FAMOUS FIVE: City in the FA Cup third round

“The greatest day in the football calendar”, say some. “A day off to go on the lash”, say many a first team player. FA Cup third round day has lost some of its charm today, but it does still hold some great memories. And of course, a few crap ones – quite a few, in City’s case. We have five City-centric days in the last *keeps multiplying by two* 64 of the competition for you…

1: 2014 v Middlesbrough

3CupBoroIt’s rare that Teesside can act as the location for the beginning of something uniquely beautiful, but all successful FA Cup teams have to start their run somewhere, and for once, City were destined to be a successful FA Cup team in 2014. Of course, nobody knew this when the draw sent us up to the Riverside in January, and Steve Bruce made sure everyone’s dreams of victory, progress, Wembley, Europe, global domination even, were stiffly dulled by picking a half-strength side, allowing fringe strikers Aaron McLean and Nick Proschwitz a rare game.

But the two players in question didn’t read the script, if there ever was one. They propelled the new issue pink ball into the Boro goal once each as City’s run all the way to the final commenced professionally and emphatically, but they were nowhere near the remainder of the adventure, as Bruce sold the pair of them before the month was out. There’s gratitude for you.

2: 1931 v Blackpool

3Cup1931So there was the glorious run of 2014 that ended in defeat to Arsenal in the final, then it was very much a case of after the Lord Mayor’s show, as we got Arsenal – again – in 2015 and went out very, very early. A return to the norm. Prior to 2014, City’s best run in the FA Cup had been as a relegation-doomed Second Division side in 1930, which inexplicably beat a handful of seriously big teams before succumbing to, erm, Arsenal in a semi-final replay. It’s not quite symmetrical, but it feels like a pattern nonetheless.

The Tiger Nation who supported the club during the Depression era (which could be any generation of the Tiger Nation, all told) were presumably not blaming the FA Cup run for their relegation and couldn’t wait to embark on yet another life-enhancing escapade in the competition when it swung round again the following season.

City, despite being now of Division Three North, were given a bye from rounds one and two and in the third round were paired up with Blackpool, who had left the second tier in the opposite direction the previous season. Though the two sides were now two divisions apart, Blackpool were struggling in their new surroundings and City, with home advantage, felt capable of a mini-shock and another jaunt to glory in the FA Cup, especially against a side whom they had dispatched in the fourth round the previous season. The divisional gap felt almost incidental; the omens were just too good.

So naturally, City lost 2-1. The Depression era felt even more real.

3: 1975 v Fulham

3CupWaggySignificant FA Cup tie between Second Division rivals for two reasons, though neither were apparent at the time. Firstly, the initial game at Craven Cottage saw the last FA Cup appearance in City colours of Ken Wagstaff. Having scored City’s goal in a 1-1 draw, he didn’t make it to the end of the match due to a knee injury which would force him into retirement before the end of the calendar year, and an iconic City career was over.

Secondly, once Fulham finally beat City by a single goal in a neutral third game at Leicester City’s Filbert Street (the replay at Boothferry Park had ended 2-2), they embarked on a run that would see them reach the final, where they lost to West Ham United and two goals scored by future City striker Alan Taylor. Aside from their being outplayed completely at Wembley, it was City who gave them their toughest test on the way to what remains their only FA Cup final appearance.

4: 2009 v Newcastle

3CupNewcWhile the first game at the Circle was a goalless draw that irritated everybody involved, the replay was quite an occasion for City. The context was set down firmly, with Newcastle a basket case of a club thanks to boardroom meddling and paperclip appointments leading to Kevin Keegan quitting and the notorious ‘COCKNEY MAFIA OUT’ banner going on a tour of St James’ Park on the day City won there in the Premier League.

We didn’t expect to play Newcastle again quite so soon, so the third round draw felt like an opportunity. City twice hit the frame of the goal in a largely uninteresting first game, so it was back up to Tyneside. City took a huge number of supporters, sang retro songs all evening (a tradition as important in FA Cup ties of the era as Phil Brown’s change to a black shirt) rode some luck with Michael Owen missing a sitter and Nicky Butt hitting the bar, and then won the game in the 82nd minute with Daniel Cousin sliding in a cross from Richard Garcia. It was, remarkably, City’s first success in a third round tie for 20 years.

It was also the one time that season – and the final time ever – that City wore the very popular white away kit of 2007/08, avoiding an embarrassing repeat of the Premier League game when City, with a flint-coloured away kit, had to wear Newcastle shorts and socks. Meanwhile, Newcastle’s joke of a manager Joe Kinnear got so worked up after a touchline row with Phil Brown that he ended up needing heart bypass surgery.

The FA Cup run continued to the quarter finals, when it was – YES – Arsenal who brought it to an end, while Newcastle did City yet another favour by not winning on the final day of the Premier League season and taking the last relegation place.

5: 1992 v Chelsea

3CupDolanCity were back in the third tier after a seven year period of careful avoidance, thanks to a wretched 1990/91 season under principally the overspending, outspoken, unpleasant Stan Ternent, who was sacked by the club for the first time. Still, we had Terry Dolan now in charge, so all would be well…

Dolan did six years with City but in truth the final two seasons are the ones which make him reviled for life by supporters who were there, as although the football under his tenure was never exactly watchable, he built teams that could be hard to beat and not afraid of being out on their feet by the final whistle. However, the first signs of Dolan’s difficulty in outwitting opponents came during the same period when an underperforming Chelsea were drawn out of the hat for a visit to Boothferry Park in January 1992.

City had sold prolific striker Andy Payton for £750,000 in November 1991, and the barren run immediately began. It was no coincidence. Chelsea arrived seven winless games into what would eventually be a total of 11, and won more than comfortably with a headed goal in front of Bunkers by a gleeful Vinnie Jones and a second half shot from Dennis Wise, both of whom had won the FA Cup with Wimbledon four seasons earlier. City simply did not compete in the game and there were much mutterings that a very ordinary Chelsea team had triumphed so easily.


FAMOUS FIVE: City on New Years Day

There is no New Years Day game for City this season for the first time since 2012, although they are less common than you may think. The calendar – both the footballing one and the Gregorian one – has much say on this, as does the weather at a more instant level, but generally City haven’t had as many as is assumed. Not that it’s an especially memorable footballing day of course, and in compiling this little list, we’ve tried to look at context and sub-plots in making our choices. That doesn’t explain entry number three, mind – blame laziness for that or, better still, blame City…

1: 1st January 1990

Ternant, StanWhen one considers the prime candidacy of the 1990s to run away with the title of “worst decade in City’s history, ever”, it is gratifying a generation on to see how well City played in their very first game of the new decade. Of course, context is always everything, and at the time the Tigers were trying to burrow their way out of a relegation battle, having begun the season with Colin Appleton’s 16-game spell of uselessness which left us winless and humiliated at the bottom of what was still then known, accurately, as the Second Division.

Stan Ternent then came in and began to rescue the season. City had won three in a row under the brusque, belligerent, bespectacled curmudgeon as 1989 fizzled out, but few performances on his watch were better than the 3-2 win over Sunderland, a yo-yo club over the previous decade but still a mighty presence at this level, and one of the few teams with a fanbase that demanded the hasty checking of the safety certificate for the north east corner of Boothferry Park.

City took the lead on 12 minutes through a piece of opportunism by Andy Payton, then Wayne Jacobs scored in similar circumstances against a Sunderland defence playing as if they’d brought in the new decade a bit too enthusiastically at Finos the night before, though obviously the great and good Tony Norman, a City legend making his first return to his old club after a ludicrous transfer the previous season, had been tucked up in bed by 9.

The second half saw Sunderland’s comeback begin with a free header from sub Thomas Hauser, but within a minute Peter Swan had climbed majestically to power a Billy Askew corner into the top of the net to restore the cushion. Marco Gabbiadini snuck in a deflected shot with 15 minutes left, but City held on for a fourth straight win, and a fifth from eight since Ternent took over.

