Striker Ron Rafferty joined the Tigers in the 1963 close season for a £10,000 fee. This was the beginning of an investment that saw the Tigers rise from their Third Division slumbers, the signing of experienced goalscorer Rafferty was an early sign of ambition. Ron began the season supporting young goalscorer Chris Chilton but suffered a broken ankle in his third start that kept him out of the side for five months. When he returned to the first team picture in February 1964 his impact was instant – he scored a brace against Bournemouth in his first game back, albeit in a 3-4 defeat, and netted five times in eight starts. Ron scored a sixth goal against Walsall in April 1964 and seemed set for a successful season in 1964/65.
However Ron was unhappy with his arrangements in Hull and wished to return to his native Slough. After refusing a new contract and a spell of absence from the club, the FA intervened and ordered the Rafferty return to City on a monthly contract – the power clubs and the FA had over player contracts in the 1960s was immense. Rafferty returned to Hull and started two games in the Autumn but was soon consigned to the reserves. Within a few weeks City had signed Ken Wagstaff and Ian Butler to supplement the rampant goalscoring exploits of Chris Chilton and Rafferty was a forgotten man. He was given a free transfer by the Tigers in May 1966.
Rafferty was born in South Shields but was raised in Burnham in Berkshire, a village close to the industrial town of Slough. He played for Wycombe Wanderers as a teenager and showed enough promise to encourage First Division Portsmouth to offer him professional terms in June 1954. Rafferty made his top flight debut in September 1954 against Sunderland, laying on a goal for Scottish international Jackie Henderson, but over the next two and a half seasons he managed only 23 starts for Pompey, scoring five goals. In December 1956 Rafferty headed north to sign for Grimsby Town for a “reasonable fee”. Dropping down to the Second Division evidently suited Rafferty who scored freely for the Mariners over a six and a half season spell on the Lincolnshire coast. He ended up Grimsby Town’s second highest goalscorer in the club’s history, contributing 152 strikes in 277 appearances across all competitions. He was the club’s top scorer in four seasons, highlights included 34 league goals in 1961/62, 26 league goals in 1957/58 and a double hattrick in a Lincolnshire Cup tie against Lincoln City in 1960. Rafferty had drifted out of the first team picture during the 1962/63 season after a knee operation in May 1962, which no doubt led Grimsby to consider a transfer to their local rivals across the Humber.
Rafferty joined Aldershot in June 1966 and in three seasons with the Shots he scored ten goals in 81 appearances, playing mainly as a centre half. In July 1969 he was appointed player-manager at non-league Guildford City but retired from football six months later. He then turned to sales, working for Lyons Cakes for many years before retiring to Addlestone in Surrey in his mid-50s.
Date/Place of Birth: 6 May 1934, South Shields
Hull City First Game: 24 August 1963, Watford A (Division Three), 29 years, 110 days old
Hull City Final Game: 3 October 1964, Shrewsbury Town H (Division Three), 30 years, 150 days old
Wycombe Wanderers, Portsmouth (1954-1956), Grimsby Town (1956-1963), Hull City (1963-1966), Aldershot (1966-1969), Guildford City (1969-1970)
Hull City Record
Career: 16 apps, 6 goalsRon Rafferty