How Was It For You?

So how has it been for you, then, the start to this brave new season? Depending on your own personal optimism/pessimism quotient you might have been expecting us to romp away with the title, to compete effectively in mid-table, or to struggle yet again amongst the dead men. And depending on which games you focus, you might have seen some evidence to convince you, whichever camp you fall into, that you are probably right.

Against Chester we were fluid and skilful, creating chance after chance against an admittedly woeful outfit, Eyre satisfied us, and the Magnificent Mann was a flying machine, bombing forward, handle bar moustache fluttering in the breeze, like Biggles on crack.

In the two games against Roth, and against Lincoln, and away at Torquay, we were competent and effective, and did enough to suggest that we will not be an easy touch for anyone.

Exeter, Cheltenham and Brighton were horrid. The first two were poor efforts against poor sides. For those who didn’t make the trip, don’t be fooled by Exeter, exalted league position or no, they are, as you youngsters say, total pants.

I could look silly for saying that at the end of the campaign if they somehow went up, but as Alan Hansen memorably never said, in this game you win nothing with players who are completely shite. And when Big Bob Dewhurst, bless him, is your inspiration and your major source of goals, you will eventually struggle.

Brighton was truly dreadful, an alarming return to the supine efforts of the Hateley days, showing, in England cricket terms, the fight of Graham Hick, the flair of Mike Atherton, the imagination of Alec Stewart and the cool headed rationality of Chris Lewis. Yes, our deficiencies stood out like Andy Caddick’s ears. And all of the time, whatever the opposition, in the background the unmistakable sound of yet another striker toppling gently to the turf under an ill-judged Lee Bracey challenge……

So a mixed start. But as ever with Hull City AFC you feel the real story may not be happening on the pitch. A lot of money seems to be available to us, and this board of directors seems to me to have enjoyed some remarkable luck, which has enabled them, commendably, to back the manager in a way that would surely turn his two predecessors an emerald shade of envy. The game at Villa. The sale of the mighty Oakes. The record season ticket sales. And now the Sky televised two header with the Scallies, or ‘Eat up your Liver’ as I am informed it was to be promoted by the Hull Daily Mail.

All have filled the Tiger coffers. And therefore, inevitably, we are so short of readies that we have to cadge off the PFA until the Sky cash comes through from the Scouse encounter. Maybe the Daily Mail should have termed the Frank Worthington cup clash ‘Pool your resources.’

I have some sympathy with our directors. I’m hopeless at managing money myself. But I’ve always assumed that is why I do not find myself running a business with a turnover of tens of thousands of pounds every week, as I would make a total balls of it, doing the equivalent of trying to remember which safe place this time I’ve hidden my cheque book and fishing down the back of the sofa for a few coins.

Which is a wee bit what this looks like. And of course it’s doubly awkward when you have as a ‘football consultant’ a man in Stephen Hinchliffe who has, if we are to believe the Department of Trade and Industry, been sufficiently unlucky with his running of companies in the past for him to have to be kept away from any new ones for the next seven years.

Now I’m not for a moment suggesting anything underhand from Mr Hinchcliffe, who I’m sure is a nice fellow and as honest as that lovely head of blonde hair of his is natural. But you could see how more suspicious types than me could start to feel a bit, well, anxious about all of this. Couldn’t you?

And then there’s Lloyd. Oh dear, there’s always Lloyd. The stupid, preening, overweening, wooden racquet-wielding arrogant, self-obsessed, repressed non-consulting, insulting tosser of a man has not gone away. He owns our ground. We’re told at one point that he will not let us repair it, as we have have forgotten to pay him anything on it.

Signing Craig Faulconbridge on loan but not paying for the ground is a bit like buying a new microwave with the money that should go to pay the mortgage. It is a bit stupid. For this reason we are told we have to put up with a capacity of under 9000. But that appears to be sorted now. Have you noticed how our capacity is going up like Linford Christie’s nandrolone levels?

We put in a couple of barriers in the well, and suddenly it goes from 8,600 to 10,300 to over 13,000 for the ‘Pool game. Perhaps we borrowed all of these people from the PFA, and are hoping to pay them back after the Liverpool game with the fans we attract then.

But Lloyd wants a superstadium, so long as the council pays for it with the Kingston Communications Share Issue windfall. In this he has a lot in common with Hull City Council, who want a superstadium so long as Lloyd pays for it with his I Sold My Business And My Name to Whitbread Because I Am A Complete Tit windfall.

Those who have slightly less in common with this view are the fans of Hull City AFC, Hull KR and Hull Sharks, most of whom will happily share a stadium with their rivals on the day that the holes in their bottoms heal up. I can’t believe that a Superstadium will ever happen, not least because Lloyd is so spectacularly inept at whatever he attempts, has a fuse shorter than a cheap firework, and has a startling ability to piss off anyone who has any contact with him at all.

Lloyd watchers will have enjoyed the dead hand of the Master this summer as he first criticised the Sharks players for lack of effort and then halved the contractual money of many of them. This latter move was very effective, as it prompted the players to threaten strike action, so that Lloyd backed down completely.

Don’t feel that the move wasn’t effective though, as it has prompted a number of the Sharks better players to instruct their agents to try and get them free of their contracts now that the season as ended as they have no desire to play for a club that reneges on it’s promises and is willing to shag around with their livelihoods. Presumably it will become harder in consequence for that club to attract new players to replace those who go. Nice work, David!

I’ve also enjoyed his threatening (threatening?) to resign as Britain’s Davis Cup tennis captain if we lose the Relegation playoff against the South Africans. Altogether now, “Oohh ahh, Wayne Ferreiraaaahhhh”. And Lloyd has criticised Tim Henman’s consultation of a psychiatrist to improve his mental state, seeing no value in improving your tennis by listening to someone who’d never played the game in his life.

Absolutely. It’s as ridiculous as a former tennis player telling a football coach that his team isn’t good enough or fit enough……..The dream solution would be if he stamps his foot once too often and high tails it out of the lives of Hull sport for good, but I’m not sure we’re that lucky.

But if Buchanan and Hinchliffe have kept us away from the one that Chris Evert never fancied, then we should be grateful for that. And if under their stewardship Warren Joyce is able to develop his side, harness the diverse talents of Mann, Eyre, Alcide, Whittle, Brown, Harper and Harris, remind Brabin why he was such a success in the first place and that there is no time in this man’s army for resting on laurels, continue the development of Greaves and Edwards, gently introduce some of the more promising juniors such as Adam Bolder, Michael Blythe and Danny Brown into the first team fold, and persuade Lee Bracey not to leap at opposition forwards with a blood-curdling cry of ‘Banzai!’ we may yet have a team to challenge for the playoffs. And if we do that, none of us, I suspect, will be that concerned how we are being run.


Mark Gretton