Ahead of our trip to East Yorkshire, we caught up with Ian Waterson of Hull City’s City Independent . This is an excellent read on a club experiencing very similar issues on the direction of their club under the current ownership. I can’t support enough the City Till We Die campaign so click on the link, read and sign the petition!
It’s a time for Hands on Hearts not Hands in Pockets!
TF: At the time of writing Hull City are in a very decent 11th place. What’s gone right?
Ian (City Independent): Two things, really. The first was appointing a manager with proven promotion from the Championship and extensive Premier League experience. Secondly, both transfer windows this season. The summer saw 8 players come in and steel up the squad without disrupting the team spirit DNA. Then, in January, bolstering our weakest aspect – namely scoring goals – with two top class forwards with pedigree at this level has been significant. Indeed, Jelavic and Long have been inspired with 5 goals in 4 games between them.
TF: In September, Steve Bruce changed the game from 1-0 down by his tactical switch at SJP. What are your thoughts on him?
Ian (City Independent): You would struggle to find a City fan who has a bad word to say about him. As touched on above, Bruce has been a revelation while here and in truth was better than any of us could ever have expected when home town hero Nick Barmby was removed from the post after doing little wrong for us. Clearly, an opportunity to land a high profile managerial name was too good to miss for the chairman – and with no room for sentiment in football – it’s difficult to argue against such a bold move 18 months ago.
TF: If HCAFC survive, what are key areas for improvement?
Ian (City Independent): We’ll need to strengthen the full back positions for sure and maybe another wide midfielder. I wouldn’t be surprised if bought yet another striker in either. You can never have enough goal scorers in the Premier League it seems.
TF: What do you see as Hull’s potential in the PL?
Ian (City Independent): Realistically, the first season expectations are literally to stay in the division. If we finish 17th that would be a genuine success this term, but of course you strive for higher and there is reason to suggest we should achieve it. Going forward, avoiding the infamous second season blues is a major obstacle that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but if this can be successfully navigated; there is no reason to suggest you cannot push on for a domestic trophy and Europe. Swansea, Wigan, Bolton and Stoke have all done this in recent times so it is not as far-fetched as it sounds.
TF: Is there any cross over in the support between HCAFC and Hull Kingston Rovers RFC?
Ian (City Independent): Steady, you’ll get lynched with that question round these parts! Hull Kingston Rovers are just one of the Super League rugby clubs round here and hail from the east of the city, playing in red and white. The other Super League rugby club are Hull FC from the west of the city and play in black and white. The River Hull cuts through the heart of the city to divide your allegiance… if you like peanut hugging or egg chasing. Hull FC is the club that share the stadium with us. To be fair, there is a healthy cross sport support that exists – and in a way – Hull City become the common bond that binds two fierce rugby rivals to unite. There is never any rivalry in our support because of this, but non-football loving rugby fans delude themselves that their clubs are bigger, better and more world famous than the football club. Please, let them carry on believing it, it truly is laughable and not worth the argument, especially while Hull City remain in the Premier League.
TF: Can you tell us more about how has the fanbase organised itself against the proposed name change?
Ian (City Independent): By a quirk of fate, fanzines, supporter groups and organisations had got together for the first time as a collective just months earlier, after West Yorkshire Police decide to ‘bubble’ our massively important away fixture at Huddersfield on the way to promotion. We lost that battle, but eventually won the war, after a sustained campaign which involved MPs and the PCC – plus a review of the case from Northumbria Police – deemed Hull City fans had been unfairly treated and an apology was issued. When first wind arrived about the name change, the contacts between the groups were already in place and were very quickly and easily rekindled to unite and duly form the ‘No to Hull Tigers’ campaign group.
TF: If such a name change came about, what is the potential for a City of Hull FC?
