Hull City has been around for more than 110 years and seen both good times and bad times. For an in-depth look into the ups and downs, read on.
In The Beginning….
Hull City was founded in 1904, playing friendly games at The Boulevard (the home of the Hull Rugby League Club), Anlaby Road Cricket Ground and Dairycoates. A year later they were elected to the Second Division of the Football League.
Whilst still playing occasional games at the rugby and cricket grounds, City also moved to a new home on Anlaby Road where it remained until 1941 when wartime games saw a brief return to The Boulevard. City finished their first league season in fifth place and remained in the top half of the table for much of the period up to the First World War.
1909-10 was the nearest the Tigers – a nickname adopted from their amber and black striped shirts – had ever been to top-flight football until the historic achievement at Wembley almost 100 years later. They finished in third place back in 1910, and missed out on the runners-up spot on goal average to Oldham Athletic after losing 3-0 at Oldham on the last Saturday of the season. The gap between City and Oldham was 0.29 of a goal, one of the slimmest margins to determine promotion in the history of the Football League. The following year the club reached the last sixteen of the FA Cup for the first time.
The outbreak of World War One had little effect on the Football League during the 1914-15 season and a full League programme was completed, the Tigers finishing 7th in Division Two. It was only in the following season (1915-16) that the full impact of the war on League Football was felt. Normal competition was suspended and replaced by two regional competitions. City were allocated into the Midlands Group which consisted of 14 teams. As the most northerly of the teams within this group, the furthest journey was to play away to Leicester Fosse. The competition was split into two phases with the Tigers finishing 11th in the Primary Tournament and 5th (out of 6) in the Secondary Tournament.
It was a structure and format maintained throughout the War and whilst the Tigers, like many other clubs, placed a heavy reliance on the use of ‘guest’ players to fulfil their fixtures, there was one player who, throughout the war, was a permanent fixture in the side.
David Mercer joined the Tigers in January 1914, making his debut three months later. It started a run of 218 consecutive appearances that included all 142 Wartime games. No wonder they called him ‘Magical Mercer.’
When League Football resumed after the War, City continued their quest for Division One status but had to be content with mid-table existence in the Second Division. As they moved into the 1920s however, the financial troubles that have dogged their existence began to emerge. To survive, the directors had pursued a policy of selling their better players to meet the costs of running the club in an area of the country still dominated by rugby league. Whilst the likes of Mercer, Gilhooley, Stevens, Lee and others were allowed to leave – often attracting substantial transfer fees for the time – one player who did emerge, and yet managed to stay with the Tigers for over 14 years, was George ‘Geordie’ Maddison.
Whilst City retained their Second Division status throughout the whole of the 1920s, they never finished higher than fifth. During this decade any flirtation with success was brief, often restricted to the odd success in the cup and the occasional journey into the promotion zone. Each time they only flattered to deceive. The potential remained, but its fulfilment was never achieved.
Cup Runs, Relegations, Promotions & Records…
1929-30 was a season of mixed fortunes. The team had its best ever run in the FA Cup, beating the leaders and eventual Champions of both Second and Third Division (South), Blackpool and Plymouth Argyle and then put out First DivisionNewcastle United and Manchester City to reach the semi-finals. After holding Arsenal to a 2-2 draw, the Tigers were beaten 1-0 in a replay – the closest they would come to reaching the FA Cup Final until 2014.
The long cup run had taken its toll on the club and a combination of injuries and a closing programme of nine games in 28 days saw the Tigers finish in their lowest league position to date, with only Notts County below them. Relegation to the Third Division (North) was the only reward for their endeavours. As goal average had played a crucial role in denying them promotion some 20 years earlier, it played a cruel trick on them again – an inferior goal average to Bristol City meant it was the Tigers and not the Robins who left Division Two by the wrong exit.
In 1932-33 the Tigers won the Third Division (North) Championship, finishing with 100 goals and 59 points. Bill McNaughtonscored a club record 41 goals during the season. As well as recording a string of impressive results in the League it was this season that also witnessed their biggest FA Cup victory, 8-2 against Stalybridge Celtic in Round One. It is a record that still stands today.
Their stay in Division Two lasted just 3 seasons. In 1935-36, having been decimated by injuries and forced to use 32 players, they finished bottom of the Division winning only five games out of a possible 42 and conceding 111 goals in the process. The Tigers, therefore, spent the remaining years before the Second World War in Division Three (North), coming close to promotion on each occasion.
