Friday, 5 July 2013

Whatever happened to...? Premier League Tigers

It may only have been three years since Hull City’s original Premier League journey came to an end at Wigan but at times it has felt like a lifetime. The club neared bankruptcy, were saved by an Egyptian on a white horse, have turned over nearly 50 players, seen four managers (and one “Football management consultant”) leave before returning to the top flight against all odds.

It’s been quite a journey for the players who wore the black and amber in the Premier League too.  A few went on to bigger and better things. Several have retired. Some travelled the world. One has been to prison. Let’s have a look.

Amr Zaki (6 appearances - 0 goals)

The first Egyptian player to represent Hull City (before it became old hat) had an unremarkable spell on loan from Zamalek. He returned to the Egyptian club and found a bit of form but a serious injury and a contractual dispute meant he missed a lot of football. He went on to join Turkish side Elazigspor in 2011 but left following a contractual dispute. He then returned to Egypt with ENPPI whom he’d previously represented between 2003-2005. He left earlier this summer following a contractual dispute and has signed for Al-Salmiya of Kuwait. I hope they’ve got a good lawyer.

Andy Dawson (60 apps - 1 goal)

Left The Tigers this summer after 10 years at the KC Stadium to rejoin former club Scunthorpe United. Helped steady the ship after relegation from the Premier League and secured a fourth promotion with the club last season though it’s safe to say his contribution paled in significance to that made in the other three. When there is finally an official Hull City Hall of Fame, he’s a cast-iron certainty. Well deserved testimonial takes place on August 10th 2013.

Anthony Gardner (30 apps - 0 goals)

Ex-England international sick note was allowed to join Crystal Palace on loan in 2010 as his early appearances for The Tigers in the Championship resembled a “You’ve Been Framed” audition tape. Joined Palace permanently after his contract expired and restored his reputation somewhat with solid displays as Palace reached the league Cup Semi-finals in 2012. Showed his gratitude for the rehabilitation at Selhurst Park by leaving for Sheffield Wednesday where he managed 37 games. In one season. Their Physio has just been trademarked by Marvel comics.

Bernard Mendy (49 apps - 2 goals)

French full-back with lightening quick feet and desperately slow brain was released from his City contract about 5 minutes after relegation was confirmed. He moved to Denmark with Odense, where he turned up in a Europa League tie with Fulham, before signing a two year contract with Brest. They were promptly relegated. He must have felt a right tit.

Boaz Myhill (55 apps - 0 goals)

Promotion to the Premier League was his third with The Tigers. Signed for £50,000 from Aston Villa by Peter Taylor, he became arguably our greatest ever goalkeeper before moving on to WBA after relegation. He didn’t want to go but the club needed to sell him. The fee was officially undisclosed but said to be £1.5m. That’s not a bad return. Unfortunately he’s played second fiddle to Ben Foster at WBA and has almost played more times for Wales than Albion in the last three years. Bring Back Bo.

Bryan Hughes (6 apps - 0 goals)

Experienced midfielder played a much unheralded part in the promotion team. He was never going to be a Premier League player again though and we saw little of him before he was released in January 2010. For a fella who’d made 40-odd Championship appearances in a promotion winning side 18 months earlier, he had a surprising struggle to find a new home. He had short spells with Burton, Grimsby and IBV in Iceland before a half season spell at Accrington Stanley. You know who they are. He’s now retired but it active on the ex-Tiger circuit and has turned out for Scarborough Athletic. Still lives locally and props up Deano at the bar!

Caleb Folan (23 apps - 3 goals)

The Tigers first £1m signing and scorer of the first ever winning goal in the Premier League exited the KC Stadium in 2011 to join Colorado Rapids. Chances were few and far between for him in the Premier League and that continued after relegation partly as result of injuries and partly because Nigel Pearson thought he was rubbish. His unremarkable stay in the MLS ended in February 2012 when he signed for Birmingham City, where he never played a game before he moved onto Malaysia with T-Team. He left them in March and now looks to be in limbo, despite being only 30 years old.

