Buchanan – A Man with a Plan?

Terry Dolan had one. David Lloyd had one. Everybody who enrolls at Weight Watchers has one. No, not a B.O. problem, I’m talking about ‘five-year plans’. You may also remember, amidst all the DTI and Fraud Squad investigations, court appearances, transfer embargoes, negotiations with Lloyd and the lock out, that Nick Buchanan also had a ‘five-year plan’. To be in Division One by 2004, he said, and I lapped it up like John McGovern would a can of Special Brew.

Now, in the 2000/2001 season, it seems unlikely we’ll be promoted come May, which leaves just three years of unlikely upward momentum to spoil the Hull City tradition of bullshitting chairmen. It has taken the board two years to drag the team from the foot of the table (for which I’m eternally grateful) to where we were when Dolan fucked off. At this rate of progress, we be in the division’s top half by 2003. And at the moment, we are about 2000 down on the average gate the board need to break even, and they don’t seem to have a contingency plan. Oh bollocks.

The combination of winding up orders and transfer embargoes have left me wondering whether Mr Buchanan had a plan at all, never mind a five year one, in spite of him delivering a top drawer manager who, backed properly, could win anything thrown at him. Brian Little has the best track record of all Division Three managers, however he has not been appointed to bring his top-flight and European football experience to Boothferry Park.

Brian Little has been appointed because of his record with Darlington, who he dragged from the bowels of non-league football to the Division Four championship on virtually no budget. Mr Buchanan has already gone on record with the heart warming news that Brian can only bring in the striker we so desperately crave on loan, and that having no money should not be much of a problem to a man like Brian, but if Mr. Buchanan expects Brian to repeat his Darlo feats here, he should take into account that a few things are slightly different to back then.

For a start, Little’s 1991 championship outfit were already on a high after winning the Conference by a mile, they weren’t a demoralised bunch of prima-donnas who’d spent years in the lower reaches of the basement together. Secondly, Brian released almost all of Darlo’s squad and replaced them with players who actually wanted to play there. Whilst here Brian has released half a squad and managed to scrape together some last minute signings to add to the players already at his disposal, players who either can’t be arsed, are under-motivated or are jetting off to El Salvador to play for their country and getting injured in the process (why can’t Jamie Wood get more Cayman Island call ups?)

Also, football in general has changed. In 1991, every club in the bottom division was skint to the point of extinction, with Aldershot and Maidstone falling by the wayside. Now the club is competing with the likes of Cardiff, Chesterfield and Darlington themselves, all bankrolled by rich and generous sugar daddies. I am still unsure as to whether Buchanan is un-rich or un-generous, but by coming here Brian Little has probably picked the worst place to resurrect his management career as he is never going to be backed properly by this board. It took Cliff Britton five years to achieve anything here, coincidentally the same amount of time it took him to prise open Harold Needler’s wallet. Hanging about waiting for some support from above is not in Brian Little’s style. He’ll just fuck off. And who can blame him?

His cheap and cheerful signings so far have been excellent, Musselwhite is the first goalkeeper at City since Roy Carroll who doesn’t appear to grease his gloves in Brilliantine prior to a match, Brightwell is a slow but necessarily solid stopper, Philpott is the first City player who can take set pieces for fucking ages and Marcelle is exciting to watch (though not an out-and-out striker) who deserves a contract. Had Brian Little been given just a piffling £300,000, the fee splashed out by Cardiff for Leo Bad-Fortune-West, we would surely be in the top three by now.

We knew that this sort of money would definitely not be available, but if the club were willing to take a gamble on Joycey last season, why can’t this be done for Brian? He can be trusted, unlike Warren, to deliver something in return. However the pre-season embargo damaged that option, though in my opinion, Brian would not have been able to sign any more players than he did, never mind a wide player, a central midfielder and most importantly, a proven goal scorer.

The City hierarchy seem to be secretly crossing their fingers and hoping that Brian Little is a miracle worker, while Brian crosses his fingers that some capital will emerge from somewhere other than player sales. While Brian says we can hope for no more than mid-table, the board say Brian can take us up. Nick Buchanan appears confident that promotion can be attained, but I personally don’t believe that he gives a fuck.

Lat season, despite the boards over budgeting, the club brought in Whitmore and Goodison on (allegedly) two grand a week each, I thought it was to improve our league position. However the sales of captain Dave D’Auria, misused waste of talent Gareth Williams and the big striker we now desperately need Colin Alcide to make ends meet pissed on that bonfire. Theo and Ian were simply signed in the hope that they’d be worth one million a piece in six months. Although I never felt we were going to achieve promotion under Joyce, he was hard done by in this respect. He was allowed to bring in new players over the summer (admittedly most of them were shit) before having three first teamers sold from under him. The club had gone back on their ‘five year plan’ after six months.

The capture of Brian Little was a masterstroke, but I fear it won’t be long before he gets pig sick of unpaid rent, winding up orders and buggers off as the chairman presides over a stagnant Division Three club, in which case they may as well have appointed Rod Arnold.

Mr Buchanan being a good spin doctor as (if not better than) Alistair Campbell, rarely resists the temptation to have a dig at Tom Belton. Now I’m no believer in Belton as the next Don Robinson, let alone a Jack Walker, and I particularly agree with the point that he is ambitionless and may be satisfied to keep us in Division Three.

Nonetheless I’ve had enough winding up orders in the last decade to last me forever, and they are becoming more frequent now then they ever where in the Dolan/Fish era. The club’s reputation has been dragged through dog shit umpteen times during the present chairman’s reign, and there is no sign of us escaping Division Three with Nick Buchanan at the helm.

Although every season in this division is another step towards extinction, I’d rather the club went bust with it’s reputation intact. I’d also prefer a chairman with whom you knew where you stood, with whom you didn’t have to read between the lines and whom you believed when he explained where the latest gate receipts from a cup tie with a Premiership team had gone.

Mr Buchanan had his chance, he’s had two years to bring about an improvement and he hasn’t done so. He’s unlikely to be driven out of the club either, as the fans have already seen off Fish, Needler and Lloyd already and, I believe, are far too jaded for another scrap with the men in suits.

Compare his reign with Lloyds however and you’ll see a few similarities, big crowds but still losing money, cup-tie proceeds vanishing, a question mark over where we’ll be laying in the future and a big name manager who isn’t being backed.

These are the differences; Lloyd put more money in than Buchanan has so far, £300,000, Lloyd’s henchman Appleton creamed off less (allegedly) than Buchanan’s chum Hinchliffe, and Lloyd never went cap in hand to the PFA.

However Lloyd has cost the club in rent and called you and I crap while Buchanan, significantly, is a great PR guy, with Blunderside hanging off his every (swear) word as Lloyd (twat though he is) painted as the baddie every time Nick and Co. drop a bollock.
Five years ago, Gillingham began a ‘five year plan’ of their own following receivership, under the stewardship of Millwall boot boy Paul Scally. Five years on, the Gills have gone up twice, played at Wembley, and are making a mockery of every one who predicted they’d become Divison One’s whipping boys.

