One-hit wonders: the prequel

Cod Almighty | Article

by Neville Butt

18 February 2016

After Rich’s One-hit wonders, Neville names another, rather older, team of players who have appeared for Town once only.

As my first Fisherman game was in 1946 I have many names to consider, but not that many played in only one game. I am looking at a period before the loan system dominated transfer dealings, but I suppose loan signings have in a way replaced taking a player on trial for a month.


In goal my first thought was George Moulson who was injured in the 1939 semi-final. He only played one league game, against Stoke City. It was a Good Friday game, still well-remembered. Stan Matthews was expected to turn out, helping generate a then-record league crowd of 26,537. In fact, Matthews was replaced by Frank Mountford who became a soccer mercenary, signing a lucrative contract to play in Bogota. Moulson lasted the 90 minutes against Stoke, but let in five goals. He never appeared for the Town first team again. I’ve written before how keepers George Tweedy, Moulson and Wilf Chisholm respectively played on Saturday, Good Friday and Easter Saturday.

Another keeper who meets the criterion more exactly is Keith Baker (Gillingham 3-0 Town, 23 August 1975) who signed on loan from Oxford to cover for the injured Harry Wainman and Neil Freeman.


Graham Cawthorne (Hull 2-2 Town, 25 March 1980) should definitely be included as a central defender. He is the only one from Rich’s team I properly remember, from that thriller at Boothferry Park. He was not a bad player at all but he had competition from Kev Moore, Dean Crombie, John Stone and Clive Wigginton.

Joe Cadden (Workington 1-3 Town, 21 February 1953) is another player who missed out during another period – the early Shankly seasons - when we had effective defenders, including Duncan McMillan and Paddy Johnston. The Glasgow-born centre half spent the war years in Canada and moved to America, where he was spotted by Liverpool. Cadden must have impressed in his one Town game as our former player Wally Galbraith later signed him for Accrington where he played 17 times.

My father was able to reel off the names of the players in the 1911-12 squad but always stopped after naming Sidney Wheelhouse to add an appropriate comment. Wheelhouse was killed in the Battle of the Somme. Another member of that 1911-12 squad was William Fulljames (Bristol City 0-3 Town, 24 February 1912), a versatile defender.

To complete the defence, and start the midfield, I can name two players from the same game. John Burnett (Town 1-1 Scunthorpe, 25 October 1958) was a part-timer who was never picked again, despite Mariner Men telling us he was “not over-awed by the near-17,000 attendance”. I originally overlooked him. I thought of George Taylor, whose claim to fame was replacing future England manager Graham Taylor for ten minutes in his only league appearance. George Taylor also appeared in cup games, however.

Part of my excuse for forgetting Burnett is that I missed his game against the Nuts, as Scunthorpe United were then called. That was the day I completed my National Service and celebrated at the Ken Colyer Jazz Club near Leicester Square after watching Chelsea. Burnett stirs no memories in me.


Thomas Paul (Town 1-1 Scunthorpe, 25 October 1958) I do remember, but from seeing him in the reserves. He had joined Town from Immingham St Andrews in 1955.

Centre midfielder/inside left Tommy Ritchie (Cardiff 4-1 Town, 20 September 1958) was signed from Bedford Town in August 1958 with a view to becoming one of Allenby Chilton’s “chicks”. Sadly he became an ill-sitting hen and left the club in December the same year. I probably did see him play in the Reserves but he failed to make any impression.

That three one-hit wonders from 1958-59 should make my squad is not such a surprise. That relegation side was full of talented players but it under-achieved. The confidence of Ron Rafferty was at an all-time low, Tommy Briggs was past his best and Ronald Stockin had lost any edge he might have had after injury.

The youngsters that came in were at best promising. Eight of the squad promoted in 1961-62 were among those relegated in 1958-59. Therefore Burnett, Paul and Ritchie were some of many who came, played, yet failed to conquer, the gap between the reserves and the first team too big to be bridged. An exception was John Pearce who developed into a very good player, only for his career to be halted by injury. The situation in 1958-59 was like our last few Football League seasons, with young, promising players not developing in the first team.

Another winger who never quite made the grade was Terence Bartlett (Town 3-0 Tranmere, 20 March 1968.) In Mariner Men, his place of birth is stated as 8 Blundell Avenue, “surely the closest birthplace of any Mariner to the club’s home.”

Outside left/wide left midfielder Pete Beckers (Southend 4-0 Town, 24 April 1965) made his one appearance after being impressive in the reserves. He left Town for Skegness two years later and his name was prominent in the Skegness match reports in the Saturday Telegraph. He was only aged 50 at his untimely death in 1996.


Verdi Godwin (Wrexham 0-2 Town, 12 January 1952) lasts long in my memory as it is a useful name for a password. He played for a plethora of teams before and after his month’s trial at Blundell Park. I did see him play for the Reserves as a lively centre forward in a 2-1 win against Mansfield.

Mariner Men fills us in on the colourful career of Godwin, a cabaret singer, lifeguard and very minor film star. He was also responsible for scouting Liverpool players Steve Heighway and Bruce Grobbelaar, and Paul Mariner, who I once went to see at Halifax when he was playing for Plymouth. Some of you will remember a time in the 1970s when, as a regular goal scorer at Ipswich, one Mariner used to get more coverage than the Mariners.

Ken Green (Town 1-0 Wrexham, 2 February 1952) made one home appearance as an old fashioned centre forward in a match won thanks to a Jimmy Hernon diving header, during our great 11 match unbeaten run in 1951-52. Bill Cairns must have been absent. Ken put a great deal of effort into his game as you would expect with a player from Selby Town.

The mystery man

As a bonus, here is a mystery man. Edvin Hansen (Charlton 0-0 Town, 26 December 1946) is the only player from around that time whose name I cannot recall. The record books tell us he was a Danish amateur international. You might think that his selection would have generated publicity; he seems to have been the first Grimsby player both born and raised outside Britain or Ireland. But in fact Hull City used a lot of Danish players around then, so the novelty value was not quite so high as you might think. And there were no newspapers on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The papers on 27 December would have been full of speculation about the next day’s game against Manchester United, another 0-0 draw. So can anyone recall seeing Hansen play?

Being a one-hit wonder is a badge of honour. They fulfilled their aspiration, even if it was only once

Being a one-hit wonder is rightly a badge of honour. I think that at least one thousand players will have appeared for the Mariners but that figure is spread over some 130 seasons. Just pulling on a Town shirt once gives
that individual bragging rights for the rest of his life. Some of these players did make good elsewhere.

No doubt some of the loan player of today will be restricted to one game and we have no affinity with these players. At least half of the one-hit wonders that we knew will have been, in the main, young men we played football against at school, played with or against them in the school holidays, maybe on Barratt’s Recreation Ground, and will have watched them trying to fulfil their aspiration of reaching the first team. They succeeded, where many of us shared the same dream, even if it was only once.

Rich Mills and Pat Bell provided additional material. Comment on this article using the feedback form