Craig Fagan (47 apps - 5 goals)

Ah, Craig Fagan, he’s a grafter. Not much of a footballer though. Another who came in like a Lion and went out like a Lamb, his third spell with City ended in 2011. He’d missed most of the previous season with an injury sustained when he stabbed himself with his own forked tongue at Burnley. He fell into League two with Bradford City, left them to better himself and ended up without a club until Bury came calling and he fell into League Two with them. He’s also only 30 years old and is currently without employment.

Daniel Cousin (30 apps - 4 goals)

Goal-shy Gabonese globetrotter left The Tigers for Larissa of Greece. He initially went on loan (which said much as he was let go when we couldn’t hit a cows arse with a banjo) and moved permanently the following August. He moved back to his homeland with Sapins to prepare for the 2012 African Nations cup which they were co-hosting. In fairness, he had a terrific tournament and captained his country through the group stage before they were beaten on penalties by Mali. A return to Rangers fell through when they were placed into administration and he’s done nothing since.

Dean Marney (47 apps - 1 goal)

Plays for Burnley. Tosser.

Dean Windass (5 apps - 1 goal)

One of the saddest parts of the glorious first half-season in the Premier League was the way Dean Windass’ City career ended. What should have been the ultimate fairy story ending with “Deano” firing his hometown club into the top flight for the first time had an unsatisfactory epilogue. Deano couldn’t see his career come to an end and chose to play on ending up on loan at Oldham before moving on to Darlington as Player-Assistant Manager, a move that didn’t work out with the club on the verge of implosion. He received a testimonial at the KC Stadium but it never quite felt right coming a year after the heroics. Has semi-retired, turning out for Scarborough occasionally with Bryan Hughes and has had well-documented mental issues.

George Boateng (52 apps - 1 goal)

The former Holland international may well have been worth another year at the KC Stadium following relegation but was released in the summer of 2010. He moved onto Greece for a year with Skoda Xanthi before his former Middlesbrough gaffer Steve McLaren signed him for Nottingham Forest. He made only a handful of appearances for Forest and despite being 37 now, has been playing for T-team in Malaysia where he was temporarily reunited with Caleb Folan.

Geovanni (60 apps - 11 goals)

The undisputed star of the “Premier League Years”, Geo scored the Tigers first top flight goal, scored more goals in the premier League than anyone else and remains the only Brazilian International to wear the black and amber. Cancelled his contract upon relegation and moved to San Jose Earthquakes in the MLS. Has since turned out for Vitoria and America in the Brazilian second division.

Ian Ashbee (31 apps - 1 goal)

Inspirationally captained City through four divisions. He was rightly awarded a new contract despite missing the entire second Premier League season through injury. Made a goal scoring return in a 2-0 opening day win over Swansea City in August 2010. That proved to be a false dawn and as Nigel Pearson re-shaped the team, Ash became the biggest victim of the clear out when he was allowed to join Phil Brown’s Preston North End. He couldn’t keep Preston in the Championship and having struggled with a knee injury, he retired the following season. Now works for Blowers Jewellers in Hull and cycles a lot.

Ibrahima Sonko (9 apps - 0 goals)

Signed on loan from Stoke City in August 2009 with the unenviable task of replacing Michael Turner. He made a shaky start to his City career and following a humiliating drubbing at Anfield, Phil Brown dumped him in the reserves. He showed a lot of character when called upon to return to the team later in the season (we were desperate) and refused to criticize Brown for his treatment. He spent the following season on loan at Ipswich before Stoke released him. He’s now with Akhisar Belediyespor in Turkey and helped them retain their top flight status in their first ever season in Super Lig.

