I'm jumping on the year end awards bandwagon to present a best and worst of another topsy-turvey year in the life of Hull City A.F.C.
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Michael Dawson. The skipper struggled through the first half of last season but once he settled he became the most important player in the team and has continued to be following relegation to the Championship. That he’s playing in the second tier at all is a bloody travesty, in truth, but I’m delighted that he is and the club needs him fit to maintain an automatic promotion challenge.
Maynor Figueroa. A player whose City career went downhill faster than Leigh Jenkinson in rocket boots. Figueroa returned from a loan spell at Wigan to play four games in 2015, we lost them all and he was more interested in crippling opponents than playing well.
Tom Huddlestone vs. Middlesbrough. It wasn’t the most crucial goal, City being 2-0 up at the time but it was one of the sweetest strikes of a football you’ll ever see from one of the most gifted yet feckless players to ever wear our colours. Honourable mention to Jelavic’s lob over Tim Howard on New Year’s Day, Meyler’s volley against Ipswich and Andy Robertson’s lovely finish at Griffin Park vs. Brentford after Sam Clucas provided the assist of the year.
Allan McGregor vs. Wolves. It couldn’t be anything else. McGregor has recovered from this incident to have a very good season so far but it was truly horrific. Dropping a harmless cross heading straight for you with no opposition player anywhere close isn’t something I’ve even seen in junior football.
Sam Clucas (£1.3m from Chesterfield). Making good signings hasn’t been a good habit for the last couple of years. There have been too many expensive mistakes and too many players bought on reputation. This was a signing from the lower divisions of a player with honesty, versatility, athleticism and a desire to be better. He’s had some great games and some poor games but he never gives anything less than his all and he’s someone you can get behind as a fan.
Ryan Taylor (Free from Newcastle). Why? Just, why?
Hull City 2-0 Everton (01/01/2015). It was tempting to go for our second consecutive home victory over Liverpool or the dispatching of excellent Middlesbrough and Brentford sides this season but I had to pick this one. It was an utterly comprehensive victory over a highly rated Everton team and the scoreline could, perhaps should, have been more convincing. Their big players barely got a kick and we were outstanding in every department. This Hull City team would have stayed in the Premier League. We never saw it again.
Rotherham 2 Hull City 0 (19/12/2015). This one is too raw to go over again. In a year of many lows – this was too abysmal to contemplate. That pathetic home defeat by relegated-by-full-time Burnley in April was nailed on for this a fortnight ago.
Best Away Day
Brentford. A fun trip in great company with an excellent away pub and the always popular 3am arrival at home. Helped by City being irrepressible in defeating a really good home team.
Relegation from the Premier League. There were plenty of contenders for this, on and off the pitch. Our manager defending a convicted rapist was a low, defeat to Burnley and at Charlton, Leeds, Rotherham and Preston, watching Liam Rosenior and Paul McShane depart, the owners unsubstantiated claim that threats from fans forced them to stay away from games, Jake Livermore’s failed drug test and then the heartbreaking reasons for his personal issues coming out and many more.
Regardless, I still pick relegation. Some people claim it doesn’t matter to them and that’s their choice. But it matters to me. It matters that my club is the best it can be, it matters that my City is on the map and in the national conscience and that the ground and area are full every Saturday (or Sunday, Monday night, Tuesday, etc!) with home and away fans. The income is massive too given the debt still owed to the owners. There is no benefit to relegation. None.
The FA say “No to Hull Tigers” again. I’ve no desire to go over old ground but this remains important to me.
The aforementioned wins over Everton, Liverpool, Middlesbrough and Brentford as well as the vital double header against QPR and Aston Villa in February which saw Dame N’Doye make a massive impact was another. The return of Jake Livermore from suspension and Robert Snodgrass from injury have been great to see as was the short lived elevation of young players such as Greg Luer and Calaum Jahraldo-Martin into first team contention.
Honourable mention should also go to whoever did the transfer negotiations in the summer. A horrible situation was somewhat salvaged with very good fees being received for Tom Ince, James Chester, Robbie Brady and Nikica Jelavic.