Hull City AFCorigins and early history


Marcus Betts Andrews

The circumstances surrounding the formation of Hull City in the summer of 1904 indicate a pooling of resources between two groups, one composed off ERFA officials and the other made up of a group of ambitious and restless young players, who had conquered their own city and were looking to compete against new and better opposition. Prominent amongst the latter group was Mark Andrews, an accomplished full back admired well beyond the city boundaries, an enthusiastic and eloquent communicator unafraid of speaking his mind, and a principled leader whose interests were not limited to playing football.

Andrews’ story is not a typical one among the founders and original promoters of the club. He was one of the group of young players and friends whose ambition and aspiration pushed them inexorably to the summit of local football. Once there, they sought the next summit, playing for the clubs they themselves formed and managed, constantly looking to collect silverware and recruit better players. But Andrews was also a teacher, an enthusiastic musician, writer, model boat maker and cricketer. His varied interests and vocational training would mean that although football was a passion, it never shaped his life or assumed too large an important role. Throughout his professional and personal life he remained energetically active, taking part in a succession of pastimes.

He was a vital participant in the formation of the club, but he would quickly become estranged from it within two years of its formation, apparently disillusioned with how the club’s directors had distanced him and his fellow founders, allowing others to take over its running.

Origins and early years

The son of Ipswich-born Nelson Andrews, a coach painter & builder who lived and worked in the city’s Newland Avenue area, Mark was born in 1878 in Stowmarket, Suffolk. The Andrews family moved to the Lambert Street area of Hull, and Mark completed his education at the newly-established Central Higher Grade School on Brunswick Avenue off Beverley Road, where he achieved an Elementary Pass in Practical, Plane and Solid Geometry. A sufficiently gifted and devoted student to continue on the educational path to college in York, Andrews became a teacher himself and eventually a headmaster in Hull at the Clifton Street school. His first experience of teaching came at the age of 13 years, when he kept a class in order at the Lambert Street school with the help of a senior teacher. Evidently adept at managing his peers and a quick learner, Andrews continued his teaching career at other Hull schools such as Northumberland Avenue and St. Marks in the Groves, where he eventually became headmaster. These early examples of maturity and leadership would serve him well in the years to come.

Cricket and football activities

In the mid 1890s, Andrews played cricket for Hull Rovers, a club founded around 1882 and who played at Marlborough Avenue on a pitch described as ‘of the celery bed variety, having numerous ridges and hollows’ then moved to a field behind Salisbury Gardens then to Stepney Lane. In 1899 the club moved to a pitch on Anlaby Rd.

Andrews was a fast bowler for the first XI, but in the second XI and occasionally as a twelfth man for the first XI, was Fred Levitt. Like many amateur footballers around the turn of the last century, they finished playing football at the end of April and started their cricketing activities the following weekend. Come the last weekend of August the reverse switch was made. Levitt became captain of the second XI, his leadership qualities again coming to the fore. As well as having a cricket club in common, Levitt and Andrews both had a father involved in woodworking and lived close to each other (Levitt was living around the Stepney area of Beverley Road). Both shared an interest in football and both were local players of note.

Andrews played for the Beverley Church Institute football club, whose matches took place at the Station ground in the town. One team mate was Ben Saunders Frost- another important connection made among the young players who would form Hull City- and also in goal for some games was none other than Fred Levitt, who played for the BCI reserves on September 28th September 1899 according to an article in the Beverley Recorder and General Advertiser The BCI would have the measure of Comet 1899/1900 and also their successors the Hull AFC in 1900/01. The same paper reported that Fred Levitt turned out in goal for the BCI first team in early November against Malton Derwent in the Scarboro’ Cup .Also in the side that day were Frost, Andrews, and the Mackrill brothers. Andrews and Levitt had previously been mentioned in the local Press as being involved in the formation of an offshoot football team of the Comet Cycling Club, but despite this there is no record of Andrews playing for the Comet football team. These early sporting alliances and acquaintanceships would prove useful in establishing a strong team of like-minded young footballers. (Ben Frost would join Levitt and Andrews in 1902/03 for the newly-named Hull City.) The pieces were falling into place.

This Hull City team dominated local football in 1902/03, the highlight being the Hull Times Cup Final at the Boulevard in April 1903 when Andrews received the Cup as the victorious captain.

“Then handing the cup to Mr Mark Andrews, Mr Lewis added: “I have great pleasure on behalf of the ‘Hull Times’ in presenting you with this trophy.”