The problem of getting a team together was one that troubled City just as much as any other club throughout the war. The League was keen to avoid the profligate use of ‘guests’ in matches, insisting that they be used “only in emergencies.” Conditions were such that “emergencies” became the norm and as a result, many unfamiliar faces were to be found in City’s colours during the wartime campaigns. Although City had a core of players who had been with the club before the war such asBly, Cunliffe, Meens and Woodhead, it was not possible to field a full team of regulars for each game. As such many ‘local amateurs’ were given their chance and players from other clubs who were based in the area whilst on service with the armed forces were invited to play a part. There were no major stars but one or two certainly had experience of football at a higher level.
When the Football League programme was abandoned in September 1939, the Tigers faced an uncertain future since the financial troubles that had plagued them in the previous decade returned with a vengeance. There were many who doubted whether the club would be able to continue; indeed during World War Two the club was forced into hibernation. A combination of poor finances and the struggle to raise a team meant that they withdrew from the War League at the end of the 1940-41campaign for a total of four seasons; interrupted by a brief return in season 1944-45.
New Ground, New Hero…
Their darkest hour so far had settled over Hull City. Thankfully, a glimmer of light appeared in the shape of Harold Needler and by the end of the Second World War a new era in the history of Hull City had dawned. When League football recommenced in1946, the Tigers faced it with a new Board of Directors led by Needler, a new manager, Major Frank Buckley, and equally as important a new ground, Boothferry Park, which had been built on the site of an old golf course.
Season 1947-48 started quietly but its importance lay not so much in the results, but rather in the arrival of one of the greatest players ever to wear the Tigers colours: Horatio Stratton Carter. His debut, on April 3rd 1948, came too late to assist the club in their faltering promotion bid and they eventually finished in fifth place. It was in the following season when the full impact of Carter’s influence was to be felt.
Under Carter’s leadership, the Tigers had the best season in their history, winning the Third Division (North) championship and setting new records along the way. They won their first nine matches (a then divisional record) and the attendance of 49,655 for their top of the table clash at home to Rotherham United on Christmas Day, was a Divisional record that still stands. Coupled with this success in the league, the Tigers also enjoyed one of their best cup runs, culminating in 55,019 spectators packing into Boothferry Park to see Manchester United emerge as 1-0 victors, a controversial goal settling a closely fought quarter-final battle. This attendance still remains the highest ever recorded at Boothferry Park and was never to be beaten.
Ups & Downs…
City found themselves back in Division Three (North) at the start of the 1956-57 season. They managed to gain promotion in1958-59, but their return to Division Two was brief. They were immediately relegated the following season and it wasn’t until the arrival of Cliff Britton as manager in July 1961, that the prospect of better times ahead seemed a possibility.
National headlines were made in 1963 when chairman Needler gave the club a cash injection of £200,000 worth of shares in his Hoveringham Gravel concern, and offered manager Britton a ten-year contract. Britton’s thorough rebuilding of the playing staff brought together the most free-scoring forward-line in the club’s history, including Ken Wagstaff, Chris Chilton, Ken Houghton and Ian Butler.
A record breaking season in 1965-66 ended with the Third Division championship, 109 goals, 69 points and a number of other best performances, including an attendance of 40,231 for the top of the table clash with Millwall, which at the time was a record for the Third Division. An even larger crowd of 45,328 turned up to see the Tigers take on Chelsea in an FA Cup quarter-final replay, but after drawing 2-2 in London, they lost 3-1 in the second meeting.
In 1970-71, City made another bold bid for the First Division under the guidance of new player/manager Terry Neill. They eventually finished fifth, their best placing in post-war seasons. The Sixth Round of the FA Cup again proved too great a hurdle. Despite leading 2-0, they lost 2-3 at home to Stoke City.
Such progress had proved elusive in the Football League Cup. City had reached the Fourth Round on three occasions: They lost 3-1 at Liverpool in 1973-74 (after a goalless draw at home), and were shocked 1-2 at Doncaster Rovers in 1975-76. A 1-5 reverse at Arsenal two years later ended the Tigers hopes of ‘killing’ a giant killing.
1977-78 proved to be a disastrous campaign. Bobby Collins replaced Manager John Kaye in September, but by the following February, Collins had been supplanted by Ken Houghton. The popular Ex-Tiger was unable to prevent the relegation that ended twelve seasons in the Second Division. In September 1979, the club paid out its largest-ever transfer fee at the time, £150,000 for Carlisle United midfielder Mick Tait, in a bid to make an immediate return.
