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While Jim may not have the high profile as a number of other Lilywhite Legends, he is worthy of inclusion for a number of reasons.
He wore our white kit in the early years of our Club, first playing for Eastern Suburbs in 1937, just three years after ESAFC was formed. Two years later (1939) Jim was in the premier men’s Lilywhite team. After recovering from an Achilles heel injury (not the result of a football injury, rather the result of falling down a cliff on Waiheke Island) his ability was recognised with his selection into the 1947 Auckland representative team which played in the EFA Trophy, Auckland also played South Africa in a series of four games that year. Jim was selected for Auckland again in 1951 (along with a number of his Lilywhite team-mates) which defeated the Victoria team from Australia (the Kangaroos) by 3 goals to 1.
Sporting prowess ran in Jim’s DNA. His father coached the All Whites, and his grandson (also named James, aka Jimmy) played for the Lilywhites during the early in the new millennium in our age grade teams. James Sr was often seen at Glover Park watching his grandson Jimmy, who proved to be a pretty handy goal keeper.
James Jr. put his goal keeping gloves aside in favour of his preferred code: cricket. Jimmy Neesham has gone on to enjoy a very successful career as a professional cricketer and as a high profile Black Cap.