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FINAL PODCAST: Allam Out

That’s it, we are no more. Have this final podcast on us, about everything that has happened since Amber Nectar began in 1998. We’ve had a good ride, and on this final occasion a good reminisce, and now we’re closing the door for the final time.

Thank you to all who appeared on the podcast, all who listened/viewed and all who responded to what we said, week on week, season on season. And we’ve been taken by surprise at the number of extremely charitable comments that have come our way via numerous sources since we announced our decision to bring this to an end. We’re extremely touched and indescribably grateful.

We’ll see you at City. We’ll always see you at City.

Allam Out.

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PODCAST: “Windmilling my compact todger…”

A final podcast to look at 2018/19 (we’ll do another one at the end of this week to say farewell…) and it includes…

* The closing game against Bristol City

* Farewell moments for Campbell and Grosicki

* Adkins’ status

* “Do A Deano”

* Staying up a decade ago after games against Bolton and Manchester United

Clicky-woo…

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Things We Think We Think #334

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1. It’s been a slightly doleful week in some ways. The funeral of City legend Peter Skipper at the shockingly young age of 61 cast a midweek shadow over the club and city, one that was certainly never going to be banished by an end of season dead rubber. Credit to City though, their matchday tribute to the ex-Tigers captain was fitting. RIP Skip. You entertained and inspired a huge number of your fellow Hull folk.

2. The launch event of Amber Nectar alumni Richard Gardham’s constitutive book ‘The Decade’ was a much needed infusion of ebullience however. What was vividly evident was the deep and authentic love that many people have for Hull City Association Football Club  For some it’s on hold, but undoubtedly still there, and it found joyous expression on Saturday night. City fans and ex-players were in violent agreement that the club will be ours again, and will rise again, after the parasitic infection currently ailing it is finally banished.

3. You don’t own a copy of The Decade? Buy it now!

4. Sunday’s season finale was more entertaining than was expected wasn’t it? City have a historical tendency to be quite accommodating to teams that need a result on the last day, but we bucked the trend and were easily the better side in a game against a team who started the game with play off aspirations. Some of the performances of young players gave us cause for hope that next season might not be the inevitable relegation battle that this season threatened to be for a while. George Long looked assured and quasi-commanding in nets, and Robbie McKenzie looked assured and composed in his preferred full back role.

5. We can’t truthfully say we mourn the failure to make the top six this season. Of course, it’d have been amazing, and there were a couple of times when our customary cynicism found itself wobbling. Ultimately, we didn’t challenge quite seriously enough, never actually made the top six and fell short with a lack of squad depth and real top-level quality. It never felt seriously on, even if it was fun to talk about. And naturally, that atrocious start was always going to hurt – it’s still quite an achievement that this weekend wasn’t spent in a torment of relegation-based anxiety. So, 13th constitutes a real success this season for Adkins and his players, and we salute them for it.

6. However, if we don’t regret a midtable finish, the end of 2018/19 is tinged with sadness for players we won’t see in black and amber again. Jarrod Bowen is destined for bigger and better things, and we wish him well (and hope that his eight-figure sale fee is reinvested into the club, rather than funnelled elsewhere). Fraizer Campbell enhanced his reputation during his second spell at the club, and will forever command a considerable mention in the Hull City story. He hopefully has another very good move left in his career, and let us hope that he remembers us as fondly as we will him.

7. Kamil Grosicki has been divisive for much of his time here, but his best form has undoubtedly been this season, a time when he’s also looked more integrated into the group than before. It’s possible he’ll stay, though clearly unlikely. This is the last chance City will have to get a couple of million pounds for him, and his wages wouldn’t sit comfortably with an ambitious Championship club, let alone Hull City. If/when he goes, his legacy will probably the subject of debate, because his application has been so erratic. At least he saved the best until last, and his talent is a rare one at this level. We’ll miss that, if nothing else.

7a. If his final notable contribution to Hull City’s cause is flicking the ear lobe of an opponent he felt wronged by, well that’s just serendipitously beautiful.