The team that got them out of the basement division was no better than one we have now, their gaffer was a nobody who spent a mere £100,000 and they had attendances of around 4,000. The thing that got them started in the first place was simply this; when the chairman said he had devised a five year plan, he meant it.

The longer Nick Buchanan remains, the more damage is done to Hull City. I appreciate that I’m out on a limb saying this, but the appointment of Brian little has pacified many, but there is only so much shit the fans can swallow. The latest winding up order must surely be the last straw.

Look at little Gillingham, while they entertain Fulham and Blackburn, we entertain Rochdale and Torquay. That’s how you run a football club Nick.

Danny Lodge

The Mail – Right to Reply

In the last issue of Amber Nectar, Andy Dalton pointed an accusatory finger at the Hull Daily Mail over its coverage of Hull City AFC. The Mail’s Editor John Meehan was none too pleased and sent us this response…

“Instead of building for the future, the club is in chaos. However, it (the Boothferry Park lockout) is resolved, that the situation was allowed to develop this far raises serious questions about the suitability for office of the current board.”
Hull Daily Mail Comment, June 22nd 2000.

“The manager’s hands are tied. He can improve the motivation, training and tactics, but he cannot recruit the players required to transform a mediocre team into a successful one. It all seems so illogical. Why employ a top-line manager and then not give him the tools to do the job? The City board have to provide their manager with the necessary support before he and the fans lose heart”
Hull Daily Mail Comment, August 3rd 2000

Hardly evidence of a newspaper running “a propaganda job for Buchanan and Hinchliffe”, as Andy Dalton contends.

But perhaps Andy Dalton doesn’t read the Mail all that often. That really can be the only explanation for his thoroughly misinformed article in Amber Nectar. Before I go any further I’d like to make clear that that I don’t mind criticism of the Mail, or of me personally. In fact, I expect it and a great deal of the criticism we receive is constructive and helpful

I also don’t mind in the least a bit of fun being poked at us. The Dull Daily Mail feature in the same edition of Amber Nectar was standard fanzine fare and even mildly amusing in parts (although I’m not sure John Fieldhouse takes kindly to his new byline). But Mr Dalton’s piece was something else. It seemed to me a classic case of “shoot the messenger”.

The author is clearly far from happy with the club’s owners, but chooses to take it out on us. The starting point for his rant against the Mail seems to be our coverage of the Boothferry Park lockout caused by the dispute between the board and landlord David Lloyd about unpaid rent.
Now, I’m not going to claim that everything we do is perfect, nor was it on this occasion. The fact was that John Fieldhouse was, unfortunately, on holiday when the story broke (he deserves some time off like everybody else) and, at the time, the sports desk was somewhat lacking in leadership (an issue since resolved).

But to claim, as Mr Dalton does, that we ran just a “single, tiny, rushed piece” about it is simply nonsense. Far from “blatant disregard” for the story, we led our front-page on it on the day of the lockout, followed by dozens of stories in the following weeks. Certainly our coverage was in much greater depth and sustained for longer than any other media. And, although I agree that Sky Sports provide an excellent service for sports fans, you can’t rely on them for a thorough report from an away trip to Torquay or Hartlepool.

It seems that Mr Dalton won’t be happy until the pages of the Mail are filled entirely with news from Boothferry Park. I’m sorry, but that simply isn’t going to happen.

He talks about us “gushing interminably about the most ridiculous, uninteresting local news”, forgetting, it seems, that we are, after all, a NEWSpaper. It’s our job to report local news. It may be boring to Mr Dalton, but it is interesting enough to be read by 201,000 people in this area every day.

I’m also sorry, Mr Dalton, that you have to put up with us writing about rugby league and speedway. We do so because a significant proportion of our readership is interested in these sports and expect us to keep them informed about them. And, by the way, although I accept that the potential support of the football club is greater than the two senior rugby clubs, the combined attendance at Hull FC and Hull KR is often greater than at Boothferry Park.

The fanciful conspiracy theory simply doesn’t hold water, either. Even if you set aside the Comment pieces I referred to at the beginning of this article, I fail to see how any reasonable person could believe we have an agenda which protects the City board. There is no such agenda we simply strive to report accurately, within the limits of the law, events at and surrounding the club.

Mr Dalton refers to the current trial involving Stephen Hinchliffe and our failure to report it. This is simply because there is a legal ruling banning any media from reporting the case or even mentioning that it is in progress (in fact, I probably shouldn’t mention it even here). The case is expected to last for at least six months. Please be assured that, at its conclusion, it will be reported fully in the Mail, providing further restrictions are not imposed. He also asks why anti-Board letters are “never” published. Again, I can only presume Mr Dalton rarely reads the Mail or Sportsmail because they certainly are, as long as they are legally safe to publish.

The latter point should not be missed. I have a responsibility to ensure that what we publish does not contravene the many laws which apply to newspapers, in particular the libel laws. There is a great deal of information we receive that we simply cannot print. Understandably, fanzines are far less careful for instance, I noticed a letter in Amber Nectar referring to Mr Hinchliffe that would have given me a heart attack were it published in the Mail. Come to think of it, referring to the Mail (and presumably me) as incompetent, arrogant and smug is probably actionable, but I’ll let that pass.

Amid all Mr Dalton’s misinformed so-called facts, I was most concerned by his claim that we deliberately misquote or misrepresent fans’ comments. All I can say is that, if any Amber Nectar reader can provide real evidence of this, I will investigate it thoroughly. We don’t get everything right but we try very hard to do so and we certainly never deliberately misquote or misrepresent anybody.

As a football supporter myself I understand entirely the frustration of Mr Dalton and other fans at their club’s plight. I too long for the day when Hull City enjoy stability off the field and success on it. I too share the supporters’ concern over the running of the club and their alarm at the FA and police investigations.

There is only so much that the Hull Daily Mail can do to influence what happens at Boothferry Park, but I can assure Hull City supporters that we will continue to strive to keep them fully informed about events on and off the field.

Finally, Mr Dalton, I have some advice from a professional journalist to an amateur: I don’t know what it is, but please don’t give up the day job.

Green With Envy

It isn’t difficult finding reasons to mock Scunthorpe, especially when their fans are so accommodating as to supply you with new ones. Take Steve Wright for example, no not the Radio 2 DJ, but the producer of an Internet site dedicated to the Scunts. After watching Euro 2000 he hatched a plan to have Scunny fans emulate the thousands of Dutch fans clad from head to toe in orange (or oranje if you will).

Wright figured he might be able to persuade the ‘legions’ of Scunny fans (average attendance 3,593) to all don either the clubs garish new lime green away shirt or other green garb.

Speaking in his local rag, the spotty 18 year old from Bottesford (I think that’s a place, but it may be a sexual preference) declared “As we have just been relegated everyone, club and fans, want a quick return to division two and to kick-start our season we will have to win away at Macclesfield.

