503 Gerry Summers

Biography

Experienced left half Gerry Summers joined the Tigers in April 1964, manager Cliff Britton paying a £12,000 fee for the Midlander’s services as he constructed a City squad ready to lift the club out of the Third Division. Summers started the last four games of the 1963/64 season and was a first team fixture for the 1964/65 season as the Tigers went close to promotion, topping the table in February 1965 before falling away after two crucial Easter defeats in consecutive days. Summers missed just three games all season and notched goals against Lincoln City in a December 1964 FA Cup tie and Shrewsbury Town in a February 1965 4-0 thumping. Summers started the 1965/66 season as a first team choice but in October 1965 he elected to go back to his Midlands roots and signed for Walsall, City recouping a £10,000 fee. Chris Simpkin took over from Summers in midfield and City went on to win the League title seven months later.

Gerald Thomas Francis Summers was born in Birmingham and came to notice of senior football clubs while playing for local junior side Erdington Albion at the age of 16. In the summer of 1950 Summers was employed in the West Bromwich Albion offices while training with the club – a device used to secure young players ahead of their 17th birthday, the age when they could be signed officially on amateur terms – and in August 1951 he signed his first professional contract with the Baggies. However it wasn’t until Christmas Eve 1955 that Summers was handed his debut by Albion in a 1-4 defeat to Manchester United. Gerry retained the left half shirt for the rest of the 1955/56 season, gaining experience of top flight football. However after starting the opening fixture of the 1956/57 season Summers dropped out of favour and made only one further start for the Baggies. He left at the end of that season having made 25 senior appearances in all competitions during six years at the club.

In May 1957 Summers, now 23 years of age, joined Division Two side Sheffield United and it was at Bramall Lane that he established himself as a regular first team footballer. Summers missed only thirteen League fixtures during the next six seasons and became a mainstay of the Blades’ side as they challenged at the upper end of the Second Division table. This battle bore fruit in the 1960/61 season when Summers was a Blades ever-present as the club finished second in the table and won promotion to the top flight – United also reached the FA Cup semi final, despatching three First Division sides on the way to a thrice played semi final that ended in defeat to Leicester City – the Leicester team featured future City manager Colin Appleton in all three ties. Summers spent the next three seasons playing First Division football for Sheffield United as they competed in the upper half of the table, however in January 1964 he dropped out of the first team squad for the first time in over six years and was soon looking for a move, having scored seven goals in 298 senior appearances. He signed for Hull City three months after being dropped by the Blades.

In October 1965 Summers signed for Hull City’s Division Three rivals Walsall, six days after playing his last game for the Tigers against the Saddlers (two months later Gerry returned to Boothferry Park and his Walsall side were beaten 2-4 thanks to an Ian Butler hattrick). Summers was deployed mostly at right half at Walsall though he did also play a few games at inside right He remained part of the Walsall first team setup for the first half of the 1966/67 season but by February 1967 the rigours of a long and consistent career were catching him up and Summers was appointed Walsall’s first team coach – he had made 51 appearances and scored two goals for the Fellows Park side.

He left Walsall during the 1967 close season and in July he accepted a similar coaching role at Wolverhampton Wanderers, working with former West Bromwich Albion colleague and now first team manager Ronnie Allen. In November 1968 Allen was dismissed and Summers, alongside his coaching colleague Jack Dowen (another ex-Tiger), took temporary charge. The pair’s first (and only) match in charge ended in a resounding 5-0 victory against Newcastle United, however when Bill McGarry was appointed permanent manager days later Summers was dismissed.

Summers had a six month spell out of the game and spent the summer of 1969 not playing his first real six-string, but playing local league cricket for Walsall CC. In July 1969 Summers was appointed first team manager at Oxford United and he led the Headington club for six seasons, achieving mid-table Second Division finishes in every season. However at the start of the 1975/76 season Oxford lost six of their first nine league games and Summers was dismissed on the first day of October 1975.

By the end of that month he was back in the game, appoonted first team manager at Third Division side Gillingham. The Kentish team had a talented squad but were renowned for falling short of promotion to the Second Division, and that occurred two more times under Summers’ tenure in 1978 and 1979. The 1980/81 season saw Gillingham in danger of relegation before a late-season eight match unbeaten run saw them rally to rise clear of the bottom four, however in May 1981 Summers was sacked by the Gills’ board.

After being linked with the vacant manager’s job at former club Sheffield United he returned to West Bromwich Albion in October 1981 and was appointed assistant manager to his former Wolves boss Ronnie Allen. Leaving The Hawthorns nine months later, Summers later became assistant manager at Leicester City and by the late 1980s was chief scout then youth development officer at Derby County. He retired from the game in the early 1990s, having spent practically every day of 40 years working in the professional game.

Details

Nationality: England
Date/Place of Birth: 4 October 1933, Birmingham
Hull City First Game: 18 April 1964, Brentford H (Division Three), 30 years, 197 days old
Hull City Final Game: 16 October 1965, Walsall H (Division Three), 32 years, 12 days old

Clubs

Erdington Albion, West Bromwich Albion (1950-1957), Sheffield United (1957-1964), Hull City (1964-1965), Walsall (1965-1967)

Hull City Record

Career: 65 apps, 2 goals

Gerry Summers
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