ONE of Teesside’s greatest ever players is heading back to town this month to recall his magical years wearing his famous number nine shirt.

Legendary centre forward John Hickton will recall his ten years of prolific goal scoring for Middlesbrough when he links up with BBC Radio Tees presenter Paul ‘Goffy’ Gough as part of the radio presenter’s 30-year anniversary celebrations.

Big John – as he was commonly known - was brought to Ayresome Park by the then boss Stan Anderson in 1966 and remained at the club until 1976 playing in almost 415 games and scoring 159 goals.

He became the darling of fans behind the goal in the Holgate End and Hickton, now 78, has fond memories of his Boro days.

John Hickton said: “It was the greatest time of my life pulling on my Boro shirt and I so much loved my time on Teesside. The fans were incredible to me and my family during those magical times.

“My family loved living on Teesside and we often travel back to visit relations and friends, driving past the old Ayresome Park, which is now a housing estate, and going past Hutton Road where we used to train. These are memories that will live with me forever. I am really looking forward to returning to town and I have really wanted this night to happen, said John.

The event, ‘An Audience With John Hickton’ was ‘the idea of Goffy when John was part of group of former players that he interviewed on stage in Middlesbrough some few years ago.

The Northern Echo: Middlesbrough Football Club Legend John Hickton with BBC Radio Tees presenter Paul ‘Goffy’ GoughMiddlesbrough Football Club Legend John Hickton with BBC Radio Tees presenter Paul ‘Goffy’ Gough

Goffy said: “John was mobbed that night and Boro fans from down the decades wanted to have selfies with him – even the younger fans were reciting stories that they had heard from their dad’s and grandfather’s through the years.

“I suggested to John that night that he should head back to town to front his own show and he said to me I really hope you make that happen Goffy.

“After lockdown we had a chat and John laughed ‘You had better get a move on sorting this night as I’m not getting any younger and maybe fans won’t remember who I am as time moves so very quickly’.

“The lockdown situation made it impossible to set up the tribute to John but he was always more than keen to meet his many fans for this special night, It is just ahead of the Father’s Day weekend and already it is clear that different generations will be with us and all with their own particular memories or stories passed down family generations featuring John in his iconic Boro shirt.

“The evening will feature a compilation of John’s finest moments, footage and visual memories of the famous faces that John played alongside through the decade – with the icon talking through his personal memories of them all.”

In 2019 the football great fought a huge personal battle as he bravely recovered from skin cancer and is now back to full health.

The Northern Echo:

John, who now lives in Chesterfield, added: “I have many stories from those memorable times and it will be lovely to share my thoughts with the Boro fans  on June 16.”

Hickton still looks out for the Boro results and was disappointed to see the team fail to make the Championship play-offs this season.

John concluded: “The club and town is still very much in my blood and it was sad to see the season end the way it did. Let’s hope next season will see us back and on course for the top flight.”

The event will take place at the North Ormesby Working Men’s Club, Westbourne Grove from 8pm. Tickets are available at:


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