Thank you, Brian.

When people talk about legendary figures in the history of Hull City, recency bias is inevitable. I guess the game has changed so much in the last decade plus and as every year goes by, there’s less fans who would have seen some of the stars of yesterday, whether it’s a Keith Edwards, Chris Chilton, Billy Bly or a Raich Carter. Don’t get me wrong there’s nothing wrong with giving some of the modern performers their due respect. We’ve been incredibly lucky to have seen the likes of Jelavic, Huddlestone, Bowen and Hernandez put on the shirt and it’s something we really can’t take for granted. However, I think sometimes when you look back the importance and the impact of players or managers that paved the way are underestimated.

Put simply your Grandad loved watching Chillo, so he took your Dad who loved watching Peter Skipper and he took you and you got to watch Huddz… then you might take your lad to watch Jaden Philogene… without Chillo, it’s arguable that the addiction is never passed on, so to speak.

Anyway, what I’m taking an age to say (in true “The likes of Hull” style) is that the impact and culture of Brian Horton stands toe to toe with almost anyone in the history of the club. Not only because he gave us a joyous and fantastically entertaining product to watch from 1984 to 1988 and took us back to the second level for the first time in nearly a decade, but because he changed a culture at the club, and then as if that wasn’t enough, he came back in 2007 to complete the work he started and was a massively important factor in the greatest achievement the club has ever completed.

Most City fans who experienced the pain of the end to the 1983-84 season are probably in their fifties by now. If not, they were still in short trousers that day. As if you don’t know already City needed to win by 3 clear goals at mid-table Burnley to get promoted from the old Division 3. In “typical City” style we won 2-0. Burnley (who had no real reason to, beyond… you know Burnley) played to restrict City and with no real ambition from the start and worse still the result sent up the much-hated Sheffield United and was essentially the exit door for the incredible talent that was Brian Marwood.  Now, I’m not alone in spitting on the name of both clubs for eternity afterwards and I’m still not sure if 11-year-old me was ever as truly heartbroken by City again, but there’s another story at play that even I don’t like to embrace. So here goes.

City were probably the most talented team in the league that year, and Colin Appleton was a logical choice for the colourful Chairman of Don Robinson as they’d spent time together previously at Scarborough, there was no doubting he was a canny manager and a good judge of a player. His Achilles heel though was that he could be a bit stoic and defensive at times, and City would sometimes struggle to break down teams at home who would get men behind the ball. As much as it pains me to say, draws at home in April and May to Gillingham and Bristol Rovers did as much to stop us going up as that wretched day at Turf Moor.

And that’s where the Brian Horton story begins, as City took stock from that night, Appleton left for Swansea City and we needed some fresh input plus somebody to galvanise a young, talented squad who had lost their most talented player and had been heartbreakingly close to achieving their aims the season before. Brian was still playing for Luton Town at the time and at 35 would be one of, if not the, youngest managers in the league.

He didn’t come in and spend a lot of money, his main off-season deals were to bring in Laurie Pearson a young left back from Gateshead and Neil Williams a utility player who had been released from Watford. Missing their talisman and outstanding player of the season before in Brian Marwood, we had a slow start to the season winning 4, drawing 4 and losing 3 of the first eleven league games, including losing to Preston on a game featured on Match of the Day. However, this bedding in process also saw the rise of the next City icon. Billy Whitehurst terrorised Division One Southampton in the league cup where City lost 5-4 on aggregate and a young England centre back in Mark Wright would have sleepless nights for weeks to come. City were now more front footed than before, in Pearson he had a left back who would push on, whilst in Billy Askew he had a wide player with vision and precision that could cut teams open.

Thus, from the 23rd October 1984, to February 2nd 1985 we would not lose a league game. We imposed our will on teams. The partnership of Skipper and McEwan at the back was immense, Tony Norman in goal was mercurial, Gareth Roberts outworked everyone in the middle of the park and with Big Billy petrifying the league, both Steve Massey and Andy Flounders chipped in with important goals and cameos to finish teams off. That season was not only a joy, but one in which we’d proved that we weren’t dependent on Marwood, there was another way and the middle of all this was the soft-spoken Horton, organising the team, the training and club in professional ways fans hadn’t seen since a young Terry Neill arrived many years before.

Importantly this City side also had bottle. They reeled off five consecutive wins in March and again in April/May which meant by the time the iconic Peter Skipper scored the winner at Walsall, promotion was secured.

I’m sure City have made me as happy in subsequent eras, but at this point in my fandom, I’d known nothing like the buzz and the excitement around the club. We were undeniable and “The tigers were back” as the song goes. Brian again showed himself to be shrewd judge of a player bringing in the hugely talented Richard Jobson that season, and although it took him a while to adjust he’d prove money well spent, the next year he’d bring in Garry Parker and Frankie Bunn from Luton and the experienced Pat Heard and even though the big boys came knocking for Billy as he joined Newcastle United we came a creditable 6th in the second level and again played some terrific and attacking football.

In the next seasons we’d sign the likes of Alex Dyer, Charlie Palmer, whilst young talent like Andy Payton and Andy Saville broke in from the junior section. The end for Brian (and he tells it much better than me) came after a late season loss at home to Swindon and the emotional and flamboyant Don Robinson overreacted and sacked him. The team had faded from an earlier flirtation with promotion but were still in clear safety from the drop. Robinson was taken apart by the players when he told them the news and he tried to take back his decision, but Brian was having none of it and exited the club.

Most fans of the era know we then seemed to staggered from one disaster to another until we were relegated again in 1991. It was a sad state of affairs that would take more than a decade of debacle and humiliation until under the new ownership of Adam Pearson and management of Peter Taylor we finally began to rise again.

Brian had a fantastic management career after us, at Oxford, Man City, Huddersfield and Brighton to name a few, but it was probably a surprise to most when he was tempted back as assistant to Phil Brown in 2007. I don’t need to tell you the details here but I do think Brian’s experience, reliability and professionalism helped keep Phil Brown’s feet on the ground, and that one two punch did things even the biggest City optimist didn’t think was possible.

The great man was on the “Undr the Cosh” recently and spoke really well about his double stint with the club. He was a disciplinarian, but also a thinking man’s gaffer, pragmatic but not without humour. He also opened up about his current challenges with his own health and is helping promote prostrate awareness in a typical Brian Horton selfless way.  The twelve-year-old me fell in love with City under Brian Horton, he gave us vision and identity, the fact he came back nearly twenty years later and helped take us even further means that I’m not sure there’s anyone who has served the club quite as well as Brian. We can talk about Peter Taylor in the same breath, but for me, personally, that’s about it. So, thank you Brian, you’re a gentleman and this club in indebted to you.


Charlie Palmer, the boy was a larker…

The boy was a larker part 3. 

I’m asked to do a regular input to the supporter’s trust newsletter and as writing is my happy place, I don’t mind chucking the odd piece their way. Rather than randomly write about wherever the wind takes me, I tend to focus on players of yesteryear (possibly reflecting that the supporters trust members are often old, like me!). I did this one a while ago and seeing as the newsletter is old news now, I thought I’d tinker with it slightly and send it out to you my lovely Twitter (x) folk.

