Goalkeeper Cyril Hannaby signed for Hull City in August 1946 as the Tigers prepared for the return of League football after the cessation of World War Two. He was signed to deputise for Bily Bly, who had signed for the Tigers in 1939 prior to the outbreak of hostilities and had built a very strong reputation as a capable netminder during seven years of forces football. Hannaby’s opportunities for first team action were enhanced by Bly’s habit of picking up regular injuries as he dived bravely at the feet of onrushing strikers. Hannaby started seven consecutive games in October and November 1946 and conceded five goals in six of those games, four of which City won – the seventh game was against Cyril’s hometown club Doncaster Rovers, against whom he conceded four goals in a heavy defeat. His next chance came in April 1947 when he played six matches, keeping three clean sheets – while Bly’s goalkeeping skills were soon to attract the attention of national selectors, it was clear that Hannaby was a very capable reserve.
In the 1947/48 season Hannaby was competing with both Bly and another young keeper, Middlesbrough-born Peter Atkinson, for the first team goalkeeper jersey. Hannaby started five games in November 1947 after Atkinson had initially deputised for Bly, then played a solitary game in the FA Cup against Middlesbrough in January 1948, during which Cyril had the pleasure of conceding a goal to England international and future Tiger Wilf Mannion. But by February 1947 it was clear that Hannaby was not going to win a regular first team start for the Tigers and he sought a transfer.
Cyril Hannaby was born and raised in Doncaster and was a goalkeeper from a young age. In 1937 he began his apprenticeship with the London North Eastern Railway at Doncaster and after seven years of work and study he became a trained fitter. By the later years of World War Two Cyril was playing for Wath Wanderers, a feeder club set up by Wolverhampton Wanderers to nurture talent in the Yorkshire area. Wolves recruited Cyril in March 1944 when he had completed his apprenticeship, but he never made a senior appearance for the Molineux club due to the suspension of the Football League. He left Wolves for Hull City in August 1946.
In February 1948 Cyril signed for City’s Division Three North rivals Halifax Town and he immediately replaced regular ‘Fax ‘keeper Ted Raynor for two games. However Raynor was quickly restored at Cyril’s expense and at the end of the season he was seeking another move. In August 1948 he joined Midland League side Scarborough Town and gave four years’ service to the Seadogs, becoming a popular figure and a mainstay of the first team. While playing for Scarborough Cyril lived in Doncaster, where he owned a fish and chip shop – when the Scarborough dressing room was robbed during a match in April 1949 Cyril was doubly inconvenienced by the theft of his train ticket home and his set of keys for the chippy.
In 1952 Hannaby took the momentous decision to emigrate to the USA alongside his wife Joyce and on the last day of April they set sail from Southampton on the Queen Elizabeth steam ship destined for New York. They settled in Baltimore, Maryland, and Cyril spent the next nine years playing American Soccer League football for the Baltimore Rockets, who in 1958 became the Baltimore Pompei. He was a star attraction for the Baltimore side and was voted the entire League’s Most Valuable Player in 1954, the same year that he guested in goal for Chelsea when they played in New York City against German side Borussia Dortmund. As well as playing football Hannaby used the engineering skills he learnt on the railways and gave 33 years of service to a Baltimore porcelain and enamelled goods manufacturer as mechanical engineer then supervisor. He retired in 1985 and moved to a retirement village at Frederick, Maryland, a small city west of Baltimore and north west of Washington DC. He died in Frederick in February 2010 while his wife Joyce, who had been a school teacher in Baltimore, lived on until the last day of 2019 when she died at the age of 95.
Date/Place of Birth: 10 October 1923, Doncaster
Hull City First Game: 12 October 1946, Darlington H (Division Three North), 23 years, 2 days old
Hull City Final Game: 10 January 1948, Middlesbrough H (FA Cup Third Round), 24 years, 92 days old
Wath Wanderers (1942-1944), Wolverhampton Wanderers (1944-1946), Hull City (1946-1948), Halifax Town (1948), Scarborough (1948-1952), Baltimore Rockets/Pompei (1952-1961)
Hull City Record
Career: 19 apps, 0 goalsCyril Hannaby