FAMOUS FIVE: First ever league games against new opponents

City play Burton Albion this weekend, a fixture that has never occurred before in the league (or indeed, any other competition). Until the trapdoor system was introduced 30 years ago, brand new fixtures between teams in the four divisions were very rare indeed. Here we look at the last five ‘new’ opponents City faced in the league…

1: Yeovil Town

November 2003, and newly-promoted Yeovil come to the Circle to fight out a cravenly featureless goalless draw. Rubbish way to begin a new rivalry, really. Fortunately, the return fixture the following May became one of the most famous matches in the modern City era and the 2-1 for the Tigers had two effects: one, it got us out of the bottom division after eight crummy years; and two, it ended our brief association with Yeovil, as we’ve not played them since. Until this weekend they remain – jointly* – the team we have played the fewest league games against.

2: Boston United

November 2002 this time, and handy to note that a first-ever league season against new opposition proving historic in some way started before we played Yeovil. Boston’s first jaunt to East Yorkshire was as Boothferry Park was preparing its long goodbye, and although it wasn’t the last game at the old place, Damien Delaney’s winner was the last City goal scored there, as the Tigers scraped a 1-0 win. City won three more league fixtures before, again, the promotion of 2004 parted the two teams forever, and Boston have the honour of being the only team against who City have a 100% record.

3: Rushden & Diamonds

October 2001, and City’s first game against a semi-manufactured side who joined the Football League in the summer was a bonkers one indeed. It ended 3-3, with Mike Edwards scoring one of those own goals that the protagonist has no idea about as the home side went in 3-1 up at the break. City clawed back to get a draw in the second half. Three more games were contested between the two during an eventful baptism in the bigger leagues for Rushden, who won the title in 2003, swapped places with a resurgent City the following year and then returned to non-league squalor in 2006 before being liquidated. A phoenix club is currently in the seventh tier of the game.


4: Kidderminster Harriers

December 2000… but wait! We had played them competitively before thanks to the FA Cup first round draw sending Cliff Britton’s men to Aggborough back in 1964/65, with the Tigers winning 4-1. Kidderminster were on the periphery of the big leap throughout the 90s – controversially being denied promotion in 1994 despite winning the Conference, thanks to a wooden stand at Aggborough – and eventually came up in 2000 under a certain Jan Mølby. The first season yielded two draws – the 2-2 at Aggborough far more entertaining than the goalless first one at Boothferry Park – and the sides ended up as divisional bedfellows for four straight years prior to City’s rise in 2004, and Kidderminster’s return to non-league obscurity a year later. Mølby’s actions at Kidderminster earned him the City job in 2002; ironically, it was a defeat to Kidderminster within a matter of months that then got him the sack.

5: Cheltenham Town

August 1999, but, hang on…. yes! Another former FA Cup foe, right here… and we go back to 1947/48 for this one. City cuffed the non-leaguers 4-2 in the second round of the competition, thanks in the main to a George Richardson hat-trick. More than half a century later, City’s third game of a new campaign was at the windswept Whaddon Road ground and Cheltenham won it 1-0 thanks to a first half penalty. The two played each other for four of the next five seasons – Cheltenham’s promotion in 2003 and immediate drop back down prompted the gap – before, again, the heroics of 2004 rendered this fixture obsolete for the time being (though they did knock us out of the FA Cup that season). Cheltenham, like three of the above, ended up back in the non-league pyramid eventually but to their credit, clawed their way back up again.

*We played two league games against Wigan Borough in 1930/31, winning neither, before they went out of business.


FAMOUS FIVE: Big gaps between spells

If Fraizer Campbell plays for Hull City in August, it will represent a gap of nine years and nine months since he last pulled on City colours. Who else has featured for us in two spells with a yawning passage of time in between?

1: Dean Windass, 11 years 1 month

LoansDeanoThe most famous comeback of them all, rendered all the more remarkable by the length of time. Windass, plucked from non-league to become the best footballer to play for City in the 90s, debuted as a 22 year old in 1991 and was sold to Aberdeen at the end of 1995 as City’s financial woes, combined with a wretched campaign set to end in relegation to the bottom tier, made it look plainly ridiculous that a player of such talent was still involved with his failing hometown club.

Windass managed to receive three red cards in one game while at Aberdeen, and then returned to England for spells with Oxford and Middlesbrough, plus both Sheffield clubs and two spells at Bradford, for whom he was knocking in ample quantities of goals when Phil Brown asked him to come back to Hull on loan in January 2007.

It was a rare loan that saw a player climb a division, but City were in real trouble at the time and the experience of Windass, plus his powerful personality, would eventually take his fairytale return to disbelieving levels when he scored the goal at Cardiff that simultaneously saved City from the drop and sent Leeds down.

He then signed permanently, and a year later fired home the most famous volley in Tigers history at Wembley. The legacy was secured forever.

2: Andy Saville, 9 years 6 months

LoanSavilleAnother local lad, though unlike Windass, the lanky Saville was successful in graduating from the ranks, making his debut as a 19 year old on New Years Eve 1983 in the side that would eventually miss out on promotion by a single goal, although Saville himself never kicked another ball for Colin Appleton, despite City winning 1-0 on the day.

A centre forward who never really convinced as either a target man or a goalscorer, Saville spent just over five years in the first team picture without ever properly being a first choice marksman for any of his three managers. As time moved on, Billy Whitehurst (in two spells of his own), Les Mutrie, Andy Flounders, Frankie Bunn, Alex Dyer, Andy Payton and Keith Edwards were all rated higher than Saville by managers and supporters, and in the end he left for Walsall on deadline day 1989 for £100,000 as two more forwards, Ian McParland and Peter Swan, arrived. His best tally was nine goals in a disappointing 1986/87 season which saw City hover too close to the drop zone for too long.

Saville improved as he aged and had successful spells with Barnsley, Hartlepool, Birmingham and especially Preston in a nomadic career where he never seemed able to stay long enough to lay down roots. He was a reserve striker at Cardiff in 1998 and pushing 34 when he came back to City for three worthless games on loan under Mark Hateley. He didn’t score and City lost all three. Later the same season he returned to Boothferry Park, having joined Scarborough on a short-term deal and came on as a sub in the notorious 1-1 draw, labelled at the time as a six-pointer in the battle to avoid the Conference. He was relegated with his new side on the last day of the campaign as City fought their way out of bother.

3: Nicky Mohan, 8 years 10 months

Fair-haired centre back from Middlesbrough’s ranks who seemed quite impressive a loan signing by Terry Dolan in 1992/93, as he had notched up more than 100 senior appearances for his hometown club after taking the chance offered to him by Gary Pallister’s big-money move to Manchester United.

Alas, despite signing for the whole season, Mohan only played five times for City (scoring in a 3-3 draw at Fulham) before injury ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign. He went on to make ample appearances for Leicester and Bradford, both of whom paid six figures for him, prior to spells at Wycombe and Stoke, which is how Brian Little got to know him. The City gaffer paid nothing to get Mohan back at Boothferry Park in the summer of 2001 and for a while City had Mohan, Justin Whittle, Mike Edwards, Mark Greaves, Ian Goodison and Jason Perry all vying for defensive spots, with Mohan very often the first name scribbled down, not always deservingly. Again, he managed one goal during this time, the opener in a 4-0 battering of York City.

After three losses in a row in November 2001 (with the concession of ten goals), Mohan was dropped by Little, who himself didn’t stay an awful lot longer. Jan Mølby had a look at him for the last four games of the season but was unconvinced (he wasn’t alone, by this stage) and didn’t pick him again during his own brief stay. Peter Taylor released Mohan as almost his first act as manager, and he went to Harrogate before retiring.

4: Alan Fettis, 7 years 2 months

LoanFettisTerrific goalkeeper from Ulster who broke into the side as a 20 year old on day one of the 1991/92 season and was City’s dependable custodian of the leather under Terry Dolan when injury permitted right through to his inevitable departure just two weeks before Windass. By the time he left, he had made more than 150 senior appearances (and scored two goals as an emergency striker) and, as a seldom seen indication of City having admirable players in their ranks, been capped by Northern Ireland as well.

