Forward John Eyre joined his home town club in July 1999 after a productive spell on the other side of the Humber Estuary. Manager Warren Joyce was building a squad capable of progressing up the table after the previous season had culminated in a Great Escape that followed Mark Hateley leaving the club adrift at the foot of the fourth tier. Eyre scored on his City debut in a League Cup tie at Rotherham and in early September he added five goals in six starts, a brace against Chester, a winner at Torquay, a penalty at Liverpool and an equaliser against York. The Liverpool goal was one of Eyre’s most notable contributions in a City shirt, with the Tigers were 0-2 down in a League Cup second leg tie against the First Division side and reduced to ten men after Lee Bracey’s handball, a penalty was awarded to City and Eyre cheekily chipped the ball past the keeper as he dived out of the way. Much celebration in the away end ensued! In October 1999 the goals dried up for Joyce’s side and it wasn’t until a 4-0 drubbing of Macclesfield in the FA Cup that Eyre scored again, bagging a brace. A month of injury absence was followed by a festive return to action and John added further goals against Carlisle, Peterborough and another brace against Macclesfield, this time in the League. Eyre’s season ended early in February 2000 due to injury.
By the time he returned to first team action at the start of the 2000/01 season much had changed. Joyce was replaced by Brian Little as City manager, Eyre was part of the first team squad but was in and out of the first XI as he managed a chronic back complaint. By the end of January 2001 Eyre had scored only two goals all season and was recovering from a spell out of the side, while the Tigers had compiled an eight match winless run and financial turmoil in the boardroom meant the squad wasn’t being paid. From such adversity came a remarkable response – six wins in seven games catapulted the Tigers up the table and the returning Eyre came off the bench to score a brace against Barnet. After heavy defeats at Cardiff and Brighton, City went unbeaten in the last 11 league games to reach the play-offs and Eyre contributed goals against Hartlepool and Darlington. Pitted against Leyton Orient in the semi-finals, Eyre came off the bench to score the only goal of a tense first leg then started the return leg in London that the O’s won 2-0 to reach the final on aggregate. These were John Eyre’s last games for his hometown club, he was frozen out by Little and new owner Adam Pearson and left Boothferry Park in July 2001.
John Robert Eyre was born in West Hull off Anlaby Road, close to the Tigers’ Boothferry Park stadium, but after emerging in his teenage years as a prospect with Springhead Boys and Hull Boys it was Oldham Athletic that offered him apprentice terms at the age of 16. After signing his first professional contract in July 1993 John made his Latics debut in the Premier League against Chelsea in October 1993. He started a top flight game against Sheffield Wednesday a month later but by the end of the season Oldham had suffered the agonies and ecstasies of relegation to League Division 1 and reaching the FA Cup semi-final, which they lost to Manchester United after a replay. John made three susbtitute appearances for Oldham in the early weeks of the 1994/95 season before joining Scunthorpe United on loan in December 1994. He found his feet quickly and in two months scored seven goals in nine starts for the Iron, his first goal being an endearing Boxing Day winner against county rivals Lincoln City. Eyre returned to Oldham in March 1995 and made six more senior appearances, scoring his first Latics goal in a May 1995 1-1 draw at Barnsley.
After rejecting a contract renewal offer from Oldham in the 1995 close season Eyre joined Scunthorpe on a permamnet deal, with a tribunal setting the compensation fee at £40,000. Back at Scunthorpe Eyre picked up where he left off and became renowned as one of the fourth tier’s most potent strikers, scoring 14, 8, 12 and 17 goals in his four seasons at Glanford Park. In his fourth and final season Eyre was a regular goalscorer throughout, scoring his only career hattrick against Brighton and notching a goal in a 3-2 win at Boothferry Park against his home town side. The Iron reached the League Division 3 play-offs in May and defeated Swansea City in the semi-finals, however Eyre’s plans for the final were ruined when he was sent off in the second leg victory at Glanford Park and was suspended for the final at Wembley Stadium. Scunthorpe won the final and clinched promotion, but Eyre accepted an offer to join Hull City in the close season having made 194 appearances (plus a further nine when on loan) and scored 51 goals (plus 7 more in his loan spell).
On leaving the Tigers in July 2001 he rejoined his first club Oldham Athletic, who were by now competing in League Division 2, the third tier of league football. He spent four more seasons at Boundary Park as they reached the 2003 play-offs only to lose the semi final to QPR, and when his contract expired in the 2005 close season Eyre had added a further 143 appearances and 17 goals to the 11 appearances and one goal he contributed for the Latics in his first spell.
Eyre suffered a serious back injury in his final season at Oldham and was unable to find a club willing to offer him a new professional contract that summer. After spells at North Ferriby United and Brigg Town John hung up his boots and for a few years he sold cars, qualified as a pensions and mortgage advisor and drove a delivery van. In 2010 he met with his former Oldham manager Iain Dowie, now in temporary charge at Premier League Hull City, who offered John a coaching role at the club. Dowie didn’t stick around for long but Eyre was eventually handed the role of City’s kitman in the summer of 2010. While this was initially seen as a temporary role, he held that job for over a decade and became part of the day to day furniture at the KCOM Stadium.
Date/Place of Birth: 9 October 1974, Hull
Hull City First Game: 10 August 1999, Rotherham United A (League Cup First Round First Leg), 24 years, 305 days old
Hull City Final Game: 16 May 2001, Leyton Orient A (League Division 3 Play-Off Semi Final Second Leg), 26 years, 219 days old
Oldham Athletic (1990-1995), Scunthorpe United (1994-1995, loan), Scunthorpe United (1995-1999), Hull City (1999-2001), Oldham Athletic (2001-2005), North Ferriby United (2006), Brigg Town (2006-2007)
Hull City Record
Career: 67 apps, 19 goalsJohn Eyre
|1999/00||24 (0)||8||2 (1)||2||4 (0)||2||-||-||2 (0)||0|
|2000/01||19 (9)||5||2 (0)||0||1 (0)||1||-||-||1 (2)||1|