Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Ten Years At The KC Stadium - #9

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! This is number two in the series and number nine in the countdown:

Top 10 Players - #9

Jay Jay Okocha

Augustin Azucha Okocha arrived at Hull City in September 2007 at the request of Phil Brown and with the blessing of God. If you asked Phil Brown, he'd tell you they are one and the same. As a result of niggling injuries, the form of the squad in the run-in and a dubious red card against Burnley, he only played 19 games for Hull City and only started 11. Even so, he's probably the most gifted footballer to ever wear the black and amber. Despite being 34 years of age and having spent the previous season "playing" in Qatar, his signing was something of a coup for The Tigers. Okocha had played at the top level in Europe for Frankfurt, Fenerbache and Paris St. Germain, had been to three World Cups with Nigeria and possessed an Olympic Gold Medal and had raised the profile of Bolton Wanderers in his four years with the club, where he worked alongside Phil Brown.

Okocha could do things with a football we'd not seen at the KC Stadium before. Sone Aluko is probably the only player we've had since who even comes close. Okocha lacked the pace of old but still had an eye for a pass, superb set piece delivery and still possessed immense skill. His influence on the pitch probably wasn't as vital as the impression his signing gave out to potential signings and our opponents in the division. That said, there were some vintage performances from Okocha who started the season well and the Tigers lost just 3 of his first 11 appearances including a 1-0 win at Wolves and a 3-1 win at home to Ipswich in which he made goals for Henrik Pedersen and Wayne Brown. His appearances in the second half of the season were rare but he played a vital part in the 2-1 win at West Brom which was the springboard for our promotion push, brilliantly setting up Fraizer Campbell's wonderful opener. His best outing in a Tigers shirt was one of his last. The first 45 minutes against Burnley saw City playing some of the best football we'd seen in modern times, inspired by the magnificent Okocha. Unfortunately, he was sent off in a mad second half, along with Caleb Folan and two Burnley players, and with City charging towards promotion, failed to regain a place in the team.

Top 10 Matches - #9

Hull City 1 Chelsea 1 - 02/02/2010

In the midst of the 2009/10 season, The Tigers took on league leaders Chelsea in a rearranged fixture at the KC Stadium. The original game had been called off due to snow. City were on a run of 10 games without a win and the previous Saturday had drawn 2-2 at home to relegation rivals Wolves in a game they should have won. Dropping 2 points in such a fixture was indicative of a side who'd struggle to stay in the top flight so the Tigers fans didn’t hold out a lot of hope for the visit of the team who led Manchester United by 4 points at the Premier League summit.

Vintage Premier League performances were rare at the KC Stadium. Even in the golden autumn of 2008 when Hull City were setting the top flight on fire, our home form was patchy. This was one of the best. Tom Cairney, who’d made a surprise first league start in the Wolves game, continued in the Tigers midfield alongside the rejuvenated George Boateng who was the man of the match.  Cairney was unfazed by the occasion or the opposition and had a fine game, passing the ball beautifully. City started the game brightly and failed to make the best of numerous corners and set pieces our attacking play earned until the half hour mark.  Stephen Hunt delivered a near post corner onto the head of Steven Mouyokolo, who’d slipped his marker, and the Frenchman planted a header beyond Petr Cech. Chelsea had turned us over 4-0 (league cup) and 3-0 (league) in the previous two seasons so to bag a goal was a turn-up.

City approached half time nervously, unsure whether to try and defend the lead (which would have been fruitless given how poorly we defended all season) or whether to try and find another goal. Chelsea took advantage and breached our defence right on half time. Didier Drogba smashing a wicked free-kick low around the wall and beyond Myhill. If Chelsea expected to push on after the break, they were taken aback by City’s vibrant approach to the game. With Jozy Altidore giving John Terry (who picked up a popular yellow card while trying to stop Altidore; he’d recently been outed as a “love rat” in the red tops) and Ricardo Carvalho a hard time, City were on the front foot. The Tigers back four defended tremendously all night and as the game wore on and City tired, they were forced to work harder to keep Chelsea out. Bo Myhill had a few iffy moments in the game but did his bit to earn a vital point by making tremendous saves from Drogba and Daniel Sturridge.

This was arguably the most impressive home performance of the Tigers Premier League run. There were a few more impressive attacking outings but none featuring more impressive defensive performances. This was also one of only a couple of points City picked up at home against the genuine super-powers of English football at home. It was a great night and one that threatened to turn our season around but never quite managed it.

Top 10 Goals - #9

George Boateng (Hull City 2 Manchester City 1 - 06/02/2010)

Hot on heels of the aforementioned Chelsea game, big spending Manchester City visited the KC Stadium.They were given a spanking by a temporarily rejuvenated Hull City and Phil Brown's last ever win as the Tigers boss was effectively clinched by this beautiful volley from the left boot of George Boateng.

Top 10 Hull City Goalscorers at the KC Stadium

1. Stuart Elliott (33)
2. Nick Barmby (16)
3. Ben Burgess (15)
= Craig Fagan (15)
= Matty Fryatt (15)
6. Danny Allsopp (14)
= Stuart Green (14)
8. Dean Windass (13)
9. Robert Koren (12)
10. Fraizer Campbell (10)

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