FORMER Sunderland manager Jimmy Adamson, who died yesterday aged 82, should be remembered as the manager who gave youth a chance during his time in charge at Roker Park.
That’s the view of Sunderland legend Gary Rowell, who was one of the chief beneficiaries of the Northumbrian’s youth policy during his time at the
helm from November 1976 to October 1978.
Adamson succeeded Bob Stokoe after the brief caretakership of Ian McFarlane and made the worst start of any Sunderland manager up to that point.
He lost his first seven games without a goal being scored, at which point he decided to revolutionise the side by blooding youngsters Gary Rowell, Shaun Elliott and Kevin Arnott, as well as making the shrewd signings of Colin Waldron and Mick Docherty.
The changes transformed Sunderland’s season and they played some inspiring stuff, even though they were unable to avoid relegation on the last day of the season.
Rowell told the Echo: “Jimmy inherited a squad he wasn’t happy with and looked to make the changes he felt necessary.
“It was a difficult time, a time of transition.
“But I’ll always be grateful to him for giving me a chance and I think his lasting legacy at the club was launching the careers of several young lads.
“I made my debut under Bob Stokoe, but it was Jimmy who made me a regular in the side.
“In many ways, playing under him was the most enjoyable time of my career and I’m deeply saddened to hear of his passing.
“He was a gentleman and I never heard him swear – you can imagine how rare that is in football.”
Outside of Wearside, Adamson will always be remembered for his service to Burnley.
The Ashington-born wing-half was a one-club man, making 486 appearances for the Lancashire club during the 1950s and into the 60s.
He was captain and an ever-present in the great Burnley side which won the league title in 1960. And two years later, when Burnley lost the FA Cup final to Tottenham, he had the personal consolation of being named Footballer of the Year at the age of 33 – the only Clarets player ever to win the award.
The same year, he was included in the England squad where he was employed as assistant to England manager Walter Winterbottom.
Remarkably, Adamson was to turn down an offer to succeed Winterbottom on the grounds that he was not experienced enough – a decision which paved the way for the appointment of Alf Ramsey.
Instead, Adamson returned to Turf Moor where he became coach and eventually, in 1970, the club’s manager.
He had a brief stint at Sparta Rotterdam before coming back to England to take on first Sunderland and then, from 1978-80, Leeds United.