Hull City AFCorigins and early history


The Origin of Hull City by Ernest Morison

The first account of the formation of Hull City came from Ernest Morison, one of the founding directors. It appeared some nine years after the event, and was published in the Sports Express of Saturday November 15 in 1913.

The Sports Express was the weekly Saturday sports edition brought out by the Hull Daily News, publication having started a decade or so earlier and several years before the Hull Daily Mail brought put their version – the Sports Mail.

In the autumn of 1913 Morison had a weekly column in the Sports Express and penned a series of breezy articles on sporting and show business topics, with titles such as ‘The Rise of Football’, ‘Cup Curios’, ‘Play & Players – A Chat on side issues’ and ‘Club & “Co.” – the difficulties of directors’.

Morison’s polished account of the formation and early struggles was intended for the entertainment of his sporting readership rather than historical dissection and accuracy. He has the advantage over future writers in that he knew the other founders, and the events of which he is writing would be less than a decade old. Perhaps this also detracts from his version, in that he would have had to produce something that would not offend his fellow directors or reflect badly on the club. For this reason, the article appears curiously vague and almost coy in parts. It seems to have been the raw material for future accounts of the club’s formation, which have echoed the vagueness and incomplete feel of the story.

The origin of Hull City

A romance of daring, pluck and luck

Mr Ernest Morison tells the story

If ever there was a case where sheer, audacious, vaulting ambition did not o'erleap itself- as according to orthodox precedent it should have been -then most assuredly that example was the origin of the Hull City Football club. The reason for this remark will be readily understood when I say that it was only in July 1904 , that some three highly enthusiastic but certainly indiscreet young men in the City of Hull divided to run a “class” Association football team, for the benefit of all and sundry. That


To back up their ambitious desires mattered not one jot! They entered into engagements with players, ground, and visiting clubs with a sublime indifference to all responsibility, and then, when the die was cast, and THEN only, decided to float a limited liability company! It was a bold stroke, but happily for all concerned, and the game especially, it is now a cry of


Meanwhile, however, a remarkable state of affairs had arisen. Quite unknown to the original promoters of the City, but working quietly towards the same end, was another body of enthusiasts whose intentions were not quite so pretentious, inasmuch as they were to be satisfied with seeking admission to the Midland League. It may be imagined therefore that when the fact leaked out that a Board of Directors had already been formed to float a company and the articles of Association had almost been passed by the Football Association it gave one cause to pause, as it were. However, as the intent was good,the


if I may so term them, readily agreed there should be no clashing of interests or display of diversity of opinion to upset the public mind, and so the new company came into being without opposition, as might have easily been unavoidably the case a few weeks later. The original directors were Messrs Marcus Andrews, J Barraclough, J H Bielby, J Emmerson, Ben Saunders Frost, W Gillyott (Chairman), W Hay, RH Hobbs, F A Levitt, G W Lilley (vice-chairman), E Morison, J Ramster, T W Shaw, A E Spring and PH Wrightson. Of these, I believe, I am quite correct in saying Messrs Emmerson, Hobbs and Wrightson never attended any meetings. That


or other rich, sport-loving individual or coterie of individuals at the back of the scheme may be readily gathered from the fact that the capital was only fixed at £2 000 in 4,000 ten shilling shares. So matters progressed for a time, and whilst the public showed no overwhelming desire to take up shares in this, what as rightly been termed “the stronghold of rugbyism” for almost half a century, there was sufficient money forthcoming to meet current liabilities, and great were the hopes that the “gates” would do the rest. When it is explained that


had been given for friendly matches to such First Division clubs as Notts County, Everton, Middlesbrough, Derby County, and Preston North End, and Second Division clubs such as Leicester Fosse, Burton United, Bradford City, Burslem Port Vale, Grimsby Town, Glossop, Chesterfield, Doncaster Rovers, Gainsborough Trinity, and Barnsley, it may be imagined it required a fairly strong imagination and healthy optimistic temperament to face the situation composedly. However,as it happened, some very unusual conditions helped to contribute to success – success which was actually actively helped by the opposition code! It was this way. One of the many agreements made was with the Hull Football Club (Northern version), to rent their fine ground on the Boulevard. They took the


on reasonable terms for all occasions when the first fifteen should not be playing at home on League fixtures, or the ground be otherwise required for cup-tie or County matches. This cut two ways in the new club's favour. In the first place, it disposed of all initial difficulty in securing a well-accommodated ground, and secondly it brought directly before followers of the rival code the beauties of Soccer in such a manner which could not possibly have been done so rapidly otherwise, for every member of the Hull F.C. had free admission on their Rugby passes to all Association matches! Some hundreds of members were this initiated into the Association game without any proselytising effect whatever- and, needless to add, many who originally


