Ecclesfield, Sheffield born inside left Jack Pickering played junior football with Mortomley St Saviour’s in 1925 before joining First Division Sheffield United in December 1925, making his Football League debut against Liverpool in February 1927 and establishing himself in the first team from August 1929, He was a clever manipulator of the ball and a master of the long cross field pass which had been a feature of Sheffield United’s play in the 1890’s. A tall, long striding attacker, he generally lay far back behind, directing his fellow forwards with discriminating passes. From an early stage he was seen as a successor to Sheffield United stalwart Billy Gillespie at inside-forward.
He was chosen for The Football League in 1932 and for The Rest against England in an international trial in March 1933. The Rest forward line played so well (winning 5-1) that they were all chosen to play Scotland at Hampden Park on 1st April. Pickering received what turned out to be his only international cap for England in a 2-1 defeat.
Although they were relegated in 1933-34, the highlight of Pickering’s career with The Blades came with their Cup run in 1936. Pickering scored two goals in the FA Cup 5th round tie against Leeds United at Bramall Lane on 15th February 1936, in a match watched by a record crowd of 68,287, as The Blades reached the 1936 FA Cup Final. Pickering partnered striker Bobby Barclay in the Final against Arsenal at Wembley Stadium, and both impressed with their stylish distribution and approach play. But it was not to be United’s day and they lost the match 1-0.
After 4 seasons in the Second Division, during which they’d narrowly missed out on promotion finishing 3rd twice, Pickering was partnered with Jimmy Hagan in 1938-39 and they won promotion back to the First Division as Second Division runners up. When World War Two broke out, United were standing at the top of the First Division – the season was abandoned after just three matches.
He played in Wartime matches for Sheffield United, and made eleven appearances in the team which won the League North title in 1945-46. However the first post-War season saw him make just one appearance in the Championship decider against Stoke City in May 1947. Pickering scored United’s second goal that was enough to win the game and to take the title to Liverpool with United finishing sixth in Division One.
In a career that spanned 22 seasons, he made his final appearance for Sheffield United against Portsmouth at Bramall Lane on 1st January 1948 when he was 39 years old. Overall, he made 368 appearances for Sheffield United (of which 344 were in the League) and scored 111 goals (including 102 in the League).
NB the image is taken before the match at Hampden Park on the occasion of Pickering’s only cap for England.