A diminutive figure, standing just 5′ 4″ with size 6.5 boots although there was a myth that he wore size 3 boots, Oakengates, Shropshire born winger Johnny Hancocks played in the Wrekin Schools team and for Oakengates Fellowship in 1934 before making his debut for hometown club Oakengates Town in the Birmingham League in 1935, aged just 15. In August 1938 he signed amateur forms with Walsall of the Third Division (South), making his debut in an FA Cup tie at Port Vale the following month. In October 1938, he turned professional and played a full season of League football there, scoring 10 goals in 40 appearances before the outbreak of the Second World War forced the abandonment of peacetime football and halted his football career. He joined the Army in 1940 and became a physical training instructor. He did, however, manage to make several appearances for the Army in representative games and also guested for Wrexham and Shrewsbury Town.
With the resumption of peacetime football, Hancocks returned to Walsall and made 2 further appearances in the 1946 FA Cup before he was signed by First Division side Wolverhampton Wanderers on 11th May 1946 for £4,000, making his Wolves debut on 31st August 1946 in a 6-1 thrashing of Arsenal. He claimed his first goal for the club in another 6-1 victory against Huddersfield Town on 12th October, and added 9 more in his debut season. The following season, he was even more prolific, finishing as joint top scorer (alongside Jesse Pye) with 16.
Such form won him a call-up to the England team. He made his international debut on 2nd December 1948 in a 6-0 hammering of Switzerland at Highbury, during which Hancocks scored twice. Despite his goalscoring debut, the likes of Stanley Matthews and Tom Finney saw him overlooked until October 1949 for his next cap when he played against Wales, and he subsequently won only one more cap against Yugoslavia in November 1950.
Although international acclaim eluded him, Hancocks enjoyed success at club level as his goals helped fire Wolves to their first League Championship in 1953-54. Months later, he famously scored a penalty in a friendly against Budapest Honvéd. He also collected an FA Cup winners medal in 1949, playing in the 3-1 final win over Leicester City, and later scored in the subsequent Charity Shield draw with Portsmouth. he also bagged a hat-trick for Wolves in a 3-1 victory over local rivals West Bromwich Albion in December 1950, and another treble in an 8-1 thrashing of Chelsea in September 1953.
He finished as top goalscorer for the club in the 1954-55, when he scored hat-tricks against Huddersfield Town and Arsenal and 1955-56 seasons, including a treble in a 9-1 mauling of Cardiff City. In total, Hancocks scored 168 goals for Wolves in 378 appearances, making him the fourth highest goalscorer in the club’s history. His tally of 158 top-flight goals is still a club record.
Despite his goals, he fell out of favour with manager Stan Cullis, and after the signing of Harry Hooper in 1956, he was relegated to the reserves. After a season out in the cold, he left the Molineux club to become player-manager of non-league Wellington Town in 1957.
He took up the managerial reins in September 1959, and left the club later that year. He finished the 1959-60 season with Cambridge United. The following season, he spent spells at Oswestry Town then GKN Sankeys, before retiring in 1961, aged 42.