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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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NOSTALGIA: City v Liverpool, FA Cup R5, 1989 – from those who were there

This article first appeared in February 2017, and has been republished to mark the 30th anniversary of the game. We hope you enjoy reading it again.

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The 1980s were drawing to an end and Hull City had been through an eventful decade. It had begun with a first ever relegation to the bottom tier, followed by a summoning of the receivers as notice of the club’s closure was given in early 1982.

Don Robinson became the saviour, and not only gave the club a future, but also an identity and a charisma that had been lacking at any level since the early 70s. He appointed Colin Appleton, who won instant promotion back to the Third Division, then along came Brian Horton, who in 1985 got the Tigers back into the Second Division and then reached the dizzy heights of sixth in 1986. By 1988, Eddie Gray was the manager and City were again hoping to challenge for a top tier spot, which was still the big ambition.

Within all this, there had been a surprising lack of truly big occasions at Boothferry Park. Attendances weren’t great, personalities were short on supply and even in the more interesting seasons, we didn’t get any promotion six-pointers or winner-takes-all relegation encounters, and most Yorkshire derbies came with little more than regional pride at stake. The cups were unkind, with City either playing poorly, coming out as the away side or just not getting paired with the big names. That is, until Gray’s side began an FA Cup run in 1988/89 with wins at Cardiff and Bradford…

“The Bradford City fourth round tie had been my first ever away game. I went on Tiger Travel and had never seen men drink or need to piss so much. We were in such terrific form, with Garreth Roberts, Keith Edwards and Billy Whitehurst enjoying Indian summers, and Billy Askew simply head and shoulders above everyone else pretty much every time he stepped on the pitch. The excitement of the Bradford game was still seeping into Monday morning, when I’d be meeting the schoolmates that I’d gone to Valley Parade with, and I’d pretty much forgotten that the draw was on. I was upstairs getting ready for school when my mum screamed up the stairs ‘It’s Liverpool. They’ve got Liverpool!'” Richard Gardham, West Stand

“Back then, the FA Cup draw was made on the BBC’s Breakfast Time and I have it in my head that it was John Stapleton who took the viewer across to Lancaster Gate for the fifth round draw. Graham Kelly was the happy-go-lucky chap from the FA who always hosted the draw as if it were a wake, with the only acknowledgement for television being his vague awareness that a camera was somewhere in the room. Two FA committee members whose names were always mumbled to the viewer would empty the balls and do the draw and I’m convinced I didn’t watch it because it ran late and I had to rush to another part of the house to brush my hair or find my coat or something equally as mundane. My mum, who hated football but knew how important this was, shouted the draw up at me and I whooped and hollered like a falsetto schoolboy (which is what I was at the time). During the day, and the next couple of weeks, the South Holderness pupils who were plastic Liverpool fans gave me and my mate Chris, with whom I often attended games, masses of stick over what “their” team would do to City, but it washed over us. We had Liverpool. We just didn’t get days like this and it simply couldn’t come soon enough.” Matthew Rudd, the Well.

“I think they were the top team in Europe at the time. To be honest the first thing came into my mind was I’m colourblind, red-brown-green colourblind. Liverpool play in all red and I’m going to be playing against them! The grass is red to me and when I play against teams in all red, it blends in.” Garreth Roberts, Hull City club captain.

“The thing that is hard to convey to anyone under the age of, say, 30 was the sheer size of the excitement associated with the game. The FA Cup still mattered a lot in those days, and this was City’s first game of real national note in it for a generation – even the run to the fifth round two years previously, fun though it was, didn’t feature any really big (‘plum’, one must doubtless say) ties, nor any at home. Moreover, even though we’d had a few lively fixtures at home in the resurgence of two promotions in the early/mid 80s (Port Vale, then later Leeds, for example), the ground had still been nowhere near full, which it would be for the Liverpool game.” Stephen Weatherill, South Stand.

“First memory was the draw, which I’m pretty sure was on breakfast TV on the Monday morning after the fourth round. I remember dancing round the living room of my bungalow in Gilberdyke before going off to work in the legal department of British Coal in Doncaster.” Ian Thomson, Hull City fan and (at the time) club employee.

“Hard for my own kids to imagine now, but this was THE big game, in fact the biggest game my generation had. For my two, trips to Wembley, seeing multi-million pound players, being in the top flight (‘the best league in the world’) and so on is the norm. For us, it was beyond our wildest dreams. So when we drew Liverpool in the fifth round of the FA Cup, it was a must-see game.” Sue Leighton, South Stand.

“Ask any player, he wants to play against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United – they’re the games you want to be involved in, playing against the best players. What a team they had – Barnes, Beardsley, McMahon, Aldridge.” Billy Askew, Hull City midfielder.

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“An awful lot of people from the East Riding with zero interest in Hull City suddenly wanted to attend a game. Don Robinson did precisely the right thing by making sure the glory hunters worked hard for their place in the crowd, introducing a voucher scheme for the preceding home game against Shrewsbury Town. If you didn’t have your voucher from the Shrewsbury match, acquired after you’d paid your cash at the turnstiles, you didn’t get a Liverpool ticket. Season pass holders like me – I had a junior pass for the Well – were always guaranteed a ticket in advance, but everyone else had to buy their voucher and then pay. Some of the plastic Scousers at school didn’t like this, which just made me laugh at them.” MR

“If you attended the Shrewsbury game you were entitled to a Liverpool ticket, and on this occasion City blasted the game 3-0. As I watched from the South Stand seats, proud that my team had got 11,000 for a meaningless game, I sat in dismay as at least 3,000 poured out of the ground with 20 minutes remaining to start queuing for the Liverpool tickets.” Brian Lee, East Stand.

“Living down south at the time did nothing to diminish my love for the Tigers. Amidst all the Arsenal and Spurs rivalry where I worked, I did my best to educate the youth in supporting your local team, no matter how shit they are. Barnet should have given me some commission. Somewhere in a staff room in deepest Hertfordshire there will still be a faded 1988 Hull City mug which I decided to leave as a lasting reminder of my time there. Getting a ticket then? Easy – none of this no ticket office, do it online nonsense. I’d been going for years, surely I could get a ticket then. Er no, some things never change – we’d have to do it the hard way and get vouchers at other matches to prove our worth and show we weren’t just turning up to watch the big boys. In the depths of my memory I vaguely remember the now customary outrage as there weren’t enough tickets for everyone, why couldn’t the club do it differently? Oh, and of course, a request from a friend of a friend who was a Liverpool fan to get him a ticket. Yeah, right. Like I said, nothing changes. But I was one of the lucky ones.” SL

“Due to being near neighbours of the Buckley family on North Hull Estate, my brother and I were not only sorted with matchday tickets for the biggest Hull City game of our lifetimes, but also access to the players’ bar afterwards. I don’t know which I was most excited about. That Liverpool team was simply astonishing. When they’d beaten second-placed Nottingham Forest 5-0 the season earlier – in a game that still saw Forest keeper Steve Sutton get the man of the match award, such had been Liverpool’s dominance – Tom Finney declared that they were the greatest club side of all time. Few would argue with him.” RG

“Mumbled to myself all the way home after the Shrewsbury game, then after preparing myself for a big night out in LAs, off I trudged into town. After celebrating our 3-0 victory with fellow City fans, who were also season ticket holders and therefore didn’t have to queue for their Liverpool tickets, I entered LAs. Later that evening I popped up to the ‘cool’ area of the club, and for those of you who knew it, it was Peppermint Park, where [ex-City keeper, retired through injury, subsequent FITC officer] John ‘Gunner’ Davies was standing at the bar. As on most Saturday nights in those days you either bumped into staff or players from the club on a night out in LAs. So, as usual I got into deep conversation with John about City. From what I can remember that night (which isn’t a lot), his parting words were ‘everybody who queued got a ticket, but the ticket office didn’t close until 9.30pm’. As John and I headed our separate ways that night, I was sadistically pleased that those people who were not loyal fans had to queue for so long.” BL

“On the morning of the game I saw Neil Buckley briefly as I’d be attending the game with his family. He seemed completely nonplussed about facing Beardsley, Barnes, Rush, Aldridge, etc. When you think of the inexperience in that defence – three quarters of them, Neil, Wayne Jacobs and Nicky Brown, only had a few dozen first team games between them and were all in their teens/early-20s – it was a terrifying prospect.” RG

“All the frustrations of having poor seasons and nothing to scream and shout about, and all of a sudden we had this huge game against the best team in the world at the time and that’s why everybody reacted to it.” Keith Edwards, Hull City centre forward.

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“On the day itself it was possible to re-imagine the huge sense of occasion that accompanied our bigger games back in the late 60s and early 70s, when I first started going – the Liverpool game was very much the last great Boothferry Park occasion. I don’t remember ever being more full of anticipation about a City game; Stoke in 71 would be on a par.” SW

“I can remember the chairman getting carried away. I walked into the ground on the morning of the game and there was a big banner up on the far side of the ground that said ‘Go Get Them Rambo!’. I asked them what it was all about and they told me it was the chairman that wanted it up. I had to tell them to take it down, you don’t do things like that with Liverpool in town.” Eddie Gray, Hull City manager.

“I remember my ticket being in the East Stand with my cousin, but unfortunately as the game approached he broke his leg playing Sunday league football. Being gutted for our Keith that he couldn’t go in the East Stand, panic set in as there were no disabled facilities available. As it ended up, he had the best seat in the house! If you watch the footage of the game, at half time as the teams are walking off the pitch you can see our Keith sitting next to Eddie Gray and his coaching staff on a bench next to the dugout. Wow. Nowadays that would be equivalent to being the third sub!” BL

“Before travelling to the game, I watched Football Focus and Saint & Greavsie, one after the other. [BBC Look North anchorman and sports reporter] Harry Gration did a Humber-centric report for Football Focus which began with “The Humber Bridge, one of the sights of Europe” which linked City’s game with Grimsby’s tie across the water against Wimbledon, the FA Cup holders. There was footage of an autograph session at, I think, Debenhams in Hull, featuring Garreth Roberts, Keith Edwards and Billy Whitehurst, with the two strikers taking their interview opportunities to praise the other. They also interviewed Emlyn Hughes, who in his usual gregarious way claimed he was supporting City because of his status as a director of the club, despite his long association with Liverpool. Then on the other side, Saint & Greavsie featured a long interview with Keith, showing goals from his Sheffield United days and a famous FA Cup semi-final goal he scored for Leeds just two seasons ago, as well as stuff about his love for greyhound racing and a few words of praise from Eddie Gray. They also showed City beating Brentford in the fifth round back in 1971, the last time we’d won such a tie. Jimmy Greaves waxed lyrical about our legendary forward line of that era afterwards, and my dad said something to the effect of ‘coming from him, that’s very high praise’. By the time I turned the telly off and left the house, I couldn’t have been buzzing more.” MR

“I will never forget Eddie Gray going on TV beforehand and saying with such conviction and style that he had never worked with the lad before but goalscoring is an art, and he has got it off to a fine art. I had watched that and thought ‘bring on Liverpool’.” KE

“From 1983 to 1993 I served the drinks and looked after guests in the Boothferry Park boardroom and so was on duty as usual for the Liverpool game. I didn’t want to go into the boardroom looking like a scruffy get, so went to get my hair cut somewhere on Beverley Road, by a young lady hairdresser who had no idea that City were playing Liverpool that day. There was always a lot of hustle and bustle behind the scenes from about 10am on matchdays, but there was much more of an air of anticipation and excitement that particular day. Eventually directors and their guests started to arrive. Even the Liverpool directors – let alone their players – seemed larger than life, a more imposing and forbidding presence than your average Division Two director, rather like a bunch of Victorian mill owners. The one exception was their patrician chairman, John Smith, a very engaging personality. Well known for his hands-on approach, it was said that he knew all the Anfield staff by name. One of his rituals was to go down to the dressing room before games to speak to the team, and at about 2.20pm he asked me to show him down to the away dressing room. On the way he asked me if I knew the score the last time City and Liverpool met and who scored a hat-trick for Liverpool that day, the only one he ever achieved. He seemed genuinely impressed that I could answer both questions correctly.” IT

“It was the first time in my career that such attention had been on a game I was going to be involved in. As a youngster, the amount of press was incredible. All eyes were on us.” Wayne Jacobs, Hull City left back.