8. It looks as though we may soon be missing Nigel Adkins, too. When City were tussling with Ipswich for possession of 24th last autumn, there was no guarantee he’d survive 2018, and little chance that the following summer he’d have the upper hand in new contract negotiations with City. Yet here we are. Adkins is able to (partly) dictate terms and demand guarantees of investment, safe in the knowledge that his overachievement with City has rehabilitated his reputation. He no longer has so few career options that staying amid the slow-motion car-crash of City is his only route to employment. It’s a remarkable turnaround, and one we suspect Ehab Allam is yet to properly appreciate.

9. The EFL’s justification to us about their decision to highlight City’s “family excellence” was something to cherish. There’s the hugely patronising assertion that capering mascots, pre-match antics and concourse adornments are why families go to football – sometimes, it really is because of a shared love of football, the atmosphere, the occasion, rather than generically identikit McEntertainment. But even if we overlook that arrant nonsense, the idea that ANY quantity or quality of extracurricular gadding about is relevant if families can’t afford to get in because the owners refuse to offer concessions is ridiculous. The EFL is a seething nest of simpletons.

9a. And what happened to the announcement about “family” discounts anyway? In its presently degenerate condition, this is a club with a lengthy history of broken promises, so another one isn’t going to spoil the summer. But it’s a reminder that the club needs an extensive clean-out off the pitch.

10. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that for TWTWT in 2018/19. We’ll have a last match/end of season review podcast at 7pm tomorrow night; then pop back later in the week for a bit of news about the site and podcast. Thank you for being with us throughout another characteristically turbulent, eventful and sometimes even enjoyable season of Hull City AFC. Have a bloody brilliant summer…

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PODCAST: “God bless the man’s gables…”

Our penultimate podcast of the season features our longtime friend and contributor Richard Gardham, whose book, The Decade, is now on sale and is already an Amazon best-seller. It focuses principally on the 2000-2010 era of Hull City and all the drama and success that went with it, and features contributions from nearly 200 ex-players, managers, owners, journalists and supporters.

Richard is best known on our forums as Officer Crabtree, and is responsible, among other things, for the exceptional tributes to Raich Carter, Ian Ashbee and Nick Barmby featured elsewhere on this website.

Aside from discussing his book (which makes the podcast more than an hour long, for which we do not apologise in the slightest!), we also discuss:

* the 2-2 draw at Swansea

* Jarrod Bowen’s return to goalscoring

* the forthcoming finale against Bristol City

* the EFL’s ludicrous award to City for “family excellence” – and their reaction to AN’s protest

* two games from 2008/09 – Villa away and Stoke at home

It’s all here, along with beer, flying pens, obscure references to 80s sophisti-pop and shirts that never existed … and a bit of swearing.

Richard’s book is officially launched this Saturday at Mr Chu’s in Hull, 7.30pm onwards, to which all fans are invited (although you are asked to book with Mr Chu’s in advance). Numerous ex-Tigers will be in attendance. Books will be on sale that night subsequently at Waterstones in Hull and the Cut-Price Bookstore in Beverley. The Dove House Hospice is the worthy beneficiary of all proceeds, and their shops will also be selling the book.

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Things We Think We Think #333

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1. Four-fifths of the way through the 2-2 draw at Swansea, the most popular refrain among frustrated City fans was surely “on the beach”. City were labouring their way to a routine loss in South Wales – not an uncommon experience for those of a certain age – while the home side were enjoying a win that wouldn’t extend their season given results elsewhere, but was still a satisfactory cuffing of the English.

2. City did look as though they were slightly phoning it in, too. That isn’t to wholly detract from Swansea, who (as per the Sheff Utd debacle) were highlighting the difference between a side needing it and one not. They were pretty sharp, too much so for a City side that was oddly set up and seemed bewildered by Swansea’s inventive running and passing. But more needed doing to contend with a side we spent much of 2019 above in the table.

3. Then…we scored twice in perplexingly quick succession to burgle a draw. And hey, that’s great. The performance no longer really matters, because this side is going to be broken up, not built upon. It ended Swansea’s season, and while that doesn’t quite atone for either of the final day disgraces of 1998 or 2003, it isn’t a bad thing either. It meant a far chirpier trip home for those who’d made a long journey for a dead rubber. Having coughed up three 2-0 leads this year, it made a nice change to experience the reverse. And it gives us a chance of clinging on to a top half finish, which would still be a remarkable achievement.

