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Calling Time: Don’t Look Back In Amber (Nectar)

an1

7749 days
21 years
2 home grounds
6 owners
10 managers
4 Head Coaches
1 Temporary Football Management Consultant
4 divisions
5 promotions
3 relegations
2 Cup semis and a final
4 trips to Wembley
109 different opponents
6 overseas trips
1 forum members’ wedding
3 (at least) funerals
2 lodgings at Her Majesty’s Pleasure
1 Hull City Association Football Club

Since Amber Nectar’s inception on Saturday 21st February 1998, it’s fair to say that we’ve done a bit and seen a bit.

But sadly, it’s coming to an end this Saturday, as we’re closing our virtual tavern for the final time.

AN was conceived of in January 1998 by Les and Andy (then 21 & 16), and made its debut as a paper fanzine at Boothferry Park the following month. It wasn’t very good, but we got better over the next few years, and by the time AN #15 was on sale outside the shiny new KC Stadium in January 2003 (our only non-Boothferry Park issue) we were hopefully close to being worthy successors to such publications as Hull, Hell & Happiness, Tiger Rag, On Cloud Seven and so many more.

Times were changing as the new millennium started. By the early 2000s the internet was growing in influence as connections increasingly sprang up at home and at work, and we decided to move exclusively online in Spring 2003. This meant tarting up the website that had been an accompaniment to the paper fanzine since late 1998, and making it our sole focus.

On the online revolution went, and we submitted to the lure of social media in 2011, joining Facebook and Twitter as new outlets for cuss-filled rants as they eventually took over the online space for discussion that forums used to provide.

Times changed some more, and we hitched onto the growing trend for podcasts in 2013. We’ve done over 200, and been honoured with guest appearances from fellow City fans and a healthy smattering of ex-City players. In 2017 we were thrilled to be nominated for the Football Supporters’ Federation’s Club Podcast of the Year award. When, at the subsequent posh do in London, we heard our name read out as the winner, our first thought was that we’ve overdone the free bar. Turns out that three grouchy blokes swearing in a spare room full of City shirts can do alright.

Times will keep changing. Already, City fans who weren’t born when we started are making a name for themselves: trying new things, taking on supporters’ roles, vlogging and so on. If you’re ever wondering whether to do something, to get involved, our advice is simple: do it. You won’t regret it. And that’ll ensure there’ll always be more to come by City fans, for City fans.

Only not from us.

21 years. It’s a long time; many times longer than we gave ourselves back on late-90s Bunkers, when paper fanzines blazed brightly for a few years and then folded. They’re gruelling work, after all. The internet and its greater ease of publication gave us a long lease of life, but not a permanent one.

As we pondered during a 20th anniversary rumination last year, we now have partners, kids, mortgages and grey hairs instead of youthful exuberance and an abundance of free time. We’re all just either side of 40 now. Fanzines, websites, podcasts, perhaps it’s all a young person’s game, and while young people aren’t welcome at City any more, they’ll always find a way of creeping in and making themselves heard.

We were around for a pretty remarkable period in City’s history, and as we looked back on our life and times last year, we’re proud of what we did. www.ambernectar.org offers, in our plainly biased view, just about the most comprehensive trove of fans’ views from this period. To help future City historians, the idly nostalgic or even the club themselves when they remember that history is a source of pride rather than shame, we plan to cease updating the site, but leave it online for as long as possible. That’ll cost: around £40 a month, which we plan to meet ourselves. One very last time though, if you fancy chucking in a few quid to keep our collective record of those years online and accessible to all, we’d be very grateful – you can do it HERE.

There are simply too many people for us to thank over the past two decades, and any attempt would be inevitably and unfairly inadequate. We’ll try a few though: our families, who tolerated this nonsense with remarkable forbearance. Steve Broadbent, indefatigable tech god for twenty years. JR, for TigerTube, occasional podcast appearances and pre-match games of darts. And…oh, you all know if you helped, whether it was selling or buying the paper fanzine, contributing online, writing something for us, chucking a fiver into the semi-regular appeals we’d make to keep us unfranchised and ad-free (and thus truly independent), arguing with us on Twitter, drinking with us at home, away and overseas – there’ll be hundreds and hundreds of people with whom we had contact great or small, and sincere thanks to you all.

We’re going to have one final podcast this Friday, a massively self-indulgent look back at the last 21 years. It’ll be broadcast live on Periscope at 7pm, and we’d love your company one last time.

