Things We Think We Think #230

TWTWT

1. We’re back in the Premier League for a third separate spell in less than a decade, and can look forward to another period of big occasions, big signings and big attention. Immediately we say congratulations to Steve Bruce and the team for achieving an instant return to the big time, even if it did come via the über-tense method of a play-off final at Wembley. But there are plenty of sub-issues that preceded, encapsulated and will now persist after Saturday teatime’s triumph.

2. On the pitch though, well that’s the easy bit to discuss. City let Sheffield Wednesday take an early foothold in the game and then, from roughly the 20th minute onward, took over, with naturally better, more experienced footballers able to control the flow and pace of the game, and by the time the halfway period of the second half had come, it was obvious who the better side were, and just one goal would likely finish the game.

3. And so it proved. Mohamed Diamé bent in a divine, gorgeous shot and won promotion there and then. The timing, the exquisiteness, the effortlessness, all combined in one moment of footballing artistry that killed our South Yorkshire opponents’ spirit and belief there and then. Hairy moments in the remaining 26 minutes, injury time included, were most rare. City had the ability to win the game and not lose it in equal measure and, gallant though they were in their efforts all afternoon, Wednesday simply couldn’t respond.

4. Diamé is such a good player that it really is baffling how his season has fluctuated between Championship colossus and half-arsed also-ran, because he has been noticeably both through the course of the last nine months. On his day, he was the best player in the division. His day, however, didn’t come often enough, a self-inked blot on his copybook. Mercifully, one of the handful of days that did come for him was on Saturday May 28th because even putting aside a wonderful goal, he was unplayable.

5. Everybody who started the game deserves praise, in variant quantities. We reserve special mention for Eldin Jakupović, who didn’t have a serious effort on goal to make look difficult but did deal with the bread and butter stuff in a most competent manner, and Moses Odubajo, who was the only member of the starting XI not to have played Premier League football before but over the course of three play-off matches looked the most obviously Premier League standard of them all. Kudos also to Michael Dawson and Curtis Davies, their combined ages and avuncular personalities inspiring total belief in those who play around, behind and in front of them; Tom Huddlestone, who topped the stats table at Wembley and Jake Livermore, whose back story is such that only the most churlish, stone-hearted moron would not wish him good cheer after his all-action display on the big stage.

6. Jakupović and Huddlestone have both spoken since the final about the lack of action by City on the contractual front while, notably, bringing up the fact that other players with deals due to expire this summer have had talks and put pen to paper. Whether they will now re-sign is now up to the manager, but of course, we go into the summer not knowing who that is going to be – and it seems the incumbent doesn’t know yet either.

7. Many have commented that City have been very low key in celebrating this quick return to the top tier, and with all the fresh riches a place in the Premier League brings. Much of that is because it hasn’t been a club that has been comfortable in its own skin this season thanks to the eternal stand-off between ownership and supporters, something that has managed to filter through to the players and coaching staff during the course of the year. But more than anything, the muted shindiggery has been because Steve Bruce doesn’t know what he’ll be doing next.

8. The manager looked knackered as he raised the trophy in the the Royal Box. The cheer he received was deservedly huge but the passive, watery smile and long sighs that dominated his demeanour said plenty, and he confirmed what we were all thinking in his usual candid way afterwards. This is a man who has achieved, then been knocked back, then achieved again, all while fighting an eternal inferno between his paymasters and his team’s supporters, trying to not offend either and probably ending up hacking off both. It seems he doesn’t want to do it any more if the club remains in Allam clutches, especially as he always got on well with Assem while not having the greatest of working relationships with Ehab. The ailing health of the patriarch and lack of likelihood of his recovery suggests a harder rain could fall for Bruce at City, even with Premier League money to spend, if he remains in place.

9. But, of course, the club is for sale. The Allams have said this ever since the FA’s decision not to endorse their preposterous rebrand, and building up to the climax of the season there have been rumours of buyers from various locations across the globe. The Wembley bathwater in the players’ dressing room had barely gurgled down the plughole when news of interest from consortia in the USA and other areas started to seep through and at least one seems to have made it fairly plain that they would wish Bruce to work for them. But, true to hypocritical form, such interest and the promise of mega Premier League money has made Allam jr. change his stance as vendor somewhat. The club may still be for sale but it now appears to be not as vehemently a slavering fox in the chicken coop of their business portfolio as they had allowed us previously to believe. Money talks, as ever. A person not prone to mistrust or misanthropy would just say the Allams were understandably holding out for the highest possible sum to pluck Hull City AFC from their grasp; the more cynical – ie, the City fan who has seen the Allams drop clanger after clanger and dissemble their way through their stewardship of the club without an ounce of shame – would just say Ehab has seen the cheque that promotion proffers and has decided to hang about.

