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NEWS: City draw Exeter in League Cup (away)

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City have this evening been drawn against Exeter away in the second round of the League Cup.

Now named the EFL Cup and evidently not regionalised at this stage, last season it gave us a hugely enjoyable trip to Accrington Stanley; this mammoth midweek trip is unlikely to see a repeat of the fun or quantity of City fans in attendance – though barring a similar draw in the FA Cup, it’ll be the only time this season we’ll have a terrace to stand on.

It’s our first trip to St James’ Park since a demoralising 3-1 defeat in August 2002, a match City led before Lee Sharpe (yes, him) levelled for the Grecians and everything went horribly awry when Greg Strong was sent off before half-time.

Exeter lost their opening game of this season 2-0 to Blackpool on Saturday before impressively overcoming Championship Brentford in the first round of this competition yesterday. They finished a doughty 14th in last season’s League Two.

The tie will be played on the week commencing Monday 22nd August, just days after the lengthy Premier League trip to Swansea. Ouch.

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Things We Think We Think #225

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1. The win at Reading was terrific, but City’s subsequent failure to beat Leeds seems emblematic of our season as a whole: we showed flashes of excellence and superiority, but then lost our way when a lasting statement about that superiority was required. That’s why ‘the best squad in the division’ is fourth, ten points off the automatic promotion pace.

2. Thankfully, the Football League’s format will give us another chance to turn underachievement into success. Even though failing to exact revenge on Leeds for the Elland Road defeat was a disappointment, the wider form context of two wins and two draws means we have a good platform to enter the play-offs in buoyant mood.

3: Ah yes, the play-offs. With us unable now to catch any of the top three, we can now think actively about the mini-campaign that could yet salvage what has been a season of dislike, mistrust and standoffishness. The question to ask is: who do we want? Or, more pertinently, is it possible to avoid Derby?

4: Let’s face it, the only way we’re going to get Sheffield Wednesday, who although not assured of a play-off place are looking increasingly likely to secure one, would be for them to overhaul Derby and finish fifth (or us and Derby, and finish fourth). By this weekend, that could be impossible anyway. So unless we sink to sixth with three heavy defeats and get the odd one out of the three-strong 87-club (out of interest, two of the three scribes here think that’ll be Middlesbrough, with the other going for Brighton), it’s apparent that we’re going to play Derby twice more – and this is the only team to do the double over us this season. Still, prior to the final in 2008 we’d dropped points in both our ‘regulation’ games against Bristol City, so…

5. There were some positive displays from key individuals on Saturday. Chuba Akpom played with a dynamism and willingness that hasn’t been seen since late summer, and Tom Huddlestone is in a good run of form, playing crisp and effective football. That may be to get him a deal elsewhere, but it suits City’s purposes just fine.

6. Steve Bruce repeatedly lecturing supporters on what they should say at games is rather irritating. He is extremely well paid to manage City, a job he has until recently done very well. In return, he should leave the supporting to us, and not EVER imply that beseeching the club to see sense somehow constitutes a lack of support for the team. It may be difficult to speak out against his bosses – fine, we get that. That’s no excuse for transferring his frustration onto those who are being priced out of watching their local team next season.

7. As it happens, he could have little complaint about the crowd on Saturday. Though anger bubbles under the surface of a fanbase treated with utter contempt by the club’s hierarchy, the toxic atmosphere of recent games was absent and any ire was aimed at Leeds and their fans (well, aside from a half time announcement about the Membership Scheme that was roundly booed).

8. Outside the ground was a different matter, some fans of a certain vintage were burning their membership packs in West Park, and all week long we’ve seen photos on social media of defaced reply envelope. ‘Earn your stripes’ becoming ‘Another tripe idea’ was our favourite.

9. As we despair at the bovine intransigence of the club, we applaud the Hull City Supporters Trust. Their press release on Thursday was a terrific piece of work and their spokespeople have been eloquent and informed when commenting in the media. The contrast with those at Hull City AFC could not be more stark.

10. Sometimes a picture says more than many words, so…

Old Fan

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Happy “No to Hull Tigers” Day

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It’s two years to the day since the Football Association wisely rejected Assem Allam’s ill-conceived idea of changing Hull City AFC’s name.

The FA would also reject the second application that Mr Allam made, but as that represented mere confirmation of their original decision, it’s the first occasion we think is worthiest of eternal celebration.

So as we depart for Huddersfield, a very happy No to Hull Tigers Day to the owners, staff, players and most of all, supporters of Hull City AFC.