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FAMOUS FIVE: Managerial debuts

We have a new manager and so far he has done quite well. Three games, three competitions, two wins, one proud defeat. The players seem to like him, he has fresh ideas, he cuts a dash with his stubble and open-necked shirt and has had inarticulate pundits making wild assumptions about his ability and language skills while panicking in general about foreigners. So this week, we’ve had a look back at managerial debuts in our recent past and, in replicating the situation regarding Silva’s appointment, stuck to ones that happened while a season was ongoing, as summer appointments tend to give new gaffers daft luxuries like time to plan and get to know the club and the squad. Not that it did Phil Parkinson much good, mind…

1: Iain Dowie
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Phil Brown’s dismissal in March 2010 was correct although ill-timed, and beyond the surprise expressed by the national press was a further confusion about what would happen about a successor. Brown had effectively ceased to work for City, but as negotiations began over the terms of his departure, he was placed on gardening leave until the end of the campaign. This meant only someone prepared to a) work until the end of the season; and b) adopt a title that was neither manager nor head coach, was permitted to step into the role.

And that was Iain Dowie.

Adam Pearson had been a long-time admirer of the former Northern Ireland striker with the unorthodox bone structure, and in Dowie’s defence he had been a successful and convincing gaffer at both Oldham Athletic and Crystal Palace. He was a graduate, a man of intellect and also someone whose appreciation of his opportunities had been borne out of a late start to his professional career. But when he was unveiled at the Circle with the title Temporary Football Management Consultant, his credibility went out of the window. He may as well have been called ‘Last Resort’ or ‘Sitting Duck’.

The word ‘temporary’ was just evil. ‘Acting’ might have been better. ‘At Large’ would have been very good. Dowie didn’t have any kind of personal mandate as a consequence of his appointment, but he did have a professional one, to keep City up. He, of course, didn’t.

His first game was at Portsmouth, and instantly the motif of Typical City hit him square between the nostrils, as the recalled Caleb Folan (a player he had once tried to sign) scored a brace to twice give City the lead, only for two disastrous pieces of defending in the 88th and 89th minutes allowing the home side a 3-2 win.

Dowie only won once, and that was at home to a mid-table Fulham side who had ditched the Premier League in favour of a run to the Europa League final. The one tick next to his name was his keenness to blood some further City youngsters, but although Will Atkinson and Mark Cullen scored a goal each at Wigan in the penultimate game of the season (which confirmed our relegation and Dowie’s departure), it was evident that neither were up to it in the way Tom Cairney and Liam Cooper seemed to be, hence why Brown hadn’t picked them himself. Dowie quietly walked away in May, job not done, and City had to begin again, in oh so many ways.

2: Terry Dolan
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Here’s a little poll for you, City fans of 25 years and more vintage: whose relegation was 1990/91? Was it Stan Ternent’s? Or was it Terry Dolan’s?

Ternent, the man who ruined his initial reputation as a supreme troubleshooter after his rescue act of 1989/90, overspent on some truly awful ageing footballers afterwards and got a deserved bullet following a New Years Day shellacking at Portsmouth. That was a correct call, undoubtedly. City were appalling and rock bottom. But the board then dithered like a teenage boy buying condoms when trying to sort out a replacement, as if they had dumped Ternent on a whim (despite his dismissal being entirely deserved) without realising it was then their job to get someone else in to take over.

Dolan, in charge of Rochdale, was mentioned quite quickly, and his reputation was good after coming within a whisker of getting an overplaying Bradford side promotion in 1988, something City fans witnessed through gritted teeth as their own team fell markedly down the table. But whoever it was going to be didn’t get his feet under the table prior to the FA Cup third round defeat to Notts County on January 5th, and caretaker boss Tom Wilson ended up taking charge for two further games, both of which ended in defeat.

The City board finally gave the job to Dolan on the last day of January, 30 days after Ternent’s exit and approximately 29 after his name was first mooted, and instantly City responded with a 2-0 win over Bristol Rovers, courtesy of Peter Swan and Neil Buckley. Dolan only made one change from the last team Wilson picked but the effect was clear.

City were relegated via a five-point shortfall, despite having a strike partnership in Swan and Andy Payton that put away 27 goals. Nobody is saying Dolan would have had the same effect had he walked through the door three days after Ternent instead of 30, but he won five games in charge when seven would have proved enough, so the board take some mild blame for the demotion just through their own indecision, which proved final.

To answer our own question then, the relegation was principally the fault of Ternent, unquestionably, but the board that fired and then hired need to accept some of the flak. As for Dolan, his many days of vilification would come.

3: John Kaye
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When the great Bill Nicholson, wiping away furious, bitter tears after seeing Tottenham fans rioting at the end of their 1974 UEFA Cup final defeat to Feyenoord, decided that football wasn’t for him any more, Spurs needed a new manager. This wasn’t something anyone at the boardroom table within White Hart Lane had needed to ponder for 16 years. Nicholson had been at the helm of everything that had made Tottenham revered, feared and respected, kicking it off in 1961 with the 20th century’s first League and FA Cup double. In total, a league title, three FA Cups, two League Cups and two European trophies was quite a haul during an extremely competitive era.

Seeing the evidence that young managers can build destinies as well as clubs – Nicholson was only 39 when he got the job – Spurs decided to try the trick again. There were problems with their choice though – he had not achieved anything tangible in his current job and he was previously an Arsenal man, albeit one who quit at 29 because he couldn’t get in the team any more. Round these parts, a further problem was pointed out that Hull City were about to lose a manager who, if not entirely enveloped by achievements, had at least done something acquainted with a passable job within a long term plan. That was, of course, not an issue once the compensation chequebook came out, and Harold Needler let Terry Neill join Spurs from City, and presumably took back the E-Type Jaguar, in September 1974.

The immediate future for both clubs was to prove very ordinary. Neill nearly got Spurs relegated in 1975 and then wangled – and, given his record at the Lane, heaven knows how – a trip across North London and back to Highbury in 1976, again replacing a retiring winner of the Double in Bertie Mee. His first team coach at City, the tough-talking Goole-born John Kaye, became City’s gaffer. He began with a trip to Nottingham Forest, themselves still four months away from a significant managerial alteration of their own, and who, like City, had only won one of their opening six matches of the season.

We’ll put it down to the trauma of seeing their boyish manager leave, but City’s players utterly froze on the day. Only two of the dozen on duty – Ken Wagstaff and Malcolm Lord – had played for the first team prior to Neill’s appointment, so the rest had placed their careers thus far in the hands of a manager who had believed in them, and now he was very suddenly gone. Scottish striker Alan Martin scored twice for Forest, with further goals from future City midfielder George Lyall and European Cup winner in waiting Martin O’Neill.

Kaye did take a while to get going, and a return to the same city later in the season resulted in a 5-0 cuffing by Notts County, but the Tigers recovered well to finish eighth that season (eight places higher than Forest, who appointed Brian Clough in the January), and Kaye stayed in the job until 1977, unable to get higher in the Second Division than Neill’s 1970/71 peak of 5th. The players who had invested their professional feelings in Neill may have ruefully noted later on that perhaps he didn’t think much of them after all, as he didn’t come back to Hull to sign a single one of them.

4: Nick Barmby
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It took approximately nine thousand years for Nigel Pearson to finally leave Hull City after initially admitting that he wanted to go back to his old job at Leicester, and when it finally happened the Allams – a popular, charitable family whose intentions for Hull City were entirely selfless and philanthropic in 2011, children – installed Nick Barmby as his replacement.