City ended the season in a comfortable 14th, a bizarre joint-highest position since their first season back in the second tier in 1985/86. Swan’s goal at Roker Park completed a double over Sunderland in April, though the Mackems still went up, rather spawnily, after their play-off conquerors Swindon Town were barred from entering the First Division due to making irregular payments to players.

2: 1st January 1955

MannionWIt looks an otherwise insignificant game – City at home to Nottingham Forest, both in the bottom half of the Second Division. City were actually in a catastrophic run of form, with no wins in their previous nine games. Forest weren’t faring much better, and had already lost to City at their own place back in August, which had been part of a purple patch for City of four straight wins that now seemed forever ago.

But as the festive period beckoned, City had found themselves all over the newspapers thanks to a notable, controversial signing. Wilf Mannion, now 36, had won 26 England caps and played at the World Cup in 1950. But the distinguished tenure at hometown club Middlesbrough of the man dubbed the “Golden Boy” had been hit by a contract dispute that trailed Jean Marc Bosman by almost 50 years. Wishing to leave Middlesbrough in 1948, he eventually took an office job after they refused to relinquish his registration, eventually returning a year later after the club agreed to sell him for what would have been a world record £25,000. Even then, Mannion fanned the flames further by refusing to join any club that would pay such a sum, citing a creeping commercialisation in football of which he disapproved.

So it was an outspoken figure, popular with fans but not authority, who joined the Tigers at Christmas 1954. He became City’s oldest debutant in a home defeat to Luton, and then along came Forest. He scored one of City’s goals in a 3-2 defeat, which would turn out to be his only goal for the club. He played for the rest of the season, despite the rest of the January programme succumbing to a harsh winter, and was an influential inside forward as City, who never really emerged fully from their rut, stayed up essentially on their August form. Ipswich and Derby both beat City at the end of the season but still went down.

The story ended peculiarly for Mannion, as he revealed in a newspaper article that he had been offered a financial inducement – or, as it’s more commonly known now, a signing-on fee – of a whopping £3,000 to sign for a club he then refused to name. Unable to wheedle the information out of him, the FA suspended him, and he decided to retire and go into non-league football. He eventually returned to Middlesbrough to work on building sites and a statue of him is outside the Riverside Stadium, and he remained City’s oldest debutant until Andy Hessenthaler’s arrival in 2005.

3: 1st January 1972, 1974, 1977

70steamThe only three New Years Day games of the 1970s (Portsmouth away, Bolton at home, Blackpool away respectively) yielded three goalless draws within three featureless seasons culminating in three mid-table finishes, embodying the dullness of City in the 70s as a whole. All we can say by way of consolation to the players involved is that at least nobody took part in all three matches.

4: 1st January 2008


Indulge your author for a moment, because he has always marked this date down as the one which sparked up his belief that City could actually win promotion to the Premier League for the first time. Yes it was a 1-1 draw (albeit an entertaining one), yes City were still no better off than upper mid-table, and yes we had still to play West Bromwich Albion, who had already marked themselves out as the team to catch for the campaign. But it’s true, and there is audio from that season (somewhere) to back it up. That we’d taken a point off Stoke at theirs, again, was also quite satisfying.

They had taken the lead in the first half with as typically a Stoke goal as it was possible to get, when ex-City defender Leon Cort managed to glance in a Rory Delap long throw, which he wisely chose not to celebrate in front of the City fans this time (though at least part of this may have been because nobody, including him, seemed to realise he’d touched the ball, though Stoke players cleverly congratulated him to persuade the referee, as direct throw-ins into the net are not allowed). But City clawed back into it with a gritty and dynamic second half display, and Caleb Folan, our shiny new £1m signing, got above the tortured Cort to nod in a Dean Windass cross on the hour.

No further goals but we genuinely didn’t look back after this game, despite West Brom doing the expected job on us in front of the TV cameras at the Circle the following week. Meanwhile, New Years Day 2008 also brought a last moment of magnitude with ten minutes left of the game when Stuart Elliott was thrown on as a sub to find a winner. He couldn’t. It was his 193rd and final league appearance for City.

5: 1st January 1966


The great goalscoring achievements of the 1965/66 team should never cease to amaze. In winning the Third Division title – lest we forget, the only non-regional title we’ve ever managed – City scored 106 goals, 100 of which came from just five men. The two wingers – Ray Henderson and Ian Butler – got 13 each, the centre forward – Chris Chilton – got 25, and the two inside forwards – Ken Wagstaff and Ken Houghton – got 27 and 22 respectively. Three of these men each only missed one game in all competitions all season and a fourth was ever-present.

Yet because the defence still leaked like a sieve, it seemed nothing was going to be easy, or predictable, or straightforward. City’s main challengers all season were Millwall, and the two played each other on consecutive days just after Christmas 1965, taking a win each. Then along came Swansea Town to Boothferry Park on New Years Day, and the Tigers went to, er, town on them, stung by the shoeing Millwall had given them by three goals, without reply, three days before, which had swapped the sides round at the top of the table and was to be only the second of three occasions all season that City would draw a blank.

A whopping 17,531 fewer people attended the Swansea game than did the previous home match against Millwall, but it didn’t affect anyone’s celebrations. Wagstaff scored first, then Henderson, then Chilton, then Wagstaff again. Swansea, who had beaten City in south Wales back in October, did pull one back, immaterially. Typically, City followed it up with a defeat to an otherwise characterless Swindon side the following week, but then went on a 14-game unbeaten run which produced a preposterous 41 goals (39 from the front five) and made City strong favourites for the title, while simultaneously getting as far as the quarter finals of the FA Cup.

When one looks at those scoring stats again, it remains something of a surprise that no more than three of those five magnificent attacking forces ever scored in the same league game during 1965/66 (though four, with Chilton the exception, managed a goal each in the FA Cup second round tie at Gateshead). It is more of a surprise to learn that four did manage to score in the same match the following season in two consecutive games (and two different foursomes at that), even though the division was far tougher and City as a whole scored 29 fewer goals. Henderson left in 1968 but the others stayed in attack together until 1971 and yet never managed it again. Funny game, football…

On New Years Day 1987, City lost a phenomenal seven-goal thriller against Barnsley at Boothferry Park. But we’ve already written about that. Happy new year to you…



It really was ten years ago this week that Phil Brown took charge of Hull City for the first time. This was simply an opportunity we could not turn down to review and reassess a phenomenal period for the club, for both good and bad reasons. Fitting the brief, we’ve told his whole association with City in five chronological chunks…

1. Saving City while condemning Leeds

PhilBrown1When Brown took over the City job, we were in a wall of trouble. The squad was decent but lacked direction. New recruits were struggling to bed in, establishment figures were being shunted out and the tactics under Phil Parkinson – able, amiable but naive – were easily sliced apart by opponents. Brown, brought in as a first team coach, was an older and more worldly-wise figure, but when Adam Pearson asked him to save the club from the drop upon his elevation in December 2006, it seemed a tall order.

After all, he was still something of an unknown quantity. His only previous foray into a top job had been a brutal spell at Derby which had already prompted him to be written off as someone of the calibre to run a footballing project from its very top. Other names were mentioned but Brown had a chance and he clearly intended to take it. There were scrapes and near-misses, not to mention some especially rancid games, but he made significant enough improvements and changes to get City into the last fortnight of the season with an opportunity to survive. He had restored Nick Barmby and Stuart Elliott to the squad and, with a combination of nerve, shrewdness and an eye on his personal standing, re-signed a 37 year old Dean Windass on loan from Bradford City.

The final away game of the season was not promising. Cardiff had been in the top half all campaign. City had to go there in the knowledge that a win could keep them up, providing Ipswich did them a favour at none other than Elland Road at the same time. With Southend and Luton already gone, just one place remained.

Windass scored the only goal at Ninian Park, Ipswich got a 2-2 draw at Leeds and City were hailed by sport and mankind as a whole as saviours of all that was good and right, beyond even mere football. With a game to spare (which City lost) the herculean task assigned to the smiling man with the tan and the soft South Shields vowels had been completed. He couldn’t now not get the job full time.

