Versatile defender Len Sharpe had spent twelve years at his home town club Scunthorpe United prior to joining the Tigers in June 1962 for a £750 fee. The Tigers were languishing in the Third Division but were starting to stir thanks to the investment of owner Harold Needler and the emergence of new talent from the junior ranks – notably striker Chris Chilton. Though primarily known for his effective tackling and an ability to begin attacking moves, Sharpe’s debut came in September 1962 when he deputised at inside right for Dudley Price. When he returned to the first team a month later he was selected at left back, a role he retained for the majority of the season. City manager Cliff Britton switched Sharpe to a midfield role in 1963/64 season and he missed only a handful of games before Christmas, scoring the first of his four goals for City in a September 1963 2-2 draw against Barnsley. After missing eight weeks of football between mid-December and mid-February, Len returned to the first team fold and his versatility allowed him to fulfil a number of midfield and attacking roles. His final goal of the season, and his final career goal for the Tigers, came in the form of a consolation in an April 1964 1-5 defeat at Shrewsbury.
Len remained with City for two more seasons but was used rarely. In the 1965/66 Division Three championship winning season Sharpe deputised four times for first choice left back Dennis Butler, including the two festive games against Millwall. He left the Tigers in the 1966 close season.
Leonard Thomas Sharpe was born in Scunthorpe and raised during the World War Two years. As a youngster in the late 1940s he had trials for Raich Carter’s successful Hull City side, but he instead stayed in Scunthorpe to complete his apprenticeship, play for lower league side Ashby Institute and complete his National Service. In the 1950 close season he signed for local Division Three North side Scunthorpe & Lindsey United (the “& Lindsey” addition was dropped in 1959) and made his senior debut a year later in September 1951 against Crewe Alexandra. After a strong start to his professional career Sharpe was used less regularly by Scunthorpe in the mid 1950s as they competed at the upper end of the Division Three North tablewithout winning promotion. The Iron finally went up to the Second Division in 1958 and once in the higher tier of football Sharpe became a regular first team presence – his best season came in 1959/60 when he started 43 games in all competitions. In the 1961/62 season Sharpe made only two starts as Scunthorpe went close to promotion to the First Division, and he left the club in the 1962 close season having made 199 senior appearances and scored 6 goals.
Sharpe joined Goole Town for the early part of the 1966/67 season but he returned to Scunthorpe United in March 1967 when he was appointed player/coach, though the playing part of the role was restricted to the Iron’s reserve side. In the 1968 close season he was appointed player/manager at Ashby Institute, and he later also managed Barton Town and Brigg Town before retiring in Scunthorpe and working for British Steel. He spent his later life in a Scunthorpe care home where he died in April 2021.
Date/Place of Birth: 29 November 1932, Scunthorpe
Hull City First Game: 8 September 1962, Swindon Town A (Division Three), 29 years, 283 days old
Hull City Final Game: 28 December 1965, Millwall A (Division Three), 33 years, 29 days old
Ashby Institute, Scunthorpe United (1950-1962), Hull City (1962-1966), Goole Town (1966-1967), Scunthorpe United (1967-1968), Ashby Institute (1968-1969)
Hull City Record
Career: 71 apps, 4 goalsLen Sharpe