Friday, 9 November 2012

Ten Years At The KC Stadium - #6

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 five in the series and number six in the countdown:

FACT: The Tigers have taken on 90 different teams in competitive games at the KC Stadium. We’ve also entertained the likes of Aberdeen, Dundee United, Hearts, Osasuna and Royal Antwerp in pre-season friendlies.

QUIZ: Can you name the 11 current members of the football league who haven’t played at the KC yet?

Top 10 Players - #6

Nick Barmby

Everyone knows all about Nick Barmby. He’s the best footballer to be born in Hull in the last 50 years and arguably ever. He went off to Lilleshall (the St. George’s Park of the day) and signed for Tottenham Hotspur. He’d move on to Middlesbrough (£5.25m), Everton (£5.25m) and, somewhat acrimoniously, Liverpool (£6m), picking up 23 England caps, going to two European Championships, scoring the first goal of Sven Goran Eriksson’s England reign and playing in the 5-1 win in Germany in 2001.

By 2004, he was finished. Leeds United had paid £2.75m for him 2 years earlier, a deal which cost them over £100k per game and £500k per goal from the transfer fee alone, and he’d been on loan at Nottingham Forest while Leeds were slipping out of the top flight. Chortle. That summer Barmby took a pay-off from Leeds United, said goodbye to the Premier League and the public gaze and got himself set for retirement by joining his hometown club, fresh out of Division 3, on a free transfer.

He enjoyed a fine season with The Tigers though Peter Taylor handled him with kid gloves, often replacing him around the hour mark with the job done. Barmby started 38 games and chipped in with 9 goals including the fastest goal in the clubs history (7 seconds) against Walsall in November and a memorable double at Hillsborough in December as The Tigers won 4-2 at Sheffield Wednesday on a night we’ll never forget. It was a season that ended in a second successive promotion and took Barmby a step closer to the level he’d played at for almost his entire career. He’d never make it back to that level of course, not even the most ardent Hull City fan had dreams that ridiculous.

The next two seasons in the Championship were frustrating for Barmby. Both heavily hit by injuries and the second compounded by a sour relationship with manager Phil Parkinson. He still managed to bag another double at Hillsborough to seal a 2-1 win, the third season in a row he’d scored there (Quick quiz: Against which other team did Nick score 3 seasons in a row between 05/06 and 07/08?) and he bagged a late equaliser at Stoke which kept The Tigers afloat in the Championship. He was over-shadowed at times by Dean Windass but had a knack of scoring in crucial games.

The 2007/08 season, our best ever, is well documented. Unfortunately for Barmby, he missed two massive chunks of it between September and December and then February and April. He returned for the business end of the season, scored in both legs of the play-off semi-final and then played 70 minutes at Wembley in the blazing heat as The Tigers secured promotion to the Premier League. 4 years after he was finished, Barmby was a top division player again. He played in 18 league games that season, City lost only 3 (and he was sub in two of them!) As was the case for most of his 8 years at the KC Stadium, we were a better team with Barmby involved.

Unfortunately, injury cost him the chance to be involved in many of the Tigers real glory days in the Premier League. He did clock up nearly 50 appearances in the two top-flight seasons though, more than anyone could ever have predicted. The last two years of Barmby's City career were full of upheaval. Firstly he saw the entire squad ripped to bits following relegation and then watched Nigel Pearson try to rebuild it in the wake of the Allam's takeover. Barmby had a good season himself in 2010/11, scoring 7 goals and being Nigel Pearson's go-to guy whenever a game needed changing. Even into 2011/12, at the age of 37, Pearson continued to call on him to add a bit of experience and quality to his exciting, young side. In November 2012, he took over as caretaker manager following Pearson's departure, later taking the role permanently and hanging up his boots. That meant that his last game for the Tigers was as a substitute in a 2-1 home win against Cardiff, a game in which he fittingly scored the winning goal. Barmby made a good fist of managing the team and put his faith in his young players and the way he wanted them to play football. Sadly, we missed having a plan B at times. Barmby himself would have been ideal. He was sacked in the summer for disagreeing with the clubs owners which prompted outrage from many City fans, so high is that regard in which he's held.

