Top 5 wingers in England: Terry Ainsworth's 5th choice

Jimmy Dimmock was the best player on the planet.  I saw him at Ewood Park in about 1924 when Rovers beat Spurs 3-1 in an FA Cup replay and that little chap tormented the life out of Blackburn’s defence as well as scoring a goal”.  Those were the words of my grandfather, Jimmy Ainsworth, in about 1948.  His eyes lit up when he talked about Jimmy Dimmock, the way people’s eyes light up when they talk about Tom Finney, Dixie Dean or Tommy Lawton.

Years later in 1952 Charlie Buchan in his “Football Monthly” likened Billy Liddell to Jimmy Dimmock saying, “he smacks the ball like Jimmy Dimmock did”.  Charlie Buchan, as well as being a wonderful footballer, was also a shrewd judge of footballing ability and he would have come across Jimmy Dimmock frequently.  In fact, when Charlie was transferred from Sunderland to Arsenal in 1925 he made his debut against Tottenham at Highbury on the 29th August.  Spurs won the game 1-0 and of course who scored for Tottenham but Jimmy Dimmock, the wizard on the wing.

Jimmy Dimmock was one of the finest players ever to play for Tottenham.  Born in Edmonton, North London on December 5th, 1900 he made his debut on October 4th, 1919 in a 1-1 draw with Lincoln City.  A month later he was playing so well he made the outside left berth his own for the next 12 years.  Jimmy didn’t receive a lot of coaching, but he was a natural winger.  He got the ball, took it up to the full back and turned him inside out before delivering inch perfect crosses to Bert Bliss or centre forward Jimmy Cantrell.  In season 1919-20 Spurs lost only four games on their way to the Second Division title and although they found the First Division more difficult the step up was no problem for Dimmock.  He flourished against the best players in the country and on April 9th, 1921 he lined up alongside teammates Bert Bliss and Arthur Grimsdell for England against Scotland.  Two weeks later, on a rain-sodden Stamford Bridge, he tore through the Wolves defence to score with a scorching left foot drive from the edge of the area to win the FA Cup for Tottenham, 20 years after their previous victory in 1901.  Still only 20, Jimmy Dimmock was a star.  Jimmy was a natural genius, stylish and elegant and blessed with every attribute a winger needed: speed, vision, two good feet and mesmeric dribbling skills.  His balance was perfect.  He could stop dead in his tracks, feint to go one way and then move the other as his marker tackled empty space.  The fans adored him and although Spurs finished in 6th place in 1920-21 and a lofty 2nd place in 1921-22 they became essentially a mid-table team and succumbed to relegation in 1927-28

He holds a unique place in the history of Tottenham Hotspur by being the only player in the club's history to play 400 league games and score 100 league goals. He also remains (at 20 years 139 days) the youngest Tottenham player to appear in an FA Cup Final.  When he was released by Spurs in 1931 he had scored 100 goals in 400 league games, and 12 in 38 FA Cup matches.

In Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly magazine in 1951 the following tribute was paid to Jimmy under the heading “Jimmy Dimmock’s dream goal, Memory Lane

Embed from Getty Images

FA Cup winners 1921

Back Row (L-R): W Minter (trainer), T Clay, B Smith, A Hunter, C Walters, F McDonald

Front Row (L-R): J Banks, J Seed, A Grimsdell, J Cantrell, H Bliss, J Dimmock

The final word comes in 1954 from John Thompson who wrote for many years in Charlie Buchan’s Football Monthly.  “In the first Cup Final I ever saw Jimmy Dimmock scored the winning goal for Tottenham Hotspur against Wolverhampton Wanderers in a rain-storm at Stamford Bridge.  As regular readers of my column may know, Dimmock has never lost the stardust he gained in the eyes of a small boy on that wet and muddy afternoon in 1921.  As far as I am concerned there will never be another winger like Jimmy Dimmock and I am just as absurdly biased about this as you are about the players you saw when you were very young.

© Soccer Nostalgia 2017

Design: David Ainsworth