2. Promotion to the Premier League

PhilBrown2For all that, there were plenty who didn’t want Brown. Gratitude for not exiting the Championship in the wrong direction only went so far. They pointed to his inexperience, his tactical limitations, his inconsistency, his clichés, his rictus grin. All sorts of reasons, fair and less fair, were offered. But only Adam Pearson’s opinion counted, or so we thought.

Pearson had promised Brown the job in the event of survival but clearly that also depended on his own continued involvement with the club. In the summer of 2007 he sold up to businessman Russell Bartlett, who installed the media-friendly Paul Duffen as his face and voice. Duffen and Brown hit it off straightaway, Brown got his mandate, astutely recruited ex-City boss Brian Horton as his assistant, and a two year plan to reach the Premier League was drawn up. It took only a year.

It is still remarkable that in one and a half seasons at the club, Brown prevented what had looked a predictable, horrific relegation and then followed it up without a pause for breath with a history-making promotion to the top tier, giving City fans the kind of emotional upheaval and utter joy that none thought would ever come. And he did it with a marvellous tight-knit squad, talented and committed, while making a handful of adroit purchases and injecting occasional showbiz into it to make the wider world notice.

In truth, it could have been an automatic promotion. With a month to go it was two from three to go up automatically, with West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City – contrasting in style, identical in effectiveness – keeping City just about at bay, with the occasional opportunity to topple one or both going astray, although City’s earlier win at the Hawthorns, a result gleefully unanticipated by the national media, proved to both Brown and the Tiger Nation that we were ultimately good enough to go on and do this. In the end, City finished a clear third, destroyed Watford in the play-off semis and then went to Wembley, for the first time ever, to face their destiny.

Windass scored the “wonderful, magical goal” (as Sky’s Bill Leslie had it) but the team performance was dogged and inspiring, especially as Bristol City, a most useful side who had taken four points from us during the regular season, laid siege to the City goal in the second half. This was where the commitment and togetherness displayed all season by City was required more than ever, for one final time, and isolated acts of immense defending by Michael Turner and Sam Ricketts, as well as a promotion-clinching catch of a high ball by Boaz Myhill, completed the job. For a second season in a row, Brown had done exactly what he had expected to do.

3. Premier League ubiquity

PhilBrown3Oh, 2008/09. What an emotional maelstrom you were. What headlines you created, of all kinds, in the name of Hull City AFC. And there, causing or responding to them all, was Phil Brown.

We had some star players in our first Premier League season. Geovanni was an impish master of controlling a football and making it dance for him. Michael Turner nullified top flight attackers as if he’d been doing it forever. Ian Ashbee led, fought, inspired and put our lives in his hands. Bernard Mendy and Kamil Zayatte were both bonkers in the nut and sometimes brilliant. And yet nobody seemed to emerge from it as big a star, a more important figure, than the manager.

Brown loved the adulation. And while City were flan-flinging in the early weeks of the season – wins at Newcastle, Arsenal and Tottenham made us the most talked-about club on earth, in all probability – the adulation was deserved. But from December onwards, when it started to level out and then go horrendously wrong, he still wanted the adulation.


What he expected when he sat the whole team down on the park at half time at Manchester City on Boxing Day 2008 and gave his team talk publicly is anyone’s guess – and City fans still say it wasn’t a big deal – but he wasn’t exactly praised for it. In defending his actions, Brown was able to stay in the headlines as his team sank through to mid-table, and that wasn’t right.

Between December and March, City didn’t win any of 13 Premier League games. The earth-stopping successes at Arsenal and Tottenham before the clocks had gone back seemed a lifetime ago. In the end, the 1-0 win at Fulham in March thanks to an injury time winner defined the season more than any of those victories on lighter days. City were now in the midst of a famine, but still Brown didn’t seem fully focussed on the job. He didn’t back off from the spotlight, rumours of unrest within the squad spread, the expensive signing of Jimmy Bullard failed spectacularly as a man with a known knee problem promptly suffered a serious knee injury and the manager was ridiculed on exiting the FA Cup at Arsenal in the quarter finals after some odd comments about Cesc Fàbregas’ clothing. That win at Fulham was the only one City achieved in 23 Premier League matches. In the end it was Newcastle’s ineptitude as much as City’s that kept us up on the last day and, by now, nobody outside of the Circle wanted us in the Premier League.

The celebration on the final whistle was natural but most City fans just felt sheer relief. In taking the microphone at the Circle moments after a game which City had lost to a bunch of Manchester United teenagers (supposedly because the authorities thought Brown could persuade fans to leave the pitch), Brown misjudged the fans and the whole situation entirely. The achievement had become about him and him alone; the players hugged each other knowing they’d dodged a bullet; the fans hugged each other knowing they weren’t going to be a laughing stock any more, only to then see the gaffer give us a new reason to be sneered at. As he tunelessly misquoted the City version of Sloop John B and the cameras crowded round him, his ego peaked. That City had stayed up felt more despite him than because of him, but his ultra-close relationship with Duffen, who blubbed on the pitch and hugged his manager during a post-match TV interview, meant it was inevitable Brown would be around for another go in August. We could only hope someone would tell him over the summer to wind his neck in and remember what a fine football coach and manager he was, and being such should be his priority.

4. Gardening leave

PhilBrown4The 2009/10 season was horrible. It genuinely didn’t seem to have a redeeming feature. No away wins, scraps between players near the Humber Bridge, the heartbreaking sale of Michael Turner for a (later to be revealed) pittance, the season-long injury absence of Ian Ashbee, and the threat of near bankruptcy. In the middle of all this was Phil Brown, who lost his security blanket when Bartlett, a silent owner responsible for the reckless financial outlays, recruited Adam Pearson to look at the books. What the man who had built the modern, responsible, abstemious Hull City found was so horrible that he feared for the future of the club, even short-term. Duffen was removed from his position and Pearson had the chance to get shut of Brown too, around the Hallowe’en weekend of a controversial defeat at Burnley when City only had two wins on the board. He should have done it. He didn’t.

The factions in the squad were now pronounced – dedicated professionals like Nick Barmby, Kevin Kilbane (a man who halved his wages voluntarily), Andy Dawson, George Boateng and Richard Garcia on one side; less responsible wildcards led by Bullard on the other, with the greedy perma-crocked midfielder also having an unsavoury influence on youngsters like Tom Cairney, which felt unforgivable.

A last minute defeat to Arsenal at the Circle finally instilled action from Pearson, and Brown was placed on gardening leave while negotiations for the terms of his permanent exit were thrashed out. Because City had come close to snaffling a heroic point with ten men against the Gunners, the reaction to Brown’s departure on a national scale patently failed to see a bigger picture, labelling it harsh. City fans, while sad at the demise of Brown, were little short of relieved. Suddenly, thanks to the terms of his gardening leave, the manager who had achieved so much personally and professionally was silenced and invisible. The clean-up operation began.

Iain Dowie was installed in a ludicrously titled job, won just once, and City went down gracelessly, without even a single away win. Football seemed to think they had been cleansed by Brown’s dismissal and City’s demotion, but City fans just craved the chance to reboot their club, get away from all the recrimination and madness, settle back in the Championship and start again. It had been a hell of a ride but everyone wanted now desperately to get off.

5. Rehabilitation

PhilBrown7Brown was formally let go in the summer of 2010 and Nigel Pearson was appointed. As he started assessing the playing situation, introducing austerity measures within the club not seen since liquidators transfer-listed the whole squad in 1982, Brown looked around for work. His name was sullied around the Circle, at one glance a crazy development when considering the joy of his first two years (exactly) in charge, but by another token not surprising when seeing the state of the club, financially and emotionally.