10. If the Allams stay, then there’s no end of trouble ahead as Premier League status will likely allow them further ammunition, misguided and badly argued though it may be, to push their abominable membership scheme upon us. However, an astute piece of thinking is that even if other parties fail in a bid to buy the club, any opposing view they would hold on this scheme might make the Allams think again. They don’t listen to the fans – we’re irrelevant and we can die when we want, remember – but they do listen to people with their kind of wealth.

11. The empty seats. Yes, they are a source of embarrassment, though the people who should really be embarrassed about them are the club’s owners, as it is a reflection of how many fans have come to find their stewardship of the club repugnant. Having sought to vandalise the club’s identity, using it as collateral in a spat with Hull City Council, the Allams have sought to punish fans for daring to value the name the club was born with by calling them ‘hooligans’, telling them ‘they can die when they want’, they’ve stated to the FA that fan opinion is ‘irrelevant’, hiked up pass prices following relegation, evicted supporters from seats they’ve sat in for years with no consultation and abolished all concessions under the guise of ‘making football more affordable’.

12. The red seats made conspicuous by their emptiness on Saturday are a follow on from the red card protests at recent home games. While we personally took a ‘support the team not the regime’ approach to the play-off final, we have every sympathy for someone priced out in 2016/17 feeling that there was no point in paying a premium to see the game that determines what division we play in next season when they won’t get to see next season’s home games in person. Some have proffered cost and the rugby teams having games as reasons for the less than stellar turnout in the eastern half of Wembley, but those who have spoken to us about why they didn’t go have given just one reason: alienation. A feeling of disconnection from a club that no longer values their support.

13. There’s an odd morality in football fandom that decrees glory-hunting fans are something to be derided if they turn up en masse to, say, a home cup game against a big side when they’ve been absent at all other games, but should you get to Wembley for a play-off final then suddenly glory fans are a good thing, and it’s their absence that’s criticised. Somehow Sheffield Wednesday selling out their Wembley allocation of nearly 40,000 is a sign that they’re a ‘proper club’ who ‘deserve to be in the Premier League’, not a sign that they’ve more bandwagon jumpers than us. The average gate at Hillsborough this season was 22,640, but we’re supposed to view them as a ‘big club’ because many more than that wanted a day out at Wembley? Meh.

14. That’s not to say that Wednesday’s fans were not impressive in their bouncing full-throatedness (well, until we scored). They were, and they have a unity that we can only envy at this time. Let’s hope that the fracturing of our fanbase can be repaired and the passion of the Tiger Nation can be obvious once again.

15. Back to the membership scheme, in particular its odious removal of discounts from kids and seniors. As some eagle-eyed City fans discovered over the weekend, this is explicitly contrary to the Premier League’s own directives, as seen in their own 2015/16 handbook. In section R it plainly declares that such concessions must be made available. Did City realise that that they are instantly defying Premier League rules by pricing out the next generation?

16. And what happens if City don’t back down? The Football Supporters’ Federation are aware of the club’s dismal plans and are making representations on the fans’ behalf. It seems almost inconceivable that we could be denied promotion if Ehab doesn’t change tack and breaks a fairly obscure rule in a 582 page handbook – but then again, why would the Premier League seek to let little old Hull City AFC pick and choose which of its rules they abide by?

17. And most damningly of all, how on earth have we arrived at the situation whereby the Premier League, that ultimate manifestation of greed in the game, is being turned to for help in safeguarding the club’s future support? When they’re the good guys and your owners are the bad guys, it’s a reminder that the sooner they get the hell out of this club, the better.

18. Hopefully, whoever’s decision it was to put “Tigers v Sheffield Wednesday” on our play-off final shirts will be following them out of the door. It meant the Owls’ shirts had our name on them more than our own. Pathetic, spiteful, tiny-minded shite, City.

19. Let’s try to end on a positive note. As mentioned before, we can at least chart a path towards a happier future now. The advent of Premier League football makes shedding the Allams easier, and it’s good in its regard, right? We aren’t the wide-eyed fanbase of 2008 and we know the reality of the Premier League doesn’t match the glossy brochure, but it’s still the division we’d choose to be in. Let’s not be blasé and arrogant about this – Hull City AFC in the top division of English football is a very special thing. And it’s great news for the city of Hull too, the place so many of us are proud to call home. Hull, the Premier League City of Culture. We’ve come a long way.