“I was working for BP Chemicals in Hull at the time and went home to Liverpool to get a ticket but it sold out. So I got a Hull City members card and was able to get a ticket in the Hull end. When they took my photo for the members card at Boothferry Park, I had a Liverpool scarf on. They didn’t say anything!” Dom Shields, Liverpool fan, East Stand.

“Before the game, strolling along the walkway behind the Best Stand, I was in a trance. It was if my whole Hull City-supporting life had been leading up to this game. I trod on someone’s toe as I hadn’t been looking where I was going. I quickly apologised and Ian Rush, evidently not playing, looked down at me and said ‘don’t worry mate’.” RG

“It would be hard to get over to younger folk the stature of Liverpool. They were utterly dominant, but also widely liked and admired for playing proper football, over a long period, right back to Shankly. Sure, they were hard enough and couldn’t be bullied, but unlike, say, Leeds under Revie, the football came first, the thuggery mere self-preservation. And it was a club rooted in the city it came from, and respected as such – unlike Manchester United, always tainted by glory hunters and tourists (and sadly unlike Liverpool today). Their fans were better observed from afar than close up, but there was never any doubt that they were the real thing.” SW

“South Stand was packed out, my usual place taken but I managed to get a barrier to lean on just to the right of the goal. To be honest, as with many of our big games, it all became a bit of a blur. Maybe it’s down to the adrenaline, the excitement, the trying desperately to remember it in case this is the only big club you ever get to see, whatever it is, it always bloody happens to me.” SL

“The Well was absolutely stuffed with people, when usually you had lots of walking room. As a 15 year old of below average height, I found my way to the front corner, on the cusp of the wire players tunnel, and rested my chin on the famous white diamond railings while watching the teams warm up. A BBC camera for the following Monday’s Look North was filming the supporters, and a mulleted fellow in a wheelchair who always watched the game from the gravel in front of the Well was filmed shouting ‘Hull City!’ very loudly, with a manic grin on his face. I’m right behind him, blocked entirely from my first ever TV appearance, for which I was disappointed at the time but relieved now. When the players came out of the tunnel for the start of the game, I clenched my fist and muttered “C’mon Billy” to Billy Askew, a wonderful player, and he winked at me. He, and the rest of them, were seriously keyed up for this.” MR

“The boardroom was somewhat fuller than usual that day and the same went for the box, meaning that I had to forego my usual seat and unusually watched the game from the mouth of the players’ tunnel. The north side of the Well was usually kept empty but fans were allowed in that day and I remember thinking how strange it looked. It was genuinely marvellous to see the ground looking so full, the first 20,000 plus crowd – for a City game (several rugby crowds were in excess of that figure) – since a 13,000-strong Sunderland following swelled the gate to 21,000 on Easter Saturday 1974, and indeed the last one ever at Boothferry Park.” IT

“Everywhere was full except the crumbling South East corner terrace, which hadn’t housed any supporters since 1976, so we had the capacity 20,058 on the day but there was likely to be more than that, in truth. Rarely was the North East corner of the old place opened to away fans, but it was that day, and Liverpool brought plenty. The Well’s opposite half was open which I had never seen before and the three main home stands were jammed, with just a small gap of netting separating the [East Stand] Kempton from the Liverpool fans. You could almost touch the excitement – a city had finally come out to see its football team, even if a sizeable number of them were hoping for a day out watching the league champions put on a masterclass.” MR

“I was just proper excited, it was my first away game. Long journey on the train, then escorted on to buses at the train station. The away end wasn’t massive and not under cover either and the toilets were at the opposite end of the stand to where me and my dad were standing. We’d travel from Rhyl to home games but this was just better.” Scott Williams, Liverpool fan, North Stand.

“I had fifty quid on us to win, at 6/1.” BA

“I put a run together in scoring in eight consecutive matches which was a record at the time, I’d done it once with Sheffield United and I did it with Hull City, and of course the eighth game just happened to be Liverpool. So I’m sitting there thinking that I want to equal my record at least, and try and beat it, but it would have to be against Liverpool.” KE

“When the game kicked off, it was horrible for the first 15 minutes or so. We just couldn’t touch them. When John Barnes put Liverpool one up, one of my group leaned over to me and said ‘we are going to get absolutely destroyed here’. It was hard to disagree. The gulf in class looked unbridgeable. But then on about 20 minutes we kicked into life. As I recollect, it was the Billy Whitehurst/Jan Mølby duel that would start it. It seemed to stir something in the players (helped to an extent by Andy Payton clattering into Gary Gillespie to see him stretchered off). Keith Edwards and Billy Askew started with the flicks and tricks. Neil Buckley went close with a header at the far post. We were gaining a foothold.” RG

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“I was too young for broadsheet newspapers at the time, but in Hedon’s library the following week was a copy of the Guardian from Monday 20th February, with the match report stating that Gillespie’s shin had been ‘blackened’ by Payton. As a wannabe football journalist, I loved that description.” MR

“Gillespie getting injured stuck with me always because I remember saying to my old man that he’d forgot his shinpads.” Scott Williams

“Alex Watson came on and our defence was all over the place, in a way we weren’t used to. I remember Hull feeling it was ‘on’ after Gillespie went off, for maybe ten or 15 minutes.” Steven Scragg, Liverpool fan, North Stand.

“John Barnes scored with a header in front of [South Stand] Bunkers. It seemed to take an age to go in and it seemed to take an age for Iain Hesford to dive towards it. The Liverpool fans cheered the goal almost casually but the rest of us went numb. For a while I was terrified that we’d be hammered, and it’d be 4-0 at half time. Already I was thinking of the stick I’d get from those dolts at school whose interest in football was nil but still claimed to support Liverpool.” MR

“I went to the toilet in the middle of the first half and while walking back to my dad we scored. I tripped over my own laces and in the ensuing celebrations, got kicked in the head. I remember the biggest Scouser I’d ever seen in my life dragged me up by my collar and said ‘eh soft lad, get back to your dad’.” Scott Williams

“I scored a goal, more due to Bruce Grobbelaar being a bit frightened than anything else, because it was a one on one and he stopped when he saw me, and it hit my shin and went in.” Billy Whitehurst, Hull City centre forward.

“The equaliser, while not expected, didn’t seem against the run of play. It could easily have gone to 2-0 and we’d have been dead and buried, but I remember Billy Askew starting another attack, the ball being fed in the box, Gary Ablett – who I’d loved in his loan spell at City – slipping, and then everyone standing up so I couldn’t see a thing. It didn’t matter. Everyone started going crazy and I knew that Billy Whitehurst had scored. Hull City had scored against the great Liverpool side. It was surreal.” RG

“Billy held his arms aloft to the Liverpool fans behind the goal and they gave him the finger. He could have taken them all on, no problem. He’d just scored our equaliser and we couldn’t get our heads round it, so when the second went in a couple of minutes later, it was as if we were in another world.” MR

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“A minute or two before half-time I went back up the tunnel in order to be back in the board room straight after the half-time whistle. I therefore watched the final moments of the half – including the Edwards goal – from the top of the Directors’ Box steps. Completely surreal.” IT

“The rest of that half will live with me forever. We just had Liverpool on the ropes. They didn’t want to know. Billy Whitehurst was bullying them and Billy Askew was effortlessly outshining the likes of Ray Houghton and Steve McMahon in midfield. We had them. We just needed to score.” RG

“Then Keith got one.” BW

“I think it hit his [Jan Mølby’s] arm and I can remember standing there thinking ‘God, I hope they don’t give a penalty, I’d rather just rifle it in now’. I just clipped it in and found the corner and to beat Grobbelaar was quite exciting. I was a fairly senior professional, got used to it, and I was always nice and relaxed in front of goal, and for me it was a pass into the corner of the net and if the keeper saves it, well done. I was always a big believer that you shouldn’t miss the target, and that’s all I aimed for, just to get it on target.” KE

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“The chap in the wheelchair in front of me rolled on to the pitch with his arms raised, and even I climbed over the railings and jumped up and down on the touchline. A policeman told me to go back again. We were beating Liverpool, having been behind. It was utterly insane.” MR

“It was like running into a bizarre parallel universe, to a degree. Ken De Mange was running us ragged!” SS

“The goal was brutal and beautiful. Billy Askew brilliantly found Billy Whitehurst’s head. No red shirt wanted to know when the ball went towards Billy. Their defence was in a daze. And the ball fell to Keith. I’ve rarely celebrated goals until a) the ball’s hit the back of the net and b) I’ve had a very quick look at the linesman and ref to make sure it counts. Not on this occasion. As soon as I saw the ball landing on Keith’s foot I knew we were going ahead. We’ve not had a better finisher in my lifetime. I had a quick look over at the South Stand, where I’d normally be stood. It looked amazing. A packed sea of bodies just going crazy. Of all the things I saw that day, that vision will never leave me.” RG

“I shafted my knee in the mayhem as the second went in, thanks to a massive crowd surge in the Kempton. It blew up like a balloon afterwards. I remember moving from well over halfway up Kempton to somewhere near the front by the time the mayhem died down around half time. Twisted my knee, but couldn’t care less at the time. I still often feel that knee pain to this day.” Andy Medcalf, East Stand.

“The footage as the players went off at half time shows Billy Askew and Garreth Roberts, our two longest-serving players, congratulating each other and geeing up everyone else as they went off. They felt it just the same as we did, that a massive, massive shock was on.” MR

“I still remember my cousin Keith on his crutches applauding the teams off as we led Liverpool into the break.” BL

“We obviously think we’re in with a great chance of beating them.” BA

“Made up to be going to a ground I’d never been to, then a bit stunned at 2-1 down from 1-0 up.” SS

“I dashed back to the boardroom on the whistle and the first person to come in was [City director and future chairman] Martin Fish. We both agreed that we could barely believe what was happening.” IT

“I cannot quite recall a bliss of disbelief and euphoria to match that which I felt at half time.” SW

“The dressing room was buzzing at half time, we couldn’t believe we were 2-1 up and they’d outplayed us for 20 minutes. I always say to this day if we hadn’t had half time we’d have been okay and that impetus would have carried on.” GR

“We were a bit tense. We knew if we lost there’d be nothing left for us.” John Aldridge, Liverpool centre forward.

“It was such a fantastic atmosphere and the players responded. At half time I can always remember the team talk with Eddie Gray saying ‘we really have got a chance guys’. We went in 2-1 up and realised we’d got a great chance because Liverpool were a bit off but when you look at their individuals they just got the better of us in the end.” KE

“It was one of the best half times I’ve had, as a rabid Kempton taunted the silent Scousers at the other side of the dividing net thing.” AM

“There wasn’t too much grumbling at half time, like you’d get now. Everyone knew with the team we had that we’d get chances.” Scott Williams

“Yes, us, 2-1 up against Liverpool. The silence at half time was deafening. Disbelief, hope, the realisation that this was City so we knew the outcome but were just enjoying the feeling while it lasted. Half of us couldn’t wait for the second half, half of us wanted it to finish now.” SL

“We didn’t want that half to end. Another five minutes and we could easily have been 3-1 up. We just had them. They didn’t know how to deal with us. When the half-time whistle went, it was Cooper vs Clay in 1963 being replayed in Hull. We didn’t need half-time, but the best team in the country, maybe even Europe, did. Half-time itself felt surreal. Once the players had disappeared down the tunnel there was a sense of disbelief around the ground, among both home and away supporters. There was no time to bask in the glory though. We knew Liverpool would come back at us…” RG

Liv3

“We went in 2-1 at half time and then John Aldridge scored a couple. Then I missed an open net in the last minute, but we didn’t show ourselves up, we played particularly well against them.” BW

“It was good, coming back straight after the break. It knocked the stuffing out of Hull.” JA

“Liverpool’s goals seemed to happen in the blink of an eye, and showed why John Aldridge was one of the most underrated strikers of his generation. His two finishes were the type that looked simple, but only because he was so good. Had we held on until the 60th minute or so, who knows what might have happened. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Looking back now, when you watch the game over again, you see just how good Liverpool’s movement was, how each player had an incredible first touch and close control. It makes you appreciate how well we’d done to rattle them in the first half. I was proud of how we carried on battling but it just had a feeling of ‘glorious failure’ after that. The goalmouth scramble in which Billy Whitehurst nearly scored summed it up really. That Liverpool team were never going to surrender a lead twice within the same game.” RG