His initial departure was to West Brom on loan before Nottingham Forest paid a quarter of a million for him in January 1996. He couldn’t break into the team there; he suffered similar frustrations at Blackburn and it was at York – and back with Dolan – that he became a first-choice keeper again in 2000. He returned to City, permanently, in early 2003 and had a decent spell in the side at the end of 2002/03 when Paul Musselwhite was injured, but he was understudy the following season and rendered further surplus to requirements when City signed Boaz Myhill. His last game for the Tigers was the infamous 3-1 reverse at Huddersfield when Peter Taylor’s changes to the defence led to arguments with supporters via the local press.

5: Keith Edwards, 6 years 6 months

LoanEdwardsChilton and Wagstaff aside, this chap was the best goalscorer City has seen. The stats back it up – in his two spells, he managed an overall goal ratio in the league of almost one every other game, and all the more remarkable was that he never played in a particularly good City side.

Edwards joined in 1978 from Sheffield United after City had been relegated to Division Three and scored consistently and effortlessly through a couple of watertreading seasons, prior to managing a laudable 13 in the rancorous 1980/81 campaign before relegation again led to him unsurprisingly feeling he could be of better use elsewhere. He went back to Bramall Lane and also played for Leeds and Aberdeen before Brian Horton, desperately trying to reboot a stuttering season, brought him back at deadline time in 1988.

Edwards scored on his second debut and got a brace later in the first game after Horton was sacked, prior to a phenomenal 1988/89 campaign under Eddie Gray when he battered in 26 goals and top scored for the division, even though City finished fourth bottom. He also outpaced both of Arsenal’s youthful centre backs for the opening goal of a League Cup tie against a side who would end the season as champions, and scored in all three of City’s FA Cup ties, culminating in a memorable (and typically coolly despatched) goal against Liverpool that briefly put City ahead in the tie.

He was quickly out of the door when Colin Appleton returned in the summer of 1989, unimpressed by the appointment, and continued scoring for other clubs through to 1991.

Bubbling under (featuring at least one permanent deal): Gareth Williams, 6 years 1 month; Caleb Folan, 5 years 9 months; John Hawley, 4 years 8 months; Pat Heard, 4 years 5 months; Paddy Mills, 3 years 10 months; Billy Whitehurst, 3 years 1 month; Peter Skipper, 2 years 7 months; Craig Fagan, 1 year 2 months. Other players have had more than one spell at the club as a loanee only; several more had long gaps between matches due to global conflict.

FEAT WembleyBarmby

Cheer up Tiger Nation, it’s Wembley Debut Day


There’s no doubt about it, dark clouds hover ominously over the Tiger Nation at present – what with relegation, Marco Silva preparing to depart and the bloody Allam family conspicuously not departing while scrapping discounts for kids and pensioners.

But amid the gloom, one thing will always cheer us up, and that’s remembering our finest day in the sun, nine years ago today.

Happy Wembley (Debut) Day, City fans.















FAMOUS FIVE: Relegation in pre-Premier League days

Look, you weren’t expecting us to write about anything else, were you? It might be painful for those of you who witnessed any or all of the campaigns detailed below, but at least it reminds us that there were times when relegation from the top flight (which we’ve now managed three times in less than a decade) was once something we would have killed for…

1: 1995/96F59596Statistically, City could hardly have been poorer than in 1995/96, the nadir of the Terry Dolan era which saw relegation to the Fourth Division become inevitable from Christmas onwards. Only five wins in total, only one of which was away and 21 points adrift of safety by the end, City were just hideous from start to finish.

Before Christmas, the ever-potless City flogged their two major assets in Dean Windass and Alan Fettis, with next to none of the cash generated given to Dolan for proper strengthening – not that anyone trusted the now actively loathed City manager to do anything about it. City used 33 players through the season, many of whom were kids from the ranks or loanees or freebies, and on the last day handed over the South Stand to Bradford City supporters, the one act for which Martin Fish – irrespective of the pressure he received from a politically-motivated, football-hating local constabulary at the time – will never be forgiven.

Before that farcical end to the campaign, the actual relegation was confirmed mathematically when promotion-chasing Crewe came to Boothferry Park and won. This was a team that City had thrashed 7-1 the season before, but the chance of a repeat of even the result, let alone the scoreline, was nil. The visitors struck twice, including a howitzer from one Danny Murphy, before teenager Gavin Gordon pulled one back.

Now that the sums were done, the recriminations could take over, and they lasted a very long time.

Wins: 5. Goals: 36. Top scorer: 7 (Richard Peacock). Points: 31. Margin from safety: 21 (plus a quite awful goal difference). Relegated with four games to go.

2: 1990/91
This was such a weird season. Relegation in the end was conclusive, with City bottom of the table, five points from safety in Division Two during a campaign when only two teams would go down.

Defensively, the Tigers were absolutely dire, something telegraphed in August when the depressingly unambitious board accepted an inexcusably paltry bid from divisional rivals Oldham Athletic for superstar defender Richard Jobson. Any number of centre back combinations were tried and the gap simply went unplugged for the whole campaign and a massive 85 goals were shipped, a total aided by two teams hitting five and one – West Ham – plundering seven.

Yet at the other end, we had a strike partnership that was the envy of the division. The antipathy on a personal level between Andy Payton and Peter Swan was well known but there was little doubt they were effective together, despite Swan preferring to play in defence (something he never did during this season). Between them they shovelled in 37 goals (next highest goalscorer: Leigh Palin with five, mainly penalties).

City won ten games, and at least one of Payton and Swan scored in eight of them, including one for Swan in Terry Dolan’s first game in charge after replacing the hateful Stan Ternent at the end of January 1991. It wasn’t even close to enough, thanks to the lousiness of the defence, and City went down in the pre-penultimate game of the campaign when Brighton, chasing a play-off place, came to Boothferry Park and won by a single goal.

Dolan didn’t pick the strike pairing for the remaining two games and played a load of youngsters, who made big contributions to a brace of wins – the only ones of the season when Payton or Swan didn’t score.

Wins: 10. Goals: 57. Top scorer: 25 (Andy Payton). Points: 45. Margin from safety: 5 (and a far larger goal difference). Relegated with two games to go.

3: 1980/81
The signs were there, as City finished the previous season one place and one point off a first ever relegation to the Fourth Division. Bullet dodged, you’d think? Not a bit of it.

Mike Smith was the manager, having started on day one of the decade, and his training methods were somewhat peculiar and not exactly popular with the players, who complained later of too much endurance work (leaving them shattered on match days) and not enough ball work or on tactics. Smith also made a lot of alterations to the squad, releasing long-serving high-earners and bringing in youngsters from the ranks.

Ultimately, the problem was a basic lack of quality. The brilliant but temperamental Keith Edwards played like he’d rather be anywhere but Boothferry Park, and his return of 13 goals was poor by his high standards. Smith signed Welsh striker Nick Deacy as a partner, but he was awkward and ineffective. Unperturbed, he signed two more awkward and ineffective strikers from northern non-league teams and though their time would come, both Billy Whitehurst and Les Mutrie struggled to make an impact. At one point during the campaign, City scored just two goals in 12 matches.

Smith sold popular clubmen Gordon Nisbet, Paul Haigh and Stuart Croft mid-season and, again, didn’t seem to know how to replace them. By the end of a truly humiliating campaign, Deacy was in defence. A goalless draw at home to Swindon Town, which saw members of the newly-formed Action Group walk out of the game after unfurling ‘surrender’ flags and carrying a symbolic coffin along North Road, largely rubberstamped a horrible, historic drop, though results elsewhere in the interim completed the maths.

Typically, City then won 2-1 at home to promotion hopefuls Huddersfield courtesy of a Deacy goal that went in on the ref, the kind of good fortune that could have been far more useful earlier in the campaign. In the end, the Tigers lost just one of the last six but the damage had been long done.

Wins: 8. Goals: 40. Top scorer: 13 (Keith Edwards). Points: 32 (two for a win). Margin from safety: 9 (and a huge goal difference). Relegated with five games to go.

4: 1977/78
The season of three managers. And the popular opinion from those who were there remains that had the directors not panicked over the loss of form under John Kaye and stuck with him, City would have been fine.

A 12 year run in Division Two, with a couple of mild toys with the possibility of top-flight football, had been largely a consolidatory one, though it had stagnated a lot through the mid 70s and City, while not going backwards, were treading a lot of water. Kaye, initially a player-coach on arrival in 1971, had taken over from Spurs-bound Terry Neill in 1974 and had proved to be steady and unspectacular.

