Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Ten Years At The KC Stadium - #10

In December, The Tigers will celebrate 10 years of football at the KC Stadium. Since the stadium was opened in December 2002 with a friendly against Sunderland, The Tigers have climbed up through the football league celebrating 3 promotions culminating in a magical play-off final win over Bristol City at Wembley and two seasons in which the best and biggest clubs in the land descended upon the stadium. In this series of blogs, I'll pick the Top 10 Players, Games and Goals from the 10 years at the KC Stadium and will throw in a variety of top 10 lists and boring facts! So here goes:

Top 10 Players - #10

James Chester

In a list that will obviously be dominated by players who've played a big part in The Tigers three promotion campaigns at the KC Stadium, Chester is a pick from the current squad of players. With just a few exceptions, the current squad has been assembled in the post-Premier League era by Nigel Pearson and Steve Bruce. For the most part, it is a squad of young players full of potential who were bought as a long-term investment for a relatively small fee. James Chester epitomises this approach. One of several players plucked from Manchester United's reserve team by Nigel Pearson, Chester was signed for just £300,000 in January 2011, having spent the first half of the season at Carlisle United. At five feet and ten inches, Chester is small for a centre half but any fears that initially caused were quashed once the fans at the KC saw him in action. Chester is an athletic defender, he makes up for his lack of height with great spring and timing. He reads the game well, covers the ground quickly and is better on the ball than most midfielders I've seen in black and amber.

He settled in well alongside Anthony Gerrard on his arrival from United and scored his first Tigers goal against Leeds United in February 2011. Following the arrival of Jack Hobbs on loan from Leicester City, Chester moved to right-back and played as a holding midfielder to make room. It disrupted his fine start at the KC but following Hobbs' permanent move to the Tigers, they struck up a tremendous partnership at the heart of the Tigers defence; the meanest in the league. Chester deservedly took home a number of the Supporters club's Player Of The Season awards. He's started the 2012/13 season in the same imperious form and has adapted to the team's new 3-5-2 system. He's been linked with several Premier League clubs over the past two seasons, though never strongly, and it's easy to see why. Chester will be a Premier League defender next season, whether than be with the Tigers or with someone else. If someone does buy him, City can expect to see their £300,000 outlay multiplied tenfold. At least. Chester has a fair claim to being the best centre back we've ever had at Hull City. I still think there's one ahead of him but one only. If he stays and fulfills his potential at the KC Stadium, he'll surpass even that big guy.

Top 10 Matches - #10

Hull City 6 Tranmere Rovers 1 - 18/12/2004

After climbing into to League One the previous season, the Tigers were well on their way to a second successive  promotion as Christmas approached. Sitting second in the table, third placed Tranmere arrived at the KC Stadium. Adding to the excitement of a genuine promotion six-pointer was the return to Hull of two beloved ex-Tigers, the reggae boys Theodore Whitmore and Ian Goodison, while Tranmere were managed by Brian Little, the manager who led City to the Division 3 play-offs in 2000/01 season.

There was no sign of the drama to come when long serving Tranmere 'keeper John Achtereburg suffered an injury in a challenge with Delroy Facey after twenty minutes and was replaced by Russell Howarth. On 34 minutes, Howarth was picking the ball out of the net, beaten by Ian Ashbee's long range effort. Howart was then injured in a clash with Stuart Elliott but soldiered on until half time. The Tigers took a single goal lead into the interval.

The Tranmere goalkeeper who came out after the break was a familiar face in unfamiliar kit. Jamaican forward Theodore Whitmore replaced the injured Howard in the visitors goal. From the minute he appeared Whitmore looked like a man who wished he could be anywhere else in the world than Hull on a freezing December afternoon in a goalie kit. Stuart Elliott scored the first of three goals in three minutes, heading in Facey's flick as Whitmore looked on helplessly. Eugene Dadi pulled a goal back for Tranmere but Nick Barmby immediately restored the two goal lead.

Elliott added a second ten minutes later, collecting Danny Allsopp's pass and racing clear before hammering the ball into the roof of the net and then completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot. He rolled the penalty into the corner, Whitmore not even bothering to dive. With a couple of minutes remaining, Danny Allsopp added a sixth goal, creeping past a defence who'd obviously given up the game the second they saw Whitmore with his gloves on and Brian Little attempting to drown himself in the team bath. It was a remarkable second half and saw a promotion rival humiliated in ridiculous circumstances. The only downside came in not exactly seeing Theo Whitmore at his brilliant best one more (last) time. The Tigers completed a league double over Tranmere with a 3-1 win at Prenton Park. Tranmere finished third in the table but lost the play-off semi-final to Hartlepool on penalties. Whitmore wasn't in goal that night though.

Boring stat: The Tigers were in the middle of a run that saw them score 2 or more goals in 15 consecutive games. The one defeat in those 15 games was a 2-4 loss at Swindon Town.

Top 10 Goals - #10

Andy Dawson (Hull City 6 Kidderminster Harriers 1 - 27/09/2003)

This crushing 6-1 win over Kidderminster in the first promotion season included a brace from Ben Burgess, one a remarkably athletic overhead kick, and a debut goal from Ryan France who'd joined the Tigers from non-league Alfreton for £15,000. The highlight of the day however was this thunderbolt from Andy Dawson. He picked up a pass25 yards from goal and unleashed an unerring strike into the far top corner with such pace that the 'keeper didn't even move. If it had been a Premier League full-back, it would have been on the opening credits of Match Of The Day for years!

Top 10 Tedious Matches at the KC Stadium (not including Rugby obviously)

1. Hull City 0 Burnley 0 - 15/04/2006
2. Hull City 0 Portsmouth 0 - 24/10/2009
3. Hull City 0 Bradford City 1 - 31/08/2004
4. Hull City 0 QPR 0 - 06/08/2005
5. Hull City 0 Lincoln City 2 - 28/02/2004
6. Hull City 0 Liverpool 0 - 09/05/2010
7. Hull City 0 Watford 0 - 21/08/2010
8. Hull City 0 Stoke City 2 - 18/11/2006
9. Hull City 0 Crystal Palace 1 - 20/08/2010
10. Hull City 1 Hartlepool United 0 - 08/03/2005

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