To Hull and Back
This week saw us visit Hull City and me re-ticking one of the ninety-two grounds of the English Leagues.
I first visited Hull City when they were still playing at Boothferry Park. The 15th of August, 1992 to be precise.
It was the opening game of the season and a day that lives with me still.
The previous season saw Stoke City win the Autoglass Trophy and reach the playoffs. This was the opening match of an even more successful campaign. One that saw Lou Macari’s Stoke City get promoted back to the second tier. It didn’t start well though, with a 0-1 defeat at Hull City and a near-death experience for me.
Highway to Hull
Sorry for all these cheesy headings but I just.. can’t… resist a pun! Also, it’s very apt.
A friend of a friend had offered to drive us up to this game and five of us crammed into his Ford Sierra as we headed up the motorway to East Yorkshire.
My nerves kicked in once I realised Steve refused to drive at less than eighty miles per hour, while often exceeding a hundred. During one of these periods of over a hundred miles per hour, he suddenly realised all the traffic ahead of us was at a standstill due to an accident ahead.
It was also a moment that left skidmarks in places other than the road surface.
With all three lanes at a standstill but gaps between vehicles (luckily), he executed an emergency stop that saw us skid across all three lanes, between cars and almost into the central reservation, before finally coming to a relieved halt.
At this point, I realised I hadn’t breathed during the last few seconds and my butt cheeks were clenched tighter than Mike Tyson’s fist when he knocked out Trevor Berbick to become boxing’s youngest heavyweight champion in history.
Quite a few of the cars around us had red and white Stoke scarves hanging out of the windows and it was the driver of one of these that rolled down his window and said “That was a bit close boys”.
That was one way of putting it!
I remember little else of that day other than being relieved to get home, Stoke losing 1-0 and a supermarket in the away end. If only I had been blogging about my adventures back then!
Luckily, YouTube reminded me of the big Stoke away following, ‘Rooster’ Russell hitting the post early on and a late winner for the Tigers.
Hull City v Stoke City 1992/93
Hull – Journey and Pre-Game
Needless to say, after the last trip I made to Hull, I was hoping this one would be a little less traumatic.
I’m happy to say, it was.
We caught the 07:15 bus to Durham before huffing and puffing our way up the steep bank to the train station armed with the obligatory Greggs breakfast. The 08:23 train to York was on time, although the two trains after ours appeared to be cancelled.
This train took us as far as York and we arrived there at 09:30. We got off and caught a connecting train bound for Hull at 09:45, which was again, on time. Shortly before we arrived in Hull at around 11:00 am, we travelled past the spectacular Humber Bridge and it made a wonderful sight under the moody Humberside skyline.
I was impressed with Hull train station. Not only is the station itself of a good size, but it also has a bus station adjacent to it, providing an excellent transport hub for getting in and around Hull and beyond. A huge hospital complex and a shopping centre lie on either side of the station and already, we could see that Hull was not a city lacking in amenities.
For our purposes though, none of these extras were needed and it was just a short walk to the designated pub, where we planned to have lunch.
Clarendon Pub House
After exiting the train station and walking to the end of the bus station, this brought us to Margaret Moxon Way and beyond that, Park Street. At the traffic lights, we crossed Park Street and carried on along it until coming to Londesborough Street. After turning down here, the Clarendon was on the corner of the next road on our left.
We got there early and had the place to ourselves for a while. The barman was a very friendly guy and we ordered a Guinness and a Theakston’s Pale Ale. Not cheap at over £9.00 for the two.
The decor was comfortable and the walls were decorated in quotes from John Lennon, W.C. Fields, Albert Einstein and… the barman. The barman’s quotes were quite amusing when compared to the more illustrious counterparts around it.
Wise words such as “It’s my pub, my mike, so p*** off”.
We sank into the very comfortable sofa and the barman put the three televisions on, with a combination of Soccer AM, followed by Millwall v Sheffield United on two of them and the Hull Kingston Rovers rugby match against Wigan on the other.