There’s a ton of positive things going on at City presently, not least the fantastic young manager we have, which links nicely to this man, Charlie Palmer. Through his nephew Graham, who has been a mate for 30 years I sent the original copy of this to him. Humble and down to earth as ever Charlie thanked me and I was relieved to see my recollections matched his. Anyway, he still lives in the Derby area and he believed (and still does) that Derby’s loss was our gain. Speaking incredibly highly of Liam Rosenior, Mr Palmer proving that much like a last ditch tackle in 1988, his judgement is as accurate as ever. Some guy is our Charlie. Anyway, enjoy the piece…

Ok, I’m biased towards Charlie Palmer. Why? Well, there’s a connection from him to me (I grew up good mates with his nephew) and met the great man a few times. Thus, when message boards came about in the late nineties I took his name as mine, which is still my other twitter handle, and it’s stuck. Sometimes now fans who I see sporadically at southern games might call me Charlie, much to the amusement of my mates. But it’s not just that. Charlie was a rolls royce, he was the best full back this young fan had seen in his early years of watching the tigers and although he didn’t stay a long time (pretty much exactly two years) his influence was more significant than his time at the wheel. 

My Dad worked shifts as a copper in the eighties and when I’d get home from school, he’d frequently ask me or my Mum to check the “text” to find out any City news. 

That would include putting on Ceefax and Teletext to see if we could find any news on the second level City team at the time (if the word Ceefax has you stumped, ask your Dad), so on February 13th of 1987 I was a busy lad. Checking the text during what I think (statos please confirm) was the transfer deadline of 1987. I was also surprised to be able to tell the old man we’d secured two signings. One was Charlie from Derby County for 36 grand, and one was Alex Dyer from Blackpool for 41 grand. Now both would turn out to be fairly astute moves by the ever-sharp Brian Horton. 

Both also had a link to him. Brian knew football in the area he was at before taking the City job, so we’d get Richard Jobson, Ray Daniel, Garry Parker, Frankie Bunn, Alex and Charlie because of his knowledge of the young players coming through Watford and Luton. Although they’d both moved on from Watford, that was without doubt the link. 

Charlie came straight in that season and made an impact. It was perhaps the one thing Horton hadn’t really found since coming to Hull, an elite wide defender. We’d got by with Laurie Pearson, Bobby McNeil, Gary Swan and others but it was undoubtedly a weak point. 

That wasn’t Charlie. He had pace, he was strong and importantly he read a game. He was good on the ball for the era, was strong in the air and was unflappable under pressure. Later on in his career he’d play centre back at Notts County under Neil Warnock, so he had the ability to deal with the more physical players of the time too. I remember watching him several times just completely shut down the opposition winger and he quickly became a fan favourite. I’m honestly not sure I ever saw him have a bad game.

In that era, I think your full back had to be bit of everything, part pit bull, part whippet, part sniper. Charlie was the first full back I’d seen who had all of the above, he didn’t get pushed around in what was an infinitely more physical game, he was tall and languid for a full back so he could motor, but most importantly, he knew when to shut the door, his timing in his tackles was so impeccable you began to take it for granted. For younger City fans, imagine a pacier, right footed Andy Dawson, but swap his free kick taking ability for aerial presence. Just like Andy Dawson, Chaz was the epitome of consistency.

By the time he was sold almost two years to the day to Notts County, I think it was more to do with the change in management. Eddie Gray wasn’t Brian Horton in any sense, he inherited some fantastic talent but barring a cup run really didn’t do much with it. He sold him where I don’t think Horton would have and we were poorer for it. 

Years later Charlie would tell me it was pretty hard for a black man in Hull in that era. He said he got no trouble from the City fans quite the opposite, but the rugby fans were very different, and you had to watch your step. Although he loved playing for the club and made some close friends (Richard Jobson and Alex Dyer namely) he was quite relieved to go by the end. His face didn’t fit any more and he like all pro players wanted to be wanted. It was a shame it ended that way. But City’s loss was Notts County’s gain, and he went on to play for them in the highest league during a six -season stint. Any City fan who went to watch during that era would have been unsurprised by this or the fact that we seemed to self harm in the process. This was later eighties and early nineties City, that’s what we did. 

We all have that player we loved, even if they aren’t the first on the team sheet of an all-time 11. Charlie is mine and anyone who saw him wear the shirt would agree that Charlie Palmer was a larker. 

Thanks for reading. UTT.

A quick story about Colin Murphy…

With the sad passing of Colin Murphy last week, it’s been really nice to see the ex-players take to Twitter to pay tribute to him, players like Ryan France and Ben Burgess that had worked with him closely during the incredible days of 2003-6 as we rose through the leagues. I tweeted out a little something and I think that the key words were that we’re all in debt to him. Alongside Peter Taylor and Adam Pearson, they completely changed a culture that had been wrong for 15 years, the young ones who go to watch us now, would be most likely going to Crewe and Harrogate if it wasn’t for those men and the fantastic players who developed under them.

Anyway, I realised over the weekend that by pure chance I had a funny story about Murph, that was so outrageous I had to check it via the google machine. I now know it is indeed true, and although I might not nail every fact I thought it’s a fitting and brilliant tribute to the man, and would make you lot smile, so here goes.

I used to know Stuart Naylor, ex West Brom and Lincoln City keeper, via an ex (Stuart was married to her sister). He was keeper’s coach at Bristol City and later Bristol Rovers, and after a couple of beers he can tell a fantastic story. Anyway, one time he told me this about Colin.

Lincoln were doing really well in the old Division 3 in 1982 after they’d been promoted the year before and they were top at the start of October, despite selling their striker Tony Cunningham to Barnsley for 80k, which wasn’t exactly cheap in that era. Stuart in this time is part of a really small squad and I’m not even sure if he’s full time. He plays for the reserves and at 19 he’s developing under first team keeper David Felgate who was (as I remember) very good.

Now, Colin is non too happy about the lack of investment by the then chairman Gilbert Blades, and wants something like 25 grand to buy a forward. The purse strings are however being tightened and he’s not getting the money he wants. Murph knows that if they are to stay in the promotion chase that the fifteen man squad he has needs upgrading though and he’s determined to make his point.

They are about to play a decent Newport County team away (they have John Aldridge and Tommy Tynan) and Stuart gets a ring on the Friday telling him to be at the ground for 1pm. He presumes that David Felgate must have a knock and this is going to be his chance to get the start. However, when he walks in the changing room, there’s the number one goalkeeper and he’s clearly fine. Felgate is non too pleased and thinks Murph might be about to drop him, however it’s not even close to the truth.

Sure enough at 1.30pm. Murph strides in, and names the team that includes the 19 year old, reserve goalkeeper Stuart Naylor as centre forward. Stuart is speechless and doesn’t have a clue at what to do. Glenn Cockerill who was a very technically able player and goes up to the top leagues to play tries to help him out and encourage him a bit, without much success. Stuart says he hasn’t played on pitch since he was maybe 11 or 12. So when the teams run out, the travelling fans are as bemused as he is.

He says the next thirty minutes lasted a lifetime, as he tried and mainly failed to make a nuisance of himself in the “Target man” position. Lungs burning and legs like lead, the game is simply passing him by and the Lincoln fans are not happy campers. He kept looking to the bench hoping this experiment would end as each miss controlled pass and mistake only seemed to make things worse. Stuart was certain Murph would end the madness at half time, but at 0-0 he came in, said his piece and left and so the charade continued.

Tynan scored in the 64th minute for Newport and at 1-0 down, Nayls was now certain he’d be dragged, as Lincoln chased the game. However Colin used his only sub (those were the days!) bringing on David Beavon for Stuart Hibberd and Nayls knew he would have to finish the game. Incredibly they only lost the game 1-0 and stayed top of the league despite the loss. The fans let the team know their displeasure at the end and Nayls said he could hardly walk for a week.

