Versatile half back and forward Alfred Randolph “Alf” Fenwick joined the Tigers in September 1911 and spent three years with the club. He was born in Hamsterley, a mining village in County Durham where his father held a senior position of overman in the local colliery – the overman was a supervisor responsible for checking the safety of operations above and below ground. Alf himself worked as a coal miner in his late teens while playing football for Northern League side Craghead United. After signing for City he had a spell in the reserves then made his City debut at left half in December 1911 in place of regular back Davy Gordon. Further starts came on Boxing Day 1911 against Birmingham, in March 1912 against Gainsborough Trinity when he scored his first City goal, then three more starts in the closing weeks of the season.
Manager Ambrose Langley continued to consider Fenwick a first team reserve in the 1912/13 season, giving him three starts at right half in October 1912 to cover for injured Tim Wright. When he returned to the first team fold in April 1913 as the season was drawing to a close, Fenwick was selected at centre forward and he impressed with five goals in four starts, two goals against both Bradford Park Avenue and Leicester Fosse and a single goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers. At the start of the 1913/14 season Alf vied with new signing Billy Halligan for the centre forward’s shirt and started three of the first seven fixtures, scoring once against Lincoln City. However he then dropped out of contention and made just one further start for the Tigers in at the end of the season, back in the half back line.
Alf joined Southern League side West Ham United in April 1914 and spent several seasons in London’s East End. After making 19 starts in his first season in the Southern League and two starts in the FA Cup against First Division side Newcastle United, Alf turned out for the Hammers in the wartime leagues while also assisting Crystal Palace and Bradford Park Avenue. When the Football League resumed in 1919 West Ham United were elected to Division Two and Alf started their first ever League game at centre back. After one further start Alf joined Division Two rivals Coventry City in December 1919 and he immediately slotted into the Sky Blues’ half back line. He was made captain for the 1920/21 season and when he left Highfield Road to return to Craghead United in the 1921 close season he had made 53 senior starts for Coventry and scored one goal.
After his spell at Craghead Alf joined Blyth Spartans for the 1922/23 season and over the next seven years became something of a club legend at centre half. He played for Blyth in a famous FA Cup tie against Stoke in 1923, then in May 1924 he briefly returned to the Football League when he signed for Division Three North side Ashington. After 12 starts for Ashington he returned to Blyth Spartans in November 1924 and served the Northumberland club for another five years, apart from one season spent with Bedlington United. His later years with Blyth were in the role of player-coach and he later also served on the club’s Board of Directors. By 1939 Alf was living in Blyth and working at the local colliery as an overman, just like his father. He died in Blyth in the early months of 1975.
Alf Fenwick was the start of something of a footballing dynasty. His eldest son Leslie briefly joined Newcastle United in 1930 at 16 years of age and after serving Blyth Spartans as centre half he joined Sheffield Wednesday in 1934. After five years at Wednesday without breaking into the first team, he was finally selected for the first team in September 1939 only for the fixture to be expunged due to the outbreak of World War Two – hard luck! By the early 1970s Leslie was a member of the coaching staff at Blyth. Alf’s younger son Billy was briefly on Sheffield Wednesday’s books in 1937/38 season and served Blyth Spartans as a centre forward. Alf’s nephew Austen Campbell, also born in Hamsterley, had a successful playing career with Blackburn Rovers and Huddersfield Town and won eight England caps between 1928 and 1931 before playing for Hull City in 1935/36 season at the end of his career.
Date/Place of Birth: 26 March 1891, Hamsterley
Hull City First Game: 2 December 1911, Nottingham Forest A (Division Two), 20 years, 251 days old
Hull City Final Game: 18 April 1914, Fulham A (Division Two), 23 years, 23 days old
Craghead United (1911), Hull City (1911-1914), West Ham United (1914-1919), Coventry City (1919-1921), Craghead United (1921-1922), Blyth Spartans (1922-1924), Ashington (1924), Blyth Spartans (1924-1926), Bedlington United (1926-1927), Blyth Spartans (1927-1929)
Hull City Record
Career: 17 apps, 7 goalsAlf Fenwick