REPORT: Doncaster 2-0 City

LeagueCup

Any walker will tell you that even the wintriest and most fleeting shaft of sunshine can briefly illuminate the bleakest of landscapes. It needn’t last long, and it may change very little; but you savour it nonetheless.

Savour this League Cup defeat at Doncaster, my friends. Marvel at our 2-0 loss to a side we were three divisions above last season. Because we are Hull City AFC, beset by malice, and there’s really nothing else we can do.

The ever-churning social media informs us of the team an hour before kick-off. With the exception of the redoubtable Rick Skelton and his hardy band of U23 regulars, who can truthfully say they’d heard of more than half of them? My wife notes that she taught one. None of them will remember the Smiths, Pulp, Cool Britannia, Boothferry Park or trebles for singles in Sharkeys. It transpires that the average age of the side is 19 years and 11 months. You don’t need to be particularly old to suddenly feel it.

They were, for the record:

Mannion; Lenihan (c), Clackstone, McKenzie, Fleming, Annan, Weir, Batty, Hamilton, Olley, Leur.

Seven City debuts, and a side captained by 23 year old Brian Lenihan, now a veteran of four first team games in England. Robbie McKenzie, wearing the famous #37 shirt, was a nice lad at school, incidentally.

We began with the City youths kicking away from the 2,000+ away fans, and they started terrifically. Composed in possession and fighting nerves and a much weightier Doncaster side in a way that made you feel a gulping pride, they stuck it out then started to play. And they could play as well, with lots of neat interplay, assured touches and smart one-twos.

The City fans roared their encouragement, breaking off only to pour torrents of scorn on the Allam family. “Where’s the money gone” was a familiar entreaty. Well, when Andy Medcalf publishes the next set of accounts we may find some interesting answers, though forensic accountancy skills aren’t required to observe the difference between income and expenditure on football players. In the meantime, an invitation to stand up if you hate Allam found very few willing to remain seated. The vitriol was universal, by a distance the greatest at any match thus far.

Doncaster pressed their way back into the game, and began to create opportunities of their own. They were unlucky to not score shortly before the break when some defensive uncertainty led to a shot smacking the inside of Mannion’s right hand post; luckily it bounced to safety.

Still, the kids stuck it out and made it half-time, an achievement rapturously received by the Tiger Nation. We began to wonder if a shock victory against Doncaster Rovers was even possible.

It was not. The home side scored early in the second half, and then shortly after, and dreams of a famous win in South Yorkshire were replaced by the gloomy possibility of these willing but cruelly exposed young lads taking a wholly undeserved shoeing.

Leonid Slutsky must have wondered the same. Asked to wave a few times by the supporters who are pained at the colossal betrayal he is experiencing, there was nothing he could do. His bench was nothing but even younger youngsters; no gnarled old pros on there to offer a bit of guidance. On we went.

And on the youth went, too. Heads briefly sagged but didn’t reach critical drooping status. Mannion kept things respectable when they threatened to not be, making two fine saves that, from our distant vantage, appeared to also strike the frame of the goal. And the boys rallied, and reapplied themselves, and kept going. By now, tiredness was clearly an issue and some of the neat football of earlier had been replaced by slightly hopeful long balls that were all too easy for actual grown ups to deal with, but not one of them gave up.

I wonder if the targets of David Meyler’s ire for non-trying were watching?

City made a couple of changes and towards the end Greg Luer slashed a shot wide when an appealing City move cut open the Doncaster defence – a shame, as even though the result was a fair one, a goal would have been just reward. But it wasn’t to be. City went down 2-0, but the boys were cheered off at the end anyway.

It’s funny to take pride in such an evening, but it shows that all isn’t lost. No matter what, there’ll always be young players itching to make a professional debut; their collective sense of pride in finally making a Hull City AFC debut was demonstrated in gushingly enthusiastic social media utterances that brought a smile on the way home. You were a credit to yourselves and your families, young men.

And the City fans were ace too. There’ve been times in the past when we’ve been just about all the club has left, and if the Allam family has its way we’ll be there again soon. But an angry, defiant, and passionate night’s work acted as a reminder that as long as we give a toss, there’ll always be a Hull City. And if it doesn’t look much like the one that realised our dreams between 2004 and 2014, then never mind. It’s ours, not theirs, and however hard they try, they’ll never destroy us.

15 replies
  1. Bosco
    Bosco says:

    Great report Andy, the youngsters are a ray of hope in the current climate….

    Feel for Slutsky and the players. Be interesting to see if we get the touted six players before the deadline

    This is going to be a challenging season.

  2. Brian Darvell
    Brian Darvell says:

    Dissent is not tolerated by the Ayotollah ( the radio farce confirms this) but local media is still playing a subservient role in this sorry affair.Circulation figures are obviously the guiding factor as far as they are concerned but there needs to be a degree of protest included.No blame can be laid at the manager and players door,there is only 2 people to blame.