Further managerial upheavals followed in December 1979. Houghton was dismissed along with coach Wilf McGuiness and chief scout Andy Davidson. ‘Jock’ Davidson had served the Tigers for over 30 years as a player, coach and scout. His 520 league appearances remain a club record.
Hard Times & Rising Up…
In their places came Wales manager Mike Smith, assisted by Cyril Lea and Bobby Brown but this new team was only able to delay the Tigers’ descent into Division Four for the first time ever for one more season. Their efforts made little impact on resurrecting the club’s fortunes but everything on the field was totally overshadowed by events off it when, in February 1982, the club was rocked, yet again, by financial crisis and they were placed into receivership. Their future looked bleak but by a perverse twist of fate that can only emphasise the agony and ecstasy that is football, the club’s fortunes on the field picked up, and under the guidance of temporary managers Bobby Brown and Chris Chilton, the Tigers rose rapidly up the table to finish in a more than respectable 8th place. And whilst this was going on Les Mutrie, a forward signed from the non-League game, was carving his own niche in Tiger folklore by embarking on a scoring spree that produced 14 goals in nine consecutive games, thus establishing a club record.
As the financial situation was eventually sorted out, Don Robinson, the chairman of Scarborough Football Club, took control. With team affairs in the hands of Colin Appleton, a remarkable transformation was under way at all levels of the club. In his first season at Boothferry Park, Appleton piloted his side out of the Fourth Division as runners-up with 90 points – a new club record under the revised three-points-for-a-win system.
Twelve months later the Tigers were on the brink of a second successive promotion. Needing to win their last match at Burnley by three goals, they duly won but only by a 2-0 margin. City and Sheffield United were inseparable on goal difference, so the Blades went up because they had scored more goals.
There was a shock after the Burnley game when Appleton resigned. Brian Horton succeeded him and successfully led the side into third place in 1984-85, and back into the Second Division. It was a unique personal triumph for Horton. He was promoted in his first full season with the Tigers and his two previous clubs, Luton Town and Brighton & Hove Albion.
1985-86 saw City finish in sixth place with a chance of promotion during the second half of the season. Their final placing was still the seventh-best in the club’s history and third highest since the First World War. The next season saw the Tigers struggle to maintain their form, and they finished 14th in the Second Division.
In 1987-88, with the side stuck in the bottom six after what seemed like a promising start to the season, Horton was dismissed. Tom Wilson took over on a temporary basis along with Dennis Booth. During that summer Eddie Gray, the ex-Leeds United and Scotland international, was appointed as City’s new manager. The new season started slowly, but it saw the return of Billy Whitehurst in an exchange deal that took goalkeeper Tony Norman to Sunderland and also brought Iain Hesford to Hull. The team floundered near the foot of the table and relegation looked likely. Within the space of 24 hours City broke their transfer record to improve matters on the field. First Ian McParland was bought from Notts County for £155,000; then a day later, Peter Swan was recruited for a club record £200,000. The club escaped relegation but it did not prevent Eddie Gray from being dismissed.
His successor was former manager Colin Appleton. The season started off slowly with five draws out of the first seven League games. A quick exit out of the Littlewoods Cup and a bottom three placing soon brought pressure on the returning hero. After a home defeat by Brighton & Hove Albion in October 1989, chairman Robinson resigned and Richard Chetham took over. With City still searching for their first win of the season, Appleton was sacked and Tom Wilson took temporary charge again. It gave Appleton the strangest of records. His first period at the club gave him the best wins to games ratio of all the managers in the club’s history. His second spell saw him produce the worst record of all Tiger managers, in the same category.
The hunt began for another manager, the third in under a year. Stan Ternent was appointed and, from a desperate position, led the Tigers to mid-table security. Ternent’s big-money summer spending only served to start another slide. Now back in the relegation zone, Ternent was dismissed in January 1991. Tom Wilson took temporary control for a third time until the appointment of Terry Dolan a month later.
The former Bradford City and Rochdale boss was unable to repair the damage that had already been done, and City were relegated to Division Three. Dolan began the slow process of rebuilding the squad and although a top ten placing was gained, November 1991 also saw the sale of leading scorer Andy Payton to Middlesbrough for £750,000 – a club record. A relatively new and inexperienced side was soon staring relegation in the face, but a late-season revival saw them escape with four successive victories.
Season 1992-93 began with plenty of optimism and the team even topped the new Division Two after three games, but a run of eleven games without a win saw them plummet towards the relegation zone. Dolan’s charges again performed their Houdini act and managed to stave off relegation for the second successive season.
