Raymond Denis Durham was born and raised in East Halton, a rural village between Immingham and Barton on Humber on the south bank of the Humber Estuary. He came of age during World War Two, representing his regiment in wartime forces football, and by 1946 he was playing local league football for East Halton United when he was scouted by Hull City. A bout of appendicitis postponed his signing for the Tigers but by March 1947 the Tigers were eager to find new players to bolster its squad in the first season of Football League action after the War. They were also keen to find extra bodies so that the club could field eleven players and fullfil a slew of fixtures throughout April and May 1947, a backlog that built up due to the severe weather of the previous January and February. Many of the players signed at that time were only used for a handful of games, or even just one, before returning to obscurity or moving on. The opposite could be said about Denis Durham, who stayed at the club for twelve years.
Durham was joined City on amateur terms in March 1947, signed professional terms and a month later and was handed his City debut in May 1947. Retained for the 1947/48 season, Denis served the reserves for the first half of the season then came back into the first team in January 1948, playing at left half. As the season drew to a close manager Major Frank Buckley selected Durham at centre forward and outside left – by this time Buckley had resigned his post to clear the way for new signing Raich Carter to take over and was working his notice period. Buckley’s decision bore fruit with four goals scored in a draw against York (which was Carter’s playing debut), a winner against Crewe and a final day brace against Carlisle United. Despite this decent goal tally Durham started a match up front for Hull City again.
Raich evidently appreciated Denis’s capabilities and restored him to the left half berth for the first nine games of the 1948/49 season, all of which resulted in victories for the resurgent Tigers – Durham scored in a 3-1 victory over Accrington Stanley. However a serious injury at the end of September kept Denis out of the side and Mancunian Alan Mellor took his place. Mellor’s consistency meant that Durham had to wait until April 1949 for another first team start, by which time the Tigers were easing towards promotion to the Second Division.
Mellor was again preferred by manager Carter at the start of the 1949/50 season and Durham managed only five starts at the tail end of a season that had petered away after a strong beginning. Durham was again a rarely used reserve in the 1950/51 season and it wasn’t until Carter’s last few weeks in charge during August 1951 that Durham was given a regular start. When the Directors took over management duties from the departed Carter in September 1951 they initially used Durham as left back but on Boxing Day 1951 Denis was restored to the left half role, beginning a period of first team action that lasted until the end of the season.
Denis was favoured by new manager Bob Jackson, who took over during the 1952 close season, and he started every single League and Cup match, scoring his seventh and final goal for the Tigers in November 1952 during a 3-4 defeat at Birmingham. Durham missed the start of the 1953/54 season but was back in the first team by late November and kept his place for nearly two years. In August 1955 Durham suffered serious tendon damage in his leg during the first match of the 1955/56 season against Leicester, an injury he took over a year to recover from.
When Denis returned to the first team in November 1956 manager Bob Brocklebank selected him at left back and this became his position for the last three years of his time at Hull City – between November 1956 and April 1959 Durham missed only 17 of 130 first team fixtures. He left the Tigers at the end of the 1959/60 season having made no first team starts that season as the Tigers struggled to keep the Second Division place that they had won via promotion a year earlier. Durham moved to Bridlington Trinity where he played a season before hanging up his boots and became involved in youth team coaching at Hull City. Denis lived in Bridlington, where he was a popular figure, and lived a long life that drew to close when he died in Brid in August 2014.
Date/Place of Birth: 26 September 1923, East Halton
Hull City First Game: 24 May 1947, Oldham Athletic H (Division Three North), 23 years, 240 days old
Hull City Final Game: 29 April 1959, Wrexham A (Division Three), 35 years, 215 days old
East Halton United, Hull City (1947-1960), Bridlington Trinity (1960-1961)
Hull City Record
Career: 289 apps, 7 goalsDenis Durham