He worked hard on bringing youngsters through while seeking star quality that could come close to adequately replacing the legendary forward line of the late 60s, with Ken Wagstaff still at the club but approaching an injury-induced retirement in 1976. Kaye achieved an eighth and two 14th placed finishes in his three full seasons but had a poor run in 1977/78 that led to his sacking eight games into the campaign, with senior players angling for moves and a glut of them in contractual disputes that required tribunals to step in.

When Kaye left, straight after a rancorous home defeat to Mansfield, City had won two and lost four, and heaven knows managers have survived with worse records than that.

First team coach Bobby Collins took over after skipper Billy Bremner, the assumed successor, turned the job down out of perceived loyalty to Kaye, and instantly beat title favourites Tottenham at Boothferry Park. Later, a 4-1 win over Cardiff seemed to vindicate the appointment but Collins inexplicably decided to criticise his players after the game, and the fallout was massive. He was sacked in the February after a record of one win in his last 12 games and with City 18th in the table.

Ken Houghton took over but couldn’t halt the slide and City won just two of the last 15. The strangest thing about the season was that while City were abject at scoring, they were also not conceding stacks of goals; a lot of their defeats were in single goal games, and a brace of 3-0 reverses in the spring were their heaviest defeats. Relegation was nonetheless confirmed by a 2-1 loss at Orient in the pre-penultimate game and, to just rub extra salt into the wound, City slid to the very bottom of the table on the last day after losing at home to Bristol Rovers. It was the only time they’d been there all season.

Wins: 8. Goals: 34. Top scorer: 7 (Alan Warboys). Points 28 (two for a win). Margin from safety: 10 (though no less than seven teams finished ten points ahead and all had slightly better goal differences). Relegated with two games to go.

5: 1959/60
A case of not being ready for the step up. Regionalisation of the lower divisions had ended and the Tigers were promoted in 1959 from the new pan-English Third Division but couldn’t cope with what it brought.

Bill Bradbury, who rifled in 30 league goals in the promotion campaign, had peaked. He struggled to outwit better and more cynical defences at the higher level, and City in general simply couldn’t score goals. Bradbury was sold in February 1960 with just six goals next to his name for the season and City went down with a game to spare thanks to a 1-1 draw at Portsmouth.

The Tigers beat Ipswich on the last day to ensure they at least (unlike all of the above) didn’t finish bottom, and Bradbury’s replacement was found in the youth team as a tall, toothy centre forward called Chris Chilton was summoned from the ranks by manager Bob Brocklebank at the start of the next season. Brocklebank was then replaced by Cliff Britton and under his tutelage, City would use the division to regroup and rebuild, and then eventually take by storm.

Wins: 10. Goals: 60. Top scorer: 8 (Roy Shiner). Points: 30 (two for a win). Margin from safety: 2 (along with a bad goal average). Relegated with one game to go.

These were the last five relegations suffered by City in the days before Premier League football was achieved. City were also relegated in 1929/30, 1935/36 and 1955/56, all from Division Two, finishing bottom of the table on two occasions.


FAMOUS FIVE: Damien Delaney


Ah, Damien Delaney. Not many players go unappreciated quite like he does. It happened during most of his long Hull City career, which racked up 224 league appearances in three divisions and yet saw him leave in January 2008 for big money with little more than a casual wave. Yet once Peter Taylor realised that his old charge from Leicester, signed as a rubicund 21 year old in 2002, was most comfortable in the centre of defence, he was a model of consistency, a dependable presence, a very decent footballer indeed.

As we approach a scenario where a 35 year old Delaney and his chums at Crystal Palace could relegate us from the Premier League this weekend, perhaps we ought to show some long overdue love for a player whose lengthy service was crucial during a definitive, life-enhancing era for City supporters. He has always deserved it. As we pick out five moments from his City career that take us through his five years and three months in black and amber, we do so while still hoping he has a stinker on Sunday…

1: The last (City) goal at Boothferry Park

Delaney only scored five goals for City, spreading them quite evenly in doing so, but the first of those goals is as remarkable and as historic as any other in Hull City history that you could care to name, because it represented the last cause for celebration at our grand old ground.

All of it has a most fetid whiff of Typical City about it. Delaney was playing only his seventh game for the Tigers, and had been somewhat underwhelming thus far as an awkward, one-paced left back. Even in the seconds that had elapsed before he scored in the 50th minute, he had swung a foot hurriedly and unconfidently at the ball in the Boston United penalty area which found only an opponent, and the groan on Bunkers Hill, not the first to be aimed Delaney’s way, was emphatically audible.

Fortunately, that opponent (the excellently named Alex Higgins) screwed up too, losing the ball instantly in a challenge which ricocheted it back to Delaney. He then put in a quite brilliant cross from the side of the area; quite brilliant because it chipped the goalkeeper and nestled in at the far post.

City won the game, the penultimate one at the old place, by that solitary goal and lost the final one by the same scoreline to Darlington, a game Delaney missed. So when we glance at the typicalcityometer, we have before us an unconvincing player scoring a fluke goal which would become part of club folklore until the end of time because City couldn’t get another one in 130 remaining minutes of football at Boothferry Park. And the real last goal at Boothferry Park was scored by Simon Betts, a Darlington player. But fortunately, for City and for Delaney, things would improve.

2: Centre back

Delaney had been City’s first signing under Peter Taylor, who had given him his full debut at Leicester in 2001. Taylor’s sacking at the start of the 2001/02 season meant the beginning of the end for Delaney at the old Filbert Street ground. The new manager, Dave Bassett, sent him on loan to Stockport and Delaney played well in midfield there, scoring his first career goal, before going on further loan spells at Huddersfield and Mansfield, prior to coming to City permanently in October 2002 for £50,000. He was one of a number of players signed by Taylor who had a recent Stockport connection, thanks to the assistant manager at Edgeley Park, Colin Murphy, leaving his role to become Taylor’s number two.

Shortly after Delaney arrived, Taylor signed Marc Joseph, a signing that rankled with City fans as he was stealthily introduced as the replacement for iconic skipper Justin Whittle. With the almost ever-present John Anderson, a summer signing by Jan Mølby of whom Taylor initially approved, occupying the other centre back spot, Delaney’s time at left back seemed set to be an elongated one and as he struggled to convince, old stagers like Andy Holt were still getting the odd look-in, especially when Delaney’s perceived versatility led to him being thrown under the bus a bit by his manager through sporadic assignments as an attacking midfielder which didn’t suit him.

Right to the end of that season, which ended in a mid-table finish, Delaney was either an awkward left back or a guileless midfielder. It didn’t look good. Then two things happened that transformed Delaney’s fortunes.

Firstly, Taylor decided that both Anderson and Whittle weren’t for him. Both were in their 30s and Taylor wanted a more youthful, mobile centre of defence. He continued to persevere with Joseph and bought Richard Hinds, but it still didn’t seem right. Anderson spent eight months in the reserves, never to play for City again (a textbook case of the mighty falling) while Whittle had a spell in the side during a Joseph injury prior to being dropped for the new boy, infamously, at Huddersfield. But whether it was Joseph, or Whittle, they needed a partner, especially after Hinds was shifted to right back after the first of numerous injuries for new signing Alton Thelwell. And so Delaney got the call.

Secondly, Andy Dawson arrived.

Delaney and Dawson. Left-footed defenders who would become very familiar with one another. Dawson, a freebie from Scunthorpe, arrived with an injury and missed the first five games. Then, on a Monday night trip to Doncaster with the TV cameras present, Taylor gave a fit-again Dawson his debut at left back and moved Delaney across to the centre, alongside Whittle. The game was foul, a goalless scrap of nothingness, but Delaney looked comfortable, as he subsequently always would. He played every single minute of every league game, won the player of the year award and City were promoted as runners-up, emerging from the cheerless bottom tier after an eight-year incarceration.

Notably, when Dawson was out for six weeks in the spring, Taylor gave Holt a swansong and shuffled Thelwell across before finally admitting he didn’t have a replacement for his new left back of whom he approved, and so Delaney made a couple of returns to old territory. City won one and lost one, but the confidence now instilled in Delaney meant he could look like a workable, if short-term, left back without the Circle reprising the familiar groan from Bunkers Hill.

