What Could Have Been

In my heart, I thought our name was on the cup.  In my head, I was expecting an absolute
thrashing, 5 goals minimum.
The semi-final was also at Wembley – I enjoyed that day but
it was just another game, albeit at Wembley.  I was just going through the motions – turn up,
drink beer, win, go home.
This time was different. 
This time was history – our first ever FA Cup Final with a qualification
to our first ever European campaign already in the bag – not to mention a
chance of getting revenge for Phil Brown’s sacking following our defeat to
Arsenal several years ago, and to give the gift of another year without a
trophy for those poor Arsenal fans, to the rest of the footballing community.
If you wouldn’t mind, I would like to list the less
inspiring teams that have knocked Hull City AFC out of the FA Cup since I have
supported them:
Notts County
Rotherham
Chester City
Lincoln City
Wrexham
Crewe Alexandra
Hednesford Town
Kettering Town
Oldham Athletic
Macclesfield
Cheltenham Town
Colchester United
Plymouth Argyle
Crawley Town
Barnsley
There were a couple of big teams too, like Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool
and Aston Villa (well, biggish) but the vast majority are relative minnows.
The day started at the Big Chill House in King’s Cross,
meeting my sister and a couple of our respective friends – a really cool place
with an awesome roof terrace, shame about the lack of sunshine though.  On the bright side, I had mullet recognition
as someone shouted “Pat Sharpe” at me. 
Notably excellent and very friendly service too.
Next stop Wembley, and boy was I excited.  I was so nervous when I woke up that I had to
walk to the shop within 5 minutes of waking up to get some beers, it had taken
hours to get to sleep the night before.
Met my parents – my mum was shaking with nerves, also found
my uncle, auntie, cousin and saw another mullet – I shouted “mullet” then
realised he was rather hard looking, and the mullet wasn’t ironic in the
slightest, clearly unchanged from 30 years, except a bit of balding on top.
The pre-game
atmosphere was exceptional and yes I sung the national anthem, hand on heart.
How good was that for timing?!
My bets were on Arsenal to win 5-0 or 5-1, and Hull to sneak
a 1-0 and the dream of 4-2.
Realistically the only chance of beating Arsenal was to
catch them early, and hold on bravely.
So in the 3rd minute we scored, I had to look
twice to make sure it was a goal, even as we were going crazy in celebration I
was still not convinced but it was a clear goal – knocked in by one of our
excellent central defenders, James Chester. 
Can you name any other footballers with a first name of James?  A true rarity.
Roll on the 8th minute and we scored a second by
our captain fantastic, Curtis Davies – a true Hull City legend after just one
season, this guy gives so much effort that it is truly inspiring – Margaret Thatcher
would be proud.  Why he is not in the
England squad is beyond me.  Apart from
the fact that he doesn’t play for a big club.
2-0.  Crazy.  Though we were 2-0 up against Man Utd earlier
this season and lost.
Then in the 13th minute we came so close to
scoring a 3rd.  Alex Bruce,
the manager’s son had a header cleared off the line.
Arsenal then went into diving mode, falling over at every
opportunity and were lucky to get a free kick, from which they scored.  It was a very good goal though.
The rest of the half, I vaguely remember, Arsenal were not
particularly much better than us, there were few shots on target from either
team and come the half-time beer, we were 2-1 ahead.  Perhaps the most memorable moment in the rest
of the half was the lout next to me chanting “Steve Bruce”, somehow not falling
over despite being horrendously drunk, for a good 10 minutes before the rest of
us joined in/caved in.  Steve Bruce.  Steve Bruce. 
Steve Bruce.  Steve Bruce.  Steve Bruce. 
Steve Bruce.  And on.
That is our manager, by the way.  Steve Bruce.
Time for a beer – and the service at Wembley is notably
quick.  Steve Bruce.
Arsenal slowly turned the screw as the second half went on,
and showed their class.  However they
couldn’t break down our defence, and I started to believe that maybe it would
be our day.  One or two half-shouts for a
penalty against us, which I’m surprised weren’t given with Arsenal being a big
club – but certainty would not have been given to us, so it was fair.  Steve Bruce.  Steve Bruce.  Steve Bruce.
But then inevitability struck and Arsenal smuggled the ball
into the net.  It was then just a matter
of time until they got the winner and I was hoping that it would be over sooner
rather than later.
Steve Bruce.   Steve Bruce.   Steve Bruce.   Steve Bruce.   Steve Bruce.   Steve Bruce.   Steve Bruce.   Steve Bruce.   Steve Bruce.   Steve Bruce.   Steve Bruce.   Steve Bruce.   Steve Bruce.   Steve Bruce.
Alas it went into extra time, Arsenal brought on Rosicky and
Wiltshere – which is a sign of how far ahead of us they are when we had the
likes of Boyd and Aluko to bring on – eventually Arsenal did get their 3rdgoal to go into the lead.
But with just a few minutes to go, a spot of kamikaze
defending gave us a difficult chance, Aluko had passed the keeper but was
almost next to the touchline – a cross/shot went agonisingly wide.  Steve Bruce.   Steve Bruce.   Steve Bruce.   Steve Bruce.

