Like most people I knew Regan Slater had flashed some signs of being handy during our League One promotion season, and he clearly had some promise. However, as City at the time were not in the business of shelling out large transfer fees, our pursuit of him in 2020-21 wasn’t exactly one for the ages. Perhaps because Sheffield United had changed managers, perhaps because they had a lot of star quality players with Premier League experience and “bigger fish to fry” as such, but either way someone at that club should now be sitting firmly on the naughty step. The promising player we’d seen the year before was now verging on dominant, and week on week and month on month, he’s only got better. At best they let us pick their pockets for what amounted to two weeks wages for some of their “stars” at worst they’ve handed us a player that could right now be in their team pushing them towards the top league. I highly doubt any of their fans would read this, and if they did (without seeing him play) they will have decided that isn’t the case, which only really serves to show that they are the sort of set up that deserved to be robbed blind in broad daylight in the first place. We can’t talk exactly anyway, during our big money days we managed to let several players slip between our fingers that we’d later regret, like a Tom Cairney or a Connor Townsend, I guess that’s a classic case of first world problems.
Either way, we’ve got him, we love him and the fact we’ve swiped him from a club that fans of a certain age absolutely detest, just makes it sweeter. Now, whilst admiring his second goal on Tuesday night, it got me thinking. In my era who are the biggest bargains we’ve found? Older examples of robbing other clubs blind.. so after some thought and a flick through the ever amazing Tigerbase, here’s my top 10 bargains of my era. Feel free to add suggestions or send your hate tweets to @thelikesofhull. Enjoy..
- Peter Skipper £10,000 from Darlington
Skip was one of a few players where we learned from our mistakes, somehow, we managed to let an incredible (if a little raw at that point) talent out the door, but then brought him back in short shrift and benefitted hugely. He went on to become a genuine legend of the club, scored the winning goal to take us back to the second level and incredibly he didn’t miss a game from August of 1982 to October of 1985. Have a look at my piece “You’ll never beat Peter Skipper” if you haven’t already. Linked here.. https://www.thelikesofhull.co.uk/451831090.html but Skip was straight out special. A proper defender who knew it was all about timing and shutting the door at the right time. I’m not sure we’ll ever see his likes again in terms of how he played. Either way ten grand was a ridiculous steal and when he left it would take us more than a decade to find a centre back that could lace his boots.
2.Boaz Myhill £50,000 from Aston Villa
I think I just read from the club Twitter that Bo just turned 40. Wow, time flies. It’s quite possible that Spurs could still be playing in the game from the 2009-10 season at White Hart Lane and wouldn’t have scored. He was that good that day.
Another player who arrived a little under the radar but slowly became an integral part of the team that climbed the leagues and would make itself at home in the top division. Again, like Regan, I think there was just so much talent at Villa they couldn’t keep everyone, but boy did Adam Pearson and Peter Taylor steal one from them here. He was in terms of a shot stopper peerless, perhaps only second to Tony Norman all time in many fans’ books, but if he had one thing on the flying Welshman (I guess he kind of was a bit Welsh too) it was reaction saves. Anyone who was at the Watford away game in the play-offs or was watching at home will attest to this. His save changed the direction of that tie, that would ultimately see us promoted to the Premier League for the first time ever two games later. An incredible player bought at a paltry price.
3.Andy Dawson Free from Scunthorpe United
Now this is cheating a little I guess, as we’re now in the Bosman Era of transfers. You can’t imagine though, that despite his credentials that Scunthorpe would have got much more than low six figures for their left back in the Summer of 2003, so I think either way he was a bargain of gigantic proportions.
It’s funny that in the world cup run up fans I know have increasingly realised the value of Kieron Trippier, both in terms of his all-around play and also his wonderful delivery from set pieces. It was a similar double whammy that Daws brought. Not incredibly fast, but fast enough, not a hulking brute, but capable of looking after himself and going back to my first entry, a sense of timing that was “Skipper-esque”, but on top of all that his corners and free kicks were absolute mustard, he made several careers, not least Stuart Elliott’s as he picked him out time after time.
