Nostalgia: Doncaster Rovers' top ten goalkeepers - #10 Willie Nimmo

Doncaster Rovers historian John Coyle is this week counting down the club’s top ten goalkeepers of all time.

Monday, 19th October 2020, 9:47 am
Updated Monday, 19th October 2020, 10:08 am
Doncaster Rovers 1959-60. Willie Nimmo, back row, fourth from left.

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Willie Nimmo

Lanarkshire-born Willie Nimmo had already had substantial experience in Scotland when he moved to Leeds United from Alloa Athletic, for a fee of £1,250, in February 1956. He made only one appearance for Leeds before, in March 1958, he got the opportunity to move to Belle Vue. It was to prove a beneficial step for both Nimmo and Doncaster Rovers.

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Nimmo came to Rovers in exchange for Ted Burgin, the former England “B” international who had signed from Sheffield United after Harry Gregg’s move to Manchester United. Burgin had lost his place at Belle Vue following a broken collarbone, but his career prospered again at Leeds. Nimmo made his debut in the final three games of the 1957-58 season and could not prevent Rovers’ relegation to Division Three. His first full season brought little joy, with Rovers dropping straight down to the Fourth Division, but Nimmo was one of the shining lights in a dismal campaign. He missed only two games, a testament to his goalkeeping ability. The 6-foot-tall Scot was a brave and agile goalkeeper and also a man who stayed relatively free of injuries, as his deputies found to their cost.

Nimmo was an ever-present in both League and Cup in 1959-60, the first Rovers’ keeper to earn this distinction since Ken Hardwick ten years earlier. Hardwick’s efforts had earned him a Division Three (North) champions medal: Nimmo’s feat, in a team in transition, earned no such tangible reward. Perhaps he was helped by the fact that, due to cost cutting, Rovers did not have another senior goalkeeper on their books after Dave McIntosh was released in 1959, but he did maintain an admirable level of consistency of fitness and performance.

In 1960-61 Nimmo was again first choice and missed only one game, which happened after he sustained an injury during a 0-7 hammering by Chelsea in the new League Cup competition. He was soon back in harness again and in the dismal season of 1961-62 he was again ever-present. Although 1960-61, under the leadership of player-coach Norman Curtis, had hinted at a revival in the club’s fortunes, the following season was a disaster. Curtis had resigned, citing boardroom interference and his replacement, Danny Malloy, did not prove to be a success and he was relieved of his coaching duties before the end of the season. Rovers had to apply for re-election and new manager Oscar Hold made substantial changes, one of them being the decision to release Nimmo, who moved to Mansfield Town. He did not spend long there and soon returned to Scotland.

Nimmo had the misfortune to play in a succession of poor Rovers teams during a period that represented a long hangover following the heady Division Two days of the 1950s. Yet his record stands comparison with the best of Rovers’ keepers. In a period of many changes on the playing side he remained a constant - a man who could be relied upon.

Name: William Brown NIMMO

Born: Forth, 11th January 1934

Died: 1991

Signed for Rovers: March 1958 from Leeds United

Left Rovers: July 1962, transferred to Mansfield Town

Appearances: League 182, Cup 15