Centre forward John McNeill joined Hull City in May 1937, adding a goal threat to City’s quest for promotion from Division Three North. McNeill was immediately handed the first team centre forward role and he quickly impressed by scoring on his debut against Wrexham. In his fourth start for the Tigers he struck a hattrick against Bury and by the time he scored at Darlington on Christmas Day 1937 he had netted 17 times, propelling City to upper reaches of the League table. City went top when they beat Southport 10-1 in mid-January, with McNeill scoring a brace. A brief run of poor form coincided with McNeill’s goals drying up, but City returned to the promotion spots from mid-March until a defeat and a draw in the last two fixtures of the season saw the club pipped at the post and denied promotion by one point. After scoring 17 times in his first 23 starts for the club, McNeill added only 8 more goals in the next 21 starts duing the second half of the season.
This drop off in form continued into the 1938/39 season, and by mid-December McNeill had suffered two absences through injury and scored only four times. Replaced by experienced centre forward Billy Dickinson and consigned to City’s reserves, McNeill quickly became discontent and at the end of February 1939 he signed for Bury.
John McNeill was born in Valletta, Malta, his father Adam served in the Royal Army Medical Corps for 21 years in Scotland and the Mediterranean. The family returned to Scotland in 1911 and when he came of age John also joined the Army and served in India. It was while in the Army that he first emerged as a powerful goalscorer and when he returned to Scotland in 1934 he had a short spell assisting Dunipace Juniors. He left the Army in January 1935 and joined Parkhead Juniors, but within six weeks his form had attracted the interest of First Division Leicester City, the club McNeill joined in the first week of March 1935. He quickly made a positive impression in Leicester’s Reserves as the first team stumbled to relegation. More reserve team goals came at the start of 1935/36 season but after a few weeks McNeill had to return to Scotland for a surgical procedure. Leicester released John in the 1936 close season and he signed for Ayr United. While his first team opportunities were rare at Ayr, he struck 36 goals for the reserve team, form that was sufficient to encourage Hull City to sign him up.
McNeill joined Bury in February 1939 and he netted six goals in fifteen starts during the remainder of the season. However the advent of World War 2 prevented him from making any more senior appearances for Bury, though he did make wartime league appearances for Bury and Blackburn Rovers between 1939 and 1941. After the war he returned to Scotland and died in Dundee in April 1985.
Date/Place of Birth: 21 April 1909, Valletta (Malta)
Hull City First Game: 28 August 1937, Wrexham H (Division Three North), 28 years, 129 days old
Hull City Final Game: 17 December 1938, Crewe Alexandra H (Division Three North), 29 years, 240 days old
Dunipace Juniors, Parkhead Juniors (1935), Leicester City (1935-1936), Ayr United (1936-1937), Hull City (1937-1939), Bury (1939)
Hull City Record
Career: 60 apps, 29 goalsJohn McNeill