Leicester City In 100 Players: Jimmy Blessington
Continuing the series looking back at 100 of the most outstanding players to represent Leicester Fosse and Leicester City in the Club’s 138-year history, scotsman Blessington was one of the star players of the Victorian era.
He was described by his contemporaries as ‘a neat, dashing go-ahead inside forward’. In the 1890s, he won four league titles with Glasgow Celtic, appeared in two Scottish Cup Finals, won four Scottish caps and represented the Scottish League five times. It was said of him that ‘there were very few players at that time who were admired more’.
When he signed for First Division Preston North End in 1898 it was felt that Scotland’s loss was England’s gain.
After also playing for Derby County, Bristol City and Luton Town, Jimmy signed for Second Division Leicester Fosse in May 1903. In his first season at Filbert Street, Jimmy was an ever-present in the first team but his new team finished bottom of the Second Division and had to seek re-election to continue in the Football League.
Jimmy was also a regular in the first team for the two seasons after that when the team finished 14th and then seventh in the Second Division.
Reflecting on his first three seasons at Leicester, the 1906/07 Leicester Fosse Football Album stated that 'there are few players who have so much control of the ball and with Durrant on the outside they make a very good wing'.
That season, Jimmy only played seven games but halfway through the season, in January 1907, two years after being asked to assist in the management of the team, he became Leicester Fosse’s first-ever team manager.
Leicester Fosse 1905/06
The Leicester Fosse squad of 1905/06, including Blessington.
In that role, working in conjunction with George Johnson, the secretary-manager, he was influential in guiding Leicester Fosse to third place in the Second Division, with the Club just missing out on promotion to the top flight.
The following season, (1907/08), Jimmy played only one first team game. However, in his role as team manager he took a great deal of credit in guiding the Fossils to promotion for their first, and only season in the old First Division. He also did much to develop the reserves.
By the time he played his last game, a First Division match against Bradford City in October 1908, he had made 112 appearances for the Club and scored 21 goals.
Jimmy went on to coach at Cliftonville and Belfast Celtic.
Sandwiched between these two coaching appointments in Belfast, Jimmy took his first steps in the licensing trade when he became a beer retailer in 1912 at what later became the Royal Arms on Welford Road in Leicester.
After serving in the Merchant Navy during the First World War, he eventually took over the Stag and Pheasant in Humberstone Gate in the 1920s.
The Fosse Football Album of 1906/07 had praised Jimmy, (who died aged 65 in 1939) not only as a footballer but also as a man, stating that the Club ‘has had no better servant who is always eager to do what he can towards the Club’s advancement’.
His contribution to Leicester Fosse both as a player and a coach certainly confirmed this view.
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