Though Barmby had no experience, this was probably the most popular managerial appointment in Hull City’s history. He was local, worshipped, symbolic of the club, a phenomenal player and had the absolute respect of the squad. He also was winding down his own career – indeed, the moment he got the job he stopped playing entirely – and had been doing some coaching under Pearson prior to his elevation.

Pearson still gets some stick now from City fans because of the way he left the club and also the perception that his tactical preferences were rather safe and limited. Neither were fair – he saw through the Allams before anyone else, and we did play some fine football on his watch at times – but it nonetheless cannot be said that Barmby’s first game in charge replicated anything Pearson would have encouraged or plotted, as City went to Derby and ripped them to pieces.

The first half was a stupendous, mesmeric exhibition of flowing pass and move football, with each player on duty making themselves permanently available to receive the ball. It was utterly unbecoming of a City side to play like this, which made it all the more fantastic. Matt Fryatt and Cameron Stewart scored in the first 25 minutes and the game was won. Derby were spared further torture in the second half as City played the percentage game to guarantee the points, and the Tiger Nation wandered away afterwards thinking, with inevitable excess of ambition, that promotion was a cert.

The bubbles were popped quickly the following week when Burnley scored three times in the final 12 minutes at the Circle to win 3-2 and in truth, only at Cardiff later that season did City play as freely and dominantly under Barmby again. That was the one highlight of a crazy nine-match March for City, which ended in exhaustion, five straight losses and zero hope of the play-offs. On the final day, after a gallant 2-1 defeat at West Ham, Barmby calmly told the local press that he’d like a bit of cash to spend on players in the summer, and all hell broke loose.

5: Brian Little
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After, and indeed despite, three straight wins, the ultimate managerial hero is sacked by an ownership everyone despises, then you come in for the last day of the season and oversee a 3-0 home defeat to ten-man Hartlepool United which is over by half time. Welcome to Hull, Brian.

Brian Little, one of the nicest men in football, must have wondered what he had let himself in for. He’d won a League Cup as Villa manager just four seasons before, after all. Did he need all this? Fortunately, he then had a summer to think about it, decide it really was worthwhile and show a remarkable combination of tactical acumen, professional gallantry and mental strength over the next 12 months to earn City a play-off place rendered all the more improbable with the vitriol and posturing off the field that had left the club unable to access their own training facilities and put players into financial difficulty when wages went unpaid.

The play-offs didn’t work out for Little and City, but boy had he done enough to allow fans pining for Warren Joyce to accept that life had now moved on, and would continue to do so. The arrival of Adam Pearson as owner and saviour allowed everyone to concentrate on on-pitch matters afterwards, to everyone’s relief and delight, and although Little didn’t quite do enough to warrant another full season, he left Boothferry Park with everyone’s gratitude and warm wishes. A home defeat to Hartlepool was now more than forgivable.

We didn’t include Stan Ternent’s mid-season debut as manager, despite it being probably the most impressive, because we’ve featured it on a previous edition of Famous Five.

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FAMOUS FIVE: Goalscoring teenagers

Josh Tymon’s goal at the weekend at the age of 17 got us thinking about the teenage scorers of City’s past. There have been quite a lot, thanks to City having a propensity to blood very young players because they were either very talented or they were all that was left. Unlike Tymon, these are all attackers, and they all have a story…

1: Mark Cullen

CullenGoalFlame-haired, buzzcutted striking product from the north east who was given his chance as a last resort towards the end of the wretched and occasionally hateful Premier League ejector seat season of 2009/10. He scored one goal, two weeks after his 18th birthday, when he nodded in a George Boateng cross from close range at Wigan to put City 2-1 up, with fellow youth product Will Atkinson earlier getting City’s first goal.

It was the final away game, and a final chance for City to win one of them, but the inevitable late equaliser meant relegation was confirmed and City’s whole campaign had been free of success on their travels, an extra undesirable mini-stat to accompany what was a rotten, horrid campaign of egos, in-fighting, profligacy and general hopelessness.

Even with a goal that made him the top flight’s youngest scorer in 2009/10, Cullen didn’t benefit from the subsequent step down, with Nigel Pearson not seeing enough in him to take more than a shrugging interest. He did score at Brentford in the League Cup but then the numerous loan spells got underway, prior to a permanent move to Luton Town in 2013. There he was a success, winning a Conference title medal, and he now plays for Blackpool.

2: Craig Dudley
Loanee centre forward who didn’t hang around Boothferry Park very long, but his impact on arrival was instant. On arrival from Notts County in November 1998, weeks after he turned 19, he scored in both of his first two games for City. The first was inconsequential thanks to Scunthorpe winning 3-2, but a week later he headed the only goal in the last minute of a very even game against later-to-be fellow strugglers Carlisle United at Boothferry Park.

Dudley was as one of Warren Joyce’s first bits of business after replacing the sacked Mark Hateley. With the new consortium controlling the boardroom led by the avuncular Tom Belton, and a hated manager gone, it seemed things were starting slowly to go right for City, and Dudley – like fellow loanee striker Mark Bonner two months later – made small but telling contributions to what eventually became the Great Escape. And, naturally, things would only improve afterwards, wouldn’t they? Well, wouldn’t they?

Dudley extended his loan to the end of December and featured in seven games in total, without scoring again. After returning to Notts County, he eventually joined Oldham Athletic before injury forced him to quit the full-time game.

3: Charlie Crickmore

Sharp, fleet-of-foot winger from the ranks who debuted at 17 in 1959 and looked to have a role as City’s face of the 60s written for him, especially as relegation for City at the end of the 1959/60 season seemed to lead to a deep clean of the club.

Crickmore was only small but had good close control and could really shift, and his two spells in the side during that first season at senior level earned him much praise. His long-awaited goal came at the end of the campaign in a 2-0 win over Ipswich during a seven-match spell when a) Crickmore didn’t miss a minute; and b) City didn’t actually lose. For a side to be relegated after ending the season with a seven-match unbeaten spell is a remarkable feat in itself (and showcases how lousy City were earlier in the campaign) and Crickmore, with the experienced Brian Bulless behind him, took all the plaudits.

But then it went wrong. He was injured on the opening day of the next season (a 4-0 hammering at Colchester, during which one Christopher Chilton made his debut) and after an abortive return in December, didn’t get back his fitness, and his place, until February. He stayed in the side, however, scoring four goals as City finished 11th in the newfangled national Division Three.

Cliff Britton took over as manager and picked Crickmore for every game of 1961/62 right up to the point he unexpectedly dropped him just after Christmas. He never played for City again and was sold in the summer to Bournemouth, who were a divisional rival and had just missed out on promotion. Crickmore had eight goals in 23 appearances that season and the sale came as a surprise and a disappointment, as he clearly had a big future.

With Bulless and Doug Clarke ageing, there was much pressure on Britton to revive the wings of the team after Crickmore’s sale, especially as the teenager had been allowed to join a better-placed club. While the eventual conversion of inside forward Ray Henderson and crucial signing of Ian Butler did just that to devastating effect, there are numerous supporters of the era who wonder how good Crickmore could have been in a team that eventually would have Chilton and the Kens Wagstaff and Houghton up front.

Crickmore never played for City as anything other than a teenager – his final game for the Tigers was on Boxing Day 1961, six weeks before he turned 20. He scored 13 goals in 53 league games, by any stretch a tremendous start to his footballing life, especially for someone who wasn’t a centre forward. Injuries played a part in stunting his progress with five more clubs in the league, with his only honour being a Fourth Division title medal with Notts County. He later moved back to Hull and became a fireman. He also refereed county level games well into his 60s.