Brown did media work to keep his name alive, applied for a few jobs, got close to one or two, and eventually took over at Preston North End. In January 2011, he persuaded Ian Ashbee to sever his nine year association with City and go across the Pennines, and not long afterwards both were back at the Circle. Their reception was muted, though Brown was less well received than the former skipper, even though both had ended their spells with City peculiarly and unsatisfactorily. City won the game 1-0, with only one player in the starting XI – Andy Dawson – who had played under Brown.

Preston didn’t work out for either. Ashbee retired and Brown again went back to the studio. He was a good pundit and an excellent radio summariser, then got a job at Southend United. When they were then paired with City in the fourth round of the FA Cup in 2014, it allowed Brown another opportunity to heal the pain.


And this time, it worked. Almost four years had passed, City had recovered and were back in the Premier League, and Brown gave a series of interviews which made plain his love for the club and the appreciation he had for what it had done for him. City fans responded with some well-aimed, affectionate chants his way during the match, which ended in a 2-0 win as the Tigers maintained a run that would culminate in a first ever FA Cup final.

Some would have Phil Brown back today; one suspects that Brown, who is proving an effective manager on the Essex coast, would walk back to the Circle any day if asked, irrespective of where City are at the time. Perhaps that boat has sailed now. But, ten years on from his appointment, we can again say that he was a brilliant manager and clearly a very good man. But for the recent achievements of Steve Bruce, there is an argument for calling him our greatest ever manager, just for the long-term dreams of the Tiger Nation that he made come true. Before him, we had nothing next to our badge at all. No top tier, no Wembley trips, no international name.

And however difficult some of his era in charge was for all involved, life with him as manager was never dull, for any of us. And if had been, who’s to say he would have been so successful so early on? Phil Brown had self-belief and coaching acumen, and it was both of those things that got us where we had always wanted to be. Ten years on, it’s easy to appreciate that all over again, and we salute the man unreservedly.

Phil Brown, Hull City manager, 9th December 2006 – 13th March 2010*:

Played 157 games, won 52, drew 40, lost 65, in all competitions. Achieved promotion as winners of the Championship play-offs in 2007/08.

*Brown remained Hull City manager until June 2010 but was on gardening leave from 13th March until the end of his tenure was confirmed.


FAMOUS FIVE: City in penalty shootouts


The penalty shoot-out against Newcastle was the 12th in our history, and the fifth we have won (had it been the sixth, this article would have been much easier, and more celebratory, and far duller). Certainly we are familiar with a time when defeat on penalties was a racing certainty the moment the final whistle on 120 minutes of turgid knockout football was sounded, with the tedium of the stalemate about to transform into the disappointment of sudden death exit. Yet we’ve included one win to go with the losses too, so have five examples of City going through the wrongly-termed “lottery” of what is officially known as “kicks from the penalty mark”…

1: Manchester United, Watney Cup, 1970/71

pkWatneyIdentifying the full season is important here, as the Watney Mann Invitation Cup was a bonafide competition, affiliated by the authorities, meaning all stats from the games went on to the records of clubs and players, but mistaken by some as a friendly competition because it was hosted and concluded in August, before the league season commenced.

It was contested by the two top scoring teams in each division who were not participating in European competition and had not been promoted. The latter stat was irrelevant anyway, as both City (72 goals in 1969/70, 13th place) and Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United (73 goals, sixth place) comfortably outscored champions Huddersfield (68 goals) and runners-up Blackpool (56 goals) and their place in the new summer contest was cemented. Indeed, the fact that City conceded 70 goals, more than all bar three sides (and more than the two teams who were relegated) summed up everything about Cliff Britton’s chaotically enthralling reign as manager, though by mid-season he had been instructed by Harold Needler to find his replacement.

So Terry Neill was installed as player-manager in the summer of 1970, and his first job was to prepare his new charges for a Watney Cup game against Peterborough United, which City coasted 4-0. Four days later, Manchester United, European champions two years before but in sudden and steep decline, were heading for Boothferry Park.

The crowd of 34,007 was the biggest at the old place in four years, and saw a rip-roaring, pulsating occasion which went the distance. Chris Chilton got City’s early goal; Denis Law equalised in the second half. Extra time couldn’t separate the sides, so the newly-ratified penalty shootout was required, literally a new experience and a new set of emotions for everyone involved. The coin toss decided Bunkers would bear best witness to it.

FIFA had set out the basic rules of shootouts: best of five, only players left on the pitch could partake, no rebounds, sudden death if level after ten kicks, alongside the usual regulations when taking and facing regular time penalties. It was impossible for some players not to make names for themselves. George Best was the first to take and score a penalty in a competitive shootout; Denis Law the first to take and miss with Ian McKechnie simultaneously becoming the first to save one. Neill himself became the first City player to take and score a penalty in a shootout; Ken Wagstaff the first to miss (bloody loads would follow), then the showman (and former winger) McKechnie decided to become the first keeper to score one, only for him to fail. That was the crucial fifth kick, and with successful shots also from Bobby Charlton, Brian Kidd and Willie Morgan, Manchester United went through 4-3. They lost the final to Derby County.

So, City had lost their first shootout, which would just happen to be forever enshrined in English footballing folklore. Hurrah!

2: Hartlepool United, League Cup, 2006/07

pkHpoolWe won!

It had been seven shootouts and 36 years coming, and that it followed one of the least compelling 120 minutes of football in history – fans resorted to the Mexican wave for entertainment and warmth – made it all the more difficult to be bothered about.

City had finally hung their monkey of live TV days earlier against Sheffield Wednesday at the Circle, and now a second round tie in the Carling-sponsored third competition, against a side with very recent form for doing us over on pens, was the “reward”. It was cold. But at least we were at home as we watched a game that was inevitably going to be goalless the moment it started. One Hartlepool lady was so unmoved by the football on show she responded affirmatively to E1’s request that she remove her décolletage from its corsetry for the delectation of the gentlemen present, and promptly got kicked out.

As if to prove it really was City taking part in the shootout, Phil Parkinson’s men proceeded to go one up in the contest courtesy of a Boaz Myhill save and a Jon Parkin kick, then miss two (Stuart Elliott and Darryl Duffy) and find themselves behind. Mercifully, Hartlepool were even worse, and missed their own two in a row, either side of a successful Craig Fagan kick, which allowed Andy Dawson to clinch the win, 3-2.

Despite another club “first”, nobody celebrated. The win did nobody any favours. City lost in the next round to Watford, without the need for extra time, let alone penalties. Parkinson was out on his ear within three months.

3: Wrexham, FA Cup, 1995/96

The only time City have contested a penalty shootout in the FA Cup, and it was inevitably as dismal as you can imagine for a season among the most shocking in the club’s history, and after two games had failed to yield a single goal.

The total pointlessness of each match was felt by both sides, divisional rivals in the third tier who were forced to play for a second time in seven days after a 1-1 draw at Boothferry Park in the league. The initial goalless draw on the Saturday was turgid; the 120 minute version ten days later at the Racecourse Ground appalling, despite the obvious appeal of a home tie against Chesterfield in the second round. City angered their fans further by telegraphing the forthcoming sale of Dean Windass and dropping him from the replay.

That one set of supporters then had to suffer the indignity of seeing their team lose on penalties after suffering 210 minutes of scrappy, idealess garbage bordered on human rights abuse. Naturally, it was the travelling City fans who would go through this further ignominy, though it was briefly predictable once the unskilled Chris Lee was assigned the first City penalty. He missed.

Wrexham scored three in a row, which was enough as Rob Dewhurst and Craig Lawford skied their pens either side of City’s solitary success from Simon Dakin. Wrexham went on to overcome Chesterfield but then lost at Peterborough in the third round.

In an attempt to thicken a somewhat runny plot thus far, the return to Wrexham in the league in April offered an already doomed City the chance to exact some mild form of revenge, but of course it never, ever worked like that for City. Wrexham won 5-0. And in a final act of brutal cruelty, they beat us on penalties again in the League Cup nine seasons later – they remain the only side to get past us on pens twice.

