SAINT AND GRIEVES
Jimmy Greaves, the highly popular former English international footballer and broadcaster, has died aged 81 after years of poor health. A teenage sensation, Greaves debuted for Chelsea aged 17 and had scored 124 league goals by the time he was 20! One of the few players to have played for both Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, his time at Spurs saw him score another 220 league goals, where he also won the Cup Winners Cup and two FA Cups. His time in London (he also played for West Ham) sandwich a short run at AC Milan, which Greaves later called a failure, but a scoring failure for Jimmy Greaves was only scoring 9 goals in 10 games…
For England he scored 44 goals, and appeared in 2 World Cups, though his biggest disappointment was being dropped for the World Cup final in 1966 in favour of Roger Hunt. The disappointment reflected in his international career, as Alf Ramsay felt he had better options up front than England’s greatest ever goal machine, and Jimmy Greaves had no interest in being a bit part player.
By the end of his career he struggled with alcoholism (regularly downing 20 pints of lager a day) and dropped out of the game, but by the early 1970s, recognising the path he was on, he actively sought help for the addiction, even spending time in a psychiatric hospital to deal with it. In 1980 he told his friends, including 1966 World Cup winner Gordon Banks, that he was going teetotal for good, and he incredibly achieved this, remaining sober for the last 41 years of his life. Almost certainly, he gained a few decades of life off his efforts.
Sober and back in football, Greaves was picked up by ITV as a pundit for their coverage of the 1982 World Cup. It was there, and through frequent appearances on the weekly World of Sport, that he became good friends with Ian St John, the Liverpool striker who was also a goal machine in the 1960s. The two sparked off well on TV, combining serious commentary with the ability to make each collapse in hysterics of laughter on live TV, and this combination made them huge fan favourites. They had their own football discussion show Saint and Greavsie, which ran for 7 years, and pioneered the more laidback, friendly manner of morning sports discussion which is now widespread. The show was cancelled, amid fury, in 1992 after ITV went in a huff about losing live football to Sky, but the pair remained the best of friends, and Saint kept close tabs on Greaves health, even as the Saint himself was suffering with terminal cancer.
In 2015, he suffered a massive stroke, and despite belief he wouldn’t survive, managed to recover enough to get about in a wheelchair, although it was clear the health incident had knocked him for six permanently. Alas. Saint predeceased Greavsie earlier this year. Jimmy Greaves was picked by 61, and was a joker pick for Down Under Death Merchants, Jellydead and The Final Whistle. Other pickers included Abracadaver, Chelski Pensioners, Grief Encounter, and The Walking Dead.
20 February 1940 – 19 September 2021