20. Thanks for all of the comments, queries, tweets, e-mails and insults throughout what’s felt like the longest and most draining season of our 18 year existence. They’re all appreciated and we’re still quite touched that fellow fans take the time and effort to read our stuff and get in touch. There’ll be one final celebratory, hoarse podcast recorded live on Periscope tonight and then online to download tomorrow, then we’ll be posting only sporadically through the summer while we enjoy Euro 2016 and the cricket (some of us). See you in August, hopefully with new owners of our beloved club, and let’s see just how far we can go.

33 replies
  1. James Hillier
    James Hillier says:

    Thanks for everyrhing this season guys. The above sums it up perfectly.
    Many moons ago my brother shouted across to Hinchcliffe that the dire football on offer would see us playing in front of 4000 every week. He was told to f##k off for his troubles. At the time I was shocked that an owner of a football club could treat a paying customer with such contempt. The Allams have been telling us to f##k off week in week out.

  2. John
    John says:

    Thanks for all the reports throughout this difficult year. It’s been great to end it on a high. Keep up the good work it’s great reading stuff and always in line with what the real supporters think. Hoping for two things in 16/17. Restoration of the name Hull City AFC on everything. Going back to proper ticketing and seating.

    I hope the football team achieves success in the Premier League but as an older supporter I am happy with my FA cup final and first division appearance. It took a while to happen so everything else is just a bonus !

  3. CityTiger
    CityTiger says:

    Spot on as always!

    Thanks for your efforts this season boys. Reading things we think we think and listening to the podcast each week has been something I’ve looked forward to regardless of how consistently inconsistent our performances on the pitch have been.

  4. Kevin Young
    Kevin Young says:

    As ever, a well written, well thought out piece that almost entirely mirrors my views. I’m a season ticket holder +1 who’s been so since the last season at Boothferry Park. Sadly, for all the reasons outlined here, I haven’t renewed. I won’t have my 82 year old father held to ransom by the club’s owners.

  5. HempholmeTigers
    HempholmeTigers says:

    Thank you guys for the terrific stuff every week – enjoy the summer. Till August – and whatever lies before us and our club. Interesting times indeed.

  6. Paul
    Paul says:

    Excellent stuff guys, Saturday was a great day out summarised well above. Now what did they say about 24 hours….. Have they gone yet?

  7. Mike
    Mike says:

    Ref point 20. – Thanks for the continued great work on this site, and especially on this particular column. It’s the first thing I read on a Monday morning (or Tuesday in this case) and I find it settling to see my thoughts put down in words by you guys every week. Enjoy the summer!

  8. Richard
    Richard says:

    Echoing the thanks of others. Your efforts in print and the podcast have been my link with City and home from out here in the Czech Republic. Here’s to a speedy resolution of the ownership issue (yeah, I know….. but, being a City fan means you have to be optimistic by rights) and some considered signings in the summer. We will then begin the crawl to 40 point safety once again.

    Next season it will be 50 years since my first game (away at Bolton – we lost!). In that time I’ve seen some dross, players to quicken the blood, clubs that no longer exist and City in Europe. Throughout it all I have been proud to follow a team that represents my home town. Much maligned, bottom of too many national league tables and easy to knock – next year we host the City of Culture AND Division 1 football. Even the baffling, spiteful and petty actions of our owners can’t take the shine off that. You ‘ull!

  9. George
    George says:

    Amber Nectar is a veritable, Henry VIII-era Hog Roast compared to the dank, flaccid Ginsters of competing City periodicals.

  10. Tiger Pete
    Tiger Pete says:

    TWTWT and the TWTWT podcast are 2 things I look forward to each week. You’ve summed up how I’ve felt about this season and previous seasons. I’m a life-long city fan, I don’t attend home games and won’t buy new shirts or other merch as long as the Allams are in control of the club. I’m still a proud supporter of the club and enjoy away trips more than ever, but this season has been odd. The trip to Wembley on Saturday didn’t have the same excitement as the previous 3 visits (I still can’t believe we’ve been there 4 times. City at Wembley!?!), maybe it’s because we’ve been there before but I’m more inclined to think it’s because I don’t feel as much a part of the club as I once did thanks to the Allams and their shameful use of the club as a tool in their ongoing feud with the city council.

