The Soul of Hull City #10: Caleb Folan joins for a million

Talking Points


Finally, we paid a million pounds for a player. And frankly, it was the first time our finances could really justify it. Adam Pearson’s support for Peter Taylor in the market was unflinching, but never could either chairman or manager have been able, even after elevation to the Championship, to apply reason to shelling out seven-figures on one player, especially as Taylor preferred to recruit from below.

So, long after Taylor and Pearson had gone, it was Phil Brown who selected the player, using Paul Duffen’s endorsement and Russell Bartlett’s resources, who would create City spending history. Caleb Folan had been deeply lacking in distinction during a brief loan spell years earlier during his kindergarten days with Leeds, but on August 31st, as the window was being pulled to, Brown offered a cheque to Wigan Athletic, whom City had dumped out of the League Cup, complete with Folan, days earlier, and they accepted.

Folan’s first act was to have his skull dented by a wayward Blackpool forehead on his debut, but once he returned he proved an agile, able and awkward character who diminished initial doubts about his finishing (first goal wasn’t until December) by scoring crucially at Stoke, West Brom and in the play-offs against Watford, along with some invaluable strikes as a sub when Fraizer Campbell and Dean Windass were on form as the starting pair.

He subsequently scored the goal that earned our first ever Premier League win, although injuries and an obvious inability to step up a level (or run around, or control a ball or – most memorably – stay onside) made him peripheral and frustrating thereafter as relegation was fought against, and though he started the first four games of the second Premier League season, it was obvious that he wasn’t cut out for the job on any level, and was soon packed off on loan to Middlesbrough via a few disparaging words in Brown’s direction. Despite this, and irrespective of where he or the Tigers ended up, his contribution to promotion made the historic investment in his services prove more than shrewd.


Things We Think We Think #197


1: An awful lot to ponder after a wretched, really wretched display at Brighton, where City lacked shape, consistency, ideas and, in many cases, footballing competence.

2: Steve Bruce constructed a 4-2-3-1 formation to try to get Mohamed Diamé on the ball, but it genuinely seemed like he hadn’t told the players this. Diamé was isolated in the first half, rarely finding space to exploit but even when he did, the number of touches, worthy or not, that he achieved during a distressingly one-sided affair were minimal. City were as clueless as they’ve been in recent memory during that opening 45 minutes.

3: It improved only with 20 to go, as Brighton finally decided to sit back, and while there was willingness from Ahmed Elmohamady on the right and honest endeavour up front from Abel Hernàndez, it simply didn’t ever look like City were going to score. David Stockdale, not one of our more confidence-inspiring keepers of the Caretaker Custodian years, was not stretched. He had two saves to make, both of them the type you’d expect of him.

4: Proper negative marks have to go adjacent to the names of Isaac Hayden (absolutely bypassed), Sam Clucas (not a left back at all) and especially – and this saddens us – David Meyler, who was ill-disciplined and utterly limited, to the extent that Bruce realised he needed someone capable of finding Diamé in the first place, and replaced him with Tom Huddlestone as the half hour mark ticked by and a yellow card flashed before the Irishman’s eyes. Huddlestone never gave it away (and one classic searching ball that set up the Elmohamady chance fleetingly made us wonder if he could actually be back) but City’s midfield was still more pedestrianised than King Edward Street.

5: We made Brighton look good, but then again Brighton actually are good, though not a team that look like they could walk the division. They lack a touch of star quality but boy they’re quick, they’re incisive and they work hard. Liam Rosenior played on the right wing for them. We obviously never needed him there while Elmohamady was phlegmatically refusing to be injured, but his pace, positivity and general demeanour was exactly what we could have done with, anywhere on the park.

6: It’s a pity Shaun Maloney tweaked his hamstring while playing for Scotland. His experience and professional desire to work on rather than off the ball was also something City could have done with.

7: There were 892 supporters of City who turned up, and 14 players who…. yeah, okay, telegraphed joke. Meanwhile, when the announcer revealed this news on the tannoy, we were applauded by the home fans. We’re still not sure they clapped us for making such a long trip, or for having to endure this cobblers from the players on this, or any trip. Probably a mixture of the two.

8: We offer our unconditional sympathy to the families of the two young footballers from Worthing United who were killed at Shoreham, as well as the bereaved of those others who died. However, a minute’s applause instead of silence feels inappropriate on such an explicitly sad occasion, and the ten minute tribute prior to the game afforded Brighton’s marketeers a cynical opportunity to play a DVD of their greatest (televised) moments of the last 50 years or so on their big screen while people were still committed to paying their undivided attention. This felt cheap. For all that, the tasteful memorial outside the Amex, with a five-a-side goal filled with flowers and scarves, was genuinely poignant to see.

9: Cardiff on Tuesday night. A second madly long trip in four days, but hopefully not a second madly lousy display by City. By the time we play QPR at home next weekend, it’d be nice for the players – and manager – to have got some of their mojo back. If a reliance on making the Circle a fortress is playing a big part in the ambition for the season as a whole, thereby making the away form a distant secondary issue, City are set to have their fingers burned. At some point we’re going to lose at home, and losses can often be followed by more losses. The away form proves this.

10: With the facts now known, or at least barring those redacted for their sheer sensitivity, the Jake Livermore situation sounds astonishingly bleak. The FA have shown wisdom and compassion in not punishing this desperately troubled young man; it’s hard to imagine he’ll be playing again soon in any case. His focus may be on rebuilding his life rather than his football career, and rightly so. Best of luck.