1993-94 became City’s most successful season of the decade as they remained in and around the Play-Offs for the entire campaign. Top scorer Dean Windass proved instrumental in the Tigers’ successes and brought a steady stream of visiting scouts to Boothferry Park. They were tipped to do well in the following season, too, but a heavy defeat at Oxford United on the opening day meant a slow start for Dolan’s youngsters. The side began to put together a good run in the lead-up to Christmas, and they were once again to hang on to a top-six place for much of the remainder of the season, but a dip in form in the latter stages meant they were unable to beat the previous season’s finish.
Further progress was hindered by another bout of financial problems. City were rocked by a series of High Court winding up orders and, with pressure mounting to sell key players, Windass was eventually sold to Aberdeen for £600,000 whilst ‘keeper Allan Fettis joined Nottingham Forest for a further £250,000. It all meant that the 1995-96 season proved to be arguably the worst in the club’s history as the side were relegated to the basement for the second time. Only 36 goals were scored in accumulating a meagre 31 points.
A ten-match unbeaten league run at the beginning of the 1996-97 season saw City remain in the top six until the beginning of October, but the side drifted towards a mid-table placing by Christmas. The Tigers progressed through to the second round of the FA Cup following an extraordinary first round replay against Whitby Town. Duane Darby scored a double hat trick in City’s 8-4 victory, but a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Crewe Alexandra ended any hopes of a long cup run. League form was also less than impressive, and City finished in 16th place – their lowest-ever position. The campaign was played out amid growing unrest from the dwindling support. The vitriol generated against Dolan and chairman Martin Fish led Christopher Needler – son of the former chairman – to sell his major shareholding.
In July 1997 the Needler family’s ownership of the club was at an end. David Lloyd, captain of the Great Britain Davis Cup tennis team and a multi-millionaire, was the new owner. He also acquired the Hull Rugby League club and ran the two in a joint operation.
The appointment of former England striker Mark Hateley as player/manager resurrected hopes of a long-awaited revival, but it proved to be another false dawn. A heroic effort at Newcastle United in the Coca-Cola Cup couldn’t mask their appalling league form. A final position of 22nd left the largest city in Europe never to have hosted a top-flight team within two places of non-league football.
As Lloyd became even more unpopular than the previous regime, he sold the club in November 1998 to a consortium headed by Sheffield businessman Nick Buchanan. Although the direct link was severed with the rugby club, Lloyd retained ownership of Boothferry Park. With the team in bottom place in the bottom division, Hateley was sacked. Warren Joyce was promoted from the playing ranks and, assisted by John McGovern, instigated a miraculous recovery that became tagged ‘The Great Escape’. A final position of 21st may have been only one better than 1997-98 but, bolstered by seven summer signings, expectations were high for the new campaign. Although cup meetings with Liverpool and Chelsea provided a little bit of excitement, league progress was steady rather than spectacular. Without threatening the Play-Off places, Joyce was sacked as1999-2000 drew to a close with the Tigers in 14th place.
This Is Boothferry Park…
Hull City has yet to bring the game’s major honours to the East Riding. Maybe the diverse events of May 2000 demonstrated the unique intrigue that continued to keep alive the dream that Tigers supporters continued to cherish. Only two years after being in charge of Aston Villa, then one of the country’s leading clubs, Brian Little became City’s 19th post-war managerial appointment. Within days, due a wrangle over rent and monies allegedly outstanding from the rugby association, David Lloydcalled in the bailiffs and the Tigers were locked out of their Boothferry Park home.
The club were eventually allowed back into the ground in time to re-commence preparations for the 2000-01 campaign, but a drop in attendances and the addition of several new players to the already high wage bill meant that the club faced mounting debts and the daunting prospect of a Winding Up order at the High Court in February 2001 for monies owed to the Inland Revenue. Lloyd sent in the bailiffs once more just days before the Tigers were due to entertain Leyton Orient at Boothferry Park and the club was placed into Administration just hours before the High Court hearing.
A two-week adjournment was granted in order for administrators to find a potential buyer for the football club and their first job was to negotiate with Lloyd in order to re-open Boothferry Park. They succeeded in that task and the highest gate of the season so far gathered for an emotional afternoon on 10 February, when the Tigers played their part by gaining a 1-0 victory. They went on to run up a sequence of consecutive league wins – five – that had not been achieved for nearly sixteen years.
