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Jim Cannon

January 4 2005

Jim Cannon

Jim Cannon

Towering above everyone else in terms of appearances for CPFC, Jamesey pays his respects to the mighty Jim Cannon

Browsing through some of the historical statistics, kindly and thoughtfully provided by Gordon Law, my old memory was jogged in a very big way.

One of my all-time favourites to wear the Palace colours was Jim Cannon.

For 16 years he seemed to be almost ever-present at the centre of our defence - that handsome Scots face, adorned by a "Zapata" moustache, that true sense of how to be in the right place and the right time, and that ability to make it look so easy, like all great defenders, Bobby Moore not least, seem able to do.

I always remember Jim wearing the all-white strip with the red-and-blue diagonal sash which predominated in his years at the club.

Although I never met the man, I got close enough to him at times to see that he was not a massively big person physically...tall and imposing, yes, but I think it was his presence that always suggested that he was bigger than he actually was.

And although he only scored 35 goals in his Palace career, they often seemed to come at crucial times in crucial games.

When you come to examine the statistics of Jim's career, the awesome achievement hits you smack in the face - 660 appearances in a 16-year spell (1972-88).

He is nearly half as much again in front of second-placed Terry Long who made 480 appearances from 1955-69 and in the "modern" era only Nigel Martyn (349 appearances from 1989-96) and Simon Rodger (329 appearances from 1991-02) come remotely near.

My old friend and colleague, the legendary Scotsman and Palace fanatic Alex Catto, would always shout himself hoarse with "Cannon for Scotland" appeals. But his entreaties were to no avail as successive Scotland managers ignored what could have been a colossal asset for them.

When Mickey Droy arrived from Chelsea in the 80s to finish his career with us, he and Jim combined to make formidable central barrier.

Mickey really was a big fellow (6ft 5in and built like the proverbial brick outhouse) and very little in the air ever got past those two.

By the time Steve Coppell arrived in 1984, Jim was in the autumn of his footballing days and there were rumours of clashes with his contemporary senior player and captain.

There were also rumours that Jim and his fellow-Scot goalkeeper George Wood were at loggerheads with brash, up-and-coming youngsters at the time like Ian Wright and Andy Gray.

Well, who knows. Rumours are rumours.

Jim returned to the Selhurst turf a couple of years ago for a Golden Oldies reunion and duly milled about on the pitch at half-time with Paul Hinshelwood, Dave Swindlehurst and others. He looked exactly the same to me.

It's 16 years now since Jim ran onto the Palace turf to play, and many HOL members are too young by far ever to have seen him in action.

But I think the statistics speak for themselves and I will take the liberty of saying on behalf of all members - Jim Cannon, we salute you.

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