FAMOUS FIVE: Players for City and Derby

A fair number of players have been on the books of both Hull City and Derby County, and given that two of our most important players of the last few seasons are going to be trying to do us over this weekend, it felt pertinent to pick a random quintet. The stories of people like Raich Carter and Ian Ashbee are well known, but then…

1: Steve McClaren

A man with a thick skin and an unwavering self-belief, when considering the number of times he has proved unsuccessful in managerial roles in recent memory. Yet at Hull City, we are able to recall McClaren in only very fond terms. He came through the ranks at Boothferry Park and debuted in the first team two days after his 19th birthday on the final day of 1979/80. It wasn’t a great start for him, as City lost 1-0 at relegated Bury and survived in Division Three by a single point.

But the start of the 1980s brought with it a new breed of gifted youngster, schooled by the club, and alongside Brian Marwood and Garreth Roberts, the visionary midfielder McClaren was to prove integral. After a disorganised and inexperienced side was relegated to the Fourth Division in 1981, McClaren was a regular in the side that, under Colin Appleton, helped City glide back to promotion in 1983. He stayed for two more seasons, coming to within a goal of promotion again in 1984 before finally helping City into the Second Division in 1985 under Brian Horton.

McClaren had impressed Derby manager Arthur Cox when City beat them 3-2 at Boothferry Park in March 1985 as Derby, champions a decade earlier, found themselves slumming it in the Third Division. McClaren joined in the summer of 1985 and contributed stringently to a title-winning campaign but then suffered an injury that forced him to miss the whole of the next season, aside from a loan spell at Lincoln. Derby won the Second Division title, making it two promotions in a row, and McClaren was evidently surplus to requirements once they found themselves back in the big time. He went to Bristol City and Oxford United before retiring at 31 with injury, but by this time he was already a highly-qualified coach.

And that’s what he is, really – a coach. His role at Manchester United made him, yet it didn’t involve any day-to-day decision making and his only tactical input was on an advisory level. Alex Ferguson thought he was the best assistant he’d had, at that time, but like many seconders at Old Trafford (Kidd, Meulensteen, Queiroz, Phelan) he found himself out of his depth when doing it himself. Initially he did well, winning the League Cup with Middlesbrough, but even then critics claimed it was despite him, not because of him, and the first accusations of negative football that have dogged him all his career were aimed his way. Continuity seemed to be the only thing in his favour when he was given the England job after the 2006 World Cup after a long spell as Sven Goran Eriksson’s right hand man.

A year later, with the umbrella cast aside and his name sullied at home, he went to the Netherlands and won the Eredivisie with Twente, something which sticks out like a sore thumb more than ever when looking at the failures that have tarnished his CV time and again. Wolfsburg, Nottingham Forest, Twente again, Newcastle and, most tellingly of all, two spells at Derby County, with the second an all the more incredulous appointment given the catastrophe of the first. We’re sure Derby fans reading this can furnish us with more details; we can just be grateful that on our patch, McClaren is known only as a great player. And we’d like it to stay that way.

2: Nathan Doyle

Enigmatic, fleet-of-foot full back, signed as a player for the future from Derby by Phil Brown, who had managed him there. He played only nine league games for his hometown club, finding room for a couple of loan spells too, before coming to City in the early part of 2007. His became known as a symbol of an unwillingness to trust youthful talent at City, as despite Brown’s enthusiasm for him, Doyle was very rarely seen in City colours throughout City’s promotion campaign of 2007/08, having debuted on the last day of the previous season in circumstances similar to McClaren – ie, once survival had been secured the previous week. At one point early in the season, Brown chose to play Andy Dawson, the most left-footed player of all time, at right back rather than give the youngster a chance.

Quirkily, Doyle managed just one appearance in each of the three competitions in 2007/08 prior to somehow wangling a place on the bench for the play-offs. In the high midday heat of Watford, he came on midway through the second half and did one bit of fancy danning with his feet over the ball before bending a shot on to the post; in the return, with City coasting at 5-1 on aggregate and preparing for Wembley, Doyle was introduced as a midfielder and scored with a deflected shot before doing the ‘rocking baby’ celebration as the crowd spilled on to the pitch (again). He was on the teamsheet for the final although this time didn’t get off the bench.

In the Premier League, Doyle played three times before going to Barnsley on loan early in 2009/10 and then signing permanently afterwards. He has since had longer spells at Bradford and Luton but has been without a club since the beginning of this year. He’s still only 30.

3: Alf Ackerman + Ken HarrisonAckermanHarrisonA pairing that played together for City and then left together in a £6,000 deal for Derby County. Such was the negative reaction around this double sale that City manager Bob Jackson, solely responsible for the deal, was given ‘leave of absence’ by the directors.

The problem wasn’t just that two effective players had been cheaply disposed of – South African striker Ackerman was the top scorer in the 1954/55 side that was struggling against the drop, while attacking full back Harrison had more than 200 appearances for City next to his name – it was that Derby were, like City, battling the drop. Essentially, Jackson had given two top players to a team who could have an active say in whether City stayed in the Second Division or not, especially as the two were due to face each other on the final day at the Baseball Ground.

Mercifully, new manager Bob Brocklebank managed to keep City afloat just enough over the next half dozen games so that the final day’s result was immaterial. Just as well, really as Derby won 3-0 with Ackerman getting a brace and Harrison, now playing as an orthodox winger, scoring the other. Just imagine how supporters and directors, united in their horror at Jackson’s casual sale of the duo, would have reacted if that scoreline, with those scorers, had sent City down and kept Derby up. It would have made Denis Law look positively generous*.

As it was, Derby went down and City joined them the following season, so all that had happened was a delaying of the inevitable. Ackerman and Harrison stayed at Derby for little more than a year each but Ackerman was still prolific, scoring 21 goals in his 37 senior appearances.

4: Roy Greenwood
roygreenwoodAn excellent winger who stepped out of the huge shadow cast by the master, Ian Butler, to become a stellar performer on the left flank for City in the 1970s after debuting as a 19 year old in 1971.

When Butler left in 1973, Greenwood grasped the opportunity as well as he possibly could with an ever-present record in 1973/74 along with goalscoring feats above expectations for a wide man. When fit, he was one of the first on the teamsheet right through until Christmas 1975, when he was sold to Sunderland for £140,000.

Injury meant he didn’t excel at Sunderland, though he did pick up a Second Division title medal, and, after turning down the chance to rejoin Terry Neill at Arsenal because he didn’t like the train journeys between Hull and London, he joined Derby in 1979.

He lasted less than a year at the Baseball Ground, making just 13 senior appearances without scoring. He had a more successful spell at Swindon before ending his career with brief stints at Huddersfield and Tranmere.

Essentially, he became an injury-ravaged player from the day he left Boothferry Park, which was a great shame for someone of obvious talent.

5: Andy Oakes

OakesAndyThe memories of this 21 year old goalkeeper, signed for nothing from Macclesfield and shoved straight into the relegation battle that became immortalised as the Great Escape, are as loving as it’s possible to be for any player who only featured in 20 senior games for City. He kept nine clean sheets as Warren Joyce tightened and toughened up the team and, after survival was secured, it was obvious he wasn’t going to hang around.

Derby paid £465,000 for him and while City had to start the next season relying on Lee Bracey in goal, Oakes was in the Premiership, as the top tier was then known. He was a reliable and occasionally spectacular back-up custodian to Mart Poom but ultimately couldn’t break into the team on a more permanent basis, leaving after six years with just 43 league games next to his name. Spells at Walsall, Swansea and Darlington followed before he turned his back on football aged just 32.

Presumably it’s just his lack of longevity that stops Oakes being regarded as highly as City’s true goalkeeping greats like Bly, McKechnie, Norman and Myhill. Looking at the situation he was thrown into, it is genuinely hard to imagine a City keeper as important as he was.

*Yes, we know Law didn’t technically relegate Manchester United with that backheel, but it fits the narrative.


FAMOUS FIVE: Ex-England players at City

There are only two types of Hull City player to have won caps for the full England team – those who did so before joining City, and those who did so after leaving City. Taking a break for a moment from sticking pins in a knitted effigy of Gareth “as soon as Jake and Harry leave Hull, I’ll pick ’em” Southgate, we give you a quintet of players of the nation who slummed it at City when their best days were “apparently” behind them…

1: Jake Livermore
LivermoreJ“Apparently”, indeed. He’s unique among our players with England connections, is Jake, as he is the only one to have played for his country first before and then after his time with the Tigers, emphasising the “but not during” more than is good for our sanity. He never made it as a first team regular at Tottenham yet somehow got an England call-up from Roy Hodgson in August 2012 for a friendly against Italy. He came on as a sub for Frank Lampard with 20 minutes to go, enough time for people to assume his loan spells at MK Dons, Crewe, Derby, Ipswich, Peterborough and Leeds must have been killer, and then returned to the reserves at White Hart Lane.

