At the end of the war, Jimmy didn’t go back into professional football, I think the war took its toll but he did play local football in his hometown of North Shields. He played for the local Catholic club team. We used to go to the matches together. I would carry his boots and we would walk down to Smiths Park where the games were played. I used to carry out the kit bag containing all the practice balls. After the match we would walk back up home and I would clean his boots.
Jimmy was single for most of his life but he did get married when he was in his 60’s. I’ll mention this again a little later.
At the age of 16 I left home and joined the Army, but always visited Jimmy when I came home on leave. Jimmy was a character and well known in the town, especially with the local bobbies.
This brings me to a story I would like to tell you about the time I was home on leave. It was Xmas Eve 1968 I was 18 years old and I had been out the lads for a drink. I got home at about 11pm and Jimmy was there at me Mam’s house and he into the Newcastle Brown Ale by this time. He had been at the Club most of the night so by the time he was due to go home me Mam says to him ‘you are not driving home in that state’ She then says to me ‘James - drive him home’…. Well I only had a provisional licence, had had 2 driving lessons about a year earlier, no insurance. Well anyway we go out to the car, Jimmy get in the passenger seat and I get in the driver seat and proceed to drive him home. I was a little scared as we had to drive past the local police station but eventually I got Jimmy home safe. We get out the car, I lock it up and gave Jimmy the keys and said goodnight. He then said how are you getting home. I told him I would walk. He said NO your not, get in the car. I got in the passenger and he got in the drivers side and he drove me back home, then drove himself home…. That’s the sort of man he was.
I came out of the army in Nov 1976 at the age of 27, still single and moved back up north and lived me Mam, step Dad and my younger Sister. Me Mam had re-married some 2 years previously. I spent 5 months at home where I saw quite a bit of Jimmy, mainly in the Pub, but with very few job opportunities at home I moved to London on Cup Final day 1977.
Didn’t see much of Jimmy after that time but one weekend I took my girlfriend up home to meet the folks. This was the first time that this girl from Surbiton in Surrey had been to the North East and as she was having problems understanding my accent she was in for an eye opener meeting my family and Uncle Jimmy.
During the family party Jimmy came up to me and said to me “Do you Luv a”…. “Do you Luv a”….. and that’s all he kept saying all night.. “Do you luv a”…
As I mentioned earlier Jimmy married when he was in his 60’s. He married a widow called Elsie who had a grown up family with the kids in the 40’s but for some reason our families didn’t get on. When asking Jimmy about his new wife, all he kept saying was “I luv a’…… “I luv a”……
Jimmy and Elsie came to my Wedding in 1979 in Kingston upon Thames and we had our wedding breakfast in the local Chinese restaurant and at the end of the meal Jimmy jumped up from the table and shouted “last one out pays the Bill”… everyone was in uproar….
By the mid 80’s I had left London and was working for GCHQ, had 2 young daughters and living in North Cornwall, so I never saw much of Jimmy after that as me mam and younger sister would come and visit us in Cornwall. In August 1989 I was transferred to Hong Kong for a 3 year tour (which in fact turned out to be 5 years in the end), but 4 months after arriving in Hong Kong I had a phone call from my sister telling me that Uncle Jimmy had died suddenly.
Sadly I couldn’t make it back for his funeral and pay my final respects and say good-bye to UNCLE JIMMY, which is my one regret. But I know he is up there still looking down on me….. and tell you what JIMMY…… “ I LUV YA”…..