The Mail – Failing to Deliver

Evictions, embargoes and fraud squad investigations. The 2000 close season was pretty  eventful, not that you’d know if you only read the Hull Daily Mail. Andy Dalton wonders if our local rag is worth felling trees for…

We’ve heard it all before, and complained about it, too. This is not the first rant against them, and unless major changes are made soon at every single level of the hierarchy, it will not be the last. They are arrogant, smug, patronising, aloof and thoroughly unconcerned about Hull City fans in general.

No, not the board (though thinking about it, it would still be an accurate statement, especially with a few fruity expletives added). The Hull Daily Mail. Ah yes, a familiar bone of contention amongst the Tiger Nation.

Recently, due to boardroom incompetence and David Lloyd being, well, David Lloyd, Hull City AFC found themselves in the predicament of having no home ground. The Football League rules state that without a home ground, a team may not take part in the League. They are very firm on this – no ground, no league. So how did the media respond?

Well, very well, in general. The Daily Mail (a middle-class football-disliking national which counts sales in the millions) ran an item the day after our eviction, and a follow-up the day after. That’s great – you can’t expect the nationals to pay TOO much attention. The Mirror mentioned it in passing, as did the other tabloids. The broadsheets also got in on the act, to varying degrees.

Sky News latched on quickly. ITV and BBC followed. Sky Sports ran it as their third biggest story for TWO DAYS, with comments from fans, reaction from the Football League, and more than one interview with David Lloyd and Nick Buchanan. Their coverage was superb, balanced, interesting, informative and did exactly what was needed. Sky Sports are a credit to the entire football media community, and their excellent work will not quickly be forgotten.

Locally, Radio Humberside ran the story at length for a day or two. YTV and Look North were eager, if clumsy, to get as much out of the story as possible. All three gave such an important event the coverage and status it merited. Full marks to all for effort, if not execution.

Which brings us to the Hull Daily Mail. The newspaper that is forever babbling witlessly about a stupid, pointless minority sport and the “great” fans that support it in this “hotbed” of the game. The newspaper that spouts endless rubbish about the utter waste of time that is speedway.  The newspaper that would probably run a four-page special if Nick Barmby so much as caught a cold. The newspaper that devoted a single, tiny, rushed piece about this momentous news.

The Hull Daily Mail are now well beyond contempt. To blatantly disregard such a vastly important news story just boggles the mind, and it leads to one of two conclusions. Either the Hull Daily Mail is the most incompetent, unresponsive, irrelevant newspaper in the history of the printed word, or the Hull Daily Mail has a deliberate agenda to not publish news that portrays this board of directors in a negative light.

Evidence pointing to the incompetency theory is that Fieldmouse was on holiday. In fact, this has been given as an excuse for their lax coverage. Really? So a newspaper with a circulation well into five figures (they were recently bragging about this, in a nauseating self-congratulatory article) has only one reporter capable of writing about the city’s biggest sports club?

Well, obviously Fieldmouse is not capable either, but the task has been dumped on his gigantic shoulders anyway. If they had any desire to report it, there are several other sports reporters on hand. Or are the powers-that-be just too stupid to see that?

Now, evidence pointing to an agenda is great fun to speculate on. Conspiracy theories are wonderfully entertaining to discuss, write, read and invent. They are also easy to dismiss, with anyone coming up with one being accused of spending a little too much time watching the X-Files. But come on, why are there never any anti-board letters in the paper? Why was it that whenever something bad happened last season, the very next day Fieldmouse would run a story about us signing crocked has-been Graeme Jones?

That was possibly the biggest insult to its readers they have ever perpetrated, and that’s saying something. Why wasn’t there any mention of Hinchliffe’s trial when he was entitled Vice-President and major shareholder? They hid behind the excuse that they cannot report on an on-going trial. Maybe not, but that does not preclude them from mentioning it. They know that as well as we do. Why wasn’t there even any speculation as to what might have happened if it had not been resolved? Where were the comments from fans, Buchanan, Hinchliffe, Daykin, Lloyd, the council, Belton, the Football League or the Tigers Co-operative?

Amusingly, the club seem the think the opposite holds true. Speak to anyone at the club, and they will tell you the Mail has an agenda against THEM. Really? If slavishly printing everything they want, and not printing awkward stories is an unwanted agenda, maybe someone at the club would like to tell us what an positive agenda is.

Surprisingly, there is some sane reasoning behind this, not just the usual hysterics when someone dares criticise them. They point to the Mail deliberately misquoting or misrepresenting fans’ comments. The editors of this publication can vouch for that – they routinely do it. It’s not fair, and it’s not right, but they will hardly be the only ones who do it. That’s not an agenda, it’s just rank stupidity.

Going back a year or so, they used to bash out a load of diversionary rubbish, or simply muddle the facts around as necessary. Now, they are not even doing that. The complete silence regarding our eviction was disgraceful. The Hull Daily Mail, operating within a complete monopoly, has a duty to Hull City fans. After all, it is only too eager to embrace us whenever it suits them, such as in the days leading up to major cup matches. But no, there was nothing. Were they hoping to wait it all out?

They needn’t bother any more. Their failings are simply too evident. They are either desperately incompetent, or are running a propaganda job for Buchanan and Hinchliffe. Both are horribly unpalatable, but one of them must be true.

Andy Dalton