And, during this magnificent breakthrough season for Delaney, something else happened…

3: Goal of the season
… this.

His second goal for the club. So, the first was the last by a City player at Boothferry Park; the second a spectacular strike from distance after a flowing run from the middle of the pitch – and again, it was the only goal of the game, scored late, helping City close in on promotion. Delaney could really pick his moments. It remains one of the best scored by a City player at the Circle.

He got one more that season, another counter-attacking monster of a goal in a 3-0 win over Bristol Rovers on the last day when City were already up, and which allowed him to prove that his right foot was not just for standing on.

Only two more would follow – the last in a 4-0 shoeing of Bournemouth in 2004/05 (his only away goal) as City chased a second straight promotion, and a close-range effort in a 4-1 win over Cardiff City in 2006/07, when Phil Brown had just taken over. But before that…

4: Midfield madness

Phil Parkinson’s arrival in the summer of 2006 didn’t affect Delaney too much compared to others in the squad Taylor had bequeathed the new manager, but eventually things got so desperate that the Irishman became susceptible. Parkinson, a young manager with a great reputation, was struggling to instil his beliefs, both in training and tactics, on a sceptical squad of senior professionals and the team was in dire straits.

The arrival on loan of Danny Mills, an irascible, self-important international who had never played as a centre back in his life meant Delaney, who had also suffered an ankle injury in training, had momentarily lost his place, but by October he was fit and back in the team. Sunderland’s visit at the end of the month was one of those occasions that left everyone a noxious mixture of angry and bewildered.

Parkinson started with a flat back four, featuring Mills, Dawson and his two new signings Sam Ricketts and Michael Turner. But also on the teamsheet was Delaney. Assumptions that City would be playing five at the back were quickly scotched when the teams lined up at kick off, and Delaney was on the left side of midfield.

Sunderland were, at the time, finding their feet after an equally slow start, but Roy Keane had arrived as manager and it was clear from their absolute domination of this game their blip was temporary. The same couldn’t be said of City, and only rotten Sunderland finishing maintained parity right to injury time. As notable as any other individual shortcoming on the pitch was that of Delaney, as clearly unhappy and underprepared as any player put in an erroneous position could look.

He had started his career as a midfielder, and had played all of his loan spell at Stockport in the middle of the park. But now he was being asked to play in a brand new position against dangerous opposition in a struggling team when there had been no reason to eject him from the defence. We saw, briefly, evidence of the self-aware, woebegone Delaney who had been at left back under Taylor when there had been little other alternative. And when Ross Wallace scored the winner from a quickly taken set-piece in injury time, the vitriol aimed at Parkinson boiled over into the first calls for his head.

Defiantly, Parkinson did it again three days later at Southend, and City won the game 3-2. The opposition were not in Sunderland’s class (as proved by their eventual relegation and Sunderland charging up the table to win the title) and Parkinson made changes further up the field. Delaney looked a little more at ease, even though the obvious problem was the manager’s need to accommodate Mills, a player who for all his talent, was toxic and ill-positioned. His loan ended a week later, Delaney moved back into defence, and although Parkinson didn’t survive much longer, it felt like some order had been restored.

5: Six hundred and fifty grand

Delaney settled back into the centre of defence and under Phil Brown, was part of the City team that stayed up with a memorable win at Cardiff that made City darlings of the globe and contenders for the George Cross due to the added effect of relegating Leeds United. The following season he remained an important performer before a sudden, lucrative and rather unmarked departure.

Brown signed his namesake Wayne Brown from Colchester, a more instantly defensive option at centre back who didn’t go on flowing runs and wasn’t as keen to pass the ball great distances. Whether he was a better footballer than Delaney was moot indeed – given the career paths of the two afterwards, the question is answered much more easily today – but there was no doubt he was a success alongside the peerless Turner at the back as City got the 2007/08 campaign underway.

Delaney was, therefore, a left back again, and a far more comfortable one than he had previously been in the last throes of Boothferry Park. Experience, success, familiarity, contentment, seniority, all played their part in turning him into a defender who could play in either of the left-centric positions in the back four. But there was one problem: Dawson.

The first choice left back was incomparable in the role. In the early part of the 2007/08 season, however, he was suddenly a right back (and a ludicrously out of sorts one) when Ricketts got a ban and the manager had no ready-made replacement. So Dawson shuffled across to use the outside of his good foot a lot more, and Delaney came back into the team. Dawson picked up an injury afterwards, and Delaney spent the autumn and much of the winter at left back, rarely putting a foot wrong. He had become a squad player and, in an improving team and still only 26 years of age, a very useful one. But there was always the knowledge in everyone’s mind that when Dawson was fit again, he’d be playing.

The two rotated in December and January as Dawson approached full match fitness and the fixtures congested over the festive season. It was good management by Brown, and both players made high-calibre contributions to some difficult games. It was notable, however, that on many occasions, Brown didn’t need both. Whoever was not picked to play at left back did not make the bench, and only one of these two fine footballers was regarded as an out-and-out left back.

Delaney played 82 minutes of a 3-1 home defeat to Championship leaders West Bromwich Albion on 12th January 2008. The TV cameras were there and, despite City’s defeat, it was a superb game of football. Rumours had started to circulate about a bid from QPR but nothing had been rubberstamped, and as City were 2-1 down at the time and Brown needed to put more attackers on, it certainly didn’t feel like a substitution that would allow a crowd and a popular player to bid farewell to one another. Nevertheless, the following Thursday, the deal was confirmed.

Tabloid newspapers claimed it was a £1.2m deal, and the clubs irksomely made details of Delaney’s switch undisclosed but eventually £650,000 was the figure that kept coming up. Even at half of the speculated fee, a 1,200 per cent profit felt like very good business, a factor that nullified the sadness in seeing a terrific footballer and proper club man leave, especially as City were evidently moving on to good things.

The manager signed Neil Clement on loan from, coincidentally, West Brom to provide left-footed cover in defence and was then forced to use political outcast David Livermore as a centre back when Clement was recalled by his parent club, not unnaturally concerned that he was playing more than adequately for a direct promotion rival. Livermore’s sitting duck performance in a defeat at Sheffield United that pretty much ended City’s hopes of automatic promotion made a few City fans wonder if hanging on to Delaney until the summer might have been wiser. Nonetheless, Wembley glory beckoned and we all moved on, Delaney included.

Delaney made the first of his nine international appearances for the Republic of Ireland on the same day of City’s promotion, but generally had an up and down time at QPR before joining Ipswich in 2009. After suffering a blood clot on his leg that required limb-saving surgery, he was briefly successful at Portman Road but then lost his place and left by mutual consent in 2012 following a period of only one match in a whole year. From there, at 31, he joined Crystal Palace.

Unheralded at his post-City clubs up to now, he became a dynamic and consistent presence at the heart of the Palace defence, openly weeping on TV when they won promotion to the Premier League in 2013, via the same method he had just missed out on with City five years before. On August 18th 2013, a 32 year old Delaney made his first appearance in the top tier of English football in ten and a half years. And there he remains, a veteran, a better defender than ever and, despite his longevity in the game, still an enigma. He is notoriously reluctant to give interviews, preferring to do his talking in the most wonderfully clichéd way of all – on the pitch.

It’s hard to imagine not loving a player who put in 224 shifts in league football for your club, during which time you were promoted twice and on the verge of a unique third at the point it came to an end, but that feels like the case with Delaney. When you consider the career paths of both player and club since his departure, it’s not unfathomable to think that he was underrated by his last manager at City, especially as Brown had endless problems at centre back after promotion to the Premier League. Hindsight dictates this, of course, but the way Delaney has adapted to Premier League football since elevation with Palace four years ago is little short of sensational, when you consider the hapless left back and isolated makeshift midfielder of his early days, a player whose loan spells were at clubs that subsequently dropped into the non-league pyramid.

That last goal at Boothferry Park is probably what principally keeps Delaney in the minds of City fans to this day, as we approach a decade since he left the club, but it’s unfair. Quirks of fate like that make Delaney more of a cult hero than anything else, but that does him a disservice. He was and is a great player; a proper Hull City hero.

Damien Delaney joined Hull City on October 16th 2002 and left on January 17th 2008. He made 224 league appearances for the club, scoring five goals. He also made 15 further senior appearances. He won promotion with City in 2003/04 and 2004/05 and contributed to promotion to the Premier League in 2007/08.


