Right winger Martin Reagan joined the Tigers in June 1947 at the tail end of the first full Football League season following the end of World War Two. With clubs having to assemble playing squads largely from scratch and players still committed to post-war National Service duties, the Tigers used a wide variety of new players during the season. Reagan was amongst manager Frank Buckley’s better captures after he demobilised from the Royal Engineers and he made his debut in an end-of-season match against New Brighton. Martin retained his place at the start of the 1947/48 season, he waited until December 1947 to open his goalscoring account for City in a FA Cup tie against Southport then followed up with two more goals against Chletenham Town and Accrington Stanley. By this time Reagan’s skill and express pace – he was often identified throughout his career as one of the quickest players in the Football League – was drawing the attention of other clubs and in February 1948 he signed for First Division side Middlesbrough for a hefty £5,000 fee.
Charles Martin Reagan was born at Scotswood in Newcastle’s West End but at the age of 2 his family to York where his father worked as a master builder. He played football for York Schools but his development was hampered by the outbreak of World War Two, during which he served the Royal Engineers. By 1944 he was a teenage tank commander embroiled in the Normandy Landings and in October 1944 he narrowly escaped death when a nitroglycerine explosion in the Netherlands saw 40 of his colleagues perish – 50 years later Reagan and his sons returned to the Netherlands to organise a memorial to the men lost in that tragic incident. During the latter stages of the War Reagan played occasionally for York City when he was on leave from his military duties – he played in two FA Cup ties for the Minstermen in November and December 1945 and started a solitary Football League game in September 1946. He played as an amateur for York, which left the door open for Hull City to sign him on professional terms at the end of the 1946/47 season.
Moving to Middlesbrough in February 1948, Reagan was given four starts in the closing weeks of the season and came back into the side in October 1948 when he scored his first Boro goal against Bolton Wanderers. He spent long periods of the 1948/49 season in the reserves before returning to first team action in April 1949, a pattern that was repeated the following season when he barely played until April 1951 when scored a brace against West Bromwich Albion. A third season was spent in the Boro reserves as the fine form of Jamaican born winger Lindy Delapenha kept Reagan out of the first team and he was transfer listed in January 1951. He left Middlesbrough that summer having made 25 senior appearances in three years and scored four goals.
In August 1951 Reagan was transferred to Shrewsbury Town, a club that had just been promoted to the Football League, during a season and a half at Gay Meadow and was a first team regular who scored 11 goals in 65 appearances and turned in a string of impressive displays on both the right and left wings. On New Years’ Day 1953 First Division side Portsmouth paid a steepling £15,000 fee to give Reagan a second chance to prove himself in the top flight. He was immediately given a run of five starts in January and February before drifting out of the Pompey first XI and starting only one game the following season. Having perhaps given up on his prospects of establishing himself as a top flight footballer, Reagan joined Division Three South side Norwich City in May 1954. He spent his first season in the first team at Carrow Road but drifted out of the side in the 1955/56 season and ended his time with the Canaries in the 1956 close season having made 36 starts and scored four goals.
In May 1956 Martin was appointed player-manager at Eastern Counties League side March Town United, he fulfilled that role for two seasons before taking a similar role at Goole Town in the 1958 close season. In 1960 he left Goole and took work as salesman for a veterinary supplies firm while still coaching local football sides. In October 1979 he was appointed manager of the England Women’s national team, for nearly eleven years he led the side to many successes while railing against the poor treatment they were given by the Football Association. Losing only 15 of the 91 games he took charge of, Reagan’s side won the Mundialito international women’s competition in both 1985 and 1988 and was widely regarded as the man who laid the ground for womens’ football to enter the professional era. He left his role in March 1991 and retired to his home at Acomb in York while also taking a part-time role as Director of Coaching for a soccer camp in California, USA, a task he fulfilled until he was nearly 80. Martin eventually moved to care home in Kirk Hammerton where he died on Boxing Day 2016. Reagan was an unheralded war hero and international manager, when he died tributes were led by Hope Powell, his contemporary successor as England Women’s Manager who had been handed her England debut by Martin in 1983.
Date/Place of Birth: 12 May 1924, Scotswood
Hull City First Game: 7 June 1947, New Brighton H (Division Three North), 23 years, 26 days old
Hull City Final Game: 7 February 1948, Bradford City A (Division Three North), 23 years, 271 days old
York Railway Institute, York City (1945-1947), Hull City (1947-1948), Middlesbrough (1948-1951), Shrewsbury Town (1951-1952), Portsmouth (1952-1954), Norwich City (1954-1956), March Town United (1956-1958), Goole Town (1958-1960)
Hull City Record
Career: 22 apps, 3 goalsMartin Reagan