Like Bo and Ian Ashbee they formed a core of players that helped us do what most would think impossible now and climb the entire ladder of professional football. He was without a shadow of doubt the best Dawson to play for the club (there I said it) and as if that wasn’t enough he brought some much-needed stability and stoicism this season when Shota got his marching orders. Daws did what he always did, steadied the boat, understood the club and made us all a little better. The fact Scunny didn’t get a packet of skittles for him, just makes it sweeter.
4. Billy Whitehurst £2500 from Mexborough
I’ve covered the fact that Billy was basically a terrorist in a football kit here on the blog at https://www.thelikesofhull.co.uk/453088608.html and he was the most frightening man in football. However, Billy stories kind of cover up the fact he was actually a very gifted played in many respects. Thanks to the legendary Chris Chilton he was the best natural player in the air that City fans had seen in many a year and had an underrated touch on the ball.
Bill could play two ways, either the flying target man, eating up crosses from the likes of Billy Askew or a supporting role for others, not least of which was Keith Edwards in both of their second stints at the club. In this guise Billy was an out and out provider to perhaps the best finisher the club ever saw. Either way £2500 was a ridiculous bargain for someone who brought so much success to the club.
5. Richard Jobson £40,000 from Watford
Young Mr Jobson was a bargain in the long term, but it wasn’t an overnight success. He stepped into Brian Horton’s very successful 1984-85 squad and was a clever bit of business by a manager that made several fantastic purchases. However, we had a partnership at the time for ages, that of McEwan and Skipper and Jobbo as the junior of both had to be patient. This wasn’t exactly a dream start and the homesick player (despite being born in Hull he was raised in the south) disappeared back down south without permission during that year. Horton being ever the clever taskmaster, brought him back, sat him on the naughty step and made him bide his time.
By the time he started getting regular football we were in the old second division and he was now showing exactly why we bought him. Again, he’s in many fans’ choice for the best centre back they’ve seen. Languid, clever, very good on the ball and classy, he stood out a mile. By the late eighties he was arguably the best defender in the league and as City ran out of money he was sold to the (at the time) wealthy Oldham Athletic.
Jobbo was something special, and forty grand was a absolutely daylight robbery.
6. Ian Ashbee Free from Cambridge United
I still remember Cambridge fans at the time on message boards when we signed Ash. Telling us he’d be booked all the time (that wasn’t entirely wrong) he’d point a lot (again, fair play) and how limited he was (now this one I’m not having). Was he prime Declan Rice? Maybe not. But football is based on winning individual battles, and I’m not sure Ash knew how to lose one.
He was perhaps the only good thing Jan Molby did for the club, apart from leave. (ok he signed Elliott too)
Again, like Bo and Daws, he was the mainstay of how we scrapped and clawed our way up the leagues. But it wasn’t just this combative side that people loved. He had moments of top class in his locker, see the legendary goal to seal promotion number one at Yeovil in 2004. Ash was a dying breed, a leader, a tone setter and a changing room presence. He allowed the likes of Green, Barmby, Okocha or Elliott to win the games we’d been used to losing in tough away days for years because nobody was going to get the better of the middle of the park whilst he was alive.
Quite simply a club legend and mind boggling that we didn’t pay a penny for him.
7. Jarrod Bowen Free from Hereford United
They asked Steve Bruce about the performance of Jarrod Bowen after he equalised against Villa in the first game back in the Championship and reminded him that it was during his tenure that we managed to pick him up from a (soon to be bankrupt) Hereford United. The ever dry former City manager just looked at the interviewer and said. “Thanks for reminding me about that”.
Yes, it was probably not a transfer he had a great deal of input to, but you could feel his pain, because by then it was fast becoming obvious that we’d somehow managed to procure a talent that should have cost us a pretty penny.
