Winger Jack Leonard Major (he was christened Jack, not John) was a rarity in the post-WW2 era, an amateur footballer by choice who eventually accepted the lure of professional football in his mid-20s. Jack was born in Islington, central London and raised in Bricket Wood near St Albans by his railwayman father. In 1945 Major moved to Hull and he played football for local side Hull Amateurs. In early 1947 he was introduced to Hull City’s junior side and he scored a hattrick in the Doctor Lilley Cup semi-final, a feat that led to Major’s initial foray into the senior game. He started three matches for Hull City at the end of the extended 1946/47 season, a return of the Football League that saw clubs’ player selections heavily disrupted by the needs of National Service.
Jack began his own National Service for the Royal Air Force in the summer of 1947 and played a few games for Sunderland’s reserve side but soon settled into the first eleven at Northern League side Bishop Auckland. In January 1948 Jack played for an FA XI against a Universities side, which led to a trial match for the England amateur team later that month. He made his England Amateur international debut in April 1948 against France, a match played at Ilford in Essex.
By 1949 Jack had completed his National Service and returned to Hull to work for an accountancy firm on George Street. This meant that he was able to play annually for the East Riding FA amateur side as they competing in the County FA cup competition. But it was his continued association with Bishop Auckland that was to define his football for the next few years, starting with reaching the FA Amateur Cup final in March 1950 only to lose to local County Durham rivals Willington. Jack had six months working in Lille, Northern France for his accountancy firm during the early part of 1951, which meant he missed the 1951 FA Amateur Cup final that Bishop Auckland lost to Oxford-based student side Pegasus. Jack continued to be a prominent player for Bishop Auckland and by 1954 he was their captain as they again reached the FA Amateur Cup final, this time losing out to local rivals Crook Town after two replays.
The 1954/55 season proved the pinnacle of Jack Major’s amateur career. In December 1954 he scored a hattrick in Bishop Auckland’s shock FA Cup victory over Division Three South side Crystal Palace, then in April 1955 he won two further England amateur international caps against Scotland (a 3-3 draw at Hampden Park) and Wales (a 3-1 victory played at Bournemouth in which Major scored the opener). Immediately after these caps Jack captained Bishop Auckland to FA Amateur Cup final victory over North London side Hendon. These successes were perhaps enough to encourage Major to finally consider the professional game and in June 1955 he re-signed for Hull City on semi-professional terms.
Major started Hull City’s first eight League fixtures of the 1955/56 season but his arrival back in the senior game coincided with a collapse in the Tigers’ form under manager Bob Brocklebank – City lost seven of those eight opening fixtures and Major failed to score in any of them. Jack dropped out of the side and made only one further start in December 1955 against Barnsley, though his absence did nothing to improve the Tigers’ form and they were relegated, not rising from 22nd and bottom of the division for almost the entire season. Major stayed on for the 1956/57 season but made only one start in September 1956 against Wrexham as Welsh winger Johnny Stephens established himself as first choice outside right.
Jack left the Tigers in the 1957 close season and joined Goole Town, after a season heavily disrupted by injury he moved to Cumbrian side Penrith in 1958 and a year later he became Penrith’s player-manager before hanging up his boots in 1960. Jack returned to Hull to resume his career and eventually moved to Hornsea, where he died in August 1986 at the age of only 57.
Date/Place of Birth: 12 March 1929, Islington
Hull City First Game: 26 April 1947, Accrington Stanley H (Division Three North), 18 years, 45 days old
Hull City Final Game: 22 September 1956, Wrexham H (Division Three North), 27 years, 194 days old
Hull Amateurs, Hull City (1947), Sunderland (1947), Bishop Auckland (1947-1955), Hull City (1945-1957), Goole Town (1957-1958), Penrith (1958-1960)
Hull City Record
Career: 13 apps, 0 goalsJack Major