So close to an equaliser – so close to penalties.  Albeit with more English players than Arsenal
we would have had no chance of winning a shoot-out.
I don’t begrudge Arsenal the win.
The team, to a man was absolutely fantastic, so much effort –
Curtis Davies, our central defender was still running right to the end, to the
point of even playing up front for a while.
The fans were amazing. 
I have never known such support from the fans, not even in the play-off
final, even straight after Arsenal’s equalizer and winning goal, we were
straight back to singing.
I came out of Wembley and my first thoughts were “never been
so proud to be from Hull”.
I am still smiling now. 
I don’t mind losing – getting there was amazing, being 2-0 ahead was
beyond amazing and the whole experience was just exceptional – one of those
days I will be talking about when I have those metaphorical grand-children to
talk to.
Silverware, we don’t care, follow Hull City, everywhere.
Steve Bruce.

Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.

My FA Cup History

I wish I had thought about doing this much further in advance, I could have put more research into it.

Every boy’s dream is to watch his football team at Wembley in an FA Cup Final.

Being a Hull City fan, aged 8ish, circa 1988, this was an unlikely though not impossible idea – we were mid-table in Division 2 back then (ie the Championship now), it could happen one day maybe.

I couldn’t go to the match, but the first I remember of the FA Cup and it’s magic was being 2-0 up against the then all-mighty Liverpool at half-time.  Such a unexpected scoreline – in the end we lost 3-2 but that was my first taste of being a Hull City fan and playing a big club.

The next two years saw defeats to Newcastle and Notts County in the 3rd round, I cannot remember if I were at either game.  Around this time one was enchanted by the magical Paul Gascoigne (my Grandad never liked him – called him a pratt, if I recall correctly), I have memories of him scoring that goal, and then of that awful tackle.

Yes the FA Cup was magical to a child.

In 1992 we faced Chelsea in the 3rd round.  I was mascot.  Thanks Grandma!

I was hoping to find a picture or a video for you all, but alas not yet, I will in time, however I did manage to delay kick-off by not realising as a mascot that I had to go to the centre.

We lost 2-0.

Consequent years saw early round defeats to the likes of Rotherham, Chester City and Lincoln City.

By time we were in the bottom division, circa 1995, not many people were going,  A 5-1 hammering at home by the might Crewe Alexandra was bad enough.

But worse was to come.

Saturday 15th November 1997.  I remember it vividly.  Home against Hednesford of some non-league persuasion.  Match Of The Day were here to record it.

Yes we lost 2-0.

But the year after, we began our long slow march to world domination, by beating Salisbury and Luton Town (also coming from 9 points clear at the bottom of the league, seemingly doomed to the Conference but finished safe) – time for a trip to Aston Villa in the 3rd round of the FA Cup.

