Jim Holton Profile

Jim Holton

Man­chester Uni­ted Facts­book Fea­ture: Ja­mes Alan Hol­ton, born Lesma­hagow, Scot­land, April 11, 1951. Big Jim made a dream move to Man­chester Uni­ted from Di­vi­sion Three club Shrews­bury To­wn in the midst of the 1972-73 sea­son. But his dream be­came a night­mare when he suf­fered a broken leg in a 4–4 Sec­ond Di­vi­sion draw to Shef­field Wed­nesday at Hills­bor­ough on the 7th of Dec­ember 1974.

Born and grow­ing up in the small to­wn of Lesma­hagow in So­uth Lanark­shire, Jim Hol­ton star­ted his foot­ball ca­reer as an am­a­teur play­er at Scot­tish te­am Glas­gow Celt­ic, be­fore he agreed to a pro­fes­sion­al con­tract wi­th Foot­ball Lea­gue One si­de West Brom­wich Al­bion in 1968. West Brom­wich, who had play­ers such as Jeff Astle, To­ny Bro­wn, Len Can­tello, Asa Hart­ford, and John Kaye on their books, had won the 1968 FA Cup Fi­nal ag­ainst Ever­ton by 1-0 and Alan Ashman´s men had fin­ished the 1967-68 sea­son in a re­spect­able eighth po­s­i­tion. But as things turned out, the frus­trated youth struggled to make the fir­st te­am at The Haw­thorns and he would sign for Eng­lish Third Di­vi­sion club Shrews­bury To­wn at the end of the 1970-71 cam­paign. Af­ter fi­nally ma­king his fir­st te­am break­through wi­th Salop un­der Gay Mea­dow man­ager Harry Gregg, who had be­en a goal­keeper for Don­caster Rov­ers, Man­chester Uni­ted, Sto­ke City, and North­ern Ire­land dur­ing his act­ive foot­ball ca­reer, Hol­ton racked up 67 Foot­ball Lea­gue Di­vi­sion Three ap­pear­ances for the Shrop­shire out­fit be­fore he was bro­ught to Old Traf­ford by re­cently hired man­ager Tom­my Doc­herty who paid a trans­fer fee of £84,000 to sign him mid­way thro­ugh the 1972-1973 sea­son. A de­term­ined and whole­hearted play­er, he was giv­en his Fir­st Di­vi­sion de­but for Man­chester Uni­ted in a 2-2 draw ag­ainst West Ham Uni­ted at Old Traf­ford on the 20th of Jan­uary 1973, wi­th Bob­by Charl­ton and Lou Ma­cari hit­ting the goals for hosts, and Clyde Best and Bry­an “Pop” Rob­son net­ting for the vis­it­ors from East Lon­don. And al­though the once mighty foot­ball club suf­fered releg­a­tion to Lea­gue Divi­sion Two in 1973-74, he kept his place in the fir­st te­am and would play an im­port­ant part in the si­de which went on to clinch the Sec­ond Di­vi­sion Cham­pi­on­ship title in style in 1974-75.

Un­der for­mer Scot­land boss Tom­my Doc­herty, Man­chester Uni­ted ini­ti­ated the 1974-75 cam­paign wi­th a com­fort­able 2–0 tri­umph ag­ainst Ge­orge Petchey´s Ley­ton Ori­ent te­am at the Bris­bane Road in North East Lon­don on the 17th of Au­gust 1974. In front of a crowd of more than 20,000 spec­tat­ors, Tom­my Doc´s Sec­ond Di­vi­sion Cham­pi­on­ship chal­lengers were one goal up at the ha­lf time break thanks to a fir­st pe­riod goal from flanker Wil­lie Mor­gan fol­low­ing al­most thirty min­utes of play, and the Old Traf­ford si­de ev­entually over­came the North East Lon­doners by a fi­nal score of two nil cour­tesy of a fierce head­er from clo­se ran­ge by at­tack minded left wing­back Stew­art Hou­s­ton wi­th twenty min­utes left of the open­ing en­counter of the sea­son. Uni­ted nev­er look­ed back from there, end­ing the 1974-75 cam­paign as fully de­served Sec­ond Di­vi­sion Cham­pi­ons wi­th 61 points from 42 mat­ches, three points in front of As­ton Vil­la in sec­ond po­s­i­tion, and as much as eight points ahead of third po­si­tioned Nor­wich City. Not ex­actly a blush­ing wall­flower or a shrink­ing blue vi­ol­et, Hol­ton could be bo­th bru­tally bul­ly­ing and thug­gish when on the foot­ball field, and the fiercely ag­gress­ive and in­tim­id­at­ing stop­per would more than of­ten scare the liv­ing crap out of most of his op­pon­ents. Wi­th Uni­ted, the all out ac­tion and res­ult ori­ented de­fender pro­ceeded to play 63 Foot­ball Lea­gue mat­ches for Docherty´s Red and White Army be­fore he broke his leg dur­ing a 4-4 draw to Ste­ven Burtenshaw´s Shef­field Wed­nesday at Hills­bor­ough on the 7th of Dec­ember 1974. Un­for­tu­nately, he was nev­er to be the same play­er ag­ain, and the ga­me ag­ainst The Owls in Shef­field turned out to be his fi­nal ap­pear­ance for The Reds.