4: Rochdale, Associate Members Cup, 1999/2000
City had made reasonable progress in what had become the Auto-Windscreens Shield under Warren Joyce, befitting their rejuvenation as a whole under the architect of the previous season’s Great Escape. Indeed, between August 1999 and January 2000, City played a total of eight cup ties in three competitions (consisting of 12 games) and made friends in doing so. It took the multi-national might of Liverpool and Chelsea to apply the brakes in the two more prestigious competitions to what was clearly set to be a juggernaut of non-stop success, or so we thought.

The third team to end City interests in knockout football were Rochdale, however. Perennial clingers to league status, rarely interested in exiting the bottom division in an upwards direction, and from whom City would acquire four points in the lowest tier that season. But in the northerly quarter final – yes, the quarter final; we had expertly disposed of York and Chester already, with clean sheets too – they had much interest in beating City, albeit not via the usual method of attacking the opponent’s goal.

It’s the repetitiveness that you love about these articles, obviously, so it befalls us again to detail a directionless, low quality game in which neither team looked keen on winning, really, so it made for a peculiar occasion for the hardy 1,745 braving the millennial frost. Extra time at Spotland prolonged the agony, with City fans demonstrating their boredom (and exhibiting their inebriation) with a sort-of conga along the away terrace, though the shootout when it came was almost a credit to football, eventually ending 5-4 to Rochdale, with Steve Harper and, fatally with kick number six, Jon Schofield missing for City. Rochdale, buoyed by their success, got all the way to the northern final, where they were beaten by Stoke City.

5: Tottenham Hotspur, League Cup, 2013/14

pkSpursWithout doubt the most dramatic shootout in City’s history, coming after a heroic and quite brilliant tie at White Hart Lane which ended 2-2. It even saw Paul McShane score with a bullet header to put City ahead, and then race the length of the pitch to celebrate with the Tiger Nation. What more could we possibly take?

Answer: a long and high quality shootout; high quality not just in entertainment value, but also in terms of footballing prowess. Both teams missed one in the original five, with a certain Eldin Jakupović clawing away Erik Lamela’s kick, the fourth for Spurs, to cancel out Aaron Mclean’s weak earlier effort.

After five kicks each, nobody had any nails left, but the players on both sides continued to hold their nerve until Ahmed Elmohamady, whose body language as he sidled up to the penalty area did not promise great things, put one far too close to Brad Friedel and City were out. Only Jakupović and the hobbling Curtis Davies did not take kicks for City. Spurs promptly ruined their hard work with defeat to West Ham in the quarter finals.

For the record:
1 – Watney Cup SF v Manchester United, 1970/71, lost 4-3
2 – Full Members Cup R1 v Charlton Athletic, 1987/88, lost 5-4
3 – FA Cup R1 replay v Wrexham, 1995/96, lost 3-1
4 – Associate Members Cup NQF v Rochdale, 1999/2000, lost 5-4
5 – League Cup R1 v Wrexham, 2004/05, lost 3-1
6 – Associate Members Cup R1 v Hartlepool United, 2004/05, lost 4-1
7 – League Cup R2 v Hartlepool United, 2006/7, won 3-2
8 – League Cup R1 v Rotherham United, 2012/13, won 7-6
9 – League Cup R4 v Tottenham Hotspur, 2013/14, lost 8-7
10 – League Cup R1 v Accrington Stanley, 2015/16, won 4-3
11 – League Cup R4 v Leicester City, 2015/16, won 5-4
12 – League Cup QF v Newcastle United, 2016/17, won 3-1


FAMOUS FIVE: Players for City and Sunderland

We go to Sunderland this weekend, a club with whom we have shared a lot of players down the years. Some of the tales are well-thumbed – the upsetting Michael Turner deal, the bizarre triangular arrangement involving Norman, Hesford and Whitehurst, the arrival in Hull of Raich Carter, the merry dances led by Fraizer Campbell’s dad – while currently the two squads have three players with experience of each club. We’ve looked at the rest and picked out five at random for you…

1. John McSeveney
McSeveneyJUndersized winger and ex-miner, capable on each flank, who began his career in his native Scotland with Hamilton Academical before joining Sunderland as a 20 year old in 1951. The Mackems were at the top end of the English game and had acquired the tag of the “Bank of England” club due to the large transfer fees they were prepared to pay.

McSeveney played tidily on the wing in four exciting years on Wearside, with mid-table finishes in his first three years followed by a terrific 1954/55 campaign which saw the top seven clubs separated by just six points. Sunderland finished fourth and got to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, losing to Manchester City. By now, McSeveney was being kept out by Billy Elliot, an England winger who was a huge success at Roker Park, and he was sold to Cardiff in the summer of 1955.

A spell at Newport then followed before he arrived at Boothferry Park for the 1961/62 campaign as one of Cliff Britton’s first signings and showed terrific versatility across the forward line, able to use his low centre of gravity to act the nippy nuisance on the flanks or the off-ball runner supporting the centre forward. He created an awful lot of goals for the emerging Chris Chilton and even outscored him in 1962/63 with 22 goals, a terrific achievement in his first season.

The ever-perfectionist Boothferry Park crowd were not slow to get on his case when his trickery went wrong but McSeveney was known for being unafraid to exchange a few choice words in return, which became part of his legacy after he retired in 1964. He stuck around as a coach and middle man as Britton rebuilt the forward line before becoming manager of Barnsley, and later was a scout and assistant manager at various clubs. He is now 85 and lives in South Yorkshire.

2. Peter Daniel


Outstanding full back from the ranks, Hull through and through, and the man who managed to dislodge the long-serving Frank Banks from the first team while still a teenager, to the extent that Banks insisted on an instant sale and, to his later regret, got his wish.

Daniel was very quick indeed, and his natural pace allowed him licence to overlap at every given opportunity and gained him a number of assists courtesy of his darts to the byline. He quickly became an England Under 21 international and was courted by numerous top clubs from the start of the 1977/78 season when it became clear that City were going to struggle to stay in the Second Division.

He left a relegated side to join a promoted side in Wolves, moved into midfield, and set up Andy Gray’s winner in the 1980 League Cup final. He was popular at Molineux but had injury issues, and after Wolves were relegated back to the Second Division, he signed for Sunderland in 1984 via a summer in the States. He only stayed one full season but it was eventful – he played in another League Cup final (losing to Norwich) and Sunderland were then relegated, meaning Daniel had suffered the indignity of consecutive demotions from the top flight.

He joined Lincoln City afterwards in a cost-cutting exercise and, as if to prove these things come in, er, fours, was player-manager (albeit only for two months) when they became the first club to exit the Football League via the automatic trapdoor system in 1987. If he was never given the nickname Jonah (no matter how unfair it would be), he was lucky.

After retiring from the full-time game, Daniel returned to East Yorkshire. He has been manager of pretty much every Yorkshire and Lincolnshire non-league club you can think of.

3. Michael Reddy

ReddyMIrish striker whose goalscoring record at City is somewhat odd, in that he only started one league game but ended up with four goals. His loan move from Sunderland, for whom he had started only a brace of League Cup ties, installed him as backup to the fresh partnership up front of Gary Alexander and Lawrie Dudfield, and he scored against Mansfield and Halifax (twice) before netting the only goal against Torquay in a game more famous for returning City hero Gary Brabin being sent off for the visitors.

Reddy was 21, ambitious and being hyped to the nth degree by Sunderland manager Peter Reid, so he didn’t want to stay any longer at Boothferry Park than he had to, but he was 24 when he finally left Sunderland, without ever starting a league game for them and with four other loan spells around the north of England on his CV.

He became a big-money move for Grimsby Town and while he scored regularly, he also struggled with a hip injury and ended up retiring at the age of 27 when surgery couldn’t correct the problem. He did a bit of travelling – notably marrying a woman from the Falkland Islands – and then took his coaching badges.

4. Eddie Burbanks

BurbanksEYorkshire-born left winger who was a long-term contemporary and chum of Raich Carter, with the two scoring in Sunderland’s FA Cup final win of 1937.