Off the field, the Administrators received an initial 12 enquiries from potential purchasers of the club. They whittled these down to five firm offers and eventually recommended that one was suitable to secure the club’s future – provided that the club’s creditors and shareholders agreed to accept it. The day of reckoning was set for Thursday 8 March 2001. On that day the creditors meeting was held in a local hotel and 99% of them voted to accept the deal that would allow the club to continue. The first hurdle to survival had been overcome and the spotlight now switched to the shareholders. After some initial uncertainty, the shareholders also approved the deal. Hull City were saved and, subject to Football League approval, would be under the control of new owners. Their identity, however, was still a mystery and remained so for a further five days.
On Monday 12 March, the mystery was solved as Adam Pearson, former commercial director of Leeds United, called a press conference to announce that he was the new owner of Hull City. With Little remaining in the manager’s hot-seat, a remarkable season ended with the Tigers reaching the Play-Offs for the first time. After the drama of the previous months, a 2-1 semi-final aggregate defeat by Leyton Orient was a comparatively minor setback.
With Pearson duly producing the goods that his predecessors merely promised, the 2001 close season saw the recruitment of no fewer than 13 new Tigers. The new-look team held third place going into December but defensive frailties saw confidence and results slip away. As City drifted down the Third Division table, Little was replaced in April 2002 by Jan Molby. The former Liverpool star had established a promising managerial reputation at Kidderminster Harriers but struggled to halt the City slide despite another eight summer signings. The Molby reign ended in October 2002 as the Tigers languished in 18th place.
Enter Peter Taylor. The former England Under-21 coach (made famous for appointing David Beckham as captain in his one game in charge of the England senior team) had also enjoyed recent managerial success at Gillingham and Brighton & Hove Albion.
His appointment came just two months before a momentous event in Hull City’s history – the move to the £43.5million KC Stadium complex. With Boothferry Park already out of the club’s ownership and in desperate need of repair, the move to the state-of-the-art 25,400 capacity all-seater arena could not have come at a better time. Indeed, the Tigers were returning home as the KC Stadium is situated within a goal-kick of their old Anlaby Road Ground. Built with the funds raised from the flotation of Kingston upon Hull City Council’s own telecommunications company [Kingston Communications], the stadium is shared with the Tigers’ West Hull rugby league neighbours, Hull FC. The Tigers staged the first-ever event at the KC Stadium on Wednesday 18 December 2002 when they beat Sunderland 1-0 to lift the Raich Carter Trophy in front of a crowd of 22,467. The historic first goal was scored by Steve Melton.
Back To Back – Ending The Wait…
Initial progress under the management of Taylor proved to be steady in their spectacular new surroundings. Another summer investment in 2003 saw five more players added to an already strong squad. Significantly, while Ben Burgess and Danny Allsopp combined to spearhead the attacking threat, they were supplemented by the attacking talents of such as Stuart Elliott, Jamie Forrester, Jason Price, Stuart Green and Jon Walters. The Taylor Tigers also developed a more solid rearguard which was reflected in the consistency of a run of 16 unbeaten games from August to November. Another sequence of seven consecutive competitive wins in January and February (not achieved since the Carter days of 1948) confirmed their promotion credentials.
The City renaissance saw support raised to levels that were the envy of many First Division clubs. The gate of 23,006 against promotion rivals Doncaster Rovers on28 December 2003was the highest for a City home game since the visit of Manchester United in November 1974. The bar rose to 23,495 on 24 April 2005for the visit of Huddersfield Town, a game that could have seen promotion secured. The champagne had to be left on ice for another week though as the long-awaited promotion was finally clinched in the unlikely surroundings of Yeovil Town’s Huish Park.Fittingly, it was a memorable goal from captain Ian Ashbee that broke the tape amid emotional celebrations in Somerset, and back in Hull as the game was beamed back live to the KC Stadium’s adjoining Indoor Arena.
The taste of success proved to be very appetising for Taylor’s hungry Tigers. The now-familiar summer squad strengthening saw the addition of Leon Cort, Aaron Wilbraham, Roland Edge, Matt Duke, Delroy Facey and Michael Keane but, as Hull City’s centenary season dawned, their introduction was eclipsed by, arguably, the most sensational signing in the club’s history. One of Hull’s all-time favourite sporting sons came home. Nick Barmby’s glittering career had taken him to Tottenham Hotspur, Middlesbrough, Everton, Liverpool and Leeds United. Less than four years after playing in England’s iconic 5-1 win in Germany, he was proudly pulling on a black & amber striped shirt.
