Percy Hilton Wrightson
‘…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.
Hull City’s first game took place on September 1st 1904 and a historic photograph was taken before the game of the first City team and the majority of directors of the club. One founding director not present was Durham-born Percy Hilton Wrightson, who was getting married that same day and therefore understandably absent.
As Ernest Morison observes in his account of the formation of the club, Wrightson had very little involvement with the early days of the club after its formation. What then were his connections in local football and how did they lead to his involvement with the nascent Hull City?
Percy’s father Henry was a Sunderland coal exporter who came to live and work in Hull, living on Westbourne Avenue. His son Percy would follow him into the family trade and was described as a ‘coal merchant’. The exporting of South Yorkshire coal through Hull docks had become a lucrative business in Hull with the advent of the Hull and Barnsley Railway in the 1880s, which had triggered a rapid expansion of commerce and employment in the port. (Fellow founder Thomas Shaw would also become a coal merchant- whether Wrightson was instrumental in this is undocumented.)
His football exploits saw Percy play for Roslyn (a team who played football and cricket on Cottingham Road around the Newland Park area, and whose HQ was Hop Villa, a large house belonging to the Robson brewing family). Percy also briefly had a Withernsea connection and was associated with the town’s football team and, or a short time, Hull AFC (the club set up by, amongst others, Messrs Levitt, Andrews, Compton and, the brothers Hay).
Hull AFC played on the field at the end of Bull Lane off Beverley Road- near enough to the Cottingham Road pitches where Wrightson turned out for Roslyn, who were often their opponents.
The Hull Daily Mail of October 3rd 1901 gives the team line ups for forthcoming local fixtures ( these were often printed for the benefit of the players themselves). The Hull AFC team is playing away at Huddersfield. Levitt is in goal, Andrews at full back and Willie Hay is inside forward. Wrightson is named as one of the two Reserves for the team. Immediately under this team listing, the Hull AFC Reserve team to play Cosmopolitans at Bull Lane includes Wrightson as a full back. Below this is the Hull Roslyn team to face Brunswick Wesleyans on Newland Park, and Wrightson is listed as playing half back for the home teams .
Chris Elton’s 1989 book ‘Hull City- a complete record’ lists the fixtures of Hull AFC for the 1901/2 season and has Wrightson playing twice as a full back – away at Goole on September 28th (no Levitt or Andrews) and a home game against Roslyn (!) with Levitt, Andrews and Willie Hay all in the team. Wrightson played his part in a 5-2 win against his former club.
Newspaper reports reveal Wrightson was also a golfer and tennis player, but details of his footballing activities become non-existent. Other events occupy Percy Wrightson and his wife, as they attend fashionable local weddings and the funerals of prominent East Yorkshire society figures. He also becomes involved in local jury and courtroom activities at Quarter Sessions in Hull, firmly cementing his place in the civic life of the port city. His commercial activities, his new marriage and interest in other sports, seemed to combine to squeeze Hull City and football out of his busy life. The documented and short-lived football life of Percy Wrightson appeared to end on the very day the Tigers played their inaugural game.
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