THIRTY years ago football lost one of it’s finest ‘journeymen’ when Keighley-born Trevor Hockey passed away suddenly from a heart attack at the age of just 43.

His Keighley birthplace was due to father being a professional Rugby League player with the local team. Albert had originally played Rugby Union at Scrum Half for both Abertillery and Wales before switching codes, and countries and moving to Yorkshire.

Trevor clearly preferred football and would later do plenty of switching of his own, changing clubs an amazing 12 times during an 18-year career. And it’s fair to say that he left a more-than favourable impression at just about every place he played, despite never really reaching football’s heights. Youngsters in his local area will also have fond memories as he had been doing great work in youth team coaching before his untimely death.

Trevor started his career as a winger, playing for the local Keighley Central Youth Club along with Yorkshire Schools and West Riding age-group teams before being spotted and snapped up by Bradford City.

After playing for the reserve team while still at school, Trevor travelled the 10 miles from his hometown by bus to make his Bantams debut against Shrewsbury Town in 1960, while still just 16 years old, In doing so became he City’s youngest-ever player. He had also starred for the youth team against, among others, Manchester United whose manager Matt Busby was said to be sufficiently impressed to have considered a bid.

Busby‘s United weren’t the only team to have him on their radar and in 1961 Nottingham Forest paid City a club record £15,000 to take him to the City Ground. Thrust into a relegation battle Hockey helped his new team survive in the top flight and the following year was almost ever-present as Forest finished 9th and reached the F.A. Cup quarter-final.

After just two seasons at The City Ground he was on the move again, this time dropping down a division to join Newcastle United (thereby completing the set of playing in all four divisions in just four years). After a disappointing first campaign at St James’ things picked up and he was part of the United team which captured the 2nd Division title in his sophomore season at the club.

After three months in the top flight, where he barely missed a game, it was time for yet another move and another drop down to the second tier when Birmingham City splashed out £25,000 and Trevor returned to the Midlands.

Joe Mallett was the manager who signed Hockey but a short while after completing the deal he stepped down to the assistant’s role with the experienced Stan Cullis coming in as manager. The new boss promptly converted Hockey from the wing to midfield.

The change in position brought about a change in playing style for Trevor as he reinvented himself as the tough-tackling midfield man most now remember. It was also while at St Andrews that he developed the more ‘hirsute’ look that is also how he is pictured by those reminiscing these days. First it was the ‘Beatle’ haircut very popular at the time, and he later went for a full beard, enhancing the ‘wild man’ image.

The new hairstyle seemed to bring another side of Hockey’s personality to the fore off the pitch. He released a single, ‘Happy Cos I’m Blue’, brought a pink piano, had a blue suede Triumph Herald and appeared regularly at the top of ‘best-looking footballer’ polls

It was at St Andrews that Hockey finally seemed to become settled on the pitch. The new position gave him a bigger role in matches and he was able to use his seemingly boundless energy and tough tackling to have a bigger influence on games {one journalist described him as ‘tousle-haired, tenacious and terrier-like’). Such was his form and growing influence at the club that Cullis would eventually make him skipper.

In the 1966-67 season Hockey helped his side as they made a fine League Cup run. A Second Division team at the time City saw off Nottingham Forest, Ipswich Town, Grimsby Town and Sheffield United before falling at the semi-final stage to eventual winners Queen’s Park Rangers.

A year later it was in the F. A. Cup where City enjoyed a good run. Wins at Halifax Town and at home against Orient were comfortably achieved but things got tougher in the 5th Round as Hockey and his teammates were drawn to face Arsenal at Highbury. There, John Radford gave the hosts an early lead but a late blunder by ‘keeper Jim Furnell allowed Geoff Vowdon to equalise and send the teams back to St Andrews.

The replay saw Barry Bridges gave City the lead and he scored again after Bobby Gould had equalised to knock Arsenal out of the competition for a second successive year and set up a home quarter-final tie against his old club, Chelsea.

Birmingham City 1967-68

A crowd of 52,500 were at St Andrews and they saw Fred Pickering score the only goal for the home team. Hockey was concussed after a 25th-minute collision but he played on and did much to stop Chelsea’s mercurial Scot Charlie Cooke from having any influence on the game.