“Could we? This time? Would we be the giant killer? The stuff dreams are made of? Actually living the magic of the Cup? Well, of course not, but we gave it a damn good go.” SL

“When Barnes scored I jumped around, all eyes were on me, including the police. When Aldridge scored the police dragged me out and stuck me in the Liverpool end.” SS

“There were a couple of chances at the end, Keith and Andy Payton had one, but it wasn’t to be. To lose 3-2 to one of the best teams in Europe, it didn’t seem it was a bad result at the time.” GR

“I wasn’t upset really. Immediately, when you’re walking off a pitch you’re disappointed to be leading any game you then lose. Maybe I was a romantic, but I thought we could win every game and I went out to do that. But you look back and see what a good side played against us that day, full of stars. It was incredible we were winning 2-1 at half time.” WJ

“I never took pride in defeat, that’s one thing you should never do.” EG

“It was great to make a game of it. We didn’t let ourselves down I thought Eddie Gray was fantastic, in his team talks he encouraged everybody to play their normal game and he got a great response from us. It was so special to have that ground full, I’d been there so many times with a lot of poor situations at Hull but to have all the good times there at that moment in time was fabulous and I thought that if successful this is how it would be every week.” KE

“Looking back now, I appreciate that it gave me a glimpse of what the old stadium was like in the days of Raich [Carter, Hull City player-manager 1948-52] and Viggo [Jensen, Hull City player 1948-56], and then Waggy [Ken Wagstaff, Hull City player 1964-75] and Chillo [Chris Chilton, Hull City player 1960-71]. This game, I suppose, was its death rattle.” RG

“I remember after the game people said they had seen Eddie Gray in his car only 20 minutes after the final whistle mulling over the 3-2 defeat.” BL

“The players’ lounge after the game was surreal, like a 3D Panini album. The sight that lives with me to this day, however, is Billy Whitehurst stood next to the old TV they had in there where you’d get the local final scores on Look North’s Saturday bulletin (thank you Elliot Oppel). With him, hanging on to his every word, were former Oxford team-mates John Aldridge and Ray Houghton. However, it was the sheer quantity of beer and cigarettes that Billy was getting through was a particularly satisfying memory of that day.” RG

“After the game I do remember that Kenny Dalglish would not come into the boardroom, maintaining that his place was outside in the hospitality room talking to the press. Inside the boardroom, John Smith gave a brief but very dignified little speech, concluding by saying that he thought that City would grace the First Division.” IT

“Watching on Match of the Day afterwards was brilliant. You could hear the sound of tens of thousands of video ‘record’ buttons being hit across the city.” RG

“Match Of The Day started with our game and they’d sent the great Barry Davies as commentator. Early on in his commentary he described Boothferry Park as a ‘nice ground’ which I thought was decent of him. The highlights were fantastic and heartbreaking at the same time, and the great chance Andy Payton missed in the second half which we all thought was a wild slice by an inexperienced player actually turned into an amazing block tackle by David Burrows, something that wasn’t obvious from the Well. On the final whistle, Barry Davies called it “a good challenge by Hull City, but the right side gained the victory”, and he was correct. There were no routine after-match interviews then, and after the highlights finished we just got Des Lynam confirming Gary Gillespie had suffered a “badly bruised shin” before he moved on to the next game. And that was it.” MR

“As soon as I got home I shaved off the moustache (well, it was the 80s) that I had been growing since Christmas, having decided not to get rid of it until City were out of the Cup.” IT

“I’d been too young to remember the last time we’d been on Match of the Day, so knowing that the likes of Des Lynam even knew we existed was just brilliant. It was the last great game of the 80s – a decade that had been so good for Hull City – and the last great Hull City game for the likes of Richard Jobson, Garreth Roberts, Billy Askew, Billy Whitehurst and Keith Edwards. It didn’t feel like the end of an era at the time – there were a lot of good young players in that team and in that squad – but looking back now it went all downhill from there.” RG

“On the Monday morning, again on breakfast telly, Liverpool were drawn the piss easy home tie against outsiders Brentford in the sixth round – every other team in the last eight were from the top division. That could have been us at home to Brentford, it really could. I went to school to face the plastic Scousers still wondering what might have been. Then Look North on the Monday night did its follow-up report, and that was it.” MR

“The 1989 FA Cup will (rightly) forever be tainted by the events at Hillsborough in the semi-final, and the subsequent actions thereafter of the scum at South Yorkshire Police and at The Sun (among others). That we’d seen that team, those fans, at close quarters just a couple of months before such a tragic event gave it all and added poignancy for me. The minute’s silence at the home game against Oldham the Saturday after Hillsborough was probably the most emotional and heartfelt I’ve ever been a part of. Liverpool had given me my greatest day in football at that point in my life. Yet two months later you saw how, in the grand scheme of things, football didn’t really matter all that much.” RG

“We were in a friendly Hull pub before the match and I’ll never forget that the lads we met phoned us up after Hillsborough. Always had a soft spot for Hull after that.” Ged Wright, Liverpool fan, North Stand.

“The immediate reaction after the game was disappointment, and after that our season tailed off. You can look for excuses and say that was a reason but we weren’t good enough to climb the table.” EG

“We had a bad run after and Eddie got the boot for that, but it was far too early and he should have stayed. It was in pre-season when I got the news that he’d left, and I was immensely disappointed at that.” KE

“Eddie Gray really believed in the youngsters at the club and he’s always given youth a chance. His man-management was fantastic. I personally thought Eddie got a bad deal really, because our successful Cup run cost us in the league. History shows we barely won a game after and Eddie got the sack. If we hadn’t had that Cup run, the league form would have been a bit more successful.” WJ

“I was at home in pre-season and I’d heard Eddie had got the sack. I was devastated, but he was probably too nice to be a manager. You probably need a ruthless streak in you. I wanted to play for him. I thought Eddie was fantastic, but he was probably a bit too nice.” BA

“We didn’t get past the third round of the FA Cup for 20 years afterwards, and often didn’t even get that far, so the Liverpool game was put on a pedestal for a long, long time.” MR

“And kids? Never forget where we came from. Not that your Mum, Dad, Grandma or Grandad will ever let you…” SL

“Nowadays, for my kids it always ends in victory at home to Liverpool!” BL

Livticket

In context:

  • After this FA Cup tie, City won just once in the remaining three months of the season, and sank from the top half of Division Two to finish fourth from bottom. Eddie Gray was sacked at the end of the season.
  • Billy Whitehurst, Keith Edwards and Billy Askew all left the following season.
  • Garreth Roberts retired with a knee injury in 1991 after 12 years of first team football and received a testimonial.
  • Wayne Jacobs was released by the club controversially in 1993 after City claimed he would not recover from a knee injury but went on to play Premier League football for Bradford City.
  • Liverpool beat Brentford 4-0 in the quarter-final before the horrors at Hillsborough in the semi-final took the lives of 96 supporters. They eventually won the rescheduled game against Nottingham Forest and beat Everton in the final, but lost the league title on the final day to Arsenal.
  • John Aldridge scored twice in the rescheduled semi-final and once in the final, and left Liverpool in September 1989.

Sources: KCFM podcast archive; Hull Daily Mail; Daily Mirror.

Thanks to fans of both clubs for sharing their memories via email and social media.

Thanks also to Chris Hughes and Martin Batchelor for their help.

In memory of:
The 96
Iain Hesford
Gary Ablett
Emlyn Hughes

ParkinJon

NOSTALGIA: City 1 Leeds 0, 2005-06

TaylorPeter830

In readiness for tonight’s game, we look back at City’s first victory over Leeds United in 18 years, which took place on April Fool’s Day, 2006. It’s an apposite example of the fixture to remember, as a) City won; and b) the scorer of the winning goal was Jon Parkin, who is currently flogging a very well-received autobiography, and who mentions the game fondly in the chapter about his time with the Tigers. The match report pre-dates this version of the Amber Nectar website and appeared solely on the Tiger Chat mailing list. It was written by Stephen Weatherill.

So, 77 minutes into an absorbing and frequently thrilling game of football, and Craig Fagan picks up the ball and wheels into space, looking for a pass. Stuart Green has made a supremely intelligent run into space down the right and Fagan transfers the ball skilfully to the sunny Cumbrian. His touch is sure, and his cross is a delicious looping invitation to a man sliding into position at the back post with the predatory instincts of a panther and the physical presence of a tyrannosaurus rex: it is the Beast and he leaps high, hangs in the air as if borne on the wings of an angel and thuds a perfectly judged header into the sodden turf, whence it bounces past the exposed Sullivan in the visiting goal, and wins us the game.

Wins us the game! Wins us all the three points, and completely banishes relegation fears as our club’s dizzily progressive ascent up the league continues.

And sends evil Leeds whimpering homewards like a whipped cur.

There will be more on the richly well-deserved fate of the vile Wessies. Much more. But though the essence of football is usually that the joy of witnessing the opposition cowed, tamed and defeated exceeds the pleasure of victory – and never more so than on derby day – I will dwell for a moment on the excellence of our team. We have improved so much through the course of this season. From the team that began the season, fresh and lively but looking out of its depth against the stronger sides well established in this division, we have moved on and re-shaped into a team that is convincingly at home in this standard of football, solid at the back, awkward in midfield, and dangerous up front, and heading more-or-less for midtable. This victory was thoroughly deserved: we were the stronger, more effective side from start to finish, and Sullivan had to work a great deal harder than Myhill. And roll on 2006-2007: we haven’t stopped improving yet.

WEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

Myhill
Thelwell Cort Delaney Rogers
Green Welsh Andrews Ellison
Fagan Parkin

And on 2 minutes we were treated to a reminder of just what dark forces were ranged against us. Unpleasant bullboy Rob Hulse committed an outrageous shove, right in front of the linesman. This was ignored, but moments later, when Hulse himself was tripped, the whistle was promptly blown and we were facing a free-kick on the edge of the box, invitingly located for sly Leeds. A firm strike, a sprawling Myhill save. Game on: but it won’t be a fair one. It never is with wicked Leeds.

We scored on 8, a sumptuous left-foot Beast volley leaving an awestruck Sullivan clutching thin air as the ball whistled past him, but the linesman had flagged for offside early, and correctly. But the signs were already encouraging. The Leeds back four looked creaky. Butler and Gregan made a thuggish but one-paced pair of centre-backs. Fagan, fizzing with energy and ideas, was already showing speed enough to terrify them, while the pattern of play on New Year’s Eve, when we’d got outmuscled and ultimately grew
dispirited, had no chance of being repeated. Because now we’’ve got the Beast. Leeds had as much joy in taming Parkin as has everyone else since he joined us from Macc. No joy at all.

I wouldn’t know how you do stop the Beast. Try and climb all over him and he just absorbs the pressure and holds the ball. Stand off, and his first touch is so confident that he simply turns and passes. A superb player.

On 16 a defensive shambles allowed Ellison to turn and shoot. The ball was deflected but lost its pace and Sullivan had time to adjust and make the save. We are the better side.

Disgusting Leeds are playing some sort of a 3-4-3, with Hulse alone up front, the initially impressive Eddie Lewis, of the land of the free and the torturing, wide on the left and fatso Robbie Blake on the right. Lank-haired Sean Derry as the notional playmaker. And they look poor. They do create a serious moment of alarm on 25 when Lewis and the feeble Liam Miller combine down the left and a low cross lays on an inviting opportunity for Blake in the middle, but his effort is woeful and flies high and wide. It’s their best chance of the half.

On 35 Fagan touches the ball on to Parkin, who executes a breathtaking backheel into the path of Green surging into the box …. A powerful shot, a leaping save. This is seriously good football. On 38 the bustling Ellison feeds Fagan, whose cross reaches the Beast … he heads goalwards, but the ball is defected wide. We’re well on top. At the end of the half there are two added minutes and the closest call of the whole first 45 arrives right at the end of them. Cort, marauding forward, wins a throw-in in an advanced position. Fagan takes possession, turns deftly and fires in a powerful low cross which Parkin meets six yards out and, under despairing defensive pressure, he shoves the ball goalwards. It would be past Sullivan if it were not for the pure bad luck that it’s hit straight at him;– the ball cannons off Sullivan’’s knees and out to safety before the bemused Londoner realises what’s hit him.

