Looking back at: John Hawksby

John Hawksby scores v Newport 24.4.65

Malcolm Johnson takes us on another trip down memory lane, looking at John Hawksby

Date of birth: 12.6.42 

Born: York Height: 5ft 9in

Position: Left winger/midfield

City apps: League: 64(1), goals: 4, FA & League Cups: 9 goal: 1, Total: 73(1), goals: 5

John Frederick Hawksby played for Yorkshire Schoolboys and won three England Youth caps in 1959 before signed as a professional for Leeds United in June of that year. He made his first team debut for the Second Division (nowadays Championship) side at the age of 18 in August 1960, replacing the injured Don Revie. He scored in each of his first two games, but they were to be the only two goals that he scored for Leeds. He made just seven first team appearances in his first season during an unsettled time for the club which led to the appointment of Revie as manager.

At the time, despite having good close ball control and dribbling skills, Hawksby was perceived as a player who sometimes tended to over-elaborate and consequently concede possession to the opposition. Most of his appearances for Leeds came during the 1961/62 season operating on the left wing as Leeds battled against relegation. By the following season Albert Johanneson began increasingly to be preferred on the wing, and Hawksby made only nine further first team appearances before being signed by Bill Anderson for Lincoln City in August 1964 for an unspecified fee at the age of 22.

He made his debut for the Imps at Sincil Bank on the opening day of the 1964/65 season, playing in midfield in a 4-2 win over Hartlepools, which was a false dawn for one of City’s worst ever seasons.

John Hawksby won plaudits from the legendary Maurice Burton in his Echo match reports more than once, an early example being in a 2-2 home draw with Millwall early in September: “Hawksby was again the best forward. He moves and thinks like an inside forward, and it is a refreshing change to see the inside left position occupied by a man with good ball control and the ability to change the point of attack in an instant.” (The ‘inside forward’ of those days would perhaps now be called an attacking midfield player).

The main memory I have of him is of the only goal in the Boxing Day defeat of Notts County which I consider to be the first I ever saw scored direct from a corner. However, as Hawksby’s in-swinger was helped into the net by keeper George Smith it was credited as an own goal.

He was to miss only two games all season, one of these being the second game of Con Moulson’s disastrous period in charge of playing matters. Left out following a 2-0 home defeat by Bradford City despite praise from Maurice Burton (“Hawksby worked hard and long without support”), City fell to a 5-1 defeat at Chester. Restored to the side for the rest of Moulson’s eight-game reign he replaced Jimmy Fell on the left wing for the last three of these and Burton found him blameless for a 2-1 defeat at Crewe: “…showing a fine ability as a clever left winger whose service was not accepted by the men alongside him”.

Left out again for a home defeat to York by new player-coach Roy Chapman Hawksby scored what turned out to be his last goal for the club in a last-day 4-3 win over Newport that did no more than lift City off bottom place in the league.

With Chapman in charge for the new season Hawksby initially replaced Jimmy Fell on the wing before being given a freer role in the side. In fact, a moderately successful run of two wins and a draw from four games prior to the mid-point of the season was attributed to an extent by Maurice Burton to Hawksby playing a key role as “a left winger with a wandering brief” typified by a 1-0 win at Rochdale when he was said to have inspired the team – “will o’ the wisp John Hawksby…turned up all over the place to tangle the home defence.”

However, with the typically poor results of those days he lost his place to new signing Ken Allison and although returning after three games for a 2-2 draw at Halifax, to more praise from Burton (“Always City’s most effective schemer”), after two more games, the last being a 2-0 home defeat to Chesterfield, he was sold to Third Division side York City in March 1966 for £4,000.

Unfortunately, it was a case of out of the frying pan into the fire for Hawksby as his home town club were relegated that season and went on to finish in the bottom four places of the league over the next two seasons, making it an unhappy distinction for the player of four re-election seasons in a row with two clubs.

After two years at York, making a total of 74 appearances and scoring seven goals Hawksby then dropped into the non-league game at the age of 26 and did enjoy some success in the Southern League. After two years with Kings Lynn Town he joined Bedford Town and after a further two years with them moved to Kettering in August 1972. With Ron Atkinson as manager, Hawksby helped the Poppies to the Southern League championship and although finishing fourth in his second season Kettering came within five votes of being elected to the Football League.

At the age of 32 Hawksby was then still able to rate a fee of £4,000 when he moved on to Dunstable Town in July 1974 helping them to promotion from the lower division of the Southern League, playing alongside former England striker Jeff Astle and (briefly) George Best, under the managership of Barry Fry. Subsequently he played for Stevenage Athletic and United Counties League sides Rushden Town and Desborough Town.

After retiring from playing he worked as a painter and decorator and I believe now lives in the Kings Lynn area.

John Hawksby’s Football League appearances totalled 172(3), with 13 goals scored.

John Hawksby scores v Newport 24.4.65