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink (31 apps - 3 goals)

Hessle Road’s finest export almost called an end to his career after his City contract expired. Presumably feeling that nothing could top the experience of wearing the black and amber. Ahem. Instead he had an injury hit spell at Rapid Vienna and a swansong at PSV before retiring in 2012.

Jimmy Bullard (15 apps - 4 goals)

You know this one. He’s at the bank. He laughed all the way there.

Jozy Altidore (28 apps - 1 goal)

Took a time to settle in England but was showing some promise when he ended his only season at the KC prematurely by nutting Alan Hutton. He was then loaned out again by Villareal, to Bursaspor in Turkey but it didn’t quite work out. Has since gone onto fulfill his promise with a goal-laden spell in Holland with AZ Alkmaar and recently ended an international goal drought by scoring in four successive games for the USA. Linked with a multi-million pound move back to England.

Kamel Ghilas (13 apps - 1 goal)

Signed by Chairman Paul Duffen for an over-inflated price after some impressive performances on YouTube. Scored his only Tigers goal, a winning goal at that, against Bolton and spent the next two years “not being given a chance” while coincidentally displaying a crap attitude and being rubbish in every reserve appearance. Was palmed off to Arles and Reims in the French Ligue 2, scoring a few goals at the latter and earning a permanent move. He had a decent season as they won promotion to the top flight but did little to help them stay up.

Kamil Zayatte (55 apps - 3 goals)

Despite being the king of the stupid own goal, Zayatte had enough about him to leave a reasonable impression in the midst of The Tigers relegation. It was felt that whatever we lacked for our assault on the Championship in 2010/11, at least we had a solid defensive pairing of Zayatte and Gardner. That thought was dismissed in stunning fashion as The Tigers were dismantled on consecutive Saturdays by the might of Millwall and Donny Rovers. A move to Leicester fell through before Zayatte was allowed to return to France in January 2011 on “compassionate grounds”. Presumably due to the death of a Turkish relative because a week later, he signed for Konyaspor in Turkey. They were relegated from Super Lig (a coincidence) and he moved on to Istanbul BB. Also turned out in the African Nations Cup of 2012 for Guinea.

Kevin Kilbane (37 apps - 1 goal)

A £500,000 panic buy by Phil Brown in January 2009, “Killer” earned a lot of respect from the City fans in the summer of 2010 when, with the club in grave financial difficultly, he split his £26,000 a week wage in half over two seasons to save the club money in the short term. The fact that players of Kilbane’s ability were being offered £26,000 a week wages had nothing to do with those financial troubles. Honest. Despite being a thoroughly nice chap and a great pro, he had a stinker of a time at the KC and after loan spells with Huddersfield and Derby, he left for Coventry City when his contract expired. He retired after a few months at the Ricoh Arena and is currently working for the BBC as a colourless commentator.

Liam Cooper (2 apps - 0 goals)

Homegrown central defender suffered a baptism of fire in the Premier League when Phil Brown threw him into the team at Anfield way before he was ready and City were hammered 6-1. No worries though, it was all Sonko’s fault. After relegation, Nigel Pearson never really showed any faith in Coops and he went on loan to Carlisle and Huddersfield. He made a few appearances under Nick Barmby and while Barmby’s sacking and Steve Bruce’s appointment has proven to be good for the football club, it wasn’t good for the younger players. Bruce moved him out to Chesterfield on loan and he made a permanent move for a small fee in January 2013. He will develop with regular football and I’m sure he’ll climb back up the football league ladder.

Manucho (13 apps - 2 goals)

After searching high and low for a striker in the 2009 January transfer window, Phil Brown limbo danced his way into the Man Utd reserve squad and found Manucho. He made 13 unspectacular appearances which brought one highlight. In the 93rd minute of a pulsating game at Craven Cottage, most of which they’d spent pummeling us, Richard Garcia picked up the ball on halfway, beat most the defence, dug out a ridiculously good cross and Manucho tapped in from an inch out. Man Utd sold him on to Valladolid in Spain where he started brightly enough and starred for Angola in a couple of Nations Cup campaigns. He’s since spent time on loan in Turkey with those household names Bucaspor and Manisaspor with little success.

