‘…I believe, I am correct in saying Messrs Emmerson, Hobbs and Wrightson never attended any meetings.” – Ernest Morison ‘The origin of Hull City: A romance of daring, pluck and luck’, 1913.
Original founder John Emmerson was something of an enigma. Records show that his residence in Hull (at 105 Albert Avenue) lasted only 2 years, and details of his life in Hull are somewhat sketchy. His stated occupation was Assurance Superintendent, and the circumstances by which he became involved in the foundation of Hull City are unknown. Any connection he may have had with the other pioneering directors was not readily apparent.
One possible link with other founders was through his employment. Fellow original director William Hay had two sons, Henry (Harry)and his younger brother William (Willie), who was an insurance clerk.
In the 1911 census, John Emmerson, now 31 years of age, is recorded living in his native Leeds as a Life Assurance Agent for the Wesleyan General. Willie Hay now aged 30 is an Insurance Agent in Hull for the Ocean Insurance Company . It may be that Emmerson lived briefly in Hull as an area representative for his Leeds-based employer, and in the course of his work came to know the well-known local footballer Willie Hay, who interested him in the idea of investing in a new football club.
His address in Albert Avenue is remote from that of any other founder, and he has no known local sporting resume’ that would link him to a specific club or event.
A couple of articles from the Hull Daily Mail a few years later may shed some light on his life.
An article in June 1910 reports that after a day in Hull, a John Emmerson of Leeds is the worse for wear after visiting the city’s hostelries, and he cuts his head badly after falling. As a result of this, he had to spend 12 days in hospital before appearing before the court charged with being drunk. The judge shows leniency and awards him the cost of a single rail fare back to Leeds.
Then in June 1912 he is involved in a court case heard in Hull as a representative of the Prudential Assurance company. He was called upon as witness for the defence in a dispute involving insurance payments made by a Hull woman using the forged signature of her husband. Emmerson had a role in the local affairs of the Prudential, whose regional headquarters were in Leeds.
There is a strong possibility that the ‘Assurance Superintendent’ of 105 Albert Avenue, the injured Leeds merrymaker and the Prudential superintendent in the court case, are all one and the same person. However, there is no absolute proof of this, as Emmerson left so little trace of his activities in the city and inevitably speculation and guesswork must be factored into any account of his life.
One thing is certain- that John Emmerson had minimal impact in the formation of Hull City Football Club, and played no part in its early business, having only the most fleeting of involvements.
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