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Player of the Day: Iain Hesford

Published:
by Oscar Chamberlain

1980's stopper in the spotlight.

Former England youth international goalkeeper Iain Hesford made 114 appearances for Sunderland during two seasons on Wearside between 1986 and 1989.

Hesford, who was born in Kenya, followed in his father’s footsteps with Hesford senior playing over 200 games between the sticks for Huddersfield Town, including a 1938 FA Cup final defeat to Preston North End – a year after the Black Cats had defeated the Lilywhites to win the trophy.

Iain began his career with Blackpool where he spent six years in the first-team after progressing through the youth ranks to make over 200 league appearances.

In August 1983, Hesford moved to Yorkshire with Sheffield Wednesday, though he was understudy to Martin Hodge for all of his time with the Owls, failing to clock up a league appearance as Hodge featured in 126 consecutive matches.

Following an initial loan spell, Iain’s career was rekindled by Sunderland as the Black Cats paid £80,000 for his services in 1986.

A rollercoaster spell at Roker Park saw Hesford make 43 appearances in all competitions as Sunderland were relegated from the second tier for the first time in their history.

However, immediate promotion followed under Denis Smith’s stewardship with Hesford regaining the number one spot after initially losing it at the start of the season to Steve Hardwick.

Capable of making the odd costly mistake, Iain was far from the finished article as a stopper and his spell at Wednesday may well have halted his progress towards being a top level keeper, though he was still regarded highly on Wearside; finishing runner-up to Eric Gates in the Player of the Year award in 1988.

Iain started the 1988-89 season with the Black Cats but, after making 24 appearances, he moved to Hull City for a six-figure sum in December 1988 with Tony Norman arriving on Wearside.

After three years with Hull, Hesford spent his final league season with Maidstone United where he scored a match-winning goal in a 3-2 win over Hereford United.

Iain spent the next six years in Hong Kong before moving back to Lancashire.