  3. Jimmy Weekly
    Jimmy Weekly says:

    Great report, and I get what you’re saying about the youngsters putting a shift in and the support being good, but I left the ground not proud and savouring some shaft of sunlight, but miserable at how far and how fast my club has fallen. From competitive Premier League team that missed out on the final of this competition by a whisker a few months back, to a husk of a team. They tried, but they weren’t that good, Mannion and Weir excepted. They had no real passing game, just taking it in turns to go on a few mazy runs. We just got beat by Doncaster, and that darkens rather than illuminates my footballing landscape.

  4. Midfield General
    Midfield General says:

    That was my first City game since a 4-0 shoeing at Millwall in August 2010.

    I went because it was my six year old Son’s first game and it was so much like my own youth that it was uncanny.

    So many of us grew up expecting not to beat Doncaster or wondering why we had to pay to ‘Put a Tiger in your team’ while everyone around us had shiny new players or coping with relegations or complaining about the owners ( Martin Fish).

    No matter how the next quarter century goes, the club will always be dear to me. Our songs will still be sung long after the Allams are an index entry in a reference book…indeed until we die.

    Finally, the youth of today (tsk) he wanted to support Sheffield United (not PALC) but asked me for a Will Mannion shirt on the way home. For that I can be eternally thankful to last night’s youthful eleven.

  5. Chris Munday
    Chris Munday says:

    Great piece but like a few others when i left the ground my glass was more empty than full. Yes the young kids played with pride and passion, and a fair amount of skill too – albeit without much end product, but the underlying thing is it was against Doncaster Rovers – an average side at best. I left the ground feeling bitter, and frustrated at how far we’ve fallen as a club in next to no time at all. And, to coin a podcast phrase, even the most brick-hearted meff must surely see that this is solely down to the inept mismanagement of the club by the Allams. Yes the HCAFC fans were magnificently vocal throughout the game last night – probably more so after we conceded. But our vitriol has and will continue to fall on deaf ears. I personally can’t see an end in sight because vocal criticism is having no impact and the Allams will simply continue to milk the cash cow for as long as they can. Many of the recent highs which should under normal circumstances have been glorious celebrations that many fans never thought they’d see: home and away in Europe; FA Cup Final; recent Premier League campaigns etc. have all been tarnished unnecessarily. I don’t know the answer but we need a new plan – because hoping the Allams will F.O.A.D is just not working.

  6. gjhdurham
    gjhdurham says:

    Good report. Made a bit of uplifting reading in poor circumstances. Reports elsewhere don’t match JW’s bleak comments above about the performance, but we all see the truth of the PL fall. Some of the good performances should be rewarded with some bench time in the league…with hopefully some game time if circumstances allow. Something we’ve not been good at IMO.
    Wrt the BD media comment above…Yorkshire Post article telling it how it is today and Slut’s rather depressed comments are getting coverage.
    Still, two decent looking signings today, but need a good striker! Injury list is a killer at the moment…

  7. Blackadder
    Blackadder says:

    Telling the Allams to go away, whether in short jerky movements or very politely will have no affect, they will go when they feel the timing is right. There is 80 million pounds in parachute money to put their long porcine snouts in and they can either sell the club using that money as an incentive or stay for another two years and have their revenge on the supporters they detest so much. My money would be on the latter option, revenge is a dish best eaten cold and the name change fiasco, Allam out chanting, Ehaw being loudly booed at Wembley when he lifted the Championship trophy, morons throwing missiles at the Allam home etc will all be burning their insides like acid. It’s too bad, things could have been very different but I fear a struggle against relegation this season and if we go down the Premier league will seem a million light years away. The blueprint is there for all to see from last season, little money being spent and signings left to the last possible minute. Signing Stewart looks like a monumental blunder a la Jimmy Bullard and Liverpool must be delighted at getting Robertson for a net 4 million.

  8. Ambertigerfan
    Ambertigerfan says:

    Blackadder: Where was the City medical team doing its due diligence on Stewart?

    That’s an old injury apparently: someone isn’t doing their job.

  9. Blackadder
    Blackadder says:

    You’re right Ambertigerfan, Slutsky already admitted that it was an old injury, it may not be a long term problem but surely it should have been caught before he signed. Just how many games is he going to miss?

  10. Blackadder
    Blackadder says:

    If the FA’s blatant bias against Hull City wasn’t already clear, as soon as Livermore and Maguire cease to be our players they are called up to the England squad. I’m happy for the players but it’s sickening for the City of Hull and an absolute disgrace, Southgate should be ashamed of himself!

  11. adamhull
    adamhull says:

    Harry was going to get called up but was injured at the end of the season, Southgate confirmed that. And much as I adore Harry too, I understand why Southgate went with Gibson, a player he has known for years after his long U21 career (Maguire made just 1 sub appearance for the U21s).

  12. Blackadder
    Blackadder says:

    That might have been the official line but Maguire wasn’t injured, he was taken out of the side to avoid injury before he was sold to Leicester in case Ehaw didn’t get his cash, in any case Maguire is twice the player Gibson is. And Livermore was also picked for England straight after his sale to West Brom. It stinks and so do Southgate’s selections!

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