Mark Cullen (3 apps - 1 goal)

Another homegrown player who had a flirt with the City first team towards the end of the Premier League adventure and scored what remains the Tigers last top flight goal in a 2-2 draw at Wigan. Has since failed to live up to that early hype, has never looked like breaking through at City and has had spells on loan Bradford, Bury (twice) and Stockport without impressing. Was released by The Tigers this summer and signed a two year deal at Luton. Needs stability, regular football and the chance to gather momentum in front of goal so this should be a good move for him.

Marlon King (20 apps - 5 goals)

Promising loan spell at City ended when lazy performances on the pitch were capped by a sexual assault allegation off it (obviously). Moved on loan to Middlesbrough before being transferred from Wigan Athletic to Her Majesty’s pleasure.  On his released Coventry City gave him a fifth chance in football and he returned the favour with a near 1 in 2 goalscoring ratio. As a thank you for their help, he turned down a new contract and buggered off to Birmingham. He’s continued to score goals but his high wages mean Blues are desperate to get shot of him. He’s been linked (without credence) with a move back here. Over his dead body.

Matt Duke (21 apps - 0 goals)

Long serving, often reserve Goalkeeper enjoyed a much deserved moment in the spotlight after overcoming testicular cancer. Oddly he made more league appearances in each Premier League season than he had in the previous four seasons combined at the lower levels. Having finally established himself as the number one following Myhill’s departure, he failed to convince Nigel Pearson that he was the long-term option and was released at the end of the 2010/11 season. He moved onto Bradford City on a two year contract. He spent half of the first year on loan at Northampton but established himself during the second season and was the star of a remarkable run to the League Cup Final. A feat unmatched by any bottom division side in the modern era. Duke played in the final at Wembley but was sent off as Bradford were thumped 5-0 by Swansea City. They would go on to win promotion in the League Two Play-off final at Wembley but Duke had lost his place by that point. Moved on to Northampton Town this summer.

Michael Turner (42 apps - 4 goals)

Gangly centre half whose Hull City career turned around in spectacular fashion under Phil Brown. When Brown took over from Phil Parkinson, Turner was heading for the clearance bin. Under Brown, he blossomed into arguably the best centre half in the club’s history and was on the verge of an England call-up. Admired by Liverpool, he was eventually sold to Sunderland for 4p in 2009 to help pay the wage bill as the excesses of Duffen and Bartlett cast a dark cloud over the KC Stadium. He never really developed at Sunderland under their useless Geordie manager Steve Bruce and moved on to Norwich City last summer. A few of his early performances were woeful but he settled down and formed a fine partnership with Sebastien Bassong.

Nathan Doyle (3 apps - 0 goals)

Another hero of Bradford City’s run to the 2013 League Cup Final. Doyle was signed by Phil Brown as “one for the future” of the football club but the club hit unchartered heights unexpectedly and he was left behind. On his release he moved on to Barnsley where his only point of note was an arrest on suspicion of possessing cocaine. He had a loan spell at Preston (managed by Phil Brown) and then joined Bradford City on a free transfer. He played a big part not only in the League Cup run but in Bradford’s eventual promotion.

Nick Barmby (41 apps - 1 goal)

If anyone had told you in 2004 when Nick Barmby came “home” to see out his playing days at his home town club (freshly promoted form the bottom tier) that four years later he’d make 41 appearances for Hull City in the Premier League, you would have called in the men in white coats. Nick eventually became manager of the club in 2012 before being sacked in ridiculous circumstances a few months later. It appears the club has lost all contact with a wonderful servant who should have been part of the setup for years to come, which is a real crying shame. Hopefully the relationship will be repaired one day. In the meantime we should remember the man whose last act as a City player was to fire a winning goal against Cardiff City in the Championship which, in any other circumstances, would have been a fitting end to a glittering playing career.