4. So, well done City for nicking a point. Again, though Adkins’ tactic of pairing Bowen and Grosicki up front didn’t  work, it’s hard to think it matters now. One game to go. That’s Bristol City at home next Sunday – at lunchtime, for some ridiculous reason. They’ve choked their play-off bid quite heartbreakingly too. One point from their last four games has been an ill-timed collapse for the Robins, and if they don’t win at Millwall tomorrow night, they’ll be arriving here with nothing to play for. But if they do need something, they need only watch the tape of City v Sheff Utd for tips on how to overpower a City side with knack-all to play for…

5. Nigel Adkins is persisting with his ploy of prioritising players who’ll still be here next season. It’s been inconsistently applied – Kane and Campbell missed out on Saturday, but Bowen and Grosicki started. Though perhaps that’s just because we don’t have a normal-sized squad. Anyway, it means we’ve already seen the last of David Marshall in goal, and Kane himself – but will we get to bid farewell to Campbell, Bowen and Grosicki on Sunday? It’d be nice to think so, though Adkins must also be aware that the club’s policy of selling anyone any good is best protected by shielding them from potential injury in meaningless matches.

6. Bowen, clearly, only has a maximum of one City game left. The same probably applies to Grosicki, and certainly to Campbell. We’re just about sentimental enough to want to give Fraizer Campbell a good farewell. The modern Hull City AFC story owes much to him, and he’s only added to his reputation during his second spell at the club.

7. Meanwhile, the three of them have 43 goals League goals this season, a clear majority of those scored by City. All are going, none will be properly replaced. Anyone eyeing up Norwich’s midtable finish of 2017/18 and subsequent promotion this season and thinking we may do the same is badly deluded. We may well exit the Championship in 2019/20, but it won’t be via its upper reaches.

8. Meanwhile, the furore concerning the mishandling of the Sheff Utd game has rumbled on. The Supporters’ Trust has demanded answers, while we’ve submitted a Freedom of Information request to Humberside Police, seeking to ascertain their role. Filming City fans while ignoring Sheff Utd fans isn’t what a proper police force do, while the SMC and Hull City themselves have questions to answer. Not new questions, of course – whatever they actually say, it’s always been club practice to let away fans in the home ends, but the more it becames clear throughout football that you can easily buy tickets for home stands at the Circle, celebrate goals and the worst that’ll happen is that the stewards will accommodatingly assist you into the away end, or just let you enjoy your day where you already are, the more it’ll happen.

9. The EFL, taking time out from its ghastly approach to desperate affairs at Bolton, made us darkly laugh through the week. Hull City, it turns out, practice “Family Excellence”, and were feted for this last week. Family Excellence, eh? From a club that has the most explicitly anti-family policies in all of English football. No wonder the EFL’s reputation lies alongside that of the Allams in a particularly noxious gutter.

9a. City, at their most recent begrudging meeting with fans (except the Trust, natch) promised more details about a “family deal” that’s coming soon. Funny how we still haven’t heard a thing about it. Almost as if they’re waiting for the season to be over before announcing just how pathetically limited it’ll be – members-exclusive, South Stand Upper, available June-July only, that sort of thing.

10. We’ll be podcasting tomorrow, with our special guest Richard Gardham. He’ll be kindly joining us to talk about his (very popular and very large) book The Decade: ten years that transformed Hull City AFC, which you can buy here.

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PODCAST: Dedicated to Peter Skipper

peterskipperThe latest Amber Nectar podcast does talk about City’s recent disappointments against West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield United, but we dedicate it in its entirety to Peter Skipper, and devote the first section of it to his memory.

Skipper, a Hull boy who signed from local football as a teenager, died suddenly over the weekend at the age of 61. He had two spells with City between 1979 and 1988, playing 327 senior games.

A hard-as-nails central defender, he formed a colossal partnership with Dale Roberts in the 1982/83 promotion season under Colin Appleton and later became known for his kinship at the back with Richard Jobson after Brian Horton became manager.