The brilliant idea of having a takeaway restaurant built into the pub has, I imagine, helped keep this place solvent during these troubled economic times. Of course, its proximity to the MKM Stadium down the road will have played a large part in that, too.
Offering things like pizza, kebabs, burgers and chips is a sure-fire winner with people who have had a drink. We weren’t actually very hungry on this particular day – unusual for us – so I had just had a bowl of chips and some onion rings, while Mrs Hopper contented herself with a lamb gyro.
While we were eating our lunch, the place had started filling and by the time we left, it was full to the brim with people of all ages, mostly clad in their Hull City colours.
I would happily recommend this watering hole if you plan a visit to the MKM.
Hull – MKM Stadium Exterior
We left shortly before 14:00 and made the ten-minute walk to the MKM Stadium. It’s an easy walk down Londesborough Street and across a footbridge over the railway. Beware, there is lots of broken glass on this footbridge. If you have kids with you, make sure they aren’t running off on their own because a fall could result in a nasty injury.
As you leave the footbridge, the MKM Stadium lies in front of you.
Once inside the stadium, it’s very impressive, however, the outside leaves much to be desired.
A bland, warehouse siding-like facade, broken up only by a few murals and designs on the larger West Stand. A little extra thought should be put into the design of new stadium exteriors in my humble opinion.
First impressions go a long way!
Hull – Programme
At the end of the path you see pictured, are some steps. Once down these, you are on the stadium circumference at the south end.
From the top of the steps, you can see the unusual floodlight perched atop the roof of the MKM. It has a unique arch shape with lights inside the arch. I mention this now, as it wasn’t visible once we were inside the stadium.
Our tickets – purchased using the Hull City online ticketing website – were for the East Stand, so we started our walk of the perimeter by heading west first.
We bought a programme from one of the little programme huts dotted around the ground. This one was at the bottom of the aforementioned steps. The programme was priced at £3.00.
The West Stand is the main stand at the MKM Stadium and it contains the reception and official entrance. As we walked past, the Preston North End coach was parked outside. This stand is the only real feature of the ground’s exterior, other than the club shop on the east side.
The rest of the photographs I took outside the stadium are below.
Located in the East Stand, the club shop is the place for all your Hull City replica kit and merchandise wants. Unfortunately, they did;t have the only thing I wanted, a pin badge. Again, I have had to turn to eBay for one.
Why do so many top clubs seem to not stock pin badges?
The away shirt and the third shirt that Hull supplies, are very nice if collecting replica shirts is your thing.
Hull – MKM Stadium Interior
After Mrs Hoppers’ handbag was searched and tagged with a label, we scanned our tickets at the designated turnstile and entered the MKM.
Once inside the stadium, all my problems with the outside disappeared. This is a wonderful, aesthetically pleasing stadium. It has a distinctive shape with the raised and curving, two-tiered West Stand opposite us, although the top tier was not in use on this particular day. The main stand also contains the dressing rooms, main administration areas, players’ tunnel and dugouts etc.
The rest of the ground is of a single-tier uniform height, made up of continuous black seating and covered with a bowl-shaped roof.
With a capacity of 25,586 and the ability to raise the capacity by erecting a second tier in the East Stand, if necessary, Hull City are well covered for any future promotion to the Premier League.
There is an electronic scoreboard at either end of the stadium and the away fans are located in the northeast corner. Preston North End fans had come in pretty large numbers for this fixture, mostly filling their corner of the stadium and making a decent noise.
With their chanting of PNE, which sounded like peony, I was half expecting Mrs Hopper to ask me why they were singing about flowers…
One more thing of note is the P.A. system. It is LOUD! The man on the mic insists you listen to him, and him only, before the match.
Oooft, my ears!
