Six foot tall Scottish goalkeeper Alec Corbett signed for Hull City in January 1948 as manager Frank Buckley struggled to cope with injuries to his other netminders. Corbett came to City with a decent reputation and went straight into the first team ahead of Cyril Hannaby, who two weeks earlier had replaced the injured Billy Bly. Corbett conceded three goals in his first City start against Rotherham, though the Tigers scored five at the other end to distract from this iffy debut. Three clean sheets in four matches followed and all seemed well. But City went on a losing run and in mid-March Bly was restored to the first team. Corbett then suffered the ignominy of being placed on the transfer list by the increasingly unpredictable Buckley – a few weeks later Buckley was given his notice, Raich Carter came in as de facto manager for the last few games of the season and Corbett was withdrawn from the available list.
Despite this reprieve Carter signed another keeper, the World War Two prisoner of war Joe Robinson, who became Bly’s deputy and nudged Alec down the City pecking order, resulting in Corbett leaving the Tigers in the 1949 close season.
Alexander McLennan “Alec” Corbett was born at Saltcoats, a small coastal village next to Ardrossan on the North Ayrshire coast that was once a centre for the production of sea salt. He came of age in footballing terms during the early years of World War Two and played for his local side Saltcoat Vics before joining Annbank United in 1943. In March 1945 he joined Scottish League side Ayr United, having built a reputation as one of Ayrshire football’s finest young goalkeepers. After a season at Ayr United spent playing in local wartime leagues, Corbett’s local reputation was responsible for a somewhat unlikely move to English Division Three North side New Brighton – New Brighton were managed by former Scottish international centre half Neil McBain, who hailed from Ayrshire and signed Alec within a week of being appointed. Corbett spent a season and a half between the posts at New Brighton and made 60 appearances before his move to Hull City was completed in January 1948.
In August 1949 Corbett signed for Southern League side Dartford – a move into the non-leagues in this era may have seemed counter-intuitive for players playing at a higher level, but the maximum wage restrictions applied to players in the Football League did not apply lower down the footballing ladder and such a move could prove lucrative. After two years at Dartford, an area that Alec evidently appreciated and later returned to, he joined league rivals Weymouth in June 1951 amid reports that he was the Southern League’s finest goalkeeper. He served the Dorest club for two years before returning to Football League action in July 1953 when he signed for Division Three North side Hartlepools United. Within six months and after only 7 starts Corbett returned to the Southern League, spending the remainder of the 1953/54 in South Wales with Llanelli. He then spent the 1954/55 season at King’s Lynn before returning to Dartford for one more season. In July 1956 Alec joined Southern League side Hastings United and spent two years on the south coast despite being mostly chosen for the Reserve side. He joined Kent League side Deal Town for the 1958/59 season before finally hanging up his gloves in the summer of 1959.
Corbett remained on the North Kent coast for the rest of his life and died in Gravesend in March 2000.
Date/Place of Birth: 20 April 1921, Saltcoats
Hull City First Game: 17 January 1948, Rotherham United H (Division Three North), 26 years, 272 days old
Hull City Final Game: 13 March 1948, Darlington A (Division Three North), 26 years, 328 days old
Saltcoats Vics (1942-1943), Annbank United (1943-1945), Ayr United (1945-1946), New Brighton (1946-1948), Hull City (1948-1949), Dartford (1949-1951), Weymouth (1951-1953), Hartlepools United (1953-1954), Llanelli (1954), King’s Lynn (1954-1955), Dartford (1955-1956), Hastings United (1956-1958), Deal Town (1958-1959)
Hull City Record
Career: 8 apps, 0 goalsAlec Corbett