Paul McShane (44 apps - 1 goal)

The only surviving member of the first Premier League season in the Tigers squad. McShane played the first half of that season on loan from Sunderland and impressed everyone but when he returned on a permanent deal for the 2009/10 season as part of the swindle that took Michael Turner to Sunderland, he was rather less effective. After The Tigers slipped out of the Premier League, his large wage became a burden and getting rid of him was high on the priority list. However, despite spending time on loan at Barnsley and Crystal Palace, he remained a City player and under Steve Bruce became a key figure in a promotion push and a real fan’s favourite. Remarkably, the contract that everyone had spent years counting down was extended with the terraces insisting “Don’t sell McShane”. The board listened. Egyptians take threats of rioting seriously for some reason.

Peter Halmosi (18 apps - 0 goals)

Halmosi became the expensive equivalent of Ryan Williams when he was signed for £2.5m in the summer of 2008 having impressed several times while playing for Plymouth against The Tigers. His tricky wing-play, dangerous crossing and expertly taken set pieces went completely missing as the Hungarian with the flowing locks struggled to make any impression on the Premier League. His time in black and amber memorable only for John Motson butchering “Halmoshi” on Match Of The Day. He was packed off back to Hungary to join Szombathelyi Haladas on loan and when his contract was terminated, he signed for them permanently and there he remains.

Richard Garcia (41 apps - 1 goal)

The Australian winger was signed from Colchester United in June 2007 for a bargain £400k, one of several shrewd acquisitions made by Phil Brown that summer. Not a winger blessed with great pace or quick feet, he made up for it with strength, work rate, determination and know-how. A key figure in the promotion of 2007/08, he struggled in the Premier League especially when he pushed up front. It wasn’t his best role but he always did whatever he was asked. In 2010, he made history when he became the first player representing Hull City to play in the World Cup Finals. He struggled with two knee injuries for the rest of his City career, limiting his chances, and was released in 2012 when he was probably worth another contract. He moved back to Australia with Melbourne Heart but is currently readying his next move.

Ryan France (2 apps - 0 goals)

A £15k signing from Alfreton Town in 2003, France would play for Hull City in all four divisions, though he was never really good enough for the top level. He gave great service to the club and may well have played a bigger part had he not suffered a serious knee injury in 2007. He was released after the first season in the Premier League and signed for Sheffield United where his career was cut short by persistent knee problems. He was a late comer to the pro game as he chose to complete his degree which should hold him in good stead given the premature retirement.

Sam Ricketts (29 apps - 0 goals)

Arguably the Tigers best ever right-back, Ricketts was signed from Swansea for £300k by Phil Parkinson in the summer of 2006. He displayed the family’s horse racing pedigree whilst galloping up and down the right wing become a key figure in the Tigers side that avoided relegation from the Championship, won promotion at Wembley and then stayed in the Premier League against all odds in three consecutive seasons. He was then sold to Bolton Wanderers for £2m. Having fallen out of the Premier League with Bolton last summer, he’s since moved on to Wolves who themselves have been relegated in each of the last two seasons. Premier League to League One in 22 months is a mighty fall for both Sam and Wolves.

Seyi Olofinjana (19 apps - 1 goal)

Only the legend of Jimmy Bullard stops Olofinjana receiving more press as a colossal waste of what precious little money Hull City had in the summer of 2009. A £3m transfer fee and around £5.5m in wages collected over 4 years for less than 50 appearances in return is outrageous. In that time, we’ve paid for him to play on loan for Cardiff and Sheffield Wednesday. Seyi is a thoroughly nice and intelligent chap but his once marauding midfield performances are long gone. At the very least Hull City can comfort themselves in the fact that a lot of the money paid to Olofinjana will make its way to his charity projects in his native Nigeria as opposed to disappearing into the till  at the Weir Bar!