FAMOUS FIVE: Notorious free transfers

With the trip to Brighton this weekend, we have a reunion with Liam Rosenior, whose release by City in the summer upset an awful lot of supporters. Sometimes free transfers are controversial because of the club’s impetuosity, or they become infamous because they are prompted by the player’s actions – or inactions. Five examples of City players placing their boot-filled bindle on their shoulder and trudging down North Road for the last time, either cursing or celebrating, are recalled below…

1: Wayne Jacobs

There was an awful lot to admire about Wayne Jacobs without there being, conversely, an awful lot to say. He was a left back, a damned fine one, whose consistency was a regular talking point and whose mistakes in three years with the club could be counted on no fingers at all. It both described him perfectly and yet did him a disservice to call him ‘steady’. A teenager upon arrival from Sheffield Wednesday in 1988, he made the left back position effortlessly his own instantly and remained in place as no fewer than five managers oversaw the prolonging of City’s late 80s and early 90s mediocrity.

Then, in January 1992, he injured his cruciate ligament. Jacobs had endured a few injuries during his time, minor ones, while also achieving the rare distinction of playing every minute of every game in 1989/90. But this one was, obviously, highly serious. It is only in the last 15 years or so that professionals have been able to overcome cruciate ligaments enough to resume their playing careers, and so there was forlorn hope for Jacobs. So forlorn did the wicked City regime of Martin Fish and Terry Dolan (with others, it has to be said) see Jacobs’ chances that just before Christmas the same year, almost 12 months since he first jarred the knee, they fired him.

Officially, he was given a free transfer. But essentially it was a sacking, and no supporter nor sympathetic media commentator saw fit to label it as anything else. More room was allocated to the letters page of the Sports Mail as infuriated correspondence dropped through the letterbox day after day on Blundells Corner. A fine player, a brilliant servant, a player whose facility to cause trouble of any description was non-existent, just ditched at the drop of a Santa hat. The timing made it worse, but the decision itself would have been bad enough had it been made at Whitsun. City owed far more to Jacobs and his recovery than its paymasters seemed prepared to give, convinced as they were that he would not play the professional game again.

Jacobs, stoic and dignified through it all, duly recovered, got a contract at Rotherham, who were then foolish enough to release him themselves. Bradford came calling and he ended up playing with them through three divisions, including two in the Premier League, even ending up as their assistant manager after nine years as a player. Somehow, his achievements after City squalidly let him go act as a far greater two fingers to those who made such a cretinous decision than anything the Tiger Nation could do or say, though typically, Jacobs would never seek to apportion blame. Such was the character that accompanied the ability.

2: Billy Bremner

Arrived from Leeds, scored on debut against Nottingham Forest while attracting a huge crowd to the game, didn’t take the manager’s job apparently “out of loyalty” to the sacked John Kaye, then left without a whimper when, after two seasons, City were relegated to the Third Division. Went from adored over 16 years at Elland Road to scorned in two at Boothferry Park. Sinking ships, rats, and all that.

If the City fans had been nonplussed by his contribution on the pitch, they were deeply cynical about the ease with which he departed following relegation, and despite his considerable ability as player and leader, those who watched him play in black and amber never believed in him. This meant a curious, paradoxical mixture of anger and relief heralded his exit.

3: Mike Edwards

Still the last East Riding boy to join City from leaving school and work his way all the way up to senior level, Edwards was a very good defender of composure and versatility who was quickly marked out for good things by Mark Hateley when he was placed into the defence as a 17 year old in 1997 and pretty much stayed there through the many downs and further downs to follow. He was key to the Great Escape under Warren Joyce the next season (and made into a man by Jon Whitney and Justin Whittle’s arrival beside him), fantastic when Brian Little’s side got into the play-offs as administrative hell broke loose, and looked the part under Jan Molby too. Then, in a familiar tale, he damaged his cruciate ligament.

During his recuperation, City replaced Molby with Peter Taylor, and as he neared completion of his recovery and began training again, Taylor gave him the horrible option of leaving the club because of what had been built in his absence (John Anderson, Richard Hinds, Damien Delaney and Carl Regan had all arrived, with the likes of Andy Dawson and Alton Thelwell to come). Edwards took this as an indication that Taylor wasn’t interested in seeing him actually play and accepted a contract from Colchester (who were a division higher) to see out the 2003/04 season before joining Grimsby (also a division higher).

There weren’t any effigies of Taylor burning in Hessle when the news of Edwards’ exit was confirmed, but it was still a rotten and unjust way to end the truly local boy’s career.

4: Roger deVries
In May 1980, deVries was three months short of ten years’ service as a first team regular with City, and still not 30 years old, when he was given a free transfer by Mike Smith. He wasn’t alone in going, but there was genuine shock among City fans that an unfussy, capable and consistent servant, who also happened to be Hull through and through, had been given the elbow.

It was hindsight, however, that hauled Smith over the coals eventually. Releasing deVries was one thing, but the players with whom he was replaced were another entirely. In 1980-81, there wasn’t a single specialist left back played in the position, despite it being one most managers of gumption would make sure wasn’t just covered properly, but plentifully. Micky Horswill, a combative midfielder but not a left back, started there, then teenager Bobby McNeil, a right back but not a left back, had a go, then Paul Haigh, England under 21 centre back, but not a left back, had a spell (prior to being sold), the inadequate Brian Ferguson, not a left back, stopgapped there for three festive games (by which time City were already certs for the drop) and lastly, Dennis Booth, not a left back, stepped in and at least used his nous as a long-serving pro to take on a position that he still didn’t find wholly comfortable. He ended up staying there for the foreseeable future, even seeing out Smith’s own time at the club after the threat of liquidation overcame the club in the early spring of 1982.