This is how it came about that, during its first two seasons, Hull City had two first-class grounds on which it could, and did, play as required – a rather unique position, I should imagine, for any Second Division club to occupy. But on the danger of such a situation I shall have a word or two to say later on. That the promoters knew how to get hold of the genuine Soccer footballer will be seen from the following selections with which the season opened: J Whitehouse (late Aston Villa and Grimsby Town), goal; T Jones (late Belfast Celtic and West Bromwich Albion), Andrew Raisbeck (brother to the Liverpool Raisbeck, late Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool), F. Wolfe (late Everton), F. Martin (late Millwall Athletic), G. Rushton (late Burslem Port Vale) George Spence (late Southampton), Peter Howe and Wilkinson (late Manchester United) and others.


There was an auspicious send-off by the then Mayor, Alderman Jarman, kicking off before some 4,000 people in the first Thursday evening match with Notts County, which ended in a draw 2-2. All in all, the success of the play was manifest by the following record for the season:-

Played 45, won 26, lost 11, drawn 8, goals scored for 116, against 70.The original secretary was Mr Benjamin Crompton, but this gentleman's business not allowing him the requisite time for his duties, he resigned. It was at this period Mr J F Haller came upon the scene, but that he was not new to the game will be realised when I say he was really the pioneer of the opposition scheme referred to in the outset. At the same time a


took place and Mr Alwyn D Smith, a keen supporter of the game and an old Cambridge University player, who had been supporting Mr Haller in his efforts , was elected Chairman of Directors, vice Mr Wm Gilyott, a former strong Rugby supporter, who up to that time had safely steered the frail craft through its short but not wholly uninteresting career. In the meanwhile, with the City having “caught on” much more strongly than was ever suspected would be the case by the Rugby landlords and other followers of the game,


had the matter brought before them in decisive fashion - “How far could Mr Rugby coquette with Miss Association without being irrevocably lost?” The answer to this delicate problem was “Henceforth, Mr Rugby must on no account philander with Miss Association”, and so the Northern Union definitely decided there could be no such thing as half and half and that, under no circumstances, would they permit one of their clubs to benefit by any Association tenancy. Thus it is that Hull City was the means of settling one of the knottiest problems ever brought before Rugby legislators.


Before passing to the determination to enter the Second Division, I would just refer to the danger of dual grounds previously mentioned. Before taking the Boulevard, the original Hull City A.F.C.- from which the present club bought(?) its name- had a ground at Dairycoates. Drawn at home against Stockton in the Cup-ties, City, debarred from playing on the Boulevard by reason of the Hull F.C. having a match, wished the game to be played at Dairycoates or the Hull Cricket club ground. But whilst Stockton was agreeable to the transfer, subject to the consent of the Football Association, the ruling books decided against the City, and declared the game must either be placed {sic} on their ground proper- the Boulevard-or at Stockton. Moral: Have one ground only.


also came the essential consideration of more capital and this was promptly raised to £8 000 . The ground question was seriously tackled, and as promptly settled, to move to the Yorkshire county cricket enclosure on the Hull Cricket Club ground, for one season only, with a further ground newly laid out to be ready before the end of the season . No one can say after this


Hull City has not had experience in tenancies. Then came the all-exciting and anxious application for admission to the Second Division. Beaten on the post for first honours , things looked black indeed, but thanks to the enlargement of the Division by the admission of two extra clubs, City literally headed the list for second honours, and so was admitted. To those who have gone through this ordeal, it is quite unnecessary to say that City will make the most desperate efforts – should fate prove more unkind than at present- to avoid the necessity of ever again visiting the 'polling booth' under such circumstances.


was duly opened on March 24, 1905 {sic} on the visit of Blackpool, and the first admission money taken- a new sixpence, which I had the pleasure of paying, still hangs on the walls of the Directors' room on the ground. This is, of course, as intended to be, only a skeleton outline of what happened when Hull City was brought into being. Of the thousand and one harassing and happy incidents that occurred during these momentous months, I am not now proposing to make mention nor do I refer to the career of the club since those dark days of 1904-5 when “all seemed over” with a terrific adverse balance at the end of the first “friendly” season of £1,857.



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