To help do that the fans can create a fantastic atmosphere in the away end, and it would inspire the players to play and the fans to sing if the away end was a sea of green.”

A sea of green? The yellowbellied fool seems to have overlooked that the reason the Holland fans look impressive is because there are lots of them, and that while 50000 people at the ArenA in Amsterdam or at De Kuip in Rotterdam bedecked in orange ensemble looks fantastic, 17 people at Gay Meadow and Spotland wearing green does not.

The Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph, clearly desperate for stories that day, continued… ’Steve is hoping the campaign will catch on and wants all fans to play their part, whether they have the new away shirt or not. He’s encouraging supporters to wear anything green, take green balloons and green paper to add to the occasion.’

Eager for a bit of publicity, the club’s commercial department latched onto the scheme and trotted out the old ‘sales of shirts are at record levels’ line, i.e. they sold 150 of them.

And so the season began, the Scunts notching up three points with a 1-0 win at Moss Rose, and there in the away end were people clad in green. But as viewers of Goals on Sunday that weekend will testify, it wasn’t quite a ‘sea of green’, more a small pond, or even a puddle. Fuckwits.

Les Motherby

The Mail – Failing to Deliver

Evictions, embargoes and fraud squad investigations. The 2000 close season was pretty  eventful, not that you’d know if you only read the Hull Daily Mail. Andy Dalton wonders if our local rag is worth felling trees for…

We’ve heard it all before, and complained about it, too. This is not the first rant against them, and unless major changes are made soon at every single level of the hierarchy, it will not be the last. They are arrogant, smug, patronising, aloof and thoroughly unconcerned about Hull City fans in general.

No, not the board (though thinking about it, it would still be an accurate statement, especially with a few fruity expletives added). The Hull Daily Mail. Ah yes, a familiar bone of contention amongst the Tiger Nation.

Recently, due to boardroom incompetence and David Lloyd being, well, David Lloyd, Hull City AFC found themselves in the predicament of having no home ground. The Football League rules state that without a home ground, a team may not take part in the League. They are very firm on this – no ground, no league. So how did the media respond?

Well, very well, in general. The Daily Mail (a middle-class football-disliking national which counts sales in the millions) ran an item the day after our eviction, and a follow-up the day after. That’s great – you can’t expect the nationals to pay TOO much attention. The Mirror mentioned it in passing, as did the other tabloids. The broadsheets also got in on the act, to varying degrees.

Sky News latched on quickly. ITV and BBC followed. Sky Sports ran it as their third biggest story for TWO DAYS, with comments from fans, reaction from the Football League, and more than one interview with David Lloyd and Nick Buchanan. Their coverage was superb, balanced, interesting, informative and did exactly what was needed. Sky Sports are a credit to the entire football media community, and their excellent work will not quickly be forgotten.

Locally, Radio Humberside ran the story at length for a day or two. YTV and Look North were eager, if clumsy, to get as much out of the story as possible. All three gave such an important event the coverage and status it merited. Full marks to all for effort, if not execution.

Which brings us to the Hull Daily Mail. The newspaper that is forever babbling witlessly about a stupid, pointless minority sport and the “great” fans that support it in this “hotbed” of the game. The newspaper that spouts endless rubbish about the utter waste of time that is speedway.  The newspaper that would probably run a four-page special if Nick Barmby so much as caught a cold. The newspaper that devoted a single, tiny, rushed piece about this momentous news.

The Hull Daily Mail are now well beyond contempt. To blatantly disregard such a vastly important news story just boggles the mind, and it leads to one of two conclusions. Either the Hull Daily Mail is the most incompetent, unresponsive, irrelevant newspaper in the history of the printed word, or the Hull Daily Mail has a deliberate agenda to not publish news that portrays this board of directors in a negative light.

Evidence pointing to the incompetency theory is that Fieldmouse was on holiday. In fact, this has been given as an excuse for their lax coverage. Really? So a newspaper with a circulation well into five figures (they were recently bragging about this, in a nauseating self-congratulatory article) has only one reporter capable of writing about the city’s biggest sports club?

Well, obviously Fieldmouse is not capable either, but the task has been dumped on his gigantic shoulders anyway. If they had any desire to report it, there are several other sports reporters on hand. Or are the powers-that-be just too stupid to see that?

Now, evidence pointing to an agenda is great fun to speculate on. Conspiracy theories are wonderfully entertaining to discuss, write, read and invent. They are also easy to dismiss, with anyone coming up with one being accused of spending a little too much time watching the X-Files. But come on, why are there never any anti-board letters in the paper? Why was it that whenever something bad happened last season, the very next day Fieldmouse would run a story about us signing crocked has-been Graeme Jones?

That was possibly the biggest insult to its readers they have ever perpetrated, and that’s saying something. Why wasn’t there any mention of Hinchliffe’s trial when he was entitled Vice-President and major shareholder? They hid behind the excuse that they cannot report on an on-going trial. Maybe not, but that does not preclude them from mentioning it. They know that as well as we do. Why wasn’t there even any speculation as to what might have happened if it had not been resolved? Where were the comments from fans, Buchanan, Hinchliffe, Daykin, Lloyd, the council, Belton, the Football League or the Tigers Co-operative?

Amusingly, the club seem the think the opposite holds true. Speak to anyone at the club, and they will tell you the Mail has an agenda against THEM. Really? If slavishly printing everything they want, and not printing awkward stories is an unwanted agenda, maybe someone at the club would like to tell us what an positive agenda is.

Surprisingly, there is some sane reasoning behind this, not just the usual hysterics when someone dares criticise them. They point to the Mail deliberately misquoting or misrepresenting fans’ comments. The editors of this publication can vouch for that – they routinely do it. It’s not fair, and it’s not right, but they will hardly be the only ones who do it. That’s not an agenda, it’s just rank stupidity.

Going back a year or so, they used to bash out a load of diversionary rubbish, or simply muddle the facts around as necessary. Now, they are not even doing that. The complete silence regarding our eviction was disgraceful. The Hull Daily Mail, operating within a complete monopoly, has a duty to Hull City fans. After all, it is only too eager to embrace us whenever it suits them, such as in the days leading up to major cup matches. But no, there was nothing. Were they hoping to wait it all out?

They needn’t bother any more. Their failings are simply too evident. They are either desperately incompetent, or are running a propaganda job for Buchanan and Hinchliffe. Both are horribly unpalatable, but one of them must be true.

Andy Dalton

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

When asked about where our present decline started, most City fans will point to the sacking of Brian Horton. Richard Gardham casts his mind back to his appointment in 1984…

Whilst I would agree that this period of time started our decline, it is not necessarily the sacking of Horton that acted as the catalyst for our decline. After Appleton deserted us, we were a promising young team who just needed the necessary shaping. A young, ambitious, tough manager was required so therefore…

The appointment of Brian Horton – Correct.

As we all know, Horton on the whole did an excellent job with City, 6th in the old Division Two was an astounding feat, and considering the budget he had and ordinary players at his disposal who were made to look class, every bit as good a feat as City achieved in the Sixties or Seventies. However, he gradually began to lose it.