Murph then popped to see the media and said with a threadbare squad and such little investment, he played who he thought was the best man for the job. The chairman quite rightly got an absolute set of pelters from the media and fan base and resigned later that season with a new board coming in. Point made by Murph and he was absolutely right, as injuries really damaged the small squad they fell off to 6th, with a bit more investment and his incredible eye for players there’s every reason to think they could have challenged for back to back promotions.

It’s almost Clough-esque behaviour from a man that I don’t think we have the likes of around in football now, and it’s a poorer place without him. Stuart like most players loved him although he thought he was crackers, he’d go on to get a big move to West Brom just a few years later.

I’m sure I speak for all City fans when I say that the loss of Murph is a sad, sad day and we should all take stock to recognise how alongside Peter Taylor he transformed the club. Rest easy Murph. Cheers.

Who the f*** is Craig Fagan?

Sometimes for whatever reason you can’t be at a game and because of your circumstances the memory of that match really sticks with you. When the much underrated Brian Little had a patched up band of lunatics somehow on a run to the play-offs in the spring of 2001, I was stuck on a school trip as a young teacher in France. Technology being what it was at the start of the millennium, I was told there was a spot about 5 minutes’ walk from the centre of the camp where your phone could get a little bit of signal. After tea on the first Saturday I walked to said location and waited. A message popped up on the Nokia from the old man. “Beat Hartlepool 1-0, UTT” Cue stupid and utterly carefree pogo-ing in the middle of a field in southern France.

Another such occasion was during our first ever season in the Premier League. An incredible start to our season had first slowed, then creaked and by April and May we were in full free fall. We were a burning wreck of losing cargo and all the neigh say, smart arse premier league fans were bathing in our desperation. We were now everything they said we were at the start, leaking goals, naive and nervous up top. By the time we got to the second game from the end at Bolton, it was pretty much us or Newcastle for the drop. Me being me? I was at Butlins coaching junior football.

My main supply of information whilst trying to instil some creative ability in a bunch of sleep deprived 12 year olds was a fellow coach who was also an Arsenal fan that after our Geovanni inspired brilliance, was simply loving the experience of watching me suffer. City chipped in by going 1-0 down and it all looked like we were going to fall at the final hurdle and drop back to the second level. Then in the midst of some 7-a-side also ran game, my mate Jonesey’s face dropped.
“Oh… Pete…. you’ve equalised”
I jumped directly in the air yelling “Get in!!!” at volume, which definitely threw the team as we’d just conceded a throw in.
“Who scored?”
Jonesey squinted at his phone. “Craig Fagan” he replied.
“Who the f*** is Craig Fagan Pete?”

I think I was too happy to care at the time, but now 14 years later, I’ll answer his question. Craig Fagan was an absolute grafter, a relentless channel runner who could plug in across several attacking positions. He was typical of the team that survived in the Premier League that year in that he was a very good Championship player who hadn’t seen a fight he didn’t fancy getting into. Thus we caught lots of big time teams with their pants down. No better example being where he got his leg broken by Danny Guthrie whilst City beat Newcastle at St James Park earlier that same season. Guthrie’s challenge was cowardly and distasteful as Fages was running the ball into the corner towards the end of the match and he teed off on his standing leg. Most City fans made a vow to spit on the name of Guthrie quite rightly but it was the self-same determination, running and savvy play by Craig that brought about such a horrible challenge.

It was his second stint with the club by then, first brought in by Peter Taylor in 2005 after really impressing against us for Colchester United. He was an important part of City’s rise up the leagues, in a formation that Taylor loved to play featuring multiple attacking options coming from deeper positions (see Barmby, Elliott, Green, Price etc). He departed for Derby County during our promotion season, but came back first on loan and then permanently. He was a goal threat, an assist threat and technically had a great first touch, he’d run at the opposition on the ball and worked like an absolute madman off it. That all added up to being very popular with the fanbase.

Then there’s something else that made me respect the hell out of him. In the autumn of 2006 we were heading back to league one. The Parkinson train was off the rails and was heading towards the cliff edge, on fire. We went to his old club Colchester and despite taking the lead through Nicky Forster, what followed was horrific, 5 goals for them flattered us. It should have been 7 or 8. The players had downed tools, Parkinson had totally lost them and the whole night was a farce. Those that stayed let the remaining players and manager know this at full time and things got ugly quick. Most City players limply clapped from a distance and got themselves down the tunnel. It was then I realised there was an exception. Craig Fagan was walking towards the boos, the howls of derision and angry fans. I worried this wouldn’t end well, but he just kept walking. It must have been a tough day for him in particular as a former Colchester player which their fans had reminded him of throughout. By the time he was within five yards of tight Layer Road away end, even the steward’s looked worried. “Lads” he started “That was so bad, I just wanted to apologise to all of you that travelled tonight, I’m sorry, that was terrible.” I’d about two hundred fans who moments before had been booing at the top of their voice had completely stopped. Someone started clapping, another fan gave him their scarf (god knows why?!), but all of them respected such a gesture because Fages showed some serious courage.

Which takes me back to that goal vs. Bolton, watched by me on Match of the Day that night, with one of those rubbish wind related sun tans and full of cheap beer. It was a goal that summed him up as a player for Hull City, he chased and pressed so many times and when the Bolton defence coughed up the ball he ran on to finish with aplomb. The highlights that season were so abundant, from the genius of Geo, to the electric Mendy performances and defensive heroics of Turner, Dawson and Myhill. But we stayed up because Craig Fagan chased a lost cause, that’s just a fact.
He might not be on the lips of every fan when you talk about all-time greats, but his application, determination and poise laid down a marker for others around him and made sure that I’d never forget where I was that day, and neither will many City fans. UTT.

Jon Parkin “The Dancing Bear”

For long term readers of this blog you’ll know I’m a big NFL fan. The term dancing bear comes from the sport and it’s applied to an offensive tackle. For those who don’t know (or care) about American Football, the easiest way of describing an offensive tackle is it’s his job to protect the quarterback from getting hit by quick and aggressive defensive players on the outside of the line. If you’ve got really good offensive tackles and you’ve got a great quarterback, you’re halfway there. Anyway… I digress… these are big lads, and when you find an example of a great one, they are strong but they have incredibly good footwork enabling them to adjust quickly to pressure and keep the quarterback out of hospital. They are rare and get paid multi-millions because you shouldn’t have brilliant footwork and be their size and strength. Which leads me to this man, Jon Parkin because just like the dancing bears of the NFL he just shouldn’t have been as good as he was.

Apart from proper City fans of a certain age, Peter Taylor isn’t really given enough credit in my eyes. I don’t think we go to the Premier League without him, he built the foundations and turned us into a credible and very professional club from top to bottom. He also had an uncanny habit of finding a player that was a gem, or in some cases shining up a gem that was already here to be even better, see Bo Myhill for 50k, Damian Delaney for the same amount and Leon Cort on a free. Nationally I think he’s seen as more of a coach and for his unsuccessful stint at Leicester, which sells him significantly short. Right up there with anything he ever did though was bringing Jon Parkin from Macclesfield in January 2006. Struggling to adjust in the Championship after consecutive promotions you could see why his arrival wasn’t exactly met with gushing adoration by the fan base but that would almost instantly change as he scored on debut against Crystal Palace. In a season where we’d sometimes looked a little naive and got outmuscled City suddenly had an equaliser.