His arrival sent expectations through the roof. Progress in the newly named Coca-Cola League One was of the steady variety in the early stages of the 2004-05 season. All that changed on a December night in South Yorkshire with a magnificent 4-2 victory at Sheffield Wednesday. In front of 28,701 at Hillsborough, City confirmed their promotion credentials for a second season in front of the highest attendance to witness a Tigers away league victory since the infamous ‘Battle of Bramall Lane’ at Sheffield United in March 1971. It moved the Tigers into second place behind Luton Town- who had been comprehensively beaten 3-0 at the KC Stadium six weeks earlier.
The Wednesday win was the second in a run of eight consecutive league victories so making Taylor the first City boss to record a run of seven or more consecutive wins on more than one occasion. The eighth win came at Stockport County on 3 January 2005and briefly took the Tigers to the top of the table. The run also saw another attendance record for the KC Stadium with 24,117 seeing the visit of Doncaster Rovers on 29 December.
Although they were not to close the gap on eventual champions Luton Town, it was just about the only disappointment of a truly astonishing campaign as the confident Tigers almost strolled to the runners-up spot to complete back-to-back promotions for the first time in our history. It was undoubtedly a collective effort but, for one player, it was a particularly outstanding season. From his position wide on the left of midfield, Stuart Elliott contributed 29 league and cup goals. It included an astounding sequence of 17 games that he started, which produced 17 victories for City and 17 goals for the Northern Ireland international. Furthermore, he would surely have rewritten City’s scoring record books but for a six-week mid-season injury absence.
This time, the KC Stadium provided the worthy backdrop for a promotion party with the clincher coming in a goalless draw against Swindon Town on 16 April. The final home game (two weeks later) saw the stadium attendance record raised to 24,277 with Play-Off bound Sheffield Wednesday providing the opposition.
So 100 years after becoming members of the Football League, in 2005-06, Hull City were competing in the Championship – the second level of English senior football – where it had all started all those years ago and where we have competed for the majority of our sporting existence. City began the season with six new signings in their squad, including Keith Andrews from Wolves and Stephen McPhee from Port Vale. As expected, the campaign turned out to be one of consolidation as the Tigers comfortably secured Championship status, eventually finishing in 18th place, ten points clear of the relegation zone. The highlight proved to be a 1-0 victory against Leeds United on April 1st, with the goal coming from Jon Parkin.
Parkin had been signed by Peter Taylor from Macclesfield three months earlier, but little did we know the big forward would prove to be one of Taylor’s last signings as manager of Hull City. The summer of 2006 turned out to be nothing short of eventful. The first signs of major comings and goings came early on when Taylor was interviewed for the vacant managerial position at Premiership Charlton Athletic. After days of speculation, Taylor returned to the KC, claiming that he still had a job to do with the Tigers. But just a few weeks later, Taylor was gone. Crystal Palace was his destination, a club for whom he had starred during his playing career. That wasn’t the end of Taylor’s dealings with City as he returned to snap up defender Leon Cort for £1.25million, a new club record for a transfer fee received, and midfielder Stuart Green.
The search for a new manager was now on and Adam Pearson soon identified his number one target – Phil Parkinson. Parkinson had taken Colchester to promotion just weeks earlier and after some heated and protracted negotiations, the former Reading player was installed in the hot seat. The new boss wasted little time in splashing the cash at his disposal, signing Michael Turner from Brentford for £350,000, Sam Ricketts from Swansea for £300,000 as well as Dean Marney from Spurs and David Livermore from Leeds for undisclosed fees. They were followed just a few weeks into the season by the high profile arrival of Michael Bridges and another striker, Nicky Forster.
Hopes of a season of progression were soon dashed as City failed to win a league game during the opening month of the campaign. Back-to-back victories against Leicester and Sheffield Wednesday provided brief respite, but it was clear all was not well. A 5-1 thrashing at Colchester followed by a 4-2 reverse at home against Southampton coupled with the fact City were firmly rooted in the bottom three saw Parkinson lose his job on December 4th. Phil Brown, who had joined the club as Parkinson’s assistant in October, was put in caretaker charge and victories against Cardiff, Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday saw him installed as manager until the end of the season.
His brief was to keep the Tigers in the Championship and he succeeded with some memorable results. Home wins against high-flying Birmingham and Preston coupled with vital away victories at Luton and Cardiff helped, as did the arrival of Dean Windass on loan. It was his strike at Cardiff which effectively saw off relegation and when Leeds went into administration just days later, safety was confirmed. A final day home defeat against Plymouth hardly seemed to matter as supporters started to plan trips to Southampton, Wolves and Crystal Palace once again.