City never looked as strong as they had in that season and erratic decisions were beginning to creep in. A dramatic losing streak in what was to be his final season eventually led to his demise, with thousands of fans calling for his head at the Swindon game. Horton had taken City had far as he could, both manager and team needed a new impetus to advance their promising futures and make the most of their obvious talents. Therefore….

The sacking of Brian Horton – Correct.

What City then needed was a wily old figure who could give a team with many Top Division players-in-waiting just what they required to boost them to what we all knew they could achieve. A good short term appointment, a bit like Derby with Jim Smith. We didn’t need a long term employment, say a manager still very much in learning mode who had failed to inspire Rochdale from their seemingly endless stay in the basement. In short, we didn’t need Eddie Gray….

The appointment of Eddie Gray – Incorrect.

Nothing against Eddie you understand. There were some definite high points under his management, most notably a wonderful thrashing of Brighton (and that Payton wonder goal), and the Liverpool game and City’s form in the run up to it. However Gray was never going to bring City instant success. He’d never tasted it as a manager and was therefore going to need time to put his plan into action.

He was a long term appointment, and had given a taster of what he could do. The Payton/Swan partnership was about to be ignited and this promising young manager had shown enough promise in his first season (despite a lowly league position) to be given a fair crack of the whip, however it was not to be……

The sacking of Eddie Gray – Incorrect  (why make a long term appointment and then sack him after just a year?)

The usual suspects were being mentioned now for City’s hotseat. A promising young team still, with Payton ready to blossom and that experienced head, or perhaps someone with international class was needed (Strachan/Wilkins/Rix…), aware of this, City’s board scoured the country, sorry that should read scoured the county and unearthed Colin Appleton from Brid. The man had been out of league football for a long while and had lost his grip of what was needed in our (then) division.

The appointment of Chippy Minton – Incorrect.

Colin burst into Boothferry Park, took one look around and instantly saw what needed doing. He refitted the changing rooms. And then signed Steve Doyle. To be fair the changing rooms probably made more of an impression. Appleton was rubbish, sold Keithy and never won a league game.

The sacking of Colin Appleton – Correct, CORRECT, CORRECT!!!!

Which brings us to a time when things are looking pretty desperate. An ageing squad, bottom of the league but we’ve still got Payton, Swan, Jobbo, Jenks and co, but on the whole we didn’t need a manager, we needed a miracle worker. After phoning Eileen Drewery (whatever happened to…), only for her to be engaged, the board baffled everyone by turning away the likes of John Bond and Lawrie McMenemy (thank god) and employing the little known Stan Ternant, one of the most respected coaches in the game…..

The appointment of Stan Ternant – Correct, we had nothing to lose.

And for a while Stan was indeed the leper messiah. Certain relegation went, our customary 14th in division 2 slot came. We were going to ‘big’ clubs and beating them on their own grounds.

As his first full season approached we believed we were unbeatable. How wrong we were. Stan’s revolutionary tactics (Hey kids – lets not bother with a left back) backfired spectacularly. We were awful. He had to go. He went.

The sacking of Stan Ternant – Correct

We were now so deep in the mire that it was difficult to see a way out. Jobbo had gone and only really Payton offered any hope (Swanny had lost heart by this stage). So where do you go when you need bailing out? That’s right – Rochdale, again, with a manager who’s career is in rapid decline and has never achieved anything in his time as the boss of a club.

The appointment of Terry Dolan – Incorrect

His first job was to steer us to relegation, which he did with consumate ease. He then very nearly exceeded all expectations by managing it again for a second year on the trot, just failing at the final hurdle. Then we all got a bit of a surprise. We got quite good and even flirted with the play-offs for a while, however it was soon apparent that as soon as Dolan got a whiff of promotion he was clueless. Lack of cash could be blamed, but very few teams had any money that we were competing against, and even fewer had players of the calibre of Dewhurst, Linton Brown, Fettis and of course Dean Windass.

After our second year of flirting with the play offs but not realistically having much chance after Easter, Dolan should have gone and given someone else a chance who was capable of getting these talented individuals to a level which their talents deserved. He stayed, we were relegated. He stayed even longer, we settled down in Division Four preparing ourselves for a lengthy stay.

The sacking of Terry Dolan – Correct (should have happened much earlier).

So on to our brave new post-Needler era. It had long been said that City needed a high profile player manager to recreate the glory days of the Carter/Neill/Horton eras. The player manager road was a tried and trusted one as far as City were concerned. Mark Hateley certainly fitted this bill, and seemed to have the necessary pedigree to give us the success we so desperately craved.

The appointment of Mark Hateley – Correct (This is WITHOUT the benefit of hindsight)

And he was totally unable to grasp what was necessary for lower league football. A grim first season included one Boyack-inspired false dawn. The beginning of the next season was a disaster. As a manager Mr Hateley made a good television pundit. Lloyd may have let him down, but that doesn’t excuse his poor tactics and seeming lack of interest.

The sacking of Mark Hateley – Correct

So, shit creek, no paddle, a massive hole in the bottom of the canoe, and man-eating sharks circling us. We did have though, one of the country’s most highly thought of young coaches in our ranks, who came with a reference from Alex Ferguson. Why not…..

The appointment of Warren Joyce – Correct

And in came Warren. His first move, just about, was to sign Justin Whittle, then, for a laugh, he transformed Mark Greaves from being the next Steve Richards to being the next Richard Jobson.

Add a few more excellent signings and that Great Escape thing and Warren was pretty much the most popular man in Hull (sorry, second most, I forgot about Norman Collier). In saving us from dropping out the league Warren became THE most important manager in the club’s history, and this is a fact that should never be forgotten by us.

His sacking had some good grounding, but overall he became a scapegoat for a board that had talked of an ambitious future, but failed to release to funds for Warren to carry out these ambitions. He had built a squad capable of survival, but for various reasons had not got close to one capable of promotion.

The sacking of Warren Joyce – Incorrect. Just.

So where to now? To be fair the appointment of Little came a bit out of the blue. OK, his career was in something of a a rapidly spiralling decline, but for a club which had spent the previous decade in freefall, resting nicely in and around that 88th position in the league, it was quite a coup to get him to Boothferry Park.

It is too early to say what kind of impact he has made or will make, though the most promising signs are that he won’t merely be a yes man to the board and will hopefully bring some professionalism throughout all levels of a club bereft of both hope and idea. The appointment of Brian Little – Correct. Hopefully the off the field distractions will not prevent him from giving the fans what they so richly deserve after our 15 years or hurt (or should that be 96 years?)

Richard Gardham

Flatliners

Sometimes when you write things about the Tigers it can get a bit stereotyped. You feel like you’ve written the same thing before. The start of the season is all boundless optimism, the middle is all bitter disappointment, the end is sullen gloom and wishing that the close season would come as you’re sick of it all.

