Half back Bill Harris was plucked from the Welsh League in March 1950, costing the Tigers a £2,000 fee that proved excellent value. Manager Raich Carter put Harris into the City first team for the last two matches of the 1949/50 season, playing him at outside right rather than his more familiar right half role, where his tough tackling was supplemented by quick thinking and neat passing that prompted attacks for Carter’s stellar frontline. Whan City turned to Harris next in late October 1950 he was chosen in midfield and he rewarded Carter with consistent performances in 25 consecutive senior starts.
Harris started the 1951/52 season as first choice half back and while the Tigers struggled for form after Carter resigned in September 1951, only to pick up again when Raich returned as a player three months later, Harris was a consistent figure who missed only four of the 48 senior fixtures and netted his first City goals in a September defeat at Luton and March draw at Birmingham. Former Pompey manager Bob Jackson took the reins at Hull City for the 1952/53 season and he too relied on Bill Harris for midfield tackles and prompting. Harris missed only two fixtures all season as City avoided relegation by just one point. In 1953/54 Harris was similarly consistent and by February 1954 he was attracting the attention of First Division clubs and left the Tigers for a handsome fee.
William Charles Harris was raised on Recorder Street in the centre of Swansea, a terrace of houses adjacent to Swansea Prison and within earshot of Swansea City’s Vetch Field ground. He joined the Swansea City A team as a youngster but was unable to progress any further and joined Welsh League side Llanelli in August 1949. His form for Llanelli was such that by the following March he was joining Raich Carter’s Hull City, a club on the up and recently promoted to the Second Division. One that got away from the Swans.
In March 1954 Harris joined First Division Middlesbrough for a £15,000 fee, briefly teaming up with future Hull City player Wilf Mannion. He went straight into the Boro first team and while the Teessiders were relegated to the Second Division two months later, Harris remained a first team fixture for most of the next ten seasons at Ayresome Park. By the time he left Middlesbrough in 1965 he had become a club stalwart at wing half and inside forward – in the early 1960s Harris played in a more advanced role and scored 11 goals in 1959-60 season and 15 goals in 1961/62 season. He left Middlesbrough in March 1965 having made 378 appearances in all competitions and scored 72 goals. He joined Bradford City as player-manager and quickly gave up playing due to injury after nine appearances for the Bantams. After a year of Fourth Division struggle Harris resigned in March 1966.
In November 1967 he took over the managerial reins at North Regional League side Stockton, a post he held for nearly two years until he resigned in May 1969. Harris then left football and worked as an insurance salesman in the Middlesbrough area. He suffered several strokes in the late 1980s and died in Middlesbrough in December 1989 at the age of 61.
Harris was called up to the Wales senior international squad within two months of joining Middlesbrough and made his international debut in May 1954 against Austria. After a gap of three years he won five further caps in 1957, his last cap coming in November 1957 against Scotland.
Date/Place of Birth: 31 October 1928, Swansea
Hull City First Game: 29 April 1950, Sheffield United A (Division Two), 21 years, 180 days old
Hull City Final Game: 27 February 1954, Luton Town H (Division Two), 25 years, 119 days old
Swansea City, Llanelli (1949-1950), Hull City (1950-1954), Middlesbrough (1954-1965), Bradford City (1965-1966)
Hull City Record
Career: 145 apps, 7 goalsBill Harris