It was a summer of change at the KC Stadium as Adam Pearson sold the club to a consortium fronted by Paul Duffen, who became the new Chairman of Hull City. 12 months later, fans were planning trips to Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea after the best season in the Club’s history. It didn’t begin in great style with a 3-2 home defeat against Plymouth and when the Tigers were beaten heavily in back-to-back away games against Preston and Southampton in December, many questioned whether another battle against the drop was in store.
However, the arrival of Fraizer Campbell on loan from Manchester United a couple of months earlier had added some extra bite to the City attack and his strike partnership with Windass proved crucial after the turn of the year. Throw in the contribution of record signing Caleb Folan, the Club’s first million-pound signing, and the Tigers had plenty of goals in their team. City lost just twice in a 16-game run from the end of January to mid-April to establish themselves as not only Play-Off contenders but automatic promotion candidates. A final day defeat at Ipswich put paid to hopes of going straight up and so City would meet Watford in the two-legged Play-Off semi-final. Phil Brown’s side triumphed 2-0 in the first leg at Vicarage Road thanks to goals from hometown boys Barmby and Windass, leaving City just 90 minutes away from a first-ever Wembley appearance. A fantastic night at the KC Stadium was in store, but a Darius Henderson goal after just 12 minutes set the nerves jangling. However, the Tigers came roaring back to win 4-1 on the night and 6-1 on aggregate. Barmby was again on target, as were Folan, Richard Garcia and Nathan Doyle.
Bristol City provided the opposition for the Play-Off Final on a sweltering afternoon at the national stadium. In a tense and tight affair, a stunning volley from Windass proved to be the difference between the two sides, leaving Tigers fans in ecstasy at the final whistle. Thousands of fans lined the streets of Hull to greet their heroes 48 hours later, while behind the scenes preparations for the Club’s first-ever season of top-flight football were well underway. City recruited a number of players for the new season including Craig Fagan on a permanent transfer, former Barcelona player Geovanni, Peter Halmosi and Anthony Gardner. Brown also utilised the loan market to bring in Marlon King, Kamil Zayatte and Paul McShane.
The Largest City In Europe Never To Have Hosted Top Flight Football…
The season started in fine style as goals from Geovanni and Folan saw City come from a goal down to beat Fulham 2-1 at the KC Stadium. In fact, only a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Wigan punctuated a great start as City recorded memorable wins against Newcastle, Arsenal, Spurs, West Ham and West Brom as well as draws with Blackburn and Everton in the opening weeks of the season. Things got tougher as the season went on and the Tigers were eventually sucked into a relegation battle. Despite briefly dropping into the bottom three towards the end of the season, City ultimately won their fight as West Brom, Middlesbrough and Newcastle were relegated to the Championship, the Tigers surviving on the final day of the campaign despite losing at home to Manchester United.
After a disappointing start to the 2009/10 season which saw City win just two of their opening nine league games, pressure began to mount and Chairman Duffen handed in his resignation. Speculation started about who his replacement would be and Adam Pearson emerged as the clear favourite to make a return to East Yorkshire after handing in his resignation at Derby County. On Monday 2nd November, Pearson was confirmed as City’s new Executive Chairman.
Pearson’s arrival coincided with an improved run of form as City went through the month of November unbeaten. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink’s last-minute strike secured a 2-1 win against Stoke and that was backed up with a 3-3 draw with West Ham and a 3-2 win against Everton. The Tigers ended the month with a 1-1 draw at Manchester City.
Key in that run of games was the return from injury of Jimmy Bullard. Although he didn’t play in the victory against Everton, he scored twice against West Ham and bagged the equaliser against Manchester City. It was clear that the Club’s record signing was going to be key in the Tigers’ survival hopes. Little wonder, then, that there was dismay when an awkward fall against Aston Villa the following week ruled him out of action for another three months. City picked up just two points in December – from a 0-0 draw with Blackburn at the KC and a battling 2-2 draw at Bolton which saw Stephen Hunt score twice to drag his side back from two goals down. Wigan dumped City out of the FA Cup and although a welcome point came from a 0-0 draw with Spurs, that was followed by a 4-0 defeat at Manchester United. Three home games in a week offered hope and City came out fighting. A 2-2 draw with Wolves brought mixed feelings, but a 1-1 draw against Chelsea and a 2-1 victory against Manchester City improved the mood.
