The last surviving pre-war Toon player passes away

Jack Shiel in 2008
Jack Shiel in 2008

A Seahouses man – the last surviving pre-war Newcastle

United and Huddersfield Town player – has died at the age of 96.

Jack Shiel, who was a centre-forward with the Magpies from 1936 to 1938, passed away peacefully in hospital on Saturday, November 30.

He was born and brought up in Seahouses and played football for North Sunderland School, captaining the side.

He followed in his family’s footsteps by becoming a fisherman after leaving school before joining Newcastle United Reserves in 1936, where he stayed for two seasons.

He also made one appearance for the first team, against Barnsley during September 1937, but signed for Huddersfield Town on October 18, 1938.

At the time, his position was dominated by first Jack Smith and then Billy Cairns in the black-and-white stripes.

He had played a few games for North Shields at the start of the 1938 campaign before catching the eye of Town, against whom he had made his Central League debut in the 1936-37 season, and stayed at the Yorkshire club until the outbreak of the Second World War.

In 2008, Jack told the Gazette: “It was a great life while it lasted.”

During the war, Jack was called up and served on Royal Navy minesweepers, managing to play a little football when serving in Africa.

At the end of the conflict, he returned home to Seahouses and again worked as a fisherman with his family, later running day trips to the Farne Islands.

Jack married Olive, from Walker, Newcastle, on Boxing Day, 1940, and they had two children, Jack Jnr and David. Olive passed away in 1999.

Jack was also a grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather.