Story File: Jack and Jimmy
It’s a little-known fact that the love-hate drama of those eternal rivals of football fiction Jose of United and Pep of City was inspired by an only slightly more credible tale from the early 1970s – the legend of Jack and Jimmy. Jack Chelsey was a tough-tackling defender with first division Castleburn United, while younger brother Jimmy Chelsey was a prolific striker for their arch-rivals Castleburn City. Jack and Jimmy ran as a single strip in Scorcher and Score from August 1973 through to the comic’s final issue before it was merged into Tiger in October 1974, but previously the brothers’ exploits had appeared as rival stories – Jack of United and Jimmy of City – in Scorcher and Score and, before that, in the short-lived Score ‘n’ Roar. All three strips were drawn by football comics maestro Barrie Mitchell, who would – over a decade later – take over as principal artist on Roy of the Rovers.
Unlike eye-gouger Jose and Negan-lookylikey Pep, Jack and Jimmy appeared to be pretty decent coves, clean-cut and sporting fashionable but tidyish hair and threads. Their club rivalry was intense but always chummy and they were as quick to congratulate and commiserate with each other as they were to celebrate or mope over the results of their various on-field clashes. They were pitched against each other just three weeks into their initial runs in the autumn of 1970, as both brothers were spotted, trialled and signed by their respective clubs at great speed, then given immediate debuts in the cauldron of a Castleburn United v. Castleburn City derby match (a 1-1 draw, Jack and Jimmy grabbing a goal each).
The pair would face each other twice more in that first season – in the return league match (a 3-2 win for City, two goals scored by Jimmy) and the third round of the FA Cup (Jack scored the winner in a 4-3 United win). United won the Cup that year, as City ran away with the League title. The following year (1971-72), City won the European Cup while United won the European Cup-winners Cup. In 1972-73, it was United’s turn to win the League while City escaped relegation in their final game of the season (beating league leaders Landchester Town, a result which allowed United to take the title); City’s consolation was to win the League Cup. The 1973-74 season began with the shock news that Jack was to sign for City, a move which led to the merging of the two parallel strips into the single Jack and Jimmy.
It was all thrilling, if rather unlikely, Roy of the Rovers stuff. The only real depth to Jack and Jimmy’s characters was provided by their football-loving family: Mum and Dad, sister Pat and younger brother Clive. Dad and Pat were United fans while Mum and Clive followed City, leading to much polite bantz over the Chelsey breakfast table. Jack and Jimmy ended with the happy storyline of young Clive joining them on the books at Castleburn City. What happened to the twinkle-toed brothers after that should be the preserve of fan fiction.