FAMOUS FIVE: Victories from a man down

We’re a bit late with this, but after City got over Oumar Niasse’s recent (unjust) red card by winning the match, we look back at five other occasions City have gone on to win or clinch all the points while a man down…

1: Chesterfield, 2004/05


This was especially impressive, as Chesterfield (or Cheatersfield, as they were known at the time following some imaginative accounting a few seasons before which earned them a points deduction) were in control for large swathes of an entertaining match between two recently promoted sides at the Circle.

The visitors had already had a goal disallowed for handball before City skipper Ian Ashbee stamped on the Achilles of Adam Smith just after the hour and received a straight red card. There was little argument over the decision, despite Ashbee sarcastically applauding the ref as he made his retreat.

City were now in trouble – they were already under the cosh, they’d just lost their leader, they were down to ten men and they had Junior Lewis playing up front. So naturally, the response was to take the lead within two minutes, thanks to a cross from sub Delroy Facey that Lewis intelligently flicked down into the run of Stuart Green, who scored.

Chesterfield played out the game with the air of a beaten team who wondered whether it was all a bad dream.

2: v Bradford City, 1993/94

Dean Windass to the fore; an early goal, then an early bath. What he said is not known, but Teesside referee Jeff Winter was notoriously sensitive to industrial language and criticism in general and the straight red was quickly out of his pocket with the game hardly started.

Despite being one up, City were in real bother, a fact hammered home by Shaun McCarthy quickly heading in the equaliser from a corner. Yet there are few things in lower league life more fun than beating Bradford, something which we were enjoyably used to, and a foul on Linton Brown allowed ex-Bantam Greg Abbott to restore the lead from the spot before half time, taking a moment afterwards to bait the Bradford fans in celebration.

City relied on the counter attack in the second half and used it to full devastation, with Brown getting the clincher with one of those rolled shots past the keeper that seem to take an age to go in.

(PS – Clair Voyant? What was that all about?)

3: v Kidderminster Harriers, 2001/02


Dramatic one, this. Kidderminster were recent newcomers to proper football and had a certain corpulent Dane in charge, and a hardy 100 visiting supporters followed their team to Boothferry Park to take on an expensive new strike partnership in Gary Alexander and Lawrie Dudfield, heading a side that had missed out on promotion via the play-offs the previous season.

The visitors had injury issues early in the first half which forced the switch of a cumbersome forward to right back, and as a consequence we had the the seldom seen spectacle of David Beresford actually having the measure of a defender for a whole game. City spent the entire first half sending the tiny, fast and end-product-unfriendly winger up against the makeshift defender, one Tony Bird. He won every race but, naturally, didn’t deliver any crosses of note.

Bird’s one bit of respite came when he put a free kick against the City crossbar, and early in the second half finally he and the visitors gave way. Dudfield and Alexander combined with cross and bullet header respectively, and it was 1-0, with the latter getting off the mark for his new club.

But City being City, victory wasn’t going to be established easily. Justin Whittle tried a back header from too far away and allowed Kidderminster sub Stewart Hadley to race clear on goal. Whittle chased and chased and chased – and brought him down in the area. Whittle’s casual reaction was that he’d got the ball and play would continue, but the ref thought differently. Penalty, red card, booking for the arguing Alexander, and the tortured Bird got some mild form of respite by sticking away the spot kick.

City were grateful for Kidderminster’s subsequent lack of ambition, probably through being knackered and Brian Little decided to have a go. He sent on Rodney Rowe and, in injury time, his first touch was a low volley across goal from a long throw into the path of Alexander, who couldn’t miss.

A bullet was duly dodged in a season that eventually would disappoint slightly, to the extent that Little didn’t survive it and a certain corpulent Dane was deemed the correct person to take over. We all know how that turned out.

4: v Norwich City, 1970/71


When the rules on tackling could fit on to a folded sheet of A4 and a player had to do something close to hanging out of the back of a referee’s mother before he could be sent off, there was a genuine novelty value attached to dismissals in matches.

Chris Chilton was sent off right at the end of this hard-fought game at Carrow Road for retaliation to a quite remarkable bit of violence from Norwich’s known oppressor-in-chief Duncan Forbes, who aimed one kick at the City centre forward that didn’t stop his man, so chased him a few yards and aimed another. You can tell from Chilton’s split-second reaction of pain (prior to the split-second reaction of retribution) that it was a nasty, cowardly bit of brutality from Forbes that went against what was acceptable, and the headbutt that followed was as pinpoint in its timing and execution as any of his goals.

Even after all this time, you wonder why Forbes wasn’t sent off for the challenge. The referee saw it, as Chilton was controlling the football at the time, but the City striker was the only one he pointed towards the dressing room. Chilton, wearing City’s white change kit, had blood down his shirt – his own, not that of Forbes – as he listened to the referee’s lecture while Forbes was able to stand up, take a tongue-lashing and then line up for the free kick.

Not on the footage, most surprisingly, is confirmation that Chilton had actually gone. It took Brian Moore’s studio narration prior to the VT being run, and then a scene-resetting voiceover midway through, to make it clear it happened, as there is no sign of Chilton exiting the field and, more oddly, nothing from Anglia’s fine commentator Gerry Harrison, who knew Chilton and City well as the Tigers were anomalously on his patch. Chilton himself tells of how his blood-soaked shirt made him look like he was playing for Ajax, and how he squirted a sponge full of a subtle blend of blood and sweat at a mouthy Norwich fan at the tunnel. Imagine a player doing that today and not being a) noticed or b) reported for it.

City had been a goal up since the first half – a fine first-time shot from Ken Houghton – and didn’t have long to protect their lead with ten men as the 90 minutes were up, but nevertheless Malcolm Lord still found time to weave along the Norwich byline and set up the clincher for Ken Wagstaff. Chilton scored his 200th league goal for City at Sunderland a fortnight later, and then served a one-match ban for the headbutt more than six weeks after it happened. The disciplinary regulations in football really were in a different world compared to now.

5: v Plymouth Argyle, 2005/06

Do we give valuable oxygen to Marc Joseph’s boneheaded elbow on the half hour that saw City go in at half time a man down? Or do we just rejoice in the majesty of the second half winner by Stuart Elliott, scored from somewhere between the byline and the penalty area?



NOSTALGIA: a decade since Cardiff away


Ten years ago today, we made the long trip to South Wales to follow the Tigers. We’ve traversed that route before, and doubtless will again, but it may be a while before so much rides upon it.

It was the penultimate day of a traumatic 2006/07 season, and City were tussling with Leeds to avoid relegation, the two teams either side of the dotted line of death that indicates demotion from the Championship into League One’s backwaters. City possessed a superior goal difference and had their heads barely above water, but were away; Leeds were at home to mid-table nothing-to-play Ipswich.

2006/07. What a horror. It was a season of promise, or supposed to be. Peter Taylor’s time at the club had come to a natural conclusion, and Phil Parkinson was the Bright Young Thing, poached acrimoniously from Colchester and intended to establish the Tigers in the second tier with the meticulous implementation of the latest coaching methods. Instead, it went wrong from the beginning and never recovered, and amid rumoured agitation by senior players he was sacked in December after serving up a horrific 5-1 reverse at his former club and a 2-4 defeat against Southampton four days later.

Phil Brown, known only for a brief failure at Derby and a lengthy stint as Sam Allardyce’s assistant, had joined City as a coach under Parkinson and auditioned with enthusiasm for the job. Three wins got him the gig in the New Year.

However, while things had improved a little from the dog days of Parkinson’s ill-starred tenure, City never really escaped the relegation zone and disastrous results remained a feature of the season – an infamous and stormy 3-0 defeat at Barnsley and a farcical 2-5 at home to Ipswich being particular low points.

After gubbing a doomed Southend 4-0 in late March, City then picked up only two points from four games to enter the final pair of fixtures in desperate trouble. And that took us to Cardiff.

You can relive the full report of that fixture here – it stands as a contemporary snapshot of our thoughts at the time. Suffice it to say, Dean Windass was the hero, Leeds arsed it up late on, their fans acted like nobs and the Tigers made survival virtually certain.