He joined City in 2013, initially on loan, became a permanent signing after the FA Cup final in 2014 and left at the start of 2017 when West Brom put in a surprise bid. He had barely been allocated his peg in the dressing room when his England recall arrived, allowing us the torturous prospect of wondering if he had impressed Gareth Southgate while playing for City, and therefore would have got the same call if his move to the Midlands hadn’t happened. We’re unlikely to ever know, though if you do bump into the personable England boss any time soon, make sure you ask him.

Livermore, a fine player, has three caps at the time of writing and is in the latest squad, to the continued incredulity of football writers and Mark Noble fans everywhere. Fraizer Campbell, meanwhile, kind of holds an opposite record to Livermore, in that instead of playing for England either side of his City spell, he played for City either side of his England spell. Or if you prefer, instead of playing for England before and after City, he actually did it after and before.

2: Danny Mills
MillsDHas anyone ever liked Danny Mills? You can admire him, if you are a Charlton or Leeds fan, as he was a good player for both, albeit one who always seemed to have too much to say for himself and a chip on both shoulders. If he wasn’t at your club he was a personality easy to despise and you can imagine that he was quite adept at starting fights in empty rooms.

Mills was a Leeds player when he was first called up by England in 2001 and the following year he played every minute of England’s campaign at the 2002 World Cup after becoming first choice right back following injury to Gary Neville. He was soon jettisoned when the Manchester United defender regained his fitness and his international career ended in 2004 with 19 caps.

Two years later, out of favour at Manchester City, he came to the Circle on loan as Phil Parkinson desperately sought reinforcements, experience, friends, spies, anything. Mills played at centre back when he first arrived, giving away a penalty after four minutes of his debut for handball (despite the hand that struck the ball actually belonging to someone else) and after initially performing well, he returned to Manchester after nine appearances, by which time it was well known that he was not a popular figure among the City players, something underlined the following season when he and Ian Ashbee had a few ding-dongs during City’s games against Charlton Athletic, where Mills had gone back for a loan spell.

In retirement, Mills cuts a more sympathetic figure and he is a fair-minded and articulate talking head on the game, but his knack for bearing grievances and causing commotions during his playing days is not one easily forgotten.

3: Stan Mortensen
MortensonS“Never fear, Morty’s here” was the phrase he apparently used on signing for City in 1955, at the age of 34. Mortensen’s career with England had ended two years before via a stellar 23 goals in 25 games, and oddly, on the back of his hat-trick in the FA Cup final of 1953, a feat that remains unique to this day.

City weren’t high fliers by any stretch in 1955 when he joined and Mortensen was long past the peak of his powers, but he scored the only goal on his debut against Port Vale and remained consistent in a side that couldn’t shape up to the standards of their new centre forward. City were relegated in 1956 with Mortensen injured for the last month, and he left in February 1957 with 22 goals from 46 senior games next to his name.

4: Emlyn Hughes
HughesEmlynEngland qualified as holders for the 1970 World Cup and then failed spectacularly to reach any tournaments until the 1980 European Championships, and only one player featured in both squads. Hughes was a utility defender and midfield player of endless exuberance who in 1970 was the youngest squad member in Mexico, there to act as cover for numerous positions, and he never kicked a ball. In 1980, he was the former skipper picked for his unique tournament experience as a squad in wholly new territory went to Italy for the eight-team Euro finals, and again he never kicked a ball; indeed, he had by then played his final England game.

Three years later, he joined City. It was all larks, really; it looked odds-on that Colin Appleton’s hardworking but supremely entertaining team was going to be promoted out of the Fourth Division, and chairman Don Robinson asked his manager if he fancied giving Hughes, now 35, a few games in the City defence to put a few extra bums on seats and attract a camera or two. Appleton agreed and Hughes, a personal friend of Robinson’s as his dad was an old rugby chum, played a handful of matches as City went up in second place. A few years later he joined the board.

Of the 62 caps he won, 59 were while he was winning all and sundry with Liverpool and in the week when he would have turned 70 it’s nicely fitting to note that he remains the most capped England player ever to pull on a City shirt.

5: Anthony Gardner
GardnerAnthonyIt never ceases to amaze the football-loving majority that Gardner, one of the most injury prone players not to have his career actually ended by injury, managed to play for England. Never mind whether he was good enough (he wasn’t), just having him fit for any period of time was a novelty in itself, miraculous even. This was a centre back who had eight years with Tottenham Hotspur and only played 114 league games because he was never fit for any acceptable length of time.

His cap came under Sven Goran Eriksson, who sent him on as a half time substitute for John Terry in 2004 against Sweden. Also coming on as a sub at half time to play alongside him was one Gareth Southgate. Sweden won the game 1-0 (Ibrahimović, no less) and Gardner didn’t feature again. In the build up to Euro 2004, Eriksson was exploring all centre back options available as Rio Ferdinand was suspended following his missed drugs test; after this one, he discounted Gardner entirely.

City bought him after a short loan spell in 2008 to partner, and possibly guide, Michael Turner in the art of Premier League defensive mastery yet it was Turner who ended up doing the educating, but mainly to Kamil Zayatte, as Gardner couldn’t stay fit over two seasons and when he was healthy enough to be picked, rarely impressed. After City were relegated, he left for a loan spell at Crystal Palace and joined them permanently, then went to Sheffield Wednesday (as did, later, both Zayatte and Turner, coincidentally). He has been without a club since 2014 but there is no evidence he has actually retired. Maybe he still wants to make up for all the games he missed when he was younger.

We’ve counted 17 players in the post-war period who played for England during the glitzier part of their careers and then joined City afterwards.


FAMOUS FIVE: City reuniting with ex-managers

Phil Parkinson witnessed his Bolton team take a real shoeing at the hands of the Tigers at the weekend, but amazingly it was the first time he’d faced us as an opposing manager in more than ten years since he was given his marching orders by Adam Pearson after a rotten start to 2006/07. Here we find five other examples of a former City manager’s first game against us after leaving…

1: Brian LittleLittleBrianLittle was a successful manager at City and a very affable guy in all respects, and to some his dismissal by Adam Pearson in February 2002 still seems harsh. He’d worked miracles the previous season in getting City to the play-offs in the fourth tier despite the savage off-field acrimony enveloping the club, leading to locked gates, unpaid wages and players training on grass verges while borrowing money for rent and petrol.

Then, with all that sorted out, he spent £1m on new talent and was not in the worst run of form in February 2002 when the news broke that he was leaving. City had just lost at home to Macclesfield but it was only a second defeat in seven, and they were sixth in the table, a play-off position. Jan Mølby arrived, City finished 11th and nothing improved, far from it.

Meanwhile, Little didn’t take a great knock to his reputation – he’d done genuinely well at City and had won the League Cup, Fourth Division title, Conference title and play-off finals with three of his previous clubs. He eventually had 18 months out of the game before Tranmere Rovers appointed him as manager in October 2003.

City’s promotion from the bottom tier in 2004 meant that Little was able to return to Hull with his new charges in December that year. By now he had Ian Goodison and Theodore Whitmore in his team, the two Jamaican internationals of great talent whom he had inherited at City and then prised away from their homecoming at Seba (now Montego Bay) United to go to Merseyside. So a fine former manager and two fine former players (plus a rubbish one, David Beresford) were all on the Tranmere bus that came to the Circle, where none of them had played nor managed before, a week before Christmas 2004.

It was an occasion that will retain its vividness for as long as those present are alive. Both sides had begun the season well in League One but Tranmere needed to make an early change when keeper Jon Achterberg suffered a thigh injury in a challenge with Delroy Facey and hobbled off. Sub keeper Russell Howarth took over, conceded a deflected Ian Ashbee shot, then suffered concussion after Stuart Elliott kicked him in the head as the two challenged for a ball, with Elliott at full sprint.

Howarth didn’t return for the second half, and his replacement as sub was also his replacement as goalkeeper – one Theodore Whitmore. The City fans were able to both love and pity their former midfielder as, gifted playmaker though he was, it really didn’t extend to his keeping skills. The saves he did make tended to be through sliding with his feet or kicking the ball away, but he was powerless when Elliott aimed a header past him for 2-0.

Eugene Dadi pulled a goal back straight from the restart, but from here on it was plain sailing for City and agony for their former manager. Nick Barmby made it three goals in three minutes, and 3-1 to the Tigers, then Whitmore cut an ever more baffled and spaced out figure as Elliott completed his hat-trick, the last of which was a penalty, and then Danny Allsopp made it six near the end.