Parks was able to mix it with big centre backs in the Champ and hold up the ball for the likes of Nicky Barmby, Jason Price or Stuart Elliott but he also had some top end class. If you get a minute remind yourself of the 3-0 away win at Stoke on youtube, a game which was perhaps overshadowed by Bo Myhill saving two penalties, however the real highlight was Parks taking down a ball in the area, pinning his defender before chopping the living daylights out of the same player and calmly slotting it into the bottom corner for our second of the day.

It’s a little bit of a cliché, but it’s also true to say he became a talisman. We were punching above our weight and playing lots of clubs who were used to our name being synonymous with lower league football. Teams didn’t think they should be losing to the “likes of Hull”, thus the name of the blog and Jon was the epitome of Taylor’s team’s attitude in the second half of that season, we might not have been household names, but several of them were about to become them, and the attitude was definitely to “deal with us.”

Then there’s the reason he should never pay for a beer in Hull for the rest of his time, the winner vs Leeds United at home. Now, I’ve never been one to build up this game as a rivalry, unfortunately most Leeds fans are simply too arrogant or dim or both to understand why it matters to people in Hull. It matters because of the “Hull Whites” the gormless dimwits who not only betray their home city, but double down by smugly rubbing in their superiority at every chance. I don’t think we beaten them in a league game in nearly twenty years and that day was a long time coming. I’d somehow got hold of a ticket in the South Stand that day and can still see the moment the goal went in, Craig Fagan reworks the ball to the much underrated Stuart Green and as soon as he hangs up the cross to the back post you know how it ends, Parks towers over his marker to head into the bottom corner and mayhem ensues. He knee slides in front of the east stand to chaotic scenes and the monkey is well and truly lifted off our backs.

I think the big man scored one in 3 in that run in, despite playing a lone role quite a bit and we ended up staying up with room to spare. However that’s where the story takes an unexpected spiral for his time with us. Taylor leaves for Palace, the Phil Parkinson experiment is a disaster and it’s clear that he’s no fan of the Beast. He’s then replaced by Phil Brown, who you’d think would be more his sort of gaffer but they fall out and off he goes on loan to Stoke. I know Jon has a very strong opinion of his treatment by the perma-tanned, headset wearing crooner, and this doesn’t exactly correlate with our fan base as ultimately he delivered the impossible and took us to the Premier League the next year. In defence of Parks, I’d say two things, one Brown calling him out on the Radio in his absence was somewhat cowardly and allowed the player himself no right to reply, secondly and this is the bigger one for me, it only showed the canny management of Peter Taylor in a brighter light, Taylor knew who Parkin was and played to his strengths, with good wide play and an array of talented attacking midfielders like Barmby and Green who would thrive off his excellent hold up play. 1-0 to the management of Peter Taylor for me.

Parkin not only went on scoring goals throughout the divisions for another decade to underline this, but has since gone on to an incredibly successful podcasting career with “Undr the Cosh” alongside much less remembered City loan striker Chris Brown. I think it’s safe to say Jon Parkin was a character, and one we won’t see the likes of again, his ability belied his size and background but I’m not sure you could split the two, as Chris Brown said recently on the podcast if he was shredded and 13 stone I’m just not sure he’s the same player, I’d agree with that and I think a lot of City fans would agree that even if it was cut shorter than it could have been that the big man brought some belief to the team and some massive highlights to the fan base in his time with us. The beast was a breath of fresh air and definitely a dancing bear.

“Do not, I repeat, do not fall in love with a loan player…”

So Karl Darlow is set to break out little footballing hearts. He came in, was really ace and it simply seemed a no-brainer that he’d be back. However perhaps he was just too good and the greater footballing world saw that as well. Newcastle then had more admirers than teenage boys watching Love Island and hey presto, they asked for 10 mill plus. They’ll probably get it from a club with full pockets as a reward for being relegated (don’t start me on that parachute nonsense) so we have nothing but good memories and the certainty that he’ll be booed if he comes back to play us with a side in white.

Anywho… this slightly predictable tragedy made me think of other loan players who came into our lives, made us feel all fuzzy inside, only to snap our supporter flowers in two and wipe their arse with them whilst laughing. Do not fall in love with a loan player folks… here’s some cautionary tales as to why…

Martin Carruthers

There wasn’t a great deal to cheer about in the nineties for City fans. Bar Deano’s three year stint near the start and the Great Escapers at the end, it was a truly inglorious decade. One of which saw Boothferry Park fall into a permanent disrepair and the lower leagues become our natural habitat.

There were however small periods where hope sprang up a little, a Windass and Brown strike partnership that got us close twice to the play-offs in 93-94 and 94-95, or basking in the genius that was Theo Whitmore in 1999.

They were ultimately proven to be periods of fallen hope though, and loan players sometimes contributed to these false dawns. One of which was Martin Carruthers. A leggy, graceful striker signed on loan from Aston Villa in 1992. He instantly became a fans favourite despite being surrounded by an especially average support cast and banged in 6 goals in just 13 appearances.

Not that I think Villa were asking for a king’s ransom for the lad, but if the amount was more than a night out at Pepi’s nightclub and a kebab, we (and by “we” I mean Martin Fish and Terry Dolan) weren’t going to be able to pay the bill. Thus he exited stage left and signed for Stoke City the next season. Whereas we signed the perma-rubbish Christian Hargreaves and a 135 year old Steve Moran. Deep joy.

Frazier Campbell

I did toy with this one as…

  1. He came back later on and..
  2. He helped us achieve something so massive, we probably should have still loved him


3. When he left and became a reserve at Spurs and then a massive twat at Sunderland my tiny Hull City heart was trampled on in new and painful ways I never imagined possible.

I don’t need to tell you about Frazier Campbell. But I will, very briefly. We almost certainly don’t go up in 2008 without him. If Deano was the finisher, Campbell was the legs, the youth and also the other major source of goals. He was just brilliant that year. Never summed up more clearly than the running to keep the ball in play followed by the awareness and beautifully weighted cross to pick out Mr Windass for “that” goal. As good as the finish was, the spot and delivery by FC was almost as outrageous.

Just like we did with Darlow and countless others, we knew he’d be back for more, he must sign, surely? We love him, he loves… erm… Spurs? Wait no, he loves… Sunderland?! FFS.

Not only was he the fantastic talent we thought he was but he was almost as good at trolling as he was playing against us. Thus loads of goals, celebrations and general stamping on our broken hearts for another decade or so. When will we learn?

Andrea Ranocchia

Les Motherby knows a thing or two about a thing or two. But he really, really knows two things to obsessive levels. One is kits clearly and the second is Italian football. Therefore when Andrea signed for City in January 2017 and Les said on the fantastic Amber Nectar podcast that he was a little underwhelmed I was disappointed.

I think in Les’s defence he hadn’t generally ripped up trees in Italy after a very expensive move from Genoa to Inter Milan. He’d played international football too, but his star had certainly fallen since his move in 2010.

Marco Silva really did have a habit in a short amount of time of making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear though. Thus the ailing career of Harry Maguire was about to be transformed in ways we never thought possible, Eldin Jakupovic was about to go from Flappy hands McGraw to prime Buffon and a little ginger lad called Clucas who was not very good on the wing was about to become a sublime talent in the centre of midfield.

Was Ranocchia quite that standard of transformation? It’s hard to tell, but he really was very good indeed. He was graceful on the ball, strong and read the game well. He looked every inch the player that he was clearly once regarded as. Even a slip in the opening seconds of a late whacking by Crystal Palace couldn’t make me dislike the lad, he was a Rolls Royce and along with a couple of others, you’d have to think we could have dodged the trap door if he’d have been brought in the window before.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda. We went down, were as poor as church mice and the graceful Andrea tip-toed his way back to Italy. Pah.

