Cult Heroes – Trevor Hockey

The latest Welsh footballer we look at in the series of cult heroes is one of the real celebrities of football in the 1970s, that being Trevor Hockey.

Hockey played in more than 600 games in the football league and is probably most famous in his football career for his spells at Birmingham City and Sheffield United. Hockey was born in Keighley, Yorkshire in 1943 but this did not stop him representing Wales nine times in his distinguished career.

Hockey started his football career as an attacking right winger and made his league debut for Bradford City in 1960 when he was only 16-years-old. Hockey quickly gained interest from other teams around the country, including Manchester United with Sir Matt Busby suitably impressed. Hockey only 53 games for Bradford before he was on what would be the first of many transfers through his career. This initial move was to Nottingham Forest who were in the First Division, for a then club-record fee of £15,000 for the talented youngster.

Hockey remained at the City Ground, for two years before moving onto Newcastle United. In 1965, in his second year with Newcastle, Hockey played a big part in the club winning the Second Division title, thus getting Newcastle back into the top flight of the football league. However, only three months into the new season in the First Division, Hockey was sold to Birmingham City, who were in the Second Division, for a fee of £25,000.

The player quickly became a fan favourite with the Midlands club. The club moved him from the wing to a central midfield position. His combative style, strong in the tackle and his will to win endeared him to the fans. The player sporting a thick beard certainly had earned cult status for his look and playing style, and he played for Birmingham for six years becoming club captain during his spell. When he was sold in 1971 to a fellow Second Division side, Sheffield United for a fee of £40,000,  it was somewhat of a surprise. He was highly appreciated at Birmingham, and that appreciation did not change when he moved to Sheffield United.

Sheffield United was building a team striving to get into the First Division that season, and with Hockey coming into the side in January 1971, that additional impetus gave them the push they were after. Hockey played in the centre of the midfield with the mercurial talent that was Tony Currie. Hockey was the one who won back possession from the opposition, and he then gave it to Currie to work his magic. The combination worked perfectly, and at the end of that season, Sheffield United had gained promotion to the First Division.

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Hockey was an integral part in the Sheffield United team until bad luck hit the player in the form of a broken leg suffered against Manchester City on 12th February 1972. After a long spell out recuperating, Hockey returned to the team but he was struggling to maintain a permanent position in the starting eleven, his form was inconsistent after such a long spell on the sidelines. In February 1973 the player was transferred to Norwich City.

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Whilst in the middle of his successful spell with Sheffield United, Hockey made his international debut for Wales against Finland in a European Championship qualifier at Ninian Park, Cardiff. The bearded midfield destroyer helped Dave Bowen’s led Welsh team to a three-nil victory with goals from Alan Durban, another Sheffield United star, Gil Reece and John Toshack. Hockey won nine caps in total for Wales playing in European Championship and World Cup qualifiers for his country. In those nine games, he scored one goal that being at Ninian Park against Poland in March 1973. His final international was in September of the same year, again against Poland. In Katowice, Wales lost three-nil and Hockey was sent off in the first half with Wales already two-nil down. His competitive edge took him too far this time and Wales were down to ten men and already losing, could not turn around the scoreline.

What followed was Hockey never staying at any one club for any sustained period of time. He left Norwich after only six months. He moved back to the Midlands, but this time it was Aston Villa he signed for. One year later, he was back with his first club in professional football, Bradford City, where he remained for two years before going onto Athlone Town as player-manager, and then a spell in America with San Diego Jaws, Las Vegas Quicksilvers and San Jose Earthquakes respectively, before retiring from professional football.

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Trevor Hockey was a fierce competitor and a well-known face in football circles for his play and for his crazed look, with piercing eyes, long hair and beard. His ability to win the ball and provide a hardened edge in midfield should not be underestimated.  His ability alongside a technical component who may not have Hockey’s ability to win tackles was a great mix and his partnership with Tony Currie for Sheffield United worked very well, the blend of the two gave Sheffield United a very strong central midfield partnership. Unfortunately for Hockey the broken leg he suffered curtailed his career, and on his return to playing he was not as before at the same standard, but still gave great service to the clubs he played for in his 18-year professional career.

In 1987 just after taking part in a five a side tournament in his home town of Keighley, Hockey suffered a fatal heart attack. He was just 43 years of age. A tragic loss at such a young age. Trevor Hockey – Cult Hero.