He was a latecomer to the professional game, going up to Wearside at the age of 22, but he had four successful years there prior to the outbreak of war, and a further three afterwards, making more than 150 league appearances.

At 35, he reunited with Carter at Boothferry Park in 1948 and was instrumental in City winning the Division Three North title, though he was injured for most of the FA Cup run that season, including the quarter final defeat by Manchester United.

In his final season, he was mentor to Andy Davidson, with the young Scot occasionally replacing the 39 year old when he needed a rest, and the two eventually appeared twice in the same XI when Davidson dropped back into defence.

Burbanks made his 143rd and final league appearance for City on April 16 1953, two weeks after his 40th birthday.

Even then it wasn’t over as he spent a season at Leeds before retiring, and he settled in Hull to run a shop, like a number of other City stars of the era. He died in 1986.


5. John Moore

A skill-free gobbet of Mackem hopelessness whom Eddie Gray signed in the summer of 1988, apparently believing him to be a better option than Andy Payton or Alex Dyer or Andy Saville, who were dropped, marginalised or played out of position to accommodate the new arrival.

Moore was from Consett and came through the ranks at Sunderland but the huge number of loan spells he had over five years at the club suggests that they didn’t really have much faith in him. How they must have laughed when Gray offered £25,000 for him in the summer of 1988. We mean really, really laughed. Guffawed. Hollered and hooted with mirth and disbelief. Gone out on a four-day bender on it, probably.

There wasn’t a lot wrong with Moore’s centre forward play if you can handle watching a striker who cannot control, trap, head the ball, run properly, stay onside, dribble, shake off a marker, pass, challenge aerially, stay fit, look interested or, of course, finish. The boo-boys tore into him early on but Gray stubbornly kept picking him and Moore’s substantial frame visibly sank into the lush Boothferry Park turf a bit more each time.

Even the goal (singular) he did score was accidental, with Ken De Mange’s goalbound shot against Swindon Town smacking Moore on the side of his head as he tried to get out of the way, fooling the goalkeeper entirely. Moore’s defiant fist to the crowd as his team-mates congratulated him suggested a “now I’ll show you” attitude (a prototype of that tossy celebration by Caleb Folan at Portsmouth) but in his remaining four games he just got worse.

Gray substituted him at half time against Birmingham at Boothferry Park after an especially spiteful round of abuse from the South Stand, and he wasn’t seen at a home game again.


FAMOUS FIVE: City players against England

No City player has ever played for England, of course*, but a decent handful have lined up against them down the years. Robert Snodgrass and David Marshall are in contention to do so for Scotland this weekend, so we’re looking back at five others. No overseas City player has ever done it against England while on our books**, so they’re all from the British Isles…

1: Stuart Elliott

ElliottSCity’s great hero of the lower divisions under Peter Taylor also became a semi-regular Northern Ireland international after joining the Tigers. Two of his 38 appearances came against England when the two sides were put in the same qualifying group for the 2006 World Cup, with wildly mixed results.

Elliott made little impact in England’s 4-0 win at Old Trafford in March 2005, marked out of the game as he was by Gary Neville, but six months later at Windsor Park he was up against the less experienced – and less good – Luke Young and was able to contribute to a fine team performance that resulted in a shock 1-0 win for Lawrie Sanchez’s side. Elliott is the player following in as David Healy’s shot hits the back of the net.

Even by the mid 2000s, City had few international players at any level of the global game, and there was genuine interest in Elliott’s escapades with his country beyond the usual prayers – perhaps appropriately, in his case – that he wouldn’t come back with an injury at a time when we were over-reliant on his goals.

Elliott is only the second City player to feature twice against England for his country while on the books with the club – his fellow Ulsterman Terry Neill was the first.

2: Dave Roberts

Massively underrated and admirably hirsute centre back of the 1970s, spoken of in equal terms to modern heroes of the defensive art by those who saw him play, and a semi-regular for Wales at a time when they had temerity to get to the last eight of the European Championships.

Within his 11 appearances for Wales as a City player, Roberts wore the wonderful 70s Welsh kit with that yellow bordered stripe down from each armpit of the red shirt a number of times. One such game was against England at Wembley in the 1977 Home Championship, which Wales won 1-0 courtesy of a first half penalty from Leighton James.

It was only as a late sub for Leighton Phillips that Roberts made his appearance, but he stiffened up a Wales rearguard that manfully held off swathes of second half England attacks (which included ex-City striker Stuart Pearson) to clinch what remains their only ever win at Wembley. He left City after relegation in 1978, a year before his international manager Mike Smith came to Boothferry Park.

3: Gerry Bowler
A largely unremarkable centre half who spent just one season with City but during that time played in a dually infamous game against England.

Firstly, England won 9-2 (NINE-TWO, as the earliest vidiprinter would have it) with Jack Rowley scoring four times for England in a match played at Manchester City’s old Maine Road ground. Bowler’s debut had come in the previous tie against Scotland, which had ended in an 8-2 (EIGHT-TWO) defeat. Few international careers have started so unpromisingly, you could say, though Bowler was played out of position on both occasions.

Beyond the on-pitch incompetence, though, political storms were brewing as Bowler and co were playing for what was effectively a united Ireland side, as two teams existed but players from either side of the border were eligible for each, leading to the ludicrous situation of some players featuring in two different sides during a World Cup qualifying campaign. FIFA put a stop to it afterwards and the FAI and the IFA were told to pick players born within their own borders only (until Jack Charlton and others found a way round it a generation later).

Bowler, born in Londonderry, only played for the incarnation north of the border anyway, preventing us from having the novelty of a player to be picked by two different national associations. He featured in all three games in that 1949/50 tournament (the third was a goalless draw against Wales) and at the end of that season he left City for Millwall and his international career ended simultaneously.

4: Andy Robertson

Not just played, but scored. Good day all round for City fans that care about the international team – win the match but see a promising City player, still in new and fresh surroundings at both levels of the game, score a cracking consolation for the opposition. And this was when he was a meagre 20 years of age and still a year away from getting his first goal for City.

Robertson is only the second serving City player to score against England – Neill, again, was the first, in 1972 (Neill is the first at pretty much everything when it comes to linking City players with international football) – and the gifted left back would have been first pick to play at Wembley this weekend but for his injury. Whether the Scotland hierarchy have checked the birth history of Josh Tymon’s family is unclear.

5: Alan Jarvis

JarvisATireless midfielder of the mid 1960s, one of the workhorses that did all the unglamorous stuff while the likes of Chilton and Wagstaff took the glory, Wrexham-born Jarvis acquired all three of his Wales caps in a six month period following City’s Third Division title win of 1966.

The second of these appearances was in a 5-1 cuffing by an England side whose success in the World Cup certainly ran City a close second for most impressive footballing achievement of the year. Alf Ramsey’s men carried an aura and a mystique that made lesser men weaken visibly, and he notably picked the exact same winning XI from July that year (for the sixth and final game in a row, in fact), with Jarvis having to do battle with the likes of Nobby Stiles and Alan Ball, both at the top of their game in the middle of the park.

Jarvis stayed at City until 1971 but found himself marginalised at club level as the likes of Malcolm Lord and Billy Wilkinson began to get more games. His international career ended almost as soon as it began.

*Gordon Wright was registered with Cambridge University at the time of his only full England cap.
**Jozy Altidore was never a fully-registered Hull City player and his loan spell with the Tigers was over by the time he lined up for the USA against England at the 2010 World Cup.


FAMOUS FIVE: Own goals by City players

Michael Dawson’s effort was a bit pathetic, wasn’t it? It brushed apologetically in off him in a game in which City were competitive, and left ample time for an equaliser, while garnering him and the team extensive sympathy afterwards. Cuh. If you’re going to score an own goal, do a proper job of it. Make it heartbreaking, or spectacular, or career-defining, or comical, or totally worthless in the context of the game. Like these were…

1: Kamil Zayatte v Aston Villa, 2008/09

OGVillaZayatteWe had a bit of a selection to pick from with the Guinean defender, of course, as he became renowned for spannering the ball between his own sticks on a notable handful of occasions during his eventful period with the club. But the most notorious – and the most costly – was the one against Aston Villa at the Circle in the final game of 2008.

