John 'Jack' Fairbrother (16 August 1917 – October 1999) was an English professional football goalkeeper, best known for his time at Newcastle United shortly after the Second World War. His uncle George Harrison played for Everton and England.
Jack Fairbrother was born in Burton upon Trent and joined his local side Burton Town. He moved to Preston North End in 1937, but had failed to break into the first team by the outbreak of World War II. During the war, he became Preston's first choice goalkeeper, helping them do the wartime double in 1941, winning the Football League North and the Football League War Cup. In October 1941, he played for the Football League against the Scottish Football League XI and went on to represent the Army and the Police in further wartime matches. He also guested for Blackburn Rovers, Burnley and Chester during the war.
With the war at an end, the Football League resumed in the 1946–47 season, Fairbrother finally making his league debut for Preston at the age of 29. He missed only one game that season and moved to Newcastle United in July 1947 for a fee of £6,500.
His Newcastle debut came in a 6–1 home win against Plymouth Argyle on the opening day of the 1947–48 season and he was a regular as Newcastle won the 2nd Division Championship that season. He was first choice for four seasons making 132 League and 12 FA Cup appearances, including the 1951 FA Cup final victory over Blackpool at Wembley.
Early in the 1951-52 season, he broke a collar-bone and lost his place to Ronnie Simpson. At the end of the season he moved to then non-league Peterborough United as player-manager. In his two seasons with Peterborough they knocked League sides Torquay United and Aldershot out of the FA Cup.
Manager and coach
In December 1953 he became manager of 3rd Division South club Coventry City. However, shortly after getting his break in league management his wife died following a fall, leaving him with two young children. Fairbrother managed to combine his professional and family duties, but resigned when Coventry sold star striker, Eddy Brown to Birmingham City for £9,000 in the 1954–55 season.
He became the coach of the Israel national side in 1955 and in June 1962 he returned to English football as manager of Consett and then Gateshead F.C. before returning to Peterborough United, now a Football League team, as manager in December 1962. He remained at Peterborough until February 1964, at which point he retired from football.
Fairbrother died in Lincolnshire at the age of 82.