Versatile wideman Wilfred “Wlif” Hassall grew up in Manchester and played junior football as a teenager before serving the Royal Marines during World War Two. He played forces representative football as an inside right and outside right and came to the attention of Hull City, who signed him on amateur terms in June 1946 – he accepted professional terms a few months later. Wilf made his debut early in the season and was a support player throughout much of the season, joining the forward line on both flanks as required. He scored his first City goal against New Brighton in October 1946, a second goal followed in January 1947 against Southport. As the season wore on Hassall was given a few games at full back in the reserves and by the end of the season manager Frank Buckley had given Wilf five starts at right back and left back.
Wilf spent the 1947/48 season as a first team regular alternating between right back and left back, though by late March 1948 he had moved back to the forward line and scored his third (and final) City goal against New Brighton. In April 1948 City played Mansfield Town, lining up for the first time since manager Buckley’s resignation, and early in the game Hassall took a kick to the knee. Although (or maybe because) he played on, the ligament damage was severe and Hassall spent 17 months on the sidelines.
When he returned to first team action in September 1949 the club had seen major changes – Raich Carter was now manager, promotion had been won and City were now competing at the upper end of the Second Division. Wilf was used as auxiliary full back for much of the season and got a run of seven games in December 1949 and January 1950 that included four FA Cup ties. It wasn’t until October 1950 that Hassall won a regular first team place, taking over at right back from Scotsman Alex Gibson. This started a run of 94 senior matches over two years in which Hassall was absent for only five fixtures, a time that spanned the demise of Raich Carter and the appointment of new manager Bob Jackson in June 1952. Hassall dropped out of the City first team in November 1952 and made only three further starts before leaving the club in the 1953 close season.
Hassall joined Southern League side Worcester City in July 1953 and spent two seasons in the Midlands before transferring to Wisbech Town in July 1955. After two seasons playing Midland League football for the Cambridgeshire side Hassall hung up his boots and returned to Hull. He died in the city in June 1998.
Date/Place of Birth: 23 September 1923, Manchester
Hull City First Game: 16 September 1946, Gateshead H (Division Three North), 22 years, 358 days old
Hull City Final Game: 24 January 1953, Swansea Town A (Division Two), 29 years, 123 days old
Hull City (1946-1953), Worcester City (1953-1955), Wisbech Town (1955-1957)
Hull City Record
Career: 157 apps, 3 goalsWilf Hassall