Chester born centre forward Joe Hewitt made his name in his local Chester & District League, originally with Chester Locos whom he joined in 1899, where he played for twelve months before returning to Newtown Rangers in 1900, where he had played youth football. He was a prominent part of the Rangers team that won the Chester League championship in 1900-01. Hewitt was finally recommended to First Division Sunderland where he signed for them in 1901 and made his Football League debut at Blackburn Rovers in March 1902, scoring on his home debut in a 1-1 draw with Small Heath, and playing five games as Sunderland won the League Championship. He established himself in the Wearsiders’ first team from November 1902 and scored in their victory over The Corinthians in the Sheriff of London Charity Shield at White Hart Lane in February 1903.
Despite 27 appearances in 1902-03 he fell down the pecking order at Roker Park and played a handful more games in October 1903 before being signed by Liverpool manager Tom Watson in January 1904 after 10 goals in 37 appearances for Sunderland. Making his Liverpool debut in a 2-0 home defeat to Small Heath on 30th January 1904, the centre forward quickly established himself in the Reds starting line up but was unable to stop Liverpool’s relegation from the First Division at the end of the 1903-04 season.
He only figured nine times in 1904-05, as Liverpool won the Second Division Championship. Hewitt was then moved to centre forward with devastating effect in the 1905-06 season. The League Championship was won for the second time in the club’s history and Hewitt was easily Liverpool’s top scorer in the League with 23 goals from 37 appearances including a hat-trick at Middlesbrough in November 1905. He also played in Liverpool’s 1906 FA Cup semi final team beaten by local rivals and eventual winners Everton at Villa Park. Injury and illness kept him on the sidelines the following year and he made a few appearances as an outside left as Sam Raybould re-established himself in the centre. Once Raybould left the club Hewitt returned to centre position, netting 34 times from 75 games in the 1907-08 and 1908-09 seasons, and he was again their leading goalscorer in 1907-08 with 21 goals.
The Dundee Courier reports a harrowing experience for Hewitt in March 1907 when he tried to save his next door neighbour, Sarah Ann Sweeney, from being burnt to death. Mrs. Sweeney, who lived at 12 Finchley Road, Anfield, was getting out of bed when her nightdress caught fire. She rushed downstairs and into Hewitt’s house. Hewitt managed to put out the flames, but Mrs. Sweeney died from the shock. “Accidental death” was the verdict in Liverpool’s Coroner’s Court.
In 1909-10 Hewitt figured only 4 times for Liverpool and in August 1910, after 71 goals in 165 appearances for Liverpool, he was transferred to Second Division Bolton Wanderers where he stayed only one season. He scored 3 times in 11 appearances in the first three months of the season as Bolton won promotion as Second Division runners up, before leaving for Southern League Reading in 1911. He briefly returned to Merseyside to join South Liverpool later the same year but retired from playing, and became a member of Liverpool’s staff, serving as coach, club steward and press box attendant for nearly 60 years.