NOSTALGIA: Danny Coles = Ipswich goals

Apologies once again for being nostalgic about a defeat, but this one really was a corker.

Ipswich Town visit us this weekend. Now, those of us who bothered with Hull City prior to promotion to the top flight will have Ipswich’s visit down as the nadir of the near-relegation season that preceded our glorious day at Wembley by just one solitary year.

The day Danny Coles handed Ipswich victory on a plate.

Not just a plate, either. This was a banquetting plate, complete with cutlery for ten courses, well-buffed cruets, exclusive waiter service and a toastmaster banning all consumption until he said it was allowed. Such was the quality of this plate, Nanette Newman was hired to wash it personally afterwards.

We go back to March 2007, and the Tigers are suffering. Relegation from the Championship haunts our every kick of the ball. Phil Brown was just under four months into what was officially a temporary reign and was delivering occasional causes for optimism but still slightly more moments of doom. Two weeks before Ipswich’s evening visit to the Circle, City had capitulated in a quite humiliating fashion to Barnsley. The 3-0 defeat at Oakwell was so dreadful that it was hard to find a member of the Tiger Nation who wasn’t convinced, even with a stack of games left, that the players weren’t up for it and we were heading back to League One. Judging by the notorous shrug of the shoulders that Ian Ashbee offered the ferocious City fans as the players left the field, he thought this too.

Typically for that season, City tightened the straps and played promotion-chasing Birmingham City off the park four days later to win 2-0. But then a defeat at Coventry followed and so as Ipswich turned up for, in terms of scheduling, an unedifying and stupid midweek match, only victory seemed to matter. Read more

NOSTALGIA: Strachan breaks City hearts

It may seem a trifle odd to get nostalgic about a defeat, especially one to the most reviled and unhygienic team in football, but over the generations we have had plenty of practice at deciphering different kinds of defeat.

There are awful ones, bad ones, dreadful ones, abysmal ones, catastrophic ones, unlucky ones, suicide-inducing ones, homicide-inducing ones and ones that prompt a questioning rise of an eyebrow.

Then there are the oddly “enjoyable” ones. There aren’t many. They are hard to define. But they do exist. When the forum starts working again, I’ll link to a thread on this very subject.

There is no tangible joy to losing to Leeds United, of course. The inverted commas are important. Don’t bite my head off. But oh my goodness, what a game that was in 1990. The headline gave it away, but even so you knew immediately when referring to Leeds and “enjoyable” defeats that this was the one up for reminiscence.

Yes, we could have gone two seasons further back when goals from an unplayable Alex Dyer and a mercurial Garry Parker gave Brian Horton’s side the sweetest of 2-0 wins at Elland Road. But we’re Hull City. If ever there is mileage in giving agonising near-misses a second wind in print, then this is it. And we are in the defeats market at the moment, let’s be truthful. Read more

NOSTALGIA: Price’s last hurrah as Blades do the usual

Hull City is a club that has had its share of unflattering statistics taped indelibly to its name, but these days we tend to stick to just the bland ones about teams we never seem to beat.

Tonight, Sheffield United visit the KC Stadium, a team whom we have failed to beat at any venue in the League since October 1983, when goals from Brian Marwood (2), Steve McClaren and Les Mutrie crafted a 4-1 win at the Ark. The Blades would laugh last, however, infamously gaining promotion at City’s expense without kicking a ball as the Tigers won 2-0 at Burnley, when only 3-0 would do.

This fixture was the most frequent Yorkshire derby of those mad old, bad old days of high fencing and high police overtime rates. However, after the Blades’ promotion to the top flight in 1990 and the Tigers’ relegation to the third tier a year later, followed by the collapse of quality and sincerity that defined the rest of the 1990s, close to a whole generation of supporters were denied a re-run of those tasty, spiky occasions. Then, in 2005, City won promotion to the Championship, which Sheffield United had rejoined a decade before.

The Blades, under Neil Warnock, paid their first visit to the Circle in January 2006. City, with Peter Taylor at the helm, had enjoyed a mixed time of it in their first season at this level for 15 years, and were not favourites on a bitter winter’s night. Yet the frostiness of the evening was not matched on the pitch and it was, for a good while, the roister-doister of a battle that men in their 40s had missed greatly since the days of being penned in and covered in the purest saliva that Darnall and Ecclesall had to offer.

