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Happy “No to Hull Tigers” Day

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Doesn’t time in football race by? For today is the fifth anniversary of the Football Association very wisely rejecting (for the first, but most important time) Assem Allam’s attempt to change our name to Hull Tigers.

This is a significantly reduced football club now; the Allam family’s response has been annually gutting the playing squad and a membership scheme that hurts both the present and limits the future.

But half a decade on from the successful culmination of one of the greatest supporter campaigns in English football history, a time when City fans stood in almost total opposition to an idea that would have denied a century of history and destroyed the identity of Hull City AFC, it’s still worth acknowledging how right we all were – and of course, how wrong they were.

Happy No To Hull Tigers Day.

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NEWS: Former City midfielder Bobby Doyle dies

Bobby Doyle, who played for City in the mid-1980s briefly but memorably, has died at the age of 65. We extend our sympathies to his family. Here, we look back at his life and, within a very successful career, his time with the Tigers.

0_DoyleA craggy Scotsman in his early thirties joins your club after a dozen or more seasons turning out week after week in the middle ranking English leagues.  Your mind’s eye is immediately drawn to a giant moustache, a wild lifestyle and a no-nonsense attitude to the Laws of the Game.  You picture Victor Kasule.

But that wasn’t Bobby Doyle at all – he was in fact a tall, slim, handsome and artistic midfielder with a sublime touch and the ability to conduct the pattern of a game around him.  He orchestrated a season in the Second Division that saw the Tigers finish in the top six, twelve months after promotion from the third tier.  He scored goals.  He created goals.  He was a positive and calming influence.  He was a fine player in a thoroughly decent team led by the redoubtable Brian Horton.

Born in Dumbarton the day after Boxing Day in 1953, Bobby Doyle’s footballing career started at Barnsley in the early 1970s.  An ever present first teamer before he was 20, he remained a first choice on the teamsheet for several seasons at Oakwell and then at Peterborough (where he settled, after his retirement).  As the 80s began he had a short spell at Blackpool before impressing the Portsmouth faithful for five seasons with his flair, goals and ultra-reliability.  Only as he entered his thirties did Doyle drift out of the Pompey first team, and he joined Hull City in late August 1985 with over 550 senior appearances under his belt, mostly in the second tier of the English game.

After a couple of range-finding appearances, he hit his straps as autumn loomed and soon became the first name chalked up by Brian Horton on the dressing room blackboard.  He scored his first goal for City in a 4-0 cuffing of Carlisle in late September, when City were half way up the league table.  By the end of 1985 an uptick in form inspired by Doyle found the Tigers in the top eight, where they remained until May.

Perhaps Doyle’s finest hour came on New Year’s Day when he led the midfield charge against the club where he first cut his teeth, Barnsley.  Bobby was imperious that day, stroking the ball around the pitch with aplomb, hardly touched by Tyke hand or foot for the 90 minute duration.  Early in the second half Doyle received the ball in midfield, weaved his way past a couple of hapless defenders with the dip of a shoulder and sway of the hips, then looked up and stroked the ball over Barnsley keeper Clive Baker from 20 yards.  Baker shook his head in sorrow as the ball nestled in his net.  City rampaged to a 4-1 away victory.  Mauled by Bobby Doyle.

Rising as high as fifth by mid-March, a four match winless run in April saw City fall away to sixth, a dozen points behind an upwardly mobile Wimbledon side occupying the third (pre-play-offs) promotion berth.  Talismanic striker-cum-wrecking-ball Billy Whitehurst had left the Tigers in November, but it was Doyle’s assured presence in midfield that did much to maintain City’s momentum as they finish in what, at that time, was among the highest league positions attained in the club’s 82 year history.  Doyle was voted Player of the Season by a number of supporters’ organisations, and claimed the coveted Hull City Southern Supporters POTY shield.

Football gave.  And football took away.  In a July pre-season friendly at Doncaster an appalling lunge by anti-football exponent Dave Cusack broke Doyle’s leg.  Bobby needed seven months to recover and when he was gently restored to the first team, Horton’s Tigers were in the bottom six, not the top six.  After four starts it was clear that Doyle, now reticent and shorn of his imperious ball playing swagger, was not ready or able to continue his professional career.  After 628 senior appearances and 50 senior goals he retired in May 1987 at the age of 34.

Bobby returned to his Peterborough home and took work as a milk truck driver.  One can imagine that he swooshed milk around the dairy with style and accuracy every time he made a delivery.  In 1988 I had the great honour to meet the big man at his home, ostensibly to collect the Player of the Year shield but mainly to genuflect at the feet of the master.  He was a friendly, quiet and humble man who gave me half an hour of his time when five minutes would have been polite enough, as he talked about his time at City and what his post-football life was like.  Like the tit that I am, I couldn’t avert my gaze from his busted leg to see if it still showed signs of Cusack’s criminality.

Bobby Doyle died at the age of 65,  a less than decent innings for a kind and talented man who was central to a memorable and near-record-breaking season for the Tigers.  City fans who saw him play will be devastated to hear of his passing.

City fans who never saw him… well, trust me.  He was bloody marvellous.

Mike Scott

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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!

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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.