4: Andy Flounders

FloundersGoalAnother boy from the ranks, born into the city and the club, and whose dogged presence throughout the 1980s was greatly to his credit given the number of prolific and popular goalscorers with which he had to compete. Not a fully-developed teenager, Flounders looked scrawny and underfed when he debuted just before his 17th birthday in October 1980 during a horrific relegation season, but once in Division Four he came more into his own.

Flounders needed the sale of Keith Edwards and an injury to Billy Whitehurst before his first game of that season in January 1982, a month past his 18th birthday, but when it came he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Torquay United at Boothferry Park. In and out for the rest of the season as Whitehurst and Les Mutrie formed a decent partnership, Flounders still managed four more goals before the end of the campaign.

Looking through his City career, it’s hard to see a period when Flounders was truly the first choice striker, but he was nevertheless always there, always learning (and had plenty of good centre forwards to learn from). He struck 13 times in City’s promotion season of 1982/83, more than both Mutrie and Whitehurst, who were still picked an awful lot more. He put away another nine in 1983/84 – during which time he turned 20 – as City failed to win promotion for a second straight season by a single goal.

His best run of games was in the 1984/85 promotion season under Brian Horton when he settled into a proper partnership with Whitehurst, and his return of 14 goals was his best seasonal haul. He partnered new signing Frankie Bunn as City finished sixth in Divison Two in 1985/86. After the team started the following season slowly, with Whitehurst gone and Bunn off form, Horton bought Alex Dyer in February 1987 and recouped some of the money by selling Flounders, still not yet 24, to Scunthorpe United. He had 54 league goals for the club next to his name by the time he left, an impressive total given the difficulties of the club during his early years and the abundance of striking talent he had to topple.

Flounders remained prolific – his best seasonal total for Scunthorpe was 27, twice – and he ended his career in the mid 1990s at North Ferriby United.

5: Gavin Gordon

The youngest of the lot. Manchester-born, musclebound centre forward who was just four months into his YTS when Terry Dolan gave him his bow in the League Cup against Coventry in September 1995, coming on as sub in both legs as City lost 3-0 on aggregate.

His league debut came the following January, by which time it already seemed inevitable City would be heading back down to the fourth tier, and the goal that put him into the record books came in a 3-2 home defeat by Bristol City in April 1996. He was 16 years and 282 days of age.

He got another from the bench in a home defeat by Crewe before Dolan put him in the starting XI for the final three matches of a catastrophic season, and he confidently put away the opening goal in the notorious, toxic 3-2 defeat by Bradford City at Boothferry Park on the final day. It still looks really weird watching a Hull City player score in front of Bunkers Hill and seeing nobody behind the goal celebrate it.

Injuries and his youthfulness meant that Dolan, inexplicably still in a job, used him sparingly the next season but he got five goals in all competitions, then his time was up when Mark Hateley arrived. He scored two goals in five sub appearances under the new manager, five more than the useless Hateley himself managed during that period, but Matt Hocking’s arrival needed funding so, at still only 18, Gordon was flogged to Lincoln. There he did so well he ended up at Cardiff in a £550,000 deal while still just 20 years old.

It never worked for him in Wales due to injuries and competition for places, and he ended his senior career at Notts County. Until recently he was still playing and coaching at non-league Sleaford Town.

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FAMOUS FIVE: City in the FA Cup third round

“The greatest day in the football calendar”, say some. “A day off to go on the lash”, say many a first team player. FA Cup third round day has lost some of its charm today, but it does still hold some great memories. And of course, a few crap ones – quite a few, in City’s case. We have five City-centric days in the last *keeps multiplying by two* 64 of the competition for you…

1: 2014 v Middlesbrough

3CupBoroIt’s rare that Teesside can act as the location for the beginning of something uniquely beautiful, but all successful FA Cup teams have to start their run somewhere, and for once, City were destined to be a successful FA Cup team in 2014. Of course, nobody knew this when the draw sent us up to the Riverside in January, and Steve Bruce made sure everyone’s dreams of victory, progress, Wembley, Europe, global domination even, were stiffly dulled by picking a half-strength side, allowing fringe strikers Aaron McLean and Nick Proschwitz a rare game.

But the two players in question didn’t read the script, if there ever was one. They propelled the new issue pink ball into the Boro goal once each as City’s run all the way to the final commenced professionally and emphatically, but they were nowhere near the remainder of the adventure, as Bruce sold the pair of them before the month was out. There’s gratitude for you.

2: 1931 v Blackpool

3Cup1931So there was the glorious run of 2014 that ended in defeat to Arsenal in the final, then it was very much a case of after the Lord Mayor’s show, as we got Arsenal – again – in 2015 and went out very, very early. A return to the norm. Prior to 2014, City’s best run in the FA Cup had been as a relegation-doomed Second Division side in 1930, which inexplicably beat a handful of seriously big teams before succumbing to, erm, Arsenal in a semi-final replay. It’s not quite symmetrical, but it feels like a pattern nonetheless.

The Tiger Nation who supported the club during the Depression era (which could be any generation of the Tiger Nation, all told) were presumably not blaming the FA Cup run for their relegation and couldn’t wait to embark on yet another life-enhancing escapade in the competition when it swung round again the following season.

City, despite being now of Division Three North, were given a bye from rounds one and two and in the third round were paired up with Blackpool, who had left the second tier in the opposite direction the previous season. Though the two sides were now two divisions apart, Blackpool were struggling in their new surroundings and City, with home advantage, felt capable of a mini-shock and another jaunt to glory in the FA Cup, especially against a side whom they had dispatched in the fourth round the previous season. The divisional gap felt almost incidental; the omens were just too good.

So naturally, City lost 2-1. The Depression era felt even more real.

3: 1975 v Fulham

3CupWaggySignificant FA Cup tie between Second Division rivals for two reasons, though neither were apparent at the time. Firstly, the initial game at Craven Cottage saw the last FA Cup appearance in City colours of Ken Wagstaff. Having scored City’s goal in a 1-1 draw, he didn’t make it to the end of the match due to a knee injury which would force him into retirement before the end of the calendar year, and an iconic City career was over.

Secondly, once Fulham finally beat City by a single goal in a neutral third game at Leicester City’s Filbert Street (the replay at Boothferry Park had ended 2-2), they embarked on a run that would see them reach the final, where they lost to West Ham United and two goals scored by future City striker Alan Taylor. Aside from their being outplayed completely at Wembley, it was City who gave them their toughest test on the way to what remains their only FA Cup final appearance.

4: 2009 v Newcastle

3CupNewcWhile the first game at the Circle was a goalless draw that irritated everybody involved, the replay was quite an occasion for City. The context was set down firmly, with Newcastle a basket case of a club thanks to boardroom meddling and paperclip appointments leading to Kevin Keegan quitting and the notorious ‘COCKNEY MAFIA OUT’ banner going on a tour of St James’ Park on the day City won there in the Premier League.

We didn’t expect to play Newcastle again quite so soon, so the third round draw felt like an opportunity. City twice hit the frame of the goal in a largely uninteresting first game, so it was back up to Tyneside. City took a huge number of supporters, sang retro songs all evening (a tradition as important in FA Cup ties of the era as Phil Brown’s change to a black shirt) rode some luck with Michael Owen missing a sitter and Nicky Butt hitting the bar, and then won the game in the 82nd minute with Daniel Cousin sliding in a cross from Richard Garcia. It was, remarkably, City’s first success in a third round tie for 20 years.