All of this came back to the decision to free deVries who, despite being a long-serving player, wasn’t exactly holding the shareholders upside down to extract loose change from their pockets. His release on the proviso that the wage bill needed reducing seemed disingenuous at the time – the prospect of having to fund a testimonial season for him was probably more of a factor – and for a player who had seen all the big days and nights of the 1970s, starting with the Watney Cup adventure against Manchester United and the FA Cup run of 1970/71, it simply looked sly, as well as premature. He was good, fit, untroublesome and experienced and, as it turned out, fatally impossible to replace.

5: Michael Keane

The cubic midfielder made 20 appearances in the 2004/05 promotion season and his late winning goal on debut at Barnsley was one of the most memorable moments of a memorable campaign.

But when he headbutted a teenager in a reserve game the following season, he had to go. Peter Taylor made no secret of his distaste for the incident (and, indeed, the player, whose attitude had been questionable from the moment he joined) and sent him to Rotherham, where he had been on loan briefly the previous season. And they couldn’t stand him either.


FAMOUS FIVE: International players at City

It wasn’t so long ago that international breaks didn’t exist at City, as we were so low in the divisions that no self-respecting, vaguely ambitious country would want any of our players. The odd Welsh goalkeeper aside, we were replete with players and our fixtures weren’t postponed. But then it changed. Here are five of the more interesting City alumni who regularly journeyed round the world to sing their national anthem…

1: The Reggae Boyz

City’s first proper foray into football exotica, courtesy of the surprising but entirely galvanising acquisition of two of Jamaica’s 1998 World Cup squad, making City fans understand exactly how Spurs supporters had felt 20 years earlier when Ardiles and Villa pitched up.

Jamaica hadn’t progressed beyond the group stages in France but had entertained greatly, and Theodore Whitmore especially looked like rather extraordinary a talent to be bumbling around in England’s basement division when he signed, alongside Ian Goodison, in 1999. His creativity in midfield and Goodison’s composure in defence were rare treats at a time when City, improving vastly from the worst of bad days earlier in the decade, were still trying to find enough self-belief to return to higher footballing plains.

Though it was Warren Joyce who signed them, they became most associated with Brian Little, at City and beyond, as after his sacking in 2002 he took both of them to Tranmere, where Goodison ended up staying for ten years. Both had their careers chequered by off-field problems – Whitmore’s trial and acquittal over a car accident that killed a Jamaica team-mate, Steve Malcolm; Goodison over unfounded match-fixing allegations – but their presence in the City team felt decidedly less square-pegged as time wore on, and they became popular and valuable team players, as well as excellent individual performers who could lord it over the rest of the division. Crucially, both were absent when City lost in the 2001 play-offs to Leyton Orient.

They won 225 caps for Jamaica between them, which tells pretty much its own story about what their country thought of them, while Whitmore went on to coach the national side for four years after numerous spells as an interim manager. Bizarrely, it was Whitmore, of all people, who ended Goodison’s international career at the age of 39 when his old mate didn’t turn up for pre-tournament training prior to the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

2: Julian Johnsson

He may be the only Faroe Islands international any of us could name, and not just because he spent a season at Hull City in 2001/2. Johnsson, a well-built midfielder, won 62 caps for his country and is among their top goalscorers, a feat one would usually suppose is impressive for a midfielder until one recalls the whipping-boy status of the Faroes.

He was also skipper of his national side when he signed for Brian Little and was a mainstay in City’s midfield throughout a frustrating season in the bottom tier, when the promise of the play-off near-miss of the previous year was not built upon, leading to Little’s dismissal. There wasn’t time for any successor to make a decision on Johnsson’s future as his wife did that for him, citing chronic homesickness.

They returned to the Faroes afterwards, and Johnsson pursued his career in more familiar climes, though he also played in Iceland and, in a career that continues even after turning 40 this year, now plies his trade in the Danish league.

Johnsson’s time with the Tigers was brief, but it was more than a cameo. He was one of the first names on Little’s teamsheet and scored six goals too, with a consistency to his game even in an inconsistent season that allows the fans to think fondly of him. It may not surprise you to know that no more Faroe Islanders have since represented the club.

3: Terry Neill

Initially, we vowed to keep the home nations out of this. What’s exotic about Dave Roberts or Mick Gilhooley, after all? But it’s impossible to ignore Neill, something which the infamously bullish man himself would agree with today. WJT Neill, the only person this author has heard of who is known by their third name, was a regular for Northern Ireland throughout his Arsenal heyday in the 1960s and was captain of his country by 1968.

Jaundice was the reason for this composed centre back’s slow decline at the end of the 60s; he lost his place for club and country while in recovery and, at Highbury at least, he was unable to get it back, missing the 1969 League Cup final even though some of the squad had caught the flu. His arrival as player-manager at Boothferry Park in 1970, at the age of just 28, did at least revive his international career, meaning that City’s manager was still playing international football, as well as club football. He was then asked to manage Northern Ireland too. It felt like a lot to take on, but Neill did so nonetheless.

