Highly decorated and experienced defender and midfielder Emlyn Hughes joined City for a six week period at the end of the 1982/83 season, assisting the Tigers to promotion out of the Fourth Division under the guiding hand of manager Colin Appleton. Hughes’ impact was positive as City won five and lost only one of the nine games he started, conceding just five goals.
Hughes was one of England’s most prominent footballers of the 1970s. He was born in Barrow-on-Furness on the Cumbrian Coast, his father was a Welsh international rugby league player. Emlyn’s football career began at First Division Blackpool in the mid-1960s, where he played as a forward and in midfield, before in February 1967 Liverpool paid £65,000 for his signature. Led by Bill Shankly and also involving ex-Tiger Reuben Bennett, Liverpool’s famous boot room management team were leading the Reds to sustained glory in domestic and European competitions and Hughes was seen as a cultured defender capable of improving the side. Their judgement was impeccable, over the next 12 years Emlyn captained Liverpool to four English league titles, one FA Cup win, two European Cup wins and two UEFA Cup victories. He made a total of 665 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions, placing him equal fourth on the Reds all-time list of appearance makers. His importance to football was recognised in 1980, shortly after he left Liverpool, when he was awarded an OBE.
In August 1979 Hughes joined Wolverhampton Wanderers. In two seasons at Molineux he added to his list of trophies, lifting the League Cup in 1980. In 1981 he was appointed player-manager of Second Division Rotherham United. The Millers narrowly missed out on promotion in his first season in charge, but in March 1983 he was sacked with the Millmoor side languishing near the foot of the table – Rotherham were relegated that May. Within a week of his dismissal he joined the Tigers.
After a brief spell at Mansfield Town Hughes spent 1983/84 season at Swansea City, retiring from football in the 1984 close season. He then became a well-known television personality, spending several years as a team captain in TV quiz show A Question of Sport opposite avuncular rugby men Gareth Edwards and Billy Beaumont. He also worked for several years as a football pundit and was commentating for the BBC during two of the 1980s’ major football tragedies at Heysel Stadium and Hillsborough. In 1988 he was briefly made a director at Hull City, but resigned aftera few months. Hughes gave up his media work in the early 1990s and and retired from the public eye to his home near Sheffield, though he still did work for epilepsy charities. In 2003 he announced that he was suffering from a brain tumour and after a year of treatment he died in November 2004 at the age of only 57. A statue commemorating Hughes’ life was erected in Barrow in 2008 outside a building also named after him. A second statue of Hughes, with his former Reds’ manager Bob Paisley, was erected at Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium in 2020.
Hughes was a regular for the England international side throughout the 1970s. After winning five England under-23 caps in 1967 and 1969, he made his senior England debut against the Netherlands in November 1969. Emlyn scored his first goal for England against Wales in May 1972 and was made England captain by Joe Mercer when he took over the England manager role in May 1974. He won the last of his 62 senior caps against Scotland in May 1980. Despite being an international regular, Hughes never played for England in the final stages of a tournament – he was an unused member of the 1970 England World Cup squad in Mexico, ten years later he was again an unused squad member at the 1980 European Championship Finals.
Date/Place of Birth: 28 August 1947, Barrow
Hull City First Game: 26 March 1983, Port Vale H (Division Four), 35 years, 210 days old
Hull City Final Game: 2 May 1983, Mansfield Town H (Division Four), 35 years, 247 days old
Blackpool (1964-1967), Liverpool (1967-1979), Wolverhampton Wanderers (1979-1981), Rotherham United (1981-1983), Hull City (1983), Mansfield Town (1983), Swansea City (1983-1984)
Hull City Record
Career: 9 apps, 0 goalsEmlyn Hughes