Little told the press afterwards, very simply: “Everything went wrong for us.” In this case, it really, literally, couldn’t have happened to a nicer man. The corresponding fixture in March 2005 at Prenton Park was also key in City’s season, as the Tigers won 3-1 with first ever goals in City colours for new signings Kevin Ellison and Craig Fagan, and City’s second straight automatic promotion was confirmed when Tranmere, always the nearest rivals to the top two, lost a midweek game in hand. City have not faced Little since, while the only time Tranmere have been on the radar again was in a League Cup tie in 2006.

2: Colin AppletonAppletonCAppleton’s decision to quit his job at City was pre-meditated. Even before the heartbreaking 2-0 defeat of Burnley on the last day of the 1983/84 season which denied City promotion to Division Two by one lousy goal, Swansea had already tapped him up, and as the team bus began its forlorn journey back across the Pennines, he told the chairman and the players that he was off .

Such was the lack of status of the new Associate Members Cup (the Football League Trophy, prior to its numerous associations with light goods vehicle manufacturers and decorating firms) that Appleton didn’t stick around for the semi-final, three days after Burnley. Chris Chilton took charge, with a disheveled City somehow tonking Tranmere 4-1 in the semi (and against a proper keeper, too) before losing 2-1 to Harry Redknapp’s Bournemouth in the final, which was incongruously held at Boothferry Park in the one and only season that it didn’t get a showpiece occasion at Wembley (as Typical City as it’s possible to be). No silverware, but we don’t care.

Brian Horton was appointed as Appleton’s successor, and as City hit the ground running under the new manager, the old gaffer was quickly finding that Welsh grass wasn’t much greener at all. He had started very poorly at the Vetch Field and was already in bother by the time he brought his side to Boothferry Park for a night game in October 1984. The players proved a point quite substantially by winning 4-1 with a Billy Whitehurst brace and further goals by Garreth Roberts and Peter Skipper. Swansea’s goal was scored by a 20 year old homeboy called Dean Saunders.

The Tiger Nation were gleeful and became even more so when Appleton was fired before the end of 1984 after just 18 matches, from which he managed a meagre four wins. He went to Exeter and then back to non-league football before coming briefly back to City in 1989, and we’ll save you further heartache by ending it there.

3: Major Frank Buckley/Raich Carter
They wouldn’t normally come as a pair, but what’s interesting about these managerial careers is that twice Buckley was succeeded in managerial positions by Carter – first at City, then at Leeds. Buckley went to Leeds in 1948 after helping launch the post-war City, and when Carter’s City side clinched the Division Three (North) title in 1949, the two clubs were pitched together for the first time in more than 20 years, and went on to be divisional rivals for seven seasons.

The first occasion of Buckley facing his former employers was at the sparkly new Boothferry Park in October 1949, and Carter’s City won a tight contest by a single Viggo Jensen goal. In the Leeds side was a beefy 18 year old called John Charles, who would be ever-present that season as Leeds finished fifth and City seventh. Leeds had won the return game at Elland Road 3-0 and the pattern of the home side winning each time would continue over the next four seasons, during which time Buckley left Leeds and Carter had swapped east for west, with a goalless draw at Elland Road in December 1953 his first result against City.

Neither manager faced City again as gaffers after leaving Leeds and the 1956/57 double whammy of Leeds’ promotion and City’s relegation meant the two clubs waited another 30 seasons to meet once more.

4: Peter Taylor
As infamous a reunion as they come as far as our ex-gaffers are concerned. Taylor, a brilliant manager for City whom fans found hard to love for perceived prickliness and inflexibility, turned down Charlton Athletic’s offer in the summer of 2006 before leaving merely days later for Crystal Palace, the club with whom he had been an immensely talented player in the 1970s, playing for England while on their books.

His connections with Palace made the move understandable, but it stuck in the craw of City fans that he’d supposedly committed himself to the club after refusing Charlton’s advances, prior to going to another London club of similar size and history with barely a glance. However, his relationship with Adam Pearson had soured by this stage and the move seemed, with a small amount of hindsight, the right one for all parties, especially as after a season of lower-half consolidation in the second tier – City’s first at that level for 14 years – it felt like Taylor had probably done as much as he could in three and a half years.

So off he went to Palace, and everyone predicted correctly which two City players he’d come after. He loved Leon Cort, a brilliantly dominant, strong, towering and yet clean as a whistle centre back – never booked despite the role he played – and the £1.2m offer to take this Londoner back to London was accepted and the defender was wished well as the cheque cleared. Taylor’s successor, one Phil Parkinson, had already lined up a Brentford defender called Michael Turner as replacement, and used the remainder of the Cort money on some other expensive names. Meanwhile, midfielder Stuart Green joined Palace on the cheap at the behest of Taylor’s daughter, with whom he was in a relationship.

City were having a poor time of it under Parkinson and already the pressure was on the new gaffer when Taylor brought his Palace side to the Circle at the end of September 2006. He was greeted lukewarmly, and the Palace fans taunted the East Stand with bursts of “Where’s your Taylor gone?” to the opening bars of Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep. It was a tight game, goalless until just before the hour, when the goodwill that oozed out of every pore of every City fan for the returning Cort dried up instantly.

It’s notorious stuff, even now. Cort went up for a set-piece which was cleared, found himself on the edge of the area with the ball dropping in front of him, and hit a low shot that spun wildly via a deflection into the City net. He had never scored a goal like that before, something Parkinson ruefully pointed out afterwards, and proceeded to ruin his well-cultivated image as a good sportsman entirely by laughing in front of the City fans in celebration. Later he apologised, saying he was just laughing at the ridiculousness of the goal, not at the Tiger Nation, but some struggled to forgive him.

Turner scored a late, deserved equaliser and Taylor said afterwards he didn’t like being at the Circle as an opposing manager. Almost exactly a year later it would be another 1-1 draw between the two clubs, this time at Selhurst Park and courtesy of another very late City leveller, that would cost Taylor his job, which was greeted with an abrasive lack of sympathy by City fans, something which upset the emotional Taylor a great deal. He managed anywhere and everywhere afterwards but never faced City again.

5: Terry Dolan
It took forever to get rid of Dolan, the man who symbolised the bad old, sad old 1990s more than most at Boothferry Park, and even after a second relegation in 1996 was it not considered obvious by chairman Martin Fish to try someone new as City returned to the lowest tier for the first time in 13 years. When Dolan did leave, a year later, thanks to new ownership agreeing that the coaching regime was toxic and grubby and needed cleansing, he spent a couple of years taking the stiffs at Huddersfield, where he had been popular as a player in the 1970s.

Dolan quit this job in early 2000 to become York City’s manager but by then the two scheduled fixtures had already happened, with City having their near neighbours from up the A1079 as their ‘quick turnaround’ opponent (every club has one, every campaign – look at our games against Leeds this season). Both games had ended 1-1, stalemates for which each set of supporters could be grateful with hindsight as, with Dolan’s influence to the fore, standards dropped and both matches in 2000/01 ended 0-0. The most notable thing about the first of these goalless draws, at a rainy Bootham Crescent in October 2000, was the York fans enthusiastically joining in with the Tiger Nation’s chant of “if you all hate Terry Dolan, clap your hands.”

A win apiece and a draw apiece followed in the next two seasons before Dolan lost his job at York. He didn’t manage in league football again.


FAMOUS FIVE: Players for City and QPR

QPRThere has never been much love in recent times between QPR and Hull City. Think the kneecapping of Mark Lynch, McGregor’s penalty save, punishing the timewasters of 2007, John Gregory scampering down the touchline like a six year old, the Snodgrass knee injury, Taarabt’s tantrum, Myhill’s red card, Charlie Austin’s ill-advised chutzpah, the premature pitch invasion, Diomande’s hilariously unintentional winning goal… we could go on forever. And yes, a certain chant by a dozen or so children back in 2006, too. Not pleasant.

Maybe we’ll look back on some of these instances later in the season, when we have time to garner more pure hatred for everyone. As it is, it’s still August, the sun is out and we have seen Leonid Slutsky dance, so we’ll go easy, plaster on a smile and just give you five players who turned out for both clubs, for now. There weren’t many to choose from, as it goes…

1: Adam Bolder
BolderAdam smallElegant youngster from the City ranks during the bad old, sad old days of the late 90s. He got into the team as an 18 year old and immediately impressed, and with the club always a bit too quick to cash in on anyone with a modicum of talent, was soon allowed to join Derby County for an undisclosed fee.

Still not yet 20, Bolder debuted for Derby against Manchester United and eventually settled into the first team, staying there for almost seven years during which time Derby exited the Premier League and had a short spell with Phil Brown at the helm.

He joined QPR midway through 2006/07, missing out on Derby’s return to the top tier at the end of that season (and their record-breaking relegation the following year).

Bolder was instrumental in helping the Hoops stay up in 2006/07 and became captain the following season, eventually spending two years at Loftus Road. It was Iain Dowie who decided he no longer fitted into QPR’s plans, and he had spells at Sheffield Wednesday, Millwall, Bradford City and Burton Albion before returning to Yorkshire to play non-league football.