The early 70s coincided with the decline of George Best, and so Northern Ireland became largely characterless as a team but Neill at least provided a moment to savour when he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over England at Wembley in the Home Internationals. It was only the second goal of his Northern Ireland career; there would be no more. He made his 59th and final appearance a few days short of a year later and retired on the spot from all forms of football. His 15 appearances while on City’s books made him the club’s most capped player until 1995, when he was equalled by countryman Alan Fettis. He was eventually usurped by Theodore Whitmore in 2000.


As player-manager of both club and country from 1971 to 1973, Neill achieved something which it is hard to imagine being equalled by anyone else within a major footballing nation, and his status – and ego – even brought a Northern Ireland game to Boothferry Park in 1972, giving Best a run-out under the free-standing floodlights in a 1-1 draw with Spain. A month after Bloody Sunday, Northern Ireland was deemed too dangerous at the time for such a big game so 20,000 people, the vast majority from Hull, got the chance to see a European Championship qualifier on their doorstep.

That was the kind of thing Neill could wangle – you can imagine him going to the head of the IFA and saying Harold Needler had approved, then going to Big H himself and saying the IFA thought it was a really good idea. A good player and a good manager Neill may have been, but it seems his vanity and spirit was what most made the man.

4: Jamie Wood

Substitute. That’s the word most associate with Wood, a former Manchester United trainee who counts 32 introductions from the bench from his 47 league appearances for the Tigers, and that doesn’t take into account the number of times he was benched and never got on. Suffice to say, nobody thought he was any good.

Save, that is, for the Cayman Islands Football Association, who decided to bend the rules on eligibility by recruiting British players with no caps for another nation to play for their national side as a technical resident, due to the Islands’ status as a territory of the UK. Salford-born Wood, whose hopes of usurping Alan Shearer and Michael Owen in the England team were now a little slim, took up this opportunity. City fans reacted with incredulity and an awful lot of laughter, as nobody thought he was any good.

After two games – a friendly in October 1999 against Jamaica (featuring Ian Goodison), which ended in a 4-1 defeat, and a 1-0 defeat to the same opponent (now with Theodore Whitmore too) three months later, Wood’s fledgling international career was over. Kinder souls would say that this was due to FIFA’s quick closure of the loophole. The less charitable would say it ended because it turned out nobody within the Cayman Islands Football Association thought he was any good.

5: Richard Garcia

City’s most celebrated international, even if some supporters unjustly bemoaned the squeaky Aussie’s dogged and professional four years with the club. Garcia, a skilful and natural footballer, became City’s first World Cup player when he was picked by Australia to go to the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

It had been a long time coming, and even as the competition neared it began to look like black and amber involvement on the globe’s biggest single sporting stage would be scuppered again, as our herd of Irishmen were denied in the play-offs by Thierry Henry’s rogue main gauche and Seyi Olofinjana and Kamel Ghilas were omitted at the last knockings from the final 23s of their national teams, while Jozy Altidore’s shoo-in status with the USA led to disagreements about whether he was our player or not at the time of the finals (as a loanee, he never was, and he’d gone back to his parent club by the time of the tournament anyway).

Garcia had been ignored by Australia during a fine Championship season in 2007/8, and as is often the case, his national FA decided he was worth a look only once City had been promoted, even before he had played any Premier League matches. But once in, he remained a fixture and even though life with City was hard over those two top tier seasons, he was in the Socceroos’ starting XI against Germany. It was a genuinely proud moment for every City fan. Despite a 4-0 defeat, he even played well.

A sub appearance against Serbia followed before elimination, but finally a massive footballing monkey was off City’s back. Less than four years later, Nikica Jelavić signed for City to specifically guarantee himself a place in Croatia’s squad for the summer tournament in Brazil, showing how much further we had come.

In 2012, Garcia left City and returned to his homeland. However far away he remains from Hull, his name will always be on the roll of honour, never to be removed. We should be grateful that our first World Cup representative was someone professional, likeable and uncontroversial. After all, imagine if Jimmy Bullard had stayed fit…


Things We Think We Think #195


1. Another home game, another victory. It’s already becoming something of a habit, and a very welcome one too. You could perhaps argue that City’s succession of wins at The Circle owes plenty to limited opponents with little ambitions – and it’s hard to imagine that Preston, Fulham or Huddersfield will be vying for the automatic promotion spots, while Rochdale aren’t even in the Championship. But that’s also unfair on City, who can only beat who they play – and they’ve beaten them all.

2. Saturday’s win over Preston was the most comfortable and encouraging so far. While Huddersfield and Fulham both had spells in which they caused City problems, and Rochdale’s grim determination to stay in their cup tie made it a dissatisfying evening, rarely did it seem that City would yield anything to Preston.

3. There are reasons aplenty. Defence first: Dawson and Davies look immensely assured at this lower level, and even with the game theoretically in the balance at 1-0, there was no desperate holding on in evidence. They’re a superb pair and if they stay here (and stay fit) all season, we won’t concede many.

4. The midfield looked a lot sharper with the indolent presence of Tom Huddlestone removed. David Meyler is in marvellous form anyway, but the restoration of Mohamed Diamé to the side adds ominous impetus to City in the centre of the pitch. Let’s just hope he hasn’t returned to fitness just in time to be sold.

5. Because the transfer window is casting not light but darkness upon the season so far. Nikica Jelavić’s unjust reward for not giving a toss this season appears to be that of joining a club more suited to his elevated sense of entitlement – what a shame that one of the stars of the ill-fated 2014/15 campaign is blotting his reputation at the end of his time here.