Fol­low­ing a com­par­at­ively long pe­riod of re­hab­il­it­a­tion, Hol­ton was pur­chased by Sun­der­land su­premo Bob Stokoe for a fee es­tim­ated to be in the re­gion of £64,000 in the au­tumn of 1976. Stokoe, a for­mer man­ager at Bury, Charl­ton Ath­let­ic, Roch­dale, Carl­isle Uni­ted, and Black­pool, had taken the head coach­ing reigns at Roker Park on the 29th of Nov­ember 1972, and the sea­soned cam­paign­er had gui­ded the Tyne and Wear club to FA Cup glory in 1973, and pro­mo­tion back to the top tier of Eng­lish foot­ball three years la­ter. A pre­vi­ous centre ha­lf wi­th New­castle Uni­ted and Bury, Stokoe had a lot of re­spect for Holton´s phys­ic­al pres­ence and po­s­i­tion­al sense, and had sig­ned the Man­chester Uni­ted play­er in an at­tempt to bol­ster his leak­ing Sun­der­land de­fence. The now 25-year-old Hol­ton, who had not ap­peared in a com­pet­it­ive mat­ch for al­most two years, went on to make his Foot­ball Lea­gue de­but for his new em­ploy­ers in a 1-1 draw ag­ainst West Ham Uni­ted at Up­ton Park on the 25th of Septem­ber 1976, but the tower­ing centre back on­ly ma­naged to ac­cu­mu­late a mere fif­teen Fir­st Di­vi­sion ap­pear­ances for The Roker­ites be­fore the phys­ic­al and rugged play­er made a move to Gor­don Milne´s Cov­entry City af­ter a re­leat­ively short spell wi­th Stokoe´s re­leg­a­tion strug­gling Roker Park si­de. Af­ter set­tling down in War­wick­shire, he de­b­uted for Cov­entry City in a 1-1 top flight draw ag­ainst West Brom­wich Al­bion at High­field Road on the 19th of April 1977, and help­ed the Mid­lands club avoid re­leg­a­tion to the sec­ond tier in the 1976-77 sea­son. Whi­le at Cov­entry, he did a good job in the middle of de­fence and would go on to play 91 Fir­st Di­vi­sion mat­ches for The Sky Blues be­fore he fin­ished his Foot­ball Lea­gue ca­reer in the sum­mer of 1981. The Scot also tried out his luck in the Uni­ted States where the com­mand­ing and de­pend­able de­fender fir­st ap­peared for Miami Tor­os, and then De­troit Ex­press in the North Amer­ic­an Soc­cer League.