Harry Wilson

Which is an apt time to mention young Harry Wilson. The next season we flirted with double relegation, after Slutsky-ball became, erm, Nigelball.

We were so bad at the back that season that I still shudder at the thought of Stephen Kingsley moonwalking his way down the left wing, or Michael Hector two footing the ref who he’s wrongly thought is the opposing striker.

We did however, thank god, have goals in us. Bowen, Campbell, Hernandez and Wilson were either good or very good, thus we drew 5-5 with Bristol City and beat Norwich 4-3. We quite literally had to, as the defence was about as carefully guarded and organised as the M1 junction 13.

Harry was a breath of fresh air. Quick, mobile, instinctive and clever. He was a reason to watch City almost by himself. He was just too good. The City fans sang about letting him have a relationship with their wives, however in some ways I’m not sure that was actually a reward for him.

At the end of the season Liverpool decided to loan him to a team that weren’t a lost cause and so he was done with us. Worse still he went to Derby where as sure as eggs is eggs, he was 100% guaranteed to lose in the playoffs and of course did. Slim consolation for us.

If he starts banging in goals, don’t start liking Liam Delap City faithful, it will end in tears I tell you.

Thanks for reading as ever. I hope you’ve had a restful summer and are looking forward to the new season. Send your hate tweets to @thelikesofhull and I’ll see you all soon. UTT.

The Likes of Hull guide to not being a Meff this summer…

Ahhh where does the time go? It seems like only five minutes ago we were playing out a game of “who doesn’t want to shoot” with Luton Town to draw the curtain on what was a fairly dull championship season on the field but a more promising one off it, and here we are, sitting around, not really doing much. It’s without doubt the deadest part of the football year and there’s no getting around it. There just isn’t. However, the pain isn’t forever, there’s only a few weeks until we’re back in training, new signings are being announced, friendlies, new kits and fixture announcements. In the meantime, though, here’s the definitive guide to not getting right on everyone’s threepenny bits during the lull. Send your hate tweets as ever to @thelikesofhull and I’ll be pleased to reply. I hope you enjoy it…

  1. Stop pretending you’ve seen Premier League U21 play or have an in-depth knowledge of random foreign leagues.

Last season when we signed Harvey Vale I presumed he must have ten family members who were season ticket holders for Chelsea U21 and also supported City. I expected prime Iniesta to walk on to the pitch at the K-Com, not a quiet lad who the game passed by whilst he looked out of sorts.

Turns out he wasn’t 2001 Lampard and he’s more likely to end up at Met Police than Metz, I’d like to say this was a rarity but it really wasn’t. We could sign a lad from Greenland and before you know it @freezingcoldtiger will be posting youtube clips of him pinging a ball off an iceberg and declaring him the next big thing.

Here’s the thing. We don’t know. We’re just fans. Cyrus Christie wasn’t signed to any great crescendo last summer, but Dimi Pelkas was, how’s that work out? Sure, sharing the odd highlight or two is fine and so is the opinion of other fans, but take it all with a pinch of salt and don’t take yourself too seriously, because we’ll find out if the player is any good when he …. You know… plays….

2. Former Beautiful South singer Dave Hemmingway and Maureen Lipman are both born in Hull. We shouldn’t sign them either.

Dave has a lovely singing voice and would be an asset on a match day, with Lipman’s renowned acting skills she could fool unknowing refs into a series of undeserved free kicks or wow the opposition with a witty retort.

As ridiculous as these seem (they are a combined 139 years old and to my knowledge aren’t at home in a 4-2-3-1) this is merely following the maddening habit of fans waiting for anyone with a link to our city to get their UB40 and suggesting them. And a lot of the time with a ton of gusto. I’ve seen Sonny Bradley play for many years and he’s perfectly serviceable for teams that are around and about this level, Jake Livermore can probably get a step two contract somewhere and Daniel Batty was a good little player for us once upon a time. But no, no, no.

No thanks, and more importantly. We’re not some sort of strange fan led consortium where we all get a vote and end up with a bright pink away kit sponsored by ChildLine. We have no input whatsoever, thank god, because we (and I’m definitely including myself in this we) have no real ideas what we need other than positions and have no worldly idea how contracts and signings are navigated.

Let’s leave it to the experts eh?

Ditto for people tagging them in on social media to contact them. We’re not Jorge Mendes, we’re barely Jorge from Bamboo Garden. Nobody is going to look at their twitter notifications and join our club lads. Soz.

3. Leave the admin alone, they can’t announce a new kit until they get told to.

Poor old Twitter admin. They try so hard to keep us all happy at this club. Whether it’s a game of connect four against Bayer Leverkusen, capturing some fantastic match day content or just being very interactive with the fan base, I think we could all agree they do a fine job. But they like us are a bit stumped until the second week of June.

Therefore, no amount of asking, haranguing or grovelling is going to make them reveal a new Kappa top. So, let’s not ask eh? Especially if they’re sharing a Tiger’s Trust update or promoting season ticket sales. They aren’t sports direct mate. They’ll tell you when they are told to. Acun ain’t sitting on his smartphone ready to zing out the new away shirt and seeing how much everyone really wants to know about it.

4. There’s a bunch of teenagers doing pointless predictions on Twitter… swim on by…

@PNFC_4EVA on Twitter isn’t an esteemed and knowledgeable source of level-headed football predictions. He’s using his Mum’s wi-fi whilst she’s nipped out to her weekly Hot Yoga Session from the basement he lives in, and he’s trolling. Unless Ryan Lowe is the second coming of Pep Guardiola, Preston aren’t coming third as he predicts (beating his mate’s QPR team in the Wembley final)

Guillem Balague has nothing to worry about.

These. Are. Not. Predictions.

Do. Not. Answer. Them. It’s. What. They. Want. You. To. Do.

5. Please keep your “amusing” transfer sightings to yourself.

Zlatan hasn’t popped into Mr Chu’s you didn’t see Tan Kessler with Yerry Mina in Theiving Harry’s and Soyuncu wasn’t trying on a pair of Slazenger trainers in Branny Centre.

Although that last one…. I mean he’s Turkish you know? Stop it! You started to believe it could happen didn’t you?

6. Don’t post your holiday pictures. Oh, go on then do…

I’m a Mizzog. I admit if freely and I’m completely at ease with this fact. (Mrs @Thelikesofhull correctly calls me a football snob.) Most of the above Meff-like behaviours are pretty forgivable. We all want to know which players are coming in, or what the new kit might look like, we all get annoyed by silly kids with WFC or WBAFC in their name (the term I believe is “Accronobheads”), it happens. Just like the standard picture of you up a mountain with your blackout city third kit or watching the New York Yankees with a shop-a-check green away kit on. Of all the annoying “bored city fans” behaviour, this is imminently the least offensive. I mean, I don’t really care that you’ve dressed up your Alsatian in City training gear, but worse things definitely happen.  

I forgive you. Post away. Any excuse to lift the boredom…

Thanks for reading and have a great summer everyone! #UTT


Apropos of nothing… here’s some end of season grades

Funny old game isn’t it? (soz for the Saint and Greavsie cliché this early)

You spend half the season being driven mental by good, bad and indifferent performances, you’re a gibbering wreck at 2-1 up for the last twenty minutes of multiple games, you upset your neighbours/other half/dog when a last-minute equaliser deflects in off Sean McLoughlin’s arse, you watch the FA cup third round draw like the Albanian entrant to Eurovision watches Northern Macedonia’s results get announced and then….

