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Jackie Sewell


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RIP Jackie.

Scored almost 1 in 2 during his career.

He broke the English transfer record in 1951 (£34,500).

Had caps for both England and (the newly independent) Zambia.

A pioneer of football in Africa


IT was quite a culture shock for Jackie Sewell when he stepped off a plane on the dirt strip that passed for Lusaka International Airport. Hired to help organise and coach football in what was then Northern Rhodesia, he got the sort of reception usually reserved for royalty.

But when he got down to the job on the pitch, his expectations were suddenly lowered. "The black players didn't have any boots, they played in their bare feet.

"And they wouldn't tackle the white players. When I asked them why, they just said 'no boss, don't want to hurt the white man'."

Jackie was 33 and nearing the end of an illustrious playing career. He had formed one of the most fearsome goalscoring partnerships in football with Tommy Lawton at Meadow Lane.

He moved to Sheffield Wednesday in 1951 for £34,500, at that time the largest transfer fee between two English clubs.

He thought he had seen it all. But Africa was to pose a different challenge.

First of all, he had to get his new players properly shod – and then teach them that black or white, they had to tackle the opposition; and they had to pass the ball to their own team instead of kicking it down the field as hard as they could.

But beyond the boundless, naive, enthusiasm, Jackie could see some natural talent. He thought he could work with the Africans... and he fell in love with Africa.

"Just a few weeks earlier, I had been at Hull City, and there I was in Africa, sitting on the verandah in the evening sun, a drink in one hand looking out over this amazing landscape. It was incredible."

The year was 1961 and for Jackie, it was the start of an African adventure that would last until well into the 1970s.

When Jackie arrived – after an interminable journey on a four-prop BOAC Britannia – the country was still under British colonial rule, but people were getting restless, demanding independence, and tensions were running high.

Football was seen as a way of breeding multi-racial harmony, so Jackie was hired by the City of Lusaka FC to help pioneer what became the professional Rhodesia and Nyasaland Football League.

He had to work under a cloud of suspicion. The African Lusaka Football Association saw him as little more than a propaganda tool for the white-dominated United Freedom Party, but Jackie was only there to play football.

And in his first three-month stint as player-coach, he steered City of Lusaka to victory in the final of the Castle Cup.

A year later, with wife Barbara and infant son Paul, he returned to settle in the country and begin a remarkable period in his life.

He threw himself into the task of building a multi-racial soccer team and, nearly 40 years later, he can still reel off the almost unpronounce- able names of the players who won trophy after trophy: Amos Mushipe, Peter Mulenga, Lucas Bwalaya, along with white players Neville Oliver and Tony Petts.

And there was more to come. In 1964 Zambia won its independence and as part of the celebrations, a national team was picked to play against the Ghana All Stars in Lusaka. A decade after the last of his six caps for England, Jackie was chosen to captain the Zambia team.

But one of the consequences of independence was the ousting of expatriates from positions of influence, no matter what sphere of life.

Zambian officials took over the club and Jackie was pushed into the background... so he took his talents elsewhere, creating similar football structures in Zaire and Zimbabwe.

By the time his Africa adventure had come to a natural conclusion, Jackie had pioneered soccer in three African countries, establishing the coaching programmes which have now resulted in virtually every current Premier League side having an African contingent of players.

Reporting on his farewell party in 1974, the Zambia Daily Mail said: "As a compassionate person he possessed great qualities for leadership. He was a successful captain and manager for the national team."



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2 hours ago, Ray.Graydon said:

Apologies if already posted, but Jackie Sewell, part of AVFCs 1957 Cup winning side, passed away today. 

Even I'm not old enough to have seen him play, but I could quote that 57 side from a very young age. Legends each one.

RIP Jackie

One of the names that brings back great memories. I started supporting Villa in 1956. I had photos of all the players cut out of the newspapers and stuck in scrap books. What a final that was.


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2 hours ago, markavfc40 said:

RIP Jackie.

There are only two of that 57 final side still with us now in Sims and McParland 

RIP Jackie

I remember watching them both Mark as a young boy.

didn't have the pleasure of watching Jackie Sewell.....but sounds like he was some guy.

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Jackie made 145 Villa appearances and scored 40 goals including 18 goals in our FA Cup winning season. He played 6 times for England scoring 3 goals including one in the 1953 Wembley (the equalizer that made it 1-1) 6-3 defeat against Hungary. Sad to see another of our boys of 57 leave us. RIP - HEITS.  

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