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Jimmy Kerr

Goalkeeper for Hibernian during the club's golden age Although I was just too young to see Jimmy Kerr play for Hibs in the flesh I came to know this proud native of East Lothian thanks to meeting him socially at former Hibs inside-forward Tommy Preston's 65th birthday bash at Easter Road Stadium in November 1997, and, more recently, in September 2000, at the special dinner held in honour of the Hibs team who won the Scottish League championship three times between 1948 and 1952. Although by the time of that memorable September occasion Jimmy Kerr clearly showed signs of the illness that was ravaging his once sturdy and muscular frame, he was typically the essence of bonhomie, particularly when he was reunited outside the stadium with Renfrew-based Alex Linwood who had starred as centre-forward in the 1947-48 championship side of which Jimmy Kerr was the defensive lynchpin. Again, listening to Jimmy Kerr good-humouredly joshing former Hibs full-back Willie Clark about his efforts in February 1950 between the goalposts as a substitute goalie (a game won by Hibs thanks to a hat trick of penalties by future Hibs manager Eddie Turnbull) one would never have thought that Jimmy Kerr had been battling against a debilitating illness. But then whether between the goalposts for Hibs, in business, or on the golf course at Longniddry, the Ormiston-born Kerr was a ''bonny fechter''. After playing for Ormiston juveniles and Ormiston Primrose Junior sides, Kerr celebrated his seventeenth birthday by signing with Hibs, although he continued his trade as a plumber as a hedge against the notorious uncertainties of professional football. The outbreak of the Second World War saw Kerr star in the Hibs team that won the then highly regarded Summer Cup by beating Rangers 3-2 at Hampden in 1941, and it was this period that, despite being only 5ft 11ins tall, Kerr established his reputation for bravery and safe-handling, allied, according to his old team mate Alex Linwood, ''with a heart as big as a lion''. Yet it was Jimmy Kerr's inherent bravery and toughness that led to what he considered himself to be one of his finest hours in a Hibs jersey, albeit in two roles - goalie and outfield player. The situation arose thanks to the vagaries of 1940s soccer which proscribed substitutes being used during the course of a game after player injuries. Hibs were drawn against Aberdeen (who had beaten a Hibs side including Jimmy Kerr in the 1947 Cup Final at Hampden a year previously) in the third round of the Scottish Cup. After Hibs winger Willie Ormond was carted off with a broken leg, Jimmy Kerr fractured his hand when he attempted to punch a cross off Dons' forward Stan William's head but caught the Aberdeen player's skull instead with his fist. Rather than let his team mates play on with only nine men, Kerr typically took up an outfield position, despite feeling constant pain. Yet his gallantry was rewarded by the 4-2 scoreline achieved by the crocked Hibs side. Kerr's career was not without irony. Because of Jimmy's peerless form during the championship season of 1947-48, Easter Road goalkeeping understudy George Farm left Easter Road for Blackpool FC - where Farm won the FA Cup winners' medal, the Scottish equivalent of which evaded Jimmy Kerr in his only post-war cup final appearance in 1947. Similarly, understudy Farm received five full caps for his country at Blackpool while Kerr was kept out of the Scottish side by the likes of Rangers' Bobby Brown and Celtic's Willie Miller. After his retirement from football, Kerr became a partner with fellow East Lothian native and Hibs stalwart Tom Hart in the latter's building firm. Jimmy Kerr will be genuinely mourned by his wife Phemia and his sons Robert and Archie.

JImmy Kerr, footballer and company director; born 1919, died May 27, 2001

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