However, four consecutive defeats followed to send City sliding into the relegation zone and manager Brown was relieved of his duties and placed on gardening leave on March 15, leaving Brian Horton and Steve Parkin in temporary charge. Two days later, Iain Dowie was appointed as the Club’s Temporary Football Management Consultant. He brought with him Tim Flowers and Steve Wigley, meaning Brian Horton and Reserve Team Manager Aidan Davison left the Club. Parkin remained on the coaching staff.
Dowie’s first game in charge brought an unbelievable defeat. City led Portsmouth 2-1 going into the last couple of minutes at Fratton Park, but they somehow ended up losing the match 3-2. That defeat did little to help confidence and although Dowie oversaw victory in his first home game in charge, 2-0 against Fulham, relegation was all but confirmed after home losses to Burnely (4-1) and Sunderland (1-0). The Tigers’ time in the Premier League came to an end with a 0-0 draw against Liverpool at the KC Stadium, a game which proved to be the last of Dowie’s brief spell as manager.
After a summer of speculation, Nigel Pearson was appointed as the club’s new manager in late June and he took City to an 11th-place finish in his first season in charge, a season during which the future of the Club had once again been threatened by financial troubles. At the eleventh hour, the Tigers were saved by the Allam family who stepped forward to become the new owners in December 2010. As far as footballing matters were concerned, Pearson’s reign as manager ended in November 2011 when he returned to former club Leicester, leaving Nick Barmby to take temporary charge of first-team affairs. After a successful couple of months, Barmby was handed the role of manager on a more permanent basis, leading the Tigers to an eighth-place finish with a play-off push falling short in the final few weeks of the season.
Promotion, FA Cup Final, Europe…
Just two days after the season had finished, Barmby was suspended and then sacked before Steve Bruce was confirmed as the club’s new manager in June 2012. Bruce made himself an instant hero as he guided the Tigers back into the Premier League in his first season in charge with promotion sealed after a 2-2 draw with Cardiff City at the KC Stadium on a dramatic final day of the 2012/13 season.
It was the start of a memorable and historic period for the Club as in the following campaign, Premier League survival was assured and a stunning FA Cup run saw the Tigers reach the final for the first time before eventually falling 3-2 to Arsenal after extra time at Wembley.
However, that run to the final earned the Tigers a first-ever shot at European football at the start of 2014/15 but after overcoming Slovakian side AS Trencin in their first qualifying round for the UEFA Europa League, Bruce’s men were eventually beaten by Belgian team KSC Lokeren as they failed to reach the group stages. That disappointment carried over into the league season as Premier League status was eventually surrendered on the final day of the campaign following a 0-0 draw with Manchester United.
2015/16 saw the Tigers bounce straight back to the Premier League in a promotion-winning campaign. Occupying a place in the Championship’s top two for much of the season, with Club record signing Abel Hernandez bagging 22 goals along the way, Bruce’s side eventually had to settle for a play-off place and after seeing off Derby County in a two-legged semi-final, Mo Diame’s stunning strike sealed promotion with a 1-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday in the Play-Off Final at Wembley.
That proved to be Bruce’s final competitive game in charge of the Club, the manager leaving the KCOM Stadium by mutual consent in late July 2016. Bruce’s assistant, Mike Phelan, was placed in temporary charge and worked miracles as the Tigers won their first two games on their return to the top-flight. Phelan was eventually given the job full time but a difficult run of results left his side in a relegation battle. Phelan was dismissed in early January 2017 and replaced by Portuguese Head Coach Marco Silva. Results, at home at least, improved to give the Tigers a fighting chance of avoiding relegation, but Silva’s side failed to win any of their final four games and were relegated back to the Championship on the penultimate weekend of the season. Silva left the club less than a week after the season had ended, subsequently taking over at Watford.
The move to appoint a new Head Coach brought Leonid Slutsky to the KCOM Stadium in June 2017. The former boss of the Russian national side was quick to make an impression as he integrated himself into the local community, but things were much slower to take off on the field in 2017/18 following a large turnover of players. Despite some big wins, including a 6-1 thrashing of Birmingham City, the Tigers found themselves in a battle to avoid relegation as Christmas approached. Slutsky departed and was replaced by former Scunthorpe United and Southampton manager Nigel Adkins. The improvement in results was steady rather than spectacular, but Championship status was eventually secured as Adkins’ men finished the campaign eight points clear of the bottom three, Jarrod Bowen leading the way with 15 goals in his first full season of senior action at the Club.