Half-time. 0-0. Cracking stuff.

Gets better.

But not initially. Grey clouds and rain showers blow in from the west, and the second half begins with a degree of passivity from our team which offers a worrying reminder of how we surrendered so meekly at Elland Road in December. Happily it doesn’t last. On 52 Fagan does well down the right but his cross is mis-hit by Green. No danger to snide Leeds. Oo but it’s lively now. Derry shoots – just wide. Fagan races forward, tries to dribble through three of them. Can’t quite manage it.

The game is terrific now. On 63, Blake shoots – just over. 64, Fagan shreds grisly Leeds down the right but when the ball reaches the Beast in a crowded goalmouth he is momentarily nonplussed and the chance is gone. Immediately after, Cort soars and heads goalwards, only to suffer as Sullivan swoops on the ball down low by his own feet. Then, on 68, Ellison is clearly fouled in the box, but no penalty is given and smelly Leeds whisk the ball clear and upfield at high speed, deep inside our half and then our box, Blake sets up Miller, but he screw a dismal effort well wide of Boaz’’s goal.

Crikey, this is good. And we’re besting them without any help from referee Ilderton. Fussy, prancing, and inclined to prefer the away team in case of doubt. Gah. I like Mr Howard Webb but otherwise refereeing is a dying art. Graham Poll to the World Cup? Come on. Still, I’’m pleased to see that nice German dentist on the list. I like him too.

Back to Mr Ilderton. He booked the Beast for Being Tall, and at that moment I feared our talisman might be withdrawn. He was getting frustrated with the absence of refereeing protection from the increasingly desperate attempts of the thieving Leeds players to hound him, harry him and generally foul him. It looked as if Butler could have taken a machete to assault the Beast and Mr Ilderton would have smilingly waved play on.

Of course, the machete would have finished up hopelessly out of shape.

And the Beast stayed on. And he scored the winner. Talisman, genius, goal-maker, goal-scorer. Ours.

Elliott had replaced the doughty Ellison on 70, and now, one up, our job was to keep a grip on the game as the increasingly eager Leeds players threw everything into a desperate late surge designed to keep the flickers of their automatic promotion aspirations alive. Or so you would have thought. In fact, Leeds had looked poorly-led and lacking urgency all afternoon, and that didn’t change even after they’d found themselves a goal down. We remained the superior side in the time that remained. Cort, bloodied, had
been off for treatment, but he returned to dominate aerially and resist malicious but futile Leeds attacks. The visitors could do with a player of Cort’’s ability and honesty. But playing it straight has never been the Leeds way.

On 82, Sullivan tipped a chipped Andrews free-kick around the post. Paynter came on for Green, and we approached the 90th minute looking more in control than you would have expected. Ha! Not so easy, my friend, we are Hull City after all. And we dropped deep, and we wasted possession, and Andrews tripped one of theirs on the edge of the box.

Urgh. Don’t fancy this one. But David Healy, on as a sub, hit a useless shot wide, and we were into the final added-on 4 with our lead intact. C’’mon City! 4 became 6 as referee Ilderton adopted a strategy of giving resentful Leeds every opportunity to level the scores, but, aside from a Hulse shot on the turn that flew two feet too high, they were simply not good enough.

Or we were too good. We are getting steadily better, I’’ve said that already, but it is so deeply, warmingly true. Rancid Leeds offer a reliable benchmark: we competed with them for 45 minutes three months ago, but then fell away. This time, we beat them and deserved to, and this at a time when you would suppose sneering Leeds had far greater incentives to tuck into the game aggressively than we did. There were excellent performances all over the pitch from the Tigs, but I think Stuart Green deserves special mention. Six or so weeks ago and you couldn’t imagine him ever looking worth a regular place in this Division and yet now he is an obvious pick: committed, skilful, determined. Young and getting better.

Final whistle, exultation on three sides of our ground, save only for those sad souls who scurried away head down in dismay, revealed as sporadic cancerous Leeds infiltrators by their failure to celebrate when City scored. Misery is your reward, and a righteous one. Leeds United Football Club is a vindictive pit of hate, but they haven’t got any more points tonight than they had at the start of the day. Cos we’’ve got ‘’em.

FEAT1904

Happy Birthday Hull City AFC

190405team

On this day 114 years ago, the nascent East Riding of Yorkshire Football Association gathered in the Manchester Hotel on George Street in Hull city centre to discuss the creation of a new football team in Hull.

The outcome was Hull City AFC, founded by Messrs Gilyott, Lilley, Crompton, Ramster, Andrews, Frost, Barraclough, Levitt, Bielby, Emmerson, Shaw, Hay, Hobbs, Morison, Spring and Wrightson. The new club was too late to apply for entry into the Football League for 1904/5 and played a season full of friendlies, before joining the national league in its Second Division a year later.

Since that day, which is now perilously close to slipping from living memory, we can hardly say that the ride has been dull, can we? Happy Birthday, Hull City AFC.

HughesWembley

PODCAST: Bryan Hughes on Wembley 2008, ten years on

Wembley10A decade ago today, we made our first ever visit to Wembley and promptly won promotion via the play-offs to the Premier League for the first time in our history.

We’ve been back three times since for varying reasons, but nothing quite matches that first occasion. It was unique, immortal, historic and acted as a springboard for the many good things that have happened under the banner of Hull City AFC since.

Our final podcast of 2017/18 looks back at that momentous, sweltering day in 2008 and, to add some priceless insight into how the club and the team went through the occasion, former City midfielder Bryan Hughes, who played 39 league games and all of the play-off campaign, joins us.

It’s a long, unashamedly nostalgic and truly uplifting way to end what hasn’t been a great season under any circumstances. We hope you enjoy it, and thank you for listening to our podcasts throughout the campaign. Happy Wembley Day!

FEAT WembleyBarmby

Wembley Day, 10 years on

Wembley2

It’s ten years today since perhaps the greatest day in our entire history: the day that Hull City AFC, after 104 long years, were promoted to English football’s top flight for the first time.

So much has changed since then, and the decade that followed even produced some occasions to almost match it.

But not quite.

So, Tiger Nation, enjoy reminiscing with us about this most glorious of occasions:

  • Read the AN match report from that day
  • Peruse our photo special (warning: contains Paul Duffen)
  • This afternoon, we’ll be live-tweeting the day 10 years to the minute, so join us over on the Twitter
  • Tonight, we’ll have a special podcast with Bryan Hughes, one of the Heroes of 2008

Happy Wembley Day!

FEAT-TWTWT

Amber Nectar at 20

Nectar

To the surprise of everyone – not least ourselves – today marks the 20th anniversary of Amber Nectar being founded.

We started, as you did in the late 1990s, as a paper fanzine being hawked on the streets approaching Boothferry Park, before migrating – as you also did in the early 2000s – exclusively online.

To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we’re going to become even more insufferably self-referential than usual by casting our minds back to the best 20 things we’ve done or seen during that couple of decades. If nothing else, it serves as a handy recap of our generation’s life and times, and as grey hairs, families and mortgages increasingly occupy us, let’s seize the opportunity to celebrate a milestone. So here goes:

20. Sponsoring Mike Edwards’ kit (1999-2000)
MEdwardsAD
: One thing that a paper fanzine has over a website is that they tend to make money, rather than lose it. And at a quid a throw, the fanzine usually had a surplus at the end of each edition. Keen to put at least a little something back into City (remember, this was when the players’ and fans’ wages and were not wildly divergent), we decided to sponsor Mike Edwards’ kit. It was £50 for the season for the privilege, which guaranteed a place in the programme. The prominence of the mention depended upon what you sponsored – you could, for a mere £15, sponsor Gregor Rioch’s shinpads. Being all flash, we decided to blow some cash on a full kit. Only for those bastards* at City Independent to trump us by having a proper hoarding on the perimeter of the pitch.

* they’re not really bastards, in fact despite the mild but weird antipathy that once existed between our forum’s users and theirs, the CI editors are some of our best mates, we’ve regularly travelled away with them and – when CI was TOSS! we jointly formed a 5-a-side team in 1998 that, insanely, still exists

LM: It’s not true that we did it because we fancied his sister.

19. Standing in the pissing rain at Scarborough (1998)

McStad

AD: October in Scarborough. Glamorous it ain’t, but 1998 did at least see a real collectors’ item during the ill-fated reign of Mark Hateley: an away win. Neil Mann scored early, then Jamie Hoyland levelled, only for the City “player”/”manager” to score what would ultimately be the winner. We’ll remember it for something else though: drinking too much before the game and thinking it would be a great idea to tough out a North Yorkshire monsoon.

Because it rained, and rained, and rained some more. Early on, the uncovered overspill terrace to the right of the seated and covered away end behind the goal had almost emptied, as the stewards compassionately opted to let the seated area become over-full. But too young and too stupid, we thought that editors of a new fanzine should probably stick it out. I’ll never understand why. By half-time we were drenched; midway through the second mild hypothermia was setting in. “Still”, we optimistically opined, “at least this sort of caper is sure to get a mention in Steve Weatherill’s match report” – for then, as now, Mr Weatherill’s match reports and general air of scholarly magnificence inspired awe.

We never did get that mention, and upon traipsing forlornly back to the post-match pub, too sodden to care about the win, all we got was a derisive “what on earth were you soppy c*nts up to?” (see also: breakdancing on the away end during an Auto Windscreens tie at Chester, sharing a full bottle of whiskey en route to a League Cup tie at Watford, etc).

LM: What utter meffs we were (/are). I remember one bloke constantly berating us about how shit Hateley was and that he had to go (as if it was somehow our fault), but when Hateley scored he was the first person on the pitch to hug him.

18. Teletext entries (1999-2002)
Teletext
AD: Like more and more of the stuff we used to like, this is one for “those of a certain age”. It’s been a while since Teletext was a thing, but once upon a time ITV’s Teletext service in the Yorkshire TV area used to give over a page every Thursday to each of its regions clubs’ fans – Leeds, Bradford, City et al, usually provided by a fanzine.

And so, they asked us. And we happily obliged. But it was oh so tricky. Each line was a fixed 39 characters long, and they wanted three paragraphs of text. No exceptions (and no hyphenation either). So we bought some graph paper to help us plot things, and agonised over how best to use our allotted 11 lines, usually deployed in an 4-4-3 formation.

Still, at least we tried to talk about City. Younger viewers may not remember, but back when City were scuffing in the lower leagues, all of the other local clubs were desperate for our fans’ attention. York, Rotherham, all of them anxious to generate a rivalry with the bigger boys. We’ll never forget how this culminated with Rotherham, who became weirdly fixated with us between 1998-2001: to them, we were “Dull Pity” from “Toothfairy Park”. No wonder Teletext was shut down.

textcolourLM: The fewer words there are to work with, the harder I find it to write articles, and as much fun as writing for Teletext every week was, conveying the events and emotions of a game, or week, was quite painful at times.  After a while we started having fun with it, and began cultivating rivalries with other club’s fanzines. Andy mentioned the Rotherham fanzine ‘Moulin Rouge’ and their odd obsession with us, but my favourite ‘Teletext Rivalry’, which sounds weird, was with a Hartlepool fanzine.

We’d made some offhand remark about making them pay for crimes against simianity after beating them, and the week after they had a dig about us with their last paragraph. It set in motion this odd short attention span soap opera… they’d insult us one week, we’d retort the next, it was quite enjoyable seeing how hurt they appeared to be by a jibe that was tame enough to get by the Teletext editors as you ate your Coco Pops every Thursday morning. Then a quick game of Bamboozle.

17. Getting the Hull Daily Mail banned (2003)HDM

LM: We’d been asked to write a weekly column for the green Sports Mail starting in 1999, and we took it in turns, Andy one week, then me. It was tricky to write sometimes, given that the articles went in a paper that came out about an hour after a game, and you’re talking about events from the previous week. We were largely uncontroversial, although someone once had a go at me in Spiders one Friday night because in his words “I disagree with every single thing you write!”, which was both funny and odd as I was complimentary whenever City’s performances allowed me to be.

