The week preceding this evening’s Keystone Cops encounter with the pride of the M621 provided much mirth amongst the Tiger Nation as the result of their six month long consultation on a new crest design was triumphantly revealed to pretty much no acclaim at all. I have never seen Leeds fans doing that chest-fisty thing, they are usually too busy twirling their scarves, but anyway, why would you put it on your badge? Truly baffling, but genuinely very, very funny. I was also amused by the metadata tag under the crest, namely #MOT. I have a bit of a thing about hashtags – their whole point being to unite to a common cause, to identify an entity and preferably to be unique. In this respect #lufc, like #hcafc, are lucky. Their hashtag is, well, THEIR hashtag. Tap in #MOT and the search returns include, unsurprisingly, Exminster Garage, Car Repair Plan and Castle Point Motors. I guess it would give the West Yorkshire dwellers the opportunity to crayon in ‘Due <insert date here>’ every year but I’d suggest that one of those little stickers on the inside of your windscreen would be more helpful. Admittedly it’s not as much of a problem as the alternatives to our actual hashtag. I’m as much for declaring “Up the Tigers” as the next Black and Amberine, but all #UTT does is place us somewhere between Ipswich (Town), Huddersfield (Terriers) and Bolton (Trotters) and trust me, that is not a triangle of golden virtue you want to be ensconced in. Granted the Universities of either Trinidad and Tobago, or Technologie de Troyes hold a more enticing appeal, and some train types amongst you may put forward a persuasive case for the attributes of Uttoxeter railway station but we are Hull City AFC. #hcafc Unique.
The latest attempt by our increasingly strangulated club to pump some passion through the veins of its dwindling crowds saw a return of THE LIGHT SHOW [sic] and the bemusing addition of a couple of flame-spewing patio heaters next to the tunnel. A crack team of pyrotechnicians trotted across to the East Stand touchline with two pieces of astroturf enticingly loaded with a small battery of firecrackers and the odd underwhelming rocket. The Leeds fans rightly mocked; the City fans rightly reflected that the way to create fervour in a football stadium is to fill it with united (with a lower case ‘u’) fans by offering fair concessionary prices, treating them and Hull City AFC’s tradition and name with respect and maybe even demonstrating some ambition by buying a few playing reinforcements in the transfer window. Those ideals have irrefutably gone up in acrid smoke until we find a new Messiah, naughty or nice, so we might as well just get on with enjoying the football…
Promisingly the social media suggested plans made for Nigel following the Forest frolics were seemingly heeded as he dispatched the lads onto the pitch via some intense cone drills, with a whole two strikers and a right-sided Bowen thus:-
Tomori Dawson Mazuch Aina
Bowen Henriksen Larsson Irvine
Really promising. Until we kicked off and it soon became apparent that the fireworks may well have actually been the highlight of the evening.
Still, Fraizer Campbell’s second minute miss showed promise and his Huddersfield/Manchester United upbringing seems to have infused him with a creditable amount of anti-Leeds spirit and fight which he pretty much carried throughout his first full 90 minutes in a fair while. This application won him the official Man of the Match award; it was almost just like the good old days, though of course in the good old days his name would have been spelt correctly on the scoreboard.
The only other events of note in the first 20 minutes, apart from the stretchered departure of Leeds’ youthful number 35, are a relatively thundering tackle from Henriksen and a succession of appallingly incompetent throw-ins, handballs, clumsy fouls and adverts for hydroponic lettuce. No, me neither.
What is it with City and throw-ins? It appears to be a fairly simple skill, yet decades watching them have indicated to me that I must be missing something regarding the level of complexity required to execute it. As an unusually ebrious gent on row P sagely suggested – “it’s in our DNA.”
I note that our forward pairing is disappointingly less dual-pronged than initially perceived and Fraizer is dropping deep quite frequently. However, in the space of minutes 21 and 23, Torwart Wiedwald finds shots pinged at him from Bowen and Dicko and he does well to preserve the stalemate. City keep up the pressure with a corner taken by Bowen who seems to have contracted Dowellitis with his deliveries. By the second half I had dispensed with all notion of the need to place my hot drink safely under my seat at set pieces for fear of unbridled celebrations causing third degree burns from shite, overpriced coffee. In fact this was fast becoming a shite, overpriced game of football. The errors continued to overshadow the rare moments of skill or fluidity to the extent that I found myself applauding rather too enthusiastically when Dawson managed to win a ball from a sitting position and Henriksen trebled his header count for the season.
