Experienced forward Jack Needham joined Hull City in March 1920 as the Tigers, under the stewardship of David Menzies, built a squad ready to resume the challenge of Football League competition after the shutdown enforced by World War One. Needham started four games at the end of the season as City rested in mid-table. At the start of the 1920/21 season Needham was handed the inside left shirt and scored his only City goal in late September 1920, a 3-0 win against Barnsley. However by late October he was playing only intermittently and started his final game for the Tigers the week before Christmas against his former club Wolverhampton Wanderers. Needhams stayed at Anlaby Road for the rest of the season, playing both up front and at right half for the Reserves, before moving on in the 1921 close season.
John “Jack” Needham was born in Newstead, an industrial village created to serve extensive coal mining and railway activities in the area between Mansfield and Nottingham. Jack’s father worked as a railwayman and then a foreman in the local colliery while Jack himself was working in the mine by the time he was 14. He was recognised as a talented footballer at a young age, in the 1905/06 season he played for local Notts & District League side Mansfield Wesley (the club that became Mansfield Town in 1910) while also playing occasionally for Nottingham Forest’s reserve side. Needham was appointed club professional at Mansfield Wesley for the 1906/07 season, a role he retained for three seasons despite attracting regular attention from Football League sides thanks to his hefty goalscoring output (he scored 46 times for Mansfield Wesley in the 1908/09 season). In September 1909 he finally yielded to the overtures of senior clubs and signed for Second Division side Birmingham. After making his senior debut against Leeds City in October 1909, Jack opened his goalscoring account for the Blues in style two weeks later when he netted a hattrick against Gainsborough Trinity. He scored two further goals for Birmingham and took his tally to 20 appearances before he was acquired by Second Division rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers in April 1910.
After making his Wolves’ debut and scoring the first goal in the last match of the 1909/10 season against Manchester City, Needham became Wolves’ regular inside left for the next five seasons. He scored 13 goals in the 1910/11 season and continued to score regularly as the Black Country side hovered around the upper reaches of the Second Division table without ever securing promotion – a pattern mirrored by Hull City at the time. In the 1914/15 season Jack struck 15 times, the best return of his senior career that included a November 1914 hattrick against Leicester Fosse. Wolves rose to fourth in the table that season but their progress was halted when the Football League was suspended in the 1915 close season due to the continued hostilities of World War One. Jack initially worked in the Potteries area and played wartime football for Port Vale, then was conscripted to the Army in 1917. After two years’ military service he returned to Wolves for the start of the 1919/20 season but was used sparingly from late September onwards and left the club in March 1920 hvaing made 202 senior appearances and scored 61 goals.
Needham left Hull City in the summer of 1921 and joined Birmingham & District League side Willenhall Swifts, where he was top goalscorer and captain for a side that won the League title in 1922. After one further season at Willenhall, Needham moved to Birmingham League rivals Cannock Town in September 1923, where he played for two seasons to bring his playing days to a close. In August 1925 Jack was granted a license to become landlord at the George Inn in Cannock, a role he retained for over twenty years. Needham retired to a substantial property in the King’s Norton suburb of Birmingham, where he died in April 1961.
Date/Place of Birth: 4 March 1887, Newstead
Hull City First Game: 3 April 1920, Bristol City H (Division Two), 33 years, 30 days old
Hull City Final Game: 18 December 1920, Wolverhampton Wanderers H (Division Two), 33 years, 289 days old
Mansfield Wesley (1905-1909), Birmingham (1909-1910), Wolverhampton Wanderers (1910-1920), Hull City (1920-1921), Willenhall Swifts (1921-1923), Cannock Town (1923-1925)
Hull City Record
Career: 18 apps, 1 goalsJack Needham