Jackie Sewell

John "Jackie" Sewell (24 January 1927 – 26 September 2016) was born at Kells, Whitehaven, and began his football career at the miners club. Sewell was spotted by Notts County in a Cumberland League match against Workington, leading to a trial and then a professional contract.

During his early days at Notts County, Jackie would work the afternoon shift down the pit at Whitehaven before catching a train to Carlisle. With his boots in his bag, he would then make the arduous journey south, changing at Derby, and end up strolling down Arkwright Street and into the Ma Rogers boarding house in the early hours of Saturday. If he was lucky, and it was a home game, he would get a lie-in.

He was an important member of the team which won the Football League Third Division South for the 1949–50 season. Sewell scored 19 times in 32 games as County romped to the Third Division (South) title.

The improved footballing opposition the following season did little to slow Sewell down and he scored 14 in 26.

Sheffield Wednesday, fighting against relegation from the top flight came in with a record-breaking offer in 1951. Sewell admitted he would have been happy to stay put but County couldn’t turn down what was not just a British but a World Record offer.

The deal, agreed and signed in the Victoria Hotel Nottingham just three hours before the transfer window closed, whilst just another in the line of record transfers, was even more significant at the time it was made.

He scored on his debut and managed 6 goals in the final 10 games of the season but it wasn’t enough to keep his new team in the First Division, by the smallest of margins in perhaps the most gripping relegation battle ever. The final day of the season came with Sheffield Wednesday and Chelsea locked together at the bottom on 30 points just two behind Everton.

Everton visited Hillsborough and Wednesday delivered a 6-0 thrashing to move above them on goal average. Then the news came through from Stamford Bridge that Chelsea had beaten Bolton Wanderers 4-0. The slide rules came out and determined that Chelsea, had a 0.44% better goal average than Sewell’s team so it was they who survived.

Sewell’s form earned him a call-up to the England team. He had already been on an F.A. tour of Canada in 1950 and he made his full debut for his country in the 2-0 win over Ireland at Villa Park in November 1951.

Toiling at the coalface stood Sewell in good stead. Once, after seeing his England colleague savaged by a vicious tackle, Sir Alf Ramsey said: "If Jackie Sewell had not been a miner’s son he would have been split in two."

In the 1951-52 season Wednesday had the prolific Derek Dooley leading the line with Sewell as his able accomplice. These two led the team to a fabulous tally of exactly 100 goals and assured them of the Second Division title and a quick return to the top flight.

Sewells upbringing helped to provide perspective after the 6-3 defeat by the Magical Magyars at Wembley in 1953. "Everybody said you must feel terrible because England had never lost at home and it was a thrashing," Sewell, said. "I never saw it like that. To me it was an education. Everybody went crazy when Don Revie started playing the same way at Manchester City, but there was never a Revie Plan - Hungary had been doing it for years."

He joined Aston Villa in December 1955 for £20,000, and he played 145 matches for them until October 1959. He was then sold to Hull City. He was part of the FA Cup winning team of 1957.

He moved from Aston Villa to Hull City before retiring as a player in 1961. He then moved to Northern Rhodesia and became player-coach for City of Lusaka. He later coached teams in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and the Belgian Congo (now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo).

Jackie Sewell gained six caps for England, scoring three goals, one in England's historic defeat against Hungary in 1953. He also captained the Zambia national team when the country gained its independence from Britain in 1964. He made 10 appearances for Zambia between 1964 and 1965, scoring seven goals. When Sewell captained the newly independent nation of Zambia in October 1964, he became one of the few footballers who have played for two different countries.

Jackie Sewell
Jackie Sewell


Whitehaven had been small harbour and fishing village from 13th century or earlier. Expansion began in mid-17th century with building of piers by Lowthers 1632-4 and 1679-81 and granting of market charter 1660. By the 1680s it had grown rapidly, expanding from village of c.30 households in early 17th century to a town of over 1,000 inhabitants by 1685, which more than doubled to 2,281 by 1696. Sir John Lowther had laid out grid of streets by 1680s, making Whitehaven the earliest planned new town in post-medieval Britain.

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