Inducted 28 November 2012
19 November 1969 was the start of something special for Notts County Football Club - something very special indeed. On this date a wiry Scotsman strolled calmly through the Meadow Lane gates with his sights set on impeding the doom and gloom that had settled at the club.
County were down in the dumps, painfully slugging it out in the basement division of the Football League. Three consecutive bottom-half finishes of 20th, 17th and 19th, had been followed by a distinctly average opening to the 1969.70 campaign.
Notts were no doubt underachieving, especially when the squad contained the likes of Don Masson, Brian Stubbs, Les Bradd, Bob Worthington and David Needham. They were lacking the belief, the passion and the hunger, but the former Brentford boss had these in abundance and wasted no time instilling the same characteristics into his players.
He turned them into winners. Don Masson's tribute to the Scot emphasises this impact, with the former County play-maker stating: "I owe everything in my football career to Jimmy - he was fantastic."
No more struggling, no more worries, no more woes. The one and only Jimmy Sirrel had Notts on the up.Workington, Scunthorpe United and Chester City were all beaten convincingly in his first three games, and fans could sense that this was the turning point.
It was time for the Magpies to fly. Vastly improving on the past three years, Sirrel guided Notts to a comfortable seventh placed finish.
This was just the warm up, as County topped the table on 69 points the following year - nine points clear of second placed Bournemouth - to claim the Division Four championship without losing once on home soil. A meagre three points denied Sirrel repeating this success in the Third Division the following season.
However, there would be no tears the year after, because Notts finished runners-up to Bolton Wanderers and a second promotion in three years was secured. Two mid-table placements later, Sirrel announced that he was leaving to join Sheffield United's bid to avoid the drop from the First Division. The saviour was gone... for now.
Unfortunately for Sirrel, his only accomplishment at the Blades was in designing their new badge, because he was unable to steer them clear of relegation. Another struggle the season after paved his way back to Nottingham, where he helped Notts fend off relegation to the Third Division.
Sirrel led his team to 15th position and comfortably avoided the drop by 11 points.It was three more years in the second tier before the former Aldershot coach completed the set, this time with the help of innovative coach Howard Wilkinson.
Notts, despite being massive long-shots for promotion, secured the runners-up spot in 1981 and returned to the top flight for the first time in 55 years. Finishing 15th in his first season, Sirrel inspired his team to emphatic wins over Aston Villa, Arsenal, Nottingham Forest and Leeds United.
In 1982, he became general manager, with Wilkinson taking over as boss, but he was back in the hot-seat in 1985 with Notts on the brink of back-to-back relegations under Larry Lloyd. Unfortunately, he was unable to prevent the drop, but did manage to halt the free-fall that County were in by consolidating in the Third Division for two more seasons, before retiring as a true club hero.
Sirrel was a regular spectator at Meadow Lane beyond his retirement and deservedly had the County Road Stand named after him. He was actually called back into the dressing room and onto the pitch to boost spirits when Notts nearly slipped out of the Football League in 2005.
Chants of 'there's only one Jimmy Sirrel' bellowed throughout the stadium, demonstrating how much he meant to every single County fan. Sirrel sadly passed away in 2008 but he will never, ever be forgotten by those that populate the terraces at Meadow Lane.