Hull City – Stadium Gallery
Hull City – Pre-Game Video of the MKM Stadium
Hull City v Preston North End – The Game
Coming into this game, the Tigers had won two, drawn one and lost one of their last four games. Both of those wins came at home against QPR and Cardiff City, with a 3-1 defeat at Norwich in their last game. Hull sat in thirteenth position at the start of play.
Their Lancashire opponents came into the game one place behind them in fourteenth. They had one win, two losses and a draw in their last four matches.
This was about as mid-table as games get!
Having said that, any Yorkshire v Lancashire game is going to be a lively affair and despite the game being a 0-0 draw, this occasion had its moments.
As was the case in last week’s fixture at Barrow, there was a minute’s silence in memory of the thousands of people who died in the powerful earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria a couple of weeks ago. With the death toll now exceeding 45,000, it really is a terrible humanitarian disaster.
To put things in perspective, that’s more people than you can currently cram into Villa Park or Stamford Bridge!
Football is also mourning the death of former Newcastle United player, Christian Atsu, who sadly lost his life in the earthquake.
With the current owner of Hull City, Ali Acun Ilıcalı, being Turkish, this was even more significant for the East Yorkshire club.
The first little bit of animosity arose during and after this period of silence, with the Preston fans singing right up to and including the start of the minute’s silence, with Hull fans shouting and trying to shush them. There were also the sounds of chatter coming from the concourse to disturb what should have been a poignant moment of reflection.
The vast majority of the stadium was silent though and our best wishes go to all those affected by this tragedy.
From a personal point of view, there were a couple of players of interest for me to keep an eye on from a Stoke fan perspective.
Liam Delap, who was on loan at Stoke earlier in the season, is now with Preston and would be starting. Liam Lindsay, another ex-Stoke player was on the Preston bench. For Hull, Ryan Woods was originally on the bench but got injured in the warm-ups.
The Lilywhites got the game underway and if you are here for a review of an exciting match, I’m afraid I’m about to disappoint you.
After going to games with lots of goals in the first half of the season, it seems we are running into a bit of a dry spell. With today’s game ending in another 0-0 draw, we have seen one goal in the last three matches.
Hopefully, that run will end with our excursion to Glasgow for a Scottish double-header next weekend.
For now, though, let’s get back to this one…
I will sum up the game by saying Hull was the better team in the first half but had no cutting-edge up front. They looked to be lacking in pace, yet were still the better of the two teams in the first forty-five. In the second half, Preston was the better team but again, couldn’t make their chances pay off.
Xavier Simons, a midfielder Hull recently acquired from Chelsea, looked to be the pick of the bunch for the host team. The nineteen-year-old initially joined Hull on a loan deal but that has since been turned into a permanent deal that could turn out to be an excellent bit of business for the Tigers.
He put in an impressive first start for Hull and I’m sure their fans will be watching his progress with interest during the rest of the season.
Depeche Mode are in vogue on the terraces right now and both sets of fans had an ‘I Just Can’t Get Enough’ based sing-off early on in the game. Hull fans also had a song based on Slade’s ‘Cum On Feel the Noize’ tune and I heartily approve of their choice of bands.
Back on the pitch, Hull had a couple of chances in the first twenty minutes. First, Turkish international, Ozan Tufan blasted the ball over the bar and not quite into Row Z.
Maybe Row W?
The best chance of the half was one that didn’t even result in a shot. Dimitrios Pelkas (the man with the extremely loud mic insisted his name was pronounced Dimitri-arse, when reading the teams out) appeared to foul Jordan Storey on the left wing.
After a moment’s hesitation, the referee allowed the challenge to go unpunished but with the net gaping for Oscar Estupiñán, Pelkas overhit the pass and Preston cleared.
Preston’s best chance of the half came in the 22nd minute. A good exchange of passes between Brad Potts and Thomas Cannon saw Liam Delap take control of the ball after Alfie Jones made a mess of clearing the wayward pass forward by Potts.