Later on the pieces got switched to the main Hull Daily Mail on a Monday, in the sports pull out, and we were asked for extra bits to go into a side column: ‘best player, chant of the match, pub team moment’ and others. I wasn’t fond of those bits, they felt like a gimmicky add-on to a column we took seriously, I always did them last and often I was scratching around for something to include if it had been a poor game with little atmosphere.

After starting the 2003/04 season like a house on fire, City had a real wobble that lasted a month, starting mid November. The collapse of 2001/02 still felt raw, most City fans thought promotion was a certainty that year after spending a shitload of money (relative to our fourth tier standing) and playing sexy sexball football, but our arse fell out when it mattered, and here we were two seasons later, now in a shiny new stadium and more desperate than ever to get out of the bottom division, and a comprehensive loss at Huddersfield, an insipid 0-0 against Yeovil and a loss at Bristol Rovers gave many the jitters. What didn’t help matters was Peter Taylor having a thin-skinned spat with fans over his preference for the average at best but mostly crap Marc Joseph over Justin Whittle, a hero from the Great Escape year and very much beloved on the terraces.

When we lost quite feebly against Mansfield, I thought Joseph was particularly culpable so I took aim in the Mail piece after that game, using the sidebar columns to really stick the boot in. After that City went on an ace run, seven league wins in a row, and midway through that winning run, City took the step of banning the Hull Daily Mail from interviewing players. The Hull Daily Mail didn’t tell me about this, the first I knew of it was reading the Friday preview and John Fieldhouse wrote that he couldn’t offer a view on our match prospects as he’d been denied access because of my piece. There was a picture of John Fieldhouse outside the West Stand getting a dressing down from Adam Pearson a few days later, which I found a little bit funny but it also made me feel quite bad. I didn’t have a great deal of respect for John Fieldhouse from a professional standpoint; I thought his stuff was cliché-riddled bobbins, but I didn’t ever wish being prevented from doing his job properly on him,  and I told him that.

I was summoned to see Adam Pearson and he gave me a real earful in his office, properly shouting at me, after which I said I stood by what I’d written in the main column and that I thought waiting till we’d won several games on the spin before calling me out on an article about a string of defeats was a bit cynical. The tone of the meeting changed at that point. He said the manager was upset at the article and he was going to back his manager, which was admirable. But then he said it wasn’t the column that Taylor took exception to, it was the sidebar stuff, in particular the ‘pub team moment’ box. Normally I’d deliberately choose an opposition player’s actions to mention there, but after the Mansfield game, full of righteous anger about Marc Joseph’s lame showing, I put him in it. Taylor, said Pearson, thought referencing professional players at an upwardly mobile club in terms of a ‘pub team moment’ was massively disrespectful, and frankly I was in agreement, I didn’t like the ‘fanziney’ sidebar bits which didn’t reflect how we did things at Amber Nectar and I resented doing them. We left the meeting with a good relationship restored, but the Hull Daily Mail decided Peter Swan should decide the pub team moments going forwards, and John Fieldhouse went back to calling players ‘big hearted’ and upcoming games ‘showdowns’.

AD: If we admit now that we always used to make up the comments and names for the “Fans’ Vox Pop”, the Hull Daily Mail will want their money back? Or that we sometimes used to sneak in deliberately wanky terms (“pastoral care”) in order to win bets with workmates at the time?

16. Meeting Tom Belton in Tropical Knights (1998)
TKnightsLM: 
With City fans hoping for a new, new owner little over a year after David Lloyd strode into town, dummy in mouth ready to be spat out, the Hull Daily Mail‘s Matt Barlow and I were invited to meet Tom Belton, Lincolnshire pig-farmer and one time Scunthorpe United chairman in, of all places, Tropical Knights on the Marina to talk Tigers and takeovers.

It was a surreal rendezvous, attempting to talk over Corona’s ‘ Rhythm of the Night’ on seemingly endless repeat and the braying of slags, meffs and meffoslags. Belton seemed happy as a pig in shit (if you’ll forgive the obvious metaphor) speaking of the city of Hull in glowing terms, “it’s got TWO casinos!” he beamed, like the type of TripAdvisor contributor Ehab would rather keep happy than City fans.

He spoke of Hull City in equally positive terms too, convinced the club was worth investing in, hinting that he headed a consortium keen to do just that. He spoke winsome words about how the population of Hull should be involved in part owning the club, noting that no one person owned more than 10% of the shares in Scunny during his tenure. This was all music to our ears, as was his assertion that he had no interest whatsoever in rugby and little time for the quasi-merger of City and Hull FC that David Lloyd was working towards.

An interesting night came to an end, and we left hopeful, but knowing optimism tended to bite you on the arse when you’re a City fan. As it happened he was part of a consortium that bought City, but the undoubtedly genuine Belton was soon cast aside by a malevolent group that would  become known as the ‘Sheffield Stealers’. Hull still has two casinos, and thankfully better hostelries than ‘Tropical Knights’.

AD: I didn’t go, because I was still under 18 and didn’t think they’d let me in. Bah.

LM: Pffft! You looked 36 in 1998 Andy.

15. Being bottled in Belgium (2014)Lokeren

MR: The preliminary round of the Europa League was memorable for numerous reasons, although the actual football match was, for the second tie in a row, not one of them. City lost the game 1-0 and, with a 2-1 win at home the following week, went out on away goals, leaving supporters gutted at missing out on a jolly-up around more continental beauty spots and war zones via the group stage, giving us something genuinely new to look forward to in between the usual turgid, predictably one-sided occasions the Premier League forced us into.

No, the whole social, and indeed sociological, experience of following City abroad remained the most stirring memory of the campaign. And the visit to Belgium to take on KSC Lokeren evokes plenty of vivid memories, one of which was more vivid – and less pleasant – than the others: namely, the moment City fans were rendered sitting ducks for local hooligans wielding bottles.

We wrote a contemporaneous travelogue about the 48 hours in Belgium and it remains the most reliable account of the whole episode, but the upshot was that after the final whistle, we were kettled outside the ground by mounted, armed East Fleming rozzers with the keys to a water cannon, despite there being zero trouble before and during the game. Eventually, after much delay and annoyance (and a few uneducated songs about Belgian involvement in global hostilities) we were led down a residential street towards the town centre, the same residential street that in early evening springtime sunshine had featured homeowners waving to us amiably as we strolled happily towards the ground. This time it was dark, surprisingly unlit, and very few locals were hanging out of their windows. A small, unremarkable looking pub called De Mierennest (on the “no go” list issued pre-match) was built within the terraced housing, (think Malt Shovel, but with cleaner brickwork), and as the police and the front swathe of City fans approached it, the first of many bottles came flying over the driveway gate from the covered beer garden.

Innocent fans of all ages were injured, some tried to fight back but were kept at bay by the police who nevertheless didn’t seem inclined to put an urgent stop to the sharpened missiles continuously aimed over the top, nor move the City fans forward quicker to alert danger, nor regard those hurt as in need of any urgent medical attention, despite some deep cuts to faces and heads. Young fans were seen using the flags of other supporters to try to mop up the blood, in the absence of any actual first aid paraphernalia.

Eventually the aggro was brought to an end and it was to the enormous credit of the City fans that they didn’t go apeshit as they continued their walk towards the town centre, complaining bitterly but not without reason to the few officers on duty who had a smattering of English. There was still much chuntering going on at Lokeren station as City fans boarded trains for Antwerp and Gent, where many were staying for the night prior to heading back to Zeebrugge the next day.

Two of us were asked to describe the ruckus and comment on it for on the radio the next morning – over a bucket of boiled eggs in our hotel breakfast room, Andy spoke to KCFM and I chatted to BBC Radio Humberside, both of us making it amply clear that there was zero culpability to be attached to the City fans, who were ambushed, isolated and furious. When we alighted from the ferry the next day (well, some of us did – Andy’s absence from that ferry is another story which the travelogue will tell) we were filmed by Look North, because hooliganism will always get more publicity than the sport it follows. If we’d lost 1-0 and then spent the rest of the evening playing charades with the locals, it would have been less of a story.

For all this, we bear no ill will to Lokeren, either the club or the town. The fans who attacked us were already on the banned list, so had no dealings with us prior to their attack and evidently the club had done as much as they could to deter their nefarious ways. Those we did meet in the daylight were very hospitable, the town itself looked after its visitors impeccably and there was a No To Hull Tigers banner unfurled in the home end during the first half.

14. Asking Brian Little if we could go home (2001)

BriLittleLM: I remember how giddy with excitement we were when we found out Brian Little had agreed to do an interview with us, and we figured he might give us 15 minutes of his time at most. So we went down to the training grounds at the University of Hull and watched the players train and then hung about in the lounge bit next to the changing rooms and I remember thinking as the scheduled time came and went that he had far better things to do than talk to us dickheads and if he forgot or sacked us off then fair enough, he owes us meffs nothing.

He did turn up though, and we packed our presumed 15 minutes with questions about how he planned to improve a fourth tier side with limited resources. He didn’t seem eager to get away so we widened the scope of questions. Time passed and we’re still asking and he’s still answering, and we’re now onto his playing career, being a Premier League manager and so on. This was great, who doesn’t enjoy a convivial chat with a man who won the League Cup three times as both player and manager?  But we slowly started to realise he’d be happy to talk for hours and hours, we’d already been there for several and by this point there was no-one else around and Andy was giving me looks that said “my tea will be on the table.” We got to the point where we had to meekly ask if it’s, err, ok if we go home now please Brian? Lovely man, great discussion which started to become an endurance trial. I wonder sometimes just how long it would have continued for if we’d continued asking questions.

13. The paper fanzine (1998-2002)
an1
LM: I was an avid collector of City fanzines, from On Cloud Seven, Hull Hell and Happiness, From Hull to Eternity, Last Train to Boothferry Halt, the fabulously surreal Fearful Symmetry to Tiger Rag. With David Lloyd in charge of Hull City and merging the business side of the club with Hull Sharks (nee Hull FC), there was lots to talk about but Tiger Rag seemed to be gone for good. I was stood on the South Stand terrace talking to a few fans I knew and said “there really needs to be a new City fanzine”.

I wasn’t meaning that I’d write one, but a voice behind me said “I’ll help you”, and that voice belonged to Andy Dalton. I didn’t know him, but I did recognise him from waiting outside Y.E.B. for Simon Gray buses to away games. Within a few weeks we were sat in his house working on a paper fanzine and a rudimentary website hosted by Angelfire, while his mother provided an ongoing supply of refreshments. On February 21st 1998, the first issue of Amber Nectar went on sale before the Scunthorpe United game, with City third bottom in Division Three and fans driven to ‘Thank God for Donny Rovers’. It was an amateurish first effort in truth, but it was an arch to build upon.

AD: In some ways it’s a shame the internet so rapidly supplanted the paper fanzine, which was ideal for both pre-smartphone half-time reading and then a few days of bogside perusal. We admire CI‘s doggedness in sticking it out for so long, loved Three O’Clock at Kempton‘s brief and vivid time and the nostalgic part of us welcomes FanaticHull‘s recent resurrection of the tradition.

There was definitely something to be said for it. Working out how many pages you’d need (always divisible by 4, of course). Creating a page order. Chasing up promised contributions. Meticulously arranging pages on screen – we used Coral Draw, which was pretty ancient technology even around the turn of the century. Then we’d save it all, Les would obsessively check and re-check it all, take it to the printers, they’d create lithographic films and a few days later, thousands of sheets of paper would arrive. Then it was on with the really back-breaking task: folding and stapling. It’d generally take at least a day of solid effort from a team of several. I don’t miss that bit. But seeing your creation in a physical rather than digital format was always very satisfying.

12. Being threatened by the Sheffield Stealers (2000)

Hinch

LM: We’ve gotten used to breaking bread with chairmen over the years. Adam Pearson regularly sought our views at Fans Liaison Meetings and we met Assem Allam at the abortive attempt to respectfully make the case for not vandalising the club name (more on that later), but frankly our first encounter with club hierarchy was the most memorable. It wasn’t planned either, we were just doing what we did after every Boothferry Park home game: drinking in Three Tuns.