Except, it’s necessary to recall the afternoon in greater detail. Ninian Park was a fearsome, brooding ground to visit. It was intimidating in a way you don’t really get any more, perhaps not unlike Vetch Field and Boothferry Park – big, old grounds occupied by decent-sized clubs fallen on hard times. It wasn’t a place for club colours or conspicuous Englishness.

But it’s where we had to win, or get a result, and so on an unseasonably hot day a large City contingent made the journey, squeezing itself into the left-hand side of a stand behind the goal that was split three ways – Cardiff, City and a neutral zone, equipped with anti-missile netting. It was also weirdly split between seats and standing, the former at the front and the latter at the back. At least it was by now roofed, as wasn’t the case until the early 2000s.

Cardiff’s season had petered out badly and they’d long since dropped out of play-off contention, though they’d only lost four games at home prior to this fixture. The Tigers, by contrast, had won only four outside of East Yorkshire.

A first half précis: Steve Thompson missed an early sitter for them, Leeds took an early lead to swap the clubs’ respective positions, City looked nervous and played poorly, and via a Deano shot that Forde saved, we limped goallessly into the break.

At that point, City were in the relegation zone, with 135 minutes of the season remaining.

On came Dean Marney for Ray Parlour, and thus the game was saved. Marney was a booming influence in midfield, seizing both ball and initiative with commendable vigour.


On 52 Windass scored, to spark a goal celebration as manic and visceral as any you could hope for (aided, of course, by a terrace on which to cavort).

The hypothetical mid-match league table now showed City back out of the bottom three, though with Leeds continuing to lead the margin was narrow, and a final day reckoning loomed. Fortunately for City, a warm day and an irrelevant fixture was creating a soporific afternoon for our hosts, whose fans weren’t their customary snarling selves and whose team was evidently disinterested. City held on more easily than we’d feared, aided by the lung-busting determination of Nick Barmby when he replaced Stephen McPhee.

Then, as injury-timed neared and fingernails disappeared, a sudden commotion began to the left of the City end. Its cause was instantly obvious: news from Elland Road of an Ipswich equaliser, and pandemonium again shook one third of the Grange End.

It seems impossible to imagine that the City players hadn’t divined the cause, and they stood imperiously tall to repel Cardiff, only to hurry over to us at full-time to celebrate with us.

Surreally, we no-one could be quite sure what was happening. Leeds fans being Leeds fans, they were busy engaging in one of their periodic displays of invariably unpunished hooliganism; Ninian Park was empty long before news filtered through to our Nokias that they’d finally drawn and we were as good as safe.

Both City and Leeds were to lose their final games of the season, which were dead rubbers (and Leeds had chosen to enter administration before it, incurring a ten point penalty). However, for his unlikely escape act, Phil Brown had earned a shot at managing City in the Championship, and few will need any reminders as to how well that turned out.

Phil Brown’s career trajectory was to provide the most vivid, soaring to barely believable heights before crashing back down, though he’s busy with a capable restoration of his reputation at Southend.

But what of the City XI that day? Myhill experienced Wembley and then the top flight, though now aged 34 and barely any appearances for West Brom this season, it sadly appears that an authentic City hero who never wanted to leave is seeing his career fizzle out.

Sam Ricketts went to Wembley and the Premier League before joining Bolton; he later played for Wolves and, latterly, Coventry before his distinguished career came to a sad end in November last year when injury forced his retirement.

Michael Turner never did get that England cap, and was sold in disgraceful circumstances by Paul Duffen 2½ years after the Cardiff match. Damien Delaney still plays in the Premier League, and although nearly 36 may still face us for Crystal Palace in a couple of weeks.

Andy Dawson left as a legend six years later to rejoin Scunthorpe, having achieved stunning success from such humble beginnings.

Ray Parlour received the half-time hook that changed the game at Cardiff, and after featuring in our listless defeat to Plymouth eight days later, he never played another professional game – though this contributor met him at an awards ceremony in 2010, where he was surprisingly enthusiastic about his time at City. Marney, his replacement that day, rather unexpectedly still plays in the Premier League for Burnley.

Ian Ashbee is Ian Ashbee; he still lives locally hawking pricey watches and continuing to earn affection with social media criticism of the club’s present owners.

Lee Peltier, a loanee from Liverpool, is now with Cardiff at their shiny new ground, via Yeovil, Huddersfield, Leicester, Leeds, Nottingham Forest and Huddersfield. Once a player of promise, things just haven’t ever seemed to work out for him anywhere.


Though perhaps it seemed it at the time, this obviously wasn’t Dean Windass’ finest hour in a City shirt, as he immeasurably added to his already considerable legend 13 months later. He’d play for another two clubs after finally getting that top-flight goal for City, taking his career total to over a dozen. And hey, he’s Deano, he can do no wrong in this city.

Nicky Forster left City that summer for Brighton, and has dabbled in management with Brentford, Dover and Staines. Fellow striker Stephen McPhee, once thought to be a record signing, suffered perennial misfortune with injury throughout his career and after another bad one at Blackpool, he retired prematurely.

Cardiff would finish that season 13th, and eventually make it into the Premier League themselves with a sparkly but quieter ground, though it’d be a one-off. By contrast, we’ve had three goes and are there again; at the time of writing Cardiff are…13th in the Championship.

Though we could never have known it at the time, this act of escapology set in train events we could never have imagined and that are still unfolding ten years later. Wembley, the Premier League, China, the Cup Final, Europe – it may be stretching things to say that it can all be traced back to a sunny afternoon in Cardiff, but had things gone badly ten years ago today, our recent history may look very different.


PODCAST: TWTWT Podcast 140

We glossed over the Man City defeat and talked glowingly and lengthily about the win over Middlesbrough, because we wanted to. And why not? Plus we talk about the run-in and Marco Silva’s contract situation, and reminisce on previous visits to Stoke, which involve penalties, Cruyff turns, flying mud and wiping bottoms with towels.



FAMOUS FIVE: Successful City loanees

To prove we’re not just sneery, negative misanthropes when it comes to professional footballers, we’re following up our Failed Loanees piece with one that celebrates five temporary acquisitions who proved nothing but a success for City. We sought the opinions of 12 other City fans of our acquaintance before picking, mainly at random, five from their suggestions, discounting any that went on to sign for us permanently. The vast majority of our correspondents claimed one particular player was our best ever loan signing, so…

1: Fraizer Campbell
… here he is. Exactly what you’d want from a loan player, then a whole heap more. Campbell was raw and untried in the English game when he joined City in October 2007 on a season-long deal from Manchester United, and such deals often come with a fear in the back of the collective mind that such a player would not see the benefit in dropping down from a huge club to one in a lower division with negligible history.

But while to say Campbell was an exception is unfair on many a decent young lad at a big club waiting for games, he was certainly more of a revelation on loan than most of his ilk. He was, very simply, the extra bit of sparkle required by a team that was gifted, experienced and well-drilled, but needed just a certain extra something to be a challenger. That something may well have been pace, as Campbell was blessed with tons of it, and when a striker takes to the pitch with both confidence in front of goal and natural pace to burn off, you have the perfect player.

Campbell’s debut was quiet as he got used to his new team-mates and City lost a very dull game by a single goal at Watford. He played the whole match, and in the second half a sub was brought on to play alongside him, one Dean Windass.

Windass was 38, Campbell 20, nearly half his age; it sounds like a Heaven 17 lyric, and certainly was an atypical sight in football, but it worked. Campbell would spend the whole season telling anyone and everyone how much Windass helped him as a player and educated him on what being a City player actually meant.

Three days later Campbell shovelled in two goals of real striking expertise in the opening 18 minutes of a game against Barnsley at the Circle, allowing all City fans to take him to their hearts immediately. He and Windass became regular partners whenever the old man’s bones didn’t need a rest, and the pair got a goal each in a 3-0 win over Preston in the midst of a three-game run of victories. The return of record signing Caleb Folan after a head injury on his debut at Blackpool back in August provided both respite and competition for the front pairing, and it thereafter became a case of who would partner Campbell each week.

Campbell scored in three of five unbeaten games over the festive period as City picked up 11 points going into 2008 and rumblings of hope began, small ones, of a push for promotion as City snaked slowly up the top half of the table. Campbell scored a big equalising goal at Norwich on a very windy night at Carrow Road, then salvaged a point for an underperforming City against Colchester at the Circle. His third in three games, however, is likely to be the goal he is most remembered for, within an occasion that epitomised City’s sly, quiet run into the promotion picture.

