Striker Alf “Ack Ack” Ackerman first joined City in August 1950. This was a time when Hull City had a reputation for unconventional moves in the transfer market – a few months after Ackerman’s signing, City bought disgraced former England defender Neil Franklin after choosing an unsanctioned money-making spell in Columbia over representing his county in 1950 World Cup finals. Ackerman was himself an atypical signing, he hailed from Pretoria in South Africa and while he had built his reputation for fearsome goalscoring performances at Pretoria Municipals in thd South Arfrican leagues, then cut his teeth in the northern hemisphere at Scottish side Clyde, it was still uncommon (but not unknown) for English league sides to draw upon players from outside the British Isles.
It was a cracking move though. City had flirted with promotion to Division One the previous season, before a major drop in form during a goal-shy spring time winless streak saw the club drop down into mid-table, so new forward options were required. Ackerman quickly fitted into the attacking ethos propogated by player manager Raich Carter and he bagged 21 goals in his first season. He potted nine goals in his first 11 starts, rattled a hattrick past QPR in mid-November and bookended his first season with goals in City’s first league game (a brace in a 3-3 draw at West Ham) and last league game (a 5-3 clumping of Luton Town at Boothferry Park).
Despite his successes, Ackerman was allowed to join Norwich City in July 1951, a drop down to Division Three South football, with manager Carter preferring to select the eqqually productive frontman Syd Gerrie. After an initial quiet season at Carrow Road Ackerman was top scorer in 1952/53, contributing 22 goals. Norwich narrowly missed out on promotion and so Ackerman was soon on the move again.
The Tigers re-signed Alf Ackerman in October 1953 and with Bob Jackson now at the helm, Alf was immediately restored to the first team. City were rewarded by a second debut goal in a 2-0 win over Plymouth. By the end of the season Ackerman had scored 19 goals, 17 in the league and 2 in the FA Cup, peaking with a four goal haul in an 8-0 shellacking of Oldham Athletic. Ackerman remained with City for the 1954/55 season and he was again productive, bagging 11 goals. A March 1955 home fixture against Swansea Town was Alf’s last game for the Tigers and he characteristically scored twice in a 4-3 win. He moved to Derby County that month, who were at that time at the foot of Division Two and destined for relegation a few weeks later.
After a year and a half at Derby Ackerman was again on the move, joining Carlisle United in November 1956. At Brunton Park he resumed his fearsome reputation, scoring 61 league goals in 97 starts. In January 1959 the 30 year old Ackerman moved to Millwall, his final league club, where he played for two seasons. In 1961 he was appointed player manager at Southern League side Dartford, a post he held for five years until 1966 while also running a newsagent shop. After a spell out of the game Ackerman was appointed manager of another Southern League side Gravesend & Northfleet, a local rival of Dartford. He managed The Reds for five years, overseeing the emerging playing career of future England manager Roy Hodgson and achieving promotion to the Southern League Premier Division in 1971. He left Gravesend & Northfleet in 1974, returned to his native South Africa and resided in Dunnotar, a suburb of Johannesburg, where died in July 1988 at the age of 59.
Nationality: South Africa
Date/Place of Birth: 5 January 1929, Pretoria (South Africa)
Hull City First Game: 19 August 1950, West Ham United A (Division Two), 21 years, 226 days old
Hull City Final Game: 12 March 1955, Swansea Town H (Division Two), 26 years, 66 days old
Pretoria Municipals, Clyde (1947-1950), Hull City (1950-1951), Norwich City (1951-1953), Hull City (1953-1955), Derby County (1955-1956), Carlisle United (1956-1959), Millwall (1959-1961), Dartford (1961-1966)
Hull City Record
Career: 103 apps, 51 goalsAlf Ackerman