OPINION: Don’t forget Horton this weekend

Undoubtedly much attention will be paid to Phil Brown and Ian Ashbee when Preston North End, the club that now employs the most successful manager and captain in our history, visit the Circle this weekend.

And quite right too. Brown, for all the character flaws and vanity issues that seemed to shroud his managerial qualities once he took City into football’s elite, did everything we had always dreamed of as members of the Tiger Nation but had never dared expect or demand. His achievements are well documented and should never be downplayed, irrespective of the messiness and acrimony that surrounded his departure.

Ashbee, meanwhile, can justifiably lay claim to being football’s best captain. His achievements as a skipper and player are unique and groundbreaking, and his name is in football’s history books as the first person to captain a team in all four divisions.

Within City’s personal record books he is also the only player to score for the club in all four divisions and, even though he missed essentially two years of football within his eight and a half at the club, his legacy and status alongside Bly, Chilton, Roberts and Windass is bolted down forever. Again, it was a tad untidy when it came to its end a fortnight ago, but now he can at least get some closure via the City fans this weekend. Read more

NEWS/OPINION: Zayatte’s “compassionate” exit a sham?

On “compassionate” grounds, eh? Fewer than seven days after Kamil Zayatte’s contract was generously ripped up by Hull City, supposedly so he could join his family in France, the Guinean defender has pitched up at Turkish side Konyaspor and become their latest big signing.

Zayatte, 25, left the Tigers last week with the club claiming it was for these now-notorious “compassionate” reasons, leading supporters to believe, not unnaturally, that there was some kind of family crisis that rendered football and contractual obligations entirely unimportant.

However, quite quickly rumours were abound of a big disagreement between the club and Zayatte after he was dropped from the side that played Barnsley at the KC Stadium on January 15th, and this presented an opportunity for the player – and his agent – to try once more to extricate themselves from the club, something that had happened in one form or another around each transfer window since Zayatte first put pen to paper in the autumn of 2008. Read more

OPINION: Dawson deserves his extended deal

So, did Andy Dawson get a contract extension due to merit or meagre sentiment?

This was the instant topic of discussion among the more literate of the Tiger Nation upon hearing the news of the City left back’s prolonged deal with the club.

Dawson is 32 now, and was out of contract at the end of this season. January was the point when, if he felt it necessary, he could have freely asked his representatives to see what else was out there, in the event of his time at the Circle coming to an end. But there has been no need for that. Assuming negotiations have been going on for a short while, the club evidently made it clear to Dawson that he remained a valued and needed member of the squad, and that would have been quite sufficient for Dawson to sign up again. Read more

OPINION: In praise of Richard Garcia

He was an integral part of the side that won promotion to the Premier League for the first time in City’s history. He scored the goal of the season during that unforgettable 2007/8 campaign, and was still in the side as the Tigers’ two year adventure in the top-flight unfolded. He has thirteen international caps for Australia, and recently became the first man to play at a World Cup while at City. He’s still in the team, he’s worked tirelessly in numerous positions without complaint…so why on earth do some people still not like Richard Garcia?

Hopefully, this last week will prove to be a watershed for an unfairly unpopular and under-rated team player. The decision to assign him with the “1” bit of a 4-5-1 at Leeds on Tuesday was not greeted with delight, but he was man of the match with a characteristically selfless performance in City’s defiant, confidence-restoring draw at Leeds.

If that was about hard work, his next outing at Preston – once more leading the line – was about no little skill. His goal was a beauty, concentrating on a cross floating in despite the distraction of an attendant defender, and the execution of his diving header was of genuine class. Later in that game, his willingness to put in the hard yards eked a mistake out of a defender, and his subsequent cross for Barmby’s tap-in was clever and composed.

It was a marvellous display, and it’s been a great week for Garcia. At no time since he signed for City in July 2007 can I remember his name being chanted. That realisation is a startling one considering what he’s achieved. At full-time at Deepdale, Garcia and Mannone were cornered by Sky Sports for their immediate reaction. It meant they were detained in coming over to the away end – but when they did, Garcia’s named was boomed into the cold Lancashire air by the grateful Tiger Nation.

He must have heard it as clearly as he must hear the groans from the terminally ungrateful minority at the Circle whenever he’s summoned to put in another unglamorous shift. Let’s hope they were watching carefully on Friday evening. Let’s hope the player allowed himself a smile of satisfaction.

The four points the Tigers have taken from these two away games have been invaluable, both in terms of staying out of the bottom three and also in repairing damaged morale. With successive man-of-the-match performances, no-one did more in that hugely important pair of games than Richard Garcia. Maybe it’s time we started showing a bit of appreciation?

OPINION: What’s in a name?