City were freefalling down the Premier League table in their first ever season of top flight football, while Villa were their usual effective, slightly charmless, moderately unambitious selves in the upper half of the table. On a bitter December night, with the nation watching on TV, City had a Nick Barmby goal disallowed for blundering into ex-Tigers loanee keeper Brad Guzan in a game generally of few chances, and as injury time approached, a goalless stalemate looked likely.

For City, it would have been quite welcome after a run of games which had yielded just one win in nine, having lost two in the previous ten days. But when Ashley Young turned Sam Ricketts on his backside and galloped for the byline, trouble was clearly afoot. Zayatte was closest to the ball as it was whipped towards Gabriel Agbonlahor at the near post and had to do something; sadly, what he had to do was not stab it past a helpless Boaz Myhill and into his own net.

City fans were sickened, but their devastation turned to anger when posturing ref Steve Bennett awarded a penalty for handball near the Villa crossbar, then gave in to protests from the visiting players and changed his mind. That he was actually right to do so when viewing the replay still feels neither here nor there. City only won once again all season and stayed up on the final day.

2: Gareth Williams v York City, 1999

OGWilliamsGWhat can you say? It was a shocking mistake by Williams, who had always been something of a reliable presence in the City squad during the two loan spells in his early career and then after his permanent move from Scarborough. But lower division players are such for many reasons, and the occasional brainfart is one of them.

John Eyre had only just given City the lead at Boothferry Park when a cross hit too deeply by Mark Sertori seemed easy pickings for Williams. He could have left it, he could have chested it down and raced away with it, he could have played safe and nodded it away for a throw-in or, at worst, a corner. To be fair to him, he didn’t panic – his aim was to guide the ball gently back to Lee Bracey. Unfortunately, where he put the ball bore no resemblance to the position Bracey found himself in.

York’s fans celebrated, and so did their mascot. Williams was clearly unimpressed. Entertainment wise, nothing could beat a player scoring a daft own goal and then being baited by a bloke in a lion  suit, and so the remaining hour of the game was uneventful.

3: Dave Bamber v Brighton, 1990

OGBamberIt’s probably the most notorious own goal in City history, scored by one of the most notorious players in City history. Quite a combination, really.

Bamber was an expensive, boneidle liability whose habit of scoring frequently against City could inevitably not be transferred to scoring frequently for City after he joined for £125,000 in 1990. But he was quite able to score against us, still.

A night trip to Brighton, then. A corner is forced. It’s swung in, quite dangerously but, it seems no Brighton player is set on making a late run to challenge Bamber, back on the far post allegedly “helping” the defence. What went through his mind over the next second or two is anyone’s guess but the header was placed impeccably, calmly. That it was in the wrong net seemed to escape Bamber’s notice during what was a craven act of dimwittery.

City lost 2-0 and Bamber rarely looked like he was worth his colossal salary, to the extent that he was actively hated rather than pitied by the time he was packed off the following season. This website related to his badness as a footballer every season since inception and his own goal at the Goldstone Ground played a leading role in the lifelong acrimony aimed his way by City fans.

4: Mike Edwards v Rushden & Diamonds, 2001
That time the ball smacked him full in the face.

5: Neil Buckley v Notts County, 1991

OGBuckleyThird round day in the FA Cup. A popular, keenly-awaited day in the game’s calendar. It’s one, however, that Neil Buckley won’t forget in a hurry as he scored the first two goals in a seven-goal thriller at Boothferry Park against Notts County.

Sadly, the first was into his own net as City failed to deal with a long throw from their own former full back Charlie Palmer. Buckley was unfortunate as Iain Hesford had come flying out to deal with the throw and, typically, got nowhere near the ball and the City defender certainly had to do something. Just not this.

To his credit, Buckley didn’t take long to head in the equaliser, so we’ve included this because there aren’t many examples of City players scoring for both teams in a match. The recovery on a personal level didn’t extend to the team, mind, as the game wound up with five of the seven goals going in City’s net, resulting in the usual instant exit from the Cup.


FAMOUS FIVE: The Watford recruits of the 80s

We go to Watford this weekend. Back in the 1980s, we seemed to have a “go to Watford” recruitment policy, with largely excellent results. Rarely for us, we’ve put them in chronological order…

1: Neil Williams
WilliamsNeilGolden-haired midfielder who was the first of the quintet to join up. He came through the ranks at Vicarage Road but never made the first team and was a full 20 years old by the time Brian Horton brought him to Boothferry Park and gave him his senior debut. He settled in gently, peripherally contributing to the 1984/85 promotion season, even scoring three goals, but over his three subsequent full seasons he never quite did it.

An issue with Williams, which wasn’t necessarily his fault, was that he was an orthodox wide midfielder without being a natural winger, and Horton liked wingers. So even if he showed a bit of form, a change of formation would often see him miss out, and as a result his frustrations were clear, matched by those of the supporters who expected better from him.

He is memorable, sadly, for two open goal misses – one against Wigan in the fifth round of the FA Cup in 1987 (which City lost 3-0, despite being the higher placed side at the time) and a weird left footed slice in front of Bunkers against Leeds in January 1988, which was less costly as City went on to win 3-1, though he did manage to score against his old club in an FA Cup replay the same season (though it went to a third game, which City lost). He was in and out for the remainder of that season but had been earmarked for a free transfer by Horton even before the manager got the sack in the spring.

Williams went on to play for Preston and Carlisle but clearly we had an effect on him round our way, as he settled in Cherry Burton after retirement.

2: Richard Jobson

JobsonRAnother fair-haired recruit, and this time a total, unqualified success. Indeed, to many it is Jobson that still sets the benchmark for defending ability that the likes of Turner, Chester and Davies have followed.

He made the grade at Watford but was a squad player, and left after missing out on a place in the 1984 FA Cup final, which the Hornets lost to Everton. Signed by Horton in February 1985, Jobson was technically coming home when he pitched up at Boothferry Park, as he was born in Hull, although he’d left for Burton-upon-Trent with his family as a toddler and had the accent to match.

Starting out with City as a right back, he showed elegance and class in a role not ideally suited to someone of his height. But he and City were not a perfect match immediately. Jobson went AWOL shortly after signing, casting doubts on his fortitude as a first team player, but upon his return he settled down properly in the centre of defence and for the remainder of his City career was the ultimate in reliable, watchable marshalling of a back four, aided by the somewhat more industrial methods of Peter Skipper. City had that wonderful luxury of a centre back partnership that could both play and spoil.

He had a poor run in 1988/89, a period when he was made team captain (but not club captain) ahead of Garreth Roberts (who maintained the club captaincy and his place in the side, bafflingly) but regained some form in 1989/90 as City clawed their way up the table after a wretched start. Skint and unambitious, City sold him for a shoddy £460,000 to Oldham three games into the 1990/91 season, which not coincidentally ended with City’s relegation.

After Oldham won promotion and performed admirably in cup competitions, his former Watford manager Graham Taylor called him into the England squad in the early 1990s, though he never won a cap, and Jobson continued to play until he turned 40, including spells at Leeds United and Manchester City, with whom he won a brace of promotions. He later became the chairman of the PFA.

3: Charlie Palmer

PalmerCThe 1986/87 season was an important one culturally for Hull City, as the club fielded a black player for the first time. The player was Ray Daniel, a left-sided midfielder whom Horton had encountered at Luton Town. Daniel began the season in the team and as barriers came down – and there were some, as City’s lack of black representation had been noted during a period when England had taken two black players to the 1986 World Cup and major clubs were recruiting black footballers, while the city itself had a reputation for racial illiberality – two more joined at the same time.

