Versatile half back and forward Robert Coverdale joined the Tigers in May 1921 following a free transfer granted by Sunderland, having played in five wartime fixtures for the Tigers five years previously. He began the 1921/22 season at right half but moved to inside right forward in late September and opened his goalscoring account for the Tigers in mid-October against Clapton Orient. Further goals followed in November against Stoke, December against Bradford Park Avenue and a brace in the FA Cup against Middlesbrough in early January 1922. By the end of his first season he had missed only three matches, a festive fixture at Rotherham and the final two games of the season.
At the start of the next season Coverdale was used much more sparingly by City manager Percy Lewis, playing intermittently during the first half of the season. When Lewis left the Tigers in January 1923 Coverdale immediately came back into the first team and scored goals against Clapton Orient and South Shields during the remainder of the season. However during the 1923 close season Robert suffered from an internal complaint that required surgery and he spent several weeks convalescing in a Hull nursing home during the summer. He was only able to resume first team action in April 1924, a game he started at outside left, and was placed on the transfer list a month later.
Robert Coverdale was born in Hartlepool to a father who worked as a marine engineer and was raised in the historic town of Hartlepool, later known as the Headland. The family probably moved to Scotland during Robert’s teenage years because in July 1911 he joined Glasgow based junior club Rutherglen Glencairn. Despite his tender age Coverdale played a season of first team football at outside left for Glencairn and in February 1912 he was selected to represent the Glasgow Junior Leagues against their Ireland counterparts. In August 1912 he was signed by English First Division side Sunderland and while there was no obligation to recompense the Scottish side for the transfer, Sunderland voluntarily paid a fee of £10 for Coverdale’s services. He served Sunderland’s reserves for two years and finally made his first team debut on the wing in October 1914 against Blackburn Rovers. When he returned to first team action in February 1915 he played at left half, demonstrating his versatility. He had made four senior appearances for Sunderland by the end of the 1914/15 season when the Football League was suspended due to World War One.
In June 1915 Coverdale joined the 18th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, known as the Durham Pals’ Battalion. He rose to Corporal by 1916 when his military duties took him to the Humber area and he played five wartime matches as a guest player for Hull City between April and November 1916 – by the time of this latter appearance he was promoted to Sargeant. He continued his military duties – the 18th Battalion served in the Battle for the Somme and it is probable that Coverdale was involved – but by April 1919 he was back in Sunderland playing warm-up matches for the forthcoming resumption of the Football League in August. Towards the end of the 1919/20 season Coverdale came into the Sunderland first team at right half, though he missed the last months of the season through suspension after being sent off in March 1920 against Burnley. He started the 1920/21 season at right half but dropped out of the first team in late September and was given a free transfer by the club in May 1921 having added 18 post-WW1 senior appearances to the four he made before the conflict.
By the 1924 close season Robert had recovered from his surgery and in September 1924 he signed for Division Three North side Grimsby Town. He spent one season at Blundell Park, making 30 starts and scoring once against Tranmere in April 1925. Released by Grimsby after one season, Coverdale spent the next three years at Bridlngton Town while living in the Linnaeus Street district of West Hull between Anlaby Road and Hessle Road. By 1939 he was a pub manager living in the Avenues area, he stayed in Hull until his death in January 1959.
Date/Place of Birth: 16 January 1892, Hartlepool
Hull City First Game: 27 August 1921, South Shields H (Division Two), 29 years, 223 days old
Hull City Final Game: 5 April 1924, Barnsley H (Division Two), 32 years, 80 days old
Rutherglen Glencairn (1911-1912), Sunderland (1912-1921), Hull City (1921-1924), Grimsby Town (1924-1925), Bridlington Town (1925-1928)
Hull City Record
Career: 66 apps, 7 goalsRobert Coverdale