The Tigers took the lead when Jason Price, so often a player who flattered to deceive, bent a left-footed half-volley around the eyebrowless, ham-gloved Paddy Kenny and celebrated in typically rhythmic fashion in front of E1. He’d scored a ludicrously late – and far less spectacular – winner against Sheffield Wednesday three weeks before and was a genuine flavour of the month with both fans and manager. Inevitably, therefore, Taylor would sell him within a fortnight.

It was such a special goal, worthy of the occasion for both its beauty and its effect on the Sheffield United contingent, an admirably loud, plentiful and snarling bunch far worthier of their team than the less vocal lot dressed in blue and white from the northerly patch of their city. They initially went very quiet, as one does when such a special goal enters your net right in front of you, before responding in kind with some seriously defiant noise. The stadium, frankly, was bedlam, with the Tiger Nation loudly celebrating and the visiting fans loudly encouraging their side – a far more talented outfit, as their league position showed – to get back into it.

And so they did. Luckily, and then controversially. It is the way of things when the game is between these two.

Read more

NOSTALGIA: Bridges brings down the Bowl

A right-thinking member of society wouldn’t regard a visit to Leicester City as “interesting”. There is little wrong with Leicester the city, but plenty with Leicester City, if you get my drift. Members of the Tiger Nation will howl with horror at memories of the first visit to the Walkers Stadium – or Walkers Bowl, or Fosse Soupdish, or whatever they initially called it – when this most patronising of all clubs refused to believe that we could bring all the fans we did.

You may recall this. Pay on the day was an option and so, not remarkably, a lot of Hull City fans chose to pay on the day. To Leicester, this was not just more than a lot, but more than they expected for a club that was so ickle and weeny. So, 15 minutes before kick off, queues started to form and there were distinguishable chortles from the Leicester stewards when fans asked if it would be at all possible to open a second and third ticket window for the away end. There were plenty visible that were closed, see. The answer was no, and a considerable number of Hull City supporters finally took to their seats 20 minutes and more into the game, despite arriving at the stadium in ample time.

That was in March 2006, under our beloved former Leicester manager (who was afforded alternative tributes from the Tiger Nation of “There’s only one Peter Taylor” and “You’re shit and it’s Taylor’s fault”, depending on the scenario). Leicester won the game 3-2, with one of their goals coming from Joey Gudjonsson while standing on his own halfway line. City went fourth bottom that day but successive home gimmes against Plymouth Argyle and Crewe Alexandra made sure of safety and Taylor exited the club with his reputation higher among the fans that with his chairman.

Since that day, we’ve been twice more. Read more

NOSTALGIA: One goal from glory at Turf Moor

So, Burnley away then. Never an uneventful fixture, when one peruses the history books. Last season alone it was mightily significant – for Paul Duffen’s sudden, cloak and dagger exit, Adam Pearson’s predictable return and Geovanni’s ludicrous act of double misfortune with free kick and red card.

And we can point to older, but just as memorable occasions for the Tigers at Turf Moor when following the nostalgic trail. Michael Turner’s 93rd minute header in the promotion season prompted celebratory caperings that were rarely matched afterwards, even in victory over bigger clubs in the highest division. All sorts of victories are possible as far as manner, context, style or occasion is concerned, but even in the more regulation away wins (which, admittedly, sounds like a contradiction in terms when considering recent shenanigans), there’s nought so sweet as an injury time winner.

Go back two further seasons and there was a 1-0 loss on a Friday night which allowed the travelling Tiger Nation to chant, at the Sky bosses who felt it necessary to televise the game (and thereby guarantee our instant, unnegotiable defeat), the dainty adage: “You can shove your f**king cameras up your arse”, to the hallowed melody of “If You’re Happy And You Know It”.

But, well, it still is about 1984. And a promotion challenge. And a fixture which came with absolute, total clarity about what was expected and required of the Tigers that day, the last day – and, indeed, a rearranged last day – of that rousing season. Read more

NOSTALGIA: When Chillo spilled blood for City

Hull City’s trip to Norwich City this weekend will evoke a few memories of recent trips to the inconvenient but atmospheric Carrow Road.

Tiger Nation members will remember an injury-time equaliser in the all blue kit from one Michael Turner, at the time making a habit of scoring goals with almost the last touch of the game.

The last trip to the northerly section of East Anglia was in pea-soup conditions and ended in a 1-1 draw, with Fraizer Campbell scoring for the Tigers and Norwich boss Glenn Roeder fawning over Jay Jay Okocha for the press afterwards.