It was also the one time that season – and the final time ever – that City wore the very popular white away kit of 2007/08, avoiding an embarrassing repeat of the Premier League game when City, with a flint-coloured away kit, had to wear Newcastle shorts and socks. Meanwhile, Newcastle’s joke of a manager Joe Kinnear got so worked up after a touchline row with Phil Brown that he ended up needing heart bypass surgery.

The FA Cup run continued to the quarter finals, when it was – YES – Arsenal who brought it to an end, while Newcastle did City yet another favour by not winning on the final day of the Premier League season and taking the last relegation place.

5: 1992 v Chelsea

3CupDolanCity were back in the third tier after a seven year period of careful avoidance, thanks to a wretched 1990/91 season under principally the overspending, outspoken, unpleasant Stan Ternent, who was sacked by the club for the first time. Still, we had Terry Dolan now in charge, so all would be well…

Dolan did six years with City but in truth the final two seasons are the ones which make him reviled for life by supporters who were there, as although the football under his tenure was never exactly watchable, he built teams that could be hard to beat and not afraid of being out on their feet by the final whistle. However, the first signs of Dolan’s difficulty in outwitting opponents came during the same period when an underperforming Chelsea were drawn out of the hat for a visit to Boothferry Park in January 1992.

City had sold prolific striker Andy Payton for £750,000 in November 1991, and the barren run immediately began. It was no coincidence. Chelsea arrived seven winless games into what would eventually be a total of 11, and won more than comfortably with a headed goal in front of Bunkers by a gleeful Vinnie Jones and a second half shot from Dennis Wise, both of whom had won the FA Cup with Wimbledon four seasons earlier. City simply did not compete in the game and there were much mutterings that a very ordinary Chelsea team had triumphed so easily.

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FAMOUS FIVE: City on New Years Day

There is no New Years Day game for City this season for the first time since 2012, although they are less common than you may think. The calendar – both the footballing one and the Gregorian one – has much say on this, as does the weather at a more instant level, but generally City haven’t had as many as is assumed. Not that it’s an especially memorable footballing day of course, and in compiling this little list, we’ve tried to look at context and sub-plots in making our choices. That doesn’t explain entry number three, mind – blame laziness for that or, better still, blame City…

1: 1st January 1990

Ternant, StanWhen one considers the prime candidacy of the 1990s to run away with the title of “worst decade in City’s history, ever”, it is gratifying a generation on to see how well City played in their very first game of the new decade. Of course, context is always everything, and at the time the Tigers were trying to burrow their way out of a relegation battle, having begun the season with Colin Appleton’s 16-game spell of uselessness which left us winless and humiliated at the bottom of what was still then known, accurately, as the Second Division.

Stan Ternent then came in and began to rescue the season. City had won three in a row under the brusque, belligerent, bespectacled curmudgeon as 1989 fizzled out, but few performances on his watch were better than the 3-2 win over Sunderland, a yo-yo club over the previous decade but still a mighty presence at this level, and one of the few teams with a fanbase that demanded the hasty checking of the safety certificate for the north east corner of Boothferry Park.

City took the lead on 12 minutes through a piece of opportunism by Andy Payton, then Wayne Jacobs scored in similar circumstances against a Sunderland defence playing as if they’d brought in the new decade a bit too enthusiastically at Finos the night before, though obviously the great and good Tony Norman, a City legend making his first return to his old club after a ludicrous transfer the previous season, had been tucked up in bed by 9.

The second half saw Sunderland’s comeback begin with a free header from sub Thomas Hauser, but within a minute Peter Swan had climbed majestically to power a Billy Askew corner into the top of the net to restore the cushion. Marco Gabbiadini snuck in a deflected shot with 15 minutes left, but City held on for a fourth straight win, and a fifth from eight since Ternent took over.

City ended the season in a comfortable 14th, a bizarre joint-highest position since their first season back in the second tier in 1985/86. Swan’s goal at Roker Park completed a double over Sunderland in April, though the Mackems still went up, rather spawnily, after their play-off conquerors Swindon Town were barred from entering the First Division due to making irregular payments to players.

2: 1st January 1955

MannionWIt looks an otherwise insignificant game – City at home to Nottingham Forest, both in the bottom half of the Second Division. City were actually in a catastrophic run of form, with no wins in their previous nine games. Forest weren’t faring much better, and had already lost to City at their own place back in August, which had been part of a purple patch for City of four straight wins that now seemed forever ago.

But as the festive period beckoned, City had found themselves all over the newspapers thanks to a notable, controversial signing. Wilf Mannion, now 36, had won 26 England caps and played at the World Cup in 1950. But the distinguished tenure at hometown club Middlesbrough of the man dubbed the “Golden Boy” had been hit by a contract dispute that trailed Jean Marc Bosman by almost 50 years. Wishing to leave Middlesbrough in 1948, he eventually took an office job after they refused to relinquish his registration, eventually returning a year later after the club agreed to sell him for what would have been a world record £25,000. Even then, Mannion fanned the flames further by refusing to join any club that would pay such a sum, citing a creeping commercialisation in football of which he disapproved.

So it was an outspoken figure, popular with fans but not authority, who joined the Tigers at Christmas 1954. He became City’s oldest debutant in a home defeat to Luton, and then along came Forest. He scored one of City’s goals in a 3-2 defeat, which would turn out to be his only goal for the club. He played for the rest of the season, despite the rest of the January programme succumbing to a harsh winter, and was an influential inside forward as City, who never really emerged fully from their rut, stayed up essentially on their August form. Ipswich and Derby both beat City at the end of the season but still went down.

The story ended peculiarly for Mannion, as he revealed in a newspaper article that he had been offered a financial inducement – or, as it’s more commonly known now, a signing-on fee – of a whopping £3,000 to sign for a club he then refused to name. Unable to wheedle the information out of him, the FA suspended him, and he decided to retire and go into non-league football. He eventually returned to Middlesbrough to work on building sites and a statue of him is outside the Riverside Stadium, and he remained City’s oldest debutant until Andy Hessenthaler’s arrival in 2005.

3: 1st January 1972, 1974, 1977

70steamThe only three New Years Day games of the 1970s (Portsmouth away, Bolton at home, Blackpool away respectively) yielded three goalless draws within three featureless seasons culminating in three mid-table finishes, embodying the dullness of City in the 70s as a whole. All we can say by way of consolation to the players involved is that at least nobody took part in all three matches.

4: 1st January 2008

StokeawayNYD

Indulge your author for a moment, because he has always marked this date down as the one which sparked up his belief that City could actually win promotion to the Premier League for the first time. Yes it was a 1-1 draw (albeit an entertaining one), yes City were still no better off than upper mid-table, and yes we had still to play West Bromwich Albion, who had already marked themselves out as the team to catch for the campaign. But it’s true, and there is audio from that season (somewhere) to back it up. That we’d taken a point off Stoke at theirs, again, was also quite satisfying.

They had taken the lead in the first half with as typically a Stoke goal as it was possible to get, when ex-City defender Leon Cort managed to glance in a Rory Delap long throw, which he wisely chose not to celebrate in front of the City fans this time (though at least part of this may have been because nobody, including him, seemed to realise he’d touched the ball, though Stoke players cleverly congratulated him to persuade the referee, as direct throw-ins into the net are not allowed). But City clawed back into it with a gritty and dynamic second half display, and Caleb Folan, our shiny new £1m signing, got above the tortured Cort to nod in a Dean Windass cross on the hour.

No further goals but we genuinely didn’t look back after this game, despite West Brom doing the expected job on us in front of the TV cameras at the Circle the following week. Meanwhile, New Years Day 2008 also brought a last moment of magnitude with ten minutes left of the game when Stuart Elliott was thrown on as a sub to find a winner. He couldn’t. It was his 193rd and final league appearance for City.