Ian (City Independent): A phoenix club is not out of the question, but it really is too early to speculate on such a prospect becoming a reality. Every poll has come out against the name change and City Till We Die (the campaign group against) have got the Premier League, the Football Supporters Federation, Supporters Direct and the East Riding County FA on side. All stakeholders have now presented their case to the FA as part of their ongoing consultation process, but it is unlikely anything further will be made public until April at the earliest. Hopefully, with the weight of support we’ve received which includes a 15,000 strong petition, 30,000 leafleted fans, 10,000 ‘No to Hull Tigers’ postcards hitting the FA, 12,000 badges and 4,500 signatures on our giant ‘City Till We Die’ flag, we’re hopeful common sense will prevail. You can read more about the campaign and sign the petition here, because if it can happen to our club, it could happen to yours, unless we can influence the FA – see the petition
TF: Hull is stuck out on its own geographically and economically. What makes the city unique?
Ian (City Independent): Precisely that! We’re proud of our history and heritage. We’re popular with the Geordies for stag nights because the city has one of the most concentrated number of pubs in the city centre – and the old town is a hidden gem for a night out. Proper real ale and no mistake. Winning the UK City of Culture bid (at the risk of sounding arrogant) was not really a surprise to us here in Hull due to the immense hard work, publicity investment that has gone in to our bid. You’ll be pleasantly surprised if you’re staying over. Take it all in, enjoy it and please come back. It could become one of the Premier League’s best kept away day secrets…
TF: How much of a positive impact will the City of Culture 2017 nomination have on the City of Hull?
Ian (City Independent): It will be massive. We won the bid and changes are already underway. In truth, they were underway four years earlier as we really ramped up the effort to win the title this year with a huge amount of preparation work for this award going in. Hull has changed rapidly for the better and it really is a place on the up. Clinching a deserved place in the Premier League has been a timely boost to the region and you will love what Hull has to offer even now, if you get time to explore the place.
TF: The great Paul Heaton is touring again. Apart from him has or is there a strong music scene in Hull?
Ian (City Independent): Yeah, huge! I’ve got tickets to his gig here in May at the Arena and he is still seen as one of the legendary musical sons of our city, even though he is from Sheffield. The Beautiful South and The Housemartins are the giants of the Hull music scene, but we’ve had others too such as the Fine Young Cannibals, Kingmaker, Scarlett and such. The independent music scene is thriving and the existing festivals such as ‘Freedom’ and ‘Folk’ will only take off further now the UK City of Culture award has been won.
TF: Bar the disgraceful name change carry on, do you think the club is well run?
Ian (City Independent): Yes and no. Before the name change, nobody could question what the owner has done for the football club. But reactionary statements to the fans and ill-advised insults are hardly helping win over the argument the name change is for the best. Undoubtedly, Dr Allam has been philanthropic throughout Hull, but the football club’s debts are mounting and secured against his own business meaning the club is becoming over-reliant on the chairman and further away from self-sufficiency. This is starting give more and more fans some cause for concern.
TF: What are your views on the running of NUFC under Mike Ashley?
Ian (City Independent): From the outside looking in, it appears we’re in the same boat. If that’s the case, I can fully understand the frustrations you Newcastle fans have. You’re lucky it was only your stadium name that got changed; you got off lightly by comparison! The bigger picture is; it really is troubling that custodians of our clubs can come in, abandon heritage, make catastrophic and fundamental changes that are quintessentially damaging in such a short window of stewardship of the club – and then leave, with the fans left to pick up the pieces. Worrying indeed. Like I say, please sign our petition, it really could be your (or any) club next.
TF: Have you been impressed with NUFC and Alan Pardew’s management this season?
Ian (City Independent): He’s a good English manager and although I personally don’t like him, I have respect for the job he has done at your club. Stability is the key. I’m sure some of you feel the same about Steve Bruce at our place though!
TF: Score prediction for Saturday?
Ian (City Independent): Urgh! I hate those. I’m not being funny, but when was the last time you beat us? You must be due a win? Have we become your bogey side? Anyway… I really don’t care as long as we don’t lose. In fact, I’d take a point now given the choice to maintain our excellent unbeaten run against you.