Jim Blundell, Hall of Fame honoured member, dies at 79
Posted on 4 April 2019 in Around the Soccer World
Jim Blundell, a Canada Soccer Hall of Fame honoured member and Canadian champion, has passed away peacefully at the age of 79 in Burnaby. One of the country’s top players throughout the 1960s, he was Vancouver Firefighters FC’s top goalscorer across their storied history in the Pacific Coast League.
Blundell was a centre forward and inside forward that scored more than 140 goals in league, cup and all-star matches across a 12-year career from 1957 to 1969. He was a six-time all-star in an eight-year span from 1959 to 1966 and led the Pacific Coast League in scoring in both 1962-63 and 1965-66. He was the league’s second-highest goalscorer in the 1960s with 92 goals, all of which were scored for Firefighters FC.
Blundell won Canada Soccer’s Championship with Firefighters FC in 1965, the most important of more than a dozen trophies that he won with the organisation after he joined them in his early 20s. He won the Mainland League championship in 1960-61, four Pacific Coast League championships from 1961-62 to 1965-66, the Anderson Cup five-straight times from 1961-62 to 1965-66, the Top Star Trophy three times from 1963 to 1968, the BC Province Cup five times from 1961 to 1967, and the international Kennedy Cup in 1966. He also played in the 1961 Canadian final when Firefighters were runners up and missed the 1962 Kennedy Cup through injury when Firefighters were the first Canadian winners of the Canada-USA-Mexico club competition.
The Firefighters could always count on Blundell to score when it mattered most. One such match at old Callister Park was 3 May 1964 when he scored twice to help Firefighters capture their first of three-straight Pacific Coast League championships. Over the years, he also scored in decisive matches to win Canada Soccer’s Challenge Trophy, the BC Province Cup, the Pacific Coast League championship, the Anderson Cup, the Top Star Trophy, and the Kennedy Cup.
Fifty years after he stopped playing, he was still well remembered by teammates and opponents. Said teammate Gary Stevens, “he knew how to get into position, he had a really good shot and he distributed the ball well. He read the game well and he was a very smart player.” Said opponent Neil Ellett, “once Jim Blundell got inside the box, you had to pay close attention because he could put it away. He wasn’t a speedster or one to rock a shot from a long way out, but get him inside the box and he could do damage for you.”
Before joining Firefighters FC, Blundell played his youth football with Renfrew Lions, Vancouver Technical School, and Vancouver Marpole. He made his senior debut with Vancouver Hale-Co FC in 1957 and won his first Pacific Coast League championship a year later in 1958. He also won the Ed Bayley Memorial Trophy as the top player who is most outstanding in his first full year in senior soccer.
Said Blundell earlier this year, “I just really liked to play the game. Nothing big or fancy, I never thought I would be a goalscorer or win anything, I just liked to play the game.” He was inducted to the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame in March as part of a special class of Past Canadian Players from the 1940s through 1960s.
Beyond the pitch, Jim Blundell worked as a firefighter for over 30 years, joining the Vancouver Fire Department in 1963 a few years after he joined their football club. Born in Vancouver on 29 July 1939, he passed away on Sunday 31 March 2019. He was predeceased by his son Robert and is survived by his wife Linda, their children Janet (Gary), Bruce (Colleen), daughter-in-law Andrea, and grandchildren Ryan, Kara, Blake, Annie & Jack.