On Easter Monday, Birmingham City FC joined with the British Polio Fellowship to commemorate the 55th anniversary of Jeff Hall’s death. I was glad to make a donation to help those still suffering from the effects of polio because I’m old enough to remember what a terrible disease it was. As the collectors held out their tins I heard a young fan ask, “What’s polio?” and was glad that she hadn’t heard of the disease that was so feared when I was a child. There is no longer a risk of polio infection in this country and Jeff’s death played a part in the elimination of that risk.
Jeff Hall played for Birmingham City and for England. On March 21st 1959 he was in the Blues team playing at Portsmouth. He died two weeks later, on April 4th. I can remember seeing a headline about a footballer’s death on a newspaper poster as I walked across town, wondering who it was and feeling devastated when I found out it was him. He was my hero, my favourite player. That was back in the time before 24 hour news coverage and I hadn’t known that he was ill.
I was not the only one to be shocked. Jeff Hall was well known and the death of such a fit, young man made a deep impression. His widow went on television to talk about it and to encourage people to get vaccinated. The demand for vaccination rocketed and many lives were saved.
I’m proud of my club and the staff that have kept it running from day to day in these last three calamitous years. And I’d like to thank that staff for remembering and honouring Jeff Hall, a true Blues legend.