6. But who else could go? Huddlestone, maybe – and frankly he won’t be missed on current form. Diamé would be a gamble for any side with his return to fitness being so recent and as yet unproven, however there are always sides ready to take such a risk. Abel Hernández has looked admirably committed so far this season, though his long-term aims are presumably not to play in the Championship. Add in to that the potential of a lowly Premier League side deciding to bulk up their defensive options with Dawson or Davies, or rain in a few cross with Elmohamady, and it’s clear that a squad that presently looks capable of winning the League could be ripped apart very quickly.

7. The transfer window, in case you hadn’t already realised, is an appallingly stupid idea. And we’ll refrain from justifying Sky Sports News’ revolting lauding and dramatising of this orgy of excess by watching anything the absurd Jim White tries to vomit at your television tomorrow.

8. Swansea at home in the Third Round of the League Cup is an interesting tie. With plenty of lengthy hikes already in the offing next month, it’s a relief it’s at home – and despite Swansea being demonstrably the superior side, this isn’t an unwinnable tie. Go for it, City.

9. Before that, we’ll be back in League action. The next couple of fixtures are testing ones, and you suspect that City will need to improve upon their current performances to prosper. Luckily, you suspect that there’s plenty more to come from this side. It’s down to Steve Bruce to extract those performances from the immense potential his squad possesses.

10. Aren’t Saturday afternoons at the football nice without inveterate attention-seekers in attendance?


Debunking the myth of City’s white 1904/05 ‘home’ shirts


There is a school of thought that says Hull City played their first game in plain white shirts rather than the black and amber stripes which gave rise to their Tigers nickname. Prominent in this commonly held belief is a photograph of two teams, one wearing white shirts and the other in Notts County-like black and white striped jerseys, surrounded by dignitaries and posing alongside a smiling female who holds a large floral tribute. This image is usually captioned as depicting the pre-match formalities of the club’s historic first game on September 1st, 1904. But does it?

Analysis of the photo reveals anomalies which cast doubt over the occasion it depicts, from the presence of Harry Taylor, captain of rugby side Hull FC, in the ‘whites’ line-up, to the absence of any readily identifiable City players. So if we accept that this photo wasn’t taken on the day of City’s first game v Notts County, then what game is it from?

In January 1906, The Hull tug Star sank in the Humber, leaving two men, James Atkinson and Walter Brammer Ferndale dead and two families fatherless. In response, local politician, fancy-goods retailer, former Hull City director (and prominent supporter) S.T. Smurthwaite used his energy and contacts to organise a fundraising game at the Boulevard for the families of the deceased.

Through Smurthwaite’s connections, he got future City manager Fred Stringer to referee the game and Tigers trainer Bill Leach to run the line. At this time City were playing on the Circle cricket ground, but still had a lease to use the Boulevard. Their own Anlaby Road ground was nearly ready and would open in the March of 1906.

The resulting fixture was a match between a Cyd Smurthwaite XI and the ‘Lady Madcap’ Company team. This unusually-named side were representing the theatrical company appearing in the musical comedy “Lady Madcap” at the Grand Theatre in Hull.


The undoubted star of the company was Marie Studholme who was described in a local paper as ‘the famous musical comedy actress, the most photographed woman in the world and generally considered the loveliest woman on the English stage’. It was she who kicked the game off at 2.30pm on Thursday February 22nd 1906 and who features at the centre of the commemorative postcard by RC Garside, flanked by Smurthwaite in the white shirt. Next to him is Harry Taylor.

The event prompted the following verse in ‘The Globe':-

They talk of epoch-making things,

And eras ne’er to be forgot,

But to my mind more fondly clings

The mem’ry of sweet Marie’s shot;

To me it was a precious treat,

To watch the twinkling of her feet.


With graces matchless, glances coy,

She glided forward at the call,

And then, oh blest seraphic joy,

Her shoe shot out to kick the ball;

She failed, but ah, what thrills of bliss

Were mine in watching such a Miss!


Taylor would have needed no introduction to the city’s sporting public as captain of Hull FC. He had also represented Yorkshire and England in his sport, and in this game was playing in goal. Antony Starks of Hull Kingston Rovers had been due to play but had suffered a family bereavement on the morning of the game. Other players representing the ‘whites’ were Goodin, Stather (captain) Reid, Carney, Hopper, Bolton, Norman, Smurthwaite, Harper and ‘A.Special’.

CydLetterMatthew Carney and Walter Goodin were fringe players for Hull City that season. Carney played as centre half at Denaby in an FA cup qualifying game on October 28th and Goodin played as full back in the final league of the season at home to Lincoln City. Neither player was retained after the 1905/06 campaign ended. ‘A.Special ‘, possibly another City player, scored a hat trick in the game that ended 3-3.

After the game, Smurthwaite expressed gratitude in a letter published in the Hull Daily News:-

“We must thank the football club for the free use of their ground, the courteous secretary of Hull Football Club (Mr Charlesworth) for his great help, the Hull City club for the loan of goalposts, ball &c., Mr Stringer for officiating as referee and Messrs Harry Hampson, Leach and Coates for their help, and the gatemen of the Hull and Hull City Clubs.

