Hit & Myth

One thing I’ve noticed in my 13 years of Tiger following is that City supporters have a tendency to over exaggerate in a manner that makes Nick Buchanan’s claim in the local rag that he can afford to buy Boothferry Park seem plausible.

Case in point number one. As what seems like every Hull resident over the age of 45 delights in telling the likes of you and me, City used to get 40,000 every week in the sixties.

Actually it wasn’t every week. Not even every month. Five or six times a season maybe? Actually it was once. That’s right, Hull City had a crowd of 40,000+ for precisely ONE league game in the 1960s (v. Millwall, December 1965).

Now I for one aren’t belittling the black and amber masses that descending on the Ark at this time. Hell, if we got a third of the attendances that City averaged in the mid sixties these days I’d be delighted. And if all the people who claim they used to go in the sixties went every week, I’d be ecstatic. As long as they didn’t sit or stand near me.

A recent survey conducted by FourFourTwo Magazine also shows City’s crowds in a less than flattering light. It divides each league club’s average gate by the local population. Now undoubtedly there will be some flaws in this system, but City finishing 74th out of 92 is less than impressive.

This only took into account the population of the City of Hull, and not the whole of East Yorkshire, which is regarded as City territory. For the record Middlesbrough came first and Rotherham United 92nd.

This should come as no surprise, as there’s sod all else to do in Middlesbrough and the average Rotherham resident seems to prefer drinking 14 pints, watching the Chuckle Brothers or impregnating teenagers rather than support the Miserable Millers.

Hull City isn’t a big club. It never really has been. It could be, but it isn’t. It is a Third Division club, with a decaying ground, dwindling support and is run by carpetbagging shysters. Big city unfortunately does not equal big club. It’s the eleven players on the pitch that matter. Since the war, there have only been three periods (late ’40s/early ’50s, 65-75 and mid ’80s) where City have managed to rise above dismal mediocrity. City threatening to get promotion to the top flight has been rarer than a competent performance by Jon French. Even worse is the fact that City are one of only eight Football league teams to have never played at Wembley. Up until 20 years or so this was no disgrace, but these days they even let dregs like Scunthorpe, Darlington and Torquay play there.

The Kempton. The home of the more intelligent and committed City fan, so I keep being told. The heart of Boothferry Park. Oh really? Take the last home game, against Brighton. Two chants emitted from the National Holidays East Terrace (whaddya mean it’ll never catch on?), were so toe-curlingly embarrassing and ill-informed that the Brighton fans they were directed at must have been falling about with laughter.

Firstly “You must have come in a taxi”. It might just be me, but I always thought that this should be sung at poor away attendances. Brighton must have bought 600 at a conservative estimate. With a 600 mile round trip. On a Friday night. And these Kemptonite dunderheads believe this to be poor? It’s damn sight more than we’d have taken down there for a Friday game.

And when Martyn “Keep it up Terry” Hainstock announced the 6,200 gate they came out with “What’s it like to see a crowd?”. Yeah, nice one lads. Brighton are averaging crowds of nearly 7,000 this year, and virtually every game at the Withdean is a sell out. And I won’t even start on the chanting of “Rent Boy, Rent Boy” at any opposition players with – horror of horrors – blonde hair.

As for being the spiritual home of Tigers fans, I don’t think so. Anyone else remember games in the early `90s (Sheffield Wednesday, Bolton etc) when the Kempton was given to away fans. Did anyone complain? Did they heck as like. The reason for this was that City used to get a couple of hundred in there at most. It was a larger version of the Well and twice as quiet. No-one gave a shit. Contrast this to when our `friends’ from Bradford City were given the South Stand.

Another annoying myth I heard is regarding the marvellous `96/97 campaign and our marvellous leader at the time. Last year I was at City reserves 1-0 defeat by Macclesfield (which incidentally was the most tedious game of Association Football on record). Sat behind me in the West Stand were a couple of old timers who’d obviously been going to City for many, many years. The conversation turned to your enemy and mine, Terry D*lan. They went on to say how if Tigers 2000 (If they had formed this year would they be called Tigers 2004?) hadn’t protested we’d have gone up that year. How exactly?

Protests or not the football played, the majority of the players and the managerial and tactical methods adopted by D*lan and Lee- and I use the words in the loosest sense – stank. We’d have been equally dismal if Tigers 2000 had never formed. And if you ever hear anyone claim that Mr 10% would have done well if he had only have had some money to spend you have my permission to stick garden shears through their eyes. Of all the preposterous claims to do with City, this is by far the most infuriating.

The vast majority of his signings were terrible, so why would having money change this? If you had given D*lan the budget for the Millennium Dome, we’d still have been in Division Three playing football which would be about as entertaining as being forced to watch a recording of the Olympic Dressage competition on a 24 hour loop, with commentary by Dave Gibbons.

City fans even exaggerate about relatively petty events. Deano. We all love Deano, even the media, otherwise why would he have a cameo role in the Sun’s `Supergoals.com’ advert? He never missed a penalty y’know, that’s what most City fans reckon. Except at THAT game at Blackpool in 1995. He buried the rebound though.

So the next time you overhear some know-it-all droning on about how City are bigger than Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich combined, when we got a crowd of 60,000 to watch the reserves play Workington in 1953 or how a Terry D*lan-managed City passed the ball to feet three times in succession (alright, perhaps not!) leave them be – unless it’s pro D*lan, Fish or Lloyd.

It is the football fan’s right, no his duty, to do so. We all do it, and long may it continue. Now do you remember Andy Payton’s goal against Brighton? Must have beaten 15 defenders and run 300 yards…

James McVie