A feeling that lasts until the first Saturday after the season ends when you are crippled by boredom and wondering how you can entertain yourself until the pre-season friendlies start and you can happily begin swapping rumours about new signings and what odds we’re on to go up and the old excitement rises again, cos this, really, could be our year…

It’s not like that this time. I can’t remember when there has been such collective gloom at the onset of a new season. If City were a patient it would be in cardiac arrest, chest compressions interspersed with electric shocks of increasing voltage all to no avail as the chaotic monitor tracing degenerates still further into an ominous flatline. And to say we feel a bit flat is to say that Kate Moss is perhaps not over-burdened in the mammary department. And to say we feel a bit flat is to say that Kate Moss is perhaps not over-burdened in the mammary department. Whereas previously our expectations have been over-inflated like Anna Nicole Smith and collapsed to the proportions of Victoria Beckham by September, this time we are squished from the outset.

Well, the team isn’t going to be burdened by the weight of over-expectation, we didn’t travel to Blackpool with the silly thought that we might be actually on a promotion campaign as we did to Mansfield or Rotherham or Exeter, only to get a most unwelcome knock on the door from Ronny Reality before we even had a chance to moan our heads off and call for the sacking of Dolan/Fish, Hateley/Lloyd or Joyce/Buchanan. In fact, the mood of the fans pre kick-off was that if we get a point at Blackpool, there’ll be calls for Brian Little to be given the freedom of the city.

The close season has been astounding. Our major shareholder, Hinchliffe, awaits trial on all manner of alleged dodgy dealings. He signs his shares over to our chairman, his long time buddy Nick Buchanan. David Lloyd, our landlord and, for many City folk, the Devil himself, threatens to shut us down as he has had no rent from Buchanan. He locks us out of our ground as Mr. Buchanan says there is nothing to worry about and threatens to sue Lloyd for money that he says Satan hasn’t coughed up from his period in charge. Needless to say, this last bit then goes very quiet. For a vital month we cannot get into our ground. The FA who have been sniffing around us all year suddenly announce that what is crawling around under the stones they have lifted looks too frightening for them to jump on, so they pass a hefty file to the Fraud Squad.

Mr Buchanan tells us there is nothing to worry about. The manager is able to make one signing only before a transfer embargo is dumped on us as we have not repaid the latest loan that the club has begged from the PFA. So we go into the new season having strengthened our side which came fourteenth last time out to the tune of one elderly central defender, David Brightwell.

That’s ignoring, of course, those who left us during the last campaign. At the time of writing the embargo is still in place and Mr Buchanan has said that there is nothing to worry about. We do have some cash though, as we have done a deal with Wigan to get some money for former Tiger keeper Roy Carroll. As usual the mathematics seem to make no sense but we do know that it is a way of making sure that we get some money quickly to cover our costs at the expense of the full amount of the sell-on clause – at a time when Celtic are eyeing up the Bhoy Wonder at anything up to three million of our English pounds. So presumably we are so desperate for funds to keep us going that we kiss off future cash. And, as Mr Buchanan points out, there is nothing to worry about.

Now I could say so much about all of that lot, but already that litany is depressing beyond words. But let’s remember that Farmer Tom Belton, voted ‘Fan of the Year’ over the last campaign when he was our Chairman, was ousted by Buchanan and Hinchliffe ostensibly for being incompetent.’ Look at that last word and then look at what’s happened this summer, and you might think that our close season could serve as a definition of incompetence – assuming that it’s nothing worse than that and that the FA have wasted their time doing their investigation and have presumably passed it on to the Rozzers as Plod are a bit short of work themselves and would welcome something to do even though everything at City is above board.

Apparently there are some people who believe that and they are of course entitled to that belief, just as they are allowed to believe that the earth is flat, that Santa and his sack will come every year to delight every good child and that England had a realistic chance of staging the 2006 World Cup.

The team. Oh, yeah. Remember them? What can we expect this time out? Well, we have a new manager at least. Warren Joyce will, rightly, always have a footnote in Tigerland history as The Manager Who Kept Us In The League When No Better Manager Had The Arse To Take The Job On. And I salute him for that. And with all of the off-field shenanigans last time out it’s not surprising that the team faltered. For all that, last season was desperately disappointing and there was a view amongst many that he hadn’t made the most of the resources available to him. Even those who felt that Joyce was harshly treated at the end were excited at the thought of having Brian Little at the helm. After all, he has a proven track record across the divisions and has yet to fail managerially. Apart from the end of his time at Aston, obviously. And the ‘disaster’ at Stoke, but that goes without saying. And his nightmare spell at West Brom, but that’s only common sense. But even if he isn’t some amalgamation of Shankly, Clough, Ferguson and Trappatoni that some would have us believe, at least he has proved that he can do it.

And it will be fascinating to see what he makes of a team that he clearly feels is not strong enough. I think he needs another keeper, a striker, at least two midfielders and a pair of full backs. But because of the desperate need to sign someone, anyone, before the embargo took his goolies off he grabbed a central defender, even though we already had enough of those to tile the floors with.

It’d be funny if it wasn’t so bloody pitiful. And what does he make of Buchanan, given that at West Brom he showed that he was quite prepared to walk away whilst slagging off the board even as they nipped in to sack him? So far he’s shown himself to be sufficiently a master of spin to impress New Labour and Shane Warne combined, but if he likes what he’s seen so far of the way we do things round here then I’m Theo Whitmore.

Ah, Tappa! At least there’s still Tappa. And, what the hell, having moaned like mad about everything, let’s finish with something about football. Did you see the goal against Derby? Oh, it was peachy! The man had come on in one of his determined moods and was showing the second rate Scandos who occupy the midlanders ranks what a REAL footballer can do. He’d already skipped through the defence twice and set up our strikers to no avail when he decided to do it all himself.

He moon-walked past a couple of defenders his feet shimmering like a humming birds wings and then accelerated like a Lamborghini Diablo away from three more. Seven more oaflike humpers were left in his wake as he approached the final nine Derbsters who had surrounded him and were hacking away desperately at him as he nutmegged the last 14 of them and dismissed the ball into the receptacle, leaving bodies everywhere, reminding gnarled old FBI men present of the ending of the siege at Waco. And that’s no word of a lie. But it WAS truly wonderful and one day we will be as proud to say we saw this genius play for this club as our Dads were that they saw Raich. And that’s saying a hell of a lot.

So there’s always some reason to be cheerful and Whitmore is one reason why, despite it all, that the old flicker of anticipation is here as we flatten our socks and turn our undies inside out in preparation for Blackpool. And if by the time you read this we’ve battered Blackpool and paggered Plymouth then this, really, might be our year, y’know if we can just stay injury free and get Manny back and hang on to Tappa, and John Eyre and Browny can get it together upfront, cos there’s nowt to beat in this division, hell we can win it by Christmas, you can ignore all that misery guts bollocks I started with, because I can feel it in my water, this one really could be our year……

Well, maybe. Although probably not. But what the hell, it’s back. And we’ve missed it all, haven’t we? The club might have a flat line trace on the monitor and nurses and doctors staring at it anxiously, but as long as we keep turning up and they keep putting out a team, then that might be enough of a blow on the chest to keep the club’s heart beating long enough for us to sort out the problems with its head. Because as we know, as long as there’s life there’s hope. At the moment we still, just, have both.


