Kenneth “Ken” Harrison was born in Stockton on Tees and joined the Army when he came of age during World War Two, rising to become a Sargeant by the time the war ended in 1945. Retained in the employ of the Army until the early months of 1947, Harrison played for his local ICI works side Billingham Synthonia before joining City on associated terms in March 1947. His military duties limited his availability for the Tigers though he made a handful of reserve team appearances and was given his first team debut in May 1947.
When he was finally demobilised by the Army in October 1947 Ken immediately signed professional terms for the Tigers and came into the first team from November onwards, showing his versatility by playing in all four inside forward and outside forward positions within three months of his return. Harrison’s first City goal came at the end of January 1948, securing an impotant 1-0 win over Stockport County that lifted frank Buckley’s Tigers to third in the Division Three North table. However seven subsequent winless games and a streak of only two wins in twelve games encouraged the tigers to sign up for former England international forward Raich Carter, a move that quickly precipitated the resignation of Buckley. Harrison, who scored a second goal in mid-March in 1-4 defeat at Chester, was placed in the reserves for the closing weeks of the season and the Teessider must have worried about his future once it was confirmed that Carter would take up player-manager duties for the Tigers.
He need not have worried because at the start of the 1948/49 season, in which the Tigers won their opening nine League games and swept aside the challenge of most of their 23 divisional foes, Harrison was installed as first choice outside right and provided a supply of chances to the central striking threats of Raich Carter, Norman Moore and Viggo Jensen. Ken was also a scorer of goals too, he struck in each of the first three League games of the season and had taken his tally to six by the latter stages of October 1948. A fallow period in front of goal was broken in February 1949 against Bradford City and he returned to form at the end of March when he scored both goals in a vital 2-0 win over Tranmere Rovers kept City at the top of the table. he added three more goals in a compressed programme of eight League games during April 1949 and he ended the title winning season having started all 49 League and Cup games played, including seven FA Cup fixtures that culiminated in a 0-1 Quarter Final defeat against Manchester United in front of Hull City’s record home attendance of 55,019.
Harrison’s consistency carried forward into the Second Division, he missed only one senior game during the 1949/50 season – a March 1950 0-0 draw against Swansea Town – and reached double figures for goals for a second season in a row. In 1950/51 he made it three seasons in double figures, netting 13 times in anorth ever-present season including a brace in a November 1950 3-2 win over Birmingham City. When Ken missed three League games in the early weeks of the 1951/52 season it drew to a close a run of consistency that saw him start all but one of 143 consecutive League and Cup matches. When he returned from this three match break Carter had resigned and the club’s directors were choosing the first eleven, he missed another eight games in the remainder of the season as he was again deployed across the forward line.
At the start of the 1952/53 season new manager Bob Jackson – who had recently won the First Division title with Portsmouth – took up the reins at Boothferry Park and he preferred new signings Johnny Linaker and Paddy Fagan at outside right, meaning Harrison was reduced to occasional first eleven deputy for injured colleagues. Harrison returned to teh first eleven for a two month spell either side of Christmas 1952 but by mid-January he was again out of the first team picture until the closing three weeks of the season. After missing the first two matches of the 1953/54 season Ken was restored to the first team by manager Jackson and he kept his place until February 1954 when injury struck and he missed the rest of the season – he had scored his final goal for the Tigers two weeks earlier in a 3-0 defeat of Derby County. Harrison was again restored to the City first XI at the start of the 1954/55 season but his absences were becoming more frequent and by December 1954 he was again on the sidelines. When new manager Bob Brocklebank took over from Jackson as City manager in March 1955 one of his first acts was to sanction the sale of Harrison, ending his eight year association with the Tigers.
Harrison joined relegation haunted Second Division side Derby County in March 1955, signing on the same day as South African former City strike partner Alf Ackerman. The signing of Harrison and Ackerman did not halt the Rams’ slide into Division Three North though the last day of the season against their former side Hull City saw Ackerman score twice and Harrison once in a swansong 3-0 victory. Harrison remained at Derby for the 1955/56 season but made only seven starts, the last of which came in a November 1955 2-2 FA Cup draw against non-league side Crook Town. Ken left the Rams in the 1956 close season having made 16 senior appearances and scored three times.
He returned to the East Yorkshire area and joined Goole Town in July 1956, spending three years playing for the Midland League side before he hung up his boots in 1959. On retiring from football Harrison stayed in the Hull area for the rest of his life – he died in November 2010.
Date/Place of Birth: 20 January 1926, Stockton on Tees
Hull City First Game: 10 May 1947, Tranmere Rovers H (Division Three North), 21 years, 110 days old
Hull City Final Game: 12 March 1955, Swansea Town H (Division Two), 29 years, 51 days old
Billingham Synthonia (1946-1947), Hull City (1947-1955), Derby County (1955-1956), Goole Town (1956-1959)
Hull City Record
Career: 263 apps, 51 goalsKen Harrison