On this occasion, a load of suits swarmed into the place, oh look there’s marketing type Andy Daykin, oh and now there’s Nick Buchanan, and oh my! Vice-Chairman and convicted company law criminal Stephen Hinchliffe is now propping up the bar, flanked by a pale looking chap wearing a worried look.  Daykin introduced ‘Hinch’ to us as we queued for a Riding Bitter (Les) and a Fosters (Andy), at which point the man who definitely wasn’t involved in the day to day running of the club said “If you say anything negative about us I’ll have your legs broken”. There was an amazed, amused silence before the wan-faced chap, clearly a legal professional, added “That definitely wasn’t a threat.”

Righto. “Err, barkeep, we’ll have some pork scratchings too.”

AD: Nick Buchanan’s dead now. So I guess we’re in the clear. But there was a real stench of unpleasantness about those two – and we’ll never understand why some City fans who really ought to have known better fell for their palpable bullshit.

11. China (2009)
ChinaAD:
Have City ever done anything as utterly preposterous as spending a week in the People’s Republic of China? Perhaps not. Rather than attempt to distil that chaotic week into a few paragraphs, the diary of those days is probably the best starting point. Enjoy.

LM: Bah, my biggest regret in life is not going to China to see City. It just edges going out with that bog-eyed wretch who made me miss seeing Daniel Cousin’s goal at the Emirates live by being an attention seeking divomeff.

MR: I couldn’t afford it. But at least Andy hasn’t spent the subsequent years randomly reminding Les and I that he went to China and we didn’t, with any level of smugness or superiority. Not the sort of thing he would do, at all. He is also convinced that the tournament over there was official enough for him to add the host stadia over there to his ‘ground tick’ list, which is preposterous.

10. Attending that bonkers meeting with Assem Allam (2013)
AllamMeetingLM:
Have you ever walked out of a building and thought “What the hell was all that about?” A Christopher Nolan film can do that to you, a few Hull 2017 events evoked that too, but those things are positively abounding in accessibility compared to an audience with Assem Allam.

He talked about prostate cancer for nearly an hour, to the bemusement of the group waiting for a point relevant to the meeting to be made, then made libellous and implausible remarks about several local Councillors (this was the reason minutes weren’t released, as the collective of fans were concerned about embarrassing the club, we needn’t have been so conscientious), before praising Coventry City for monetising the Ricoh Arena with a Jaguar showroom, oblivious to the fact Coventry were playing in Northampton even after this was explicitly stated.

Looking back now though, what’s notable isn’t the surreal, non-sequitur conversations that made sense to only one person in the room, it’s what a spectacular waste of time the whole exercise was. Reading notes about recent meetings between fans and the Allams generates a sense of déjà-vu, or history repeating itself, as they clearly have no intention of genuinely working with supporters, they just want the illusion of fan consultation, just as they cultivate the illusion of philanthropy which looks more like tax avoidance and buying goodwill in the absence of people who’ll speak highly of them (unless they gain from it monetarily), the more you scrutinise things.

AD: “Yes, I will definitely consult the fans before trying to change the name”. He gave that assurance, three times, in a room full of people (and another Hull City official). Then tried changing it a few days later. Man. Of. His. Word.

9. First steps online (1998)AN2000

AD: As AN formed in 1998, so the internet was becoming increasingly more mainstream, with fully 9% of UK households having access to the newfangled “World Wide Web”. And it was an opportunity to make AN a multi-platform operation. So we borrowed access from that sliver of the populace with connection, or used my college access, and scoured “the web” for free website providers. Everyone seemed to favour Geocities, but a competitor named Angelfire seemed to offer a better service and less intrusive advertising – so off we went.

It’s easy to scoff, but this was new and interesting stuff, and the online City community was burgeoning. Andy Medcalf’s Tiger-Chat was in its pomp, and new City-themed offerings were popping up on a regular basis, some destined for greater longevity than others. Our stay with Angelfire was brief – by March 2000 we were confident enough to buy our own domain and host our own website – but it got us going. Incredibly, it’s still there, with its last ever page suggesting just how long ago it all was.

And, because you’re no doubt all itching to either remember or discover afresh what we looked like online in 2000, that’s also possible. As if we ever found enough time to list the juniors’ fixtures…

MR: I joined the site as a forum user in about 2001 and one of the first things I remember reading was a debate about the shape of Sophie Ellis Bextor’s face.

LM: Shaped like a BSB Squarial, obvs.

8. The FA Cup Final (2014)
CupFinalMR:
The FA Cup final is a bit like a multiple orgasm – something you read about it in magazines and only other people experience. The prospects of City reaching one (an FA Cup final, that is), even after promotion to the Premier League in 2008 and again in 2013, seemed absurd. We’d managed one semi-final, back in 1930, and even quarter finals were usually beyond our reach, though in 2009 we had a decent run that ended with Arsenal scoring a blatantly offside goal to knock us out.

Football clubs also were not interested in winning the FA Cup, really. If they did so, it was done by accident, because their second string teams kept turning up and winning. In 2014, Steve Bruce was evidently interested little in the FA Cup, as proved by his selection of the ultimate duo of castaways in Aaron Mclean and Nick Proschwitz to play up front in the inconvenient third round tie at Middlesbrough. Each scored in a 2-0 win and were sold afterwards. Matt Fryatt, another player unable to make a Premier League impact, scored both in a fourth round 2-0 win at Southend. Yet another backup striker, Yannick Sagbo, scored a late equaliser at Brighton in the fifth round, prior to City winning the replay. Fryatt got another during a 3-0 win in the sixth at home to Sunderland and then our second ever visit to Wembley saw us chuck all our dreams away in a rank first half against League One side Sheffield United, before turning the 2-1 deficit into a 5-3 win, with Fryatt and Sagbo among the scorers.

And so, we were in the final.

Europe would welcome us in the summer, which was a separate headfuck we’d have to deal with later.

First, Arsenal.

Obviously, nobody gave us a chance. We didn’t give ourselves a chance. There was a defensive crisis going into the match, with Paul McShane and James Chester ruled out, while Robbie Brady was also injured and Bruce couldn’t trust anyone except Fryatt to run around selflessly up front while Arsenal inevitably dominated possession. But then we didn’t know that Chester had miraculously passed a fitness test, McShane had declared himself fit enough for the bench, and Bruce was going to deploy the hitherto criminally underused Stephen Quinn as a roaming forward behind Fryatt. Arsenal, blatantly thinking this was a cakewalk, didn’t know where they were.

My experience of the day was a bit rushed. I worked all morning and hopped on a 1.25pm train, which was supposed to get me to London for 4pm, allowing an hour for the tube journey and light jog up Wembley Way. The train was delayed arriving, the tube kept doing those unexplained stops in the middle of nowhere, and I didn’t just jog, I ran like my life depended on it. I walked along my row and found my seat next to Andy and the City Independent lads just as the players were waiting for the referee’s whistle to start the game. I missed Abide With Me, which I regret still, but I didn’t miss the kick off, mercifully.

The celebrations when Chester, then Curtis Davies, put us 2-0 ahead early on were among the most intense acts of mayhem I’ve ever seen grown, mature humans put themselves through. I was in the middle of them. We all were. We didn’t think we could win. And, in truth, we probably still didn’t. It was back to 2-1 at half time, and we all knew what would happen in the second half.

The Arsenal comeback, which included 30 minutes of extra time, was like watching a beloved pet die  after receiving the shot of cyanide. It was horrendous, and slow, and we suffered. There was no way I was going to stick around and watch Arsenal lift the trophy, so I walked through to the concourse and waited. I wasn’t a sore loser, but I was upset and I hated Arsenal, so the combination was quite a pungent one.

I cannot possibly foresee City getting to an FA Cup final again. But that word ‘again’ is so important. It wasn’t so long ago that we failed to get past the third round for 20 whole years. Now we had at least experienced the grandest of football’s occasions. Nobody can take it away. My match report for AN was included in the Guardian‘s Pick of the Week and I might say that I’m still very proud of it, written as it was the next morning via a mixture of coffee, Resolve and tears.

7. FLC meetings with Adam Pearson (2001-2007)
FLC

AD: Keen to do things differently, and better, upon assuming control Adam Pearson created a new Fans’ Liaison Committee. A mix of fans’ reps from the fanzines, websites and individuals representing the different stands, it met roughly every two weeks, with Pearson always in attendance.

And yes, they got bogged down in minutiae every so often, with easy-to-caricature stuff about pie flavours, hot water in the toilets and so on. But they did also represent a genuine opportunity to place fans’ concerns to an owner who cared, and where possible, acted.

He was also a great figurehead. No matter how City were doing, Les and I would leave meetings convinced that a brighter tomorrow was inevitable and imminent – and he delivered that too.

Post-Pearson, the meetings faded when Duffen took them over, and clearly couldn’t be arsed. Nick Thompson half resurrected them with a Fans’ Liaison Advisory Group (FLAG – geddit?), but that didn’t last. James Mooney vainly acted as the Allams’ human shield for a bit (though improved the quality of the catering), while the present rabble want nothing to do with us. It’s mutual, however.

LM: I loved FLC meetings, though at times it felt like we were the only ones who took it seriously.  In terms of fan representation that is, we’d canvas questions and opinions via the Amber Nectar forums and dutifully take these to the monthly meetings, doing our damnedest to be the terrace equivalent of parliamentarians representing constituents. The meetings always started with Andy and I, we’d raise six or seven points and then it all went quiet. Hardly anyone else had anything to say and sometimes you wondered why some of them bothered, and then you realised that they just felt special being around the chairman and participating fully didn’t come into it. There was that one bloke that made just one suggestion of note all the time he attended, and that was to answer Adam Pearson’s request for suggestions about improving half-time entertainment by saying “I’ll bring my dogs if you like!” Err.

Meanwhile, and I’m not really one for trumpet blowing, we’d helped Amber Nectar readers effectively shape how many club processes would work when City moved to the KC(om) Stadium: ticketing arrangements (Away Direct was Andy’s idea), stadium details (I insisted on World Cup style box nets but was overruled on amber and black striped nets by a superstitious Michael Branch *shakes fist*) and even kit design, which being a kit geek was really my bag (Adam Pearson changed the 2005/06 home shirt at my behest because I was adamant it had too much white on it). Better than what we suggested, many AN Forum member suggestions were implemented too, This was real fan engagement, so no wonder we scoff at the current sham that passes as consultation. What really irritated me was meffs on forums such as Hull City Mad questioning why we got invited, well if you ever read our copious notes from each meeting you’d know, and why did you never question anyone else, such as that bloke who only seemed to go to get a free packet of crisps? Or Bill Holt who used to love to say ‘Get it done!’ to Adam Pearson in order to feel important, or who when asked who City should play in pre-season responded thus: “Any Prem. Mega draw.”

Bah.

6. Wembley (2008)
Wembley

MR: The 2007/08 season became all about firsts. We paid £1m for a player for the first time, we got to Wembley for the first time and ultimately, faintly ludicrously, we were promoted to the top tier for the first time. Really, nobody could see this coming, ever. It was my 20th year supporting City and even though the first four of those, plus the last three, had been in the second division of the game, the very idea of a team as lacking in history as City actually fighting its way into the Premier League, or its less wanky predecessor, was as crazy as any you could think of.

But in 2007/08, the chutzpah of Paul Duffen, the new man in the boardroom, and the brazen confidence and not inconsiderable coaching ability of Phil Brown got us there. It wasn’t easy, sometimes it wasn’t convincing, and for a long time it didn’t even look on the cards. In January 2008, City began a run that prompted a sharp rise up the table, getting us into the play-off positions by the spring and greedily challenging not just for automatic promotion, but the Championship title. Alas, we didn’t quite manage that but we were already in unprecedented territory for the club in finishing third and immediately being installed as favourites for the play-offs.

City were as cool as cucumbers in the midday sun at Watford in going 2-0 ahead in the semi-final first leg, then finished the job with a 4-1 pummeling of our fading opponents in arguably the greatest night occasion the Circle has seen to this day. A first ever trip to Wembley, then. Bristol City were to be our opponents (the only team in the play-offs we’d not beaten during the regular season) on Saturday 24th May. My birthday. And that of Les, too.