In 1984/85 he scored the goal at Walsall that earned a second promotion for City in three seasons, one of 22 goals he acquired for the first team, and in 1985/86 he started a Full Members Cup tie at Southampton in goal after regular keeper Tony Norman hurt his back on the coach journey.

Skipper was ousted at the start of the 1988/89 season by Steve Terry, and joined Oldham Athletic. He later returned to Hull and became a popular, hardworking figure with the Ex-Tigers Association, as well as doing hosting duties for many years at the KCOM Stadium on match days.

He will be sorely missed, and we dedicate this podcast to him. Our sympathy goes out to his family, friends and former team-mates.

Next week’s podcast will feature Amber Nectar writer and longtime contributor Richard Gardham, ahead of the launch of his new book The Decade, which is available now on Amazon.

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Things We Think We Think #332

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1. The Wigan match superficially resembled its predecessor in many ways: trailing at the interval to ostensibly inferior opposition, only to emerge the victors. But the parallels are imprecise. City powered their way to an assured victory against Reading, but rather laboured to the same outcome against the Latics. But for a late winner from a set piece, we’d have left the game bewailing two points cheaply dropped, but not really able to contend that City had done enough to deserve the win.

2. As it was, the win was notched up, and while it was short on quality, it was at least full of character. Lots of sides in City’s position may have rolled over at half-time, the difficulty of the short-term situation and the implausibility of the longer-term goal of a top-six finish combining to produce an on-the-beach performance. Instead, despite a lack of fluency, City kept going. And still, somehow, entered the second week of April with the play-offs STILL a thing that couldn’t be entirely ruled out.

3. City v Wigan isn’t one to get the pulses racing, but in usual circumstances a crowd well in excess of 8,000 might still be reasonably expected given City’s recent home form. 18,000 would once have rocked up for this. Week by week, whatever Adkins and his admirable charges do, more and more people quietly say their goodbyes to supporting Hull City. And still the club do absolutely nothing about it.

4. Jordy de Wijs. There’s a player in there, and he’s excelled at time this season. That’s encouraging, but to see a hopeless miskick redolent of autumn’s dog days present Nick Powell with Wigan’s goal was disappointing. Consolation comes from the fact you can’t easily teach many of things he can do, but can instil greater concentration and the non-too-difficult practice of successfully kicking a football. More focus, fewer miskicks, and there’ll soon be a player good enough to cheaply sold on and inadequately replaced.

5. Because of that the result, Nigel Adkins was correct to say that City travelled to Middlesbrough with no pressure on them. That wasn’t mind games – that unbearably tedious and overhyped practice thankfully not widely seen in the Championship anyway – but just a statement of the obvious. Middlesbrough were expected to challenge for automatic promotion, and now find themselves hoping to snatch a play-off place, while City were expected to be knee-deep in the quagmire marked “relegation” by now. This shouldn’t have been a sixth-place six-pointer.

6. Sadly, all discussion of the play-offs must now take place in the past tense, for that match ended in a 1-0 win for Middlesbrough that keeps their hopes of sixth alive but irrevocably extinguishes ours. And what a disappointment it was as well. City didn’t get going at all in the first half, and their second half rally perhaps merited a point on the pattern of play but lacked conviction.

7. Middlesbrough has long been a graveyard for our dreams, and this dreary 1-0 defeat was no different. Five points adrift with four games left (five for some) means that it is, finally, irretrievably over. It’s a pity that our hopes for the unlikeliest of play-off qualifications couldn’t have survived into Easter, but then the two forbiddingly difficult fixtures we face over that period may ultimately have done for us anyway.

8. It was a fun ride though, and it’s hard to believe just what a season this has been. From a side that sat level with doomed Ipswich in the early part of the season, looking ill-equipped even for the top 21, City surged clear of the bottom three, then the places near it, then into the top half and now the top ten. This has been an impressive season of overachievement in spite of plunging attendances and off-field malevolence, and great credit goes to Nigel Adkins and his players. We live to fight another season in the second tier.

9. Last week saw the fifth anniversary both of the FA saying – for the first and most important time – No To Hull Tigers. The following day saw the fifth anniversary of Assem Allam promising to sell the club within 24 hours as a result. Now, time-keeping isn’t always easy; we’ve occasionally missed kick-off by thinking there was time for one more pint. But we’ve rarely been out by over 180,000%. It’s almost as though the man who brought us the imaginative claim that 98% of fans backed his name change idea routinely experiences difficulty with numbers. And knowing the difference between a fact and a non-fact.

