Joe Hewitt: He was there before the Kop

April 30, 1964
He’ll be 83 on May 3 and he’s one of those Liverpool F.C. rarities who was there before the Kop. He’s had more than 60 years association with the club as player, coach and finally, until a few months ago when his health gave way, as general factotum with special match-day duties at the Press Box. Name? Joe Hewitt, born Chester; lived in Liverpool nearly all his footballing life after starting his career as a 17-year-old with Sunderland, who were an all-the-talents side in those days with seven or eight internationals on their books.

Joe Hewitt.

After filling every position at Sunderland save the one in which he was later to make his name and fame at Anfield – centre forward – Joe came to Liverpool in 1903-04 when Liverpool and manager Tom Watson were having such a bad time that Division II stared them in the face.

Even the arrival of Joe Hewitt and Robert Robinson, also a forward from Sunderland, failed to prevent Liverpool losing their First Division status. But it was not through any lack of effort by Joe. At the end of the next season Liverpool were back and there they stayed until the drop that put them into Division II again for so long in more recent times.

Always popular
Joe Hewitt, once his playing days were ended, was built in with the Anfield bricks. Players came and went, so did directors and manager, but Joe always popular for his sense of humour and sense of proportion, even in things appertaining to modern football, stayed on and on was beaten in the end not by Anno Domini, but by bronchial tubes which at 82 years old could no longer stand the raw, damp air of the North West.

Our picture shows the oldest inhabitant at Anfield resting on his sick bed at Aigburth – he lives there with a married daughter – but still able to reminisce from his treasured photographs of old colleagues, if not old team-meates. Not one of his playing generation remains, but some of the old timers who started when he finished – Kenneth Campbell, Ephraim Longworth, William Lacey, Fred Hopkin among them – are happily still around.

Joe Hewitt is one of those great characters about whom everyone has a good word. The greatest day of his life was when he played centre forward in the Liverpool championship season of 1905-06, the saddest, in 1954, when having just celebrated his fiftieth year with the club, he lost his wife when within a few months of his golden wedding anniversary.

Joe did not see Liverpool’s wonderful final home game against Arsenal, but he was there in spirit. He still looks back on the thrilling moment when Liverpool failed to put it across Everton in a Cup semi-final at the Villa ground. But time and season 1963-64 has brought compensation and so did the next semi-final the two local seniors fought at Maine Road, in post-war years, when Red beat Blue and Liverpool went to Wembley and Arsenal.

Every Liverpool will join with me (writes Leslie Edwards) in wishing Joe Hewitt a happy 83rd birthday and health enough to stay with us until he’s chalked up his 90 not out, by which time he must surely have seen the contemporary Liverpool team do the impossible – lift the Cup!
(Source: Liverpool Echo: April 30, 1964)

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