Because of the restrictions and logistical stuff that comes with a trip to Wembley at such short notice, we all made our way down to London at different points of the weekend, but the AN regulars made a rendezvous to meet up for a magnificent pre-Wembley beano at a gothic pub called The World’s End, in Camden Town. Though we all drank plentifully and had a fine night out, you could even sense then a bit of tension. We were going into so many unknowns, all at once. The fixture would make history by itself; victory would make further history. We almost dared not contemplate it, not tempt fate. It was notable just how little we talked about the game as we shelled out London ale prices until closing, prior to catching the tube back to our respective accommodation in different parts of the capital.

My birthday morning was spent in the company of a chum at talkSPORT, who had offered me a guided tour of the station. This helped take my mind off it, although the hacks in the newsroom who noticed my amber replica shirt were quick to remind me once again of the momentous occasion that awaited. I had only ever been to Wembley twice before and on neither occasion was I emotionally involved in the fixture. Today I couldn’t have been more emotional if I’d tried. I felt like breaking down a few times. I think a lot of City fans who had experienced the succession of disasters and catastrophes that befell the club over the years were feeling the same – we could touch tangible success, national respect, international fame. All it needed was 90 good minutes.

In the afternoon, I met up with everyone else at our allocated Wembley pub. We sang a lot of retro City songs and I drank a lot of Guinness, my tipple of choice at the time, but it was so bloody hot that none of it got far enough to lighten my head or fill my bladder, because the perspiration was so immense. I was a fair few quid lighter but absolutely no drunker by the time Andy and I wandered down Wembley Way, trying to calm ourselves before it got seriously crazy.

The overpriced fish and chips, the massive concourses, the enormous seats, the pre-match pageantry. We saw it all. Our beloved club crest was emblazoned on a huge kite from some carrying contraption or other on the pitch, next to that of our opponents. The referee blew his whistle.

And so, the game.

Can’t remember a bloody thing.

Well, I remember Deano’s goal. It’s a beautiful thing to this day. It was at the opposite end to us, but I was central enough to see the mild swerve to the shot after the ball left his instep following one of those perfect connections that footballers bemoan usually happen during five a sides in training, rather than life-changing occasions at the national stadium.

I remember nothing else until Boaz Myhill caught that ball at the end and the unexpurgated cheer of total relief enveloped the stadium. The rest of the day was bedlam. The final whistle, the trophy presentation, the laps of honour. Then there was something I’ll always treasure – the moment when City fans of my acquaintance, whom I’m proud to call friends and whom I’d not seen all day because they holed up in a different pub and a different bit of Wembley, spot me and dash over for manly celebration. We’d grown up knowing little more than failure, disappointment and mistrust in our club and now we were, for once, the hip kids, new on the Premier League block.

By the time I got back to Kings Cross, I was spent. I sat down on the platform, drained of all emotion, feeling, articulacy. Things perked up on the train and I remember getting a photo text from JR showing Ian Ashbee raising the trophy. You couldn’t relax, no matter how tired you were. You didn’t want to. You wanted to talk about the game, the achievement, the history, with anyone you saw on the train, whether they were City fans or not.

I got home at 11.30pm, cracked open a final beer and watched the whole thing on telly again. And although we’ve experienced different highs and greater successes in the decade since, this victory remains the sweetest and most beautiful, because it allowed us to feel something we’d never felt before, and never thought we would. The 07/08 team and coaching staff will be forever unique, and they have my gratitude for life.

LM: I blubbed like a girl. I don’t even do that at family funerals.

5. Helping to found City Till We Die (2013-14)

CTWDbig

AD: What, if anything, can you remember about City’s 1-0 victory over Huddersfield in the League Cup on Tuesday 24th September 2013? If it’s anything at all, well done. But it could be one of the more interesting dates in our recent history – because before this eminently forgettable affair, an angry group of people convened in the Halfway House pub on Spring Bank West to grouch about Hull City AFC’s bizarre sudden decision to stop calling themselves that. Except that something actually became of it. Plans were hatched. A new group suddenly coalesced, with the means and will to try to protect the club’s heritage. That group was City Till We Die, and it announced itself to the world two days later.

What happened next was quite crazy. From nowhere, a team of committed and capable individuals (and us) began an extremely professional campaign that was quickly running rings around Assem Allam and his unimpressive lackeys at the club. A huge petition was organised, No To Hull Tigers badges were produced, leaflets were distributed outside the stadium, a website with accompanying social media emerged, and as support grew a membership scheme was even launched.

There were wristbands, scarves – well, it’s all stuff fairly recent so much of it can be recalled easily. The CTWD group, including both fans’ groups and enthusiastic individual volunteers, created an internail mailing list for discussing ideas and tactics that eventually generated over 20,000 e-mails. It was close to a full-time job for some, and such a pressurised campaign – we were fighting for our club’s identity – inevitably didn’t always run smoothly. There were occasional missteps and internal quarrels. But Allam panicked and got almost everything wrong, evidenced by his weird fans’ meeting in late 2013, and his subsequent slandering of City fans as “hooligans” who can “die when they want”.

We thought we were winning. Eventually CTWD, with AN representation, was invited to Wembley in February 2014 to put the fans’ case. The OSC was invited separately, though whether they represented the fans or the club is open for debate.

It was thrilling, exhausting, and absolutely well worth every single moment, and on 9th April 2014, when the FA announced we’d won and Assem Allam had deservedly and humiliatingly lost, we partied long and hard. And though it’s easy to knock City fans for letting the Allam family get away with too much lately, it’s always worth remember that collectively we all took a stand against the name change, and made football history.

4. Winning the FSF’s podcast of the year (2017)
Podcast
MR: We first did a podcast in the summer of 2013, in readiness for our second crack at the Premier League. It was shambolic for quite a while, utilising a cheap microphone covered by an Absolute Radio muffler perched on a suit hanger, itself standing on a small round table, to give us the height we needed to talk semi-intelligible guff about Vito Mannone’s likeness to Serbian warlords while making up brand new swear words and gabbing on about the sponsor’s positioning on the away shirt of 1995/96, all for far too long for people’s attention spans to manage. But eventually it became more sophisticated, with the addition of live streaming that allowed the audience to enjoy the splendour of the matchworn kit collection attained by Les, a desk containing a few well-chosen props, and a few distinguished guests among the local media – Dave Burns, Simon Clark, Phil Buckingham – and former playing staff, including Mark Greaves, Lawrie Dudfield and Adam Lowthorpe, as well as semi-regular AN alumni who always had plenty to say.

But we still genuinely don’t know how this fun but somewhat niche and tinpot operation snowballed into us walking onstage in the hospitality area of the Tower of London in December 2017 to pick up the Football Supporters Federation’s Podcast of the Year. Prior to the ceremony, we’d spent the car journey and the meal at our plush table (at the back of the room, natch) simply wondering, repetitively and loudly, what the hell we were doing there. When our category came up, we imagined how much more slick and professional and well-researched and all-inclusive the other nominees were, especially as most were following Premier League clubs and seemed to have official backing.

Then we were announced as the winners and ventured on to the stage like the proverbial guppy fish at feeding time, our only aim to not trip on the steep steps leading up there. Afterwards in the bar, strangers grasped whichever one of us was clutching the elegant trophy to talk about how amazing our podcast was and how appalling City’s owners were. We ended the evening replete with a solidified kinship with fans of Brentford, Nottingham Forest, Doncaster and even Leeds, who were all up for the fanzine award. Of our fellow nominees, the Watford guys were most affable and sporting and chatted to us for ages afterwards, mainly about Marco Silva, the 2008 play-offs and Richard Jobson. The Arsenal guys told us we deserved to win the FA Cup final. The Manchester City guys congratulated us on Twitter. The Liverpool guys invited one of our number on to their podcast.

Notably, the footage of our onstage chat with host James Richardson and the interview we did for the FSF in front of their cameras afterwards has never been released, unlike all other acceptance interviews and reactions on the night. Let’s face it, only we had previously been responsible for all our unexpurgated opinions on some City-related subjects that can cause anger, dismay and bitterness (though we were disappointed that the world couldn’t enjoy a final description from Les of Leonid Slutsky, sacked 24 hours earlier, as “a man who looks like he’s about to vomit a basketball”). But the state of our club since promotion in 2013 is solely responsible for the strong opinions expressed and, to that end, a podcast can only be as good as the topics it has to discuss. So thanks Ehab, sort of.

LM: I consider this a total vindication of my sweariness. Oh and, having met the Queen a month before, meeting James Richardson of Football Italia fame was far better. Is saying that treasonous?

3. Selling the first copy of Amber Nectar (1998)Ark

AD: “New City fanzine, Amber Nectar, only 80p!” So we began nervously exclaiming on North Road from about 2pm on Saturday 21st February 1998. We’d made about 500 copies of the fanzine at our own expense, and were now frantically seeing if anyone would buy it. God, it was nerve-wracking.

Eventually, a few people did. Then a few more. And as kick-off neared and the queues grew outside the Ark, so did the people shovelling a pound at us, wondering what the hell we were arsing around with 20p change for (we never sold it for 80p again). When we convened on Bunkers to swap stories about how it’d gone, we were flushed with delight that it’d gone so well. Costs had been covered, and more. Best of all, as we digested a half that’d seen City take the lead against Scunthorpe, only for Andy Dawson to peg us back, people could be seen reading our humble offering.

LM: Ugh, I hated this part of fanzine production. It made staying up till 3am on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, then spending Friday evening stapling the frigging things together feel joyous.

2. Mariánske Square, Žilina (2014)

City fans on the square (31-7-2014)MR: City in Europe! Honestly, if it wasn’t actually happening you’d have laughed. Yet here we were, boarding a plane at Luton Airport at 7am at the end of July 2014 to fly to Košice, prior to catching a train to Žilina, with the ultimate reward of watching Hull City AFC, a Fourth Division club a decade before, playing in proper continental competition, earned for reaching the previous season’s FA Cup final.

The team we were playing in the Europa League third qualifying round were Slovak top tier side FK AS Trenčín (now just AS Trenčín), but their ground wasn’t up to snuff for the visit of a club representing The Greatest League In The World, apparently, so the tie was shifted to nearby Žilina and it was into there that the trains stopped to allow hundreds of City fans to disembark after the sort of picturesque journey not normally seen when heading for away games at Stoke or Blackburn.

But the memory so many City fans will treasure the most of the 48 hour beano has nothing to do with football – the game was a tedious goalless draw and we missed a penalty – but everything to do with the hospitality. Žilina’s transformation in the 25 years or so since communism fell had clearly been done with love and appreciation for itself, and the very long spells in hot sunshine and evening breezes while enjoying the bars of Mariánske Square were utterly delightful, to the extent that you felt genuinely bereft when it was all over and we were back to avoiding dog turds on Spring Bank West. The beer was cold and refreshing (and worked out at 58p a pint), the waiting staff utterly tireless on our behalf, and the place itself completely beautiful to look at. And we were there because City were in Europe, forchrissakes.

Even with the years that have passed, it sometimes feels like it didn’t actually happen. The fact that we so quickly exited Europe at the next stage (after beating our Slovak opponents 2-1 in the return leg, we went out on away goals to Belgian side Lokeren in the preliminary round, see entry 15 above) and are unlikely to get back there anytime soon means we need to hold on unyieldingly and eternally to the memory of Žilina and its glorious, vivid, scenic centrepiece.

LM: Teaching locals City chants at 4.30am while drinking throat-scorching slivovica (plum brandy) was truly amazing. Matt’s shorts were not.

1. Tennis balls at Bolton (1998)
BoltonBalls
LM: The more things change, the more they stay the same eh? As now, there was protest in the air in September 1998: City fans were less than impressed with owner David Lloyd (he of gym club and tennis tossery fame) and his half baked plan to merge the financial sides of the Tigers and egg-chasers Hull Sharks (as Hull FC were then known). When he announced that he’d decided to relocate City to the dilapidated Boulevard ground so he could sell Boothferry Park as part of his not quite concrete plans to build a new stadium (ooh, another similarity to current events) it was the straw that broke the Tiger Nation’s back.