It’s over.

And you’re just like that meme of Mr Bean in the field, wondering what normal people do on a Saturday, but at the same time knowing that the answer is “massively waste their life”.

But here we are, we’ve got play-offs I guess, and some Prem games left to laugh at teams going down, there’ll be a couple of dull England games and then comes the real slog. Pretty much a month of nothing.

Now, according to my “8 types of City fan on Twitter” blog a couple of years ago

Our fans will cope with this in many different ways.

The two sport splitters decide they preferred Rugby League or Yorkshire Cricket the whole time, the drink connoisseurs get drunk and the flat earthers will retweet Matt Le Tissier. But, if none of them really floats your boat, maybe you can waste ten minutes of your life reading and then disparaging my end of season grades. (send your hate tweets to @thelikesofhull)  Happy offseason everyone! Here’s some meaningless grades that you may or may not agree with.

Recruitment C-

I’ll start as I mean to go on. Despite the large strides made off the pitch and with re-energising the fan base. This was more miss than hit, particularly in the summer. It just wasn’t realistic in terms of the league we were in and some pretty big investments, in either wages or fees were underwhelming.

Now before you throw your jagerbomb at me whilst dressed as Tinky Winky, hear me out…


Figueriredo was a disaster and three centre backs we already had were much better.

Sinik was homesick and didn’t work at all.

Woods was no more than ok, and was phased out under Rosenior.

Tetteh flashed but was made of glass.

Traore was already broken and was tidy for the last 10 games.

Baxter didn’t really work this time. Injuries hurt him too.  

Sayyadmanash was also injured too much and scored one goal.

Pelkas disappeared far too much and really didn’t make enough impact.

Vale was way off.


Estupinan whilst not perfect did what he was paid to do and scored goals.

Seri wasn’t at it every week but he was what we paid for, a little Rolls Royce.

Tufan got used to the league and got fit and is a proper player.

Christie was a home run, without injury he’s player of the year.

If you add the Rosenior recruitment in Jan it’s still a mixed bag. Darlow is hopefully the keeper for the next five seasons plus, but Ebiowei showed little of his ability and Connolly got struck by the injury bug. Simmons should prove a long-term asset.

The one thing the recruitment proved was that we had multiple players at the club who were far better than they thought. See Alfie Jones, Sean McLoughlin, Lewie Coyle, Regan Slater etc. There’re lessons to be learned here. And the summer needs a better return than a 30% success rate for sure.

Ownership B+

The reason this isn’t an A can mainly be found in the above section. The ownership made some emotional signings and got a little too involved first time around. Fair play they seem to have learned a lesson and Liam definitely seems to have a clear deck to play with this summer. They also seem to have realised they didn’t get the right person in Shota, and are now a bit savvier.

They really have done a lot right, and given us a solid basis to build from. The fans relationship with the owners is mended, and there’s more through the gate than in a long, long time. They also have a massive like-ability factor. Let’s hope that can be sustained because when free travel or match offers can’t be, the Hull population can be awfully fickle at times.

There’s a whole lot of work to do now in terms of infrastructure, with the council on the surrounding land, with either re-uniting or restarting another Ladies set up etc. I really do hope they’re here for the long term and invest in such a way that the club grows to become a sustainable top league prospect.

As much as Acun and Tan have done right (and they really have), I think in terms of some of the reps and fan-based liaison they can improve. It’s been a little murky in terms of clarity and the whole fan base is my outlook, not just little pockets. They need to stick to clear structures of communication and be completely transparent, because if they can do that, I genuinely think that’s the way to galvanise this current fan base even more.


Arveladze D

Rosenior B+

Don’t employ your mates, covers the first three months of the season. After navigating a largely McCann/Darnborough recruited team to safe standing last season, Shota bless him never really showed he’d learned from the experience. Even with lots more talent and a decent chunk of luck (the home wins against Bristol, Norwich and Cov all made you think that higher powers might be looking out for us) we never really got going at all. And if those home wins were the highs, the lows were brutal. From the gung-ho stupidity of West Brom away, to the belly rubbing softness shown at QPR with the catastrophic implosion at Swansea in-between, it really was ugly. We were a disorganised, unfit shambles and by the time we sacked him, we really could have been in serious trouble.

But cometh the hour and all that. From day one Liam had the team ten times more drilled, disciplined and planned, even if it wasn’t sexy football, it was hugely more professional.

He’s been crystal clear and pragmatic in interviews, he’s brought in younger talent to be involved and in the process found at least one absolute gem. He brought in coaches and staff around him that amplified his vision. If the worst thing you could say was that we should have been more direct and not played out so much, when he had huge chunks of talent missing, I’m really not sure we can agree on football.

Not since the heady days of Brian Horton’s arrival in 1984 have we seen a such young, hungry manager, that matches the image and outlook of the club and community he serves. He’s not been perfect and nobody is, but he’s been very, very bloody good. And he’s exactly what we need.

Players grades and a sentence or two

Just read this back and realised it sums up our season, the more you go forward, the less success we had. Need so much more from our attackers next year…

Matt Ingram B

Imperfect but solid. A great back up and challenger to any keeper.

Nathan Baxter B-  

Injury robbed him of his chance this year.

Karl Darlow A-

Came in and won points. Had the very odd wobble but was also outstanding over and over. Sign him.

Brandon Fleming C-

Not a choice of the new boss, didn’t shine at Oxford, a shame.

Callum Elder B-

The Brewdog king exits stage left, never amazing, but solid enough. Goes with most of our best wishes.

Lewie Coyle B

Came on strong at the end after Cyrus Christie’s injury opened the door, I’d like to see him stay.

Cyrus Christie A-

Imperious for three quarters of the season. Get him fit and we’ve got a cracker.

Sean McLoughlin B+

Macca is a seven out of ten pretty much every week. No nonsense and brilliant on that left foot.

Alfie Jones B+

Same as Macca, love him and he deserves a decent extension. You can go up with lads like Alfie.

Tobias Figueriredo D

Just didn’t ever recover from a shocker of a start. Was a goal conceded on a stick at times.

Jacob Greaves B-

Not the season he’d have expected. Can’t knock that fact he did such a good job at left back but could be one we move on as he won’t lack admirers.

Ozan Tufan B

When he got fitter and to the pace of the games he was a delight. Scored goals and his touch and vision is as good as anyone post Huddlestone.

Jean Michael Seri B

Had the odd game where it passed him by, but on the whole, he was very good, wonderful on the ball, proved he’s still got it.

Ryan Woods C

Came in and at first steadied the boat a little. Not the flavour that Liam likes apparently and was on the bench mainly.

Adama Traore B-

Had to wait a long, long time to see him but he was decent when we got him fit. Look forward to seeing him next year.

Regan Slater A

Just love him. Works like a lunatic, has some really top end quality. Sheffield United’s greatest ever piece of stupidity of all time.

Greg Docherty B-

In and out. I thought he deserved a little better at times. Scored the goal of the century at Blackpool. Might be another that could go but I’ll be a little sad to see it happen.

Xavier Simmons B

Clearly one for the future. When he got the chance he looked the part.

Dogukan Sinik D

Didn’t settle. Didn’t want to be here. D.

Dimi Pelkas C-

Frustrating as hell. Clearly has so much ability but it so rarely happened for him here.

Oscar Estupinan B+

We could and should have been in the deep brown stuff without his goals early. Faded somewhat. Not sure he’s here next year.

