Edwin Huitson Blackburn was born and raised in Houghton-le-Spring amidst the coalfields of County Durham. He came to prominence as a goalkeeping prodigy during his school years and was given his first professional contract by City in September 1974, at the age of 17, after eighteen months as an apprentice. Eddie, or “Noddy” as he was widely known, made three appearances in 1975, either side of his 18th birthday, and he looked set for a fruitful career. His relative lack of height was compensated by his agility and bravery, but these attributes saw him get no further than the reserve goalkeeper berth for two and half years thanks to the consistency and quality of City’s number 1 goalkeeper Jeff Wealands. When Eddie was finally given his chance in January 1978, it coincided with a period of turbulence for the Tigers who were on the second of their three managers that season – Bobby Collins – and on their way to relegation out of the Second Division. That said, Blackburn conceded only 28 goals in his run of 20 starts – the real problems were at the other end, where only 12 goals were scored.
Wealands was restored to the first team at the start of 1978/79 season but in mid November injury to Jeff gave Blackburn another chance in the first team. Another run of 20 consecutive games saw 27 goals conceded, one less than his last spell, but with new signing Keith Edwards up front the goals-for tally rose by 150%. Blackburn again dropped to second choice when Wealands returned in April 1979 but with money getting tight and Blackburn showing real promise, Wealands was sold in the close season.
Manager Ken Houghton installed Eddie as first choice netminder for the 1979/80 season but when the Tigers struggled for form and Houghton was replaced by former Wales manager Mike Smith, Tony Norman was signed from Burnley and Blackburn was again sitting on the sidelines. Now 22, and with another Welsh keeper John Davies also signed, Blackburn understandably saw his chances of first team action evaporate and left City in the 1980 close season.
Blackburn joined York City in May 1980, who at the time were perennial strugglers at the foot of the Fourth Division. Eddie mised only one league game in his first season at Bootham Crescent and was voted clubman of the year, but in 1981/82 he made only 36 starts in all competitions, injuries giving young Yorkshireman Mike Astbury his chance. In the summer of 1982 the Minstermen signed highly experienced former Bournemouth, Blackburn, Newcastle, Stoke and Derby keeper Roger Jones and with the young Astbury his deputy, Eddie was again left on the sidelines. He joined Hartlepool United in December 1982, initially on loan then permanently in the January, and once again found a first team shirt. At Hartlepool he was a first team regular for three of his four subsequent seasons, although injury robbed him of football for most of the 1984/85 season. Eddie stayed at Hartlepool until the 1987 close season, by which time he had made 175 senior appearances to add to his 76 starts with the Tigers and 87 at York. He spent the summer on loan in Sweden before drawing his career to a close after suffering an ankle injury.
Blackburn returned to live in Acomb, a suburb of York, when his playing days ended where he worked as a school caretaker, a care home assistant and an operative at York railway station. He died in York in April 2018, just two days after his 61st birthday.
Date/Place of Birth: 18 April 1957, Houghton-le-Spring
Hull City First Game: 15 March 1975, Cardiff City H (Division Two), 17 years, 331 days old
Hull City Final Game: 25 January 1980, Southend United A (Division Three), 22 years, 282 days old
Hull City (1974-1980), York City (1980-1983), Hartlepool United (1982-1982, loan), Hartlepool United (1983-1987), Hamlmstads BK (1987, loan)
Hull City Record
Career: 76 apps, 0 goalsEddie Blackburn
|1977/78||19 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1978/79||18 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1979/80||29 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|