To older members of the City crowd, however, this fixture brings up just one memorable occasion. The day when Chris Chilton spilled blood for the Tigers cause. Read more


Debunking the myth of City’s white 1904/05 ‘home’ shirts


There is a school of thought that says Hull City played their first game in plain white shirts rather than the black and amber stripes which gave rise to their Tigers nickname. Prominent in this commonly held belief is a photograph of two teams, one wearing white shirts and the other in Notts County-like black and white striped jerseys, surrounded by dignitaries and posing alongside a smiling female who holds a large floral tribute. This image is usually captioned as depicting the pre-match formalities of the club’s historic first game on September 1st, 1904. But does it?

Analysis of the photo reveals anomalies which cast doubt over the occasion it depicts, from the presence of Harry Taylor, captain of rugby side Hull FC, in the ‘whites’ line-up, to the absence of any readily identifiable City players.

So if we accept that this photo wasn’t taken on the day of City’s first game v Notts County, then what game is it from?

STSmurthwaiteIn January 1906, The Hull tug Star sank in the Humber, leaving two men, James Atkinson and Walter Brammer Ferndale dead and two families fatherless. In response, local politician, fancy-goods retailer, former Hull City director (and prominent supporter) S.T. Smurthwaite used his energy and contacts to organise a fundraising game at the Boulevard for the families of the deceased. Through Smurthwaite’s connections, he got future City manager Fred Stringer to referee the game and Tigers trainer Bill Leach to run the line.

At this time City were playing on the Circle cricket ground, but still had a lease to use the Boulevard. Their own Anlaby Road ground was nearly ready and would open in the March of 1906.

The resulting fixture was a match between a Cyd Smurthwaite XI and the ‘Lady Madcap’ Company team. This unusually-named side were representing the theatrical company appearing in the musical comedy “Lady Madcap” at the Grand Theatre in Hull.

The undoubted star of the company was Marie Studholme who was described in a local paper as ‘the famous musical comedy actress, the most photographed woman in the world and generally considered the loveliest woman on the English stage’. It was she who kicked the game off at 2.30pm on Thursday February 22nd 1906 and who features at the centre of the commemorative postcard by RC Garside, flanked by Smurthwaite in the white shirt. Next to him is Harry Taylor.

MarieStudholmeThe event prompted the following verse in ‘The Globe':-

Marie Studholme and Hull Football


They talk of epoch-making things,

And eras ne’er to be forgot,

But to my mind more fondly clings

The mem’ry of sweet Marie’s shot;

To me it was a precious treat,

To watch the twinkling of her feet.


With graces matchless, glances coy,

She glided forward at the call,

And then, oh blest seraphic joy,

Her shoe shot out to kick the ball;

She failed, but ah,

what thrills of bliss

Were mine in watching such a Miss!


Taylor would have needed no introduction to the city’s sporting public as captain of Hull FC. He had also represented Yorkshire and England in his sport, and in this game was playing in goal. Antony Starks of Hull Kingston Rovers had been due to play but had suffered a family bereavement on the morning of the game. Other players representing the ‘whites’ were Goodin, Stather (captain) Reid, Carney, Hopper, Bolton, Norman, Smurthwaite, Harper and ‘A.Special’.

CydLetterMatthew Carney and Walter Goodin were fringe players for Hull City that season. Carney played as centre half at Denaby in an FA cup qualifying game on October 28th and Goodin played as full back in the final league of the season at home to Lincoln City. Neither player was retained after the 1905/06 campaign ended. ‘A.Special ‘, possibly another City player, scored a hat trick in the game that ended 3-3.

After the game, Smurthwaite expressed gratitude in a letter published in the Hull Daily News:-

“We must thank the football club for the free use of their ground, the courteous secretary of Hull Football Club (Mr Charlesworth) for his great help, the Hull City club for the loan of goalposts, ball &c., Mr Stringer for officiating as referee and Messrs Harry Hampson, Leach and Coates for their help, and the gatemen of the Hull and Hull City Clubs.