Yes Aston Villa.  A massive club, it was a dream back then to go play them.  I stayed at my friend James’ house and we went clubbing that night, we went to see – Judge Jules.  Yeah.

Oh yeah we lost the game but it was nice to play a big club, even though I was sat in the home end.,

We lost 6-1 at home against Chelsea the next year.  Hmmm.  And the year after we lost 1-0, at home, in a replay, against…Kettering Town.  FML.

And whilst we are at it, lets record a few more ignominious defeats to:

Oldham
Macclesfield
Cheltenham
Colchester

It does become less inglorious after, culminating in defeat to, yes, Arsenal in the quarter-finals, a stage I hadn’t realised had existed, in 2009.  We only lost 2-1 and a fucking dodgy goal at that.

Then we reverted to normal with two defeats in a row to Wigan, followed by an infamous defeat to the mighty Crawley Town.  Even last year we lost at home, 1-0, to Barnsley.  Barnsley.

So to find myself with a ticket to the FA Cup Final, Hull City AFC vs Arsenal, is quite a dream.

A dream I didn’t dare to have.

For the semi-final at Wembley, I was walking there thinking, been there done that.

This is so different, this is history, this is the whole world watching.

Could You Change Football Club Allegiance?

Just in case you have been living under a rock, there is a
delicate issue of an application to change my football club’s name from Hull
City AFC to Hull Tigers which the FA are due to either approve or reject
tomorrow.
You have no excuse not to know about it – football fans in
France and Germany have both displayed “No To Hull Tigers” banners
(independently – no influence from any Hull City fans that anyone is aware of),
cricket fans in the West Indies have displayed such a flag and I have a badge
on my coat.
So tomorrow the FA should reject the name change.  Not guaranteed as they are well-known for making stupid mistakes, and it is unlikely to be the end of it as the owner will probably launch a legal challenge.
But if they do reject it, the owner is going to walk out and put the club up for sale within 24 hours.  Apparently.  Just before our first FA Cup semi-final for 80 years and probably the highest ever finish in the league.  I believe him.
So the question is – can one change football club allegience during their life?
This isn’t some kind of childhood changing my mind – like when I was 9 years old when I decided to relegate Liverpool as my main team in favour of glory-supporting a club more likely to win things, Hull City AFC.

This would be turning my back on my club after 25 or so years of emotional investment.
However if they were now called Hull Tigers – surely this is a total change of the club’s identity?  It would be like your wife having a sex change – would you stay married or divorce her?
I like to think that I am exceptionally loyal but this name change would be disloyalty to me.  I didn’t start this.
So could I support another team?  What happens if we qualify for Europe next season?
There is no way myself and other fans would take the change lying down.  We have hounded out owners before and it could be done again.  I quite fancy a vigilante campaign – West Hull was covered with “Sack Dolan” stickers circa 1996/97, and Martin Fish (an old chairman) had newly designed “Fish Out” posters through his accountancy firm’s letterbox every Friday lunch during college terms – those Fridays where our alcoholic IT teacher turned up anyway.
I didn’t send cod’s heads to any football league chairman though.
Hull City AFC stickers would be very easy to print and distribute.
Then there is the route that Man Utd and Wimbledon fans have gone down – with FC United and AFC Wimbledon – opening another club as Hull City FYA (Fuck You Allam (our current owner)) – and starting at the bottom of the pyramid – this would be very appealing as I miss shit football.  There really are not enough hoofs in the Premiership.  Too many whores, not enough hoofs.
Hopefully come Wednesday I can change the badge on my coat to the one I got on my birthday a couple of years ago that says “I’m horny”.
I would be interested in your thoughts and in the meantime I leave you with a song from the good old days of Division 3 football.
To the tune of Common People by Pulp,

He came from Rochdale with a lack of knowledge
He studied management at Bradford College
That’s where I, caught his eye
He told me that he was a manager
I said: `In that case you’d better come and manage us’
He said: `Fine’
And then, in three seasons’ time
He said: `I want to take you to the Vauxhall Conference
I want to do whatever Halifax do
I want to sign lots of crap old players
I want to watch this club slide out of view
And hoof, and hoof and hoof
Because there’s nothing left to do

The Reading FC Experience vs The Hull City AFC Experience

So I have just been to watch Reading.  I thought a lot about Hull City during the game.