West Brom were the leaders and the best team in the division, few disputed this. They outplayed a nonetheless high calibre City at the Circle in January with a 3-1 win which saw both teams applauded off the park by all in attendance. Six weeks later, City were at the Hawthorns and after a typically imaginative bit of body swerving from Jay Jay Okocha made some space, the virtuoso Nigerian aimed a sharp, distant pass through the centre for Campbell to control, just outside the area.

The footage shows colleagues of Campbell on either side screaming for a pass in space – Okocha’s swift delivery of the ball had not given defenders time to retreat, and Campbell had real options. The one he took was to take a cursory look up at goal and then bend an outrageous shot from almost a standing position into the corner of the net.

This was a golden moment for us, and for Campbell. It was the encouragement from Windass to free himself, the example of unpredictability set by Okocha, the self-belief given to Campbell by seeing an attacking shape built and rebuilt around him as the constant, the focal point, the spearhead. Everything had been put in place to make Campbell feel as though he could try anything and it would work, because the team he played for let him and because he had the natural ability to do so.

It was a goal nobody there would ever forget.

West Brom were still no slouches and managed an equaliser, only for Folan to score a famous winner. Now City were serious contenders, no longer under the radar. And the manager, Phil Brown, had his team for the rest of the season. Hangers-on were phased out more, changes were less necessary. And as long as Campbell was around, the possibilities felt endless.

Campbell scored in springtime home wins over Burnley, Southampton and Watford, with a brace at Colchester for good measure. A difficult day at Sheffield United, amidst a mild defensive crisis and ending in defeat, meant City had to beat Crystal Palace in the last home game of the regular season to take the chase for automatic promotion to the last day. Campbell scored the early opener, his skipper Ian Ashbee the late winner. Other results made automatic elevation now unlikely (despite Brown telling the press City could still win the title), but City were guaranteed third spot and home advantage in the second leg of the play-offs.

That was the end of Campbell’s goalscoring run for City, but his contribution to play-off success was stellar and iconic. He worked hard with little reward on a personal level in both legs of the comfortable semi-final against Watford, then shuffled free of his marker at Wembley on the counter attack before chipping the ball immaculately on to the right boot of the bleach-haired Windass for the only goal of the final against Bristol City.

Substituted late after a spot of petulance led to a booking, he was on the bench when the final whistle went and he ran on to the pitch, grabbed a black and amber curly wig and was tearfully embraced the team-mates who had made him one of them so readily, and saluted the fans who had worshipped his every move.

The circumstances in which Campbell didn’t sign permanently for City afterwards divides opinion to this day. Initially, the club made a bid but Manchester United, aware of his new-found value, made him a temporary makeweight in a deal to get Dimitar Berbatov to Old Trafford. Campbell duly played for Spurs against City in September 2008, with the Tigers winning 1-0, and the fans sang his name when he came across to the away end for a short corner routine.

When City bid again to take Campbell on after his loan at Spurs ended (having started just one Premier League game), Campbell instead chose to go to Sunderland. City were a basket case of a club at the time – in a way that Sunderland are now, but certainly weren’t then – and Campbell’s decision, influenced heavily by his father, was taken as an affront by City fans. When City went to Sunderland that season, Campbell stuck his tongue out at the away fans after a round of abuse, and naturally they went mad at him, as ever not realising that disrespect can be a two-way street. His form on Wearside initially was good enough to earn him a solitary England cap, but then he did his cruciate ligament which ruled him out of football for over a year. Back in Hull, some classless individuals claimed, cruelly, ludicrously, wrongly, that he deserved it.

Fit again, Campbell dropped a division and joined Cardiff, memorably scoring at the Circle on the last day of the 2012/13 season when both sides went up, with him pretending to laugh at the home fans while fixing his eyes firmly on the jubilant, title-winning Cardiff supporters. He is now at Crystal Palace, and of course scored their last minute equaliser at the Circle in this season’s 3-3 draw, this time celebrating wildly at the achievement, rather than in an effort to antagonise. A subsequent managerial change at Selhurst Park means he is currently not in favour there, and, approaching his 30th birthday, his next move will be an important one.

Campbell’s impact in 2007/08 will never, ever be underestimated, and it is largely because he was just so good that he remains a player of such interest to City supporters, on both sides of the argument (if an argument really exists). In the Premier League era we never found an alternative to him in terms of combining touch and finishing ability with sheer pace (Marlon King didn’t have pace; Shane Long did, but he wasn’t as good a finisher), and it’s hard to believe any centre forward on our books in the last nine seasons has been as good as Campbell was, even though he was playing exclusively against Championship defences at the time.

His name is still regularly linked with us, but Campbell won’t play for us again. However much many a City fan would see such a deal as something of a homecoming, he saw us purely as a stepping stone to bigger things. And he had every right to. He gave us everything he had but then, not unreasonably, felt he could get more because his talent had already proved worthy of the odd senior appearance for Manchester United, while Spurs and Sunderland represented big steps up for him. He ended up playing for England as a consequence so, even if club affairs didn’t go his way, he can point to that single achievement as a justification for taking his selected paths.

If anything did go wrong with Campbell, it was probably the way his father seemed to dismiss Hull as a permanent home for his son with barely a sideways glance – continuing to blame a boy who was barely 21 at the time for this is a fairly ghastly thing to do. But nobody in the Campbell family owed us anything. We gave him adoration as a support, City gave him regular football – but let’s not forget that in return, this greatest of great loanees gave us goals, Wembley and the Premier League for the first time. Look at that squad and then see if you can argue that we would have done it without him.

2: John Hickton
Loans have been around in one form or another for most of football’s professional existence, although only after the Second World War was something roughly resembling today’s system set down, and even then it was a rare occurrence for anyone to borrow another team’s players. Round these parts, the first example most City fans of, ahem, seasoned status remember was when Hickton arrived in 1977.

The Middlesbrough striker had been a consistent goalscorer at Ayresome Park for more than ten years, slamming in 192 goals in the first team, including four against City in a 5-3 win back in 1969. But at 32, and with manager Jack Charlton looking for a long-term replacement for his goals, Hickton was allowed to come to Boothferry Park on loan.

Hickton played six times, scored once (a peach of a shot from distance against Carlisle at Boothferry Park) and was involved in most of the goals scored elsewhere in the team, but became the classic example of the brightest flame dying out quickly, as Middlesbrough wouldn’t extend the loan, just as City were getting used to having him about the place. Annoyingly, they didn’t pick him again that season. He played a handful of games as either a sub or an emergency centre back the following season before his contract was cancelled to allow him to cross the Atlantic and play in the NASL. A broken leg early in his time there ended his career.

3: Nick Culkin
CulkinNWhen you’re at the bottom of the league, you get the goalkeepers you deserve. The ones who aren’t good enough for anyone else play for you, the ones that are good enough for someone else soon leave you, or were never yours to begin with.

Culkin was, unbelievably, the seventh* (and last) different keeper used by City in the 1999/2000 season, a club record, and we had yet to reach the millennium. Yet over four games, the giant 21 year old proved himself to be impressive and commanding in a way that none of the others were, showing exactly why his earliest years at hometown club York had motivated a £250,000 swoop by Manchester United. The only goal he conceded was in his last game, a 1-1 home draw with Cheltenham, while previously he had excelled in scoreless draws at Darlington and Leyton Orient (saving a penalty in the latter) and a 2-0 win at home to Mansfield in between.

Naturally, such a fine custodian wasn’t going to muddy his boots with us for as long as absolutely necessary, and back to Old Trafford he went. He had further loans (much longer ones, too) before joining QPR in 2002 and succumbing to injury three years later. These days, he is known for having the shortest Premier League career in history, with his only appearance for Manchester United coming when he was an injury time sub for the crocked Raimond Van der Gouw, against Arsenal in August 1999. Culkin took the free kick that restarted the game, and the referee blew for full time.

4: Martin Carruthers
Elegant, lightning-quick centre forward from the ranks at Aston Villa who was a proper showbiz signing by Terry Dolan at a time when City’s present and future seemed incredibly bleak. “Evening Carruthers!” said the headlines, tragically and predictably, when he pitched up in October 1992.

