It’s Members Monday here at Hull FC! Every week, we showcase some of the club’s best members right here on hullfc.com
As it’s Hull&Proud Week, where there are some fantastic events lined up having got underway at the weekend at our annual fan day, we have a special Member of the Week.
Name: John William Whiteley MBE
Date of Birth: 1930
Favourite Current Player: Danny Houghton or Gareth Ellis
All-Time Favourite Player: Billy Batten
Member since: 1950
MBE in 2005 New Year’s Honours list
Johnny Whiteley is arguably the greatest player ever to wear the famous Black & White shirt. He was the captain of the great 50s and 60s team and a member of Hull’s famous ‘Panzer Pack’ which conquered all before it.
A man with the freedom of the city, Whiteley explains how his career with the Airlie Birds began.
“I’d come out the army, prior to that I could have had trials but I was at Hull Boys Club, and we had a pact,” he explained.
“Rovers wanted some of our team, and Hull wanted to give trials. But we agreed to stay together until the army broke us up.
“When we all came out the army, the clubs were waiting for the lads and in November 1950, Hull came to my front door and said, ‘If you sign, we’ll put you in the first team on Saturday.’”
Amassing over 400 appearances for his hometown club, Hull FC has been ingrained in Whiteley from the age of four years old, where he watched his first game.
“I was four-year-old when I went to my first game in 1934.
“My love for that Black & White shirt more so, people my age, we had nothing. Football and rugby was all we had.
“We had no televisions or gimmicks, we had no money and sport was our outlet in life. It bonded us all together, especially living on Hessle Road.
“The fishermen coming home steaming down the river Humber, if the tide was a little bit dicey before the kick-off, they’d put an extra shovel of coal in the engines.
“You were brought up with that sort of feeling and the passion for the club, and even though I played football and other sports, rugby was always my intention.
“Irrespective of anything else, I wanted to play for Hull FC and that passion is greater now because when you get older and everything. People have shed tears and we’ve seen it all before.
“We’ve seen the good and we’ve seen the bad before, and it cements you all together so it’s a unique place for me.”
As it’s Hull&Proud Week, Whiteley told hullfc.com what makes him to be Hull and proud.
“I love the city, I love the city of Hull, I love the people, being born and bred on Hessle Road and I’ve always been privileged to go over the bridges.
“One lovely story, when I was a young rugby player I would go into East Hull to present trophies.
“And the MC for the night said, ‘Tonight, from the West, coming to the East, we’ve got Johnny Whiteley - a young rugby league player who’s going to make a name for himself.’
“And he said ‘I’m going to tell you a story - if all the bridges on the River Hull were raised in the air, there’s only one person we’d lower a bridge down. To come from the West to the East and that’s Johnny Whiteley.’
“I stuck my chest out at that and I’ve always smiled at that.”