Andrew “Jock” Davidson will likely hold the record for most senior appearances for Hull City for ever more. The resilient defender was not the best footballer to pull on the black and amber shirt, but he will always be one of the most loyal and dedicated over a 30+ year association as player, coach, assistant manager and scout.
Andrew Davidson was born in Douglas Water, a rural village in Lanarkshire near to the modern day M74 motorway that in Jock’s youth would have been a hive of coal mining activity – though a nerve-wracking teenage visit to his father’s workplace underground meant Andy resolved to never work in the local colleries. Andy’s brother David Davidson, often known as Craig, joined Hull City in 1946 after he asked manager Major Frank Buckley for a trial while delivering goods to Hull Docks in his truck. David joined Scarborough in the 1948 close season, by which time the 16 year old Andy had already headed south to Hull to join the ground staff at Boothferry Park, giving up a job with the railways back in Lanarkshire. While the football stadium was brand new, much of Hull was ravaged by wartime bomb damage and Andy struggled to settle to transition from rural living to big city life – he became homesick and briefly returned to Douglas Water three times, only to return a few days or weeks later on each occasion.
By September 1949 Andy had adjusted to Hull life sufficiently to sign his first professional contract – the offer of free admission to the flicks made by former Tiger and now cinema manager Stan Dixon was perhaps a part of that adjustment. However the early years of his career at Hull City were to be blighted by injury. In a 1950 pre-season match Jock broke his right leg and by the time he recovered he had to complete his National Service – manager Raich Carter saw to it that his service was conducted at nearby RAF Finningley. Jock returned to full-time football in 1952 and made his City debut at the start of 1952/53 season under the leadership of new manager Bob Jackson. Although initially chosen as a centre forward – Jock scored his first City in his third appearance, a 3-0 September 1952 win over Blackburn – when he returned to the first team in November 1952 it was in the left half role. Just two months later, at the end of January 1953, Davidson broke his left leg in a defeat away at far-flung Swansea and it took nearly two years for the Scotsman to recover full fitness after he again broke his leg during a November 1953 comeback game for the City A team. Davidson played just twice in the first team during the 1954/55 season, by the summer of 1955 Jackson had been replaced at the helm by Londoner Bob Brocklebank.
Brocklebank placed his faith in Davidson, who had just turned 23, and handed him the right back shirt at the start of the 1955/56 season. Davidson soon switched to the central defensive positions and proceeded to miss only six of the next 139 senior fixtures between August 1955 and August 1958 – in October 1955 Jock also played in what he regarded as his favourite match, a 3-1 friendly win over the Hungarian giants of Vasas Budapest inspired by a Bill Bradbury hattrick. Davidson’s versatility and consistency were key assets as Brocklebank’s Tigers tried to find a way back to the Second Division after relegation in May 1956. Two top eight finishes saw the Tigers miss out narrowly before they finished second in Division Three in 1958/59 and returned to the second tier. However Davidson played only half of that promotion season, having missed the first three months with a knee injury.
By now installed as City captain, Davidson was an intimidating presence in the tunnel at five to 3, explaining in menacing terms to opposition players precisely how he would damage their legs and leave them in hospital. It was a technique that worked on more than it washed over. Returning to the first team in December 1958. Jock started 155 consecutive senior matches, a run that ended in February 1962. During this spell Davidson became City’s regular right back, a role he retained when Cliff Britton was handed the manager’s post in 1961. Fuelled by the investment of the Needler family that owned Hull City, manager Britton and captain Davidson were key elements of a City side that saw a new squad built around Jock’s defensive prowess and local lad Chris Chilton’s deadly striking exploits. Between March 1962 and New Years Day 1966 Davidson assembled another 201 consecutive senior starts. City’s ascent of the Third Division league table crescendoed in 1965/66 with a championship winning season that also featured a spectacular run to the FA Cup Sixth Round. Jock missed just one game all season, a January defeat at Swindon, and lifted the Division Three trophy in May 1966 after a home win against Southend.
Davidson was now 34 and with the Tigers elevated to the Second Division he found the pace a little harder to cope with – he still made 33 starts in 1966/67 but he was unable to play week in week out for the full nine months. Andy started the 1967/68 season in his usual right back berth but in November 1967, after an achilles tendon injury finally halted him, he was replaced by new signing Frank Banks and hung up his boots in the 1968 close season – a one club man who made nearly 600 appearances for Hull City over 20 years, what a hero.
Jock remained loyal to Hull City after his playing days ended, joining the coaching staff and earning a testamonial against Manchester City that was played on the 1st April 1969, the day that another Hull City hero Dean Windass was born. In 1974 he became assistant manager at Boothferry Park, a role he maintained under managers John Kaye and Ken Houghton. His involvement with Hull City came to an end in December 1979 when Houghton was sacked and his staff were also jettisoned – Davidson was by now working as a scout. After football he went into the fishmongering trade and ran a successful business for many years. He retired to his South Cave home before ill health meant he had to move to a Beverley nursing home, which is where he died in April 2014 just a few days before his beloved Hull City beat Sheffield United at Wembley and reached their first ever FA Cup Final.
Date/Place of Birth: 13 July 1932, Douglas Water
Hull City First Game: 8 September 1952, Blackburn Rovers A (Division Two), 20 years, 57 days old
Hull City Final Game: 18 November 1967, Aston Villa A (Division Two), 35 years, 128 days old
Douglas Water Thistle, Hull City (1949-1968)
Hull City Record
Career: 579 apps, 19 goalsAndy Davidson
|1965/66||45 (0)||0||7 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|1966/67||29 (0)||0||3 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|