Hull City vs Fulham
16th August 2008
There can’t be many bigger occasions to make your debut than featuring in a club’s first-ever appearance in the top-flight, but Brazilian playmaker Geovanni did just that.
Joining as a free-agent in the summer of 2008 following his release from Manchester City, the skilful forward arrived amidst high expectations from the City faithful. The excitement around the KC was understandable, as the former Brazil international had previously enjoyed spells at European giants Barcelona and Benfica prior to making the move to East Yorkshire.
Geo’s debut didn’t get off to the best start as the Tigers found themselves trailing 1-0 to Fulham after Seol Ki-Hyeon headed the Cottagers in front inside of ten minutes.
Epitomising the fighting spirit within the camp though, the Brazilian magician levelled matters in some style on 23 minutes. Picking up possession in Fulham’s half, Geo advanced towards the penalty area before curling a beautiful left-footed shot beyond Mark Schwarzer and into the bottom corner of the net.
After Geo’s equaliser, the Tigers would go on to complete a dream start to life in the top-flight as a goal from substitute Caleb Folan on 81 minutes saw City finish the afternoon with all three points.
Following his explosive start to life as a Tiger, Geo’s momentum carried over as he went on to bag six goals in his first eleven games in a City shirt – including memorable strikes against Arsenal and Tottenham.
Hull City vs Exeter City
21st November 1964
Even though the Club never reached the top flight in his era, and despite the Tigers having signed many household names down the years, one player is always likely to be the first mentioned as a true club legend. That man is Ken Wagstaff.
‘Waggy’ joined City in November 1964, and for the next 11 years he terrorised defences throughout the country. For much of that time he was partnered by another prolific striker in the form of Chris Chilton, and between them they became household names, and forged arguably the most potent strike-force there has ever been outside the top division.
Wagstaff was born in Nottinghamshire and kicked off his professional career at the age of 17 with Mansfield, then managed by ex-Tiger Raich Carter. He showed signs of what was to come by netting 93 times in 181 appearances. His debut said it all when he scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Rochdale.
By November 1964 his talent was becoming well recognised, and a number of clubs were interested in signing him. But it was City who snapped him up, paying a then club record £40,000. He made his debut in a 3-1 win over Exeter at Boothferry Park, and it came as no surprise to anyone that he made a scoring start to life in black and amber, netting the opening goal for Cliff Britton’s side in front of almost 12,000 fans at Boothferry Park.
Hull City vs York City
3rd April 1948
It would be implausible to compile a list of the most memorable debuts throughout the club’s history without taking stock of the signing of one of the key figures in the Tigers’ past – the legendary Raich Carter.
It is testament to the contribution that Carter made as player/manager in the clubs’ post-war years that he is still talked about by the City faithful over seventy years after making his bow on a spring afternoon at Boothferry Park.
By the time ‘The Maestro’ joined the Tigers, he had already become the only player to have picked up an FA Cup winners’ medal on either side of the war, having achieved the feat with Sunderland and subsequently Derby County.
As with many players at the time, the outbreak of WWII robbed Carter of several peak years in the game, and it was at the age of 35 that he led City out against York for his debut. There was still plenty of magic in Carter’s boots though, and his first game in black-and-amber attracted a bumper crowd of 32,466 as a Dennis Durham goal secured a 1-1 draw against the Minstermen.
Hull City vs Nottingham Forest
2nd October 1976
Billy Bremner’s debut in 1976 was one of the most highly anticipated in the clubs’ history, as the fiery Scotsman arrived in East Yorkshire having earned a glowing reputation in the game.
The move was made all the more significant given that Bremner had spent the last 17 years at Yorkshire rivals Leeds United, with the diminutive midfielder finally calling time on his career with the Whites after leading the team to League and Cup success at Elland Road.
As with Raich Carter before him, Bremner’s arrival significantly swelled the home attendance, with the crowd more than doubling from the season’s average to see the Scottish international in action.
Something special was expected from the 33-year-old midfield genius and he didn’t disappoint, converting a free kick to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead and ultimately all three points against Nottingham Forest.
Unlike Carter though, Bremner was unable to lead the Tigers to success following on from his explosive debut with the Tigers finishing 14th in Division Two in 1976/77.
Hull City vs Kidderminster Harriers
27th September 2003
Just three days after signing from non-league Alfreton Town for a fee of £15,000, Ryan France made a sensational start to his career in professional football.
In what was real ‘Roy of the Rovers’ stuff, France took just eight minutes to open his account in a Hull City shirt when netting the Tigers’ fifth goal in the 6-1 demolition of Kidderminster Harriers – ensuring his first-ever appearance in black and amber will always provide happy memories.
Ben Burgess’ fifth-minute opener was cancelled out by John Williams for the visitors midway through the first half, but Danny Allsopp struck moments before the break to give the Tigers a half-time lead.
Andy Dawson made it 3-1 with a stunning strike, firing home an unstoppable effort from distance before France took centre stage, before Burgess’ second of the afternoon further extended the home side’s advantage.
It was then France’s time to shine. Stepping off the bench and into the action 14 minutes from time, the winger quickly introduced himself to the Tigers’ faithful when poking home from close-range to make it 5-1 to Peter Taylor’s side.
And although Stuart Green rounded off the scoring with a delightful free-kick in added time, the day firmly belonged to France after his debut day exploits.