Giles, Jimmy

Birth Date

21st April 1946


Kidlington, Oxfordshire



Biographical Text

Joining from Aldershot, Jimmy Giles made over 300 of his 500 Football League appearances whilst wearing the colours of Exeter City. Playing for the Grecians in two spells, either side of a period with the higher-placed Charlton Athletic, Jimmy was a hugely-popular figure in the years between 1971 and 1981 and was inducted into the Exeter City Hall of Fame in 2014.   

Jimmy was playing Hellenic League football for Kidlington, where he grew up, when he joined Swindon Town in March 1965 shortly before his 19th birthday. Making 13 league appearances for the County Ground side, Jimmy transferred to Aldershot in October 1968 where he was a regular first-teamer and player of the year for 1969/70. 

Remaining with the Shots the following season, Jimmy played - and scored - against Exeter City in February 1971 and shortly afterwards John Newman, the Grecians manager, made a successful £4,000 offer for the centre-half. Making his debut against Barrow on 13 March 1971 Jimmy slotted into the team and made 11 appearances over the closing weeks of the season scoring twice. 

Becoming more and more of a commanding figure. Jimmy featured in 86 league games over the following two seasons picking up the player of the year award both times. A further 43 appearances followed in each of the 1973/74 and 1974/75 seasons with Jimmy winning another player of the year award in the second of those seasons.  

Jimmy, now twenty-nine, was at the peak of his career and - with the Grecians finishing 7th in the old Division Four (at a time when the top four were automatically promoted) - grasped the opportunity to join the newly-promoted Charlton Athletic when a £12,000 bid was accepted in June 1975. In just over four seasons with the Grecians, Jimmy had accumulated 183 league appearances for the club scoring eight goals in the process.

Playing for a team that was to finish 9th and 7th in the second-tier, Jimmy had two good seasons at the Valley either side of turning thirty. Then, after scoring 6 times in 93 league outings, Jimmy returned for a second spell with the Grecians in December 1977 in a £7,000 deal. After an initial appearance against Oxford on 31 December 1977, Jimmy played in 23 of the remaining 24 games that season as the Grecians finished 17th in the club’s first Division Three season after promotion.

Again Jimmy displayed his consistency and dependability as he made 43 league appearances in 1978/79 and 42 in 1979/80. It was only during 1980/81 when, at the age of thirty-four, that Jimmy lost his first-team place as Lee Roberts took over the number five shirt.   

Although he made three further appearances Jimmy effectively lost his first-team place after the game against Barnsley on 8 November 1980. Falling a fortnight before City’s first FA Cup game of the season, Jimmy missed out on Exeter’s run to the quarter-finals of the competition. And, with Jimmy being at Charlton when the Grecians won promotion in 1977, it meant he had not participated in all of the great occasions experienced by Peter Hatch, his contemporary from a similar part of the country and fellow Exeter City Hall of Fame member.      

Featuring finally against Portsmouth on 10 February 1981, just short of ten years after his City debut, Jimmy left the club immediately to become player-manager of Yeovil Town having made 130 league appearances (five goals) in his second spell at the club. It was also the 501st game of his Football League career.

Jimmy remained with the Somerset club until March 1983 and was later awarded a testimonial match at St James’ Park against an Invitation XI in April 1985. Continuing to live in the East Devon area and running a bricklaying business, Jimmy remained familiar to his old admirers - and new generations of City supporters - in his guise as a co-commentator for Radio Devon. He also ran the Exeter City Legends team for a while along with Alan Banks. 

Remembered as a staple of the City defence by a generation of supporters, and as a regular figure around the club for many years afterwards, Jimmy was one of the initial inductees into the Exeter City Hall of Fame in 2014.     






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Michael Hewitt

Hey Jimmy great to meet you on flight from Bristol. Really enjoyed talking b...... with you. By the way good job our bags were as slow as the horses you tipped as I might have lost money on email.  You are a proper research bloke . Best wishes Mick

David Coram

I remember in the late 70s going to see City play Argyle at home park. Awkward as we were with my dad's friend who was Plymouth fan and we were in with them. Jimmy gave away a penalty within 5 minutes. We went on to loose 4-2. I mentioned this to Jimmy at JSP one day and he laughed and said I was always giving away penalties. A great character larger than life!

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