We heartily thank Miss Maris Studholme for not only putting the ball in motion but for her enthusiasm on the fund’s behalf ever since the charity match was mooted; to the members of the “Madcap” company for their whole-hearted support; to Commander Wheeler for allowing the H.T.S. Southampton band to play; to Messrs Winter for sending a wagonette gratis for our use; to Messrs Owbridge who, through Mr Turner, sent us some novelties which created much merriment; to Mr Sykes for the use of a room at the Manchester Hotel; and although I mention it last, it is by no means least, the kind co-operation of the Eastern Morning and Hull Daily News Company, who, through their mediums, made known to so many people this charity effort was at such short notice to take place.”

It was reported that ‘The receipts from the game were estimated to be around £40. There would be a couple of thousand people present, a great proportion being of the gentler sex.’

According to ‘The Fly‘ in the Hull Daily Mail’s match report the next day “the ladies of the ‘Madcap’ Company were busily engaged extracting hard-earned shekels from the male visitors, and even had the audacity to relieve me of 2d for a copy of the teamsheet. The flowers were selling well at prices which would make a florist’s mouth water”. A second Garside postcard depicts this fund-raising activity, with the ladies and their flower baskets. Marie Studholme also features in this card, and a smirking Smurthwaite has managed to position himself cross-legged at her feet.


It can be concluded then that the photograph purported by many (including the club in programmes and on a large canvas displayed near the Chairman’s suite in the West Stand of the KC Stadium) to show the pre-match scene at the Tigers’ inaugural game, the basis of the common assumption about the first primary kit, in fact depicts a charity match that took place some 18 months later. What City wore in their first game remains unconfirmed.

A team photo of City in white shirts, black ‘knickerbockers and stockings’ with the season year of 1904-5 on a ball could understandably be thought to corroborate the white shirts as part of the primary kit belief if the ‘Madcap’ game photo was instead from the first game, but even that photo needs to be put into a wider context.


This team photo is just that, a team photo, rather than a photograph of the squad, as City used over 40 players that first season and the image has just 11 players and trainer Bill Leach.

Those players are F Wolfe, J Whitehouse, J Turner, T Jones, W Martin, JE Smith, G Spence, P Howe, A Raisbeck, G Rushton and H Wilkinson.

J Turner’s presence helps us narrow down when this photograph was taken, as he played just seven games for City, all of them consecutive and five of them at home. Of those five games, only two featured an XI identical to the team photographed in white jerseys: v Burton United on November 3rd and v Bradford City on November 12th.

Burton United’s first choice kit in 1904/05 was a terrifyingly garish outfit of green and Indian red (a hue between pink and brown) quartered jerseys, white shorts and green socks, no clash with either white shirts or jerseys of black and amber stripes. Bradford City’s main colours though, would clash: The Bantams kit at that time was claret and amber striped jerseys worn with white ‘knickerbockers’ and black stockings.

It is important to note that at this stage of Association Football’s development, there was no such thing as an ‘away kit’. The convention of the time was for the home side to change shirts in the event of a colour clash, it wasn’t until 1921 that the visitors were the team required to change after a Football League ruling. If the norm in City’s first season was to wear white jerseys then no change would be required, but the match report of the game makes a specific reference to the need for a change.


It also refers to us early on as the “wearers of the amber and black”, signifying that the soon to be nicknamed Tigers’ primary colours were already well established by this point, just over two months and 17 games into their first season. The next reference to kits is the even more telling: “[Hull] City turned out in white shirts [because of ] the Bradford shirts being very similar to those of the home team.”

The clear implication is that white shirts are part of a change kit, and not the first choice City kit. So whereas some believe the Tigers began wearing amber and black at the start of our first Football League season, the 1905/06 campaign, the club were in fact wearing the now familiar colours much earlier than that, perhaps even in the first game against Notts County.

IllustratedHullCertainly by March 1905 when Hull Daily Mail writer Athleo suggested the Tigers nickname based on the striped jerseys, though the Mail’s cartoonist was depicting City players in stripes five months before.

The illustration shown here, drawn by RW Lawson, has caricatures of several prominent players from the club’s first season and trainer Bill Leach. There’s “Lightning Goal Getter” George Rushton who scored City’s first goals against Notts County, George Spence “The Skipper of the Crew”, H Wilkinson as “Wilkie on the Warpath”, ‘keeper Jimmy Whitehouse (wearing stripes, it wasn’t until 1909 that goalkeepers were required to wear distinct jerseys), Tom Jones who “returns the argument” and “Marcus Superbus”, or Mark Andrews, a teacher (and club director) who played eight times for City.

His last appearance came on 29th October 1904 against Stockton. That game, a 2-2 draw, came a fortnight before the Bradford game and subsequent report which calls City “the wearers of the amber and black”.

It would be absurd to assume that the cartoonist incorrectly drew striped shirts when City’s first choice kit included white shirts, so it seems safe to assume that ‘The Citizens’, not yet known as The Tigers, were clad in amber and black stripes by October, at the most just 59 days after their first game.

We now know that the whites v stripes photograph is not from a Hull City game, and can reasonably deduce that the white shirted team photo is from a specific game when City were compelled to wear a change kit rather than representative of what was worn for the full 1904/05 season, leaving no evidence at all that the club did not wear amber and black from their outset.