Then, as we hope befits the way we always did things, we’re off to the pub – The Avenue, on Chanterlands Avenue, for around 8.30pm, and maybe even a curry and Piper, if our old bones are willing. Come drink with us, and talk about the past, present and future of one of the loves of all of our lives: the Hull City Association Football Club.

It’s been bloody brilliant fun. Cheers.

Les, Andy & Matt
Amber Nectar, the Hull City fanzine (1998-2019)

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #334

TWTWT

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…

FEAT-BALL2

PREVIEW: City v Bristol C

Irvine J

And so another season ends. If it feels it’s going to end limply with a dead rubber, let’s see the positives in that. At times this season, just taking our bid to stay in the Championship to the final day would have seemed acceptable; to have had safety assured months ago and even have the luxury of looking at the top six reminds us how successful this season.

So, if it’s all a little tepid tomorrow, consider the alternative: a sleepless night beforehand, and a gutwrenching afternoon praying for a successful outcome. That may be the Bristolians’ fate though: their midweek win at Millwall gives them a faint chance of making the top six. It’s unlikely though. Currently eighth and two points off sixth, they need to win, hope that Middlesbrough don’t win at relegated Rotherham and hope Derby lose at home to West Brom. A fairly improbable set results, and how they must be ruing the recent loss of form that took them out of the top six.

But at least we know they’ll start the game at full pelt; and we recently saw against Sheffield United how bad City can be against a side that needs something. Not for nothing are the visitors favourites for this game.

No meeting between the sides can ever pass without mention of THAT fixture in 2008, of course. It sent City off towards a decade of being in or around the Premier League, while poor old Bristol haven’t been close since. They were gracious losers despite the most painful of losses, and while there’s no need to feel sorry enough for them to want them to win tomorrow, they’d be the ideal play-off winners this season.

More recently, City lost at Ashton Gate in October, back when we looked doomed, and remarkably shared ten goals a few months earlier. We haven’t beaten them since a 2-1 win in the south-west formed part of our run to the semi-final of the 2016/17 League Cup.

City will be waiting on the fitness of Markus Henriksen and Reece Burke, the latter having missed the 2-2 draw at Swansea last week and former having been a doubt for it. However, guessing City’s exact XI isn’t easy as Nigel Adkins has used the end of season dead rubbers to give first team experience to the youth team players he’ll probably have to use next season.

Bristol will be without Korey Smith following recent foot surgery, Callum O’Dowda has a knee injury while Antoine Semenyo is banned.

City are 2/1 to win just their second end-of-regular-season League game in 15 years, while the visitors are no longer than 7/5. They are 16/1 for a top-six finish and 66/1 to be promoted – clearly the odds are massively against them, but at least they have a chance of extending their season. For City, it matters not, so let’s sit back and enjoy our last look at this impressive, overachieving class of 2019 before the usual summer carnage is visited upon it.

FEAT-SEATS

EFL explain City’s “family excellence” award

EmptySeats

The Football League were recently criticised for awarding Hull City – who don’t offer concessions to children (or anyone) – a “family excellence” award. We asked them to justify this, and enquired whether being informed about City’s explicitly anti-family policies would cause the award to be revoked. Here’s their response:

The EFL’s Family Excellence Scheme, now in its 12th year, is an award-winning ongoing consultation programme to support clubs’ efforts in attracting and retaining families and young fans.

A range of work underpins this process and a huge amount of progress has been made, and innovation displayed, throughout that time, and we now have a record number of clubs achieving the accolade. The process involves each of our 72 clubs being visited twice in each season by a ‘real’ mystery family, who assess the experience across six main touchpoints, from ticket purchase, to stadium vicinity, retail, refreshments and inside the stadium experience, all from the perspective of first time family visitors without any previous experience of attending games at each respective club. Ultimately each family then provides a recommendation score, to determine whether they would recommend that club to other first time families. Hull City received praise from the visiting families across various touchpoints but particularly for their Family Zone and associated pre-match and concourse activities as can be seen here https://www.hullcitytigers.com/tickets-landing-page-2/wwf-family-zone/.

Additionally, the visiting families were further impressed by the Club’s excellent retail facilities and wide variety of family friendly entertainment both inside and outside the stadium. The Club mascots were also described as active and constantly within view of, and engaging with the family zone.

So there we are – mascots waving outranks being able to afford to get in to the stadium in the first place.

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #333

TWTWT

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.