He featured for North Ferriby United in their historic 2014/15 season, winning the FA Trophy at Wembley and finishing second in the Conference North, and his last playing role was at Scarborough Athletic last season, where his brother Chris is assistant manager.

2: Patrick Gilmore
HP Gilmore, as he was also known, was a Hartlepool boy who was playing colliery football when he failed a trial at City as a 20 year old in 1934. He ended up playing for Mansfield and the then Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic before going to QPR in 1937.

A half back with strength and energy, he joined City again in May 1939 and played in one of the two games of the abandoned 1939/40 season – a 1-1 draw with Southport – before the campaign was halted for hostilities. Gilmore didn’t receive an immediate call up and carried on playing for City in the unofficial North East Regional League (in which City finished seventh out of 11) and the Football League War Cup, a trophy that could perhaps have been more subtly titled and from which City made a second round exit.

It feels unfair sometimes that wartime appearances are not always officially recognised, so here are Gilmore’s for City: One Division Three (North) game, 19 NERL games (including one with Billy Bly in the team), five War Cup games, all in 1939/40. He then received his call-up papers.

Happily, he returned to play twice more for City – once in War Cup qualifying (!) on Christmas Day 1944 and in the so-called “Second Championship” (seasons had to be split in half due to lack of player availability) against Bradford City on April 2nd 1945.

City didn’t take part in the 1946/47 season and Gilmore, by now 33, went back to QPR for a short second spell before retiring. He then returned to Hartlepool with his family and died in 1966.

3: Rowan VineMuch travelled and completely pointless centre forward, whose shocking record of nine goals in 69 league games for QPR should have been enough to put City off a loan spell in 2010, but they did it anyway. He played five spectacularly wasteful games for the Tigers, before showing an equivalent ineptitude at three other clubs prior to his Loftus Road contract finally expiring. The remainder of his career was spent in Scotland and non-league and he hardly scored then either.

4: Ernie Shepherd
Skilful, nippy left winger whose best years were taken away by the Second World War. Barnsley-born Shepherd bookended his professional career in London, thanks to being scouted by Fulham while playing junior football in Bradford and then spending his latest years with QPR.

He was associated with Fulham for ten years, seven of which he spent on active service, returning to Craven Cottage on the cessation of hostilities and staying until 1948. He then had a few months at West Brom before joining a City side needing reinforcements at outside left under Raich Carter as they chased promotion to Division Two.

He scored the only goal at Darlington on his debut but was unceremoniously dropped after two games for the returning Eddie Burbanks, and thereafter was in and out of the team, though did play in the last three games of the 1948/49 season as City clinched the Division Three (North) title. Carter preferred Burbanks the following season, as City fought their way to a highly creditable seventh place in Division Two, and Shepherd played just nine league games. He scored twice, both in 2-0 home wins, one of which was against his boyhood club Barnsley.

Shepherd, now 31 and needing first team football, returned to London in the summer and joined QPR. He was a huge success there, staying for six years and making more than 200 league appearances, scoring 51 goals. He was 37 by the time he went into the non-league game and later became a coach, mainly overseas. He was manager of Southend United in the late 60s and died in 2001, aged 81.

5: Mark Hateley“Ill-judged” is how QPR fans charitably describe Hateley’s stay at Loftus Road in the mid-90s, after a long and illustrious spell with another Rangers, further north. We can empathise. The ex-England striker had been a success everywhere he went until he pitched up for £1.5m in White City, signed by his old chum Ray Wilkins, with whom he had played for Milan, Rangers and England. He scored just three times in two years and was part of a relegated side in 1996.

He went back to Glasgow, momentarily, and then got the call to come and be player manager for Hull City. The level of incompetence he showed as gaffer at Boothferry Park remains staggering to this day, matched by ratio and worsened by dint of his savage, all-dominating ego. And it’s not as if he was any good when he played, either, as by the time he gave up playing (and was sacked as manager) he had scored the same number for City in the bottom tier – and at the very bottom of the bottom tier – as he did for QPR further up.

We could have done Damien Delaney, Jay Simpson and/or Simon Walton, but all three have featured in F5 articles in recent times.


FAMOUS FIVE: First ever league games against new opponents

City play Burton Albion this weekend, a fixture that has never occurred before in the league (or indeed, any other competition). Until the trapdoor system was introduced 30 years ago, brand new fixtures between teams in the four divisions were very rare indeed. Here we look at the last five ‘new’ opponents City faced in the league…

1: Yeovil Town

November 2003, and newly-promoted Yeovil come to the Circle to fight out a cravenly featureless goalless draw. Rubbish way to begin a new rivalry, really. Fortunately, the return fixture the following May became one of the most famous matches in the modern City era and the 2-1 for the Tigers had two effects: one, it got us out of the bottom division after eight crummy years; and two, it ended our brief association with Yeovil, as we’ve not played them since. Until this weekend they remain – jointly* – the team we have played the fewest league games against.

2: Boston United

November 2002 this time, and handy to note that a first-ever league season against new opposition proving historic in some way started before we played Yeovil. Boston’s first jaunt to East Yorkshire was as Boothferry Park was preparing its long goodbye, and although it wasn’t the last game at the old place, Damien Delaney’s winner was the last City goal scored there, as the Tigers scraped a 1-0 win. City won three more league fixtures before, again, the promotion of 2004 parted the two teams forever, and Boston have the honour of being the only team against who City have a 100% record.

3: Rushden & Diamonds

October 2001, and City’s first game against a semi-manufactured side who joined the Football League in the summer was a bonkers one indeed. It ended 3-3, with Mike Edwards scoring one of those own goals that the protagonist has no idea about as the home side went in 3-1 up at the break. City clawed back to get a draw in the second half. Three more games were contested between the two during an eventful baptism in the bigger leagues for Rushden, who won the title in 2003, swapped places with a resurgent City the following year and then returned to non-league squalor in 2006 before being liquidated. A phoenix club is currently in the seventh tier of the game.


4: Kidderminster Harriers

December 2000… but wait! We had played them competitively before thanks to the FA Cup first round draw sending Cliff Britton’s men to Aggborough back in 1964/65, with the Tigers winning 4-1. Kidderminster were on the periphery of the big leap throughout the 90s – controversially being denied promotion in 1994 despite winning the Conference, thanks to a wooden stand at Aggborough – and eventually came up in 2000 under a certain Jan Mølby. The first season yielded two draws – the 2-2 at Aggborough far more entertaining than the goalless first one at Boothferry Park – and the sides ended up as divisional bedfellows for four straight years prior to City’s rise in 2004, and Kidderminster’s return to non-league obscurity a year later. Mølby’s actions at Kidderminster earned him the City job in 2002; ironically, it was a defeat to Kidderminster within a matter of months that then got him the sack.

5: Cheltenham Town

August 1999, but, hang on…. yes! Another former FA Cup foe, right here… and we go back to 1947/48 for this one. City cuffed the non-leaguers 4-2 in the second round of the competition, thanks in the main to a George Richardson hat-trick. More than half a century later, City’s third game of a new campaign was at the windswept Whaddon Road ground and Cheltenham won it 1-0 thanks to a first half penalty. The two played each other for four of the next five seasons – Cheltenham’s promotion in 2003 and immediate drop back down prompted the gap – before, again, the heroics of 2004 rendered this fixture obsolete for the time being (though they did knock us out of the FA Cup that season). Cheltenham, like three of the above, ended up back in the non-league pyramid eventually but to their credit, clawed their way back up again.

*We played two league games against Wigan Borough in 1930/31, winning neither, before they went out of business.


FAMOUS FIVE: Big gaps between spells

If Fraizer Campbell plays for Hull City in August, it will represent a gap of nine years and nine months since he last pulled on City colours. Who else has featured for us in two spells with a yawning passage of time in between?

1: Dean Windass, 11 years 1 month

LoansDeanoThe most famous comeback of them all, rendered all the more remarkable by the length of time. Windass, plucked from non-league to become the best footballer to play for City in the 90s, debuted as a 22 year old in 1991 and was sold to Aberdeen at the end of 1995 as City’s financial woes, combined with a wretched campaign set to end in relegation to the bottom tier, made it look plainly ridiculous that a player of such talent was still involved with his failing hometown club.

Windass managed to receive three red cards in one game while at Aberdeen, and then returned to England for spells with Oxford and Middlesbrough, plus both Sheffield clubs and two spells at Bradford, for whom he was knocking in ample quantities of goals when Phil Brown asked him to come back to Hull on loan in January 2007.

It was a rare loan that saw a player climb a division, but City were in real trouble at the time and the experience of Windass, plus his powerful personality, would eventually take his fairytale return to disbelieving levels when he scored the goal at Cardiff that simultaneously saved City from the drop and sent Leeds down.