5: 1st January 1966

GymTraining60s

The great goalscoring achievements of the 1965/66 team should never cease to amaze. In winning the Third Division title – lest we forget, the only non-regional title we’ve ever managed – City scored 106 goals, 100 of which came from just five men. The two wingers – Ray Henderson and Ian Butler – got 13 each, the centre forward – Chris Chilton – got 25, and the two inside forwards – Ken Wagstaff and Ken Houghton – got 27 and 22 respectively. Three of these men each only missed one game in all competitions all season and a fourth was ever-present.

Yet because the defence still leaked like a sieve, it seemed nothing was going to be easy, or predictable, or straightforward. City’s main challengers all season were Millwall, and the two played each other on consecutive days just after Christmas 1965, taking a win each. Then along came Swansea Town to Boothferry Park on New Years Day, and the Tigers went to, er, town on them, stung by the shoeing Millwall had given them by three goals, without reply, three days before, which had swapped the sides round at the top of the table and was to be only the second of three occasions all season that City would draw a blank.

A whopping 17,531 fewer people attended the Swansea game than did the previous home match against Millwall, but it didn’t affect anyone’s celebrations. Wagstaff scored first, then Henderson, then Chilton, then Wagstaff again. Swansea, who had beaten City in south Wales back in October, did pull one back, immaterially. Typically, City followed it up with a defeat to an otherwise characterless Swindon side the following week, but then went on a 14-game unbeaten run which produced a preposterous 41 goals (39 from the front five) and made City strong favourites for the title, while simultaneously getting as far as the quarter finals of the FA Cup.

When one looks at those scoring stats again, it remains something of a surprise that no more than three of those five magnificent attacking forces ever scored in the same league game during 1965/66 (though four, with Chilton the exception, managed a goal each in the FA Cup second round tie at Gateshead). It is more of a surprise to learn that four did manage to score in the same match the following season in two consecutive games (and two different foursomes at that), even though the division was far tougher and City as a whole scored 29 fewer goals. Henderson left in 1968 but the others stayed in attack together until 1971 and yet never managed it again. Funny game, football…

On New Years Day 1987, City lost a phenomenal seven-goal thriller against Barnsley at Boothferry Park. But we’ve already written about that. Happy new year to you…

FEAT-SOHC

Boothferry Park 1946-2002 : a photographic retrospective

It is 14 years today since the last game at Boothferry Park. Though we’ve had a lot of success at the KC(om) Stadium, it’s hard not to miss the old place.

1945

Plans for Hull City to move into a new ground on the site of the old Hull Golf Club course were drawn up as early as 1929, but financial difficulty and the onset of World War Two pushed the move back until the 1940s.

1945east

Finally ready for use in 1946, Boothferry Park initially had only one grandstand. Here the framework of the West Stand takes shape.

1940s

To begin with, only the middle third of the North Stand was covered.

1951Bhalt

In 1951, Boothferry Halt was opened, allowing fans to arrive by train on football specials.

1953floodlights1962

Boothferry Park’s first floodlights were installed in January 1953, and the first Hull City home game illuminated by gaslight was a friendly versus Dundee. Here’s the East Stand gantry in 1962/63.

1964floodlights

The gaslight gantries were replaced by six freestanding pylons standing proud over a flat west Hull skyline. The new floodlights were first used in 1964.

1966promotion

A packed South Stand is visible as a pitch invasion signals the start of celebrations, marking City’s 1965/66 Division Three championship title.

1971North

The North Stand as it looked in the early 1970s, with its Hull Savings Bank clock. Financial strife saw the stand bulldozed and replaced by a thin strip of terracing backing on to a Grandways supermarket.

1999turnstiles

‘No cash transfers to seats’ in the South Stand, 1999.

2002Darlo

14th December 2002, the final Hull City game at Boothferry Park. Perhaps fittingly, the Tigers lost the game 1-0 to Darlington.

2003demolition

Just months before the Tigers finally quenched the city’s 104 year thirst for top flight football, demolition work started at Boothferry Park in 2008.

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NOSTALGIA: 20 years from Duane Darby’s double hat-trick

DarbyBall

On Saturday 17th November 1996, Hull City AFC travelled to play Whitby Town in the first round of that season’s FA Cup.

Not that they travelled to Whitby itself. On police advice, it was played on a Sunday afternoon at the McCain Stadium, home of (then) fellow dungeon-dwellers Scarborough when Whitby’s 3,500 capacity Turnbull Ground was deemed unfit for the visit of a local League club.

So off to North Yorkshire we went, with City a miserable wreck of a club. Martin Fish was the incumbent and widely reviled chairman, and Terry Dolan the swaggering but inept manager. The Bradford riot and the overall trauma of 1995/96 were still fresh in the memory, and after a bright-ish start back in the Fourth Division we’d won only one of the previous ten games – coincidentally including a 3-2 defeat away at Scarborough.

Tigers 2000 were in full cry at this time, but agreed to a ceasefire at the seaside in an attempt to spur City through this obviously winnable tie and to possible cup success. It made no difference as City drew an abysmal game in heavy rain. 3,337 were present, at least half from Hull, and they weren’t happy.

City won their next game, 2-0 against Torquay on a Tuesday night that saw just 1,775 file into Boothferry Park – the lowest League gate in our history, a figure that is unlikely to ever be matched. A 0-0 draw at distant Exeter was next, three days before the date of the replay: Tuesday 26th November 1996.

There were 2,900 that turned up, an improvement on the previous Tuesday’s record gate mostly brought about by visiting Whitby fans, who numbered about 700 and were an understandably excited presence in at the supermarket end of the Ark.

Things started well. Kicking away from the sparsely populated Bunkers, a long and unusually accurate free-kick by Steve Wilson was nodded onto Duane Darby, about fifteen yards from goal and with a brace of blueshirts in attendance. A quick swivel of the hips set him free of both and a shot high over the Whitby keeper Dave Campbell made it 1-0 to City.

There were just eight minutes gone. A comfortable evening ahead?

As if. Within a couple of minutes Paul Pitman had equalised for Whitby after finding a pocket of space via an uncontested flick-on from a deep free-kick, and when Robinson made it 2-1 to Whitby with barely twenty minutes played, things weren’t going to plan.

DarbyGoal

Back came the Tigers, who levelled when a strong run from Jamie Marks on the right culminated in a left-footed shot that was ineptly pawed straight into Darby’s path, and the ball almost hit the City forward and looped over the turfbound Campbell. Whether Darby really needed to goad the distraught Whitby fans is a moot point. He did anyway.

Half an hour gone, 2-2. This was already not a normal evening, and if the quality of play was really quite terrible, it was at least engrossing stuff.

Whitby couldn’t see it out to half-time as they were again cut open on the right. Richard Peacock advanced into space before slipping through a lovely ball to the onrushing Darby, whose tidy finish was too good for Campbell. This time, he stayed clear of the visiting fans, probably with an eye on the matchball his first-half hat-trick had earned him. Half-time, 3-2.

Surely City would now see it out against presumably tiring part-time opponents?

Oh.

The second half was a grim, nightmarish experience. A long ball from deep on the left wing saw City’s horribly ill-positioned defence plundered, two men pushing out as one stayed deep, and exposing Steve Wilson – he came off his line and clumsily fouled the lone Whitby man in the area, leaving the referee with a straightforward penalty to award.

Willo was fortunate not to see any sort of card for the foul, but he had no such luck with the penalty as Pitman expertly sent it high into the corner. 3-3 with the second half having only just begun.