FEAT-TWTWT

REPORT: City 2-1 Wigan

DeWijsJ

After shaking hands with their opponents, the victorious players trudged off the muddy field at Post Office Road and went into the stand to collect the U18 Northern Schools Rugby League Cup. After mauling St Johns Rigby, Hull’s Wilberforce 6th Form College sat proudly on top of the RL U18 pyramid in 1992 proving for once that a Hull team was superior to a side from Wigan. For, like their Lancashire mill town neighbours Burnley, Wigan have usually come up trumps against this City’s three professional sides; (I’m not sure about including Hull Pirates in this) be it Challenge Cup wins, FA Cup knockouts, 5-0 PL home drubbings, 2-2 losses sending City down. Wigan have usually been around to administer a coup de grace kick in the balls. Bogey town, bogey teams.

Keen to make sure that Wigan A don’t do a horrible double over us this season City lined up:
Marshall
Kane JDW Burke Lichaj
Irvine Henrik
Bowen Pugh Grosicki
Campbell

We kick off to the half full North Stand and begin brightly with some neat interplay between Grosicki, Campbell and Irvine on the left. I am firmly of the opinion that for all of the front four’s headline grabbing displays it is the dreamboat Aussie midfielder who is City’s most important and effective player. Jackson’s colossal work rate and energy levels just mean we are more likely to win with him in the side then any other midfielder. That said I’m not sure the added bum fluff makes him look older – he would still struggle to get served in Empress.

For the first quarter it is all City. We just see to have one pass in front.. Good work down the right by Bowen results in a cross that meets no one but is headed out for the first of roughly 100 corners. A reverse ball finds Irvine who has a shot blocked. The resulting corner sees DeWijs head over-bloody rubbish in the air he is! On 9 only a last ditch tackle stops FC after a mazey run by Grosicki. On 14 Bowen’s strike forces Walton to parry wide. The resulting corner then is cleared to Windass jnr who runs upfield to be stopped by a kneeling Kane who is adjudged to hand the ball and duly receives a yellow from referee Webb. The first time I encountered Josh Windass was when he was a mascot for Bradford City in our 2-0 at Valley Parade. When asked who his favourite player was he said “daddy” – aww bless. There may be a player there but I did not see much last night. But to win City need to score otherwise it is not worth getting out of bed at the end of the day.

On 21 we almost do score as we run Wigan ragged at the back. After some tidy footwork the ball finds FC wide of the post to knock to Pugh who loops a ball onto the bar. On 27 a Grosicki rocket goes wide. On 35 Henriksen dribbles towards the box but unleashes a meek shot. Wigan decide to start utilising the space behind Bowen and Grosicki by knocking it long to Robinson and Byrne but City remain the more likely to score. So, of course, I view with dismay the ball passed into our box, become stuck under DeWijs left foot and into the path of former City ‘striker’ Nick Powell who shows why City signed him to rifle past Marshall’s right hand into the net. Howl Howl Howl. 0-1 and the 150 Latin fans celebrate with a hardly apt ‘You’re fucking shit.’ I thought you will be eating those words, me laddos.

HT 0-1

City kick off towards the sparse South Stand again on the front foot. Paul Cook’s thinking was that if they frustrate City by time wasting they could sneak a second away win in 20 and ease their mighty relegation worries. Duly Wigan began with all 11 behind the ball but without Nick Powell who shows why City sold him by not returning for the second half. It would take a superhuman effort or a calamity to get past this lot. City prayers were answered when Pugh strikes a long shot which can be described as bread and butter to most goal keepers. But to Walton it is a veritable slippery cannon ball to which the Wigan number one kindly spills towards an oncoming Campbell who pokes home. 1-1 and back in it.

Shortly after Walton continues to wreck whatever chances the Latin’s have by sliding outside the area clutching the ball. After a short pause Webb inexplicably produces a yellow instead of red. Pugh shortly comes off for the youngster Batty who proceeds to do very well I thought. A various array of corners and free kicks rain down on the Latin’s defence but they tend to hold firm with occasional forays upfront. On 75 Wigan nearly shit the City bed when a corner finds an unmarked Massey whose bullet header is stopped by Marshall’s thigh. Henriksen and Kane come off for Evandro and Martin. Now that’s positive play Adkins. In mind of the mauling Leon Clarke gave City at Bramall Lane last season Cook brings him on and sticks him up front looking for a winner.

But cometh the 89th minute cometh the man. After the ball is poked out again by Dunkley, Grosicki takes another out left. Seeing as the last 99 had come to naught my hopes were not high. In it swings. Defenders rise to meet the ball and clear. Strikers ready to pounce and nip it. But, like a salmon, JDW rises up and powers past everyone to head the ball past the hapless Walton and into the roof of the net. 2-1. And the 7000 City fans go wild. Suck on that, Latics! There is just enough time for City to waste time and boot the ball in the air and then that’s that.

