Hull City the club with huge potential, in a big catchment area with only the local rugby league clubs offering competition for the local public’s attention.
Many businessmen and chairmen had tried to realise that potential and not many have enjoyed success. For many years the local man Harold Needler owned Hull City and produced a stable club but could never achieve his dream of bringing top flight football to the City. His son Christopher Needler endured a turbulent time in control of the club on assuming control on his father’s death.
In 1980 City had brought in then Wales National Manager Mike Smith and made big money signings by the clubs standards on players such as Mick Tait and Nick Deacy. Smith took City down to the then bottom tier of Division Four and although his legacy was the excellent additions of Les Mutrie, Tony Norman & Billy Whitehurst to the City squad. Just as Smith was turning the clubs fortunes around on the pitch he was axed as a cost- cutting measure by the Official Receiver as by now City’s debts were unsustainable.
The club passed to new owner Don Robinson and he in turn delivered two promotions with Colin Appleton and then Brian Horton at the manager’s helm before returning it back to the Needler family when the team started to slide backwards.
Thus followed a period when the club muddled through without any real direction and found themselves having to sell their best players like Andy Payton and Dean Windass to survive. The fans turned their anger towards Chairman Martin Fish and Manager Terry Dolan as City went back into the basement division once more.
Former tennis player David Lloyd was next to try and take the club forward. He purchased City and local rugby side Hull Sharks at the same time with the intention of a ground share at a new stadium funded by the local council. When this failed to materialise and with the team rooted in the bottom three under former the managership of ex-England International Mark Hateley , Lloyd handed the reigns to a consortium.
They were astute enough to appoint player Warren Joyce as new Manager who produced what will always be known as “ The Great Escape” by City fans as he steered the team away from relegation . Soon though Joyce was ousted and the club fell back into financial problems before Adam Pearson purchased it, saving it from going underfor what would have been the last time. With a new stadium now a certainty funded by Hull City Council, City at last found the right manager to return success to the club.
Adam Pearson read about the availability of Peter Taylor in the Observer Sports Monthly magazine and soon Taylor was installed as City boss and he produced back to back promotions, taking the club into the Championship. With Pearson ensuring the club was stable off the field it started to grow and although the loss of Taylor to Crystal Palace and the short unsuccessful reign of Phil Parkinson caused much anxiety for the fans.
Pearson’s appointment of Phil Brown as the next Hull City manager was inspired. Brown not only kept the tigers up in his first season, he then delivered promotion to the Promised Land, the Premier League, in his first full season as Manager with minimal outlay on players in a triumphant day at Wembley. By then though Adam Pearson had sold the club to Southern based property mogul Russell Bartlett and his business partners.
In their attempts to keep City in the top flight the new owners found the out-goings unsustainable over time and had to turn to former owner Adam Pearson to oversee a major cost-cutting programme just to survive.
With the team relegated back to the Championship, local Businessmen and Father and Son duo Assem and Ehab Allam assumed control of the club. This time though the owners are genuine Hull City fans and have already invested a large sum of money in the club to pay off loans and to sign new players Matty Fryatt and Aaron Mclean.
Retaining Adam Pearson as director of football maintains continuity at the club and his experience will no doubt be invaluable to the new owners. City fans do not so much hope, but believe that this time the club is in safe hands.
Already pledges have been made about ticket prices and the club has re-launched its own magazine, although without its free DVD this time which is a shame. On the pitch the players have responded, manager Nigel Pearson has gradually turned fortunes around and now talk of the play-offs is not so much a dream as a real possibility.
The past is chequered for sure too many times City have been on the brink of oblivion but now the future looks bright, the fans have got to wear shades.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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