A Scot­tish in­ter­na­tion­al, Jim Hol­ton was han­ded his seni­or de­but for the coun­try of his bir­th by man­ager Wil­lie Or­mond in a 2-0 Brit­ish Ho­me Cham­pi­on­ship vic­tory ag­ainst Dave Bowen´s Wales si­de in front of a bois­ter­ous crowd of clo­se to 20,000 spec­tat­ors at Race­course Gro­und in Wrex­ham on the 12th of May 1973. Af­ter a fir­st ha­lf wi­th no goals, Man­chester Uni­ted mid­field play­maker Ge­orge Gra­ham gave Scot­land a fully de­served 1-0 lead fif­teen min­utes in­to the sec­ond pe­riod of the ga­me be­fore the very same play­er ad­ded a sec­ond goal wi­th twenty min­utes re­maining of the en­counter wi­th The Dragons in North Wales. With­out doubt, one of his most mem­or­able mat­ches for The Tartan Ter­ri­ers ar­rived in the thrill­ing 2-1 Wor­ld Cup Quali­fier tri­umph ag­ainst The Re­pub­lic of Czecho­slovakia at a packed Hamp­den Park on the 26th of Septem­ber 1973. The Czechs went in­to a some­what lucky 1-0 lead cour­tesy of pro­lif­ic Dukla Prague sharp­shoot­er Zdenek Ne­hoda in the 34th min­ute of the clash in Glas­gow, on­ly for Hol­ton to equal­ise for the ho­me si­de wi­th a head­er from clo­se ran­ge a mere sev­en min­utes la­ter. Wi­th fif­teen min­utes re­maining of the tie, Leeds Uni­ted and Scot­land cap­tain Billy Brem­ner hit the ver­tic­al post be­fore the ball was booted out to Man­chester Uni­ted wing­er Wil­lie Mor­gan who­se ac­cur­ate and well weighted cross fou­nd sec­ond ha­lf re­place­ment Joe Jor­dan, who nod­ded the ball pa­st Dukla Prague and Czecho­slovakia net­mind­er Ivo Vikt­or to re­gister the fi­nal and win­ning goal of the Wor­ld Cup Quali­fier mat­ch, send­ing Wil­lie Ormond´s Scot­land troops to the 1974 Wor­ld Cup in West Germany.

Not sur­pris­ingly, Hol­ton was se­lec­ted for the Scot­land Word Cup Squad, which in­cluded ex­per­i­enced and well es­tab­lished play­ers like Mar­tin Bu­chan, Ken­ny Dalg­lish, Wil­lie Don­ach­ie, Dan­ny Mc­Grain, Da­vid Hay, De­nis Law, Pe­ter Lor­imer, and Sandy Jardine, and the Man­chester Uni­ted fa­vour­ite would ap­pear in all three ini­tial group ga­mes for his home­land dur­ing the com­pet­i­tion, in­clud­ing the goal­less draw to de­fend­ing Wor­ld Cup Cham­pi­ons Brazil at Wald­sta­di­on in Frank­furt am Main on the 18th of June 1974. Alas, Holton´s in­ter­na­tion­al ca­reer las­ted for less than two years, and he made his swan­song ap­pear­ance for Scot­land in a 3-0 friendly fix­ture vic­tory ag­ainst the Ger­man Demo­crat­ic Re­pub­lic at Hamp­den Park on the 30th of Oct­ober 1974. “Big Jim” was one of a kind be­cause even tho­ugh he was nev­er an av­er­age cent­ral de­fender by ab­so­lute stand­ards, he was nev­er any­thing but an av­er­age cent­ral de­fender by re­l­at­ive stand­ards. So al­though the sup­port­ers of Scot­land te­am al­ways wanted some­thing spe­cial from him, they nev­er ac­tu­ally ex­pec­ted it. But des­pite of the fact that the cent­ral de­fens­ive bul­wark on­ly ma­naged to gain a total of fif­teen seni­or caps for his coun­try, The Tartan Army will al­ways re­mem­ber him for his unique fight­ing spir­it and his un­com­prom­ising way of play­ing the ga­me. Sadly, Hol­ton passed away on the 4th of Oct­ober 1993 at the re­l­at­ively young age of 42 years, fol­low­ing a fatal and mas­sive heart at­tack. Jim Hol­ton Play­ing Ca­reer: Glas­gow Celt­ic, West Brom­wich, Shrews­bury To­wn, Man­chester Uni­ted, The Miami Tor­os, Sun­der­land, Cov­entry City, The De­troit Express.