It quickly got worse, as it generally did in those days. Just five minutes later Whitby were awarded another penalty, this time incorrectly for a supposed handball. Up stepped Pitman again, and he duly become the night’s second hat-trick scorer with another fine penalty. City 3-4 Whitby.

Still, over 35 minutes to go, surely class (relatively, of course) would tell? But it wouldn’t. With their prospect of reaching the second round for only the third time in their history, adrenaline coursed through the visitors, more than making up for the supposed gulf in ability and fitness. Boothferry Park quietly seethed as the boisterous Seasiders increasingly believed a cup scalp was to be theirs, while Dolan glowered on the touchline as his charges unconvincingly tried to get back into the game.

Plenty were edging towards the corners of Bunkers as injury time began, preparing for a hasty getaway when the whole sordid affair was brought to a close.

Step forward Mr Duane Darby.

DarbyWhitby

Only in the side after a late decision to play through a bout of illness, and with City hardly blessed with a preponderance of good forwards anyway, he’d probably not expected to see the whole game out. Then again, we didn’t expect to be losing in the final minute to a non-league side. Dolan kept him on, and was rewarded when a cross by Ian Wright from the right to the near post saw Darby steal a yard on his marker and flay an unstoppable volley past Campbell.

The relief among the City fans was as intense as the desolation felt by the shattered Whitby players, who must surely have felt that after 180 minutes, they’d had their chance and blown it.

So it proved, with an extra-time period as surreal as anything that had preceded it in this truly unique tie. City swiftly took the lead for the third time when a move down Whitby’s right culminated in Richard Peacock steering home a cross. 5-4.

Just 35 seconds after the evening’s twelfth kick-off it was 6-4. An exhausted Whitby player completely miscontrolled a hooked clearance from a team-mate, allowing Darby to pinch possession, hare goalwards and calmly place the ball past Campbell before resuming his love affair with the visiting fans.

Surely, for the love of Justin Whittle, City couldn’t mess up their first two-goal advantage of the evening?

They could not.

Whitby were completely done by this stage, barely able to string a pass together and leaving huge gaps everywhere. Finally, fitness was telling. It was 7-4 shortly after the second half of extra time began when a loose clearance from Campbell was picked up by Neil Mann. He jinked into the area and squared the ball to Darby, whose glorious backheeled finish secured the game’s eleventh goal and his double hat-trick.

Still City weren’t quite finished, as Bunkers lustily chanted “we want ten”. There was time for one more goal, when a sumptuous volley from Mann made it 8-4 with three minutes remaining.

And that concluded the scoring. The 2,900 filed out of Boothferry Park quite unable to believe what they had seen. Twelve goals. Eight for City. A double hat-trick (and a cruelly overlooked single hat-trick). A last minute equaliser. Extra-time. Records tumbled that evening, ones that will probably prove as durable as the unhappy one that was set seven days earlier at home to Torquay.

Such was the club’s predicament in those days that by the time Darby was able to pose with a Mitre Ultimax, the floodlights were already off; his beaming smile was enough to pierce the November gloom anyway.

No City player before or since has scored six times in one game, and there’s every chance that record will survive us all. On a national level, Darby’s achievement will forever put him alongside none other than George Best in the FA Cup stats books, as Best also got a double hat-trick in a tie against Northampton back in 1970. Only Ted MacDougall, while with Bournemouth in 1971, has scored more in a single FA Cup tie – Darby would have needed a further hat-trick to match the Scotsman’s achievements in a first round game against Margate, which Bournemouth eventually won 11-0.

Darby’s sixer was the peak of a generally successful spell at City that yielded a total of 28 goals in 79 appearances since his 1996 arrival from Doncaster. However, in 1998, he left for Notts County, probably a better bet for long-term prosperity than City at the time, only to return for a brief and goalless loan period in 1999. He then went to Rushden & Diamonds, his fifth professional club, and the one at which he arguably had the most success, racking up 47 goals in three years and a promotion to the Football League. We were to cross paths with him four times during his spell at Nene Park, though he failed to score past the Tigers.

By 2003 and aged 30, he was at League Two side Shrewsbury, adding another 13 goals to his career tally and a further Conference promotion, but then followed the familiar path of the lower league striker. He joined Nuneaton as a player-coach in 2006, by then aged 33, before gradually dropping through the footballing pyramid. A native of Birmingham, his later days were all spent in that city’s orbit at such outposts as Hednesford, Evesham, Alvechurch and finally Redditch.

City were comfortably the biggest club he played for, despite our desperate situation during his time at Boothferry Park. He’s well remembered as a burly, effective lower league striker, as he is at the other clubs he found success at: Torquay, Rushden and Shrewsbury. And he’ll always have memories of THAT night, and a place in history no-one can erase.

He, and City, were not to be rewarded for eventually overcoming Whitby. Tigers 2000 may have suspended hostilities for the FA Cup, but the second round saw us hammered 5-1 at home by Crewe to brusquely end any dreams of a glamorous, lucrative third round tie. The remainder of that wretched season would be played out amid the backdrop of mutual loathing between Fish and Dolan and the few remaining City fans – we ended the season with an average gate of 3,282 and finished a rotten 17th.

It was a much happier season for Whitby. Quite apart from their footnote in footballing history, they won the Northern League Championship and then the FA Vase, beating North Ferriby United at Wembley. That was followed up with another title success the season after. They’ve made the first round proper of the FA Cup twice since, losing a replay to Plymouth in 2001 and suffering a 4-0 defeat at Hartlepool in 2003.

As it happens, groundhoppers denied the opportunity to see City at Whitby Town’s actual home ground did finally get their wish in July 2002, when a friendly was arranged between the sides at the Turnbull Ground. 429 turned up to see a comfortable 3-0 win for Jan Mølby’s City side. But then, as now, all the talk was of Duane Darby and his amazing double hat-trick. It’ll never be repeated, and even twenty years on, it’ll never be forgotten.

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FAMOUS FIVE: Players for City and Sunderland

We go to Sunderland this weekend, a club with whom we have shared a lot of players down the years. Some of the tales are well-thumbed – the upsetting Michael Turner deal, the bizarre triangular arrangement involving Norman, Hesford and Whitehurst, the arrival in Hull of Raich Carter, the merry dances led by Fraizer Campbell’s dad – while currently the two squads have three players with experience of each club. We’ve looked at the rest and picked out five at random for you…

1. John McSeveney
McSeveneyJUndersized winger and ex-miner, capable on each flank, who began his career in his native Scotland with Hamilton Academical before joining Sunderland as a 20 year old in 1951. The Mackems were at the top end of the English game and had acquired the tag of the “Bank of England” club due to the large transfer fees they were prepared to pay.

McSeveney played tidily on the wing in four exciting years on Wearside, with mid-table finishes in his first three years followed by a terrific 1954/55 campaign which saw the top seven clubs separated by just six points. Sunderland finished fourth and got to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, losing to Manchester City. By now, McSeveney was being kept out by Billy Elliot, an England winger who was a huge success at Roker Park, and he was sold to Cardiff in the summer of 1955.

A spell at Newport then followed before he arrived at Boothferry Park for the 1961/62 campaign as one of Cliff Britton’s first signings and showed terrific versatility across the forward line, able to use his low centre of gravity to act the nippy nuisance on the flanks or the off-ball runner supporting the centre forward. He created an awful lot of goals for the emerging Chris Chilton and even outscored him in 1962/63 with 22 goals, a terrific achievement in his first season.