10. Well done to the lads who marked the second anniversary by displaying an Allam Out flag at Allam Marine. They’ve been extraordinarily fortunate that City fans, so drained from the name-change fiasco, have let them off the hook for so long despite their practices. We wonder if that period of indulgence is coming to an end?

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Things We Think We Think #331

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1. Saturday was all quite enjoyable, wasn’t it? Providing you conveniently overlook the first half, of course. That isn’t easy to do; after a bright opening City didn’t respond at all to falling behind, and the game drifted from that point until the interval in a concerning fashion.

 2. Still, game of two halves and all that – and the second was impressive for City. As soon as Grosicki equalised, a win always felt possible, and in the end it was delivered in far more comfortable a fashion than we could have expected even at 3pm, let alone 4pm.

3. Kamil Grosicki eh? Perhaps the highest praise he could be offered is that he no longer divides opinion among City fans – we all think he’s playing brilliantly and worthy of inclusion in the side every week. His two goals were very well taken, for the second time in a week, and while his fellow winger Bowen had a rare quiet game, he alone was too much for Reading to handle in an exhilarating second half.

4. Marc Pugh is easy to admire. A lively attacking figure who pinched the decisive second goal, his willingness to always look forward is bracing and his late runs were a menace to the Royals all afternoon. Meanwhile, Fraizer Campbell’s standing ovation when going off late was well-earned for yet another tremendously combative and intelligent contribution, and his two assists for Grosicki were transformative. Just think what we could achieve with an attacking quartet of Campbell, Pugh, Grosicki and Bowen next season…oh.

5. Wigan on Wednesday, and another winnable home game that’ll hopefully have the same outcome. They looked for a while like they’d have a decent season, but Saturday’s creditable draw against Bristol City still leaves them perilously close to the bottom three. However, we’ve seen that they can be handy: their 2-1 defeat of City in September was a chastening, one-sided affair despite the oddly close scoreline. It’d be nice to get a home win to partially ease the still-sore memory of that grim evening on the wrong side of the Pennines.

6. After that, it gets hard. Seriously hard. Middlesbrough look like they’re going to blow their top six hopes, but by the time City travel there on Saturday there could still be enough time and enough points available for them to made a late recovery and nick sixth. Other than Stoke, the pre-season title favourites who now languish in the bottom half and perma-bottlers Derby (who at least had Cup fun), few would be more disappointed at not making the play-offs. They haven’t even missed out in style, grinding along at a goal-a-game under a particularly grisly form of Pulisball. Watch them beat us 6-0 now…

7. Then it’s West Bromwich Albion away, and Sheffield United at home. All of which makes getting six points from Reading and Wigan essential if the most improbable of dreams is to stay alive for another few days.

8. Another week, another reputational evisceration for Ehab Allam. This time it came from the Football Supporters’ Federation, the redoubtable body that was a fine friend to City fans during West Yorkshire Police’s infamous bubble and Assem Allam’s name change farce. So irked were they by the club’s incorrect assertion that the FSF somehow endorsed their vile ticketing policy that they felt obliged to correct them. The club’s own minutes of the meeting, at which this erroneous suggestion was made, hasn’t been altered (or an acknowledgement of their mistake made), so we can only assume the club doesn’t mind misrepresenting the FSF and isn’t concerned about misleading City fans.

9. Which, of course, rings entirely true based upon past experience. We feel for the fans who give up a lot of time to be given inaccurate statements that the club doesn’t feel the need to correct or acknowledge. But that’s all a part of dealing with the Allams. Not that it makes any difference anyway: if you still give them the benefit of the doubt, chances are that you either haven’t been paying attention or have to rely upon them for a job. If you don’t, this is just the latest in a very, very long list of reasons to abhor them.

10. Tomorrow marks five years since City fans were successful in repelling their spiteful name change idea, incidentally. They’ve caused untold damage in revenge; but we should still be very proud of one of the finest fans’ campaigns in English football history.