Outside forward Bobby Hughes first served Hull City during World War One when his government job bought him to the city. He played his first wartime fixture for the Tigers in September 1917 and hit an impressive 25 goals in 32 non-senior wartime fixtures during the 1917/18 season. He followed up with a further 6 goals in 30 starts during the 1918/19 season so it was natural that when the Football League resumed in August 1919 Hughes was signed on to the Tigers’ professional ranks, making the transfer from his pre-war club Northampton Town for a fee that remained unreported but was thought to be a record for the Tigers.
Hughes began the 1919/20 season on the left wing and scored his first senior Tigers’ goal in a 2-1 win against Leeds City in September 1919. Hughes switched to the outside right position in late September and remained in the first team until February 1920, scoring further goals against Barnsley and Wolverhampton Wanderers. He dropped out of the first team in the latter part of the season and didn’t return until October 1920 when he made nine starts on the left flank. Replaced by newly signed Irishman Henry Wilson, Hughes made only three further starts in April 1921. With Wilson moving on to Charlton in the 1921 close season Hughes was restored to City’s first team and he kept the outside left shirt until injury in February 1922 bought a premature end to his third season at Anlaby Road. He left the Tigers in the 1922 close season.
Robert “Bobby” Hughes was born in Bill Quay near Gateshead, a riverside area on the banks of the Tyne that was engaged in the chemical processing and shipbuilding industries. Hughes started playing for his local side Pelaw in his teens and in 1910 he joined the professional football ranks when he signed for Southern League side Northampton Town. Hughes made over 100 appearances and was the Cobblers’ top goalscorer in 1914/15 season. which led to him being chosen for a Southern League select XI. The advent of World War One halted the Southern League in 1915 and Hughes was employed by the government to work across the North. He played in wartime fixtures for Leeds City, Manchester United and Hebburn Argyle before beginning his association with Hull City in the summer of 1917.
Hughes transferred to Sheffield United in May 1922 but in his one season at Bramall Lane he made only two First Division starts, both in September 1922. He transferred to Division Three South side Brentford in August 1923, a steep drop for a top flight player, but the move had a beneficial effect and Bobby scored seven goals despite missing part of the season to injury, capping off his season with a final day hattrick against his former club Northampton Town. In July 1924 he was on the move again, this time to the North West and Division Three North side Rochdale. Now in his mid-30s, at Spotland Hughes rediscovered his goalscoring form hitting double figures for League goals three seasons in a row. After a less productive fourth season Hughes left Rochdale in May 1928 having made 132 senior appearances and scored 50 goals. He spent two seasons with Wigan Borough, another Division Three North side, scoring 16 times in 70 starts to take his senior record in eleven seasons of senior football to 89 goals in 291 starts. In his last appearance for Wigan Borough he scored in the Manchester Senior Cup Final, lifting the only trophy of his career.
Hughes ended his playing career with a brief spell at lower league side Ashton National, by the end of the 1930s he was back in Hull, living off the Holderness Road with his family and working as a plumber in an oil refinery. He died in Hull in September 1955.
Date/Place of Birth: 5 August 1891, Pelaw
Hull City First Game: 30 August 1919, Birmingham City A (Division Two), 28 years, 25 days old
Hull City Final Game: 29 April 1922, Wolverhampton Wanderers A (Division Two), 30 years, 267 days old
Pelaw (1909-1910), Northampton Town (1910-1915), Hull City (1917-1922), Sheffield United (1922-1923), Brentford (1923-1924), Rochdale (1924-1928), Wigan Borough (1928-1930), Ashton National (1930)
Hull City Record
Career: 69 apps, 9 goalsBobby Hughes