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Calling Time: Don’t Look Back In Amber (Nectar)

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7749 days
21 years
2 home grounds
6 owners
10 managers
4 Head Coaches
1 Temporary Football Management Consultant
4 divisions
5 promotions
3 relegations
2 Cup semis and a final
4 trips to Wembley
109 different opponents
6 overseas trips
1 forum members’ wedding
3 (at least) funerals
2 lodgings at Her Majesty’s Pleasure
1 Hull City Association Football Club

Since Amber Nectar’s inception on Saturday 21st February 1998, it’s fair to say that we’ve done a bit and seen a bit.

But sadly, it’s coming to an end this Saturday, as we’re closing our virtual tavern for the final time.

AN was conceived of in January 1998 by Les and Andy (then 21 & 16), and made its debut as a paper fanzine at Boothferry Park the following month. It wasn’t very good, but we got better over the next few years, and by the time AN #15 was on sale outside the shiny new KC Stadium in January 2003 (our only non-Boothferry Park issue) we were hopefully close to being worthy successors to such publications as Hull, Hell & Happiness, Tiger Rag, On Cloud Seven and so many more.

Times were changing as the new millennium started. By the early 2000s the internet was growing in influence as connections increasingly sprang up at home and at work, and we decided to move exclusively online in Spring 2003. This meant tarting up the website that had been an accompaniment to the paper fanzine since late 1998, and making it our sole focus.

On the online revolution went, and we submitted to the lure of social media in 2011, joining Facebook and Twitter as new outlets for cuss-filled rants as they eventually took over the online space for discussion that forums used to provide.

Times changed some more, and we hitched onto the growing trend for podcasts in 2013. We’ve done over 200, and been honoured with guest appearances from fellow City fans and a healthy smattering of ex-City players. In 2017 we were thrilled to be nominated for the Football Supporters’ Federation’s Club Podcast of the Year award. When, at the subsequent posh do in London, we heard our name read out as the winner, our first thought was that we’ve overdone the free bar. Turns out that three grouchy blokes swearing in a spare room full of City shirts can do alright.

Times will keep changing. Already, City fans who weren’t born when we started are making a name for themselves: trying new things, taking on supporters’ roles, vlogging and so on. If you’re ever wondering whether to do something, to get involved, our advice is simple: do it. You won’t regret it. And that’ll ensure there’ll always be more to come by City fans, for City fans.

Only not from us.

21 years. It’s a long time; many times longer than we gave ourselves back on late-90s Bunkers, when paper fanzines blazed brightly for a few years and then folded. They’re gruelling work, after all. The internet and its greater ease of publication gave us a long lease of life, but not a permanent one.

As we pondered during a 20th anniversary rumination last year, we now have partners, kids, mortgages and grey hairs instead of youthful exuberance and an abundance of free time. We’re all just either side of 40 now. Fanzines, websites, podcasts, perhaps it’s all a young person’s game, and while young people aren’t welcome at City any more, they’ll always find a way of creeping in and making themselves heard.

We were around for a pretty remarkable period in City’s history, and as we looked back on our life and times last year, we’re proud of what we did. www.ambernectar.org offers, in our plainly biased view, just about the most comprehensive trove of fans’ views from this period. To help future City historians, the idly nostalgic or even the club themselves when they remember that history is a source of pride rather than shame, we plan to cease updating the site, but leave it online for as long as possible. That’ll cost: around £40 a month, which we plan to meet ourselves. One very last time though, if you fancy chucking in a few quid to keep our collective record of those years online and accessible to all, we’d be very grateful – you can do it HERE.

There are simply too many people for us to thank over the past two decades, and any attempt would be inevitably and unfairly inadequate. We’ll try a few though: our families, who tolerated this nonsense with remarkable forbearance. Steve Broadbent, indefatigable tech god for twenty years. JR, for TigerTube, occasional podcast appearances and pre-match games of darts. And…oh, you all know if you helped, whether it was selling or buying the paper fanzine, contributing online, writing something for us, chucking a fiver into the semi-regular appeals we’d make to keep us unfranchised and ad-free (and thus truly independent), arguing with us on Twitter, drinking with us at home, away and overseas – there’ll be hundreds and hundreds of people with whom we had contact great or small, and sincere thanks to you all.

We’re going to have one final podcast this Friday, a massively self-indulgent look back at the last 21 years. It’ll be broadcast live on Periscope at 7pm, and we’d love your company one last time.

Then, as we hope befits the way we always did things, we’re off to the pub – The Avenue, on Chanterlands Avenue, for around 8.30pm, and maybe even a curry and Piper, if our old bones are willing. Come drink with us, and talk about the past, present and future of one of the loves of all of our lives: the Hull City Association Football Club.

It’s been bloody brilliant fun. Cheers.

Les, Andy & Matt
Amber Nectar, the Hull City fanzine (1998-2019)

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EFL explain City’s “family excellence” award

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The Football League were recently criticised for awarding Hull City – who don’t offer concessions to children (or anyone) – a “family excellence” award. We asked them to justify this, and enquired whether being informed about City’s explicitly anti-family policies would cause the award to be revoked. Here’s their response:

The EFL’s Family Excellence Scheme, now in its 12th year, is an award-winning ongoing consultation programme to support clubs’ efforts in attracting and retaining families and young fans.

A range of work underpins this process and a huge amount of progress has been made, and innovation displayed, throughout that time, and we now have a record number of clubs achieving the accolade. The process involves each of our 72 clubs being visited twice in each season by a ‘real’ mystery family, who assess the experience across six main touchpoints, from ticket purchase, to stadium vicinity, retail, refreshments and inside the stadium experience, all from the perspective of first time family visitors without any previous experience of attending games at each respective club. Ultimately each family then provides a recommendation score, to determine whether they would recommend that club to other first time families. Hull City received praise from the visiting families across various touchpoints but particularly for their Family Zone and associated pre-match and concourse activities as can be seen here https://www.hullcitytigers.com/tickets-landing-page-2/wwf-family-zone/.

Additionally, the visiting families were further impressed by the Club’s excellent retail facilities and wide variety of family friendly entertainment both inside and outside the stadium. The Club mascots were also described as active and constantly within view of, and engaging with the family zone.

So there we are – mascots waving outranks being able to afford to get in to the stadium in the first place.

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PODCAST: Dedicated to Peter Skipper

peterskipperThe latest Amber Nectar podcast does talk about City’s recent disappointments against West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield United, but we dedicate it in its entirety to Peter Skipper, and devote the first section of it to his memory.

Skipper, a Hull boy who signed from local football as a teenager, died suddenly over the weekend at the age of 61. He had two spells with City between 1979 and 1988, playing 327 senior games.

A hard-as-nails central defender, he formed a colossal partnership with Dale Roberts in the 1982/83 promotion season under Colin Appleton and later became known for his kinship at the back with Richard Jobson after Brian Horton became manager.

In 1984/85 he scored the goal at Walsall that earned a second promotion for City in three seasons, one of 22 goals he acquired for the first team, and in 1985/86 he started a Full Members Cup tie at Southampton in goal after regular keeper Tony Norman hurt his back on the coach journey.

Skipper was ousted at the start of the 1988/89 season by Steve Terry, and joined Oldham Athletic. He later returned to Hull and became a popular, hardworking figure with the Ex-Tigers Association, as well as doing hosting duties for many years at the KCOM Stadium on match days.

He will be sorely missed, and we dedicate this podcast to him. Our sympathy goes out to his family, friends and former team-mates.

Next week’s podcast will feature Amber Nectar writer and longtime contributor Richard Gardham, ahead of the launch of his new book The Decade, which is available now on Amazon.

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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.