Harry Hibbs (footballer)

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Harry Hibbs
Personal information
Full name Henry Edward Hibbs
Date of birth (1906-05-27)27 May 1906
Place of birth Wilnecote, England
Date of death 23 April 1984(1984-04-23) (aged 77)
Place of death Hatfield, England
Playing position Goalkeeper
Youth career
Wilnecote Holy Trinity
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
Tamworth Castle
1924–1939 Birmingham 358 (0)
1953–1954 de Havillands
National team
1929–1936 England 25 (0)
Teams managed
1944–1951 Walsall
1961–1962 Ware Town
1962–1963 Welwyn Garden City
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Henry Edward "Harry" Hibbs (27 May 1906 – 23 April 1984) was an English football goalkeeper who played for Birmingham and England in the 1920s and 1930s. His uncle and cousin[citation needed] - Hubert Pearson and Harold Pearson - were also both professional players.

Playing career[edit]

Hibbs was born in Wilnecote, Staffordshire and, whilst training as a plumber,[1] played for his local club sides Wilnecote Holy Trinity and Tamworth Castle, who had some torrid seasons in the Birmingham and District Football League (the club conceding a total 164 goals over the 1922 and 1923 seasons).[2] Despite this, Hibbs came to the attention of Birmingham City when he was 17 years of age, and impressed so much in trials that he was offered professional forms in May 1924. Among such club legends as Frank Womack and Joe Bradford, Hibbs became a regular feature of Billy Beer’s side, but it was a barren period in the club’s history.

Leslie Knighton’s arrival from Bournemouth in 1928 signalled an improvement in fortunes for both Hibbs and Birmingham. Hibbs was part of a FA tour to South Africa and made three appearances for the Football League XI. His form on the FA tour earned him a call up for England and he was selected for the England national team to play Wales at Stamford Bridge on 20 November 1929. England won the match 6-0, with a hat-trick from George Camsell[3] He played for the "Professionals" in the 1929 FA Charity Shield.[4]

Prior to Hibbs's debut, the England selectors had tried 21 different goalkeepers in the nine years since Sam Hardy's retirement in 1920. Hibbs was almost a "carbon copy" of Hardy, unspectacular but highly reliable, preferring to do everything in as simple a manner as possible, a style that was to see him become England's most capped goalkeeper up to that time,[1] as he was selected 25 times for England (ten clean sheets), becoming a main-stay well into the mid-1930s.

Birmingham reached the FA Cup final in 1931 where they came up against a strong West Bromwich Albion side, losing 2-1. His cousin, Harold Pearson, who played on the winning side in the Cup Final, was selected to play for England against Scotland on 9 April 1932 in what would be his only full international appearance.

After over 389 games, his career with Birmingham came to an end a little while into the start of the Second World War. His testimonial came against cross-city rivals Aston Villa on 13 April 1940, in the first Wartime benefit game.

Management career[edit]

In August 1944 Hibbs became manager of Walsall for 7 years. The highlight of this period was the club's appearance in the 1946 Third Division (South) final, in front of 20,000, at Stamford Bridge against Bournemouth and by the team of Ron Crutchley, Doug Lishman, Reg Foulkes, ’Nutty' Newman and, goalkeeper, Jackie Lewis.

Hibbs went back to play in goal for Havillands F.C. between February 1953 and the following summer. He then left football altogether before coming back to carry out two managerial stints at Ware for the 1960–61 season and Welwyn Garden City for the 1962–63 season.

After football[edit]

He settled in Welwyn Garden City, where he died in April 1984, one month before what would have been his 78th birthday.




  1. ^ a b Graham Betts (2006). England: Player by player. Green Umbrella Publishing. p. 127. ISBN 1-905009-63-1. 
  2. ^ Tamworth Castle on Football Club History Database
  3. ^ England 6 - Wales 0; 20 November 1929 (Match summary)
  4. ^ "Professionals v. Amateurs – selected teams for annual match". Derby Daily Telegraph. 26 September 1929. p. 10. Retrieved 21 March 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. 

External links[edit]