Ben Tetteh C+

Was injured just too much. When fit and ready he suggested he could have this league on toast. Nowhere near often enough though.

Ryan Longman C

Like so many others he just didn’t do enough. Again, I’m not convinced he’s Liam’s cup of tea. He’s a tryer is Ryan but it’s not really happened for him here. 

Allahyar Sayyadmanesh C

See Tetteh, Longman, Pelkas etc. Hamstring injury killed him and he has running uphill ever since. Just hasn’t produced enough goals and assists despite the obvious ability.

Malcolm Ebiowei C

Came in as the new big thing. Flashed some brilliance, then really didn’t. Again, it just didn’t work.

Aaron Connelly B-

At least when he did play he looked the part. If you told me he’d play 35 times next year I’d sign him.

Tyler Smith C

Can’t see he’ll be here next season. Scored a couple of nice goals, but didn’t grasp the nettle at Oxford on loan.

Harry Vaughan B+

Came in at the end like a breath of fresh air. Got the Bowen and Lewis Potter comparisons which didn’t seem to bother him at all. Potentially very special.

Have a good boredom month everyone. I’ll see you next season!



Glass half empty vs Glass half full…

The eternal cliche is definitely at play in the current fortunes of the club…

Sometimes I think I’m an eternal pessimist. Other times I think that I find success harder to motivate my fandom than failure. Thus the most ever games I saw in a season (it was somewhere in the 30 something mark) was in the year of the Great Escape (C) in 1998-99. Either way I’ve sometimes found myself railing gently against the massive love ins about the club at the moment. Now, don’t get me wrong, things are much improved, particularly in regards to the communication, the fact the fan base is much more engaged and at least partly the results on the pitch, which although not world beating have been much improved over the last six months.

It’s just that… let’s not kid ourselves. Adam Pearson was a business man, not a latter day saint, as was Don Robinson, there’s pros and cons for every owner or consortium to run a club and some of the relentless positivity has just got on my wick a bit. I guess there’s shades of grey in everything, The Allam regime started well, very well, they outspent any owners ever, by a long way, yet we know how it ended. Certain things did improve under their leadership whether you like it or not, and in some cases whether they did it for unselfish reasons or not. For example the youth systems, which have and continue to provide the club with some brilliant talent (see Potter KL, Bowen J, Greaves J) that helps keep the club popular with bank managers.

Now before you throw your smartphone at the wall and vow to burn down my house, I don’t argue that this improvement was somehow selfless or altruistic, because it wasn’t. But in the same way, the current owners aren’t truly here because Hull looks a bit like Istanbul (spoiler, it doesn’t). They may be a ton cannier, have a much more fan centric view and be going about their business in a much more clever fashion, but pretty much all owners are here because of their ego, to make money (or to spend money that they couldn’t otherwise) and to show the world how clever they are. And that’s not digging out the current owners, that’s every owner of a club in this country.

Now, I’ve only been to a few games this year (the bonkers Norwich win, the horrendous loss at QPR and a turgid draw with Blackpool amongst them) although I’ll be at Luton in a couple of weeks. I’ve seen most of us on the TV this year as coaching and scouting came calling so I’ve been consuming Bovril and getting numb fingers across non-league grounds for the majority of the year. I guess you could quite easily say, what’s it got to do with me? And in many ways you’d be right. I mean I’m probably around 600 all time games but if you snooze you lose and I’ve not gone as much as I wanted this year. I will again, it’s in my veins and I’ll no doubt get told to foxtrot oscar at some point in non-league football as most of us do. However the points I’m about to make still are valid. It’s what I’ve seen from my viewpoint and I’d like to think I try to be balanced about these things. Speaking of which lets start with some… as I have a Glass half full vs Glass half empty off… something I never saw myself saying ever…

Glass half full

We have the best manager we’ve had in years..

Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes, it matters that you see them and put them right. The balance wasn’t right this off season, too many players were in from leagues that weren’t necessarily like the championship and the management team also didn’t have a grip on the demands of the English game. That was put right when Liam was brought in and I think he’s actually done incredibly well to find sanity where there was very little. He’s not the favourite of every fan, but I think the squad and situation he inherited was considerably more unstable and primed for disaster than some realise. He’s eased us out of trouble, playing controlled, grown up football and he’s importantly got the best from some of the existing players (Alfie Jones, Regan Slater, Sean McLoughlin and even Callum Elder). He’s a class act, and when he has more of his own players in, I think we could and should expect to be in the top six race every year.

Glass half empty

With a wage budget of a small country, we’ve not been much better, and it’s half the cheaper ones that have got us out of the deep brown stuff.

Go back to the previous point, the likes of Slater, Jones, McLoughlin, Elder, Coyle and Vaughan won’t be keeping the bank manager up at night. For the silky class of an Ozan now he’s fit, to the brilliance of an in-form Seri, I’ll give you the horrendous positional car crash that is Figueiredo and the magician like disappearing footballer that is Dimi Pelkas. We’ve had more misses than hits and the balance absolutely wasn’t right. Let’s hope the owners learned an (expensive) lesson and continue to create more of a balanced squad going forward. The fan base also need to remember life isn’t championship manager too, sure big names create excitement but we seem to have a repeated habit of underselling young players and lads coming through. The bottom line is Harry Vaughan looks like a future star. Oulad M’hand just had a name that sounded like a punchline to a joke. We were wrong, the club was wrong so let’s start using our eyes to judge players and not FIFA 23.

Glass half full

The ground is fuller, people are happier and it’s heartening to see.

I think this is the biggest win for the regime of Ilicali and Kessler so far. The offers have been fantastic, the fans have responded. 20k attendances are happening regularly and let’s hope it continues into next year. The danger of all the bad feeling previously was that we were losing future generations. That’s been turned around quickly and impressively. The food is now really good, the beer has improved so my spies tell me and hopefully what follows is the regeneration of the area around the ground, because that is the key to truly turning us into a sustainable club that is looking to elevate to the next league. I can’t fault the owners here, but we all know our fans can be a hard bunch to please, so let’s kick on.

Glass half empty

Beware warnings from Reading FC

Finances at the second level are tricky. Spend too much and fail and you can end up in all kinds of deep trouble. Don’t spend enough and a different fate awaits but it’s not much more fun. Look at the two sides going up this season from the Champ, both under transfer embargos, they pushed it to the line and are just about going to get out of dodge. But for every Bournemouth there’s a Birmingham City, for every Forest there’s a Reading. And there’s comparisons here. Reading have a similar ground, and recent records aren’t so different. They had foreign owners that wanted the big time, but missed. They’ve been wrestling with the finances for years now and it’s finally catching them up, they might stay up, but they might not. We must walk the line of sustainable but ambitious, and first year in it’s been nearer the latter than the former. Let’s hope none of this ever leads us anywhere near Paul Ince. (shudder).

Glass half full

Lessons seem to be learned, if we continue like this, could 2023-24 be our year?

I can’t see why not. We have the coaching, the fan base, the ambition and the desire. We have at least ten players who could make up a 23 man squad that’s capable of going up, if not more. Remember before shooting me down in a tirade of abuse (send your hate tweets to @thelikesofhull )that 2008 had Wayne Brown, Dean Marney, Henrik Pederson and Ryan France playing regularly. You don’t need a team full of Ozans. Therefore I’d say Christie, Jones, McLoughlin, Darlow, Ozan, Traore, Seri, Slater, Vaughan, Simons, Sayyadmanesh plus a couple more would be fine. Yes I know Darlow isn’t in yet but add goals and a full back or two and I think we could be in business. It can be done, just look at Luton Town.

