Kenny HIBBITT

Wolverhampton Wanderers FC

Kenny Hibbitt - Wolverhampton Wanderers FC - Biography of his career.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 04 March 1972

Click on image to enlarge

    • POSITION
      Midfielder
    • DATE OF BIRTH
      Wednesday, 03 January 1951
    • PLACE OF BIRTH
      Bradford, England.
  • CLUBS
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers FC
    • Club Career Dates
      1968-1984
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 12th April 1969 as a sub in a 1-0 defeat at home to West Bromwich Albion (Aged: 18)
    • Club Career
      447 League apps (+19 as sub), 89 goals

Kenny HIBBITT - Wolverhampton Wanderers FC - Biography of his career.

 Kenny Hibbitt is pictured above during the away game at Coventry City.

  

Kenny Hibbitt was signed by Wolves in November 1968 for a fee of £5000 from his hometown club, Bradford Park Avenue. Over the next fifteen years 'Hibby' became a fans' favourite - his creative abilities forming an integral part of Wolves' midfield department, under six different managers. Hibbitt debuted as a substitute in a 1-0 home defeat by West Bromwich Albion on 12th April 1969. He failed to make the seniors again until September 1970, when he scored in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Thereafter, Kenny established himself in the first team and Wolves enjoyed a productive league season, finishing fourth. In January 1971, on his FA Cup debut against Norwich City at Molineux, Kenny - still only nineteen - notched one of Wolves' five goals with a fantastic sideways header, almost on his knees as he steered the ball home from an acute angle. A month later his spectacular long range effort in the return Chelsea fixture secured victory. Ken completed his first season proper with three goals in thirty-nine games.

 

He also gained a Texaco Cup Winners' Medal as Wolves defeated Hearts and made a substitute appearance for England U-23s versus Wales. Scandalously, this was the only representative honour of Hibbitt's career. Kenny emerged as an influential team member in the 1971/72 season. He acted as goal provider and goal scorer - totalling nine goals that year, including one in a 5-1 demolition of Arsenal and two UEFA Cup strikes as Wolves met Spurs in the final, losing 2-3 on aggregate. Hibbitt scored in six league matches the following season, Wolves winning five and drawing one of those games to underline Kenny's value to the team. He converted a vital spot kick in the FA Cup sixth round tie against Coventry City at Molineux, watched by over 50, 000 spectators. Wolves lost in both Cup semi-finals that year, whilst in the league they finished in a highly creditable fifth position. (Andy Lockett)

 

 

 This picture of Kenny Hibbitt was taken by George Herringshaw on 3rd. January 1976. ©

  

 Success belatedly arrived in 1973/74 as Wolves returned to Wembley, after a fourteen year absence, for the Football League Cup Final - versus Manchester City. Hibbitt scored Wolves' opener, two minutes before half-time, with a mis-timed volley, which looped over the City defence and into the net. Kenny sprinted away, arm raised and a huge grin on his face after scoring. Wolves hung on bravely to clinch a 2-1 win. Hibby clocked up 29 league appearances that season, scoring just twice, at Spurs and Stoke City. The following season Kenny missed just one league match, notching seventeen goals to finish as the club's top marksman. He scored four goals in one game - a 4-2 win versus Newcastle United at home - making him the only Wolves player between Ted Farmer (1962) and Steve Bull (1988) to achieve this distinction. Hibbitt also notched a hat-trick in a 5-2 win against Luton Town and scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough. On several occasions in the mid-seventies Kenny lined up in opposition to his elder brother Terry, a fellow midfielder with Leeds, Newcastle and Birmingham. In 1975/76 Wolves were relegated from the First Division, despite recording 5-1 wins over Sheffield United and Burnley and a 5-0 victory over Newcastle during the campaign. Wolves went into the final league game of the season knowing that they must beat Liverpool and hope that local rivals Birmingham were defeated in their game at Sheffield United. In front of 48, 900 at a packed Molineux, Wolves went down 3-1 whilst Birmingham drew 1-1 at Brammall Lane, making the score at Molineux academic. In a twist of irony a certain Terry Hibbitt scored the Birmingham goal that day! Kenny finished the campaign with twelve goals from fifty appearances - his highest seasonal total of matches played for Wolves. (Andy Lockett)

 

Kenny Hibbit is here pictured on 9th. February 1980.             Photo & © G. Herringshaw.

  

 In 1976/77 Wolves regained their top flight status at the first attempt - Kenny's experience, now in the role of captain, helping to orchestrate a successful promotion challenge. His seventeen goal return made him top scorer once again and included a decisive match winner at Bolton in the final game of the season which gave Wolves the title and meant that Nottingham Forest were promoted, rather than the Trotters. Forest took full advantage, going on to League and European Cup success under messrs Clough and Taylor. Hibbitt also featured in the Wolves' team that year which retained the National Five-a-Side trophy. Injury restricted his appearances to twenty-six in the 1977/78 season, and only once more during his remaining years at the club did Hibby's goal tally reach double figures. Wolves reached a second FA Cup semi-final in six years in 1978/79, but again they failed to progress any further, Kenny suffering along with his team-mates as Arsenal triumphed 2-0 at Villa Park.

 

Things changed for the better the following season as a revived Wolves, under the guidance of John Barnwell and Richie Barker, won the League Cup with a surprise 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest. Kenny was in fine goalscoring form on the road to Wembley, weighing in with goals against Burnley, Crystal Palace, Queens Park Rangers and a penalty in the quarter-final second replay victory over Grimsby Town. In the final itself, in front of 100, 000 at a packed Wembley stadium, Forest returned the favour that Wolves had done them three seasons previously by gifting them victory, a dreadful mix up between Peter Shilton and Dave Needham leaving Andy Gray with the simple task of knocking the ball into an empty net. Hibbitt's thirteen goals that season helped towards an impressive final league placing of sixth. (Andy Lockett)

 

This image of Kenny Hibbitt was taken in 1980 by George Herringshaw. ©

  

The 1980/81 season was chiefly memorable for an FA Cup Semi-Final meeting with old rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Clive Thomas awarded a controversial last-minute penalty in the first match at Hillsborough, after Glenn Hoddle was adjudged to have tripped Hibbitt, who promptly picked himself up and converted the spot-kick to snatch a 2-2 draw. There was no happy ending however, as Spurs flattened Wolves in the Higbury replay by 3-0. In a sign of things to come Wolves were to finish in a disappointing 18th position in the league that season, Kenny chipping in with three goals. From then on, despite retaining the captaincy, Hibby's influence on an increasingly dis-jointed line-up diminished steadily as Wolves were relegated, promoted, then relegated again in his last three years at Molineux.

 

During his final season, 1983/84, Ken failed to score at all, for the first time since becoming a regular selection thirteen seasons earlier. What was to be his final appearance in the famous Gold jersey came at Watford, on May 4th in a 0-0 draw. Ken's final goal for Wanderers had come the previous season, in a 1-1 draw at Rotherham on 9th April. Hibby's Wolves career ended with a close-season free transfer to West Midlands rivals Coventry City. He played a total of 574 competitive games for Wolves, scoring 114 goals - placing him second and tenth respectively on the club's all-time appearance and goalscoring lists. Only Derek Parkin, whose Wolves career spanned an almost indentical period to Kenny's, has played more games for the Molineux club, totalling a remarkable 609 in all competitions. On returning to Molineux in 1989 as Bristol Rovers' coach, Hibby received a rapturous reception from the fans - many of whom could recall the vintage performances as a peerless attacking midfielder. (Andy Lockett)