He then signed permanently, and a year later fired home the most famous volley in Tigers history at Wembley. The legacy was secured forever.

2: Andy Saville, 9 years 6 months

LoanSavilleAnother local lad, though unlike Windass, the lanky Saville was successful in graduating from the ranks, making his debut as a 19 year old on New Years Eve 1983 in the side that would eventually miss out on promotion by a single goal, although Saville himself never kicked another ball for Colin Appleton, despite City winning 1-0 on the day.

A centre forward who never really convinced as either a target man or a goalscorer, Saville spent just over five years in the first team picture without ever properly being a first choice marksman for any of his three managers. As time moved on, Billy Whitehurst (in two spells of his own), Les Mutrie, Andy Flounders, Frankie Bunn, Alex Dyer, Andy Payton and Keith Edwards were all rated higher than Saville by managers and supporters, and in the end he left for Walsall on deadline day 1989 for £100,000 as two more forwards, Ian McParland and Peter Swan, arrived. His best tally was nine goals in a disappointing 1986/87 season which saw City hover too close to the drop zone for too long.

Saville improved as he aged and had successful spells with Barnsley, Hartlepool, Birmingham and especially Preston in a nomadic career where he never seemed able to stay long enough to lay down roots. He was a reserve striker at Cardiff in 1998 and pushing 34 when he came back to City for three worthless games on loan under Mark Hateley. He didn’t score and City lost all three. Later the same season he returned to Boothferry Park, having joined Scarborough on a short-term deal and came on as a sub in the notorious 1-1 draw, labelled at the time as a six-pointer in the battle to avoid the Conference. He was relegated with his new side on the last day of the campaign as City fought their way out of bother.

3: Nicky Mohan, 8 years 10 months

Fair-haired centre back from Middlesbrough’s ranks who seemed quite impressive a loan signing by Terry Dolan in 1992/93, as he had notched up more than 100 senior appearances for his hometown club after taking the chance offered to him by Gary Pallister’s big-money move to Manchester United.

Alas, despite signing for the whole season, Mohan only played five times for City (scoring in a 3-3 draw at Fulham) before injury ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign. He went on to make ample appearances for Leicester and Bradford, both of whom paid six figures for him, prior to spells at Wycombe and Stoke, which is how Brian Little got to know him. The City gaffer paid nothing to get Mohan back at Boothferry Park in the summer of 2001 and for a while City had Mohan, Justin Whittle, Mike Edwards, Mark Greaves, Ian Goodison and Jason Perry all vying for defensive spots, with Mohan very often the first name scribbled down, not always deservingly. Again, he managed one goal during this time, the opener in a 4-0 battering of York City.

After three losses in a row in November 2001 (with the concession of ten goals), Mohan was dropped by Little, who himself didn’t stay an awful lot longer. Jan Mølby had a look at him for the last four games of the season but was unconvinced (he wasn’t alone, by this stage) and didn’t pick him again during his own brief stay. Peter Taylor released Mohan as almost his first act as manager, and he went to Harrogate before retiring.

4: Alan Fettis, 7 years 2 months

LoanFettisTerrific goalkeeper from Ulster who broke into the side as a 20 year old on day one of the 1991/92 season and was City’s dependable custodian of the leather under Terry Dolan when injury permitted right through to his inevitable departure just two weeks before Windass. By the time he left, he had made more than 150 senior appearances (and scored two goals as an emergency striker) and, as a seldom seen indication of City having admirable players in their ranks, been capped by Northern Ireland as well.

His initial departure was to West Brom on loan before Nottingham Forest paid a quarter of a million for him in January 1996. He couldn’t break into the team there; he suffered similar frustrations at Blackburn and it was at York – and back with Dolan – that he became a first-choice keeper again in 2000. He returned to City, permanently, in early 2003 and had a decent spell in the side at the end of 2002/03 when Paul Musselwhite was injured, but he was understudy the following season and rendered further surplus to requirements when City signed Boaz Myhill. His last game for the Tigers was the infamous 3-1 reverse at Huddersfield when Peter Taylor’s changes to the defence led to arguments with supporters via the local press.

5: Keith Edwards, 6 years 6 months

LoanEdwardsChilton and Wagstaff aside, this chap was the best goalscorer City has seen. The stats back it up – in his two spells, he managed an overall goal ratio in the league of almost one every other game, and all the more remarkable was that he never played in a particularly good City side.

Edwards joined in 1978 from Sheffield United after City had been relegated to Division Three and scored consistently and effortlessly through a couple of watertreading seasons, prior to managing a laudable 13 in the rancorous 1980/81 campaign before relegation again led to him unsurprisingly feeling he could be of better use elsewhere. He went back to Bramall Lane and also played for Leeds and Aberdeen before Brian Horton, desperately trying to reboot a stuttering season, brought him back at deadline time in 1988.

Edwards scored on his second debut and got a brace later in the first game after Horton was sacked, prior to a phenomenal 1988/89 campaign under Eddie Gray when he battered in 26 goals and top scored for the division, even though City finished fourth bottom. He also outpaced both of Arsenal’s youthful centre backs for the opening goal of a League Cup tie against a side who would end the season as champions, and scored in all three of City’s FA Cup ties, culminating in a memorable (and typically coolly despatched) goal against Liverpool that briefly put City ahead in the tie.

He was quickly out of the door when Colin Appleton returned in the summer of 1989, unimpressed by the appointment, and continued scoring for other clubs through to 1991.

Bubbling under (featuring at least one permanent deal): Gareth Williams, 6 years 1 month; Caleb Folan, 5 years 9 months; John Hawley, 4 years 8 months; Pat Heard, 4 years 5 months; Paddy Mills, 3 years 10 months; Billy Whitehurst, 3 years 1 month; Peter Skipper, 2 years 7 months; Craig Fagan, 1 year 2 months. Other players have had more than one spell at the club as a loanee only; several more had long gaps between matches due to global conflict.


FAMOUS FIVE: Relegation in pre-Premier League days

Look, you weren’t expecting us to write about anything else, were you? It might be painful for those of you who witnessed any or all of the campaigns detailed below, but at least it reminds us that there were times when relegation from the top flight (which we’ve now managed three times in less than a decade) was once something we would have killed for…

1: 1995/96F59596Statistically, City could hardly have been poorer than in 1995/96, the nadir of the Terry Dolan era which saw relegation to the Fourth Division become inevitable from Christmas onwards. Only five wins in total, only one of which was away and 21 points adrift of safety by the end, City were just hideous from start to finish.

Before Christmas, the ever-potless City flogged their two major assets in Dean Windass and Alan Fettis, with next to none of the cash generated given to Dolan for proper strengthening – not that anyone trusted the now actively loathed City manager to do anything about it. City used 33 players through the season, many of whom were kids from the ranks or loanees or freebies, and on the last day handed over the South Stand to Bradford City supporters, the one act for which Martin Fish – irrespective of the pressure he received from a politically-motivated, football-hating local constabulary at the time – will never be forgiven.

Before that farcical end to the campaign, the actual relegation was confirmed mathematically when promotion-chasing Crewe came to Boothferry Park and won. This was a team that City had thrashed 7-1 the season before, but the chance of a repeat of even the result, let alone the scoreline, was nil. The visitors struck twice, including a howitzer from one Danny Murphy, before teenager Gavin Gordon pulled one back.

Now that the sums were done, the recriminations could take over, and they lasted a very long time.

Wins: 5. Goals: 36. Top scorer: 7 (Richard Peacock). Points: 31. Margin from safety: 21 (plus a quite awful goal difference). Relegated with four games to go.

2: 1990/91
This was such a weird season. Relegation in the end was conclusive, with City bottom of the table, five points from safety in Division Two during a campaign when only two teams would go down.

Defensively, the Tigers were absolutely dire, something telegraphed in August when the depressingly unambitious board accepted an inexcusably paltry bid from divisional rivals Oldham Athletic for superstar defender Richard Jobson. Any number of centre back combinations were tried and the gap simply went unplugged for the whole campaign and a massive 85 goals were shipped, a total aided by two teams hitting five and one – West Ham – plundering seven.

Yet at the other end, we had a strike partnership that was the envy of the division. The antipathy on a personal level between Andy Payton and Peter Swan was well known but there was little doubt they were effective together, despite Swan preferring to play in defence (something he never did during this season). Between them they shovelled in 37 goals (next highest goalscorer: Leigh Palin with five, mainly penalties).

City won ten games, and at least one of Payton and Swan scored in eight of them, including one for Swan in Terry Dolan’s first game in charge after replacing the hateful Stan Ternent at the end of January 1991. It wasn’t even close to enough, thanks to the lousiness of the defence, and City went down in the pre-penultimate game of the campaign when Brighton, chasing a play-off place, came to Boothferry Park and won by a single goal.

