228 Tony Weldon

Biography

Scottish outside left Tony Weldon joined the Tigers in June 1930 after spending four seasons at First Division side Everton. For the Tigers, freshly relegated to Division Three North and facing the 1930/31 season at a lower level of football for the first time, the signing of Weldon appeared to be a considerable coup. This sense was reinforced when Weldon went straight into City’s first team and scored three goals in his first five starts against Gateshead, Darlington and Chesterfield, all three games ending in victory. Weldon dropped out of the first team at the end of October and returned in mid-December, but it wasn’t until late January 1931 that he scored again in the return fixture victory against Chesterfield. He missed only four more games during the rest of the season and scored in consecutive April 1931 games against York City and Hartlepools United, ending the season with six goals that were each scored during six victories – talismanic. Despite his involvement in winning matches, the Tigers put Weldon on the transfer list in May 1931 and he returned to the First Division two weeks later, yielding City a £750 transfer fee.

Anthony “Tony” Weldon was born in Watsonville, six rows of ramshackle unsanitary cottages in Motherwell, Lanarkshire that were built in the late 19th century by John Watson, the owner of the adjacent brickworks and colliery. It appears that by his teenage years he had escaped that environment and moved a few miles north to Croy, a village near the Forth and Clyde Canal in the Kelvin Valley. By 1918, when football was starting to resume following World War One, Weldon was playing for local side Croy Celtic and in January 1921 he signed for nearby Kilsyth Rangers, a more prominent junior football team. Over the next three years he began to carve a reputation as a goalscoring striker with a good footballing brain, attributes that in May 1924 led to his transfer to Scottish Division One side Airdrieonians. After making only four first team starts for Airdrie in the 1924/25 season he began to forge place in the senior starting eleven and during the 1926/27 season he scored an impressive 26 goals in 26 starts. In March 1927 Tony’s impressive goalscoring feats led to his transfer to English First Division side Everton for a £2,000 fee.

Weldon was immediately placed in the Everton first team and the transition from Scottish First Division to English First Division clearly didn’t faze him as he scored goals in each of his first three starts for the Toffees against Leeds United, Arsenal and Sheffield United. Everton narrowly avoided relegation that season but their fortunes were transformed in the 1927/28 season as 60 League goals scored by William “Dixie” Dean fired the Liverpudlian side to the First Division title. Weldon also played a key role in this success, scoring on the opening day of the season against Sheffield Wednesday and missing only four games all season as he scored six goals. With a League title under his belt Weldon was being talked about as a potential Scotland international but the call-up never transpired. Tony remained a first team starter for Everton during the first four months of the 1928/29 season but dropped out of the side in December 1928 and struggled to regain his place. Just five starts in the second half of the 1928/29 season were followed by only three starts the following season, taking his total tally at Everton to 74 appearances and 13 goals. He was considered surplus to requirements by Everton when he joined Hull City in the 1930 close season, the Tigers playing £1,000 for his services.

In June 1931 Weldon joined First Division side West Ham United. He went straight into the Hammers’ senior starting eleven and opened his goalscoring account for the London club in his second start against local rivals Chelsea. However his form faded and by December 1931 he was out of the first team, returning in the New Year for four starts before spending the rest of the season on the sidelines. Weldon had scored four times in 22 starts for the Hammers and held out for improved terms for the following season, but when a better offer was not forthcoming he left West Ham United, a decision that to prove a key turning point in his career.

Unable to sign for another Football League club because West Ham retained his registration, Weldon headed to South Wales in October 1932 and signed for Newport-based Welsh League side Lovells Athletic. Three months later he signed for Dublin-based Irish Free State League side Dolphin FC and by the end of the 1932/33 season he had again moved to Belfast-based Irish League side Glentoran. In August 1933 he was freed by West Ham and signed for Division Three North side Rochdale. Weldon spent a season at Spotland and scored seven times in 29 starts including his only English Football League hattrick in a March 1934 3-3 draw against Walsall. He left Rochdale in the 1934 close season.

In July 1934 Weldon was appointed player-coach at Irish League side Bangor but by November 1934 he was allowed to leave for Belfast side Distillery. In February 1936 he was suspended by Distillery after an unauthorised absence and his contract was cancelled in April 1936. Weldon spent the 1936/37 season coaching Aston Villa’s third team but in September 1937 he was lured back into playing as he approached his 37th birthday, returning for a four week trial at Distillery. He was not signed at the end of the trial and appeared to spend the rest of the 1937/38 season without a club – however in September 1938 he had another trial with Irish League side Larne, who eventually kept him on until he retired in January 1939.

Weldon returned to Croy after hanging up his boots and worked as a coal miner until his death aged just 52 during September 1953.

Details

Nationality: Scotland
Date/Place of Birth: 12 November 1900, Motherwell
Hull City First Game: 30 August 1930, Stockport County A (Division Three North), 29 years, 291 days old
Hull City Final Game: 2 May 1931, Nelson H (Division Three North), 30 years, 171 days old

Clubs

Croy Celtic (1918-1921), Kilsyth Rangers (1921-1924), Airdrieonians (1924-1927), Everton (1927-1930), Hull City (1930-1931), West Ham United (1931-1932), Lovells Atheltic (1932-1933), Dolphin FC (1933), Glentoran (1933), Rochdale (1933-1934), Bangor (1934), Distillery (1934-1936), Distillery (1937), Larne (1938-1939)

Hull City Record

Career: 32 apps, 6 goals

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