Full back Jimmy Lodge signed for Hull City in December 1919 and made his first team debut a month later. This began an association with Hull City AFC that would last over 50 years, until the day he died in 1971. The playing side of the club has not had such a remarkable servant since Lodge.
Jimmy Lodge was born in Felling on the south bank of the River Tyne in Gateshead, but was raised north of the river in Gosforth by his maternal grandparents who adopted him when orphaned as a baby and raised him as their own, using their family name and calling him William Barrass. It was only in 1921 when he registered to be married that Barrass discovered he had been adopted and his real name was James William Lodge – he took his birth name for the rest of his days. As William Barrass, he was a coal miner in his teenage years and signed up for the Territorial Army at the age of 16 while playing for local side Coxlodge. At 18 he was signed by Northern Alliance side Scotswood but any further progress on the football field was paused by World War One.
On the battle field Barrass proved his bravery. He served as Lance Corporal in the Signals Division of the Royal Engineers and saw action on the western front throughout the conflict. He suffered shrapnel injuries and on four occasions he was rewarded with honours for his service. He was awarded the Military Medal at the Battle of Somme in 1916, to which a bar was later added for his contribution to the Battle at Ypres, and later still he was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal, to which a bar was also added. He also played some football for the Army during the war, despite his injuries, and when the conflict ended in 1918 he signed semi-professional terms for Newburn, a Northern Alliance rival of his pre-War club Scotswood. His form on the football field for Newburn attracted the attention of Hull City at the end of 1919, who had an extensive scouting network in the North East that drew many players to the club during its first three decades.
Barrass was introduced at left back in the City first team after a 7-1 thumping by Second Division rivals South Shields and an equally damaging 6-2 reverse against Sunderland in the FA Cup. His debut, also against South Shields, was won 3-0 and with the exception of one match, Lodge was ever-present for the remainder of the season as City rested in mid-table. Barrass started the next season as first choice left back but during November 1920, in the midst of a long winless run, he was replaced by another City stalwart Matt Bell. Barrass, by now known as Jimmy Lodge, played only four more times that season. When Percy Lewis took over as City manager for 1921/22 Lodge was again an understudy to Matt Bell before switching to right back in December 1921, where he remained for the rest of the season, missing only two games. In 1922/23 season City signed Jock Gibson to play at right back and Lodge was again a support player, making 15 appearances that season and four more in 1923/24.
Jimmy signed for Halifax Town in July 1924 and made 42 starts for the Shaymen, but left before the season ended. He played for Nuneaton Borough and York City during 1925/26 before being invited back to Hull City in the summer of 1926 by the Directors and manager Bill McCracken. Lodge was appointed assistant trainer, led the reserve team and trained as a physiotherapist and masseur. He also undertook scouting missions, unearthing gems such as Sam Weaver, who went on to play for Newcastle United, Chelsea and England. As well as delivering restorative massages to Hull City players, Lodge undertook the same role for both of Hull’s professional rugby league clubs and the county cricket club. Throughout the 1930s Lodge was a familar figure around the club, when professional football shut down for World War Two in 1939 Lodge was a civil defence officer and later rejoined the Royal Signals as an instructor, teaching to others the duties he performed in France during World War One.
Lodge’s role as reserve team manager and trainer resumed after the War and when the Football League restarted in 1946 the City directors, led by aggregates magnate Harold Needler, were able to invest and experience great success, especially once Raich Carter was signed and appointed manager. Lodge remained part of the City furniture and from the late 1950s onwards he focused on his role as masseur, treating injured players. Jimmy would be seen at home games in his white lab coat, propped up against the players’ tunnel at the newly built Boothferry Park dispensing his wisdom. In the late 1960s, as he passed his 70th birthday, Lodge took on part-time duties but remained a stalwart at the club, universally popular with players and staff as he made his way to Boothferry Park most days from his modest home off Willerby Road.
In April 1970 Jimmy was given a testamonial game against Derby County, which finished 2-2 and was attended by Alan Hardaker, his old friend from the 1920s Hull City reserve side who became Secretary of the Football League. Hardaker wrote a passage in the programme in tribute to Lodge, as did other prominent directors and staff of the time. With his health failing Lodge had to reduce his duties but right up until his death in October 1971 he remained involved in the club. Hull’s footballing glitterati, supplemented by his old friend Hardaker and FIFA President Sir Stanley Rous, turned out for his funeral.
To conclude, here are two quotes from David Bond’s excellent book “Hull City AFC 20 Legends”.
Firstly, from former City manager Cliff Britton when Lodge died: “I got to know him as a loyal and devoted servant to everything in the interests of the club. He was a knowledgable man in so many features of the game and he was always ready to use his knowledge for the help of any young player. He was a quiet, unassuming and likeable man who represented everything that is best in football in so many ways.”
Secondly and more pithily, in the matchday programme for Lodge’s 1970 testamonial, City’s post-war chairman and benefactor Harold Needler wrote: “Very few clubs have had the good fortune to have a Jimmy Lodge.”
Sums it up nicely, that.
Date/Place of Birth: 11 January 1895, Felling
Hull City First Game: 17 January 1920, South Shields H (Division Two), 25 years, 6 days old
Hull City Final Game: 3 November 1923, Crystal Palace A (Division Two), 28 years, 296 days old
Coxlodge, Scotswood (1913-1915), Newburn (1918-1919), Hull City (1919-1924), Halifax Town (1924-1925), Nuneaton Town (1925), York City (1925-1926)
Hull City Record
Career: 83 apps, 0 goalsJimmy Lodge