Two footed full back Norman Fowler joined the Tigers a week into the 1946/47 season, the first season of senior football following the end of World War Two. Fowler had recently been demobilised by the Royal Air Force and released by his pre-war club Middlesbrough, he started two games in September 1946 before settling in the Tigers’ Reserves. Fowler was bought back into the first team picture by manager Frank Buckley in mid-January 1947 for an FA Cup replay against Blackburn Rovers and went on to start 12 of the last 19 League fixtures for the Tigers despite being placed on the transfer list.
Being on the Hull City transfer list appeared to not faze Fowler, because he was regularly available to other clubs for the next two years. In the 1947/48 season he was kept out of the first team picture by the form of Harold Meens, though Fowler did make 8 consecutive starts in September and October. He returned for 13 games at the end of the season and when Raich Carter took over the reins in the 1948 close season, Fowler was favoured – perhaps due to his North East footballing pedigree, perhaps because of his RAF service during WW2. Norman started the first nine fixtures of the 1948/49 season at right back but from October 1948 onwards he was usurped by experienced Yorkshireman Jack Taylor. For the next 12 months Fowler made sporadic starts when Taylor was unavailable, but his time at City was up in November 1949 when he transferred to Gateshead alongside experienced Scottish forward Willie Buchan for a combined fee of £5,000.
Henry Norman Fowler was born in the agreeable Oxbridge suburb of Stockton-on-Tees to a father who was a supervisor in the coal industry. He was a sporting polymath from a young age, standing at five foot eight inches by the age of 14, playing tennis and winning regional awards for sprinting and the high jump. It was football where Norman really excelled and in 1933/34 season he was chosen three times to represent England Schoolboys against Wales, Scotland and Ireland, captaining the side in the last of those three caps. This attracted the attention of local First Division side Middlesbrough, who signed Fowler on apprentice terms in June 1934 and assigned him to feeder club South Bank, where he played alongside another ex-Tiger Wilf Mannion.
After helping South Bank lift the North Senior Senior Cup at the end of the 1935/36 season, Fowler signed professional terms for Middlesbrough days after his seventeenth birthday and played regularly in Boro’s Reserves for two years. He was handed his senior debut in an April 1938 First Division match against Leicester City, when he replaced another Middlesbrough youngster George Hardwick who, like Mannion, would go on to play for England. Fowler was now a part of the Middlesbrough first team picture and in 1938/39 season he made a further five starts while being talked about as a potential future full international. However the advent of World War Two intervened and after initially working locally in the fire service Fowler joined the Royal Air Force’s Fighter Command. With senior football suspended, Fowler still found time to play in wartime fixtures and he served a range of teams – Leeds United, Hartlepools United and Bradford City as well as his registered club Middlesbrough. Fowler was demobilised in April 1946 and was quickly released by Middlesbrough, who retained his player registration from before the War. After an unsuccessful trial match for Bradford City Fowler signed for Hull City at the start of September 1946.
Norman joined Division Three North side Gateshead in November 1949 and for over a year he was first choice left back at Redheugh Park. He missed three months of football at the end of the 1950/51 season and didn’t return to regular action until November 1951. He dropped out of the Gateshead first team again in March 1952 and left the club that summer, signing for Midland League side Scarborough. Fowler spent three years on the East Coast before returning to Teesside and signing for Stockton FC in 1955. He served Stockton as a player and manager during the 1950s, then in 1959 he helped form a new sporting club in Norton, a historic town that had been subsumed into a suburb of Stockton-on-Tees. Through subsequent mergers that club eventually became Norton & Stockton Ancients FC, Fowler was the chairman of Ancients until his death in Stockton in December 1990.
Date/Place of Birth: 3 September 1919, Stockton-on-Tees
Hull City First Game: 9 September 1946, Crewe Alexandra A (Division Three North), 27 years, 6 days old
Hull City Final Game: 5 September 1949, Cardiff City A (Division Two), 30 years, 2 days old
South Bank (1934-1936), Middlesbrough (1936-1946), Hull City (1946-1949), Gateshead (1949-1952), Scarborough (1952-1955), Stockton (1955-1956)
Hull City Record
Career: 53 apps, 0 goalsNorman Fowler