Dolan didn’t pick the strike pairing for the remaining two games and played a load of youngsters, who made big contributions to a brace of wins – the only ones of the season when Payton or Swan didn’t score.

Wins: 10. Goals: 57. Top scorer: 25 (Andy Payton). Points: 45. Margin from safety: 5 (and a far larger goal difference). Relegated with two games to go.

3: 1980/81
The signs were there, as City finished the previous season one place and one point off a first ever relegation to the Fourth Division. Bullet dodged, you’d think? Not a bit of it.

Mike Smith was the manager, having started on day one of the decade, and his training methods were somewhat peculiar and not exactly popular with the players, who complained later of too much endurance work (leaving them shattered on match days) and not enough ball work or on tactics. Smith also made a lot of alterations to the squad, releasing long-serving high-earners and bringing in youngsters from the ranks.

Ultimately, the problem was a basic lack of quality. The brilliant but temperamental Keith Edwards played like he’d rather be anywhere but Boothferry Park, and his return of 13 goals was poor by his high standards. Smith signed Welsh striker Nick Deacy as a partner, but he was awkward and ineffective. Unperturbed, he signed two more awkward and ineffective strikers from northern non-league teams and though their time would come, both Billy Whitehurst and Les Mutrie struggled to make an impact. At one point during the campaign, City scored just two goals in 12 matches.

Smith sold popular clubmen Gordon Nisbet, Paul Haigh and Stuart Croft mid-season and, again, didn’t seem to know how to replace them. By the end of a truly humiliating campaign, Deacy was in defence. A goalless draw at home to Swindon Town, which saw members of the newly-formed Action Group walk out of the game after unfurling ‘surrender’ flags and carrying a symbolic coffin along North Road, largely rubberstamped a horrible, historic drop, though results elsewhere in the interim completed the maths.

Typically, City then won 2-1 at home to promotion hopefuls Huddersfield courtesy of a Deacy goal that went in on the ref, the kind of good fortune that could have been far more useful earlier in the campaign. In the end, the Tigers lost just one of the last six but the damage had been long done.

Wins: 8. Goals: 40. Top scorer: 13 (Keith Edwards). Points: 32 (two for a win). Margin from safety: 9 (and a huge goal difference). Relegated with five games to go.

4: 1977/78
The season of three managers. And the popular opinion from those who were there remains that had the directors not panicked over the loss of form under John Kaye and stuck with him, City would have been fine.

A 12 year run in Division Two, with a couple of mild toys with the possibility of top-flight football, had been largely a consolidatory one, though it had stagnated a lot through the mid 70s and City, while not going backwards, were treading a lot of water. Kaye, initially a player-coach on arrival in 1971, had taken over from Spurs-bound Terry Neill in 1974 and had proved to be steady and unspectacular.

He worked hard on bringing youngsters through while seeking star quality that could come close to adequately replacing the legendary forward line of the late 60s, with Ken Wagstaff still at the club but approaching an injury-induced retirement in 1976. Kaye achieved an eighth and two 14th placed finishes in his three full seasons but had a poor run in 1977/78 that led to his sacking eight games into the campaign, with senior players angling for moves and a glut of them in contractual disputes that required tribunals to step in.

When Kaye left, straight after a rancorous home defeat to Mansfield, City had won two and lost four, and heaven knows managers have survived with worse records than that.

First team coach Bobby Collins took over after skipper Billy Bremner, the assumed successor, turned the job down out of perceived loyalty to Kaye, and instantly beat title favourites Tottenham at Boothferry Park. Later, a 4-1 win over Cardiff seemed to vindicate the appointment but Collins inexplicably decided to criticise his players after the game, and the fallout was massive. He was sacked in the February after a record of one win in his last 12 games and with City 18th in the table.

Ken Houghton took over but couldn’t halt the slide and City won just two of the last 15. The strangest thing about the season was that while City were abject at scoring, they were also not conceding stacks of goals; a lot of their defeats were in single goal games, and a brace of 3-0 reverses in the spring were their heaviest defeats. Relegation was nonetheless confirmed by a 2-1 loss at Orient in the pre-penultimate game and, to just rub extra salt into the wound, City slid to the very bottom of the table on the last day after losing at home to Bristol Rovers. It was the only time they’d been there all season.

Wins: 8. Goals: 34. Top scorer: 7 (Alan Warboys). Points 28 (two for a win). Margin from safety: 10 (though no less than seven teams finished ten points ahead and all had slightly better goal differences). Relegated with two games to go.

5: 1959/60
A case of not being ready for the step up. Regionalisation of the lower divisions had ended and the Tigers were promoted in 1959 from the new pan-English Third Division but couldn’t cope with what it brought.

Bill Bradbury, who rifled in 30 league goals in the promotion campaign, had peaked. He struggled to outwit better and more cynical defences at the higher level, and City in general simply couldn’t score goals. Bradbury was sold in February 1960 with just six goals next to his name for the season and City went down with a game to spare thanks to a 1-1 draw at Portsmouth.

The Tigers beat Ipswich on the last day to ensure they at least (unlike all of the above) didn’t finish bottom, and Bradbury’s replacement was found in the youth team as a tall, toothy centre forward called Chris Chilton was summoned from the ranks by manager Bob Brocklebank at the start of the next season. Brocklebank was then replaced by Cliff Britton and under his tutelage, City would use the division to regroup and rebuild, and then eventually take by storm.

Wins: 10. Goals: 60. Top scorer: 8 (Roy Shiner). Points: 30 (two for a win). Margin from safety: 2 (along with a bad goal average). Relegated with one game to go.

These were the last five relegations suffered by City in the days before Premier League football was achieved. City were also relegated in 1929/30, 1935/36 and 1955/56, all from Division Two, finishing bottom of the table on two occasions.


FAMOUS FIVE: Damien Delaney


Ah, Damien Delaney. Not many players go unappreciated quite like he does. It happened during most of his long Hull City career, which racked up 224 league appearances in three divisions and yet saw him leave in January 2008 for big money with little more than a casual wave. Yet once Peter Taylor realised that his old charge from Leicester, signed as a rubicund 21 year old in 2002, was most comfortable in the centre of defence, he was a model of consistency, a dependable presence, a very decent footballer indeed.

As we approach a scenario where a 35 year old Delaney and his chums at Crystal Palace could relegate us from the Premier League this weekend, perhaps we ought to show some long overdue love for a player whose lengthy service was crucial during a definitive, life-enhancing era for City supporters. He has always deserved it. As we pick out five moments from his City career that take us through his five years and three months in black and amber, we do so while still hoping he has a stinker on Sunday…

1: The last (City) goal at Boothferry Park

Delaney only scored five goals for City, spreading them quite evenly in doing so, but the first of those goals is as remarkable and as historic as any other in Hull City history that you could care to name, because it represented the last cause for celebration at our grand old ground.

All of it has a most fetid whiff of Typical City about it. Delaney was playing only his seventh game for the Tigers, and had been somewhat underwhelming thus far as an awkward, one-paced left back. Even in the seconds that had elapsed before he scored in the 50th minute, he had swung a foot hurriedly and unconfidently at the ball in the Boston United penalty area which found only an opponent, and the groan on Bunkers Hill, not the first to be aimed Delaney’s way, was emphatically audible.

Fortunately, that opponent (the excellently named Alex Higgins) screwed up too, losing the ball instantly in a challenge which ricocheted it back to Delaney. He then put in a quite brilliant cross from the side of the area; quite brilliant because it chipped the goalkeeper and nestled in at the far post.

City won the game, the penultimate one at the old place, by that solitary goal and lost the final one by the same scoreline to Darlington, a game Delaney missed. So when we glance at the typicalcityometer, we have before us an unconvincing player scoring a fluke goal which would become part of club folklore until the end of time because City couldn’t get another one in 130 remaining minutes of football at Boothferry Park. And the real last goal at Boothferry Park was scored by Simon Betts, a Darlington player. But fortunately, for City and for Delaney, things would improve.

2: Centre back

Delaney had been City’s first signing under Peter Taylor, who had given him his full debut at Leicester in 2001. Taylor’s sacking at the start of the 2001/02 season meant the beginning of the end for Delaney at the old Filbert Street ground. The new manager, Dave Bassett, sent him on loan to Stockport and Delaney played well in midfield there, scoring his first career goal, before going on further loan spells at Huddersfield and Mansfield, prior to coming to City permanently in October 2002 for £50,000. He was one of a number of players signed by Taylor who had a recent Stockport connection, thanks to the assistant manager at Edgeley Park, Colin Murphy, leaving his role to become Taylor’s number two.