City weren’t often an easy watch in this era, but without a shadow of doubt young Bowen and the Pole Kamil Grosicki were reasons to watch us. I think that first season in the championship we could and probably would have gone down without Jarrod’s goals. The ball was glued to his foot, he could carry it with speed, was happy to go inside or outside of a player and had an “Edwards” like coolness in front of goal.
The only real surprise was how long we hung on to him for. He may or may not be making the England squad as I write this (and he’s a little out of form of late so may just miss out) but not paying a penny for him may be the actual biggest steal we made in the history of this club.
8. Liam Rosenior Free from Reading
By pure chance I was visiting family in the October half term of 2010. With no league game during the week I went with the old man to Ferriby to watch the reserves vs Scunny. This was the first game of one Mr L Rosenior (I’m not entirely sure if he’d signed by then or was still on trial). Either way he stood out a mile that day and looked head and shoulders above anyone else on the field.
It was a no brainer for then City manager (and the most miserable man on the planet) Nigel Pearson to sign him and he proved to be some catch. Playing a major role as we rebuilt carefully after the financial hole we’d got ourselves in post-Premier league turned out to be more than just a few quid.
He’d wrack up 140 plus appearances, play a huge part in the promotion under Steve Bruce in 2012-13 and later the incredible FA Cup run. Rosey was a clever and athletic right back that didn’t really know the meaning of being less than seven out of ten. The City fans do love a grafter and he was certainly that as well as a big character within a fantastic team.
There was something else though, that X-factor that perhaps means a little bit more to a club. His Grandma was indeed from Hull and the City fans caught onto this. The “His Nan is from Hull” chant had now taken flight and he had the makings of a cult figure. As he showed in his interview last week when he was confirmed in the job, it meant something to him, and to his family, it made this bond special. But maybe this was less about us and more about him as a human being.
See this example… later on he’d left the club in 2015. We’d gone to three at the back a lot and he found it hard to prize himself into the line ups. Off he went to Brighton who (as per typical City) beat us in an early season game at the Amex 1-0. The 1500 or so City fans had clapped the players off when it became obvious that someone was making his way back. Liam had left his teammates to go and acknowledge the City fans, something you rarely see, and stood alone clapping us duly receiving the “Nan” song in response. A mark of the man that we are so glad is back home.
And a bargain to boot.
9. Tony Norman £30,000 from Burnley
I hate Burnley. I’m sure I’ve covered this many times before. I probably will again.
It’s largely just illogical rage, that dates back to that night in 1984. But… here we are.
Much like the Monty Python joke in the “The life of Brian” about what did the Romans ever do for us? You could imagine me mid-John Cleese hatred of all things Claret and Blue and their pokey stadium with its wooden seats plus long ball hell and someone could chip in with.
And I’m thrown like Cleese in the great film.
“Tony Norman? The greatest ever goalkeeper to play for our club? Only 30 grand in 1980? Went on to play full international football and help us get two promotions in three years?”
“Fine!!! But apart from Tony Norman, who was the greatest goalkeeper to ever play for our much-loved club, who cost 30 grand in 1980 and went on to help us get two promotions in three years, also playing full international football…. What have Burnley ever done for us!!?”
I’ll get my coat. (read this article on Tone here if you missed it before. )
10. Garry Parker £70,000 from Luton Town
To be fair 70 grand wasn’t peanuts in 1986. But it also wasn’t a tiny percentage of Garry Parker’s worth. He was quite something. Touch, vision, balance and passing. The man could control games from the middle of the park.
Another one that Brian Horton somehow managed to pull out of the bag, probably down to his history with Luton Town, because it can’t have been a secret how talented he was. It’s probably why he’d only stay with us for two years before Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest would come knocking out 300% profit in just 24 months.
He’s probably not spoken about enough. Because by his final year he’d started to add goals to his end product too, eight from the centre of midfield that season. The fact that Garry stayed in the top division for Forest, Villa and Leicester tells its own story.
We definitely short-changed Luton with young Mr Parker.
Thanks for reading as ever. UTT.