The nearest thing we have to a record of what Hull City wore in their first game is a photograph evidently taken on the day. As well as the XI that drew 2-2 with Notts County (lined up here in the order of Joe Leiper, Jimmy Whitehouse, Tom Jones, Billy Martin, Frank Wolfe, George Rushton, George Spence, Peter Howe, T McKiernan, Andy Raisbeck and Henry Wilkinson) it features some of the men who founded the club, Ben Frost, Ernest Morison, Alf Spring, Fred Levitt, Jack Bielby, James Ramster, Chairman William Gilyott, James Barraclough,  Marcus Andrews, vice Chairman Dr. George W. Lilley and Ben Crompton. Also present are trainer Bill Leach and rather significantly, the Lord Mayor Alderman W. Jarman JP, who kicked off the first game, with his behatted beadle E Rodgerson. FirstGame

What the players appear to be wearing here opens up a whole new can of worms, as it seems they are wearing all black, but it doesn’t offer anything to support the white shirts in the first game theory, so we consider that school of thought expelled, totally debunked.

So let’s consider what we see in this photo. It could be that they players are wearing training/warm up tops before the game and changed for the match, but that’s not a theory we are minded to subscribe to. Maybe the truth is hiding in plain sight.

We consider it possible that City are wearing amber and black here, but that the print quality is so low that the lighter stripes are indistinguishable. Without further corroborative evidence we can’t say for sure, but our current belief is that City wore amber and black in their first game.

Consider that on the 24th of August, 1904, in announcing the formation of the club the Hull Daily Mail wrote: “The Hull City team, we are informed, have decided to play in black and amber vertically striped shirts.”

No mention of what City wore against Notts County is given in the Mail’s match report, but since they’d previously announced what the club’s colours were, and that by November 12th they were calling City “The wearers of the amber and black” as if this was common knowledge, then there is little basis to assume we wore anything other than amber and black against Notts County. No Football League team wore all black between its formation and City playing for the first time, so a team intent on joining the professional ranks wearing monotone kits would be a notable occurence.


The British Film Institute have a short motion picture on their website of a Mitchell and Kenyon (the Blackburn based film producers) recording that shows a City game from the 1904/05 season that could well be against Notts County, as City, clad in amber and black are playing a team in striped jerseys that appear to be black and white as worn by the Magpies in 1904. Only two of the teams that came to the Boulevard in 1904/05 were known to wear a kit similar to that seen in this video, Notts County and Derby. Grimsby might seem an obvious candidate, but in 1904 the Mariners wore brown and blue quartered shirts.

There can’t be many games in a season of friendlies that were deemed worthy of filming (both FA Cup ties against Stockton were played away) though the first game seems a more likely choice than the visit of Derby. Sadly, Mitchell and Kenyon have captured only one half of the game, seemingly the second half if the manner in which the players take to the pitch is a clue, and not the pre-game activities which may have included Mayor Jarman kicking off, identifying it for certain as the Notts County game.

The footage is still very useful though, it confirms what we suspected about City playing in amber and black before the start of the 1905/06 Football League campaign, and suggests that the first amber used was a very dark shade compared to what was used in subsequent years. The corner flags are striped, with the lighter bands not altogether distinguishable from the darker stripes, which lends credence to notion that dark amber stripes and black stripes, if worn in the team photo with the Mayor and club directors, would not be easy to make out on a very grainy photograph.

In summary then, we know that white shirts were used as a change kit in 1904/05 but it was not the primary kit, and the balance of probability is that Hull City wore amber and black in their first ever game.

Research by Nicholas Turner. His books Now Tigers! and Hull City in the 1920s should be on the booksheves of all Tiger Nationals.


The Soul of Hull City #8: The Hinchliffe Crest

Keeping Up Appearances


Back in 1999, at the start of a period of self inflicted financial turmoil that saw the club evicted from Boothferry Park, players go without pay and the taxman issuing High Court winding-up orders over unpaid VAT, the board saw fit to pay a few grand for an unneeded rebranding exercise. At the behest of vice president Stephen Hinchliffe, (a man disqualified from being a company director by the DTI and later convicted of fraud and jailed for two years) his nepotistically-appointed son James Hinchliffe was tasked to design a new crest. It was an utter abomination.

At the top of a shield was a crudely illustrated Humber Bridge that had three giant coronets hovering ominously, Damocles sword like, over the span. Underneath, inside the escutcheon, was an owl with a goatee beard rendered in iron filings, or maybe it was a clipart crab with a circumcised penis for a nose, or maybe, just maybe, it was a tigers head. It was supposed to be, but it sure didn’t look like one.

Thankfully, that design, which first appeared in a programme in March 1999 and inspired indignant protest, never graced the players’ kit. A hastily redrawn version was used on the Avec strips for 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, and though it was a little bit better, it was awful nonetheless, retaining the nose that looked startlingly phallic.

Adam Pearson sought to erase any trace of the ‘Sheffield Stealers’ reign when he brought the club out of administration in 2001 and heroically commissioned a new primary logo that contained the old, beloved tigers head design that had adorned City shirts between 1978 and 1999. Every now and then, however, the Hinchliffe crest is unwittingly used by a lax page editor in the national press, and the Tiger Nation is forcibly reminded of the time our club’s logo was, depending on your perspective, a bearded owl or a cock-nosed crab.



REPORT: City 2-1 Fulham


Sustained dominance. Some silken football. A deserved lead. An advantage prematurely relaxed upon. A deflating leveller.

For quite some time, it appeared that the above would tell the story of Hull City v Fulham in August 2015, and that lessons would need to be learned about putting sides away more clinically.

That lesson remains valid, but can now be taught with the comfort of a late winner securing a win that looked both certain and lost at varying times.

