Written by Callum Walker
When the term a ‘one club man’ comes to mind, you immediately think of Danny Houghton. A Hull FC veteran, the headbanded number nine has spent 13 years of his career so far at his boyhood club.
Houghton recorded his first appearance for the Airlie Birds in 2007 at the age of 18 and has since gone onto make 352 appearances, scoring 52 tries. Though there have been many calls for the hooker to be given an England call-up, it has, so far, not been forthcoming. Instead, the number nine registered three appearances for England Knights between 2011 and 2012, scoring two tries.
2008 was the year in which Houghton became a regular in the Hull side, often coming off the bench as a substitute. But, with every passing year Houghton has got better and better to the point at which he was appointed vice-captain and then full captain in January 2018 with the retirement of Gareth Ellis.
In 2016, the hooker arguably enjoyed his greatest year to date. Aged 27, Houghton played an incredible role as the black-and-whites won at Wembley for the first time in their history with a 12-10 victory over Warrington.
The number nine was particularly lauded for that unbelievable tackle made on Ben Currie with the line at the latter’s mercy. For his performances that year, Houghton was awarded the Steve Prescott Man of Steel, becoming the first Hull player to receive this honour.
The tough number nine also received the Super League Hit Man of the Year – awarded for the most tackles in a season – with a tally of 1,289 tackles, an accolade which he won for a fifth time in 2019.
Houghton was at his imperious best in 2017 again as Hull won back-to-back Challenge Cup titles in fantastic fashion, beating Wigan – the side that had beaten the hooker and Hull in the 2013 Challenge Cup Final 16-0 – 18-14 in a nail-biting affair.
2018 and 2019 were far from the seasons that Houghton would have wanted in his first years of captaincy – as Hull finished eighth and sixth respectively – and the Arlie Birds currently have three wins from their opening seven games in 2020.
A terrific defender and a superb runner from dummy-half, Houghton has all the qualities that teams want in their first-choice hooker. Leadership, passion and determination, the number nine has in abundance, whilst his ability to play 80 minutes at the highest level makes him a hero amongst the Hull faithful.