Despite the similar-sized stadiums and clubs been of reasonably equal stature on average over the past 5-6 years, there were many differences.

Before you ask, it was a free ticket and I supported Barnsley, albeit secretly.

1. I paid £8.80 for two pre-match pints in a local pub.  I probably would have got four pints in Hull.
2. The food looks much better at Reading.  At Hull the seats look more edible that the hot dogs.  At Reading, the food looks appealing – and they sell fish and chips at the Madejski – no surprise with Reading being well-known for its fishing.
3. I didn’t see anyone smoking in the toilets at the Reading game.
4. They played music after the Reading goal.  WTF?  If Hull City think there is an uproar about the name change – that is nothing compared to what would happen if they dared play after-goal music.
5. The quality of football was much poorer than Hull.  To be expected given that it was a lower division but some of the mis-hits were shocking.
6. Booing.  1-1 at half-time and there was some audible booing.  At full-time, having lost 3-1 at home, admittedly against the team at the bottom of the division, there was significant booing, and also jeering after mistakes.  A lot of negativity.  Far more booing than I have heard at Hull in recent seasons.  A bit of reality is required, Reading fans – 6th in the Championship is decent.  Less jeering, more supporting.
7. Even at 3-1 down with 5 minutes to go, there was only a trickle of fans leaving.  At Hull there would be streams leaving if it was 1-1 which is totally nonsensical.  And if people think the traffic is bad in Hull then you ain’t seen nothing compared to Reading!  Though there does seem to be much more organisation at Reading in terms of various park and ride systems, loads of buses, plenty of nearby car-parks, etc.
8. The Circle (or the KC Stadium if you have to call it by it’s official name) is hardly renowned for its atmosphere but I recall hearing just ONE chant tonight by the Reading fans, which was after the game – “That was embarrassing, that was embarrassing…”.  One chant, is indeed embarrassing.

The Most Important Vote of 2014

No not the Scottish Independence vote, or the European Elections (you do know there are European elections in May, don’t you?).

But the NAME CHANGE vote.

Anyone who has seen the badge on my coat, the banners on Facebook or pays any vague interest to football will know that our owner is trying to change our name from the historic and traditional Hull City AFC, to the ridiculously cheesy Hull Tigers, all because Hull CITY Council won’t give him the football stadium for free.

So after denying that we needed a poll to say what the fans supported, back in November, as soon as the FA advise that they will be recommending to reject the proposed name change, the owners suddenly say “Yes we need a poll, we always said were going to have one”.

The poll should simply read:

Do you agree with the proposed name change to “Hull Tigers”? – YES/NO

But of course the owner who has run our club during the best part of our footballing history, and rescued us from a serious debt (albeit we are now in debt to him, at 5% interest), has decided to make it a vote on him and his family running the club.

So in the name of fair polling as I am sure our erstwhile Egyptian owner has plenty of historical experience of, he has issued a totally disgracefully loaded question assumedly after reading the Putin Book of Democracy, as thus:

* Yes to Hull Tigers with the Allam family continuing to lead the club
* No to Hull Tigers
* I am not too concerned and will continue to support the club either way

So in other words, if you want the owner to stay, and the vast majority of fans do despite him telling us we are thugs, hooligans and can die when we want, you have to vote Yes to Hull Tigers.

The No to Hull Tigers option, then implies that you will not continue to support the club with the way the dodgy third option is included.

As a Hull City fan I am well used to dodgy deceitful owners, but this is almost the worst as he was our saviour and him and his family as should be local heroes yet they try their hardest to piss off all the fans – and believe me many of us are ‘raaht fooked off’.

Tomorrow’s game may see the first Allam Out chants.