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Gerald 'Gerry' Archibald HITCHENS
Gerald ‘Gerry’ Archibald HITCHENS was born in Rawnsley on the 8th October 1934 to parents Archibald Percival and Violet Annie HITCHENS nee TURNER. His father Archibal Percival was born in Brereton.
Gerald's birth was registered at Cannock, 10 / 11 / 12 quarter of 1934 Volume  6b Page 580.
Gerry became one of the greatest footballers Rawnsley ever produced, a powerful centre forward.
He was bought up in the small Shropshire town of Highley and played football for the Highley Scouts. Like most residents of Highley, he went down the mines, and in true spirit, he played for Highley Miners Welfare in the 1952 season.
Aged 19, in 1953, he really started his footballing career with non-league Kidderminster Harriers. He had the opportunity to sign for West Bromwich Albion, but he was happy to keep his job down the pit and so signed with Kidderminster.
In January 1955 he moved on to Cardiff City for £1,500. There he made 95 appearances and scored 40 goals. Although playing professional football, he still continued to work down the pit.
Like many players of his age at the time, he enlisted for two years of National Service. However when Aston Villa came knocking at the door of Ninian Park in 1957, wanting his services and handing him a cheque for £22,500, he decided to join them. He spent four seasons at Aston Villa making 160 appearances and scoring 96 goals.
On the 27th October 1958 Gerry married Meriel JONES, from Pontypridd, Glamorgon, in Pontypridd.
Their marriage was registered in Pontypridd, 10 / 11 / 12 quarter of 1958 Volume 8b Page 921.
In 1961, aged 27, he made his debut for England at Wembley in a friendly match against Mexico. A memorable moment for him, made even more memorable, when just 90 seconds into the game, he scored his first goal, and the first of England’s 8 goals in a 8-0 thrashing.
Just 2 weeks later, he scored 2 more goals for England in Rome against Italy as England beat Italy 3-2.
His great performance and potential was recognised by Internazionale, who in the summer of 1962, signed him for £85,000. He made 39 appearances, scoring 17 goals.
That year, he continued to make great performances for England, especially in the World Cup held in Chili.
In total, he won 7 caps for England and scored 5 goals.
His international career came to a halt when Alf RAMSEY took over the Management of England. Gerald was still playing league football in Italy, and Alf preferred to select home based players.
Gerry played domestic football in Italy for 9 years, (a record which still stands in the Guinness Book of records), playing for Italian teams Torino, Atlanta and Cagliari.
He was with Torino from 1962 to 1965, making 89 appearances, scoring 28 goals. In 1965, he moved to Atlanta, making 58 appearances, scoring 10 goals. From Atlanta in 1967, he went to Cagliari, making 19 appearances, scoring 4 goals. Also during 1967, he had a spell on loan with Chicago Mustangs.
After his time in Italy, he returned to England. He joined Worcester City in 1969 and was there for 2 seasons, making 51 appearances and scoring 25 goals, and it was there he won his third and last major honour, the Worcester Senior Cup.
From Worcester, in 1971, he moved to Merthyr Tydfil, where he made 6 appearances but didn’t score any goals. He left Merthyr Tydfil later that year and retired from professional football at the age of 37.
When he retired from football in the late 1970’s, he retired to Holywell, Wales with his wife and five children.
He still had a love for football, and played many a game including charity matches. It was on the Wednesday 13th April 1983 whilst Gerry, then aged 48, was playing in a charity game in Hope in Clwyd near Wrexham, that he suddenly collapsed and died.
His death was registered at Clwyd, 04 / 05 / 06 quarter of 1983 Volume 24 Page 1180.
As Gerry’s death was sudden, an inquest was held. The result was that it appeared to be a thrombosis in the leg, which became an embolism blocking the main artery, which caused a heart attack.
If you have any information to add on Gerald 'Gerry' Archibald HITCHENS, please send details to us at enquiries@bfhg.org.uk
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