Passed Away 1988
Jimmy Campbell, born in Scotland in 1901, started adult life as a coalminer before in 1923 joining St Bernard’s, an Edinburgh club, on 2 pounds 10 shillings a week, plus a further 10 shillings for each game played and won.
In 1927, he emigrated to New Zealand and came straight to Petone, probably because of the industries and jobs – this being just before the Great Depression of 1929-35. He signed with the Club, then in the senior B competition, and that year the team played 17 games, won 16 and drew 1. Jimmy Campbell was a robust defender with a booming voice.
Three months after his arrival, he was selected for New Zealand to play against Canada in the centre half position, where he played for most of his career. He wasn’t to represent New Zealand again. Games for the national team were few and far between in those days.
Jimmy was a stand-out figure in the Petone team that was our first to win the Chatham Cup in 1928, progressed to the North Island final in 1929, and once more won the Chatham Cup in 1930. During these years, in fact from 1927 through to 1936, he represented Wellington, although from the 1936 season he had joined the Scottish Wanderers Club.
In 1947/48, our first team was in post-war recess and Jimmy, having spent years away from Petone, was nevertheless one of those largely responsible for securing players for the 1949 season from the immigrants’ camp at Fort Dorset. Impressed with the talent lured to the Club, entry to senior B was sought but the WFA placed our team in the second division, one grade lower. The ‘Settlers’, as they unsurprisingly became known, went on to win the Club’s third Chatham Cup title.
In the early 1950s Jimmy Campbell coached junior teams, but gave this away when the boys he brought through were forced to play for their secondary school.
In the mid-1950s Jimmy was a regular spectator at the Petone Recreation Ground. He used to position himself toward the north-east corner of what is still the main rugby ground so that he could also watch the football, then played on that eastern part of the Recreation Ground, parallel to Kensington Avenue.
It wasn’t until the 1980’s that he came to Memorial Park, encouraged by club efforts to attract back its past members leading up to what was then thought to be our 1989 centenary.
Jimmy Campbell was elected a life member at a Special General Meeting in March 1985. The award was in honour of his achievements as a player in the 1927-1935 period, his contribution as a coach and administrator in the decade through to the mid-1950s, and his lengthy association with the club.
Jimmy passed away in 1988.