Delap took the ball into the box but fired his powerful shot into the side netting, to the relief of the home fans.
Referee Sam Allison
In the 34th minute, Tufan was booked for simulation amid penalty claims. One of a number of debatable decisions from the referee, Sam Allison. Although, it did look like a clear dive from my viewpoint.
A minute later, a shot from outside the area by Cyrus Christie appeared to be tipped wide for a corner by Freddie Woodman in the Preston goal. Allison awarded a goal kick much to the chagrin of the home support who let him know in no uncertain terms what they thought of the decision. From my point of view, it definitely looked like Woodman got a touch.
Hull manager, Liam Rosenior, apparently held a meeting with the match official after the game to express his opinions. I’m guessing they weren’t complimentary ones, judging by his comments in this report in the Hull Daily Mail.
Liam Lindsay replaced the injured Andrew Hughes with a few minutes to go before the interval.
Estupiñán had a chance to score for Hull but his weak shot went past the post after Woodman got a hand to it.
One of Hull’s better chances of the game came as we entered stoppage time. Jacob Greaves found Ryan Longman on the left flank and he took the ball to the edge of the penalty area before firing it across the penalty spot. Greg Docherty collected the ball and was tackled but still came free with the ball. A second tackle bounced off his knee and flew towards the Preston goal, where Woodman made a good save at the expense of a corner.
It was at this time that we were subjected to an uninvited clown display.
With three minutes of injury time announced and a corner kick for Hull, some clown decided now would be a good time to let the world know that he was a clown.
I don’t know if he appeared from the Preston or Hull fans because he came from the crowd away to my right and could have been from either section.
The following tweet suggests he might have been from the Preston following judging solely by these gestures aimed at the Hull City fans behind the goal.
Again, I can’t say for certain.
What I can say for certain is that both sets of fans let him know exactly what they thought of him, and rightly so!
Banning Order incoming!
Half-time – Hull City 0 v Preston North End 0
So, aside from the pitch-invading clown and a handful of decent chances, the first half wasn’t high on entertainment.
The second half proved to be similar.
As the teams came out for the second half, Preston boss Ryan Lowe hadn’t been shy with his halftime opinion. Clearly unimpressed with what he had witnessed, both Delap and Storey were replaced by Troy Parrott and Bambo Diaby respectively.
The Second Half
The second period was started by Hull and it was they who had the first chance, three minutes in.
After Hull won a corner, Pelkas had a big hand (or foot?) in the next few seconds. He started things by taking the corner and swinging it into the six-yard box.
Preston’s Alan Browne tried to head clear but it skimmed his head and fell to the feet of Alfie Jones who prodded it towards the goal. Woodman saved the effort but could only block it towards a crowded melee of players. The ball was eventually worked around the edge of the area and out to the original corner taker, Pelkas, who put in a shot with the outside of his boot but straight at Woodman.
Hull City Chance
That was about as good as the second half got for Hull and their fans.
Preston’s halftime changes seemed to have some effect on them and they improved on their first-half showing.
Although, that isn’t saying much.
In the 55th minute, Browne hoofed the ball upfield where it was picked up by Thomas Cannon. He took it to the byline before putting in a low cross behind the Hull defender racing back. It fell to the feet of Tottenham Hotspur loanee, Troy Parrott who flashed a shot narrowly wide of the right post.
Watching it back, you have to say, he probably should’ve scored.
Preston’s next chance would have been a superb team effort had Potts not blasted the ball way over the bar from seven yards out. A flowing move that involved good team passing and superb individual effort from left-back, Alvaro Fernandez. In fact, Potts’ shot took the ball away from Fernandez and in retrospect, he may be wishing he had left it with the Spaniard to finish.
Potts had another chance soon after as the Lilywhites started to dominate. His shot was deflected into the side netting for a corner.
Off the pitch, there was clearly a spot of trouble going on to our right. It appeared that objects were being thrown from both sets of fans amid much yelling and anger. It calmed down though and I didn’t see any problems outside after the game.
