Jackie Sewell was an experienced England international inside forward who joined City in October 1959, a few weeks into the 1959/60 season. His arrival coincided with a serious dip in form for Bob Brocklebank’s Tigers and Sewell managed only two goals before the end of the calendar year in defeats at Stoke and Plymouth. Jackie scored a third goal in a mid-April 3-1 win over Derby County, but by then relegation was unavoidable and City dropped into Division Three. City’s form perked up in the lower division but Sewell was on the fringes of the first team until a brief spell in the starting XI in late October yielded two goals. In December 1960 the absence of locally born forward Eric McMillan handed Sewell a chance to perform in the first team and in thirteen starts he scored four goals. However he lost his place again in March 1961 and left the club in the summer at the same as manager Brocklebank was replaced by Cliff Britton.
John “Jackie” Sewell was born in Whitehaven on the Cumbrian Coast and after impressive form in local schools football he joined local side Kells Miners Welfare while working as a milkman and then a coal miner. By 1944 he was playing for Whitehaven Town and attracting the attention of Notts County, managed by future City boss Frank Buckley. Sewell played wartime fixtures for the Magpies at weekends after spending the week down the pit – he also played occasional wartime fixtures for Workington and Carlisle United. In 1946 Jackie signed professional terms for Notts County as the Football League resumed and he quickly developed a big reputation for goalscoring and finding killer passes to set up attacks and goals. Sewell was County’s top League goalscorer three times in five seasons and in 1950 he won a Division Three South champions medal. After 100 goals in less than 200 starts for Notts, Sewell joined Sheffield Wednesday in March 1951 for a world record transfer fee of £34,500.
The Owls were languishing at the foot of the First Division table and Sewell quickly made the adjustment to top flight football, netting six goals – however Wednesday were relegated in May 1951 on goal average. Wednesday had a squad peppered with England internationals as they launched a successful promotion push in 1951/52, and Sewell joined the international ranks in November 1951 before winning a Second Division champions medal in May 1952. Jackie was part of the Owls’ squad that reached the FA Cup Semi Final in 1953/54 and was Wednesday’s top scorer in the First Division in 1952/53 and 1954/55 – the latter season ending in another relegation. After netting 13 times in 16 starts when back in Division Two Sewell moved to First Division Aston Villa in December 1955 for a £20,000 fee, having scored another 100 goals for Sheffield Wednesday. His four seasons at Villa Park pinnacled in May 1957 when he played in the FA Cup Final side that defeated Matt Busby’s renowned Manchester United side 2 goals to 1. Sewell suffered in third career relegation in 1958/59 and he left Villa after only two starts in 1959/60 to join Hull City.
On leaving the Tigers in the summer of 1961 Sewell embarked on a remarkable 12 year stint in African football. He joined Northern Rhodesia side Lusaka City as player-manager and played on for four more years, quickly becoming a Zambian international and captain (Northern Rhodesia was renamed Zambia in 1964). Giving up playing in 1965, Sewell went on to manage the international sides of Zambia, Rhodesia and Zaire before returning to Nottingham in 1973 to work as a motor car salesman. He spent the last 35 years of his live living in a modest bungalow on the southern fringes of Nottingham and still attending Notts County matches well into his 80s. Jackie died in September 2016 at the age of 89.
After touring Canada with an FA XI in the summer of 1950, Sewell won 6 senior international caps for England and scored three goals. His first start came in a November 1951 win over Ireland and he added three more caps in 1952, scoring goals against Austria and Switzerland. His final goal came in the infamous November 1953 match against Hungary where England, previously invincible on home turf, were thrashed 3-6 – at the time of his death in 2016 Sewell was the last survivor to have played in that game. Jackie’s final cap for England came in May 1954, a return fixture against Hungary in Budapest that the Magyars won 7-1.
When he moved to Zambia in the early 1960s Sewell was quickly able to qualify for the Zambian international side, for whom he won a further ten caps and scored 7 goals.
Date/Place of Birth: 24 January 1927, Whitehaven
Hull City First Game: 10 October 1959, Lincoln City H (Division Two), 32 years, 259 days old
Hull City Final Game: 24 March 1961, Tranmere Rovers A (Division Three), 34 years, 59 days old
Kells Miners Welfare, Whitehaven Town, Notts County (1946-1951), Sheffield Wednesday (1951-1955), Aston Villa (1955-1959), Hull City (1959-1961), Lusaka City (1961-1965)
Hull City Record
Career: 50 apps, 9 goalsJackie Sewell