This was scrappy stuff but at least we were scrapping. Tormann Felix denied Irvine with his legs again; our Aussie looking sparky and determined enough throughout, minus the sorely needed attribute of not just removing the blue touch paper from the battered Family Circle tin but of actually igniting it. The heroically named Pontus Jansson is the first of the cast of this footballing tragedy of almost epic Greek proportions to see yellow during a foul and free kick strewn five minutes which yield no joy for either side. The gloom is momentarily lifted on 31’ as Tomori performs an elegant ‘lollipop’ but we are soon reminded of the inadequacy of the description of this encounter as a Category A match with a Dawson shanked clearance and another lettuce advert.
Both Tomori and Aina are industrious enough as full-backs advancing with the ball and our captain has obviously been advised that not every ball he kicks is obliged to take a looping diagonal flight path but it’s still scrappy, it’s still error-strewn and it is increasingly apparent that we are marginally the more enterprising of two very non-enterprising Championship teams. The fact that an international footballer of the undoubted, whilst fading, class and astuteness of Seb Larsson is sharing a pitch with some of these merchants of inelegance and inadequacy is as baffling as it is frankly rather pitiable. Campbell and Dicko show flashes of a partnership which seems unlikely to ever flourish properly, as the half is played out with Henriksen being booked and subsequently hobbling off. There are four minutes of injury time which we could honestly do without, although Larsson did at least manage to target Torhüter Wiedwald’s torso accurately but tamely. The half time coffee is still overpriced and shite and the outpriced youngsters who benefitted from their cheap and ultimately cheerful match-day Cup experience on Saturday are missing precisely nothing.
There’s a second half. From the offset the plan appears to be to avail our Flying Pole of the ball at every opportunity in his role as the hobbling Henriksen’s replacement. Initially City look vaguely inspired and lively with some good movement down the left, mainly at Larsson’s behest and Bowen becomes a bystander who continues to deliver Marneyesque corners. Leeds look genuinely bored by the whole affair and are restricted to lazy, long range free kicks primarily gained through feckless fop Alioski hurling his bleached blonde locks to the turf. Leeds’ crowd seem pretty non-plussed too; they can see their troops marching through treacle with a dangerous lack of unity and scarfs are invariably secured tightly around chilly necks rather than twizzled with any degree of optimism. A City corner on 51’ results in a Germanic fresh air punch and a clear opportunity for Dicko which was impossible to miss. Except inevitably he did miss because we haven’t scored a single League goal this year and we are not going to start now. Instead the roof of the net rippled and Leeds respond with another attempted effort failing to be on target, a pattern they were unable to break as the remaining minutes of the 96 unfolded without McGregor being troubled, at all. I mused, as I’m sure young Jarrod must be prone to doing, how sweet it would be to see Moses Odubajo back in the fray with his poise and accuracy but instead we are treated to Captain Hernández amusingly chesting the ball out of play for no apparent reason whatsoever. An incident only surpassed in its pitiful comedy value by Aina’s inexplicable trip over a ball he received in acres of space on 73’. O, how we laughed!
By this time Irvine had bent it less like Beckham and more like a post-Brexit banana with the goal at his mercy, albeit from well up the field as Felix temporarily took up a centre-half’s position. Mazuch receiving a yellow was pretty much his last action of the match whereas Hector’s first was to pick out referee Harrington with a neat pass. Keane made more of a positive impact from the bench on 71’ but by this juncture, the game was drifting as aimlessly as Leeds’ goal attempts. The numbers 1 and 7 and 2 and 3 and another 7 adorned the big screen temporarily as briefly did Jarrod Bowen as our elected Man of the Match, swiftly to be replaced by that man ‘Frazier’ – who knows, maybe they couldn’t spell Jarrod? We are treated to a whole five minutes extra of this spectacle during which there’s short-lived joy in the North East corner as the ball clearly does not bounce over McGregor’s goal line. City manage to muck up a couple more corners, Campbell picks up a very daft handball booking and we are released from our recurring torments into the chill January night.
Come May this year, Leeds’ chances of being back where they arrogantly believe they belong seem dismally slender. City’s chances of being back where the recent years’ hideous mismanagement deserve to condemn us to seem hideously plausible.
Kate Ogram (via Tiger Chat)