Christopher John “Chris” Simpkin was a beneficiary of the Ainthorpe High School production line that produced several homegrown players for Hull City in the 1950s and 1960s from its East Ella base. Simpkin was a forward when he joined the Hull City amateur ranks in 1959, signing apprentice terms in 1960 and his first profesional contract in April 1962. At the start of the 1962/63 season manager Cliff Britton gave Simpkin his senior debut, selecting him at inside right for six games in the absence of Welshman Duggie Price. Simpkin also started the last eleven games of the season as inside forward on both sides of pivot Chris Chilton, and scored his first goal for the Tigers in a 2-0 win at Halifax in April 1963.
Chris was again chosen in the City forward line in the early weeks of the 1963/64 season, but dropped out of the side in early October as Britton preferred to pair Billy Wilkinson and Ray Henderson to support Chilton. The Tigers were signing new forwards on a regular basis, which was perhaps what prompted Simpkin to remodel himself as a wing half, tackling tigerishly at the base of midfield and starting attacks with his passing ability. Chris started his second career as a first team wing half in March 1964, however he started only two senior games in the 1964/65 season as Britton preferred to use the more experienced Gerry Summers and Les Collinson in the City engine room.
At the start of the 1965/66 season Simpkin was preferred to Collinson and Chris was established in the first team for the next six years. Simpkin was an ever present in the League during the 1965/66 season that saw City lift the Division Three title and reach the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup – the only senior fixture he missed all season was the Fourth Round of the FA Cup against Nottingham Forest, in which his replacement Terry Heath netted both goals in a 2-0 victory. In 1966 Simpkin made the transition to Second Division level with ease and remained a first team regular – in 228 senior fixtures between August 1966 and April 1971 Simpkin was absent only 14 times. Chris contributed occasional goals along the way – he scored the season’s opening goal in August 1967 against Carlisle and netted against Middlesbrough in August 1968 when he was briefly restored at inside left to cover for the absence of Ken Houghton. When Cliff Britton was relieved of his managerial duties in November 1969 and eventually replaced by Terry Neill, Simpkin kept his first team shirt and it wasn’t until the signing of Ken Knighton in March 1971 that Simpkin’s run in the team finally ended. Chris had three starts in the forward line early in 1971/72 season, again replacing the injured Houghton, but he was never likely to be a first choice forward for City given the established positions that Houghton, Ken Wagstaff and Stuart Pearson occupied. He left the Tigers in October 1971.
In October 1971 Blackpool paid £30,000 for the 27 year old Simpkin and he was a regular for the Tangerines as they finished in the top six of the Second Division. However he was rarely used by Blackpool manager Harry Potts in the early stages of the following season and in October 1973, after one goal in 40 appearances for Blackpool, Simpkin transferred to Scunthorpe United for a £12,000 fee. Simpkin was again restored to first team action in the Iron’s midfield and made 43 starts in the 1973/74 season, playing behind his former City team-mate Ken Houghton as the Old Show Ground side drifted around the lower reaches of Division Four – though they did reach the Fourth Round of the FA Cup and took First Division side Newcastle United to a replay before Malcolm MacDonald saw them off with two goals in a 0-3 defeat.
In 1974/75 season Scunthorpe sunk to the foot of Division Four and sought re-election, with Simpkin missing three months of play during the winter due to injury. After 74 senior appearances and two goals for Scunthorpe Chris was given a free transfer in the 1975 close season and headed to the United States to play 22 times for Baltimore Comets in the North American Soccer League. In October 1975 Simpkin returned to England and joined another Division Four side, Huddersfield Town, where he made 29 appearances alongside future City manager Terry Dolan as the Terriers narrowly missed out on promotion.
Simpkin was not selected by Huddersfield boss Tom Johnston at the start of the 1976/77 season and in December 1976 he moved to Hartlepool United, another side struggling at the foot of Division Four. Simpkin played for Pools for a year, dropping out of the first team in December 1977 and leaving the club in the 1978 close season having made 49 appearances. This drew to a close Simpkin’s time in the Football League – though he did go on to have short spells at non-league sides Scarborough and Hall Road Rangers – and in total he mustered 506 senior appearances and 24 goals in a sixteen year career. He returned to the Hull area and worked as a salesman in the motor trade while also regularly attending matches at North Ferriby United.
In 2009 Simpkin pleaded guilty to running a brothel in a property he rented in the Thornbury area of Bradford. He served a prison sentence and was subsequently forced to sell his house in Kirkella in order that the court could confiscate over £90,000 of his gains from illegal activity.
Date/Place of Birth: 24 April 1944, Hull
Hull City First Game: 18 August 1962, Bristol Rovers H (Division Three), 18 years, 116 days old
Hull City Final Game: 2 October 1971, Luton Town H (Division Two), 27 years, 161 days old
Hull City (1962-1971), Blackpool (1971-1973), Scunthorpe United (1973-1975), Baltimore Comets (1975), Huddersfield Town (1975-1976), Hartlepool United (1976-1978), Scarborough, Hall Road Rangers
Hull City Record
Career: 314 apps, 21 goalsChris Simpkin
|1965/66||46 (0)||1||6 (0)||1||2 (0)||1||-||-||-||-|
|1966/67||36 (0)||2||3 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|1967/68||38 (0)||3||3 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|1968/69||42 (0)||1||1 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|1969/70||40 (0)||6||1 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|1970/71||37 (0)||2||4 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||-||-||2 (0)||0|