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City draw Millwall in the Cup

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The Football Association Challenge Cup has reached the stage where it incorporates City and other top-two-tier teams – but it doesn’t seem especially pleased to see us, vomiting an away tie at Millwall in our direction.

As draws go, being obliged to travel to a club in the same division as you is decidedly uninspiring, particularly when that same fixture is your next League game. There’s frankly nothing in the tie to engender any remote sense of excitement.

It’ll be our first meeting in the FA Cup with Millwall since City – then of the Premier League – flicked aside the Londoners in a match scarred by crowd trouble in 2009, and it’ll be the first time we’ve ever played them in the competition in the capital.

The tie will be played on the weekend of Saturday 5th January.

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NEWS: Former City winger Crickmore dies

Former Hull City winger Charlie Crickmore, the footballing fireman, has died at the age of 76.

Crickmore came through the ranks at City and made his debut under Bob Brocklebank in 1959. Despite being highly-rated, he was surprisingly sold to Bournemouth in 1962, and went on to play for Rotherham, Norwich, Notts County and Gillingham before retiring. He won his one honour in the game as part of the Notts County side that were Fourth Division champions in 1971.

He returned to East Yorkshire after his playing career ended, joining the fire service and becoming a renowned referee in the local leagues. Until recently, he was living in Thorngumbald.

 

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NEWS: City draw Derby in League Cup

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City’s dubious reward for overcoming Sheffield United on penalties two nights ago is a home fixture against Derby in the second round of the League Cup.

The competition is no longer seeded at this stage, though still regionalised, and it’s fair to say that both clubs might have hoped for something a little more interesting than this – particularly when one considers that Derby are already in Hull the weekend after this tie will be played.

It’ll be the fourth meeting of the sides in the League Cup. The most recent was in 2001, when bottom-tier City lost 3-0 at Pride Park, while previous encounters saw a 3-1 defeat in 1970 and a 6-5 aggregate defeat in 1965.

We shudder to think what sort of “crowd” will turn up for this one, with even Derby fans having little incentive to travel. City, if you don’t much care for retaining your hard-earned, are revealed by top100bookmakers.com to be 475/1 to win the competition this season, and perhaps gain a slice of history for being in both League One and Europe.

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City draw Sheff Utd in League Cup

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City have this morning been drawn away to Sheffield United in the first round of the 2018/19 League Cup.

The draw was made in Ho Chi Minh City in order to capitalise upon the competition’s fanatical following in Southeast Asia, and this season’s incarnation sees City enter in the first round for the first time since 2015, when a penalty shoot-out was needed to overcome Accrington.

We’re unlikely to start as anything but firm underdogs for this fixture, which could mean our first First Round exit since a 2-0 home defeat to Macclesfield in 2011. City haven’t played Sheff Utd in the League Cup since 1983, when a 1-0 win at Boothferry Park wasn’t enough to overturn a 3-1 loss at Bramall Lane – that too was in the First Round of what was then called the Milk Cup.

There’s been a bit of tweaking to what we’re supposed to call the Carabao Cup this season. Gone is the seeding system that kept the bigger boys apart in the first round (but virtually ensured a good draw for any minnows who made it through), though regionalisation has survived. There’s also be no extra-time for drawn games – it is, rather anti-climactically, straight to penalties.

The tie will probably be played on Tuesday 14th August.

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Happy “No To Hull Tigers” Day

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One of our favourite Hull City AFC anniversaries today: No To Hull Tigers Day.

Four years to the day when the FA sided with Hull City fans and rejected Assem Allam’s halfwitted idea of changing the club’s name to “Hull Tigers” (it still sounds stupid when you say it out loud, doesn’t it?)

He may remain in charge, and he sulkily won’t call the club by its proper name – but we still won. A very happy No To Hull Tigers Day, Mr Allam!

FEAT-SEATS

NEWS: Mason retires

Ryan Mason has announced his retirement from football.

The 26 year old England midfielder, whom City signed for £10m from Tottenham in the summer of 2016, has been advised by neurologists to put his health first, little more than a year after he suffered a fractured skull in a Premier League game at Chelsea.

Despite a lot of hard work, therapy and the development of bespoke protective headgear for his impending return, Mason has today called time on his career after just 20 senior appearances for City.

He came through the ranks at Spurs, making 70 first team appearances for the club while also going on a large number of loans as the battle for places in the senior side got harder. Eventually he managed to establish himself enough to receive a solitary England cap in 2015, playing the last 15 minutes of a friendly against Italy. He joined City the following year and hooked up with ex-teammates Jake Livermore, Tom Huddlestone and Michael Dawson in doing so.

Mason’s injury was especially horrific in nature, coming early in a televised game against Chelsea in January 2017 when he and Gary Cahill both leapt high for the same ball. Mason needed a lot of care and treatment on the pitch before he was very gingerly stretchered off, and players from both sides struggled to refocus after witnessing what had happened. Tabloid speculation about the midfielder’s life being in danger proved unhelpful, and eventually a complicated fractured skull was diagnosed which required surgery.

Needless to say, we wish him well for the future.