Mark Gretton

The Crest is History

I remember the first time I saw it, I have quite vivid memories of the occasion. It was around 1.30 on the 6th of March last year, the Saturday we faced Mansfield at home.

I was making my way to the Three Tuns and stopped to buy a programme from one of the vendors on Boothferry Road. I handed over two shiny pound coins and in return received a glossy 40 paged ‘official matchday magazine’ as they are termed nowadays. I tucked the proggie under my shoulder as I crossed the road in search of ale and when I reached the Tuns side of the road I looked at the front cover.

I stopped dead in my tracks, gazing intently in disbelief at what I was seeing. “Tigers reveal new crest!” screamed the text underneath a picture which made me utter involuntarily: “What the fuck is THAT?”

I staggered the rest of the way to the pub, the doormen both shaking their heads in disbelief as I held the cover up. Through the doors and it seemed like everyone in the pub held up a programme and said in unison “Have you seen this?”

I’m sure you know what I mean, you must have seen that crest by now. A shield with the Humber Bridge overlaid with three crowns at the top and below it what was ostensibly a tiger’s head. Except it looked nothing like a tiger’s head, more like an owl with a goatee beard, or a clipart crab with a circumcised dick before it.

Inside the programme our board spouted forth; ‘We are delighted to unveil the new Club Crest of Hull City AFC that will take the Tigers forward into the millennium..it was designed by James Hinchliffe who is studying Graphic Design at Leeds University’. What are they teaching at University’s these days??? Thankfully that abomination did not see the end of the season, let alone the start of the 21st century.

It was replaced with a hastily redrawn effort which now emblazons the matchkit and everything on sale in the now well-stocked club shop. The new version is by no means perfect but it is a drastic improvement. I must admit I quite like the idea of having the bridge and three crowns in our insignia, it shows where we are from for a start, the tiger’s head on it’s own never did that, but the nose is still shockingly poor. Not only does it have a phallic look to it, but there is a love heart at the end of it! A tiger should look menacing, not loveable.

Regardless of the aesthetics of the new crest, the principle of it’s existence sucks. You might have noticed that the crest designer shares his surname with our loveable Vice President, he also shares the same gene pool as he is Stephen Hinchliffe’s son.

It has been said that Hinch junior. was compensated quite well for his efforts, giving him somewhat more than a line on his CV. It is also rumoured that daddy gets a royalty every time the thing is used. Now whether these allegations are true or not, it can still be argued that it was not necessary to change what is the principle identifying mark of our club.

Granted, before this new logo was adopted, everything in the club shop had a different tiger on it, either the sideways on one or the front perspective version that had it’s mouth open as if yelping after a suppository had been stuck up it’s arse.

But why couldn’t the fans have been asked to choose which one they preferred? Or at least be consulted regarding the design of a new one. We were asked to vote for this seasons match strip, which has a lifespan of one or two seasons, yet were not asked our views on the design of something which might be with the club for decades.

The crest of the club is its identifying mark, part of the heritage of our 97 year old club, and it is far from amusing to think that this change was just the first of many coffer lining exercises from our ‘advisor in football matters’. I am surprised that more of a fuss was not kicked up over this at the time of the change beyond a few letters in the SportsMail.

Maybe people felt it churlish to complain about such a thing when the clubs very life had been in threat just months earlier and maybe we’ve just got used to the design and have lumped it rather than liked it. So I guess we are stuck with it, unless of course Uncle Tom and chums win their battle for control of the club, because I can’t see him wanting to keep any vestige of Hinch’s reign.


Les Motherby

We’re Not Singing Any More

Silence is usually golden, except at 3pm on a Saturday down at Boothferry Park! In the past year or so, except for some notable exceptions, the Boothferry hordes have been worryingly subdued. The fabled “Boothferry Roar” exists now only in the memories of the more “mature” City supporters –  recent generations of fans have become more accustomed to the plaintive meowing emanating from the terraces.

The immediate assumption of an outsider would most probably be that such problems were due to a decrease in attendance. However, the Tigers currently have their best average attendance figure (6,292 at time of writing) since the 1989/90 season, during which we flirted with the playoffs in the old Division Two.

Crowds have recently started to slip (from 7,000+ early on this season), but the defective nature of the atmosphere has been apparent long before now.

We currently have the second highest average attendance in the division, yet the relatively low crowds of recent weeks seem to have improved the atmosphere to a small extent – perhaps those fans wishing to chant feel less inhibited now the extra 2,000 have stopped coming.

One of the major factors must be the prolonged closure of the Kempton. The South Stand may well hold many more fans, but the hardcore band of fans who inhabit the East Stand generally manage the more prolonged chanting. Also, our recent trip to Sincil Bank emphasised how the atmosphere at a game can benefit from the relative proximity of rival sets of supporters (in terms of chanting rather than physical violence!). While Bunkers is the full length of the pitch from the North Stand, Kempton is far closer, allowing a greater degree of interaction/baiting/rival chanting, which can serve to ignite a crowd.

It is true that there is the potential for this in the West Stand, but the people sitting in there are mostly too well-behaved and too engrossed in their knitting to engage in verbal hostilities with opposition fans. There is also a lack of interaction between the home supporters when Kempton is fully functional it will often challenge Bunkers to “give us a song”, and vice versa.

Many people would note that there has been relatively little to sing about in recent years. The exception to this is of course our “Great Escape” from relegation last season. During the achievement of this feat, our attendances rose and the atmosphere at Boothferry Park was temporarily improved. Examples of this are the game against Scarborough, along with the wild celebrations which greeted the last minute winners of Craig Dudley and Colin Alcide, against Carlisle and Exeter respectively, and Brian Gayle’s wonderful own goal in the Shrewsbury game.

During the second half of the season we actually had something to play for – in 99/00 we look far too competent to go down, yet far too inconsistent to challenge for promotion. Thus we are stuck in mid-table obscurity with no real aim to be achieved by May, and as a result our crowds and our atmosphere have eroded. In the last week we have twice enjoyed comfortable 2-0 wins (Macclesfield and Brighton) – if these results signal the start of a consistent run and resulting playoff push, it will be very interesting to see the effect on the Boothferry Park atmosphere. For the “big cup ties” the atmosphere is superb, since the fans know it is a one-off game with the chance of real glory – a giant-killing. In general, our following at away games whips up a far superior atmosphere than at the corresponding home fixtures.

This is possibly due to the fact that to expend the extra revenue that an away game demands, you must be a fairly committed Tigers fan. Thus, the City following at away games comprises the more hardcore element of the Boothferry Park crowd, resulting in a higher concentration of those who are prepared to “sing their hearts out for the lads”. There is also a measure of pride attached to away matches – the fans are representatives of the club and the city, and want to emphasise the level of support enjoyed by the team. At York, despite only coming away with a 1-1 draw, the streets outside the ground were filled with around two thousand City fans, singing the praises of the club. At Lincoln, despite going down 2-1, there was a rousing chorus of “The Hull Flag” – would you experience that at Boothferry Park?

