Another Plan Down the Pan

Here’s one for you, this’ll make you laugh. “Nick Buchanan’s five year plan”. Ha! Step one, get promoted to division two. Step two, get promoted to division one. Err, that’s about it.

Of course it didn’t work…but few ever took it seriously. I mean a plan is supposed to be, well, a plan, with ideas and stuff, and if it’s really good, a spot of Baldrickian cunning. Not just, “well that’s where we want to be, and I reckon it’ll take, ooh, let me see, what day is it today? Tuesday? ’bout five years should do it…” In any case, I reckon most City fans would rather call it a five year scam. In which case it was either completed way ahead of schedule, or it had to be cut short because of Her Majesty’s very own five year plan for Mr. Stephen Hinchliffe. Good on you, ma’am. Poetic justice. 

That a man like Hinchliffe was actually named Vice President of Hull City AFC is to me one of the most annoying facts of the last couple of years. Meaningless, may be, but bloody annoying. A title which, had it ever existed before Hinchliffe and Co. invented it, should have carried with it a sense of pride, of history, of rheumy-eyed black and amber soul, was instead draped around the broad shoulders of a former Blade with a DTI banning order and, in the sort of sycophantic phrase the HDM chose to adopt, a colourful reputation.

Bradford City Chairman Geoffrey Richmond, speaking on a BBC Radio Five programme from Hall Road Rangers ground recently, said that the trouble at Hull City was that after Don Robinson left, the club had been afflicted by ‘strange’ chairmen. You couldn’t argue too much with that. If we thought Richard Chetham was bad, well at least he just didn’t seem to like football. Fish was worse, ‘cos he seemed to think he knew about football, but the club was falling apart.

Still some would rather have Fish than the amazing Tim Wilby, the Hong Kong Phooey of footy chairmen. By day a mild mannered janitor on a London council estate, by night, well I can’t repeat the rumours. Suffice to say that some day some investigative journalist at the HDM (don’t laugh) should probe his Lord Lucan-esque flight down under. And then – David Lloyd. A weird one this. I’m unusual amongst City fans in thinking that he wasn’t all bad. If things had gone differently, particularly if the appointment of Mark Hateley had never been made, then who knows? And anyway, Lloyd did say when he came to the club that he had set himself a limit (four million quid?) that he could afford to lose, and after that he would walk away. Which he did. Sort of.

And I was all in favour of his locking of the ground. Buchliffe didn’t pay the rent. Full stop. What’s Lloyd supposed to do? Say ‘fine, carry on’ – if he had it would have taken even longer to get rid of the Buchanan regime. What annoyed me was that the media and too many fans couldn’t see beyond ‘Lloyd has locked the gates, so he must be the baddy’.

But on the Richmond ‘strange-ometer’, Lloyd scored highly. His reputation as a ‘toys out of the pram’ merchant, convinced that he is always right, meant that he often seemed a couple of games short of a set in the normality stakes. I spoke to someone who negotiated with him once, and they said that he stormed out of the meeting three times…

Still, give me Lloyd over Buchanan any day. However you rate them though, Richmond’s description of our chairmen after Robinson rings true. Strange indeed. And it must not happen again – though you watch, by the time you’re reading this the late Robert Maxwell will have been confirmed as our new owner…

But it mustn’t happen again because believe me crisis fatigue is setting in. A Hull City ‘last game ever’ is getting about as regular as a Status Quo farewell tour. Play that card too often and people will never believe it if the real thing comes along.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to write so much about the past. It’s time to look forward. As I write this, it seems that a deal has been agreed, and that Hull City march on towards yet another bright new amber-tinted dawn. Hell, we might even make the play-offs.

We’ve got forwards who score goals (the Rowe-Francis double at Shrewsbury were goals of a quality I’ve not seen from a City team for ages). We’ve got a brilliant and experienced manager who could do a job in the Premiership, but – and I like this, ‘cos it’s true – he just doesn’t want to. And in Ian Goodison we’ve got a World Cup captain who is the classiest defender in amber and black since the sublime Richard Jobson.

And in three years time, we’ve got the Centenary of Hull City AFC. For a while recently I didn’t think we were going to make it that far. Now I do. May be we’ll be moving in to a new stadium by then. Successive promotions and we’d be in the Premiership. Maybe they’d let Hinchliffe out on weekend release for the occasion, after all he’d still have another couple of years time to do. You know, these five year plans may be aren’t so bad after all.


Ed Bacon