Shortly after Delaney arrived, Taylor signed Marc Joseph, a signing that rankled with City fans as he was stealthily introduced as the replacement for iconic skipper Justin Whittle. With the almost ever-present John Anderson, a summer signing by Jan Mølby of whom Taylor initially approved, occupying the other centre back spot, Delaney’s time at left back seemed set to be an elongated one and as he struggled to convince, old stagers like Andy Holt were still getting the odd look-in, especially when Delaney’s perceived versatility led to him being thrown under the bus a bit by his manager through sporadic assignments as an attacking midfielder which didn’t suit him.

Right to the end of that season, which ended in a mid-table finish, Delaney was either an awkward left back or a guileless midfielder. It didn’t look good. Then two things happened that transformed Delaney’s fortunes.

Firstly, Taylor decided that both Anderson and Whittle weren’t for him. Both were in their 30s and Taylor wanted a more youthful, mobile centre of defence. He continued to persevere with Joseph and bought Richard Hinds, but it still didn’t seem right. Anderson spent eight months in the reserves, never to play for City again (a textbook case of the mighty falling) while Whittle had a spell in the side during a Joseph injury prior to being dropped for the new boy, infamously, at Huddersfield. But whether it was Joseph, or Whittle, they needed a partner, especially after Hinds was shifted to right back after the first of numerous injuries for new signing Alton Thelwell. And so Delaney got the call.

Secondly, Andy Dawson arrived.

Delaney and Dawson. Left-footed defenders who would become very familiar with one another. Dawson, a freebie from Scunthorpe, arrived with an injury and missed the first five games. Then, on a Monday night trip to Doncaster with the TV cameras present, Taylor gave a fit-again Dawson his debut at left back and moved Delaney across to the centre, alongside Whittle. The game was foul, a goalless scrap of nothingness, but Delaney looked comfortable, as he subsequently always would. He played every single minute of every league game, won the player of the year award and City were promoted as runners-up, emerging from the cheerless bottom tier after an eight-year incarceration.

Notably, when Dawson was out for six weeks in the spring, Taylor gave Holt a swansong and shuffled Thelwell across before finally admitting he didn’t have a replacement for his new left back of whom he approved, and so Delaney made a couple of returns to old territory. City won one and lost one, but the confidence now instilled in Delaney meant he could look like a workable, if short-term, left back without the Circle reprising the familiar groan from Bunkers Hill.

And, during this magnificent breakthrough season for Delaney, something else happened…

3: Goal of the season
… this.

His second goal for the club. So, the first was the last by a City player at Boothferry Park; the second a spectacular strike from distance after a flowing run from the middle of the pitch – and again, it was the only goal of the game, scored late, helping City close in on promotion. Delaney could really pick his moments. It remains one of the best scored by a City player at the Circle.

He got one more that season, another counter-attacking monster of a goal in a 3-0 win over Bristol Rovers on the last day when City were already up, and which allowed him to prove that his right foot was not just for standing on.

Only two more would follow – the last in a 4-0 shoeing of Bournemouth in 2004/05 (his only away goal) as City chased a second straight promotion, and a close-range effort in a 4-1 win over Cardiff City in 2006/07, when Phil Brown had just taken over. But before that…

4: Midfield madness

Phil Parkinson’s arrival in the summer of 2006 didn’t affect Delaney too much compared to others in the squad Taylor had bequeathed the new manager, but eventually things got so desperate that the Irishman became susceptible. Parkinson, a young manager with a great reputation, was struggling to instil his beliefs, both in training and tactics, on a sceptical squad of senior professionals and the team was in dire straits.

The arrival on loan of Danny Mills, an irascible, self-important international who had never played as a centre back in his life meant Delaney, who had also suffered an ankle injury in training, had momentarily lost his place, but by October he was fit and back in the team. Sunderland’s visit at the end of the month was one of those occasions that left everyone a noxious mixture of angry and bewildered.

Parkinson started with a flat back four, featuring Mills, Dawson and his two new signings Sam Ricketts and Michael Turner. But also on the teamsheet was Delaney. Assumptions that City would be playing five at the back were quickly scotched when the teams lined up at kick off, and Delaney was on the left side of midfield.

Sunderland were, at the time, finding their feet after an equally slow start, but Roy Keane had arrived as manager and it was clear from their absolute domination of this game their blip was temporary. The same couldn’t be said of City, and only rotten Sunderland finishing maintained parity right to injury time. As notable as any other individual shortcoming on the pitch was that of Delaney, as clearly unhappy and underprepared as any player put in an erroneous position could look.

He had started his career as a midfielder, and had played all of his loan spell at Stockport in the middle of the park. But now he was being asked to play in a brand new position against dangerous opposition in a struggling team when there had been no reason to eject him from the defence. We saw, briefly, evidence of the self-aware, woebegone Delaney who had been at left back under Taylor when there had been little other alternative. And when Ross Wallace scored the winner from a quickly taken set-piece in injury time, the vitriol aimed at Parkinson boiled over into the first calls for his head.

Defiantly, Parkinson did it again three days later at Southend, and City won the game 3-2. The opposition were not in Sunderland’s class (as proved by their eventual relegation and Sunderland charging up the table to win the title) and Parkinson made changes further up the field. Delaney looked a little more at ease, even though the obvious problem was the manager’s need to accommodate Mills, a player who for all his talent, was toxic and ill-positioned. His loan ended a week later, Delaney moved back into defence, and although Parkinson didn’t survive much longer, it felt like some order had been restored.

5: Six hundred and fifty grand

Delaney settled back into the centre of defence and under Phil Brown, was part of the City team that stayed up with a memorable win at Cardiff that made City darlings of the globe and contenders for the George Cross due to the added effect of relegating Leeds United. The following season he remained an important performer before a sudden, lucrative and rather unmarked departure.

Brown signed his namesake Wayne Brown from Colchester, a more instantly defensive option at centre back who didn’t go on flowing runs and wasn’t as keen to pass the ball great distances. Whether he was a better footballer than Delaney was moot indeed – given the career paths of the two afterwards, the question is answered much more easily today – but there was no doubt he was a success alongside the peerless Turner at the back as City got the 2007/08 campaign underway.

Delaney was, therefore, a left back again, and a far more comfortable one than he had previously been in the last throes of Boothferry Park. Experience, success, familiarity, contentment, seniority, all played their part in turning him into a defender who could play in either of the left-centric positions in the back four. But there was one problem: Dawson.

The first choice left back was incomparable in the role. In the early part of the 2007/08 season, however, he was suddenly a right back (and a ludicrously out of sorts one) when Ricketts got a ban and the manager had no ready-made replacement. So Dawson shuffled across to use the outside of his good foot a lot more, and Delaney came back into the team. Dawson picked up an injury afterwards, and Delaney spent the autumn and much of the winter at left back, rarely putting a foot wrong. He had become a squad player and, in an improving team and still only 26 years of age, a very useful one. But there was always the knowledge in everyone’s mind that when Dawson was fit again, he’d be playing.

The two rotated in December and January as Dawson approached full match fitness and the fixtures congested over the festive season. It was good management by Brown, and both players made high-calibre contributions to some difficult games. It was notable, however, that on many occasions, Brown didn’t need both. Whoever was not picked to play at left back did not make the bench, and only one of these two fine footballers was regarded as an out-and-out left back.

Delaney played 82 minutes of a 3-1 home defeat to Championship leaders West Bromwich Albion on 12th January 2008. The TV cameras were there and, despite City’s defeat, it was a superb game of football. Rumours had started to circulate about a bid from QPR but nothing had been rubberstamped, and as City were 2-1 down at the time and Brown needed to put more attackers on, it certainly didn’t feel like a substitution that would allow a crowd and a popular player to bid farewell to one another. Nevertheless, the following Thursday, the deal was confirmed.

Tabloid newspapers claimed it was a £1.2m deal, and the clubs irksomely made details of Delaney’s switch undisclosed but eventually £650,000 was the figure that kept coming up. Even at half of the speculated fee, a 1,200 per cent profit felt like very good business, a factor that nullified the sadness in seeing a terrific footballer and proper club man leave, especially as City were evidently moving on to good things.

The manager signed Neil Clement on loan from, coincidentally, West Brom to provide left-footed cover in defence and was then forced to use political outcast David Livermore as a centre back when Clement was recalled by his parent club, not unnaturally concerned that he was playing more than adequately for a direct promotion rival. Livermore’s sitting duck performance in a defeat at Sheffield United that pretty much ended City’s hopes of automatic promotion made a few City fans wonder if hanging on to Delaney until the summer might have been wiser. Nonetheless, Wembley glory beckoned and we all moved on, Delaney included.

Delaney made the first of his nine international appearances for the Republic of Ireland on the same day of City’s promotion, but generally had an up and down time at QPR before joining Ipswich in 2009. After suffering a blood clot on his leg that required limb-saving surgery, he was briefly successful at Portman Road but then lost his place and left by mutual consent in 2012 following a period of only one match in a whole year. From there, at 31, he joined Crystal Palace.

