Happy “No To Hull Tigers” Day


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!


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.


NEWS: City drawn away to Chelsea


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.

FEAT Slutsky head hands


Slutsky head hands

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.


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.


NEWS: Les Mutrie dies, aged 66

MutrieLFormer City striker Les Mutrie has died at the age of 66 after a long battle with cancer.

Mutrie played professional football for Carlisle United briefly at the age of 26 but otherwise was a non-league centre forward in his native north east throughout the 70s, playing for Gateshead and most famously, Blyth Spartans, for whom he was a notoriously difficult opponent during a marathon FA Cup tie in which he scored in all three games against the Tigers, even though Blyth eventually lost the second replay 2-1.

Mike Smith snapped him up immediately, paying a record £30,000 for a non-league player, and on Boxing Day 1980 Mutrie, aged 29, made his league debut for City, just four days after scoring the last of his three goals against his new club.

City were poor in 1980/81 and were relegated to the Fourth Division for the first time in their history but Mutrie, who had ended the season with five goals, came into his own at this level. After Keith Edwards’ departure, Mutrie became City’s main source of goals and he responded with 27 in the league in 1981/82 including a run of nine consecutive scoring games, which remains a club record. During this sequence of scoring, he managed 14 goals, including four in a 5-2 win over Hartlepool.

In 1982/83, by now with Colin Appleton in charge, he scored 12 more in a side now more competitive for places up front and with numerous sources for goals as City won promotion back to the Third Division as runners-up.

Appleton only made one significant change in 1983/84 and that was to offload Mutrie, whom he deemed too old for the Third Division. Mutrie’s last game for City was a 3-2 win over Bournemouth in November 1983; his last goal (one of five in 1983/84) was in a 1-1 draw at Brentford a month earlier. He had a loan spell at Doncaster before joining Colchester, but his stay in the south was brief and he was swiftly back in the north east playing for Hartlepool before retiring from the professional game in 1985.

Mutrie clobbered in 49 league goals in just 115 games for the Tigers and remains an icon of the early 1980s when City had both dark hours and moments of glory. A hugely popular figure with the City fans and his team-mates of the time, he will be sorely missed. We offer our condolences to his family.


NEWS: Robertson departs for Liverpool


We were never going to keep Andy Robertson, were we? Even if City had stayed up and possessed responsible owners, it’d have been a lot to expect. And so it’s come to pass, with the Scottish international becoming the latest but perhaps most widely anticipated departure of this dispiriting summer.

He’s joined Liverpool, a rare instance of a City player leaving directly for a top-half-of-the-top-flight club. The fee’s around £8m, decidedly on the low side for a played with such colossal potential. Half the value of Maguire, really? Hmm. Still, since joining City three summers ago, his explosive talent has been obvious, and taking a further step up the footballing ladder has always looked likely.

It’s the latest move in a steep career progression for Robertson. Rejected by Celtic for being “too small” (how the hell does this still happen in the modern day?) he spent 2012/13 at Scottish amateurs Queens Park and the following season at Dundee United. Still only 23, with 15 Scotland caps and dozens more to come, he could go a very long way in the game. His rampaging runs down the left wing were a joy to watch, and that third (and decisive) goal at Derby County will live long in the memory.

Best of luck, Andy.


NEWS: Jakupović leaves, but Campbell returns


Mixed news on the transfer front for City this morning, which does at least constitute an improvment of sorts after recents days.

Eldin Jakupović has left City for Leicester, after a fee of around £2m was agreed between the clubs. He’d been with the Tigers five years, which rather remarkably made him our longest-serving player. His City career didn’t get off to a great start, and an infamous evening against Sheffield Wednesday in January 2013 saw him written off by many, loaned out to Leyton Orient and with an awful lot of reputational damage to repair.

He gradually did that, and battled his way to become City’s first choice keeper following the arrival of Marco Silva earlier this year. He rarely let us down after that, and with capable keeping combined with an endearing eccentricity he become something of a minor cult hero. He ended up with 54 starts for City in League and cups, plus one sub appearance, and leaves with the best wishes of us all (and decent in his position, thankfully).

Rejoining City is Fraizer Campbell. Almost ten years since the beginning of his stunning loan spell that was instrumental in propelling Phil Brown’s unfancied Tigers to Wembley and promotion, the now 29 year old has returned on a two year deal after being released by Crystal Palace.

His exploits in that extraordinary 2007/8 season need no recounting, and as a key part of that glorious season, Campbell’s subsequent career will be familiar to us all. He rarely (and unfairly) never received a warm welcome back to the Circle after declining to join City on a permanent basis, and his return may cause consternation among the unforgiving. The recipient of a single England cap in 2012, he’ll arrive with plenty of expectations and with memories of that magical season at the forefront of our minds. As a free transfer and still the right side of 30, it looks a rare shaft of light of this gloomy summer.


NEWS: Huddlestone the latest to leave


City have confirmed the departure of another first-teamer, with Tom Huddlestone leaving for Derby.

He had a £2m release clause in his contract that the Rams have activated, and with Ehab Allam negligently declining to offer the player a new contract until interest emerged elsewhere, the player has elected to move back to the club he began life as a professional with.

Huddlestone frustrated and delighted during his time at the club. There’s a strong argument to be made that he’s the finest passer of the ball we’ve ever had, yet frequently he’d fail to orchestrate games in the way he’s capable of doing. However, prior to a comically unjust red card at Everton at the end of last season, he was in perhaps the best form of his City career.

That career took in two separate spells in the Premier League, a League Cup semi-final, victory in a play-off final at Wembley, an FA Cup final and European football. It’s been an eventful time on and off the pitch, though the ongoing circus off it has seen his time end. His final contribution was to thank to everyone at City, apart from the owners. He’d have been a regular starter next season, and it’s hard to see how he can be replaced for £2m, if at all. For the second time during this increasingly desperate summer, our loss is Derby’s gain – and City are once again looking hopelessly unprepared for the start of a new season.

All the best, Tom.


City to start at Aston Villa


This morning has seen the announcement of the fixture list for 2017/18, and it’s decreed that City will start life back in the Championship against Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa. That game has already been bagged by the Sky cameras, and will be played at 5.30pm on Saturday 5th August, and gives us an immediate opportunity to appreciate Steve Bruce for the first time since he was forced out of City during Ehab’s 2016 summer of chaos.

City’s first home match of the season takes place a week later with the visit of Burton, while the first of ten Yorkshire derbies is on 21st October, away to Barnsley.

The Saturday before Christmas takes us to Elland Road, Boxing Day sees us host Derby, while the New Year fixture is Bolton away. Easter Saturday sees Aston Villa visit the Circle, while Easter Monday requires a trip to Wolverhampton.

City finish the season with a 12.30pm kick-off at Brentford on 6th May, a fixture preceded by Cardiff at home.

The lengthiest midweek away fixtures are Fulham and Millwall (kudos to anyone who does both), while tick ground enthusiasts will already be preparing for Tuesday 10th April and the visit to Burton.