Hull City AFCorigins and early history


Comet 1899–1900

In the Eastern Morning News of 29 July 1899 a short paragraph gave details of a general meeting of the Comet Cycling Club which was held at their headquarters and in which “it was decided to form a football club, to be called “Comet” A.F.C., for which the following officers were elected - Committee, Messrs. H Hay, M. Andrews, A.E. Jones, H. Brumby, and J.W. White; captain 1st team Mr. C. Wilkinson; vice-captain Mr. F.A. Levitt; captain 2nd team Mr. F.G. Foggin; vice-captain, Mr. E. Frost; treasurer , Mr. A.E. Taylor, secretary Mr. B Crompton. The election of president was left over until the next meeting.”

It had been barely a fortnight since the Harlequins’ general meeting on July 13th. Several of their players now occupied roles in the running of Comet. Aside from Levitt and Harry Hay, Ernie Frost and Ben Crompton also all joined up.

It seems likely the ‘M. Andrews’ mentioned is Mark Andrews, a future key figure in the establishment of Hull City. Andrews was a team mate of Levitt at the Hull Rovers cricket club, but for the 1899/1900 season, he continued to play his football for Beverley Church Institute.

The Comet Cycling Club had organised weekly rides for its members throughout the summer of 1899 to towns and villages within cycling distance of Hull, such as Paull, Ferriby, Market Weighton, Meaux, Tranby Croft, Howden and Grimsby (with the aid of the Humber ferry). The King’s Head in Beverley was the venue for a Thursday night ‘smoker’ in June, before members cycled back to Hull shortly before midnight.

The eleven-a-side winter sport soon took priority for Comet and they took their place in the Second League of the Hull and District alongside clubs such as Holborn, Harlequins, New Holland, East Hull, Beverley Church Institute II , Sculcoates Amateurs, St, Paul’s II, and Driffield Church Mutual. Home games were played on the Newland Park Estate on Cottingham Road. A second and a third team were entered in the Third and Fourth Leagues respectively. Three teams entered for local league football within a week of the announcement of the formation of the club – an indication of the local level of enthusiasm and of the profile of the people running it. A general meeting was called for 5th September at the Spring Bank Hotel, which the club continued to use as base for its meetings and social events.

The match at Dairycoates against the railwaymen of the N.E.R on the 2nd December saw the team use the Locomotive Inn as a dressing room and a local paper noted that the team had their photograph taken. Unfortunately it seems unlikely (although not impossible) that any copies still exist. The following week a game at New Holland saw the ‘Stars’ or the ‘Meteors’, as the ever-imaginative local press were apt to describe them, take the ferry from the Pier across the river where they may well have encountered the match referee and future Hull City co-founder Jack Bielby who was officiating their game. Fred Levitt was captain and goalkeeper, and outfield players included Willie Hay and Ben Crompton.

On the 29th August 1900 the club held their annual meeting, this time at the Bull Hotel on Beverley Road, a neighbourhood very familiar to many of the people running the club, with Fred Levitt presiding. Secretary Ben Crompton’s report would have delighted all those present. He revealed the details of a very successful season. Played 24, won 19, lost 2 and drawn 3, thus winning the Hull Second League Cup. A small profit was made on the season. Further details were given in the Hull Daily Mail of those running the club. President was FN Preston, vice-presidents were Willie Hay and Fred Levitt, who was also captain of the first team. J.E. Hutchinson was captain of the second team with Willie Hay as his deputy. Willie’s brother Harry was hon. secretary, his address given as 34 Chesnut Avenue, Queen’s Road . Ben Crompton of 7 Park Row, Park Street, as the hon. assistant secretary.

The 1900/1901 kicked off with Comet in the First League and playing on the pitch at the end of Bull Lane (or Stepney Lane as it was more formally known) . With their pitch down the lane from their favoured meeting place, and many players living nearby, the team began slowly to assume something of a local character, centred on the Stepney district of Beverley Road.

Their triumphant previous season saw them playing against the best local opposition, and an encounter on 22nd September with leading local outfit Beverley Church Institute saw them come up against two formidable defenders Mark Andrews and Ben Frost, the older brother of Comet’s Ernie Frost. These two talents would later be recruited into the emerging elite local club that was steadily taking shape under the guidance of Levitt, the Hays and Crompton. Teams wishing to arrange fixtures with Comet, were advised to contact H. Townend of 21, Lowgate.

A game against Hessle that month elicited the following comment from ‘Athleo’ of the Hull Daily Mail : “The Comets play a really good game, and, considering what they are doing towards bringing the ‘Socker’ code into greater popularity, I trust they will be rewarded by good “gates”. Unless the public will support such clubs as the Comet, they cannot expect “real” football to flourish in the city.” Few details of crowd numbers were published in the local press, nor whether Comet pulled good numbers of spectators to their matches. In view of their winning football and location in a densely-inhabited urban area, there would have been every reason to expect healthy attendances.

As the season drew to a conclusion, Comet faced Withernsea at Dairycoates on the Albert United ground, and ‘borrowed’ three players from Grimsby All Saints and Parker of the Hessle team. Jack Bielby was the referee and received verbal abuse from the Withernsea supporters for his officiating of the game, which Comet won 3-0.

A ‘smoking concert’ organised by the Hull and District FA on May 17th saw Comet honoured for winning the First League and the Comet second team recognised as champions of League II. There could be no dispute that Comet had become the city’s leading local side. Fred Levitt, at 22 years of age, was seated on the top table of the event, a successful goalkeeper, captain, secretary and president of clubs which he had been instrumental in forming.

The summer months saw Levitt turning out for the Hull Rovers cricket club, who also numbered Mark Andrews among their leading players. Levitt himself was captain of the second XI and a useful allrounder.

In August 1901 it was reported that Levitt and Andrews had both played in a trial game for Doncaster Rovers – evidence of both their talent and ambition.

The nucleus of the Comet club played the 1901/2 season as Hull Association FC, no formal notice being given of the demise of Comet or the name change, but all the familiar Stepney contingent were on board, with their newest recruit Mark Andrews ( who lived locally and had grown up on nearby Newland Avenue). Bull Lane was again the home ground.

Fred Levitt and his associates had in a short time established themselves as the leading team in the city. Playing, organising, recruiting and trusting in their own abilities, their profile continued to grow..


Please contact me using the form on the contact page:
Contact me