    I’m looking forward to the prospect of new owners, financial stability (who would have thought that possible for City?) and going back to games at the circle. The summer will be fun watching our club change again and get ready for another adventure in the best league in the world. As soon as the Allams go I’ll be buying a new shirt and I’ll be back at the circle. I’m a proud Hull City fan and I’ll always be City ‘til I Die.

    Enjoy the summer and thanks for entertaining and informing the Tiger Nation.

  11. Rob Kaye (@Exiled_Tiger)
    Rob Kaye (@Exiled_Tiger) says:

    thanks for all the TWTWT and other articles through the season. I don’t always agree with every point you make but whenever I don’t the arguments compel me to think again. Keep up the good work, and looking forward to another season of over-priced, over-hyped football. Or am I?

  12. Steve k
    Steve k says:

    I will always support the team and not the regime, as I did on Saturday and will continue to do so whoevers in charge and wherever I have to sit.
    Brilliant day and don’t give two f**ks about those that chose not to go.

  13. John from Brid
    John from Brid says:

    Great report as ever, I will be there next season but many people I have got to know may not be which is a shame. It is a social event as well as a sporting one, but for a few it is a moneymaking event and they don’t care who they upset. UTT.

  14. Bosco
    Bosco says:

    Another great TWTWT, plus a bonus 10 extra ones! Looking forward to the podcast / periscope tonight – 8pm?

    Thanks for the excellent work, it supplements watching City nicely and living ‘darn sarf’, it’s nice to regularly hear City fans talk and eulogise about the mightyTigers!

    Have a great summer.

  15. Chris
    Chris says:

    Thanks for the effort all season lads!

    Always look forward to the podcast and TWTWT.

    Anyone got the link to the donate thing to keep it going as I cant find it anywhere?

    Thanks again. Enjoy summer and hopefully we’ll have a decent pre season tour announcement from the club soon!

  16. Sean Moore
    Sean Moore says:

    Like everyone else here I’d just like to pass on my thanks for all your efforts over this season. The site, the podcasts, and twitter. Articulate, funny and profound. The first place to turn to for anything to do with Hull City AFC. A calming voice that represents the true spirit of our club in money-grubbing times. Ambition and tradition, as HCST neatly phrase it – which sane person wouldn’t agree? How hard can that balance be? Dissipated or not, the thrilling spirit of the club was right there all around us at Wembley on Saturday. The Allams’ wrecking ball won’t crush it. Move on. Enjoy a well-deserved summer.

  17. Dr Seuss
    Dr Seuss says:

    Another great report/analysis/synopsis of the weekend and other matters. I echo the other posters on here who praise AN for its coverage of all things City. Keep up the good work.
    I wasn’t at Wembley for reasons I’ve posted earlier on previous AN but the TV showed clearly the gaps in the seating. I was hoping that such a demonstration of the depth of frustration that many of the club’s supporters feel to the owners, that the supporters would miss another grand day out at Wembley with their club, might impress upon the owners that they may be wrong. And that I might be able to come back and support my club again. No.9 above appears to crush that hope. Ah well, enjoy the PL City. I’ll be here waiting for you when, as a club, you come to your senses and realize that maybe the relationship between a football club and the community should be more than salesman and customer.

  18. ann guy
    ann guy says:

    Bit pissed off Steve K. Don’t think many kids CHOSE not to go or seniors either. What part of I CAN’T AFFORD IT!!!! is hard to understand? Lucky, affluent you. Not bitter at all am I? You bet I am, bitter, and totally devastated in having to miss a season in whatever league. Thanks for providing a vehicle for us all to vent our differences, prizes go to you Amber Nectar.

  19. David Burnby
    David Burnby says:

    Excellent as ever guys. Informed, incisive and entertaining. Thanks to you all for providing some sanity to a crazy season and reminding me why, despite everything, I’m still a Hull City supporter.

  20. Cayman Tiger
    Cayman Tiger says:

    Ann guy – much more polite than I would have been in response….clueless wanker is one expression that comes to mind. I didn’t use the ‘c’ word as that’s a term of endearment on here, mostly.

    Great stuff guys, as ever, keep up the good work uff uff uff.

  21. Blackadder
    Blackadder says:

    Yes the Premier League rules R.7.1. and R.7.2. say clearly and unambiguously that “concessionary prices must be made available for Senior citizens and Junior supporters”. Rule R.5.5. states that “a clubs ticketing policy must adopt a system of concessionary ticket prices tailored to the needs of the local community”. Hmmm when have the Allams ever cared about the needs of its supporters? This needs to be discussed with the Premier League by the Hull City Supporters Club if the owners persist in forcing their bullshit scheme on supporters!

