When you think of football tough guys, you immediately think of the old guys. Men like Ron “Chopper” Harris, Neil “Razor” Ruddock or Vinnie Jones were feared on the pitch. These weren’t baby faced assassins, these were tough brawlers who would take you down on the pitch and wouldn’t even think twice about waiting for you in the car park after a match. They defined the term “hard cunt”. However, there was one player who was the hardest of them all. The player we’re speaking on today was defined by that term and then some. Jones and Ruddock both have stated in their careers that this man was the hardest they have ever played against. Alan Hansen has said that he was frightened of this man. That man is Billy Whitehurst.
“ I went off at half time and the doctor’s ripped all the stitches up and stapled me up, literally put staples in and to be fair they were a lot better than stitches. So he’s stapled me out and I’ve gone out for the second half. I had a hole in my cheek so you could see the whole way through my mouth. ”
Billy Whitehurst was playing professional football while also laying bricks at the same time. At that moment, he had been playing for Mexborough Town before Hull City scooped him up for the bargain price of £2000 in 1980. In his career he would go on to play for more than 10 clubs, but Hull City embraced this giant (he played from ’80-’85 and again in ’88-’90), and he would go on to score 52 goals in 223 appearances for the Tigers. Feared by teammates, opposing players, and managers alike, Whitehurst was indeed a true tough guy of the game. Whitehurst bounced around from Newcastle, Reading, Sunderland, Oxford, Sheffield United, Stoke City, Doncaster, and Crewe Alexandra before going abroad and playing. Whether he was pranking his teammates, crushing opponents with goals or elbows, or playing with actual proper staples in his head and a hole in his cheek, Whitehurst claimed he always gave “120%”. He would eventually retire after a knee injury, settle in as a pub owner (among other jobs), and go back to civilian life. I’m sure when his retirement was announced, the people he played against him and feared him all breathed a collective sigh of relief in knowing they weren’t going to be smashed to bits on the pitch. A true football tough guy of the modern football era.
To Hull City and Back
Hull City vs. Port Vale 1983, Top of Division Table 4 Clash
Hull City vs. Liverpool 1989 FA Cup Pt. 1
Hull City vs. Liverpool 1989 FA Cup Pt. 2