Overall it seems the best course of action would be to re-open the Kempton (or play all games away). This would generate a better atmosphere, thus hopefully improving the team’s results, thus bringing more people through the turnstiles, thus providing more money, thus allowing player purchases… ad infinitum.

Unfortunately, recent reports suggest this momentous event will be delayed even longer than expected. At the moment, there are encouraging signs that the atmosphere may be improving regardless of Kempton’s dilapidated state. However, it would appear that ultimately the only way to guarantee a good atmosphere at Boothferry Park would be to have a successful team playing there.

 

Adam Reid

Can’t Live With ‘Em…

It’s a difficult world sometimes, isn’t it? The loss of the old certainties, the disppearance of the Empire, the pound to become the Euro, Britney Spears chest changing shape almost by the minute. But there is one constant. That Hull City AFC will flatter, tease, issue the come on and then blow us out like the minx she is. Once again we are living down to our footballing expectations.If the opening of the season was inconsistent, the middle third has been downright bewildering.

"This knicker elastic is killing me"

At Anfield, as we went for it at 0-2 down and with Bracey having yet again managed to get himself sent off I got a lump in my throat I was so proud of the way we took them on. I can’t remember when I’ve felt so good about being a City fan. Yet at home against Northampton a few weeks later we were so staggeringly poor it was embarrassing. At Southend our win encompassed skill, character, flair, passion and complete belief, plus a bit of black magic as Brabin’s shot, I swear, had already missed before it entered the net.

At Shrewsbury the most ludicrous refereeing decision you will see this side of hallucinogenic drugs deemed that Goodison’s slice to the keeper was a backpass and from then on we just gave it up. I

t was shocking and those who had made the trip didn’t feel the need to moderate their criticism of players and manager. Those are maybe the most extreme examples. But the last three weeks have seen us close pass Macclesfield to destruction on their own patch with Whitmore outstanding and then do the same to Brighton with the man absent just as we wondered how we could replace him. At last we had proved that we could produce consistent form with different players.

Wrong. We go to Chester, the worst team of a truly terrible league the next week and the team that could have beaten Brighton by six can hardly create a chance worthy of the name as we have the worst of a 0-0 that sees us play as poorly as we’ve done all season.

This isn’t irritating, annoying, whimsical or puzzling. This is utterly baffling. And of course it’s disappointing.

Perhaps expectations were ridiculously raised by our form at the end of last season, but I’m sure that most of us expected something better than we have actually seen in this campaign. I don’t think anyone thought that we would be firmly ensconced in the bottom half of the league at this stage. And incredibly even now our season needn’t be over. In a division as poor as this one a decent run of form could still land a playoff place. But don’t hold your breath as decent runs by City have disappeared as suddenly, completely and unexpectedly as Victoria Adams’ knickers up David Beckham’s bum crack.

Finding a reason is the clever bit. I don’t want to say too much about our owners. Much has been written about Buchanan and Hinchliffe and fans are understandably bewildered by inconsequential FA (as in nothing) hearings and interminable court cases with former directorial colleagues. And the other reason for not saying too much is that the powers that be tend not to like it and tend to do things about it.

Andy Daykin, who for all I know might even now be on the brink of pulling in million pound sponsorship deals with BMW and Microsoft seems able to manage his time so well that he is able to monitor everything (and I do mean everything) that is uttered about the club whether on radio, in newspapers, in fanzines or on the internet. And then he makes the time to approach people in order, presumably, to encourage them and even, helpfully in my view, to suggest how they might like to comment on the activities of the club in the future. You might think this high-handed, petty and interfering and wonder aloud if that is actually what he gets paid for but I prefer to see it as a total commitment to the fans. Mind you, it’s a shame that Radio Humberside’s Chris Harvey, the first reporter in aeons to take his job seriously and do more than just regurgitate what the powers that be at the club tell him seems to be off sports reporting now. And not much in evidence reporting on the Tigers these days. I wonder why that is, then?

But whatever is said about the owners and whether any of it can be proved, it can’t be denied that we have strengthened the side. I think it’s fair to say that we’ve underachieved and here Joyce and McGovern have to take some blame. Even now I don’t feel that they know their best side.

It’s got to be Wilson in goal, unless of course it’s Bracey. Definitely three centrebacks flanked by wingbacks playing in a flat back four. Midfield picks itself, you wouldn’t look beyond Bolder, Joyce, Brabin, Whitmore, Eyre, Goodison (unless he’s in the centre of the defence or a right wingback) and Schofield (ditto or ditto) to fill the 2, 3, 4 or 5 places available whilst our front two has to be Eyre, Brown, Harris and Wood, no arguments there and good to see that this pairing has been allowed to develop and settle. In fairness to the managerial duo too often the players have been unable to give back to back performances that demand that they be picked. But too often we haven’t made enough of what we’ve got. And who could believe that Steve Wilson, little orphan Willo, would still be our number one? A man who looks like he would have trouble carrying three shredded wheats home from ASDA let alone eating them?

And Warren says he is going to be our secret weapon, which I think is spot on apart from the fact that he is not in fact secret and is in no way a weapon. Now don’t misunderstand me, Willo’s a fine shot stopper who did much to secure us a point at Chester as he has done often before, but both his strengths and weaknesses were apparent 6 years ago and he’s too old to change now even though he still looks as though he’s waiting for puberty to kick in.

Where this leaves us I don’t really know. But doubts over ownership, concerns over the coaching staff, worries that the players are too inconsistent to do the needful, haven’t we been here before? Well, of course we have, for much of the last 96 years or so, really. And yet we haven’t. Previous generations rightly considered that the Tigers were basically an underachieving second division club. The current generation will soon start to think of us as a natural division four club, albeit one that draws unaccountably large gates when there is even a whiff of some revival.

Whereas once we remembered Waggy securing a replay at Stamford Bridge now we agonise over missed penalties at Spotland as we lose the quarter final of the Autowindscreens shield (Northern Section). This is more important than it first appears. Soon we might stop looking at the stars and wonder how to survive in the gutter in which we currently reside. We’ve been here too long already and we look like spending another summer building for promotion from the bottom of the pile.

A long moan that and I’ve not even had chance to mention transfer embargoes, PFA loans and the Kempton and the club’s breathtaking incompetence/cynical dishonesty, delete according to taste, as the date for the cherished and mystical East to open is again put on hold.

But it’s not all been bad. Whitmore, Eyre, Brown, Harper, Greaves Edwards and Whittle have all afforded genuine reasons to be cheerful and when we do get it right we are as lovely looking as anything you’ll ever see.