  22. Ambertigerfan
    Ambertigerfan says:

    Thanks Amber Nectar, you rule!

    “Ehab [The Weasel] told Sky Sports on Sunday that the family would take time to decide “whether they are still motivated to sell the club.”

    What bollocks is “….decide whether they are still motivated to sell the club”? This is New Speak for they’re reneging on their promise to sell the club. Darwin should help us all if we have to put up with the Allams for another season of bullshit.

    Surely now is prime time to maximize the sale price. Of course, that would be if they ever intended selling the club in the first place. 5% interest on a 70 million loan is hard to get off; it’s easy money. The incoming Premier money could wipe the debt in one blow and buy enough players that Leicester bought to win the first division! Accountants however prefer to run a paper loss and accrue interest!

  23. BazzaBeverley
    BazzaBeverley says:

    Fair, balanced overview – it does justice to a fantastic day at Wembley. How can anyone not want to be there cheering on our team – notwithstanding the disconnect with the fans? As a supporter for 50 years no owner will force me to stop backing my club. I am more than prepared to see my concession go but believe it totally wrong to penalise youngsters and their parents; they’re the future of our club, and to see so many at Wembley only brings out the injustice of such arrogant behaviour and obduracy on the part of Ehab Allam. It must be reversed.

  24. WSM
    WSM says:

    I’m ashamed to say I’m a part-timer re attending games but never miss a minute of Amber Nectar. Informative, entertaining and heartfelt. It’s unmissable. Thank you and long may you continue.

  25. Jimmy Weekly
    Jimmy Weekly says:

    Let me join the chorus of end-of-season thanks. The effort that goes into AN, podcasts, TWTWT and so on makes it a genuine labour of love. It’s appreciated in Hull and far beyond.
    To be fair to Steve K, it does seem clear that he was talking about people choosing not to go to Wembley, and not about the membership scheme. Tactless, yes, but he was not slagging off those priced out by the club’s bonkers idea.
    Here’s to the new season, and seeing City take on some of the world’s best players and managers.

  26. Les
    Les says:

    Thanks for all the love! We don’t do this for acclaim, but it’s always good when people respond positively.

    Someone asked how they can donate (and indeed did, so many thanks). We have a PayPal account at ambernectar@tigernation.co.uk , that is a good way.

    Donations go towards site hosting and domain fees, and the Soundcloud account that stores the podcasts.

    If anyone has suggestions about ways we can improve the podcast and Periscope output, let us know, and we will give it consideration. Someone has already suggested we make it a bit more conversational, which is a good idea. We can possibly have more interaction with Persicope viewerrs next season too, as we now have a way of reading comments wheraes before they showed up on the phone that was placed away from us and stationary, giving us no way of reading them.

  27. Bill Baxter
    Bill Baxter says:

    “…We reserve special mention for Eldin Jakupović, who didn’t have a serious effort on goal to make look difficult but did deal with the bread and butter stuff in a most competent manner”

    Really?
    So the 2 shots he punched away when he could quite easily have caught them was in a competent manner?

    Enjoy the summer you cunts!

  28. Rottenborough
    Rottenborough says:

    Actually Bill, apart from the two punches that should perhaps,have been catches, I thought Jakupovic was ok on Saturday. I didn’t notice any unnecessary falling to the ground clutching the ball, which made a nice change.

    I add my thanks and appreciation to AN for a riveting and compulsively entertaining website and forum. I echo all the compliments paid by others as above. Well done!

    Let’s hope that very shortly there will be even more to celebrate in the form of new owners who connect with and respect all fans of Hull City.

    UTT!

  29. Paul R.
    Paul R. says:

    Thanks for the informative and entertaining Podcasts throughout the season. You’re the best reference point for all things pertaining to
    Hull City AFC.

  30. Bill Carson
    Bill Carson says:

    Thanks to AN for providing the only intelligent outlet for City fans.
    I know how much work and effort it takes to write each piece, so well done for your commitment.
    As for Wembley, four things:
    1. Cost – The Football League charging an average £65-70 per ticket??? Why for a Championship game?
    2. Ticketmaster – £3 per ticket touts fee and £2.40 P&P? Plus the uploaded database was corrupted, making booking a nightmare.
    3. Hull Trains – why not put on a couple of football specials @ £50 return? Instead the average ticket was £100.
    So financially I get why people couldn’t afford to go and sympathise with them.
    4. Having supported the club for 40 years, its a case of having to support the team and not the regime. Who knows, we may never get to Wembley again.
    Thanks again AN.
    #UTT

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