1972-73 Sea­son:

Man­chester Uni­ted 2 West Ham Uni­ted 2
Man­chester Uni­ted 0 Ever­ton 0
Cov­entry City 1 Man­chester Uni­ted 1
Man­chester Uni­ted 2 Wolver­hampton Wan­derers 1
Ips­wich To­wn 4 Man­chester Uni­ted 1
Man­chester Uni­ted 2 New­castle Uni­ted 1
Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur 1 Man­chester Uni­ted 1
South­ampton 0 Man­chester Uni­ted 2
Man­chester Uni­ted 1 Nor­wich City 0
Man­chester Uni­ted 2 Crys­tal Pal­ace 0
Sto­ke City 2 Man­chester Uni­ted 2
Leeds Uni­ted 0 Man­chester Uni­ted 1
Man­chester Uni­ted 0 Man­chester City 0
Man­chester Uni­ted 1 Shef­field Uni­ted 2
Chel­sea 1 Man­chester Uni­ted 0

1973-74 Sea­son:

Ar­senal 3 Man­chester Uni­ted 0
Man­chester Uni­ted 1 Sto­ke City 0
Man­chester Uni­ted 2 Queens Park Ran­gers 1
Lei­cester City 1 Man­chester Uni­ted 0
Man­chester Uni­ted 1 Lei­cester City 2
Man­chester Uni­ted 3 West Ham Uni­ted 1
Leeds Uni­ted 0 Man­chester Uni­ted 0
Man­chester Uni­ted 0 Liver­pool 0
Wolver­hampton Wan­derers 2 Man­chester Uni­ted 1
Man­chester Uni­ted 0 Middles­brough 1
Man­chester Uni­ted 0 Der­by Coun­ty 1
Man­chester Uni­ted 1 Birm­ing­ham City 0
Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur 2 Man­chester Uni­ted 1
New­castle Uni­ted 3 Man­chester Uni­ted 2
Man­chester Uni­ted 0 Nor­wich City 0
Man­chester Uni­ted 1 Shef­field Uni­ted 2
Man­chester Uni­ted 2 Ips­wich To­wn 0
Queens Park Ran­gers 3 Man­chester Uni­ted 0
Man­chester Uni­ted 1 Ply­mouth Argyle 0
West Ham Uni­ted 2 Man­chester Uni­ted 1
Man­chester Uni­ted 1 Ar­senal 1
Man­chester Uni­ted 0 Ips­wich To­wn 1
Cov­entry City 1 Man­chester Uni­ted 0
Man­chester Uni­ted 0 Leeds Uni­ted 2
Der­by Coun­ty 2 Man­chester Uni­ted 2
Man­chester Uni­ted 0 Wolver­hampton Wan­derers 0
Shef­field Uni­ted 0 Man­chester Uni­ted 1
Man­chester City 0 Man­chester Uni­ted 0
Birm­ing­ham City 1 Man­chester Uni­ted 0
Man­chester Uni­ted 3 Burn­ley 3
Nor­wich City 0 Man­chester Uni­ted 2
Man­chester Uni­ted 1 New­castle Uni­ted 0
Man­chester Uni­ted 3 Ever­ton 0
South­ampton 1 Man­chester Uni­ted 1
Ever­ton 1 Man­chester Uni­ted 0
Man­chester Uni­ted 0 Man­chester City 1
Sto­ke City 1 Man­chester Uni­ted 0

1974-75 Sea­son:

Ori­ent 0 Man­chester Uni­ted 2
Man­chester Uni­ted 4 Mill­wall 0
Man­chester Uni­ted 2 Ports­mouth 1
Car­diff City 0 Man­chester Uni­ted 1
Man­chester Uni­ted 2 Not­ting­ham For­est 2
Man­chester Uni­ted 5 Charl­ton Ath­let­ic 1
West Brom­wich Al­bion 1 Man­chester Uni­ted 1
Man­chester Uni­ted 2 Bris­tol Rov­ers 0
Ful­ham 1 Man­chester Uni­ted 2
Man­chester Uni­ted 1 Man­chester City 0
Man­chester Uni­ted 1 Notts Coun­ty 0
Ports­mouth 0 Man­chester Uni­ted 0
Black­pool 0 Man­chester Uni­ted 3
Man­chester Uni­ted 1 South­ampton 0
Man­chester Uni­ted 3 Sun­der­land 2
Middles­brough 0 Man­chester Uni­ted 0
Shef­field Wed­nesday 4 Man­chester Uni­ted 4

Total Ap­pear­ances: 69

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