Summer’s comin’, time to dream the day away. Well, eventually. Bumble bees, warm sunshine, lush greenery on the trees. And Hull City fans, as they dream the day away in collective reflection on this football season that will soon be behind us, how will they fill their thoughts?
City fans looking back over these last nine months will have the air of the early polar explorers, hunched in pain, faces creased in agony, heads and minds filled with the grey wastes and colourless void that they have barely survived. Beer in hand, sitting outside the bijou cafes of Withernsea or the baroque wine bars of Keyingham, they are oblivious to the douce arrival of happier days. It’s been attritional, it’s been miserable, it’s been a truly appalling season. They are scarred.
One lad looks at his wan chums. ‘Right’, he says, ‘it’s been bad all season long, but which game d’you reckon was the worst, the very worst?’
Cheeks are puffed out, pain is etched across every rough-hewn face. We really gotta choose?
Well, if you insist … the gutless Friday night surrender at Derby, the spitefully don’t-care second half performance at Bramall Lane, not bothering at Bolton, the drab incident-free 0-0 at home to Reading, not bothering at Sunderland, tamely surrendering the points at home to Millwall, chucking in the towel in the snow storm away to Birmingham. A parade of grisly infamy.
But make no mistake, this latest horror at home to Sheffield Wednesday deserves to be bracketed with the very worst of this season’s festering dungheaps.
This was a truly dreadful game.
Max Clark was awarded the man of the match bauble. I don’t care about such awards, because it is a team game, but when your left back gets pinned as your best player, you know you’ve been watching a dismal flair-free ninety minutes of footballing poverty. So it was.
Aina Hector McDonald Clark
Wilson Henriksen Toral Grosicki
Looks lightweight? Was lightweight. Too many players with poor attitudes, willing to shirk the need for 100 per cent effort? Check.
It’s a dreadful opening quarter, with both teams serving up convincing impressions of sides ready to slope off beach-bound on their holidays at the earliest opportunity. The first moment of note arrives on 5, as McGregor stops a header by Jordan Rhodes, who’d been gifted far too much time and space at the back post. The second moment of note arrives on 14 when a ball in from the left is met by a Toral header at the back post, sending the ball back square into the danger area. But it rolls apologetically wide of the back post. The third moment of note arrives on 17, and Sheffield Wednesday score.
Ball played in from the wing, Rhodes leaps, flicks his header beyond fellow Scottish internationalist McGregor, and that is 0-1.
Simple as it gets. Appalling defending out wide. Appalling defending in the middle. Several players are guilty of letting the game drift by rather than getting to grips with their immediate opponent, but it’s Hector, left hopelessly flat-footed, who is closest to Rhodes and who puts no pressure on Rhodes at all.
On 26 Hector is caught dithering once again, and Adam Reach whips the ball off him, before firing a shot wide of McGregor’s far post.
Rhodes is going down far too easily on a regular basis, and play is held up for too long on the half hour mark for another of his swallow dives. In receipt of scornful abuse from East Stand he eventually climbs to his feet and pulls up his shorts to point to a fetching long bloody scar the length of his leg, as if it to seek understanding and sympathy from his tormentors. He gets none.
On 44 Clark and Wilson combine well down the left and, with Hernández lurking predatorily, the ball is eventually scooped over the bar for a corner. Which comes to nothing. Most of the half has come to nothing. It’s been awful. Two minutes are added, there’s a brief penalty box melee, and then comes the mercy of half time.
Sullen players, stripped off any long-term commitment to the club by our owner’s short-term stupidity and malice, but, even so, still unable and unwilling to put in a basic acceptable shift. It’s horrible to watch. Grosicki’s the most culpable, of course, but it’s not just him. Fecklessness pervades the whole bunch. The second half begins, and it continues to serve up appallingly poor football.
There are just two hints of creativity on the whole pitch. One is Barry Bannan, and when Barry Bannan, part Orc part Tupperware box, is the only source of a decent touch and a quick pass, then you know you are watching a grotesquely awful game of football. The only other glimpse of trickery and ambition comes from a grey squirrel, which shows a turn of foot and an eye for goal when it introduces itself to the play on 67 minutes.
On 72 Hernández has an opportunity to equalise but he is crowded out, and overall the quality of the play is shockingly low. Grosicki’s off for Bowen by now, but there’s no improvement visible.
Just in case I am not making myself clear, could I confirm that this is a diabolically bad game.
On 86 Aina gives the ball away in completely pathetic don’t-care fashion. McGregor rushes to the rescue, but Hector then does his best to put the loose ball into his own net not once, but twice, but with the Wednesday attack watching on, awed by the sheer incompetence of it all, McGregor eventually retrieves the ball.
There are eight added minutes, and in the first of them we equalise. The ball is played across the face of the goal from left to right, and bundled into the Wednesday net by Hernández at the far post. It’s a messy goal, and it is deserved only in the sense that although we are worth little or nothing from the game, nor are the deeply unimpressive visitors. Our players celebrate, trot back to their own half, and the referee seems to be following them. Only … what’s this? He’s invited by the Wednesday players to talk to his linesman. He does so. Said linesman apologetically and half-heartedly raises his flag, and the goal is chalked off for offside. It was at least a minute between ball entering the net and the linesman showing any interest in intervening. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Royal cheatery, and the only consolation is that it really didn’t much matter. Draw, loss, whatever. Get this season terminated.
Bah. On 97 McDonald has a completely free header in the middle of the penalty area and contrives to send his effort over the top of the goal.
Let’s leave the final word to one of those glum City fans sitting, beer to hand in the summer rays, reflecting with pain on the garbage we’ve had to endure this season.
‘Aye, but it’s going to be even worse next season.’
Steve Weatherill (via Tiger Chat)