Forward John East Hawley was born in the Holderness village of Patrington and joined City in the summer of 1972 on amateur terms, a rarity in an era where a fully professional squad was the norm. John worked in the family antiques dealership and it wasn’t until 1976 that he signed his first profesisonal contract. Hawley was a skillful striker with a languid style that didn’t always appeal to supporters, but his cannon of goals and his subsequent top flight career amply demonstrated his capabilities. Manager Terry Neill gave the 18 year old Hawley his first team debut in April 1973, a 0-2 home defeat against Sunderland – a team that was to feature regularly throughout John’s career. Hawley was given a run of first team starts in October 1973 and scored his first City goal in a 4-1 home win over Portsmouth.
During 1973/74 Neill used Hawley mainly on the right wing and further goals came in November 1973 against Sunderland and, after a two month spell on the sidelines, in April 1974 against Crystal Palace. Hawley started 1974/75 season as a first team pick and when Terry Neill left City in September 1974 Hawley staked his claim with the yet-to-be-appointed manager by striking twice in a 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion. The City board looked within to replace Neill with experienced defender John Kaye and Hawley impressed the new man in October 1974 against Sunderland with perhaps his finest goal in Black and Amber, a mazy dribble from the touchline before unleashing a fearsome drive into the top corner past a flailing Jim Montgomery. Hawley played every game until the end of the calendar year, and after missing two months he announced his return to the first team in March 1975 with a goal against Bristol Rovers.
During the Summer of 1975 Hawley was loaned to North American Soccer League side St Louis Stars and finished as the club’s top goalscorer for the season, netting 11 goals in 20 games. Playing alongside former England goalkeeper Peter Bonetti and managed by former Crystal Palace and Charlton defender John Sewell, Hawley’s goals helped The Stars to win the NASL Central Division and reach the end-of-season play-off semi-finals.
Hawley returned to City in late September 1975 and was a first team regular until March 1976, missing the last month of the season. He scored goals in a 2-0 League Cup win over Sheffield United, a Boxing Day defeat at Sunderland, a 2-3 defeat at Carlisle the following day, a 4-1 FA Cup victory at Plymouth and a 2-1 win over Notts County. John started 1976/77 season a first team fixture and scored a marvellous brace in October 1976 against Wolves. However an injury in January 1977 saw him miss the rest of the season. Restored to fitness at the start of 1977/78, Hawley played intermittently in a turbulent season that saw City employ three managers and end up relegated to Division Three. He left the club in the 1978 close season.
Hawley’s form had attracted a number of potential suitors and in May 1978 a £80,000 fee lured him to Leeds United. The move was a success as Hawley finished top scorer for First Division Leeds with 17 goals in 42 appearances across all competitions. In September 1979 he moved to Sunderland, who were managed by John’s former City colleague Ken Knighton. Hawley made only 9 starts for Sunderland in 1979/80, scoring four goals including an October 1979 hattrick against Charlton Athletic. Promoted to the First Division, Hawley made another 16 starts for Sunderland in 1980/81 and scored seven goals, but he was again blighted by injuries. Despite the absences, Hawley was still highly regarded in First Division circles and in September 1981 he was snapped up by former City manager Terry Neill, who was now in charge at Arsenal, for a £50,000 fee. He scored on his debut at Notts County in October 1981, added a crowd-pleasing second against Tottenham in April 1982 and ended the 1981/82 season with 14 appearances and three goals. John was used sparingly by Arsenal in 1982/83, having loan spells at Orient in November 1982 and Hull City in December 1982, scoring his final City goal in 3-0 win over Colchester.
Hawley spent the summer of 1983 at Happy Valley in Hong Kong, a club that a year earlier had taken on Nick Deacy and Mick Horswill when their contracts were cancelled by City’s administrators. He joined Bradford City in August 1983 and spent two seasons as a first team regular at Valley Parade, scoring 28 league goals and helping the Bantams to the Third Division title in May 1985. The celebrations for this title were cut short in tragic circumstances in 11 May 1985, fifty-six fans losing their lives when the Main Stand at Valley Parade was engulfed with flames in one of English football’s greatest tragedies. Hawley was named in the Bradford first team that day and is credited with saving the life of at least one supporter by braving the intense heat to drag him over a wall at the front of the stand and onto the safe haven of the pitch. There were a great many heroes made that day, John Hawley was undoubtedly one of them.
Hawley joined Scunthorpe United in the 1985 close season and scored seven goals in his final season of league football. After his retirement in 1986 Hawley worked as a coach at Nottingham Forest, had s spell as a football agent and returned to the family antiques business in Beverley, which he eventually took over. His wife Caroline Hawley is also a well-known antiques dealer and television personality. John also worked at the KCOM Stadium hospitality suite on matchdays.
Date/Place of Birth: 8 May 1954, Patrington
Hull City First Game: 21 April 1973, Sunderland H (Division Two), 18 years, 348 days old
Hull City Final Game: 27 December 1982, Halifax Town H (Division Four), 28 years, 233 days old
Hull City (1972-1978), St Louis Stars (1975, loan), Leeds United (1978-1979), Sunderland (1979-1981), Arsenal (1981-1983), Leyton Orient (1982, loan), Hull City (1982, loan), Bradford City (1983-1985), Scunthorpe United (1985-1986)
Hull City Record
Career: 140 apps, 26 goalsJohn Hawley
|1972/73||2 (0)||0||-||-||-||-||-||-||1 (0)||0|
|1973/74||17 (2)||3||-||-||5 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|1974/75||31 (0)||7||-||-||1 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|1975/76||17 (5)||3||3 (0)||1||2 (0)||1||-||-||-||-|
|1976/77||14 (4)||5||1 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||-||-||3 (0)||0|
|1977/78||20 (2)||4||1 (0)||0||1 (1)||1||-||-||1 (2)||0|