Wigan face Leeds and Norwich in their next 2 games but let’s not rely on them to do us a favour. City then have done what they needed to do and dispatched three teams who they should beat. Now we face 5 teams with still possible promotion dreams beginning with the despicable Pulis at the dispiriting Riverside on Saturday. A game I wasn’t bothered about has suddenly become pivotal – so a ticket has been quickly bought. Get something from this and things could become very really interesting.

Dominic Fellowes (first appeared on the Tiger Chat mailing list)

FEAT-CTWD

Happy “No to Hull Tigers” Day

NoFlag

Doesn’t time in football race by? For today is the fifth anniversary of the Football Association very wisely rejecting (for the first, but most important time) Assem Allam’s attempt to change our name to Hull Tigers.

This is a significantly reduced football club now; the Allam family’s response has been annually gutting the playing squad and a membership scheme that hurts both the present and limits the future.

But half a decade on from the successful culmination of one of the greatest supporter campaigns in English football history, a time when City fans stood in almost total opposition to an idea that would have denied a century of history and destroyed the identity of Hull City AFC, it’s still worth acknowledging how right we all were – and of course, how wrong they were.

Happy No To Hull Tigers Day.

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #331

TWTWT

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.

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #330

TWTWT

1. City’s 2-0 win at Ipswich on Saturday may constitute the single most unTypicalCity thing ever. Away to a side destined for relegation with only three wins all season? Who among us didn’t expect a routine home win? However, City won comfortably themselves, and elevated themselves back into the top half

2. It was nice to see that awful run of form on the road come to an end. These may have been the calmest of waters in which to get the good ship Away Form back onto an even keel, but it still got done. Perhaps it wasn’t the most flamboyant performance, but City did keep a clean sheet and take a couple of chances. Just what decent sides do away from home really.

3. Both of Kamil Grosicki’s goals were enjoyable ones. The first, a rare left-footed effort that had the Pole beaming with self-deprecatory delight, the second a fine low finish on his favoured right. He was only a header away from the perfect hat-trick, but he’ll nonetheless reflect upon a handsome afternoon’s work.

4. City now have two home games in rapid succession: Reading next Saturday, and Wigan the following Wednesday. The 3-0 cuffing at Reading earlier in the season wasn’t quite the nadir of the season, but it wasn’t far off. City were wretched that day, looking every bit a side on the way to relegation. Porous defence, toothless up front, it was awful. And hey, we can’t claim that every problem has been fixed – but enough have been so that only of us is still in relegation bother. Reading haven’t looked up to much all season and it appears they’ll be looking over their shoulder for little while yet. This is one we’d be disappointed not to win.

5. In fact, many will expect six points from those two games, and not without justification. For all of City recent difficulties on the road, we’ve continued to look good at home, and the arrival of two weaker sides (even if both beat us earlier in the season) does look like a very good opportunity to secure a top half position.

6. And if we get six points – does that keep play-off hopes flickering? Perhaps it does. With seven games left, City need to win pretty much all of them, though six wins might sneak us in. Given that two of those games are trips to Middlesbrough and West Brom, it’s an extremely tall order. But the fact that this can still be discussed, albeit as a highly improbable outcome, in the month of April is remarkable.

7. It’s interesting that despite the domestic football season being close to its end, Keane Lewis-Potter and Adam Curry have both been sent out on loan – to Bradford Park Avenue and Alfreton respectively. That isn’t a vauntingly high level of football, but it should mean a few first team minutes for both. With the usual summer cull approaching, those minutes could prove useful next season.

8. Nigel Adkins has been offered a contract! And, err, conspicuously declined to confirm whether he’ll be signing it. Quite sensible too. He’s unlikely to trouble the list of top-earning managers in the Championship, but more importantly, he’s going to want to know just how meagre his resources will be for 2019/20. He seems to be enjoying things at City despite the headwinds his boss routinely provides, and he’s established an unlikely rapport with City fans. That he’s not jumped at the offer suggests it isn’t the foregone conclusion Ehab probably thought it was, and suggests that we may need yet another new manager next season.

9. City, Ehab Allam included, met a delegation of City fans on Wednesday night. The Hull City Supporters’ Trust, comfortably the largest and most representative organisation in existence, were again excluded, because the club is run by people with the maturity of toddlers. Their ongoing exclusion is ridiculous, contrary to government guidelines and in violation of the best practice suggested by multiple national fans’ bodies.