After a game of 5-a-side, the ‘Amber Tossers’ (a combined TOSS and Amber Nectar fanzines team was named) plotted to draw attention to the ghastly Lloyd’s schemes and encourage him to put the club for sale. The forthcoming League Cup tie at Premier League Bolton seemed the perfect time, and it was agreed that in order to truly grab the attention of the media, and in turn the sporting public, we needed to delay or disrupt the game somehow.

A pitch invasion was deemed unacceptable, as the publicity would be wholly negative, so what to do? “What about throwing tennis balls on the pitch?” I asked, and quickly the group saw the potential: it was non-violent, highly visible and amusingly ironic as former tennis pro Lloyd was the current Davis Cup captain.

A few hundred tennis balls were purchased and randomly distributed to willing supporters on the coaches bound for the Reebok Stadium. Just before kick off, they were hurled onto the turf, a few at first, then en masse creating a vivid shower of luminous orbs to the bemusement of the players, officials and watching media. Radio Humberside’s Gwilym Lloyd, despite having been tipped off about the protest, curiously stated on air that it was apples being thrown at Steve Wilson, musing that maybe it was a twist on the old ‘oranges for Ian McKechnie’ ritual of yore. Nonetheless the media lapped it up, and each subsequent report in the national press increased the estimate of tennis balls used, a few hundred had become ‘thousands’. The protest worked better than anyone could have anticipated, and a humiliated Lloyd soon announced he was putting the club up for sale. Game, set and match to City fans.

AD: Who said that protest doesn’t work? People who are wrong, that’s who. This was our finest hour, and I’ll remember seeing the first luminous yellow orb arcing from the upper tier just before kick-off –  well worth having a police dog set on me by local rozzers angry at this all being done under their nose…

FSFawards

Finally, if you’ve made it through all of this, thank you. Sincerely, thank you – to anyone who’s contributed to us over the years, read our articles in print or online, offered feedback (good or bad), sent us criticism, death threats (yep, we’ve had a couple), chucked money into our occasional appeals so we can pay our hosting fees and remain ad-free, sold the fanzine in exchange for a pint in Three Tuns, let us appropriate match reports, given us juicy gossip, offered us lifts to away games, tolerated our drunken excesses all over Europe, voted for us to win anything, listened to or appeared on the podcast, done techy stuff (huge pops to Steve Broadbent here), to our WAGs for putting up with this madness, to the Hull City Association Football Club themselves for being both total bastards and utterly amazing while being a permanent and ultimately compelling part of our lives, and basically anyone who’s made the past twenty years possible and an absolutely brilliant bloody time…thank you.

PS. Allam Out.

FEATfamous5s

FAMOUS FIVE: January window signings

Although the January transfer window is 15 years old this month, that’s only in the Premier League. Mere mortals who existed outside the elite in 2003 managed to struggle on for another three years before the restrictions on when to buy and sell players was extended to further down the football pyramid, and as such, City have only been involved in the mad scramble at the beginning of each calendar year since 2006. Most of the players we’ve signed in January during this period have been loanees, or were already at the club as loanees prior to a permanent move. But of those that walked through the door fresh as a daisy in January, not yet burdened by the cynicism and underachievement of Hull City AFC, we’ve plucked out five…

1: Jon Parkin
ParkinJon
Despite everything that has gone down at the Circle in the last dozen years in terms of big occasions, promotions, finals, continental delights, subsequent falls from grace and, of course, major signings, the most famous January acquisition we’ve ever made, certainly among longer serving City fans, is still probably the rotund, risible Macclesfield striker on whom Peter Taylor splurged £150,000 in January 2006.

There was little doubt at the time that City, a fledgling side in the second tier after nearly 15 years away, were struggling for a regular goalscoring outlet, although wide on the left Stuart Elliott, against more brutal defences than he’d been used to, was doing what he could. Billy Paynter had arrived on loan and was bumbling along, unaware of his new surroundings (though Taylor made permanent his arrival in January too) while Ben Burgess was still not match fit after a long term injury and Danny Allsopp had been allowed to go home to Australia.

Taylor picked up the nippy Darryl Duffy when the window opened, a free scorer in his native Scotland, but he was an unknown here and reaction was minimal. Within hours, Parkin had also come through the door and the floodgates opened as aghast City fans remembered how ineffective, cumbersome and generally useless he had been when facing us in the colours of both York and Macclesfield.

Yet immediately, Parkin was magnificent.

For such an unathletic figure, he had a marvellous touch, with a sublime debut goal at home to Crystal Palace and a stunning Cruyff turn and finish at Stoke before January was over quickly showing up the doubters. He not only kept scoring but he was also performing – his best team display was at Leicester, even though he didn’t score and City lost 3-2 – right through until a memorable winner against Leeds in April 2006 that gave us our first win over the stained enemy in almost 20 years. As City clambered clear of the drop, Parkin ended the campaign out of the spotlight, his work done.

The tide turned in the close season when he reported for training quite substantially overweight, with City unable to find a shirt to fit him properly, and he was never properly convincing again either in aptitude or attitude, despite two goals against Sheffield Wednesday that earned City a (long overdue) first home win of the season in 2006/07 and a first ever win on live television.

His last act of consequence at City was a penalty at Middlesbrough in a memorable FA Cup third round replay in January 2007, by which time Phil Brown had taken over from the overawed Phil Parkinson as manager and allowed the unprofessional slob that Parkin had become to join divisional rivals Stoke on loan. Naturally, Parkin was a success there for a short time, before being recalled at the end of the season in an injury crisis and having to play against Stoke on their patch, something which angered him and, by dint of his savagely cavalier attitude on the pitch, angered City fans even more. Brown sold him to Stoke with barely a look back that summer.

He bummed around an array of lower league clubs after Stoke saw through him even quicker than we did, and left league football in the summer at the age of 35 to rejoin York, these days in the National League North. In his career he has been sent out on loan eight times and been handed five free transfers, a sure sign that his attitude was always an issue where his talent was not. Despite only 18 months at the club, Parkin’s was one of the most incident-packed, infamous careers at City of the modern era.

2: Nikica Jelavić and Shane Long

LongovicThey have to come as a pair, because in January 2014 we had the usual goalscoring problems that top flight football brings to 75 per cent of the clubs in it, especially newbies like City. Yannick Sagbo wasn’t good enough and Sone Aluko was rarely interested enough, while Matty Fryatt found that the ferocious pace of Premier League football wasn’t an ideal setting to make one’s return from a long-term injury. The likes of Nick Proschwitz and Aaron Mclean had long been ruled out of providing any top tier usefulness. Serious money on serious talent needed to be invested.

Steve Bruce cleverly went to Jelavić, out of favour at Everton but absolutely proven at the very highest level, as he knew the Croatian would be desperate for first-team football in order to make his country’s squad for the World Cup that summer. Two days after clinching his signature for £6.5m, the manager then dished out £7m to West Bromwich Albion in order to put sheer pace alongside Jelavić’s predatory instincts in the shape of Irish striker Shane Long.

The duo caused enough problems over the second half of the season to up City’s game, with four goals each a reasonably healthy return for a side that didn’t create a vast number of goalscoring opportunities per match. Yet their exploits were largely forgotten thanks to an FA Cup run for which both were ineligible, allowing Mclean and Proschwitz (round three), Fryatt (round four, quarter final, semi final) and Sagbo (round five, semi final) to score the goals that took City all the way to the final.

Long stayed until just after City’s debut in Europe, playing in both legs against AS Trenčin before joining Southampton for an inexplicable £12m before the Premier League season began. His reputation for diving to win penalties had begun to grate with City fans, even though he was quite often successful in doing so. Meanwhile, Jelavić went to the World Cup, adding his name to the very short list of City players to take part in the tournament, but once it was over his attitude to the club that hugely aided his prospects visibly deteriorated, despite eight goals in the relegation season that followed. After four games and one goal in the Championship, he joined West Ham for £2.8m, starting just one Premier League game for them, prior to disappearing six months later to take the money in China.

3: Jimmy Bullard
BullardJimmyscarf
Signed in a blaze of publicity in January 2009, it was undeniably a seriously exciting deal. But the lack of outrage from Fulham fans suggested darker stuff surrounded the chirpy, scampering and ludicrously talented midfielder, mainly to do with the condition of his knees. Whatever actually happened at his medical is anyone’s guess, but after coming on as sub at West Ham for his debut, he took something of a hospital pass from future best mate Ian Ashbee and felt some studs grind down his knee, rendering him injured for an impossibly long time while on a ludicrously high wage for a criminally long time paid by a club that didn’t, it turn out, have any actual money.

How quickly things can change.

After a year of rumour and innuendo about his off-field antics while injured, Bullard finally came back a year later and was still obviously a very gifted footballer. But a second knee injury, albeit to a different knee, put him out of action again towards the end of 2009/10 and by the time he was in any shape to return, City had been relegated and his great defender, Phil Brown, had been replaced by Nigel Pearson. Bullard had his moments in the Championship – a winner in the last minute at Sheffield United won’t be forgotten in any hurry – but his wages, his refusal to accept similar terms elsewhere as a poverty-stricken City desperately tried to get shut of an increasingly poisonous figure and his generally unprofessional conduct while injured meant that when he finally left after a clash with goalkeeping coach Joe Corrigan, which allowed City to dismiss him on gross misconduct, uncompensated, it was a blessed relief. He remains utterly reviled.

4: Dame N’Doye
ndoye
Senegalese striker signed for £3m on the last day of the 2015 deadline from Lokomotiv Moscow where he had been a reliable goalscorer. Transition to the Premier League, and in an ailing side, seemed quite straightforward at first as he scored in his first three home games as City beat Aston Villa and QPR, and drew with Sunderland.

The inconsistency of the side then enveloped that of the player, although he plundered two excellent second half goals to earn City a win at Crystal Palace that seemed set to aid the Tigers towards safety, especially as it was followed by a home win over Liverpool in which N’Doye excelled at leading the line.

It all came down to what is now an infamous relegation six-pointer against Burnley, and N’Doye’s off day was replicated by the side whose defeat sounded the death knell after two eventful seasons. N’Doye joined Trabzonspor in the summer for £2.2m as the Allams began the now familiar post-demotion task of selling off anyone that another club waves to, although he was soon back in England with a loan spell at Sunderland. He’s still at Trabzonspor today as a backup striker.

5: James Chester
ChesterJ
Often the transfer window can be dominated by the acquisition of perceived ‘glamour’ players or the departure of club legends. City, a club learning to like itself again in 2010/11 under Nigel Pearson, did a bit of both during the January window when Matty Fryatt signed for £1.2m while Ian Ashbee called time on his nine years of illustrious service and leadership by going to Preston on a free.

Within all this, Pearson had the Manchester United training ground on speed dial and brought in a stack of players from Old Trafford of enormous promise but not quite deemed good enough to make the final big step. There was a winger, an industrious midfielder, a left back and a central defender, and it was the defender who was most obviously a class act from the start.

Chester was skilful, positionally sound and an excellent reader of the game, as well as consummate in the defender’s art of tackling – one of the cleanest tacklers we’ve ever seen – and aerial domination, despite not being the tallest. Rarely did he put a foot wrong during an illustrious, hugely popular City career that allowed him to develop his game alongside the experienced Jack Hobbs, before Steve Bruce arrived and rejigged the entire squad but without any detriment to the elegant defender he’d inherited.

Chester was a star in the Premier League despite being something of a lesser name alongside the likes of Huddlestone, Livermore, Jelavić et al and his reputation rose so high that talk of him being picked for England began just before he decided to take up an offer to play for Wales.

He scored in the FA Cup final, of course, which was all the more remarkable because injury suggested that he had absolutely no right to be partaking at Wembley at all, and continued to impress and do a quietly efficient job, even though his City career ultimately ended in relegation in 2015.

Chester went to West Brom for big, but not big enough, money and barely played in his favoured position, instead featuring as a left back under Tony Pulis, who quickly sold him after a season to Aston Villa following their own relegation. He is currently captaining the Villa side under Bruce, who knows how lucky he has been to have inherited a very special player twice over. Unquestionably a bargain purchase and one of our greatest ever defenders.