And goodness, we needed him. We had nothing close to a proper centre forward. Dean Windass was still in midfield (his shift up front wasn’t far away though) and we were relying on overrated nonentities like Paul Hunter to lead the line, with wingers Graeme Atkinson and Leigh Jenkinson providing not just back-up, but front-up as well.

Carruthers was fighting the likes of Dean Saunders, Dalian Atkinson and an emerging Dwight Yorke for a place in a very good Villa side, so coming to City made sense for him and was a rare “sit up and take notice” bit of business under Dolan. Instantly he looked the part when he took over Hunter’s number 9 shirt, despite a typically Dolan-esque bit of fudging over injuries which saw Carruthers score against Mansfield in his second match and then drop into midfield for two games afterwards. However, he managed to find the net on each of those occasions too – against Port Vale and Blackpool – and made it three straight scoring games with a goal in a 4-0 shoeing of Exeter which earned City seven points from nine.

He played seven more games but scored just once more (in a 2-1 win at Preston) as City’s creativity died a death, coinciding with an injury to Windass. The end of his loan was greeted with sadness from City supporters, who had invested a lot of hope in the club being able to retain Carruthers’ service for the remainder of the season. Eventually, Linton Brown arrived, funded by the fans; although not as natural a player, a remedy for the striking ills was found, especially when Windass was shoved up alongside him.

Carruthers returned to Villa, who were challenging for the Premier League title, and was released in the summer. He eventually played for numerous contemporaries of City in the lower divisions, including a gallingly prolific two seasons at Scunthorpe, but never achieved a better scoring record than when he was at City. He was still playing the non-league game well into his 40s and is back in his native Nottinghamshire now, managing Basford United.

5: Anthony Gerrard
It maybe would come as a surprise to Gerrard just how much love there remains for him in Hull, as he stepped into our defence at a time of transition, when money was tight after relegation from the Premier League and City were aiming for nothing other than continued existence. But what a fine defender he was.

Gerrard was 24 when he joined from Cardiff on loan in September 2010, as new manager Nigel Pearson realised that the centre backs he’d inherited lacked steel (as well as consistency and, in at least one case, a decent attitude). With no top-tier pretensions, despite an older cousin at the helm of the world game (in some people’s minds, at least), Gerrard slotted in as a Championship centre back in a Championship team and played his heart out every week.

His debut was peculiar, as a deal was struck that allowed Gerrard, on loan from Cardiff, and Seyi Olofinjana, on loan in the reverse direction, to play against their parent clubs. It felt inevitable that one of these two would have a major say on the game and, naturally, it was the Nigerian who scored as Cardiff won 2-0. That kind of experiment made us a laughing stock and stopped immediately afterwards.

Gerrard settled, alongside fellow loanee Daniel Ayala, and soon it was obvious he wasn’t subtle, and this lack of discretion when dealing with opposing centre forwards got him many a cheer from the City fans while concurrently earning him a swathe of yellow cards. But throughout the season he was strong, positive, capable of leading by example, decent on the ball, and, it seemed, hard as nails. He was useful going forwards too, with a memorable winning goal at Derby among the five he got for the Tigers, at a time when City were in a bit of form and still hoping for the play-offs. His last goal came in a bizarre 4-2 home defeat by Middlesbrough, when he slapped in a free kick from pushing 30 yards as a late consolation.

City fans voted Gerrard their Player of the Year but Cardiff wouldn’t sell him to a divisional rival, and he got back in their team for a season before joining Huddersfield. He has never been a top flight defender but has had a consistent and admirable lower division career and is currently in the back four at Oldham. At City, he was the kind of player we needed at a time of off-field crisis – focussed, uncompromising… and forgiving too, as he continued to play well for us despite the lousy, uncouth song about his cousin – a member of his own family, for goodness’ sake – that City fans insisted on singing his way as if somehow he’d draw inspiration from it or take it as a compliment.

He must have thought we had some right thickoes following us.

*Lee Bracey, Matthew Baker, Jon Schofield, Steve Wilson, Richard Knight, Steven Bywater, Nick Culkin. After Culkin left, Wilson stayed in goal for the remainder of the season.


FAMOUS FIVE: Failed City loanees

RamirezNobleMark Noble is apparently the answer to all of England’s midfield problems, if you believe the improbable number of supporters he has in the media. However, we remember him as a bored, slow, entirely unmotivated midfielder during a wretched loan spell with the Tigers more than a decade ago. Whatever (little) he has achieved as the local hero of yer actual West ‘Aaaaaam’s incessantly overindulged outfit since, that’s how we’ll always see him. And it was most amusing that he currently isn’t doing better than the bench for the unhappy Hammers and wasn’t considered crucial enough for the game at the weekend.

Gastón Ramirez, meanwhile, was a skilful but completely wimpish addition to City’s long list of temporary signings when we last had Premier League football at the Circle. He will be in Middlesbrough’s midfield on Wednesday when they visit, and the welcome is unlikely to even border on warm.

In honour of these two players who decisively underwhelmed when briefly in black and amber, we’ve charitably decided to remind you of five other loanees who didn’t exactly do the business for us…

1: Simon Walton

WaltonSTen league appearances in 2007/08 while on loan from QPR suggests that this midfielder made an impact, a contribution even, to City’s glorious promotion to the Premier League but the only thing that stops supporters recalling him exclusively as useless was the white sports socks he insisted on wearing over his kit stockings.

There was obviously something worth pursuing about Walton, as he was picked to play for England at three different youth levels while on the books at Leeds, and was still only 20 when he came to City. Eventually he settled into spells at Plymouth, Hartlepool and Crawley, and returned to West Yorkshire last year to play the non-league game.

2: Dougie Bell
Feels a bit unfair, this one, as the luxuriantly moustachioed Bell was a prized midfielder with honours from the Scottish game, but his arrival on loan from Shrewsbury in 1989 coincided with the massive money signings of Ian McParland and Peter Swan, and therefore nobody paid him the slightest bit of attention.

His debut was the 3-0 win over Plymouth that became infamous for being City’s only League win in the last three months of the campaign, and three entirely featureless performances followed before he was returned to Shropshire as unheralded as before.

3: Robbie Turner
Much-travelled lower division centre forward who had just turned 30 when he was recruited by Terry Dolan temporarily in October 1996. It started so well on a personal level, with both goals in a 3-2 defeat at Scarborough (a less embarrassing defeat than it would have been a year later) but then he proved somewhat ineffectual afterwards.

The nadir came when his parent club visited Boothferry Park but still let him play. He was rotten, booed by both sets and substituted early. City lost 3-1. Turner lasted one more game before heading back south. He drifted into non-league that summer.

4: Richard Knight
Goalkeeper from Derby who had already turned City down as part of the deal that took Andy Oakes to the east Midlands, but eventually he was signed temporarily because Lee Bracey was appalling and Steve Wilson was still deemed not good enough after eight years in the senior squad. Knight played one game, which City lost 2-0 at Hartlepool. Shakily positioned for the first goal and comically flappy judging by his actions prior to the second, he wasn’t mourned when Derby recalled him as cover for the injured Oakes. Wilson got back in the team the next week.

Knight never managed a first team appearance for Derby and was sold to Oxford in 2000. From the age of 25 onwards, he was a non-league keeper.

5: John Bostock

BostockJohnA natural, confident, swashbuckling, cultured footballer who had absolutely no team ethic whatsoever. Bostock had it all and blew it, basically.

A debutant at Crystal Palace at 15 and a £700,000 signing by Spurs at 16, Bostock joined City on loan in the complex summer of 2010 and on his debut against Swansea, he blootered in a shot from 30 yards that made everyone assume we’d signed a genius. Of course, we were only half right. All great sports stars back their talent with application but Bostock had no inkling so to do.

Rarely did he cut an interested or ambitious figure during his spell at the Circle, and even ruined his personal glory of a torpedo-esque free kick at Leeds which put us a goal up early on by getting himself sent off in the same game.

By the time he went back to Spurs on New Years Eve 2010, we were glad to see the back of him.

Bostock had a delightful touch, better than pretty much any footballer we’ve ever seen in City colours, but his attitude stank the place out. Pity. He’s still only 25 and left Spurs on a free in 2013, moving to Antwerp. He now plays for Lens.