Goalkeeper Iain Hesford joined City in December 1988 in a player plus cash deal that saw Tony Norman join Sunderland and Billy Whitehurst return to the Tigers. He was immediately installed as first team goalkeeper and kept that position for much of the next two years, the exception being during Colin Appleton’s short second stint as City manager in Autumn 1989 when the jug-eared carpenter preferred local lad Gavin Kelly between the sticks. Hesford’s time at City yielded mixed results, he was clearly a capable shot stopper and could command his area, but problems with his agility and concentration sometimes let him down. He was dropped by caretaker manager Tom Wilson in January 1991 after a 5-2 thumping at the hands of Notts County in the FA Cup, and a number of loan goalkeepers were used by Terry Dolan for the next three months, until early relegation made such endeavours worthless and Hesford was restored. With City sinking into the Third Division, Hesford left in the 1991 close season.
Hesford was born in Ndola, a city in the African state of Zambia that is the centre of the country’s copper mining industry. The son of a school teacher who had previously played in goal for Huddersfield Town in the 1938 FA Cup Final, Hesford lived in both Zambia and Malawi before returning to the UK in 1970. By the age of 16 he was making his way at Blackpool as a goalkeeper with a strong reputation – while his brothers played rugby league and rugby union to an equally high level. Hesford debuted for the Tangerines first team in August 1977 and by the age of 23 he had made over 200 league starts. In August 1983 he joined Sheffield Wednesday, a move that saw his career stall for three years as he failed to make a single first team appearance for the Owls, principally because he broke a finger during pre-season training and was usurped by fellow new signing Martin Hodge. In 1986 he joined Sunderland where he played regularly for two and a half before making the move to City.
In the programme notes of a City match in August 1990 Hesford spoke remarkably frankly and personally about his time at Sunderland. He revealed his unpopularity amongst Mackem fans thanks to being signed by ex-manager Lawrie McMenemy, the man who presided over the Rokerites relegation to Division Three. He also spoke about how that unpopularity led to the break-up of his first marriage. It is not inconceivable that these life issues continued to affect Iain during his time at Hull City, where it would be reasonable to call his form patchy.
Hesford played for Maidstone United in 1991/92 where he was an ever-present and even scored a goal from a wind-assisted drop kick. In 1992 he headed to Hong Kong where he spent the last six years of his career playing for three clubs. He was even picked for a Hong Kong representative side in an international friendly against England. After his playing career ended he took coaching jobs and owned a hotel in Littleborough near Rochdale. In November 2014 Hesford was found dead at home in Lytham St Annes after a suspected heart attack.
Hesford’s promise at Blackpool yielded him seven England Under 21 caps in 1981 and 1982.
Date/Place of Birth: 4 March 1960, Ndola (Zambia)
Hull City First Game: 31 December 1988, Ipswich Town H (Division Two), 28 years, 302 days old
Hull City Final Game: 27 April 1991, Brighton & Hove Albion H (Division Two), 31 years, 54 days old
Blackpool (1976-1983), Sheffield Wednesday (1983-1986), Fulham (1985, loan), Notts County (1985, loan), Sunderland (1986-1988), Hull City (1988-1991), Maidstone United (1991-1992), Eastern (1992-1996), Sing Tao (1996-1997), South China (1997-1998)
Hull City Record
Career: 102 apps, 0 goalsIain Hesford
|1988/89||22 (0)||0||3 (0)||0||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1989/90||38 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||-||-||1 (0)||0|
|1990/91||31 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||3 (0)||0||-||-||1 (0)||0|