Harold Needler

Last updated : 01 November 2007 By Paul Jarvis


It may come as a surprise to find a past chairman of the club sitting alongside some of the greats of Hull City. His seat is well merited however for in the eyes of many Tiger fans of earlier generations, without the intervention of Harold Needler Hull City would not exist.

At a time when the club was ravaged by financial gloom and doom - a scenario that has familiar overtones with the last two decades of the club's existence - it was Harold Needler who invested the princely sum of £10,000 to ensure that the club could continue. Not a sum of any great significance in today's financial climate, but in the middle part of the 20th century it was sufficient to gain a controlling interest in a club that was going nowhere. In partnership with his brothers they took over the assets of the club and by the end of the Second World War they had provided the team with a new chairman - Harold Needler, a new ground - Boothferry Park and a new manager - Major Frank Buckley.

Determined to provide a successful football team for the City, he was not afraid to spend substantial amounts of his own money to meet that objective. Neither was he afraid of being innovative; his appointment of Raich Carter as player-manager was one of the first such appointments within the game and it gave the club some of the most successful and happiest times in its history. He was also the first chairman to offer his manager, Cliff Britton, a 10-year contract. It was a contract he honoured, a far cry from today's world.

His generosity was never more evident than in the 60's when, following the public flotation of his company Hoveringham Gravels, he gave the club £200,000 worth of shares in the company. The shares rapidly increased in value and allowed the club to develop not only the team - peruse the other occupants of this pantheon of Tiger Legends and Needler funded acquisitions will emerge - but also the ground, such that in the middle of the 60's the Tigers were on the threshold of Division One - their holy grail.

Alas the 'holy grail' was not to be achieved, but it was never for the lack of effort on Harold's part. He retired from his position of Club chairman during the latter part of the 70's his dream unfulfilled but his reputation untarnished. No one from the world of football, who came into contact with Harold Needler, had a bad word to say about him. Not my assessment, but that of Tommy Docherty's who was well versed in the world of football directors. Needler involved himself in the club on a daily basis and was a regular visitor to daily training sessions. His involvement never crossed the line into interference however and he always allowed his managers' to manage.

Harold Needler loved football. What he loved about it was Hull City.