Sixty-five minutes in, Jacob Greaves had a shot-cum-cross tipped wide for Hull, although it didn’t seem to be going into the net anyway. Five minutes later, Tufan was unlucky after some good work down the left, seeing his shot palmed away by Woodman.
For Preston, Browne had a shot that whistled narrowly over the bar but it was clear that this match was destined to be a 0-0 affair by this point.
With no further clear chances, the referee brought an end to what was a disappointing game for neutrals and one that won’t help either team push for an unlikely playoff place.
You can read a full Match Report here. The link is from the Hull Daily Mail website.
Full-time – Hull City 0 v Preston North End 0
Attendance – 17,776
Entrance Fee – £28.00 (plus £1.00 postage)
Programme – £3.00
Hull – Match Highlights
Next up for the Tigers is a trip to Ashton Gate on Saturday 25th of February. Bristol City are another mid-table team currently sitting two spots below Hull and one behind Preston North End.
The Lilywhites, meanwhile, will face a Lancashire derby against bottom-of-the-table Wigan Athletic. The match will also take place on the 25th in what is sure to be a feisty affair.
Despite a pretty tame ninety minutes of football, we enjoyed our trip to East Yorkshire and the MKM Stadium.
Excellent transport links, easy walk to the stadium, a good pub en route and a decent atmosphere from both sets of fans.
The club has a couple of Tiger mascots, Roary and Amber. Although we only saw them on the pitch before the teams came out, I’m sure they will be involved with the younger supporters before the game in and around the stadium.
Hull has the fantastic idea of promoting local bands by letting them perform on a stage in the East Stand concourse before Saturday games. An idea that I think more clubs with an active music scene around their towns and cities should embrace.
If I could point out one criticism, it would be the boring exterior of the stadium. A little colour could easily be added. Maybe some black and amber stripes could be painted on the facade? Also, there didn’t appear to be any statues of club legends, which many clubs have.
Maybe these could be added to the list of improvements and extensions proposed by Acun Ilıcalı that could take place at the MKM if this report in the Yorkshire Post turns into reality.
Minor criticisms though and the overall experience is a good one.
Hull – After the Game
Following the game, we walked along the bottom of the East Stand and exited the ground in the southeast corner.
This brought us back to the steps leading up to the path with the footbridge. It also brought us to a slow-moving bottleneck, as fans from all parts of the ground made their way to the same area. Luckily, we had plenty of time to get to the train station for our 17:50 train back to York, so we didn’t mind.
If your train is due to leave closer to full-time, you may want to consider leaving via West Park behind the West Stand and walking along the road on the other side of the hospital.
We arrived back at the station at 17:30 and caught our train twenty minutes later. With darkness descending, there wasn’t much to see or say and we arrived in York around 19:00. The connecting train to Durham was, again, on time at 19:31 and we completed the final part of our train journey at 20:13.
This left us twelve minutes to get down to Milburngate and catch our bus home or face an hour’s wait for the next one.
Run, Forrest, run!
We made it, despite our bodies complaining about the Olympic standard speed-walking. Luckily, it is at least all downhill on the way back into the town! As our backsides plonked into place on the bus, it pulled off and we were home by nine o’clock.
Next Up For Hoppers Guide
Next week is a huge one for us, as we head to Glasgow for an exciting double-header.
First up is a Championship clash at New Douglas Park between bottom-of-the-table Hamilton Academical and top-of-the-table Queen’s Park. Spiders’ fans may not be so keen to know we are going however, as despite them being top, we have already seen them lose twice this season. 5-0 at Ayr United and 3-0 at Dundee.
The next day we will be making a return trip to Hampden Park for the Scottish League Cup Final clash between Rangers and Celtic. I was amazed when a Scottish friend told me he had a couple of spare tickets and would I like to use them.
Onto the next!