John Hickton is one of Boro's most popular ever players.
The archetypal centre forward, he was a goalscoring machine who was converted into a battering ram for the good of the team.
Even to this day he enjoys an excellent relationship with the supporters and fully deserves his place in the club's hall of fame.
Hickton joined his first club Sheffield Wednesday as a full back, though he was also tried at centre half and centre forward. Having made his debut at left back his versatility ensured he was used in a variety of positions and was unfortunate to miss out on a Wembley appearance in the 1966 FA Cup Final.
Boro boss Stan Anderson brought him to Teesside in a bargain £20,000 transfer after Boro’s relegation to Division 3. He made his debut at centre half and scored the first of many penalties for the club in a 3-2 win versus Workington Town. He soon moved up front and grabbed 15 league goals as promotion was secured at the first time of asking.
There was no doubting Hickton’s best position as he finished each of the next six seasons, as Boro’s top goalscorer.
Famed for his 20-yard run-ups for penalties, HIckton had a powerful shot, was excellent in the air and was a brave whole-hearted player. Despite his goals promotion to the top flight never materialised and he made several transfer requests to fulfil that dream.
Indeed he almost moved on in 1972, when Huddersfield Town offered Frank Worthington and cash, while QPR offered the full asking price of £100,000. Thankfully the Boro board got cold feet and pulled out of any potential deal.
The arrival of Jack Charlton in 1973 improved the clubs fortunes and also changed Hickton’s role. He started to release others to score rather than trying to claim them all himself. He enjoyed a testimonial match versus Sunderland in 1977, scoring a hat-trick in a 6-1 win before trying his luck in the North American Soccer League with Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
Unfortunately he broke his leg in his first week in the States to effectively end his playing career. He later played a couple of reserve games for Hartlepool United but declined an offer to return to professional football.