Palmer was one, and again he had been a Watford player at the beginning of his career, though had left after just ten league games and settled into a decent career at Derby County. He joined in February 1987 and promptly stayed in the side for the remainder of the season – and, indeed, pretty much all of the next one – with a brand of incisive overlapping full back play beloved of the more athletic defender, while also being capable of winning the ball and stifling wingers.

He lost his place to Nicky Brown midway through the 1988/89 season and didn’t hang around to try to regain his spot after Notts County put in an offer. He later came back with his new club to score at Boothferry Park, something he never managed as a City player. He won promotions with Notts County and played in the top flight for them, and became a social worker, as well as a coach at non-league level, after he finished playing.

Palmer was never one to make a big deal of being one of three black players all recruited by City at the same time, and one suspects the other two weren’t either, but they did wonders off the pitch for everybody’s reputation.

4: Alex Dyer

DyerADyer joined and debuted at the same time as Palmer, but again had not come directly from Watford; indeed, like Williams, he had not been deemed good enough for the first team at Vicarage Road.

Instead, he carved out a good name at Blackpool as a hip-swivelling, close controlling centre forward who was also useful in wide positions and he played both of these roles to great effect after he joined the Tigers.

Dyer was a fine target man, awkward around defenders and strong, proven no better than when he literally shoved weakling Leeds defenders to the deck at Elland Road to score the opener in a memorable 2-0 win in 1987/88. He also scored in the 3-1 win against the same oppositon at Boothferry Park later the same season and, like Williams, netted against his former club in the FA Cup.

The arrival of Eddie Gray gradually marginalised Dyer, who found himself out on the left wing, though he was still effective and dangerous. After a particularly good personal performance against Crystal Palace, they signed him for big money in the autumn of 1988 but he was never the player they thought he was going to be, and he moved around a fair few clubs for the remainder of his career. He is still in the game as a coach, having worked for Chris Powell at both Charlton and Huddersfield.

5: Steve Terry

TerrySThis was all about Dennis Booth, who clearly was the driving force behind the recruit of so many Watford trainees of yore when he became assistant manager under Horton. Booth had been at City since 1980 and was scaling down his career under Colin Appleton, before Horton appointed him to the coaching staff in 1984.

Prior to all this, Booth had spent three years at Watford and knew his old club’s youth system inside out, so recruiting promising players who would have been 16 by the time he left Vicarage Road would have been an obvious policy to adopt. With Horton’s own knowledge of the young, gifted but unchosen players nearby at Luton, a whole new team of hungry stars of the future could be constructed.

So, Booth suggested the Watford graduates, while Horton got Daniel, Frankie Bunn and Garry Parker from Luton. All good, and all successful. Then Horton got the bullet towards the end of the 1988 season (having sold Bunn and Parker during the campaign) and Booth became temporary manager. Don Robinson made a promise to him that he would be unveiled as the full time gaffer in the summer, and told him to manage as if he had a mandate already.

To that end, Booth went out and bought Steve Terry, a familiar figure to all due to the large sticking plaster that he would attach to his forehead prior to every game (presumably due to scar tissue). Terry had debuted for Watford in 1980 in a game that had also been Booth’s last for the club, and went on to become a competent stopper for many years, playing a part in their promotions, Cup runs and jaunts to Europe, but marital problems meant he needed a move, and he was even prepared to sacrifice the remainder of the 1987/88 season – he joined after the deadline and therefore couldn’t play – to get to Boothferry Park and start afresh.

So Booth had done as Robinson instructed by being a proper manager and purchasing a player, parading him for the photographers under the Humber Bridge. But Terry’s debut came under Eddie Gray in August after Robinson performed a volte-face in the summer and denied Booth the job. Remarkably, and to his great credit, Booth took it on the chin and returned to his previous role as assistant.

After displacing Skipper, the new man spent a few months hoofing the ball great distances while Jobson did the tidier stuff, before injury allowed Neil Buckley a route into the team at his expense. Terry left midway through the following season and joined Northampton.

(All five of these players were technically team-mates after Terry’s arrival in the late spring of 1987/88, though never played together due to Terry’s ineligibility and then Williams’ departure).


FAMOUS FIVE: 6-1 scorelines

Bournemouth was a vile experience, but at least it gave us a chance to look at a quintet of other 6-1 scorelines involving City and, ever the optimists, we’ve picked three victories to two defeats (though mainly because they were the first five we found)…

1: Chelsea, 1999/2000 (L)


World Cup winners at Boothferry Park. It had happened before, but there was something slightly more glamorous about Didier Deschamps and Frank Leboeuf cavorting around the hallowed turf than when Nobby Stiles popped down with Middlesbrough for a Second Division game in 1971.

Chelsea’s visit in the third round of the FA Cup came with no expectations whatsoever on the part of a City crowd just grateful to still be in the league following the Great Escape under Warren Joyce the year before. Any half-arsed pretensions that such a cosmopolitan, cultured side (albeit one still including Chris Sutton and Jon Harley) couldn’t do it on a cold December afternoon with the biting Humber breeze up their shorts were soon expunged as Chelsea gave the Tigers a severe seeing-to.

Gustavo Poyet scored a brilliant hat-trick, while Roberto di Matteo and Sutton (notably with an insane and amusing overreaction to the City support, who’d been taunting him through the game) both put away smart goals, though David Brown could be proud of his chipped consolation near the end of the first half after leaving Ed de Goey on the deck. Mike Edwards’ knowing smirk to himself after erroneously putting Chelsea’s sixth into his own net summed up everyone’s mixed emotion of disappointment and resignation, while Jon Whitney was close to nomination for the Order of Merit for trying to snap Dennis Wise.

2: Exeter City, 1965/66 (W)


Chris Chilton with a hat-trick, a brace from Ray Henderson and a further strike from Ken Houghton during a season when just five City players scored 100 league goals between them. It was third of three sixers from Cliff Britton’s all conquering side that season, so was actually fairly standard, though ranks as the best because the other two each featured own goal gifts from the opposition.

3: Lincoln City, 1914/15 (W)


The first 6-1 scoreline involving City was at the correct end of the scale, though conflict was well underway on the mainland and it was clear that the very men banging in the half dozen goals would likely be required for somewhat more serious shooting accuracy before long.

Sammy Stevens and Billy Halligan got a brace each with Kilt Cameron and John Lee adding the other two. It is pleasing to note that all four of these men survived the war, with two of them continuing to turn out for the Tigers after peace returned to the world.

4: Liverpool, 2009/10 (L)


The most recent example before the trip to Bournemouth, and just as likely to induce shudders from those who witnessed both games. City were abject at Anfield but with Michael Turner sold and defensive reinforcements feeble, to say the least, it never looked good once Phil Brown’s decision to give raw teenager Liam Cooper a debut alongside calamitous “will this do?” Turner non-replacement Ibrahima Sonko.

Fernando Torres, in his alice-banded pomp, had a field day, rolling in one of the simplest hat-tricks anyone will score, and while Geovanni had briefly volleyed City level at 1-1, it was a procession for Liverpool and the beginning of the end for Brown and City’s initial stay in the top tier.

Sonko remained a disaster for the whole time he was on loan at the Circle but the debut was unduly harsh an experience for Cooper, who later proved he had some real use as a defender, though his spirit had been broken within the club by the time Nigel Pearson and, finally, Nick Barmby, tried to use him more productively in the Championship, and he needed fresh surroundings.

5: Kidderminster Harriers, 2003/04 (W)


With a proper manager in place and a proper forward line looking for goals, it felt like finally City had a team that could drag itself out of the toilet that was football’s lowest division, and victories like this helped greatly. Ben Burgess, one of the two new strikers, opened the scoring with a shot that the keeper essentially carried over the line, then got another with a marvellous overhead kick in the second half.

There was a sumptuous shot from Andy Dawson and a first goal in City colours for Ryan France, recruited from Scunthorpe and Alfreton respectively (clubs of equivalent size and importance, there) while Danny Allsopp scored a tidy volley and Stuart Green swerved in a bamboozling free kick. City breezed to promotion, with the two strikers banging in 33 between them.