Hans Viggo Jensen was a versatile Danish player who joined the Tigers on amateur terms in October 1948 at a time when overseas moves for players were extremely rare. Jensen was born in Skagen, Denmark’s most northerly town, and had made his name during over 200 appearances for Esbjerg FB, a West Jutland amateur side, at a time when Danish League football and the Danish international side were dominated by Copenhagen teams. Viggo’s talent was sufficient to break through that regional bias and he competed for Denmark in 1948 Olympic Games. In October 1948 Jensen visited Hull on a trade mission representing the Danish fishing industry, however a broader purpose for the visit became quickly apparent when he signed amateur forms for Hull City, the FA hurried through his player registration and Viggo made his debut in late October. Viggo was able to find work in Hull’s burdgeoning fishing industry while he played as an amateur – he waited until 1950 to sign professional terms – and also had a Danish sausage van that purveyed hearty grub to the Boothferry Park faithful on match days.
City were in the throes of one of their most exciting periods in October 1948. Stranded in Division Three North during World War 2, the club was determined to invest in a winning side and the signing – then rapid elevation to player-manager – of former England forward Raich Carter six months earlier was the fulcrum for that ambition. Crowds were flocking to the newly opened Boothferry Park and the Tigers had won their opening nine league fixtures to sit atop the Division Three North table. So it was a club on the up that Jensen encountered when he joined the squad, and his powerful running, thoughtful passing, scrupulous fair play and eye for goal were all assets that further enhanced a strong side. He debuted against New Brighton in the inside right position, facilitated by a forward line reshuffle that saw experienced Scottish forward Willie Buchan temporarily bumped to the reserves. Viggo rewarded his manager’s faith with four goals in his first five games, three league wins and a FA Cup victory against Accrington Stanley. Jensen missed just two matches during the remainder of the season as City won the league title and promotion with ease, contributing a February 1949 hattrick in a 6-0 thrashing of Halifax Town.
City’s squad was already well equipped to cope with the extra demands of the Second Division when promoted for the 1949/50 season and Jensen was the personification of this – he played in all but one fixture between the start of the season and the end of March, appearing mostly at inside right but also showing early signs of his renowned versatility by filling in at right back, centre half, centre forward and inside left. He scored in seven consecutive matches during September and October 1949 in front of 45,000-plus home gates as the Tigers challenged at the top of the league and the First Division appeared to beckon. However a slide in form from February 1950 onwards, with only one win in 15 league games, saw that challenge fall away and City finished in mid-table – Jensen’s absence for six matches in April was no doubt a contributing factor to that decline. In the following season Viggo was assigned purely to defensive duties by manager Carter, missing only 7 of 45 matches in all competitions and playing at both centre-back and left back. This defensive role continued in the following season as Carter resigned his post, the club directors took over team selection affairs and Carter eventually returned as a player to avert a relegation battle.
Bob Jackson was appointed City manager for the 1952/53 season and the Lancastrian ex-Pompey league title winning boss quickly returned Jensen to the forward line. While many of Carter’s stellar signings had moved on, the core of that side still remained – Jensen, Billy Bly in goal, Tom Berry and the oft-injured Neil Franklin in defence, Bill Harris and Dennis Durham in midfield, Eddie Burbanks on the wing. Jackson’s tenure started in grand fashion with a 2-0 win at Everton, Viggo scoring both, and Jensen followed up a week later with another brace in a 2-2 against Brentford. However a run of only 3 wins in 17 games saw the Tigers drift to the lower reaches of the table and a switch for Viggo back to the defence in December 1952 was pivotal in reversing the slide and keeping Second Division status. Jackson’s Tigers made a similarly poor start to 1953/54 season with Viggo playing mostly in a midfield role. Again, Jensen’s switch to left back in late November precipitated an uptick in form, with City losing only twice in 16 League and Cup games. By the end of that season in April 1954 had missed only twenty of the 264 senior matches played signed he joined in October 1948, a remarkable record of consistency.
That consistency continued in the 1954/55 season when Viggo missed only seven games and was selected solely as left back. But City struggled all season and replaced Jackson with Bob Brocklebank in the manager’s chair, avoiding relegation by a three point margin. Jensen welcomed the new boss in March 1955 with both goals (scored from left back) in a 2-2 draw against Liverpool. Viggo scored the first City goal of the 1955/56 season in a 4-2 home defeat at the hands of Leicester City, and the Tigers struggled all season to find form and finished bottom of the division.
Returned to the third tier, City retained Brocklebank as manager but only Bly, Jensen and Berry now remained from the late 1940s squad built by Raich Carter. Jensen’s position as a City legend from one of the club’s most prominent golden eras was secured, and in November 1956 he decided to end his time at Hull City and return to Denmark to coach his former side Esbjerg FB and work at a power plant – he held the latter role until retirement in the late 1980s. Viggo died in Esbjerg in November 2005.
Jensen made 15 appearances for Denmark between 1945 and 1948, scoring one goal. He played in all four of Denmark’s matches at the 1948 Olympics against Egypt at Selhurst Park, Italy at Arsenal’s Highbury Stadium, Sweden at Wembley (the semi-final that Denmark lost 4-2) and Great Britain also at Wembley (the bronze medal match that Denmark won 5-3).
Date/Place of Birth: 29 March 1921, Skagen, Denmark
Hull City First Game: 30 October 1948, New Brighton H (Division Three North), 27 years, 215 days old
Hull City Final Game: 10 November 1956, Chester H (Division Three North), 35 years, 226 days old
Esbjerg FB, Hull City (1948-1956)
Hull City Record
Career: 335 apps, 54 goalsViggo Jensen