1. We are top of the League.
2. That deserved its own entry, we feel. It’s a special feeling to sit atop any table at any time of any season, but to enter February at the summit of the second tier is very nice indeed. Never mind that Middlesbrough have a game in hand, that there’s a long way to go, etc etc – Monday mornings always feel better when you’re top of the league.
3. It wasn’t a vintage ascent to first place, however. City were nothing like the side that crushed Cardiff and Charlton at the Circle of late, lacking fluency with the ball and unable to sustain pressure on the Fulham goal, ultimately relying on an admittedly clear penalty to win the game. City may have come unstuck against a better side than the struggling Cottagers.
4. However, the more glass-half-full types will point to City’s resilience. It’s certainly fair to say that while Steve Bruce’s men could have played better, there was nothing missing in terms of application – this was nothing like the Rotherham, Leeds or Preston horror shows. It had much in common with QPR on New Year’s Day – a far from vintage performance with City toughing it out and pinching a late winner. Sometimes, there’s no other way to prosper.
5. It means that City will have a fortnight at the top of the table to enjoy, and for everyone else to stew upon. Derby can cut the gap between City and third place to four points this evening, but even if they do, it’ll be mid-February before we can next find ourselves outside of the top two. That’s a long time.
6. Before we return to League matters, the Cup. Bury v City is a match for the nostalgics among us, and probably a ground tick for a lot too. Set aside the fun of a new ground, City possibly outnumbering the home support (though 5,000 tickets still seems too many) and an affordable ticket, this is a chance to reach the Fifth Round of the Cup – not something we have an extensive track record of doing. It’s imperative we get through this tie.
7. At the other end of the country, the fans of Whitehawk FC were, until last night, facing agonies similar to our own in recent times. Their owners had sought to change the name of the club to “Brighton City FC”. Some may consider that a common, lousy and irrelevant thing to want to start calling yourselves, but no matter; it’s clear that this change wasn’t welcomed by the fans themselves, with whom consultation was initially non-existant – and when it took place, opposition was such that they’ve now backed down, for now at least. Their club appears to still covet a renaming of some sort in the future, and the relevance to City fans is clear: if the FA permit them to do it, we absolutely would not put it past the Allam family to have a third crack at vandalising City’s identity, citing a newly-created Whitehawk precedent. We wish them well, for their sakes and our own.
8. Could someone at Hull City AFC or the SMC please advise how to buy a ticket for a match and pay exactly the price shown on that ticket?
9. Meanwhile, the club will presumably be underway with planning their 2016/17 prices. Last summer’s hike in the costs has clearly been a failure, with a side top of the league playing in front of thousands of empty seats most weeks. If City stay down, prices will surely be falling in order to prevent that situation from worsening; if City go up, the astonishing Premier League riches on offer from next season can be used to offset an even bolder price cut. What isn’t sustainable is maintaining or even increasing the current prices – for the long term health of the club only sizeable reductions are viable. We look forward to hearing what they are.
10. As discussed by the excellent Hull City Supporters’ Trust last week, the Government is looking at new ways for football clubs to engage with their supporters. It all looks very promising, with commitments concerning supporters’ ownership and involvement in the running of clubs – which is what clubs ought to seek anyway, because who knows more about what makes a happy football fan than a football fan? Big businesses spend hundreds of thousands seeking the views of their customers; football fans offer their views and expertise for free all of the time and it’s odd that City seem so disinterested in gaining that valuable knowledge. The new recommendations seek to mandate twice-yearly meetings between fans’ groups (such as HCST) and owners of clubs – again, encouraging, and the club’s approach to the Supporters Trust is disgraceful. And lastly, these recommendations would seek to protect aspects of a club’s heritage. All good stuff. Come on City, it’s the 21st century – work with us, not against us.