Nick Barmby came home in 2004. Most people thought he was here to play out his last couple of seasons in the comfort of League One. Most people don't know Nick Barmby. He's a winner. He's demanding of himself and everyone around him. He won't let his or anyone else's standards slip. He helped drag the club, kicking and screaming, from it's lifetime of mediocrity into the big time. He's a big game player. Whenever the pressure was on, whenever the stakes high, Nick puffed out his chest and took on the challenge. If not for the injuries restricting his appearances in several seasons, he'd be much further up this list. He served Hull City with pride as player, coach and manager and his "couple of years" turned into 8 mostly wonderful ones. City are flying high at the moment and Steve Bruce is doing a wonderful job. But I'll still be forever sorry that we didn't get to see Nick Barmby lead the club his way. 

Top 10 Matches - #6

Hull City 4 Darlington 1 - 09/08/2003

Opening days don’t come much better than this one. Peter Taylor’s side began the season as one of the promotion favourites, a tag they hadn’t coped well with in either of the previous two seasons. It was to be the first full season in the KC Stadium and on a roasting first day of the season, Darlington came to town. 9 months earlier, they were the party poopers who ruined the last ever game at Boothferry Park. This would be our day.

Four of Taylor’s five summer recruits started the game with Andy Dawson missing out through injury. Right back Alton Thelwell, jack-of-all-trades Richard Hinds, winger Jason Price and Danny Allsopp, signed to form a strike partnership with the deadline busting buy from the previous season Ben Burgess, were all included. The only negatives on the day were the inclusion of Taylor’s buddy Marc Joseph ahead of club legend Justin Whittle and the slightly disappointing crowd of 14,675. It was still a terrific bottom division turnout but down on some of the gates the previous season.

Jason Price was the star turn on the day having a hand in several of the goals and forcing two good saves from Andy Collett in the first half. Midway through the half, the home crowd had something to cheer about as Ben Burgess met Joseph's header from a corner, Collett saved his header and Burgess snaffled up the rebound. We were lifting off. But not just yet. With the Tigers struggling to maintain the tempo in the heat, Darlo came back into the game. Barry Conlon should have equalised but shot straight at Fettis before the same player finished well from 10 yards sending the teams in level.

The Tigers came out with a roar in the second half and banged in two in two minutes to kill the game off. Price struck a deserved goal amidst chaos in the Darlo area before turning provider again, flicking the ball on for Thelwell to race into the area and thump a terrific volley into the far corner. It could easily have been 6 or 7 after that with City playing some easy on the eye football that we’d craved for years. In the end, we settled for four with Danny Allsopp hitting a third debut goal of the afternoon. His shot from 20 yards into the far corner of the net was a real crowning moment.

It would have been just like Hull City to promise much and deliver little but this side were an exception. They fulfilled all of the promise they showed on that August afternoon and were promoted, the clubs first move up the league ladder for 19 years.

Top 10 Goals - #6

Dean Windass (Hull City 1 Sheffield Wednesday 0 - 30/12/2007)

This is a forgotten gem, I think. Great free-kicks have been few and far between at the KC Stadium (though we’ve seen a few corkers on the road) and this is by far the best. It settled a local derby and earned a win that would be crucial come May though we didn’t really know it at the time. 

10 Biggest names to grace the KC Stadium

1. Fernando Torres
2. Xabi Alonso
3. Robin Van Persie
4. Michael Ballack
5. Didier Drogba
6. Carlos Tevez
7. Steven Gerrard
8. Ryan Giggs
9. Robinho
10. Jan Venegoor Of Hesslink



Accrington Stanley, AFC Wimbledon, Aldershot Town, Barnet, Burton Albion, Dagenham & Redbridge, Fleetwood Town, Gillingham, Notts County, Stevenage, Wycombe Wanderers

Quick quiz answer: Watford


  1. What about Ronaldo?

  2. He didn't play. United sent a reserve team the first season and then sold him in the summer.