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NEWS: City drawn away to Chelsea

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City’s reward for Saturday’s hugely enjoyable victory over Nottingham Forest in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup is…Chelsea away.

It’s a distinctly underwhelming tie, providing us with a trip to a ground we’ve visited a few times in recent years that’s a long way away and probably won’t end well. There’s an argument to be made that it’s the worst possible draw available to us.

City have played Chelsea ten times in the Premier League in the past decade, avoiding defeat only twice and losing the last six. It’s our first meeting in this competition since 1999, when City lost 6-1 to Gianluca Vialli’s side at Boothferry Park. City also lost a Third Round replay at in January 1982 – in fact, we’ve never bested the Londoners in this competition, and since our first meeting in 1905 we’ve only won four of our 46 encounters.

So, that may well be that for the Cup this season. And if so, then so be it. If there’s to be a short-term boost from Saturday’s win that propels us to a few League points, it’ll still have been worth it. And anyway, every tournament throws up at least one massive shock…

The tie will be played on Saturday 17th February. Barnsley at home, our planned engagement that afternoon, is yet to be rearranged.

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SLUTSKY LEAVES CITY

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With unhappy inevitability, City have this evening parted company with Leonid Slutsky.

It’s been a rotten season so far, with City in serious relegation trouble after just four wins from 20 league games. Appointed less than six months ago, he arrived in East Yorkshire after intensively learning English and moving to the UK following a title winning stint at CSKA Moscow and a period managing the Russian national side.

He quickly won over City fans with his affable demeanour and enthusiastic embracement of life in Hull. Sadly, on the pitch all was not well. Having been appointed as a “Head Coach”, recruitment was left with Lee Darnborough, while the selling of everything not nailed down was left with Ehab Allam. It meant that for a second summer in a row the Allam family had left a City boss completely unprepared for the upcoming season, typified by a remarkable night in the League Cup at Doncaster when Slutsky had to field an entire youth side.

He erred too. Team selections sometimes puzzled, tactics seemed rather nebulous following the forensic approach of Marco Silva, while the frequency of half-time substitutions hinted at a man rather flailing around for a solution. Meanwhile, second half changes often had an adverse effect, and the extraordinary propensity of his side to concede late goals was abysmal.

However, he was sold a pup. After declaring “the supermarket closed”, he was forced to deal with the indignity of Ehab subsequently selling Sam Clucas. Nonetheless, Slutsky remained too classy to blame the thoroughly inadequate men who ultimately ensured his downfall, and even as losses mounted he was rarely castigated by City fans.

The end’s felt close for a little while though. Slutsky’s attitude crumbled from jovial to perma-distraught and he began openly questioning his own position at the club. He’d also began to lose a little support in the stands, even if it’s clear where the real responsibility for our predicament lies. Yet another failure to hang onto a lead at Hillsborough yesterday left us all wondering if time was up. Turns out it was, with “mutual consent” cited by the club.

Best of luck, Leonid. We hope the Allam family haven’t put you off Hull and England, and that their deliberate debilitating of Hull City AFC doesn’t unfairly affect your career. Thanks for giving it a go, and you’re always welcome at Hull Fair.

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Revealed: City’s 2017/18 attendances

West Stand before kick-off (v Nottingham Forest, 28-10-2017) 1

City’s attendances this season have been much discussed. The official average stands at 15,739, which is the lowest since 2002/3 – when the Tigers were in the bottom division.

But are fifteen thousand people really turning up to watch City every week? With the Upper West Stand closed, we’re instantly losing around 5,000 from a capacity of around 25,400. Of the twenty thousand seats still available for City fans, are three-quarters of them occupied every week? Really?

We wonder. But first things first: tihere’s no obligation for City, or any club, to announce attendance figures that precisely correspond to the number of people physically present. They’d be doing nothing wrong if a different way of calculating attendance figures was implemented, and that’s actually fairly common. If City want to count everyone who could theoretically attend, rather than those who do, that’s up to them.

However, as this Guardian article a couple of months ago explains, crowd figures are a sort of health check on the state of a club. They do matter. And knowing them matters, so we can understand what’s happening to our club.

So we asked around. And look at what we found:

Announced Attendance Actual Attendance Away Attendance
Hull City v Bolton (25/08/17) 15,504 12,834 898
Hull City v Wolves (15/08/17) 17,284 14,459 1,358

That’s interesting, isn’t it?

Those crowds feel a lot closer to what we experience in the ground. Both state that the official attendance is fully 20% higher than the actual attendance. The Bolton one in particular shows that virtually half the stadium is empty.

If we reproduce that 20% margin for the crowd in Saturday’s defeat against Bristol City, 14,762 becomes about 12,300. A half-empty stadium. Just a few years ago we were locking people out of the stadium amid skyrocketing demand. Now we have a ground one-fifth shut and barely reaching 50% capacity. That health check reveals a chronically sick football club. It’s a desperately sad situation.

We asked Hull City AFC if they wanted to comment on these figures, however they declined to do so (though impeccably politely). These figures were obtained with a Freedom of Information request to Hull City Council.