Horatio Stratton Carter, universally known as Raich, signed for City as player and assistant manager on 1 April 1948. This was a watershed moment for a football club, and a city, ravaged by the travails of World War Two. Raich Carter was a bona fide international class player, in the twilight of his career, signing for a beleaguered second tier side that the previous season, it’s first since hostilities had ended, used some 43 players in an attempt to establish itself and survive. Raich played just four games at the end of 1947/48 season, scoring no goals, but within a few days of his arrival City’s veteran boss Major Frank Buckley had resigned and Carter was elevated to the manager’s office at the new Boothferry Park.
The impact of Carter’s arrival was palpable in 1948/49. City’s home gates, which had been averaging around 25,000 amid post-war toil and austerity, leapt immediately by 7-8,000 and by Christmas Day the Tigers beat promotion rivals Rotherham United 3-2 in front of 49,655, a club record gate. This was topped two months later in a Cup tie against Manchester United attended by 55,019. Carter’s influence wasn’t just about big attendances though. He found an immediate winning formula that meant by Christmas the Tigers had won 14 of their first 19 league fixtures, including all of the opening nine games, going on to win the League come May by a three point margin. Raich, as player-manager, contributed 14 League goals (plus three more in the Cup) to secure a dominant promotion and a thrilling run to the FA Cup quarter finals. The City legend was born.
The momentum continued into 1949/50 as City lost only three of their first 14 matches. Four defeats in December hampered progress and the Tigers ended up seventh in the Division Two table after an early February FA Cup exit against Stockport precipitated a seventeen game slump during which Carter’s men won only once. Raich contributed 16 goals during his second season.
In 1950/51 City again started well under Raich’s calm leadership, but poor away form meant a challenge on the two promotion spots was not repeated and the Tigers finished in mid-table. Nevertheless Carter scored nineteen League goals, plus two more in the Cup, his best haul in black and amber. His influence in the transfer market was also evident, exemplified when ex-England international team-mate Neil Franklin signed from Stoke City in January 1951.
The 1951/52 season started poorly for the Tigers with only one win in the first six fixtures and in early September Raich tendered his resignation from the manager’s post, citing unspecified disagreements about the way the club conducted its affairs. His playing registration remained with the club and after a three month period of grace, during which Raich trained with a local RAF side from Leconfield, Raich returned to first team action under the management of the Directors and his 8 goals, alongside those of Syd Gerrie, enabled the Tigers to avoid relegation. Carter left the Tigers in May 1952.
As a player, Raich was a dominant force. Those who saw him told of him conducting the play with aplomb, slowing it and speeding it up as he wished. Opposition defenders struggled to dispossess him and relied on ways to close him down rather than tackle him. His managerial style was best described as non-intensive, he was a manager of a group of men rather than a forensic footballing coach and he relied on trusted players week-in-week-out. Despite only spending four full seasons at the club, Raich Carter was perhaps the greatest hero over the first 104 years of Hull City’s history, a man who transformed the club’s fortunes on and off the pitch at a time when joy and celebration were in short supply. Top man.
Raich Carter was born in Hendon, an industrial dormitory of Sunderland, in 1913. He was a sporting polymath from a young age, excelling at football, cricket and running – indeed he had a brief first class cricket career for Derbyshire in 1946, while also playing for Derby County. Carter played football for England Schoolboys during the late 1920s and signed amateur terms for his local side Sunderland in 1931. After a short toughening-up exercise playing for non-League side Esh Winning, he signed a professional contract and made his League debut at the end of 1931. Raich’s influence on the club was remarkable for a player so young, by the age of 23 his goals had assisted Sunderland to a League title in 1936 and a FA Cup win in 1937. He scored just short of 120 league goals for Sunderland in 250-odd appearances before the outbreak of war intervened and halted a career that would otherwise have been approaching its prime.
He served in the Fire Service for two years during World War Two, then in 1941 became a physical training instructor for the RAF at Loughborough, helping injured aircrew back to health. He continued to play wartime fixtures for a number of teams, including Derby County. He signed professional terms for Derby in 1945 (after his request for a ten year contract was rejected by a puzzled Sunderland board), lifting the FA Cup again for the Rams in April 1946. His three season stint at the Baseball Ground ended when the Hull City directors tempted him to Boothferry Park in March 1948.
Raich left City in 1952 and had a brief spell between January and May 1953 playing for and managing Cork Athletic, where he won the Irish Cup. Carter was appointed Leeds United’s manager in May 1953, piloting them to the First Division in 1956, promotion being sealed with a late April 4-1 win at Boothferry Park against his former side, who were already doomed to relegation. After a superb season in the top flight finishing 8th, and a less successful second season finishing 17th, Raich was relieved of his duties at Elland Road in 1958. In February 1960 Raich was appointed Mansfield Town manager (he was later reputed to have been instrumental in Ken Wagstaff’s move from the Stags to Hull City) and in January 1963 he moved to Middlesbrough for his final, three year spell as a football manager.
Raich was a international footballer throughout much of his career, winning 13 senior caps for England either side of the War and scoring seven goals. He made 17 international representative appearances during the War and also represented the RAF and Combined Services.
Raich was married twice. His first wife Rose died in 1953 and he remarried in 1955 to Patricia, an employee at Hull City. In 1958 the Carters opened a newsagent and ice cream parlour on Anlaby Road, and once his managerial odyssey was over Raich and family returned to Hull and settled in Willerby where he sold sports goods, sat on the Pools Panel and ran a debt collection business. Raich died after a stroke in 1993.
Carter’s legendary status with two football clubs, either side of World War Two, has been recognised. In Sunderland the Raich Carter Sports Centre was opened in 2001, close to his Hendon birthplace in Sunderland, where a gable end mural of Raich in his Sunderland pomp is also pride of place. In Hull the road between Dunswell roundabout and Kingswood that crosses the River Hull is called Raich Carter Way. And when the KC Stadium was opened in December 2002, the opening friendly game was contested by Hull City and Sunderland for the Raich Carter Trophy.
Date/Place of Birth: 21 December 1913, Sunderland
Hull City First Game: 3 April 1948, York City H (Division Three North), 34 years, 104 days old
Hull City Final Game: 26 April 1952, Doncaster Rovers A (Division Two), 38 years, 127 days old
Sunderland (1931-1939), Derby County (1945-1948), Hull City (1948-1952), Cork Athletic (1953)
Hull City Record
Career: 150 apps, 62 goalsRaich Carter