Young midfielder Gareth Stoker joined the Tigers in September 1991. He was born in Bishop Auckland in County Durham and joined the youth team setup at Leeds United as a teenager, but was not offered a professional contract at Leeds when his youth team training came to an end in the 1991 close season. He came to Hull City with a reputation as a capable player with a fiery temperament, and slotted straight into manager Terry Dolan’s new squad as the club reeled from relegation to the third tier the previous May. Stoker made a solid but unspectacular start to his career before quickly tasting the highs and lows of football – in late September he was sent off in a 0-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion, then four weeks he scored twice in a 5-2 win against Darlington. As Christmas approached Stoker drifted out of the first team picture, replaced by the more skillful Leigh Palin. For the next season and a half Stoker was an occasional starter when first choice central midfielder were absent. He suffered a bad knee injury in the winter of 1992 and left the club when his contract expired in the 1993 close season.
After spending nearly a year completing his rehabilitation from the knee injury he suffered at Hull, Gareth came back into football in 1994 when he played for his local side Bishop Auckland, Gareth joined League Division 3 side Hereford United in March 1995, playing predominantly at right back. In the 1995/96 season Stoker was a first team regular at Hereford, starting in a variety of defensive and midfield positions before settling into a right midfield position and starting both play-off semi-finals that Hereford lost narrowly to Darlington. He settled back into a central midfield role during the 1996/97 season and in January 1997 he moved to divisional rivals Cardiff City for a £20,000 fee. Slotting straight into Cardiff midfield, Stoker blotted his copy book when he was sent off in his fourth start against his former team-mates at Hereford after a foul on ex-Tiger Chris Hargreaves. At the end of the season Cardiff qualified for the play-offs and Stoker suffered his second play-off semi-final defeat in a row.
Stoker started the 1997/98 season in the Cardiff first team but by November he was out of the first team. He made his last appearance for the Bluebirds in February 1998 before suffering another nasty knee injury that kept him out of action for a year – he left Cardiff in 1999 having made 46 appearances and scored four goals, adding to the 87 appearances and 8 goals he produced at Hereford.
Stoker joined Rochdale in February 1999 but after 14 appearances his tough-tackling style saw him fall out of favour. In September 1999 he joined Conference side Scarborough, initially on loan then permanently from December 1999, and went on to spent four seasons in the East Coast, making nearly 150 appearances. He joined Forest Green Rovers in 2003, then switched to Leigh RMI in 2005 and Wakefield in 2006, where he was player and assistant manager. Stoker stopped playing in 2008 and was appointed assistant manager role at Ossett Town, then in 2009 he joined the coaching staff at phoenix club Leigh Genesis, who promptly disbanded. He then worked for many years at a football oaching company that provided traing resources for schools.
Date/Place of Birth: 22 February 1973, Bishop Auckland
Hull City First Game: 14 September 1991, Wigan Athletic A (Division Three), 18 years, 204 days old
Hull City Final Game: 8 December 1992, York City A (Associate Members’ Cup Preliminary Round), 19 years, 290 days old
Leeds United (1989-1991), Hull City (1991-1993), Bishop Auckland (1994-1995), Hereford United (1995-1997), Cardiff City (1997-1999), Rochdale (1999), Scarborough (1999-2003), Forest Green Rovers (2003-2004), Leigh RMI (2004-2006), Wakefield (2006-2008)
Hull City Record
Career: 38 apps, 2 goalsGareth Stoker
|1991/92||19 (5)||2||2 (1)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||0 (1)||0|
|1992/93||5 (1)||0||-||-||1 (0)||0||-||-||0 (1)||0|