Another babel of cheering followed before the Hull captain could reply. He remarked that at that moment he was “the happiest man in Hull,” a sally which the crowd acknowledged with a good natured laugh. The honour he had received was also that of the team, and he must add that he considered he had realised the highest ambition that could be attained in Association circles in Hull in receiving the handsome cup.”

Following this triumphant season, Hull City folded suddenly and unexpectedly, the core of the team going on to play for Ben Saunders Frost’s Hessle team in the 1903/4 season.

Hessle playing profile

Taken from an edition of the Hull Sports Express in December 1903, the following is a description and history of Andrews’ playing career up to that point.

Marcus Andrews is one of the best known Association players in the district, perhaps , and the Hessle A.F.C. are fortunate in possessing such a left full back of merit. In play he has excellent judgment, and is a sure and reliable kick. He can return a ball well up the field, and his resource makes him a very indispensable player. He is one of the most deadly penalty shots in local football , succeeding last season on eight occasions out of nine. He played with several Hull junior teams prior to going to St. Johns College, York, where he assisted chiefly in the forwards. Whilst at York, he occasionally played Rugby, but always preferred Soccer, and assisted Ebor Wanderers , the winners of the York and District League, at outside right. Returning to Hull, he put in two years with the now defunct Beverley Church Institute A.F.C., figuring at half back. He afterwards figured in a few Doncaster Rovers matches with distinction, taking part in Rovers’ memorable conquest of Burslem Port Vale. Hull City then secured his services, and he played in his present position for the “Cits.”Being vice-captain in 1901-2, he was promoted to the captaincy of the club last season, and no one was more elated than he at the success which the team achieved until its disbandment. Mr. Andrews is a wonderfully enthusiastic player, and though he is often going to retire, he never does. He is 24 years of age, weighs 11st 10lb, and stands 5ft 10 ½ in. Like other Soccer footballers in the city, he is looking forward to seeing in the city, he is looking forward to seeing the round ball at the Boulevard in the near future.

Within the year, Andrews had his wish with the new Hull City playing their games there. The tall fair Andrews is pictured on the back row of the historic photograph taken before the first match against Notts Co in September 1904. Colleague Fred Levitt is further along the same row, a director on this occasion not a player. Andrews would play 8 times that season, all the games being in the first 2 months. Local full back George ‘Silver’ Brooks slotting in for most of the subsequent fixtures in his place. Andrews would quietly depart for Goole during the course of the season.

Andrews the letter writer

Andrews held opinions on local football matters of the day and did not hesitate to express them in the local press.

One early example of this was in a newspaper debate about the merits of football over rugby, and the likelihood of establishing a successful football club in the city. The Sports Express ran a story over several weeks around late 1903/early 1904, asking if it might be in the common good for the ailing Hull FC (with their financial troubles) to adopt the Association game, which was steadily establishing itself in West Yorkshire. Andrews pens his thoughts in late December as follows, making the case for what he believed was a superior game from the spectator’s viewpoint.

A Game for Spectators

Our senior Rugby organisation has fallen on evil days, and its one-time supporters require simulating afresh. Hull is one of the very few large towns unpresented by an Association team. These, I think, are arguments in favour of the round ball merely from stress of circumstances. Now to take the game itself. The Northern Union authorities have for years continually tinkered with their rules in their endeavours to open out the game and make it more attractive to the onlooker. Their achievements in this direction are a matter of history. Now if an open and fast game is what “the man who pays the piper” wants there is Association ready made. It has all the points generally admired by the Rugby enthusiast, viz., big kicking by the full backs, tricky head and footwork by the halves, and smart accurate passing combined with inspiring dashes down touch by the forwards, while fearlessness and a cool head are qualities which a good goalkeeper must possess. The variety of kicks and the tricks possible to a good exponent make Association eminently a game for spectators. Compare the tactics of the Sunderland or Aston Villa forwards with the scramble called a “forward dribble” of the average Rugby team. Both have the same object in view, that of working the ball to the other end of the field. The Soccer professional being more highly trained makes fewer mistakes than his confrere, and the game is not continually stopped for knocks-on or passes forward. I am confident that having once seen the Soccer game properly played by experts the Hull public will welcome the change. — MARCUS ANDREWS, Newland-avenue, Hull.