Unheralded at his post-City clubs up to now, he became a dynamic and consistent presence at the heart of the Palace defence, openly weeping on TV when they won promotion to the Premier League in 2013, via the same method he had just missed out on with City five years before. On August 18th 2013, a 32 year old Delaney made his first appearance in the top tier of English football in ten and a half years. And there he remains, a veteran, a better defender than ever and, despite his longevity in the game, still an enigma. He is notoriously reluctant to give interviews, preferring to do his talking in the most wonderfully clichéd way of all – on the pitch.

It’s hard to imagine not loving a player who put in 224 shifts in league football for your club, during which time you were promoted twice and on the verge of a unique third at the point it came to an end, but that feels like the case with Delaney. When you consider the career paths of both player and club since his departure, it’s not unfathomable to think that he was underrated by his last manager at City, especially as Brown had endless problems at centre back after promotion to the Premier League. Hindsight dictates this, of course, but the way Delaney has adapted to Premier League football since elevation with Palace four years ago is little short of sensational, when you consider the hapless left back and isolated makeshift midfielder of his early days, a player whose loan spells were at clubs that subsequently dropped into the non-league pyramid.

That last goal at Boothferry Park is probably what principally keeps Delaney in the minds of City fans to this day, as we approach a decade since he left the club, but it’s unfair. Quirks of fate like that make Delaney more of a cult hero than anything else, but that does him a disservice. He was and is a great player; a proper Hull City hero.

Damien Delaney joined Hull City on October 16th 2002 and left on January 17th 2008. He made 224 league appearances for the club, scoring five goals. He also made 15 further senior appearances. He won promotion with City in 2003/04 and 2004/05 and contributed to promotion to the Premier League in 2007/08.


“it is not the policy of the Club to not use Hull City”


Hull City held its awards ceremony last night, and our congratulations to those who received recognition for their efforts throughout 2016/17: Brandon Fleming, Josh Tymon, Sam Clucas and Harry Maguire, the latter picking up a pair of awards each. Congratulations to all.

But what’s this on the trophies themselves?

HullCityTigersawardsIt’s “Hull City Tigers”!

Which is very strange, because a fans’ committee was told, with a straight face last week, there “it is not the policy of the Club to not use Hull City”.

It’s tempting to get angry at the club, yet again, for their gratuitously awful conduct. However on this occasion, it seems more appropriate to feel sympathy for players who’ve worked hard this season and seen their efforts rewarded, only to be have it devalued by trophies bearing the name of a non-existant club designed purely to wind up the people who cheer for them every week.


FAMOUS FIVE: Victories from a man down

We’re a bit late with this, but after City got over Oumar Niasse’s recent (unjust) red card by winning the match, we look back at five other occasions City have gone on to win or clinch all the points while a man down…

1: Chesterfield, 2004/05


This was especially impressive, as Chesterfield (or Cheatersfield, as they were known at the time following some imaginative accounting a few seasons before which earned them a points deduction) were in control for large swathes of an entertaining match between two recently promoted sides at the Circle.

The visitors had already had a goal disallowed for handball before City skipper Ian Ashbee stamped on the Achilles of Adam Smith just after the hour and received a straight red card. There was little argument over the decision, despite Ashbee sarcastically applauding the ref as he made his retreat.

City were now in trouble – they were already under the cosh, they’d just lost their leader, they were down to ten men and they had Junior Lewis playing up front. So naturally, the response was to take the lead within two minutes, thanks to a cross from sub Delroy Facey that Lewis intelligently flicked down into the run of Stuart Green, who scored.

Chesterfield played out the game with the air of a beaten team who wondered whether it was all a bad dream.

2: v Bradford City, 1993/94

Dean Windass to the fore; an early goal, then an early bath. What he said is not known, but Teesside referee Jeff Winter was notoriously sensitive to industrial language and criticism in general and the straight red was quickly out of his pocket with the game hardly started.

Despite being one up, City were in real bother, a fact hammered home by Shaun McCarthy quickly heading in the equaliser from a corner. Yet there are few things in lower league life more fun than beating Bradford, something which we were enjoyably used to, and a foul on Linton Brown allowed ex-Bantam Greg Abbott to restore the lead from the spot before half time, taking a moment afterwards to bait the Bradford fans in celebration.

City relied on the counter attack in the second half and used it to full devastation, with Brown getting the clincher with one of those rolled shots past the keeper that seem to take an age to go in.

(PS – Clair Voyant? What was that all about?)

3: v Kidderminster Harriers, 2001/02


Dramatic one, this. Kidderminster were recent newcomers to proper football and had a certain corpulent Dane in charge, and a hardy 100 visiting supporters followed their team to Boothferry Park to take on an expensive new strike partnership in Gary Alexander and Lawrie Dudfield, heading a side that had missed out on promotion via the play-offs the previous season.

The visitors had injury issues early in the first half which forced the switch of a cumbersome forward to right back, and as a consequence we had the the seldom seen spectacle of David Beresford actually having the measure of a defender for a whole game. City spent the entire first half sending the tiny, fast and end-product-unfriendly winger up against the makeshift defender, one Tony Bird. He won every race but, naturally, didn’t deliver any crosses of note.

Bird’s one bit of respite came when he put a free kick against the City crossbar, and early in the second half finally he and the visitors gave way. Dudfield and Alexander combined with cross and bullet header respectively, and it was 1-0, with the latter getting off the mark for his new club.

But City being City, victory wasn’t going to be established easily. Justin Whittle tried a back header from too far away and allowed Kidderminster sub Stewart Hadley to race clear on goal. Whittle chased and chased and chased – and brought him down in the area. Whittle’s casual reaction was that he’d got the ball and play would continue, but the ref thought differently. Penalty, red card, booking for the arguing Alexander, and the tortured Bird got some mild form of respite by sticking away the spot kick.

City were grateful for Kidderminster’s subsequent lack of ambition, probably through being knackered and Brian Little decided to have a go. He sent on Rodney Rowe and, in injury time, his first touch was a low volley across goal from a long throw into the path of Alexander, who couldn’t miss.

A bullet was duly dodged in a season that eventually would disappoint slightly, to the extent that Little didn’t survive it and a certain corpulent Dane was deemed the correct person to take over. We all know how that turned out.

4: v Norwich City, 1970/71


When the rules on tackling could fit on to a folded sheet of A4 and a player had to do something close to hanging out of the back of a referee’s mother before he could be sent off, there was a genuine novelty value attached to dismissals in matches.

Chris Chilton was sent off right at the end of this hard-fought game at Carrow Road for retaliation to a quite remarkable bit of violence from Norwich’s known oppressor-in-chief Duncan Forbes, who aimed one kick at the City centre forward that didn’t stop his man, so chased him a few yards and aimed another. You can tell from Chilton’s split-second reaction of pain (prior to the split-second reaction of retribution) that it was a nasty, cowardly bit of brutality from Forbes that went against what was acceptable, and the headbutt that followed was as pinpoint in its timing and execution as any of his goals.

Even after all this time, you wonder why Forbes wasn’t sent off for the challenge. The referee saw it, as Chilton was controlling the football at the time, but the City striker was the only one he pointed towards the dressing room. Chilton, wearing City’s white change kit, had blood down his shirt – his own, not that of Forbes – as he listened to the referee’s lecture while Forbes was able to stand up, take a tongue-lashing and then line up for the free kick.

Not on the footage, most surprisingly, is confirmation that Chilton had actually gone. It took Brian Moore’s studio narration prior to the VT being run, and then a scene-resetting voiceover midway through, to make it clear it happened, as there is no sign of Chilton exiting the field and, more oddly, nothing from Anglia’s fine commentator Gerry Harrison, who knew Chilton and City well as the Tigers were anomalously on his patch. Chilton himself tells of how his blood-soaked shirt made him look like he was playing for Ajax, and how he squirted a sponge full of a subtle blend of blood and sweat at a mouthy Norwich fan at the tunnel. Imagine a player doing that today and not being a) noticed or b) reported for it.

City had been a goal up since the first half – a fine first-time shot from Ken Houghton – and didn’t have long to protect their lead with ten men as the 90 minutes were up, but nevertheless Malcolm Lord still found time to weave along the Norwich byline and set up the clincher for Ken Wagstaff. Chilton scored his 200th league goal for City at Sunderland a fortnight later, and then served a one-match ban for the headbutt more than six weeks after it happened. The disciplinary regulations in football really were in a different world compared to now.

5: v Plymouth Argyle, 2005/06

Do we give valuable oxygen to Marc Joseph’s boneheaded elbow on the half hour that saw City go in at half time a man down? Or do we just rejoice in the majesty of the second half winner by Stuart Elliott, scored from somewhere between the byline and the penalty area?