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The Village Boy Who Became A Hero To Thousands

20 May 2021

He was a raw teenager with potential when he made his first team debut in 1960. He would leave Boothferry Park 11 years later as a Hull City legend and hero - a hero who was rarely referred to by his full name. He went by the nickname ‘Chillo’, and the mere mention of that name, even today, 50 years after he played his final game for the Club, is still enough to take the mind on a glorious wander down memory lane.

Chris Chilton was born in the village of Sproatley, just a few miles to the east of Hull, in June 1943. From an early age it was clear that he was a talented footballer but, brought up in an era long before club academies would become the main route into the professional game for aspiring young players, it was whilst playing in local leagues that Chilton would be spotted doing his thing.

His thing was scoring goals, and he was doing it often enough to be given the chance to join Hull City. However, the promising forward also had a creative eye and had every intention of going to art college to further his studies. Had he gone down that route, the Tigers’ record books might look very different. Thankfully he chose football. The rest, as they say, is history.

Chilton would be an almost instant hit, although his debut as a 17-year-old against Colchester United wasn’t the most auspicious of starts. A 4-0 defeat was hardly the ideal way for the team to start a new campaign. Chilton was paired up front with fellow debutant Peter Nicholson. Nicholson wouldn’t  play another first team game for the Club, Chilton would go on to play a further 476. A first goal arrived in a 5-1 thrashing of Newport County on Chilton’s first appearance on the Boothferry Park turf, and his debut season ended with 20 goals to his name from 49 appearances.

His rawness was evident during that first campaign, but over time Chilton’s potential would develop into more of a finished article. Hat-tricks came along at regular intervals, and by now he was starting to delight crowds that were being drawn in ever-increasing numbers as seasonal hauls of 20 goals or more were becoming commonplace.

Even hat-tricks weren’t enough to satisfy Chilton’s appetite, with four-goal displays against Wrexham and Barnsley adding further to his reputation. In late 1964, he would be joined by a new strike-partner who went by the name Ken Wagstaff. And so began the ‘Waggy and Chillo’ story.

The attacking duo were simply unplayable at times and, in their first full season playing together, they scored 52 league goals between them as the Tigers won the Division Three title in 1965/66, while their efforts also inspired a memorable FA Cup run that was ended by Chelsea in a quarter-final replay.

That was the fourth successive season in which Chilton had scored 20 goals or more, and he continued to score with regularity in the second tier, although his next campaign in the 20-plus category would come in his final full season at Boothferry Park as he netted 26 times as the Tigers went close to winning an elusive promotion to the first division.

Chilton would leave Hull City two games into the 1971/72 season having scored 222 goals in 477 appearances. And, let’s not forget, he played in a time when defenders could get away with using slightly stronger tactics to stop their opponents than they can today.

After spending a season with Coventry City, and playing the top flight football his career deserved, Chilton would return to Boothferry Park to join the Tigers’ coaching staff and was assistant manager for the Club’s promotions in 1982/83 and 1984/85.

He would remain a big supporter of the team after retiring from the game, although sadly he suffered from ill health in recent years.

He is now at peace - away to watch over the Tigers’ goalscorers of the future.

There’ll never be another Chris Chilton, though. He was, and will remain, a Hull City Hero.

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