So, the Blues were one win away from their first F. A. Cup final since 1956 but sadly they fell to Midland rivals – and eventual winners – West Bromwich Albion, suffering a 2-0 defeat in front of over 60,000 fans at Villa Park. The defeat came with Hockey on the sidelines, missing out because of an injury suffered in league action.


It was during the time that his home ground was St Andrew’s that Hockey set a record. In the 1967-68 season, aged just 25, he became the youngest player to have played at the home ground of every one of the 92 Football League clubs.

After making over 200 appearances for Birmingham, and collecting the club’s Player of the Year award at the end of the 1968-69 season, Hockey found himself on the move again,,

Towards the end of the 1970-71 season, and with City going nowhere in the middle of the second tier he switched to division rivals Sheffield United for £40,000. Slotted in alongside Tony Currie he had the ‘simple’ task of winning the ball and giving it to his supremely-skilled midfield partner. Success in the role helped the Blades win promotion and won him another club Player of the Year award in United’s first foray back into the top flight.

It also brought him international recognition for the first time.

Hockey in action for Wales with Mike England and Rod Thomas

Hockey made his Wales debut in October 1971 in a 3-0 win over Finland at Wrexham, the goals coming from John Toshack, Alan Durban and his Blades teammate Gil Reece. The country had taken advantage of a recent change in rules allowing players to represent the country of their parent’s birth. He would go on to make only nine appearances for his adopted country his only goal coming against Poland – and their famous ‘clown’ keeper Jan Tomaszewski – in a World Cup qualifier in Cardiff in 1973.

Hockey’s tough-tackling and often abrasive style of play came at a cost but it was one Hockey was willing to pay. Regularly in trouble with referees he incurred a number of suspensions and also became the player opposing fans would ritually boo, resenting his uncompromising attitude – whilst also no doubt wishing he was performing in the same style for them.

In fact off the pitch he was regularly praised for taking the time to chat with supporters and sign autographs, and seemed to enjoy the ‘bad-boy’ role he had now been cast into by the press.

In a February 1972 match with Manchester City, Hockey suffered a broken leg in a clash with Mike Doyle, an injury which effectively ended his time at Bramall Lane and clearly slowed him down. A February 1973 move to Norwich City was brief, but helped keep the Canaries in the top flight.

A difficult season at Aston Villa followed where injury limited him to just 24 appearances and he also got sent-off playing for his country in Poland, on what proved to be his final international appearance.

Back at Bradford

Hockey’s next move took him back to where it had all started, with a return to Bradford City where his playing time was again limited by injuries and it must be wondered if he ever truly recovered from that broken leg.

A brief trip to Ireland came next when Hockey took on the role of player-manager at Athlone Town then it was off across the Atlantic where he joined the San Diego Jaws (where he was named Player of the Season). The Jaws later became the Las Vegas Quicksilvers and he worked as player-coach

During his time in NASL, which also included a brief spell with San Jose Earthquakes, he lined up alongside Eusebio and against Pele among others but, again, injuries hampered him and he returned to play a handful of matches for Ashton United in the Northern Premier League before finally hanging up his boots.

He then moved back to his hometown with the ambition of reviving a Keighley United (whose secretary was Trevor’s brother Allan) team that would be able to compete in the Northern Premier League. That dream remained unfulfilled with local businesses failing to get behind the club, but he did a huge amount of work with soccer schools and coaching camps bringing in some of the methods he had picked up during his time in America. He also spent some time as landlord of a local pub, The Lord Rodney, which with memorabilia from his career adorning the walls, was an ideal football fan’s destination.

Trevor Hockey passed away from a heart attack shortly after taking part in a five-a-side tournament in Keighley in 1987, aged just 43. A new football club, Keighley Borough F. C. was created in his memory although sadly they failed to reach the heights Trevor might have wished for and were later disbanded.

There might be those who say that at least he died enjoying the game he loved most but at such a young age and having already shown how much he enjoyed giving back through his coaching of kids, it must be considered a loss to football in Keighley, Yorkshire and indeed the football world.