As the doctor replied when the man asked him if giving up drinking and sex would make him live longer, ‘No, but it will feel like you are doing,’ so it is with City. They infuriate, they drive you up the wall but it would be hell without them, wouldn’t it? I can’t see a great future, at least not in the short to medium term. But whatever future it is, we’ll be there, won’t we? City. You need it ‘cos you’re weak.

 

Mark Gretton

How Was It For You?

So how has it been for you, then, the start to this brave new season? Depending on your own personal optimism/pessimism quotient you might have been expecting us to romp away with the title, to compete effectively in mid-table, or to struggle yet again amongst the dead men. And depending on which games you focus, you might have seen some evidence to convince you, whichever camp you fall into, that you are probably right.

Against Chester we were fluid and skilful, creating chance after chance against an admittedly woeful outfit, Eyre satisfied us, and the Magnificent Mann was a flying machine, bombing forward, handle bar moustache fluttering in the breeze, like Biggles on crack.

In the two games against Roth, and against Lincoln, and away at Torquay, we were competent and effective, and did enough to suggest that we will not be an easy touch for anyone.

Exeter, Cheltenham and Brighton were horrid. The first two were poor efforts against poor sides. For those who didn’t make the trip, don’t be fooled by Exeter, exalted league position or no, they are, as you youngsters say, total pants.

I could look silly for saying that at the end of the campaign if they somehow went up, but as Alan Hansen memorably never said, in this game you win nothing with players who are completely shite. And when Big Bob Dewhurst, bless him, is your inspiration and your major source of goals, you will eventually struggle.

Brighton was truly dreadful, an alarming return to the supine efforts of the Hateley days, showing, in England cricket terms, the fight of Graham Hick, the flair of Mike Atherton, the imagination of Alec Stewart and the cool headed rationality of Chris Lewis. Yes, our deficiencies stood out like Andy Caddick’s ears. And all of the time, whatever the opposition, in the background the unmistakable sound of yet another striker toppling gently to the turf under an ill-judged Lee Bracey challenge……

So a mixed start. But as ever with Hull City AFC you feel the real story may not be happening on the pitch. A lot of money seems to be available to us, and this board of directors seems to me to have enjoyed some remarkable luck, which has enabled them, commendably, to back the manager in a way that would surely turn his two predecessors an emerald shade of envy. The game at Villa. The sale of the mighty Oakes. The record season ticket sales. And now the Sky televised two header with the Scallies, or ‘Eat up your Liver’ as I am informed it was to be promoted by the Hull Daily Mail.

All have filled the Tiger coffers. And therefore, inevitably, we are so short of readies that we have to cadge off the PFA until the Sky cash comes through from the Scouse encounter. Maybe the Daily Mail should have termed the Frank Worthington cup clash ‘Pool your resources.’

I have some sympathy with our directors. I’m hopeless at managing money myself. But I’ve always assumed that is why I do not find myself running a business with a turnover of tens of thousands of pounds every week, as I would make a total balls of it, doing the equivalent of trying to remember which safe place this time I’ve hidden my cheque book and fishing down the back of the sofa for a few coins.

Which is a wee bit what this looks like. And of course it’s doubly awkward when you have as a ‘football consultant’ a man in Stephen Hinchliffe who has, if we are to believe the Department of Trade and Industry, been sufficiently unlucky with his running of companies in the past for him to have to be kept away from any new ones for the next seven years.

Now I’m not for a moment suggesting anything underhand from Mr Hinchcliffe, who I’m sure is a nice fellow and as honest as that lovely head of blonde hair of his is natural. But you could see how more suspicious types than me could start to feel a bit, well, anxious about all of this. Couldn’t you?

And then there’s Lloyd. Oh dear, there’s always Lloyd. The stupid, preening, overweening, wooden racquet-wielding arrogant, self-obsessed, repressed non-consulting, insulting tosser of a man has not gone away. He owns our ground. We’re told at one point that he will not let us repair it, as we have have forgotten to pay him anything on it.

Signing Craig Faulconbridge on loan but not paying for the ground is a bit like buying a new microwave with the money that should go to pay the mortgage. It is a bit stupid. For this reason we are told we have to put up with a capacity of under 9000. But that appears to be sorted now. Have you noticed how our capacity is going up like Linford Christie’s nandrolone levels?

We put in a couple of barriers in the well, and suddenly it goes from 8,600 to 10,300 to over 13,000 for the ‘Pool game. Perhaps we borrowed all of these people from the PFA, and are hoping to pay them back after the Liverpool game with the fans we attract then.

But Lloyd wants a superstadium, so long as the council pays for it with the Kingston Communications Share Issue windfall. In this he has a lot in common with Hull City Council, who want a superstadium so long as Lloyd pays for it with his I Sold My Business And My Name to Whitbread Because I Am A Complete Tit windfall.

Those who have slightly less in common with this view are the fans of Hull City AFC, Hull KR and Hull Sharks, most of whom will happily share a stadium with their rivals on the day that the holes in their bottoms heal up. I can’t believe that a Superstadium will ever happen, not least because Lloyd is so spectacularly inept at whatever he attempts, has a fuse shorter than a cheap firework, and has a startling ability to piss off anyone who has any contact with him at all.

Lloyd watchers will have enjoyed the dead hand of the Master this summer as he first criticised the Sharks players for lack of effort and then halved the contractual money of many of them. This latter move was very effective, as it prompted the players to threaten strike action, so that Lloyd backed down completely.

Don’t feel that the move wasn’t effective though, as it has prompted a number of the Sharks better players to instruct their agents to try and get them free of their contracts now that the season as ended as they have no desire to play for a club that reneges on it’s promises and is willing to shag around with their livelihoods. Presumably it will become harder in consequence for that club to attract new players to replace those who go. Nice work, David!

I’ve also enjoyed his threatening (threatening?) to resign as Britain’s Davis Cup tennis captain if we lose the Relegation playoff against the South Africans. Altogether now, “Oohh ahh, Wayne Ferreiraaaahhhh”. And Lloyd has criticised Tim Henman’s consultation of a psychiatrist to improve his mental state, seeing no value in improving your tennis by listening to someone who’d never played the game in his life.

Absolutely. It’s as ridiculous as a former tennis player telling a football coach that his team isn’t good enough or fit enough……..The dream solution would be if he stamps his foot once too often and high tails it out of the lives of Hull sport for good, but I’m not sure we’re that lucky.

But if Buchanan and Hinchliffe have kept us away from the one that Chris Evert never fancied, then we should be grateful for that. And if under their stewardship Warren Joyce is able to develop his side, harness the diverse talents of Mann, Eyre, Alcide, Whittle, Brown, Harper and Harris, remind Brabin why he was such a success in the first place and that there is no time in this man’s army for resting on laurels, continue the development of Greaves and Edwards, gently introduce some of the more promising juniors such as Adam Bolder, Michael Blythe and Danny Brown into the first team fold, and persuade Lee Bracey not to leap at opposition forwards with a blood-curdling cry of ‘Banzai!’ we may yet have a team to challenge for the playoffs. And if we do that, none of us, I suspect, will be that concerned how we are being run.


Mark Gretton