We heartily thank Miss Maris Studholme for not only putting the ball in motion but for her enthusiasm on the fund’s behalf ever since the charity match was mooted; to the members of the “Madcap” company for their whole-hearted support; to Commander Wheeler for allowing the H.T.S. Southampton band to play; to Messrs Winter for sending a wagonette gratis for our use; to Messrs Owbridge who, through Mr Turner, sent us some novelties which created much merriment; to Mr Sykes for the use of a room at the Manchester Hotel; and although I mention it last, it is by no means least, the kind co-operation of the Eastern Morning and Hull Daily News Company, who, through their mediums, made known to so many people this charity effort was at such short notice to take place.”

It was reported that ‘The receipts from the game were estimated to be around £40. There would be a couple of thousand people present, a great proportion being of the gentler sex.’

According to ‘The Fly‘ in the Hull Daily Mail’s match report the next day “the ladies of the ‘Madcap’ Company were busily engaged extracting hard-earned shekels from the male visitors, and even had the audacity to relieve me of 2d for a copy of the teamsheet. The flowers were selling well at prices which would make a florist’s mouth water”. A second Garside postcard depicts this fund-raising activity, with the ladies and their flower baskets. Marie Studholme also features in this card, and a smirking Smurthwaite has managed to position himself cross-legged at her feet.


It can be concluded then that the photograph purported by many (including the club in programmes and on a large canvas displayed near the Chairman’s suite in the West Stand of the KC Stadium) to show the pre-match scene at the Tigers’ inaugural game, the basis of the common assumption about the first primary kit, in fact depicts a charity match that took place some 18 months later. What City wore in their first game remains unconfirmed.

A team photo of City in white shirts, black ‘knickerbockers and stockings’ with the season year of 1904-5 on a ball could understandably be thought to corroborate the white shirts as part of the primary kit belief if the ‘Madcap’ game photo was instead from the first game, but even that photo needs to be put into a wider context.


This team photo is just that, a team photo, rather than a photograph of the squad, as City used over 40 players that first season and the image has just 11 players and trainer Bill Leach.

Those players are F Wolfe, J Whitehouse, J Turner, T Jones, W Martin, JE Smith, G Spence, P Howe, A Raisbeck, G Rushton and H Wilkinson.

J Turner’s presence helps us narrow down when this photograph was taken, as he played just seven games for City, all of them consecutive and five of them at home. Of those five games, only two featured an XI identical to the team photographed in white jerseys: v Burton United on November 3rd and v Bradford City on November 12th.

Burton United’s first choice kit in 1904/05 was a terrifyingly garish outfit of green and Indian red (a hue between pink and brown) quartered jerseys, white shorts and green socks, no clash with either white shirts or jerseys of black and amber stripes. Bradford City’s main colours though, would clash: The Bantams kit at that time was claret and amber striped jerseys worn with white ‘knickerbockers’ and black stockings.

It is important to note that at this stage of Association Football’s development, there was no such thing as an ‘away kit’. The convention of the time was for the home side to change shirts in the event of a colour clash, it wasn’t until 1921 that the visitors were the team required to change after a Football League ruling. If the norm in City’s first season was to wear white jerseys then no change would be required, but the match report of the game makes a specific reference to the need for a change.


It also refers to us early on as the “wearers of the amber and black”, signifying that the soon to be nicknamed Tigers’ primary colours were already well established by this point, just over two months and 17 games into their first season. The next reference to kits is the even more telling: “[Hull] City turned out in white shirts [because of ] the Bradford shirts being very similar to those of the home team.”

The clear implication is that white shirts are part of a change kit, and not the first choice City kit. So whereas some believe the Tigers began wearing amber and black at the start of our first Football League season, the 1905/06 campaign, the club were in fact wearing the now familiar colours much earlier than that, perhaps even in the first game against Notts County.

IllustratedHullCertainly by March 1905 when Hull Daily Mail writer Athleo suggested the Tigers as a nickname based on the striped jerseys, though the Mail’s cartoonist was depicting City players (and even the H and C in Hull City!) in stripes some five months before that.

The illustration shown here, drawn by RW Lawson, has caricatures of several prominent players from the club’s first season and trainer Bill Leach. There’s “Lightning Goal Getter” George Rushton who scored City’s first goals against Notts County, George Spence “The Skipper of the Crew”, H Wilkinson as “Wilkie on the Warpath”, ‘keeper Jimmy Whitehouse (wearing stripes, it wasn’t until 1909 that goalkeepers were required to wear distinct jerseys), Tom Jones who “returns the argument” and “Marcus Superbus”, or Mark Andrews, a teacher (and club director) who played eight times for City.

