Billy Whitehurst

Years at the club: 1988
Date of birth: 10/06/1959
Birth place: Thurnsloe, Yorkshire
Position: Striker
Appearances: 19
Goals: 8
Clubs: Hull City, Newcastle Utd, Oxford Utd., Sunderland, Sheffield Utd, Doncaster Rovers

Whitehurst started his career playing for a number of semi-professional teams in South Yorkshire, one being Mexborough Town, whilst also working for the local council as a bricklayer. He eventually made the move into the professional ranks with Hull City in 1980 signing for a £2,000 fee. He initially struggled with the demands of the professional game but eventually sealed his place as one of the most popular players to have ever played for the club.

His upturn in form had not gone un-noticed and he joined Newcastle United in 1985 as their then record signing for £232,000. Despite playing in a side containing Peter Beardsley and Paul Gascoigne, the move did not work out and Whitehurst failed to score in his first 11 appearances for the club. A spat with his own supporters signalled the end of his career on Tyneside and after playing only 28 league games he was transferred to Oxford United in 1986. However the move there was similarly short-lived, and Whitehurst left after a clash with assistant manager Ray Graydon.

Whitehurst subsequently became something of a footballing wanderer, playing for a further six football league clubs, attracting controversy both on and off the pitch along the way. Spells at Reading, Sunderland, Sheffield United, Stoke City, Doncaster Rovers, Crewe Alexandra and a second spell at Hull City produced mixed results.

However, Whitehurst's hard man persona and colourful off field antics ensured he always caused a reaction and cemented his place as something of a cult figure within the game. Whitehurst ended his playing days abroad, playing in Northern Ireland, Australia and in Hong Kong with South China A.A. (1992–93) before a long-standing knee injury caused his retirement in 1993.

Numerous players who played against Whitehurst have said that he was the hardest player that they faced. Vinnie Jones - who Whitehurst is rumoured to have beaten up whilst teammates at Sheffield United - Neil "Razor" Ruddock, Martin Keown, and Alan Hansen are all on record as saying that Whitehurst was the hardest player to have played the game.

Since leaving the game Whitehurst has trained greyhounds, ran several public houses in his native South Yorkshire and worked in the building trade and in the stores at BP Saltend and Drax Power Station.

In 2008, he was found guilty of benefit fraud and given a suspended prison sentence.

Whitehurst's colourful career and brash, larger than life persona helped him make forays into the after-dinner speaking circuit, however an autobiography, "Football's Hardest Man" failed to materialise

Did you know?

Martin Hicks, 1978-1991

Martin holds the club appearance record. He made 603 first team appearances in all competitions.

Neil Webb, 1978-1982

Neil won 26 full England caps, the FA Cup and League Cup.

Bill Davies, 1953-1961

Bill totalled 226 appearances for Reading, playing in every game of the 1958/59 season.

Trevor Senior, 1983-87 / 1988-92

The greatest goalscorer in the club's history, Trevor scored 191 goals in 362 appearances.

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