The ever-perfectionist Boothferry Park crowd were not slow to get on his case when his trickery went wrong but McSeveney was known for being unafraid to exchange a few choice words in return, which became part of his legacy after he retired in 1964. He stuck around as a coach and middle man as Britton rebuilt the forward line before becoming manager of Barnsley, and later was a scout and assistant manager at various clubs. He is now 85 and lives in South Yorkshire.

2. Peter Daniel

DanielsPeter

Outstanding full back from the ranks, Hull through and through, and the man who managed to dislodge the long-serving Frank Banks from the first team while still a teenager, to the extent that Banks insisted on an instant sale and, to his later regret, got his wish.

Daniel was very quick indeed, and his natural pace allowed him licence to overlap at every given opportunity and gained him a number of assists courtesy of his darts to the byline. He quickly became an England Under 21 international and was courted by numerous top clubs from the start of the 1977/78 season when it became clear that City were going to struggle to stay in the Second Division.

He left a relegated side to join a promoted side in Wolves, moved into midfield, and set up Andy Gray’s winner in the 1980 League Cup final. He was popular at Molineux but had injury issues, and after Wolves were relegated back to the Second Division, he signed for Sunderland in 1984 via a summer in the States. He only stayed one full season but it was eventful – he played in another League Cup final (losing to Norwich) and Sunderland were then relegated, meaning Daniel had suffered the indignity of consecutive demotions from the top flight.

He joined Lincoln City afterwards in a cost-cutting exercise and, as if to prove these things come in, er, fours, was player-manager (albeit only for two months) when they became the first club to exit the Football League via the automatic trapdoor system in 1987. If he was never given the nickname Jonah (no matter how unfair it would be), he was lucky.

After retiring from the full-time game, Daniel returned to East Yorkshire. He has been manager of pretty much every Yorkshire and Lincolnshire non-league club you can think of.

3. Michael Reddy

ReddyMIrish striker whose goalscoring record at City is somewhat odd, in that he only started one league game but ended up with four goals. His loan move from Sunderland, for whom he had started only a brace of League Cup ties, installed him as backup to the fresh partnership up front of Gary Alexander and Lawrie Dudfield, and he scored against Mansfield and Halifax (twice) before netting the only goal against Torquay in a game more famous for returning City hero Gary Brabin being sent off for the visitors.

Reddy was 21, ambitious and being hyped to the nth degree by Sunderland manager Peter Reid, so he didn’t want to stay any longer at Boothferry Park than he had to, but he was 24 when he finally left Sunderland, without ever starting a league game for them and with four other loan spells around the north of England on his CV.

He became a big-money move for Grimsby Town and while he scored regularly, he also struggled with a hip injury and ended up retiring at the age of 27 when surgery couldn’t correct the problem. He did a bit of travelling – notably marrying a woman from the Falkland Islands – and then took his coaching badges.

4. Eddie Burbanks

BurbanksEYorkshire-born left winger who was a long-term contemporary and chum of Raich Carter, with the two scoring in Sunderland’s FA Cup final win of 1937.

He was a latecomer to the professional game, going up to Wearside at the age of 22, but he had four successful years there prior to the outbreak of war, and a further three afterwards, making more than 150 league appearances.

At 35, he reunited with Carter at Boothferry Park in 1948 and was instrumental in City winning the Division Three North title, though he was injured for most of the FA Cup run that season, including the quarter final defeat by Manchester United.

In his final season, he was mentor to Andy Davidson, with the young Scot occasionally replacing the 39 year old when he needed a rest, and the two eventually appeared twice in the same XI when Davidson dropped back into defence.

Burbanks made his 143rd and final league appearance for City on April 16 1953, two weeks after his 40th birthday.

Even then it wasn’t over as he spent a season at Leeds before retiring, and he settled in Hull to run a shop, like a number of other City stars of the era. He died in 1986.

 

5. John Moore

A skill-free gobbet of Mackem hopelessness whom Eddie Gray signed in the summer of 1988, apparently believing him to be a better option than Andy Payton or Alex Dyer or Andy Saville, who were dropped, marginalised or played out of position to accommodate the new arrival.

Moore was from Consett and came through the ranks at Sunderland but the huge number of loan spells he had over five years at the club suggests that they didn’t really have much faith in him. How they must have laughed when Gray offered £25,000 for him in the summer of 1988. We mean really, really laughed. Guffawed. Hollered and hooted with mirth and disbelief. Gone out on a four-day bender on it, probably.

There wasn’t a lot wrong with Moore’s centre forward play if you can handle watching a striker who cannot control, trap, head the ball, run properly, stay onside, dribble, shake off a marker, pass, challenge aerially, stay fit, look interested or, of course, finish. The boo-boys tore into him early on but Gray stubbornly kept picking him and Moore’s substantial frame visibly sank into the lush Boothferry Park turf a bit more each time.

Even the goal (singular) he did score was accidental, with Ken De Mange’s goalbound shot against Swindon Town smacking Moore on the side of his head as he tried to get out of the way, fooling the goalkeeper entirely. Moore’s defiant fist to the crowd as his team-mates congratulated him suggested a “now I’ll show you” attitude (a prototype of that tossy celebration by Caleb Folan at Portsmouth) but in his remaining four games he just got worse.

Gray substituted him at half time against Birmingham at Boothferry Park after an especially spiteful round of abuse from the South Stand, and he wasn’t seen at a home game again.

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FAMOUS FIVE: City players against England

No City player has ever played for England, of course*, but a decent handful have lined up against them down the years. Robert Snodgrass and David Marshall are in contention to do so for Scotland this weekend, so we’re looking back at five others. No overseas City player has ever done it against England while on our books**, so they’re all from the British Isles…

1: Stuart Elliott

ElliottSCity’s great hero of the lower divisions under Peter Taylor also became a semi-regular Northern Ireland international after joining the Tigers. Two of his 38 appearances came against England when the two sides were put in the same qualifying group for the 2006 World Cup, with wildly mixed results.

Elliott made little impact in England’s 4-0 win at Old Trafford in March 2005, marked out of the game as he was by Gary Neville, but six months later at Windsor Park he was up against the less experienced – and less good – Luke Young and was able to contribute to a fine team performance that resulted in a shock 1-0 win for Lawrie Sanchez’s side. Elliott is the player following in as David Healy’s shot hits the back of the net.

Even by the mid 2000s, City had few international players at any level of the global game, and there was genuine interest in Elliott’s escapades with his country beyond the usual prayers – perhaps appropriately, in his case – that he wouldn’t come back with an injury at a time when we were over-reliant on his goals.

Elliott is only the second City player to feature twice against England for his country while on the books with the club – his fellow Ulsterman Terry Neill was the first.

2: Dave Roberts

Massively underrated and admirably hirsute centre back of the 1970s, spoken of in equal terms to modern heroes of the defensive art by those who saw him play, and a semi-regular for Wales at a time when they had temerity to get to the last eight of the European Championships.

Within his 11 appearances for Wales as a City player, Roberts wore the wonderful 70s Welsh kit with that yellow bordered stripe down from each armpit of the red shirt a number of times. One such game was against England at Wembley in the 1977 Home Championship, which Wales won 1-0 courtesy of a first half penalty from Leighton James.

It was only as a late sub for Leighton Phillips that Roberts made his appearance, but he stiffened up a Wales rearguard that manfully held off swathes of second half England attacks (which included ex-City striker Stuart Pearson) to clinch what remains their only ever win at Wembley. He left City after relegation in 1978, a year before his international manager Mike Smith came to Boothferry Park.

3: Gerry Bowler
A largely unremarkable centre half who spent just one season with City but during that time played in a dually infamous game against England.

