City in Not Much Happening Shocker!

Sometime I feel sorry for John Fieldhouse. No, hang on, don’t stop reading, I’ll explain. It’s never pleasant doing a job at which you are patently no good, for a kick-off. I once had a job as a window cleaner’s mate and my boss and I liked nothing more than spending the morning’s takings getting smashed at lunchtime, before going back up the ladder with a gallon or so of ale on board.

I wasn’t right for the job, but at least I got out intact and now I don’t do it any more. Clean windows that is, I still do the supping part. But Fieldhouse for some reason blunders on in a role for which he is obviously unfit. Why?

If only the Hull Daily Mail had thought to employ him as, say, a car park attendant, I’m sure he would have been much happier, in a spiffy (albeit rather tight) uniform, with a cheery smile, touching his cap politely to his betters as he directs them into their allocated spaces.

Unfortunately they employ him to write about Hull City AFC, which has left him somewhat exposed. He has only two real faults, 1) he knows nothing about the Tigers, and 2) he is a dreadful writer, but these do seem to hamstring him somewhat.

Pick any report at random and you’ll find cliché and error battling away for supremacy in what our hero would undoubtedly refer to as a showdown. In the one I’ve just read (October 10th) he says that Aberdeen is Britain’s most Northerly club, which no doubt comes as a surprise to both the Dons themselves and Inverness Caledonian Thistle, amongst others. Aberdeen were probably also bemused to find that they apparently signed Dean Windass from us for £850,000, as the fee was actually 200k less.

I’ve stopped getting angry about his laziness, ignorance and lack of attention to detail as I don’t have time to be permanently annoyed. And in fairness, the lad is certainly versatile.

He was an equally useless reporter for Hull KR prior to his current appointment. Perhaps he could be employed as a dreadful TV critic if their current incumbent, and former telly addict champion, the estimable Ray Rumkee, who does after all have a proper job in advertising at the Hull Daily vague as well, moves on. That might be rather fun:

Saturday 6.30 am on Channel 5, Bluffy the Vampire Slayer
The world of Sunnydale was rocked to its foundations as Fluffy the Werewolf destroyer found herself locked in a life and death struggle with the forces of evil! And Beefy hammered out a warning that her undead opponents would not be getting matters all their own way!

Fifi, played by spoon-bending actress Sarah Uri Gellar, admitted that she had trained well through the week with Giles the librarian and was in the best shape of her life for this weekend’s showdown. Girls revealed, ‘We are still looking to strengthen the squad after Faith unfortunately had to be sold to the Mayor so that we could afford to pay Xander and Willow as it’s always difficult over the summer vacation after graduation when no revenue is coming in.

And it was a shame to lose Angel to Chicago but he was keen to battle evil in America’s most Northern city. But I’m actively looking for a big new slayer to produce some crosses and hold up the Holy Water which should give Bushy the chance to stake her claim up front.’ The bespectacled Girdles blasted back at critics who had condemned his strategy as being over cautious. He rapped, ‘Would anyone like a cup of tea?’

But though his general lack of competence and inability to do the job for which he is employed are reasons enough to pity Fat John, the main area of sympathy I have stems from the difficulty of writing about Hull City at the moment. What do you say?

At the start of this season I thought there was a lack of expectation based upon the comic book summer that we had suffered.

I had a terrible fear that we might be dreadful. Well we haven’t been that. But we haven’t been right wonderful. And that’s really no more than could be expected. We haven’t strengthened, through no fault of our coaching staff, who clearly were only told a very partial story by the board about the state of City’s finances.

It’s one thing to be told that you are on a tight budget. It’s quite another to discover that due to financial mismanagement a transfer embargo has been placed upon you. Oh yes, and you are locked out of your ground.

Under the circumstances (and you wouldn’t really want to be under there, would you?) I think Little and his team have done well. In most games we’ve looked purposeful, we’ve played to a pattern and kept our shape we’ve tried to pass the ball. In all honesty it’s been a while since we could say that on a consistent basis.

Yet we remain in the bottom half of the table as we move towards the end of the first quarter of the season. Gates are down compared with the corresponding stage of the season last time round. Hull folk aren’t stupid and I think there’s a general recognition that however much the coaching staff may have impressed, the team is simply not good enough.

I’m fascinated to know what the Board make of this. After all, Joyce was sacked after guiding the side to the same sort of position last season. Surely they wouldn’t sack Little?

Yet if they keep him if he does no better, presumably that’s recognition of the fact that it’s lack of players not coaching nous that’s the problem? So it would be their fault, wouldn’t it? You think that’s unfair? Watch them take the credit if we do get any success, even a promotion, as part of the 5 year, 4 year, 3 year, 2 year 1 year and his dog plan that we are suddenly hearing so little about.

Still, in fairness, Buchanan has recently spoken warmly about the fine job the manager is doing. This was good to hear as it brought back cosy memories of the Chairman addressing a supporters’ meeting just a year ago when he said the same thing about Warren Joyce.

On the pitch, again, what do you say? We’re organised in defence, as we damn well should be with all the central defenders we have hoofing about the place. Midfield is slick and skilful when Whitmore plays. When he doesn’t, well, it isn’t. Our attack is out of sorts and almost everyone seems to think that we need a physical presence up front on the lines of, to pluck a name completely at random, Colin Alcide. Big Col, the Lion of Lucia, was not everyone’s half coconut of rum punch but I feel we’ve never looked properly balanced since he was sold on, against the wishes and to the general humiliation of Warren Joyce. Nothing, in short, that you might not have guessed from the start of the season.

The one signing that might actually cover a weakness is that of our new custodian of the leather, Musselwhite. I’m acutely aware that he might yet do some disastrous stuff as it is early days and we have seen more false dawns than Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, but to date he has looked an improvement on both Lee Banzai! Bracey and Steve Wilson. If by the time you read this he has had a ‘mare at Halifax, I’m sorry.

In short, that’s why I feel sorry for the Fieldmouse. I can’t think of what to write about the Tigers and I only have to do it every few months. He’s supposed to file something 6 days a week. It can’t be easy. And I have the advantage of knowing a bit about the club and actually wanting to watch them, benefits sadly denied to the Lardster.

I can’t in all honesty see Fat John getting any better. He hasn’t got it in him. City are a bit different. They can do better. But whether it’s this season (and with this board), well to be honest it doesn’t look a lot more likely than it did a few months ago. Ah well. Now, where did I put the Hull Daily Vague’s TV guide?


Mark Gretton