Hull City AFCorigins and early history


Harlequins 1897-1899

The start of the trail that led to the formation of Hull City becomes apparent in 1897, when a small amateur club playing in the local leagues attracts a group of young players, who would go on to form a succession of football teams in their quest for local supremacy.

Fred Levitt was still a teenager (just) in the autumn of 1897 when he became involved with the Harlequins, a club who played in Division II of the Hull and District FA in the 1897/8 season , which at the start of that season comprised thirteen teams . Their opponents in the second tier, largely consisted of the second elevens of the Division I clubs The ‘Harley’s’ or the ‘Quins’, as the local Press occasionally referred to them, also ran a second XI who played in the division below (i.e. in the third tier).

In September, Levitt (as club secretary) busied himself with arranging fixtures for the first and second teams in the ‘Do you want a match?’ section of the Hull Daily Mail, which clubs used to advertise their availability to play games on vacant dates in their calendar.

The home ground for the Harlequins was on Stoneferry Road an industrial area east of the river Hull but close enough to the populous Beverley Road area to make it easily accessible. Their ‘HQ’ was the Spring Bank Hotel, where they held meetings and ‘smoker’ evenings. One such ‘smoker’ (a social evening with music and entertainment usually held on licensed premises) was held in December in 1897 at the Queens Hotel on Charlotte Street. The host was the club treasurer Everitt Jackson, and upwards of 150 people attended- a measure of the club’s standing locally.

At then of that season, the first team finished fourth in Division II, in a league now consisting of only 11 teams, with Harlequins Reserves finishing in third place in a ten team division.

The 1898/1899 season saw Harlequins able to field three teams in three different divisions as the expanding Hull and District FA added a fourth tier to their competition. Fred Levitt was still working to arrange games for all three of the club’s teams in the ‘Do you want a match?’ column of the Hull Daily Mail.

The ground for this season was on the Newland Park Estate located on Cottingham Road, and the names of the Hay brothers, E.L. Frost and L. Traynor appear among the players turning out for Harlequins. (Levitt himself was now playing as a goalkeeper for the second XI) These four would follow Levitt to other local clubs around the turn of the twentieth century.

At the end of the 1898/99 season, the first XI finished 5th out of 8 teams in the second tier, the second Xi (losing the play-off after finishing joint top) in a third division of 8 and the third team finished 3rd in a division of 6.

Unfortunately, details of the playing strip of the colourfully-named Harlequins are undocumented.


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