Firstly, England won 9-2 (NINE-TWO, as the earliest vidiprinter would have it) with Jack Rowley scoring four times for England in a match played at Manchester City’s old Maine Road ground. Bowler’s debut had come in the previous tie against Scotland, which had ended in an 8-2 (EIGHT-TWO) defeat. Few international careers have started so unpromisingly, you could say, though Bowler was played out of position on both occasions.

Beyond the on-pitch incompetence, though, political storms were brewing as Bowler and co were playing for what was effectively a united Ireland side, as two teams existed but players from either side of the border were eligible for each, leading to the ludicrous situation of some players featuring in two different sides during a World Cup qualifying campaign. FIFA put a stop to it afterwards and the FAI and the IFA were told to pick players born within their own borders only (until Jack Charlton and others found a way round it a generation later).

Bowler, born in Londonderry, only played for the incarnation north of the border anyway, preventing us from having the novelty of a player to be picked by two different national associations. He featured in all three games in that 1949/50 tournament (the third was a goalless draw against Wales) and at the end of that season he left City for Millwall and his international career ended simultaneously.

4: Andy Robertson

Not just played, but scored. Good day all round for City fans that care about the international team – win the match but see a promising City player, still in new and fresh surroundings at both levels of the game, score a cracking consolation for the opposition. And this was when he was a meagre 20 years of age and still a year away from getting his first goal for City.

Robertson is only the second serving City player to score against England – Neill, again, was the first, in 1972 (Neill is the first at pretty much everything when it comes to linking City players with international football) – and the gifted left back would have been first pick to play at Wembley this weekend but for his injury. Whether the Scotland hierarchy have checked the birth history of Josh Tymon’s family is unclear.

5: Alan Jarvis

JarvisATireless midfielder of the mid 1960s, one of the workhorses that did all the unglamorous stuff while the likes of Chilton and Wagstaff took the glory, Wrexham-born Jarvis acquired all three of his Wales caps in a six month period following City’s Third Division title win of 1966.

The second of these appearances was in a 5-1 cuffing by an England side whose success in the World Cup certainly ran City a close second for most impressive footballing achievement of the year. Alf Ramsey’s men carried an aura and a mystique that made lesser men weaken visibly, and he notably picked the exact same winning XI from July that year (for the sixth and final game in a row, in fact), with Jarvis having to do battle with the likes of Nobby Stiles and Alan Ball, both at the top of their game in the middle of the park.

Jarvis stayed at City until 1971 but found himself marginalised at club level as the likes of Malcolm Lord and Billy Wilkinson began to get more games. His international career ended almost as soon as it began.

*Gordon Wright was registered with Cambridge University at the time of his only full England cap.
**Jozy Altidore was never a fully-registered Hull City player and his loan spell with the Tigers was over by the time he lined up for the USA against England at the 2010 World Cup.

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FAMOUS FIVE: Own goals by City players

Michael Dawson’s effort was a bit pathetic, wasn’t it? It brushed apologetically in off him in a game in which City were competitive, and left ample time for an equaliser, while garnering him and the team extensive sympathy afterwards. Cuh. If you’re going to score an own goal, do a proper job of it. Make it heartbreaking, or spectacular, or career-defining, or comical, or totally worthless in the context of the game. Like these were…

1: Kamil Zayatte v Aston Villa, 2008/09

OGVillaZayatteWe had a bit of a selection to pick from with the Guinean defender, of course, as he became renowned for spannering the ball between his own sticks on a notable handful of occasions during his eventful period with the club. But the most notorious – and the most costly – was the one against Aston Villa at the Circle in the final game of 2008.

City were freefalling down the Premier League table in their first ever season of top flight football, while Villa were their usual effective, slightly charmless, moderately unambitious selves in the upper half of the table. On a bitter December night, with the nation watching on TV, City had a Nick Barmby goal disallowed for blundering into ex-Tigers loanee keeper Brad Guzan in a game generally of few chances, and as injury time approached, a goalless stalemate looked likely.

For City, it would have been quite welcome after a run of games which had yielded just one win in nine, having lost two in the previous ten days. But when Ashley Young turned Sam Ricketts on his backside and galloped for the byline, trouble was clearly afoot. Zayatte was closest to the ball as it was whipped towards Gabriel Agbonlahor at the near post and had to do something; sadly, what he had to do was not stab it past a helpless Boaz Myhill and into his own net.

City fans were sickened, but their devastation turned to anger when posturing ref Steve Bennett awarded a penalty for handball near the Villa crossbar, then gave in to protests from the visiting players and changed his mind. That he was actually right to do so when viewing the replay still feels neither here nor there. City only won once again all season and stayed up on the final day.

2: Gareth Williams v York City, 1999

OGWilliamsGWhat can you say? It was a shocking mistake by Williams, who had always been something of a reliable presence in the City squad during the two loan spells in his early career and then after his permanent move from Scarborough. But lower division players are such for many reasons, and the occasional brainfart is one of them.

John Eyre had only just given City the lead at Boothferry Park when a cross hit too deeply by Mark Sertori seemed easy pickings for Williams. He could have left it, he could have chested it down and raced away with it, he could have played safe and nodded it away for a throw-in or, at worst, a corner. To be fair to him, he didn’t panic – his aim was to guide the ball gently back to Lee Bracey. Unfortunately, where he put the ball bore no resemblance to the position Bracey found himself in.

York’s fans celebrated, and so did their mascot. Williams was clearly unimpressed. Entertainment wise, nothing could beat a player scoring a daft own goal and then being baited by a bloke in a lion  suit, and so the remaining hour of the game was uneventful.

3: Dave Bamber v Brighton, 1990

OGBamberIt’s probably the most notorious own goal in City history, scored by one of the most notorious players in City history. Quite a combination, really.

Bamber was an expensive, boneidle liability whose habit of scoring frequently against City could inevitably not be transferred to scoring frequently for City after he joined for £125,000 in 1990. But he was quite able to score against us, still.

A night trip to Brighton, then. A corner is forced. It’s swung in, quite dangerously but, it seems no Brighton player is set on making a late run to challenge Bamber, back on the far post allegedly “helping” the defence. What went through his mind over the next second or two is anyone’s guess but the header was placed impeccably, calmly. That it was in the wrong net seemed to escape Bamber’s notice during what was a craven act of dimwittery.

City lost 2-0 and Bamber rarely looked like he was worth his colossal salary, to the extent that he was actively hated rather than pitied by the time he was packed off the following season. This website related to his badness as a footballer every season since inception and his own goal at the Goldstone Ground played a leading role in the lifelong acrimony aimed his way by City fans.

4: Mike Edwards v Rushden & Diamonds, 2001
That time the ball smacked him full in the face.

5: Neil Buckley v Notts County, 1991

OGBuckleyThird round day in the FA Cup. A popular, keenly-awaited day in the game’s calendar. It’s one, however, that Neil Buckley won’t forget in a hurry as he scored the first two goals in a seven-goal thriller at Boothferry Park against Notts County.

Sadly, the first was into his own net as City failed to deal with a long throw from their own former full back Charlie Palmer. Buckley was unfortunate as Iain Hesford had come flying out to deal with the throw and, typically, got nowhere near the ball and the City defender certainly had to do something. Just not this.

To his credit, Buckley didn’t take long to head in the equaliser, so we’ve included this because there aren’t many examples of City players scoring for both teams in a match. The recovery on a personal level didn’t extend to the team, mind, as the game wound up with five of the seven goals going in City’s net, resulting in the usual instant exit from the Cup.