The son of Saints legend Harry Pimblett, Jackie played four matches for the first team between December 1961 and March 1965. He played three games on the left wing and a fourth in the second row. Jackie scored singleton tries in away defeats to Wakefield Trinity and Oldham.
Jackie was a fine schoolboy player, with Rivington Road before he joined Saints. A big, bustling character, he later turned to amateur rugby league at Pilkington Recs. His story was later told by Denis Whittle in the club history All Local Lads.
Recs Darkest Day
Saturday, 9 October, 1971, dawned as a balmy autumnal morning at City Road, but the time-honoured pitch was transformed into a scene of devastating tragedy that very afternoon, for the club was plunged into deep sorrow in suffering a terrible fatality when skipper Jackie Pimblett sustained severe spinal injuries against UGB and died later in hospital.
Shorthanded up front, Recs switched 6ft 14 stone Jackie, normally a back, to prop, and fate reared its ugly head when a scrum collapsed to leave him prostrate as the other forwards regained their feet. Coach John Dickinson raced to 26 year old Pimblett's assistance. However it was immediately obvious to both Todder and the teams that this was an emergency situation calling for far more than the soothing waters of the magic sponge. It is almost superfluous to state that the game was abandoned. Dickinsons findings were endorsed by St. John ambulancemen Harry Middlehurst and Dennis Doyle who, having examined Jackie, ordered his removal to Providence Hospital from where he was transferred to a special unit at Southports Promenade Hospital.
Meanwhile his devoted parents Harry - himself a former Rugby League star and mother Betty had been informed of their sons sorry plight. Pimblett senior was rushed to his bedside by Billy Dingsdale, the ex Warrington centre, brother of Recs legend Tommy and Mine Host of the Stanley Arms, New Cross Street. Jackie was conscious on their arrival but the full extent of his injuries had not been determined. He was subsequently diagnosed as having fractured the third vertebrae of the spinal column, resulting in a broken neck. Despite emergency surgery, he died four days later, on Wednesday, 13 October. Team-mate Ken Cross later told the SW Lancashire Coroner, Ronald Lloyd, exactly what had happened: Jack was injured in the first ten minutes of the game. He cut both knees and went off the field, but came back on soon after. After another ten minutes, we packed down for a scrum. Jack was prop-forward. The ball was hooked out of the scrum, but three or four players collapsed on to the floor. Jackie shouted to us not to move him. We found that he was completely paralysed and he had to be carried off the field.
Later a final verdict of misadventure was recorded.
A glasscutter at Pilkingtons, the popular Pimblett was also survived by his wife Carol and sons Michael (7) and Clifford (5), while the usual atmosphere of bonhomie at City Road gave way to one of encircling gloom for months to come. Testimonial matches in aid of Jackies dependents were staged at Recs ground and The Willows, Salford, while the local club donated a Player-of-the-Year trophy which perpetuates the name of the never-to-be-forgotten Pimblett to this day. All-round sportsman Jackie began his Rugby League career at Rivington Road School and was captain of the team that won the Ellison Cup and Evening Chronicle Trophy in 1958 in a line-up which included Saints latter-day Hall of Fame member Jeff Heaton. Pimblett also captained the town side and represented Lancashire versus Yorkshire. Given such a burgeoning talent, professional scouts beat a path to his door on him reaching 16, before he signed for Saints and made an A team debut at that tender age.
Despite putting on weight but blessed with a fair turn of speed, erstwhile loose forward Jackie found himself on the wing for the Knowsley Road team, for whom he scored many spectacular tries for the reserves and was a competent deputy for the great Tom van Vollenhoven. Now with a young family to feed, he realised that greater financial rewards could be earned by working rather than playing rugby, so he drifted away from Knowsley Road. However the lure of the oval ball was in Pimbletts blood and legend had it that, whisper it, he flirted with Rugby Union at Moss Lane.
After a further dalliance with soccer, as a goalkeeper with the local NALGO team, he was back where he belonged with the 13-a-side code, albeit at amateur level at Pilkington Recs, where his engaging personality, strength of character and leadership qualities quickly saw him appointed to the hot seat of skipper at City Road. He was carried by members of the Recs pack at his funeral and the team he led walked behind the coffin on the journey from his home in St. Teresas Road to St. Thomas Church. They all wore red, amber and black ribbons. On 18 October, the Saints players donated all their wages from the home victory against Oldham to the fund for Jackies family.
It is indeed a tragic irony that Jackie Pimbletts untimely passing early in the 1970s occurred as his club stood at the threshold of the most successful period in its sometimes chequered history, particularly in the field of senior level Challenge Cup ties. Former Chairman Bill Chester recalled that the Recs revival had really gathered momentum when Jackie was elected Captain and Committee member at the start of what became a tragic season for the City Road club.
|Season (Official Matches)||Tries||Goals||DGoals||Matches|
|Season (Other Matches)||Tries||Goals||DGoals||Matches|
|9th Dec 1961||
|13th Mar 1962||
|17th Mar 1962||
|30th Mar 1965||
|11||Hull Kingston Rovers||L||1964~65||H||8||2||VIEW|
|12th Aug 1966||
|5||Swinton*||Fr Gallie Cup||1966~67||H||13||27||VIEW|
|*Unofficial Match. **Non Playing Sub.|
|WINS : 2 | LOSSES : 3 | DRAWS :|
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