Stephen Hunt (27 apps - 6 goals)

One of the few shining lights in the second Premier League season, Hunt was signed for £3.5m from Reading and became a firm favourite with his energetic, all-action displays, fine set piece delivery and eye for goal. His injury ¾ of the way through the season ended any feint survival hopes. We recouped a large chunk of the fee when he moved on to Wolves in 2010. There he was relegated from the Premier League for the third time in four years, missed most of their second relegation season through injury and was released this summer. He’s about to turn 32 and looking for a new club. Perhaps he could join his brother at L**ds?

Steven Mouyokolo (21 apps - 1 goal)

Tall centre half whose City story is similar to that of Hunt. Joined for a surprisingly high £1.8m from Boulogne in the French second division (in the time before French second division clubs spent £50m on international superstars) and produced some impressive performances despite relegation. Wolves gave us our money back and as they went down the toilet, he was released after a spell on loan at Sochaux. Recently joined Celtic on a one year deal.

Stylianos Giannakopoulos (2 apps - 0 goals)

Probably the most pointless signing in the clubs history. A star of Greece’s 2004 European Championship squad, he was signed only on the strength of his relationship with Phil Brown at Bolton and not because he offered anything the team needed. He made 2 sub appearances in the league and played a cup game before being released. Currently chairs the Greek PFA.

Tom Cairney (11 apps - 1 goal)

The only other member of the current Hull City squad who has played for the club in the Premier League. Cairney broke through in 2009/10 with some superb performances alongside George Boateng in the midfield and was expected to carry the team in the Championship following relegation. He has never really progressed and much of his obvious talent remains untapped. He didn’t make a single league start in 2012/13 and with one year on his contract left, he has plenty to do to remain part of the club.

Tony Warner (0 apps - 0 goals)

A career back-up Goalkeeper, the Trinidad and Tobago international was signed by Phil Brown to provide cover for Duke and Myhill in the Premier League. His only appearances came in cup competitions. Since being released by The Tigers he’s been at Charlton, Leeds, Scunthorpe, Tranmere, Wellington Phoenix in the Australian A-League and is currently at Floriana in Malta. Have gloves, will travel.

Wayne Brown (1 apps - 0 goals)

His Hull City career lasted one season and one game. A fine signing by Phil Brown from Colchester United in 2007 for £450k, he provided a calming influence alongside Michael Turner and wrote his name into Hull City folklore with a heroic performance at Wembley in the 2008 Championship Play-Off Final. Fears that he may lack the pace to play in the Premier League had some foundation and on his one and only Premier League start for the club, Wigan Athletic ripped us to pieces, 5-0, at the KC Stadium. Brown moved on loan to Preston and then Leicester whom he eventually joined for a fee after helping them win promotion from League One. He was the centre of a scandal at Leicester after he admitted (“joked”) that he’d voted for the BNP in the General Election. He left for Preston North End but struggled with injuries and failed to find form before being released. His last listed club is non-league Bury Town. He’s now retired.

Will Atkinson (2 apps - 1 goal)


Wiry Winger who came through The Tigers youth setup and, like Mark Cullen, scored at Wigan in the penultimate Premier League fixture. Never threatened to make the grade thereafter and after loan spells with Rotherham, Rochdale, Plymouth and Bradford, he signed permanently for the Bantams in 2012. He played a part in League cup wins over Arsenal and Aston Villa and played twice at Wembley in League Cup and Play-Off Finals (with mixed results). He left Bradford this summer to join his old boss Phil Brown at Southend United.

1 comment:

  1. Great read. A little harsh on Kilbane as a player. Harsh but fair on Marney!

    The connections with Turkey are legion. It's obviously where old City players go to die.

    We really had some sub-standard players first time round. I've a feeling this time we'll have a squad at a more consistent level, lacking the genius of Giovanni but not having to carry the Coopers and Cullens.

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