Looking Back: Bud Houghton

Malcolm Johnson, our resident historian, brings another instalment of our players from yesteryear series. Today, Bud Houghton.

Bud Houghton

Date of birth: 1.9.36, Born: Madras, India, Height: 6ft, Position: Centre forward

City apps: League: 54, goals: 22, FA & League Cups: 7, goals: 3, Total: 61, goals: 25

Harry Brian Houghton, sometimes known as Harry but usually as ‘Bud’ was born in Madras to an Anglo-Indian family who emigrated to England when he was a child in 1947 on India gaining independence from British rule.

Bud joined Bradford as an amateur in 1954, and turned professional the following year, making a total of 28 Football League appearances and scoring 7 goals for the Park Avenue club. In October 1957 he was transferred to Birmingham City for a fee of £5,250 but played just four First Division games for them, scoring one goal. A year later he moved on to Third Division Southend United for £1,000 and in two and a half years he played 73 games in all competitions and scored 33 goals, including finishing as leading scorer in the 1958/59 season with 20 goals.

Ambitious Southern League club Oxford United then paid £2,000 for his services in March 1961, Houghton scoring 13 goals in the remainder of the season, including five in a 7–2 defeat of Boston United, as Oxford won the championship. He continued in prolific vein with a club record 43 goals from 42 games as Oxford won the Southern League title for the second year running and were elected to the Football League following the demise of Accrington Stanley. Houghton was unable to maintain his scoring rate back in the Football League, although he finished as leading scorer with 18 goals, and scored in Oxford’s first three Football League games.

While at Oxford Houghton shared a window-cleaning business with team-mate and later prominent manager Ron Atkinson. After making a total of 114 appearances for Oxford United, including Southern League games, and scoring 75 goals he was signed by Lincoln City manager Bill Anderson for a fee of £6,000 in October 1963.

The Imps had made a steady start to the 1963/64 season, but with Jimmy Campbell, Brian Punter and young amateur Barry Wilkinson all having been tried and found wanting up front (despite the latter’s good goals per game record in the brief number of appearances he made) it seemed what was needed was a burly, bustling old-style centre forward, and that’s what they got with Bud Houghton. He was off the mark in his second game, away at Brighton, and won me over immediately with a goal on my first sight of him in a 3-2 win over Chester. In fact, he produced a goal in each of the next five City games I saw, including becoming the first player I ever saw score a hat-trick, when Halifax were beaten 4-0 the following February, those goals coming in a run of six in three games. He finished the season with 14 in 26 games as City stopped the rot of three seasons of struggle with an 11th place finish.

Hopes were high for the following season, but Houghton, like his strike partner Alan Morton and too many other players went right off form, and despite a good start with a goal in the first match – a 4-2 win over Hartlepools which proved to be something of a false dawn for a poor season – he scored only twice more in the next 12 games before being replaced at centre forward by 19-year-old defender Jim Grummett.

The poor start to the season had led to the club directors taking over team selection duties from manager Bill Anderson, and after Grummett’s brief run in the side Houghton was restored up front, scoring twice in two games before another lean spell. This ran on into the infamous spell of eight defeats in eight games following the appointment of Con Moulson to take charge of team affairs. Eventually left out the side by Moulson, he was restored by the latter’s successor Roy Chapman and responded with a man-of-the-match performance in a 4-4 draw at Southport, adding two goals to one he had scored in the previous match. They were to be his last for the club however, finishing as top scorer for the season with 11 goals as City had to seek re-election to the League and he was released after a total of 25 goals in 61 games in all competitions.

Houghton then returned to the Southern League with successively Chelmsford City, Cambridge United, Wellington Town and Cheltenham Town before finishing his footballing career with Hellenic League side Morris Motors in Oxford. He died in Bromsgrove in 1994 at the early age of 57.

Bud Houghton’s total of Football League appearances came to 206 with 78 goals scored.