10. But we are we are. The meeting itself saw warm words aplenty in the aftermath, and we know ourselves prior to our own exclusion that the club can actually listen to concerns, even if it has no intention of acting upon them. It does seem that Ehab and Vicki Beercock have listened. But little in the subsequent minutes suggested that the owners have understood, or are prepared to act, as shown by the ongoing refusal to restore concessions next season. Nothing else – including a conditions-laden “family” ticket that’s been the source of much internal wrangling at the club this year – will suffice. Concessions. Nothing else is acceptable.

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #329

TWTWT1. There’s much speculation about Nigel Adkins being made to wait for a new contract from the characteristically inept Allams. But isn’t there a possibility that even if he is eventually offered one, he opts against staying? His public utterances thus far indicate a willingness to stay, but frustration is clearly mounting. He must know he’ll have a reduced budget to work with and a squad once again stripped of everyone saleable. The Allams set City up for a relegation battle this season, and it’s only because of the efforts of the manager and his players that we thrillingly pulled clear of it. But for a long time, that looked unlikely.

2. Next season will be worse. Bowen will be off to the Premier League, while Grosicki will once again want to leave. Fraizer Campbell is making dissatisfied noises about the club’s lack of interest in his retention, while David Marshall is out of contract. It’s clear that anyone of quality who may have the temerity to earn a wage commensurate with that ability is going. So we ask again: the Allams aren’t busting a gut to keep Adkins, or retain any of the tools he’ll need. Why would he even want to stay?

3. Let’s continue our thought experiment and suppose that Adkins does opt against staying. What then? There’s always, ALWAYS someone who’ll want the job, no matter how wretched the owners are and how unpromising the circumstances may be. But that isn’t a prospectus for attracting the brightest and the best. Adkins has proven us wrong when we thought he was something of a bargain basement appointment, and we hold our hands up to that. But next time we go manager shopping, it’s hard to imagine us getting anything close to his quality. It’ll be League two cast-offs, in charge of League one players. And that isn’t how you avoid bottom place. It’s almost as if the Allams’ primary concern is with driving the club into the ground, isn’t it?

4. Markus Henriksen sounds very much like a man weighing up his future options, doesn’t he? Let’s face it, Ligue 1 Bordeaux or preparing-for-a-relegation-battle-to-the-third-tier Hull City? It isn’t an impossibly tough choice to make, and the fact that City opted to extend his contract suggests the club know which way the captain is leaning. We’d certainly miss him if he went.

5. Ipswich at the weekend. They’ve won three times all season, lie an impossibly distant 13 points from safety and will be in League One next season. Even overhauling a stricken Bolton to finish in the top 23 looks a tall order for the Championship’s longest serving occupants. Do we need to brace ourselves for some world-class TypicalCity, or are we finally about to reverse this patch of poor form away from home? Hmm.

6. That leads us into two extremely winnable home matches, Reading then Wigan – 21st and 19th as we speak. They’ll both have plenty to play for, with the final relegation place still open to quite a few teams. At least it’s none of our concern any more.

7. The accounts are out! And they reveal that Allamhouse – City’s parent company owned by the Allams – has seen its profits fall markedly. That’s interesting, but not wholly unexpected. There were no major player sales, parachute payments are coming to an end and club policy is to deter supporters from attending games, so it isn’t a surprise that City’s contribution has fallen. It’ll only get worse. It was interesting to see the engineering division showing reduced turnover, however. Wonder what’s happening at Allam Marine?

8. Tomorrow is the first fans’ meeting with the club of the year, and the first in quite a long time. As usual, plenty of those with the ability to represent fans have been excluded, most notably the Hull City Supporters’ Trust. The club’s infantile approach towards the largest fans’ group is absolutely pathetic, and their attempts to spin this as somehow not their fault last week were pitiful. Until the club invites supporters and supporters’ groups who can genuinely collate concerns and feed back to the fanbase, everyone will rightly conclude that this is a pointless box-ticking exercise.

9. One side City seem certain to finish ahead of is Birmingham. They were deducted nine points last week for breaching new sustainability guidelines, which has taken from the fringes of the play-offs to the fringes of the relegation places – though in truth, they’ll probably do what they were always going to do, and stay in the division. There are also no future penalties – no transfer embargo, or fines, so they’ll start next season with a clean slate. So is that enough? Nine points sounds a lot, and many Championship clubs would suffer their loss considerably. But if you’re stuck in midtable with the season approaching its end, losing them is no big deal. It isn’t clear quite how Birmingham have been punished here.

10. No City at the weekend, so no podcast this evening. Back next Monday to review the Ipswich game.