Andrews saw the need to correct the Hessle v Beverley match report filed by the Hull Daily Mail’s correspondent after a game in March 1904, and to specifically clarify incidents during play. Future Hull City secretary was the ERFA referee in charge of the game i

THE HOSPITAL CUP FINAL. (To the Football Editor)

SIR, - Seeing your correspondent’s remarks in to-night’s “World of Sport” re the Hessle v Beverley match last Saturday , I should like to point out to him one of two facts.

  1. There was no refusal on my part to “get up” after having fallen on the ball. I remained there for the very good reason that I could not rise owing to being surrounded by the Beverley players (all except the goalkeeper).
  2. Mr Haller (Jack Haller, future Hull City secretary) was quite in order awarding a free kick to Hessle as the result of a Beverley player taking a deliberate running kick at me, for which he was immediately ordered off the field (Your correspondent has either “winked at” or forgotten this “incident”.)
  3. I infringed none of the rules of the Association game in anything I did. Therefore no penalty was necessary.
  4. “Obstruction” belongs exclusively to the Rugby game , and is not used in the rules of Association.
  5. The referee’s decision on a point of fact is final.

There has evidently been some misconception over the rules arising from the “incident” mentioned. I am confident, however, that Mr. Haller, from his wide experience both as player and referee , gave his decision on what actually happened . There is no law of the game which allows of deliberate kicking.- I am, Sir, etc., M.ANDREWS

By February 1905, Andrews had started playing for Goole Town, themselves only formed in 1902. A visit from Hessle in the English Amateur Cup was the catalyst for Goole’s rapid development, as some Hessle players such as Ben Saunders Frost and T. Grantham would turn out for the ‘Terriers’ as they were nicknamed at the time. Andrews also managed to recruit Hull player F. Robson (later of Fulham Reserves) for some fixtures. Other players recruited by Andrews included Ford (ex Hessle and Hull City), Walter Shaw (Withernsea and Hessle) and centre forward Willie Hay (Hessle and Hull City).

Andrews, by now having severed most of his links with Hull City and having become a Goole player, also contacted the Hull Daily Mail to correct speculation of him playing for Tottenham Hotspur.

M.Andrews and Tottenham January 11, 1907

Sir, - I notice in to-night’s issue of the “Mail” a remark re my playing for Tottenham Hotspur in their forthcoming cup-tie. The whole business is news to me, as I have been many miles away from this district for the past fortnight.

Probably the statement has grown from the fact that the Tottenham secretary wrote asking me if I would assist them during their Xmas matches. I thanked him for the honour accorded me , but declined owing to having made previous arrangements. There is no immediate likelihood of my leaving the Goole Town Club, under whose auspices I find football more pleasurable than I have hitherto experienced.

Kindly contradict the rumours which I now understand have gained credence in connection with the ‘Spurs and myself during the past few days. – I am, Sir, etc.,


Most significantly of all, Andrews wrote to the local Press in early 1906 after the AGM in which his friends and fellow founders were voted off the board of directors , in order to express his disdain for what happened at the meeting. This event marked a significant schism among the two founding groups who had formed the club less than two years earlier, and marked the end of the involvement of several young founders, who saw their influence wane into insignificance as older and wealthier board members asserted their control.

Life after Hull City

Andrews’ death in 1948 at the age of 69 made the front page of the Hull Daily Mail, which published a brief obituary. The length and achievements of his teaching career (over 50 years) were the focus of the article, with his sports interests recounted in the latter part of it. As well as football (he became the president of the Hull Boys’ Football Association) and cricket, it was noted that ‘yachting and modelling were perhaps his greatest interests. He had sailed boats from boyhood, and he not only devoted a great deal of his leisure to marine model-making, but taught the art in his own school and at a Hull youth club.’ He had also mastered the mandolin and banjo to a high standard, performing at social events around the city in the years before the Great War, often accompanied by his adopted son Eric.

Mark Andrews (second left) with the Kingston Model Yacht Club in 1914.

His writing took the form of articles published in the Hull Daily Mail, recounting his observations on the local waterways on which he sailed his model yachts. In 1923 he wrote “The River Hull: Some Men We Know or Think We Do” and “The River Hull: the East Yorkshire Broadland” for the paper.

Although his involvement with Hull City was very brief in comparison with other founders, it is of greater importance than most of them, given his early prominent role among the young players who first conceived the idea of forming a professional club capable of entering the Second Division.

Hs ability as a player and captain, and his eloquence as a spokesperson for the young founders of the club, ensured that that this tall determined young man of principle remains a figure of primary importance in the club’s history.


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