Glass half empty

There’s quite a lot of offloading needed too.

Not just lads whose deals are running out. I like Lewie Coyle and I like Callum Elder, I’d keep both as depth, but that’s a call I think we let Liam make. They AREN’T the problem, because they’re earning normal money and not making waves. But there’s several bigger wage earners will need to get the shephard’s crook and it might not be so easy. Because Sinik, Woods and Figueiredo are going to be on very very good money and although Sinik may want to leave the other two may not be quite so simple. It could be that a certain Columbian striker needs to go too, for wages and also to even up the books, and even though he’s a bit random at times, goals are the very thing we need to increase, so selling your only real goal scorer isn’t going to please everyone.

Anyway… Sorry about the lack of blogs recently. Hope you enjoy this one and I’ll see a few of you at Luton (I’ll be wearing a hat and a fake moustache… no really… I might, because I’m in the home end… thanks a lot Acun…)

5 ways to improve the current football product and a bit of a mental one chucked in at the end.

Ok, I’m on one. I admit it. After my last blog on controversial views of football really wasn’t very controversial and then me admitting my inner-City fan is flagging a bit in the blog before that and the response was still really good (you bloody softies) I thought a little deeper about what hacks me off about modern football.

Now I could write about that until the cows come home, from shitty Talksport and their cliched boring “lads” views, to the transfer window and that odd Scottish bloke wearing yellow and acting like a lad going on loan to Stoke is earth shattering…  not to mention the insane and preposterous money being pumped into this country’s game, which is so clearly unsustainable buuuuuuut…. nobody cares.

This feels wasted energy however (*Narrator’s voice* “So is this…”) so I tried to focus this little blog on what I think would be some positive changes to make to football, that would improve it as a spectacle and revive some of the past enjoyment that people no longer revel in.

So, here they are… as ever direct all your hate tweets to @thelikesofhull on Twitter and tell me I’m talking an absolute load of old Mark Bright. Or just like and retweet… whatever floats your boat…

Introduce League 3.

Virtually every team in the National League are either pro or have been in the football league, it isn’t the death sentence it once was to go out of the Football League. There’re fine traditional clubs in there like Notts County, York City, Southend, Oldham, Torquay etc etc. Have three up and three down, do the playoffs up to sixth like everyone else and bring this level into the Football League’s umbrella. It’s a pro league anyway and sides are unnecessarily marooned down there as only two go up, similarly a team who comes third bottom of League Two, thoroughly deserve to go down. Move on, football has changed and sort this out.

Radically change the league cup or scrap it.

Here’s a challenge for you. No google. Tell me the last five winners of the League Cup. I would tell you the answers but 1. I can’t be bothered to google it and 2. I don’t have a clue.

The league cup is a load of old tosh, from its odd rule allowing sides in Europe to come in later, to the outdated two-legged semi-finals, to the seemingly earlier and earlier final that nobody really cares about. It’s a waste of time as it is and should get the boot….unleeeesssssss… there’s radical change.

How about this? The EFL work with the SFL, FAI and IFL to have a British League Cup. You start out in four regions, South England, North England, Scotland and Ireland for a round or two but then you chuck them all together.

Now before you wisely say “But didn’t you just say we don’t want to play the Welsh in your last blog!?” I’d counter that with, yes I did… in the league… cup mate? Totally different…

Hearts vs Hull City (Edinburgh beers anyone?) Celtic vs Spurs, Millwall vs Rangers ( I’d put the eyes emoji if I could here) Grimsby vs TNS…

It would be instead of the second cup comp in all of the countries and the final rotates around the four countries. Move the games to Saturday too, and let’s play more league games in the week instead. It would be a lot of things potentially, but boring wouldn’t be one of them and I think people would actually get a kick out of it. Perhaps literally, but, you take my point.

Get some more terrestrial TV games on for kids starting with the FA Youth Cup and U21 league.

I work in a fairly underprivileged area. When it’s the FA cup kids suddenly bounce into school and want to talk to you about football. Why? Because they’ve been able to watch it, as it’s on BBC or ITV. We have a generation of kids who are either priced out of football or come from families that simply don’t prioritise it. But the kids love it. A good mate of mine takes the kids in his school to League One and Champ games and the British Basketball finals and they love it too. The sad thing is football is really quite middle class, especially in the higher ends and we need to give the next generation something to hook them. If kids don’t get taken to live games, it really isn’t their fault, let’s give them a bit more because we really can.

 I love the FA Youth cup and think it’s so under promoted. If I told you tomorrow City’s FA Youth Cup tie at Bradford was live on TV on a Monday night, you’d nearly all watch it. I went to watch a very young Max Clark best a very young Ivan Toney in the FA Youth Cup 4th round ten years ago and it was fantastic. The same is with the U21, in the states college sports are huge because it’s your chance to see the stars of tomorrow. We really haven’t woken up to this. Give these games away on terrestrial TV and it’s a win win all around.

Have a basic identical kids away ticket price across the football league

I was lucky that I had a Dad who took me to games, many don’t or can’t which has led to the third suggestion. But the days can be expensive these days. City have their house in great order in this regard which has helped bring many fans back to the game. I’d love though a ticket for say under twelves to be a tenner for all away games across the league. If twenty is plenty is a great campaign (and I think it is) then a tenner for any kid away is something all clubs can get on board with. I think other football country’s models show that if you bring down those costs you’ll make it up in the concessions stands or the club shops. I’d love to see something like this in place to really attract the next generation into football.

Less is more

Now this one really is pissing in the wind, but bear with me. There’s too many games and I think most people would agree with that, however games equals money equals revenue and the self-same teams who moan about fixture backlogs will then go ahead and totally contradict themselves by taking teams to far flung corners of the world to play “Friendlies”

There’re some things you can’t avoid though in terms of games, but the big one I think is a massive waste is in Europe. Group stages in everything is both a rip off and generally mind bogglingly boring.

Here’s the answer in all three European trophies. 128 teams go in the Champs league, Europa and Conference and are seeded. That goes down to 64, 32,16,8,4 and 2. Play two legs and knockout from day one, no away goals, pens after 180 mins if it’s a draw. Nobody can put out weak teams and take it lightly, you know you have to turn up and support and watch. Play like muppets and you’re done. Teams will go on unlikely runs, big boys will fall, it’s must watch TV. If you’re Arsenal and you get done 2-1 away at Athletico Kebab, you better come all guns a blazing in the second leg.

Less is more. It would change games into totally meaningful encounters. It’ll never happen… but boy would it be fun.

Retro player subs.

Ok this is my mental one, but hear me out.

Every team has eight over forty-year-old players signed on who must have played over 50 games for the club. On the first league fixture of the month you must name your classic retro sub on the bench. On the eightieth minute you MUST put on your classic sub.  You can make other subs as normal. You can bring him on in any position you want. Both teams must do it and at the same time.  You try to keep your classic lads in half decent shape, just in case.

Imagine, 0-0 at City vs Sheffield United in the run in. They bring on someone shit like Michael Brown or Michael Tonge or some bloke called Michael.

We bring on Geovanni Deiberson Maurício Gómez…

He strides on the pitch, the K-Com goes mental… Acun’s Mrs has no idea who he is but good grief she’s enthusiastic… Acun just smiles like the Turkish Simon Cowell and realises Geo will be shattered by the time he makes him play five-o later… with a minute left Geo receives a ball into feet, spins off and hits a Brazillian Rocket…. Straight past a bloke called Michael in goal….


Thanks for reading UTT.