Because on the early evidence of this season, Huddersfield and Fulham at home are fixtures that anyone challenging for promotion ought to be collecting six points from. City have done that. And for that, credit.

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The Soul of Hull City #6: Best Stand Dust Showers

Fan Culture


Best: a superlative of ‘good’, meaning of the most excellent or desirable kind – though the word is often loosely used to describe something that’s less shit than whatever is surrounding it. Hence, Mel C was the ‘best’ singer in the Spice Girls, Benidorm is the ‘best’ ITV sitcom of the past 25 years, Carlsberg is probably the ‘best’ lager in the world, and Boothferry Park’s ‘Best Stand’ was fractionally less shit than the South Stand, North Stand or Kempton.

The Best Stand had very little going for it, other than the fact that it wasn’t one of the three other stands. Yes it housed The Well, and it was where the dignitaries and sponsors sat, but it was still shit. In the final 30 years or so of its existence, when it had basically been left to rot, it had the added benefit of showering City fans with dust, rubble and bits of masonry whenever a clearance from a City player (or a pin-point pass from Steve Terry) hit any part of the stand’s upper areas. If the ball happened to hit the part of the stand’s roofing above the players’ wives, it was often the highlight of a Saturday afternoon watching these ladies, done up to the nines (well, more like threes for the most part), having to pick bits of concrete out of their Mark Hill hair-dos. The KC has yet to show any signs of fraying, but should the day come it can only be hoped that it does so in as comical a fashion as its predecessor.


Things We Think We Think #193


1. Well, that was refreshing. Going to support your local team should, regardless of the result, be an enjoyable experience, and on Saturday it actually was. None of the division and rancour that befouled many a matchday last season was evident, the atmosphere was at all times positive and the focus entirely on football and football alone between 3pm and 4.50pm. Brilliant.

2. City did their part too, sending fans home still happy with a resounding 2-0 win. The performance wasn’t at all times convincing against limited opposition, but the Tiger Nation was given reason to believe that Steve Bruce’s men can play much better than they did, and if you can win well when not at your best, that’s a very good sign for the season ahead.

3. Disappointingly, the Allams have managed to create a negative headline or two amidst the joy of winning on the opening day, initially with their decision to boycott matches, and then with their later claim (not made directly by them, but revealed by the manager) that this was due to their property being vandalised by City fans. Notwithstanding the fact that we would condemn any such action, the fact remains that such allegations should go to the police, not to the media, and we have strong cause to suspect they haven’t. Their failure to rebrand the club still haunts them and eats away at them, and still they cannot bring themselves to stop besmirching the good name of their own customers. Shame on them.

4. Irrespective of their reasoning behind the boycott, we can now move on. In their absence, there is less need to call for the owner to do one and more need – indeed, necessity – to unite as supporters in concentrating on singing pro-team songs, as opposed to anti-Allam songs. The “City Till We Die” chant existed long before his signature on the deeds did, and so it should be reclaimed as the exclusively pro-team song it has always been. Re-singing ditties with the words “The Tigers” in should be considered too.

5. It has been a sadly rare occurrence for us to acknowledge a job well done by the club of late, especially if it has any connection with history, but the decision to allow supporters to hurl symbolic oranges on to the pitch before the game, in memory of Ian McKechnie and in homage to the unique way City fans of the late 60s and early 70s used to herald him pre-match, was a truly commendable one. It’s nice to see that someone crucial from the club’s past could be remembered appropriately and quite innovatively, especially in an age where football as a whole has become too sanitised and distant to allow such activity to occur regularly again. Anyone chucking an orange at Allan McGregor would now be arrested and banned, after all.

6. There’s always some medicine with the sugar though. Have you seen how the club have altered the Championship table? Putting ‘The Tigers’ instead of Hull City, while keeping all other surrounding club names intact, smacks of juvenile pettiness. Club nicknames have never appeared on a league table, and that’s what ‘The Tigers’ is – a nickname. The FA said so. If they’d actually doctored it so it was a table entirely full of nicknames, that might have been taken as a decent, if predictable, joke. As it is, those who made this decision just look total buffoons.

7. Accrington Stanley will, hopefully, be such a laugh. Hull City and the League Cup are hardly bosom buddies, and a first round exit feels almost inevitable given the circumstances (and our current regime’s less than exemplary record of respecting cup competitions), but we almost don’t care. It’s a ground tick, it’s a summer night’s trip to the devil’s county and it’s an opportunity to emphasise again, what being a proper City fan is like. We can’t wait.

8. See also Wolves next weekend, which is on Sunday, kicking off early and provides a proper opportunity for a Sabbath on the sauce at a ground which is always an enjoyable awayday.

9. On Thursday night, a group of supporters were invited to the stadium to taste, and opine on a variety of produce supplied by the deservedly much vaunted local firm Hull Pie. The outcome was a decision on which flavour pie would be stocked in limited numbers at stadium food outlets against Huddersfield, and a commitment to increase orders to satisfy demand if they sold well. Everything about this is admirable, it shows that there are people at the club actively engaging supporters to improve the matchday experience (even if the owners don’t like what the fans think) and that efforts are being made to showcase locally made produce and support local businesses. Barbecue pulled pork was the winning pie incidentally, we could have recommended that long before Thursday night having scoffed many, and if you haven’t tried Hull Pies wares, made by long standing City fan Matt Cunnah, you should. (

10. Bloody hell, Channel 5’s Football League highlights show was jenk wasn’t it?