Kingston Communications, or KC as they exclusively brand themselves nowadays (as evidenced by their horrendous new logo, which resembles an Ishihara test for colour-blindness), are to extend their sponsorship of City’s home stadium until 2025, by which time they’ll have had the naming rights to the ground for some 23 years.

Viewed in that perspective,  the deal is an impressive commitment by the company towards the area it serves. It’d be churlish not to observe that.  Another benefit is that it retains an established identity, there’s no need for new road signs, for guidebooks and websites to be updated with a new moniker etcetera. When the initial deal was signed in 2002, it was to run for ten years, and as 2012 looms so too did the prospect of an imminent change to the stadium’s name – or its official one, of which more in a minute.

Such a change would be mildly disconcerting. Huddersfield experienced this naggingly irksome upheaval when exchanging  the logo of construction firm McAlpine for  that of  cheap paracetamol producer Galpharm  on their front door, while other stadia appear to change their official names with bewildering rapidity. It lends a ground, unfairly perhaps, an air of soulless corporate plasticity. And while the KC is never going to be as characterful as Boothferry Park, at least we needn’t worry about suddenly having to call it something else, and worrying it’ll make us look cheap.

Or need we never worry about that anyway? Amber Nectar’s house style has always leaned towards calling our home  ‘The Circle’ , in honour of the venue’s original name. The club willingly use this nod to the past in their official postal address.  ‘The Circle’ is without doubt a somehow more authentic name for a football stadium.  This has never really caught on with Tiger Nationals however, not  that it’s worth becoming a shrieking fundamentalist over. The media, local and national, call it  ‘The KC’ . City are of course compelled to acknowledge their sponsors. It’s short, snappy, not overly corporate and grubby, and it has stuck. So be it.  We knew that things like this were part of the deal when we left The Ark.

Plus, it could be worse. One needn’t search for long to find football stadiums with far worse official names, and ones that have very little connection to their local community  (The Emirates Stadium for example, isn’t as implied in Dubai, it’s in North London). For its various faults, KC are at least a Hull company putting money into our area. By the time this new arrangement expires, they’ll have naming rights for almost quarter of a century, which may almost oblige them to continue. City may be playing at the KC Stadium for a very long time.

Meanwhile, we’ll stick with  ‘The Circle’  – most of the time…

OPINION: There may still be room for Bullard

Robert Koren is a most impressive acquisition for Hull City, both in terms of the player’s quality and the skill within the bowels of the KC in attracting him to a club of limited financial clout.

For the second Friday in a row, the two Pearsons have combined to bring a player of genuine creativity and sparkle into the squad. John Bostock was more of an unknown  the previous week, but one gorgeous left-footed shot from distance later and he was hailed as a masterful piece of business. Koren, a much more established footballer who has a World Cup tournament to his name, knows this division well and should veritably ease into the Tigers’ groove.

The arrival of Bostock and now Koren also adds further credence to the notion that on a purely playing basis, Hull City can cope and progress without Jimmy Bullard’s considerable talents.

Yet as the transfer window nudges closer to its shutting point and the silence regarding Bullard’s future prolongs, it is now worth contemplating getting this fine footballer and divisive character back into the first team picture. Read more

OPINION: Underachieved, but never stopped running

Dean Marney is no longer a Tiger, and he leaves us unsure quite what to make of his time here. It’s rarely easy to establish what sort of legacy a player will leave behind at the time of his departure. A little time is useful, to establish some perspective – likewise, the luxury of being able to compare deeds with City with those that follow elsewhere. But let’s give it a go anyway…

Read more

OPINION: 10 reasons why we should relish a return to the Championship

In these days of worry and recrimination, it’s easy to forget just how much fun and drama could be had from playing in the Championship. Our three seasons there from 2005/6 to 2007/8 were full of incident, great performances, superb goals and historic moments. While one hopes for a quick return to the Premier League, if only for financial reasons, the ultra-competitive and entertaining second tier is not one at which to turn up black and amber noses.

Unconvinced? Okay, click the ‘more’ tag below for ten reasons why we should enjoy a return to the Championship: Read more

OPINION – Bartlett’s motives warrant closer scrutiny

Russell Bartlett, Hull City’s owner, has had a pretty easy ride considering the club faces the very real possibility of entering administration should we be relegated in May.

Largely that’s because in Paul Duffen, our never publicity shy ex-chairman, we had a readily identifiable figure to pin the blame of huge debts on.

It’s also partly because we know remarkably little about Bartlett, three years after he bought into the club.

With Adam Pearson coming back to firefight and the subsequently settled out of court action against Duffen, it has been assumed that Bartlett was blissfully unaware of the reckless largesse displayed by his former employee, and that when he found out, Duffen had to go.

If that is truly the case, you could say Bartlett is guilty of nothing more than naivety, of mistakenly entrusting the near megalomaniacal Duffen with the swollen coffers post-promotion and that the wig wearer took unauthorised liberties. Read more