His last appearance came on 29th October 1904 against Stockton. That game, a 2-2 draw, came a fortnight before the Bradford game and subsequent report which calls City “the wearers of the amber and black”.

It would be absurd to assume that the cartoonist incorrectly drew striped shirts when City’s first choice kit included white shirts, so it seems safe to assume that ‘The Citizens’, not yet known as The Tigers, were clad in amber and black stripes by October, at the most just 59 days after their first game.

We now know that the whites v stripes photograph is not from a Hull City game, and can reasonably deduce that the white shirted team photo is from a specific game when City were compelled to wear a change kit rather than representative of what was worn for the full 1904/05 season, leaving no evidence at all that the club did not wear amber and black from their outset.

The nearest thing we have to a record of what Hull City wore in their first game is a photograph evidently taken on the day. As well as the XI that drew 2-2 with Notts County (lined up here in the order of Joe Leiper, Jimmy Whitehouse, Tom Jones, Billy Martin, Frank Wolfe, George Rushton, George Spence, Peter Howe, T McKiernan, Andy Raisbeck and Henry Wilkinson) it features some of the men who founded the club, Ben Frost, Ernest Morison, Alf Spring, Fred Levitt, Jack Bielby, James Ramster, Chairman William Gilyott, James Barraclough,  Marcus Andrews, vice Chairman Dr. George W. Lilley and Ben Crompton. Also present are trainer Bill Leach and rather significantly, the Lord Mayor Alderman W. Jarman JP, who kicked off the first game, with his behatted beadle E Rodgerson. FirstGame

What the players appear to be wearing here opens up a whole new can of worms, as it seems they are wearing all black, but it doesn’t offer anything to support the white shirts in the first game theory, so we consider that school of thought expelled, totally debunked.

So let’s consider what we see in this photo. It could be that they players are wearing training/warm up tops before the game and changed for the match, but that’s not a theory we are minded to subscribe to. Maybe the truth is hiding in plain sight.

We consider it possible that City are wearing amber and black here, but that the print quality is so low that the lighter stripes are indistinguishable. Without further corroborative evidence we can’t say for sure, but our current belief is that City wore amber and black in their first game.

Consider that on the 24th of August, 1904, in announcing the formation of the club the Hull Daily Mail wrote: “The Hull City team, we are informed, have decided to play in black and amber vertically striped shirts.”

No mention of what City wore against Notts County is given in the Mail’s match report, but since they’d previously announced what the club’s colours were, and that by November 12th they were calling City “The wearers of the amber and black” as if this was common knowledge, then there is little basis to assume we wore anything other than amber and black against Notts County. No Football League team wore all black between its formation and City playing for the first time, so a team intent on joining the professional ranks wearing monotone kits would be a notable occurence.


The British Film Institute have a short motion picture on their website of a Mitchell and Kenyon (the Blackburn based film producers) recording that shows a City game from the 1904/05 season that could well be against Notts County, as City, clad in amber and black are playing a team in striped jerseys that appear to be black and white as worn by the Magpies in 1904. Only two of the teams that came to the Boulevard in 1904/05 were known to wear a kit similar to that seen in this video, Notts County and Derby. Grimsby might seem an obvious candidate, but in 1904 the Mariners wore brown and blue quartered shirts.

There can’t be many games in a season of friendlies that were deemed worthy of filming (both FA Cup ties against Stockton were played away) though the first game seems a more likely choice than the visit of Derby. Sadly, Mitchell and Kenyon have captured only one half of the game, seemingly the second half if the manner in which the players take to the pitch is a clue, and not the pre-game activities which may have included Mayor Jarman kicking off, identifying it for certain as the Notts County game.

The footage is still very useful though, it confirms what we suspected about City playing in amber and black before the start of the 1905/06 Football League campaign, and suggests that the first amber used was a very dark shade compared to what was used in subsequent years. The corner flags are striped, with the lighter bands not altogether distinguishable from the darker stripes, which lends credence to notion that dark amber stripes and black stripes, if worn in the team photo with the Mayor and club directors, would not be easy to make out on a very grainy photograph.

In summary then, we know that white shirts were used as a change kit in 1904/05 but it was not the primary kit, and the balance of probability is that Hull City wore amber and black in their first ever game.

Research by Nicholas Turner. His books Now Tigers! and Hull City in the 1920s should be on the booksheves of all Tiger Nationals.