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Mixed emotions in Hull

28 October 2009 ~ Last autumn Hull City beat Arsenal at the Emirates to go fourth in the Premier League. From the outside it looked the greatest time to be a Tigers fan, but the rumbles of discontent were already circulating around the KC Stadium. For many lifelong fans going to football had changed and may never be the same again. The slogan of Hull's promotion season was "dare to dream" but reality began to bite very quickly. As soon as the final whistle went at the play-off final supporters who had decided to stay at home and watch the game on Sky decided now may be a good time to buy a season ticket for the first time.

A ridiculous queue formed quickly outside the ground. Some of the new army of fans were seen wearing Liverpool and Manchester United shirts. One of the overnight queuers summed up the attitude of the glory supporters perfectly when asked by BBC Radio Humberside: "So, what are you looking forward to seeing next season?" He replied, with little thought: "I can't wait to see Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney in action."

Seeing your club's popularity grow should be a good thing. The problem is that the new fans have hopelessly unrealistic expectations. For most, City only entered their consciousness when Dean Windass powered home the winner in the play-off final against Bristol City, after a season where the team won far more games than they lost. As a result they expect the side to win every week and if they don't the manager gets the blame and has to go.

Longer-term fans have better memories and you will hear few true supporters calling for Phil Brown's head. Were it not for Brown the club would have certainly been relegated from the Championship in 2007. Then by the end of his first full season he'd rebuilt the team and achieved promotion to the top tier for the first time in the club's history. Of course, when the inevitable happens and City's tenure among the elite expires, these new fans are the ones most likely to not renew their tickets and go back to their armchairs to watch Man Utd rather than trek to watch a rainy Tuesday evening match against Blackpool.

Sadly, the club doesn't share this concern. For the first time demand outstripped supply and so the club sold the rest of their season tickets to the first people who turned up. Unprecedented sales left anyone else wanting a match ticket having to risk their luck on the phone lines before every game. The only other alternative was their new membership scheme. To say this scheme is penalising loyal fans is putting it mildly. The rules are if you had a customer reference number and had attended five games during the promotion season you could purchase a membership. This entitled you to buy tickets for ten matches, including either the Liverpool or Man Utd game and one of the Chelsea or Arsenal matches. While this doesn’t sound too unfair on the surface, the cost of membership (which has no other benefits) comes in at £40 per season. For that price, the supporters should at least get to go to all the "big games".

By prior standards Hull fans are now supporting a "big club", which many didn't choose to. Hull people who wanted to support a top-tier club in the 1980s or 1990s mostly went off and supported Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, Man Utd or Liverpool. Now those who didn't really want to support a Premier League team suddenly do. In the big league everyone knows your team and unfortunately that also means everyone knows when they lose 5-0 too. Chris Donkin

Comments (15)
Comment by Lambrettaman 2009-10-28 12:54:10

"Longer-term fans have better memories and you will hear few true supporters calling for Phil Brown's head."

Unfortunately for Phil, this is complete rubbish, it would seem that you've been listening to our Chairman, who thinks that anyone who criticises Brownie is either a new fan, or an idiot.

Brownie has lost the vast majority of the fans, regardless of how long they have been supporting the club, as he no longer seems capable of picking a team, making substitutions, coming up with tactics that might win a game, or even staying on speaking terms with his players. It's all become somewhat farcical.

Also, you slightly over egg things with regard to our new support, there was an increase in ticket sales when we were promoted, as there are with all clubs, but it was not enormous, our average attendances in all 4 leagues over five years :

2009 (Premier League) 24,816
2008 (Championship) 18,025
2007 (Championship) 18,858
2006 (League One) 19,841
2005 (League Two) 18,025

Our average attendance this year will only be about 30% higher than they were in League Two, which is less of a jump than you'd expect from most clubs. For the record, I'm Hull born and bred and I've never met anyone from Hull who supported Sheff Wednesday.

Maybe you should check out our message boards before writing an article suggesting what we all think, had you have done so, you would have probably written a very different article.

Comment by Lambrettaman 2009-10-28 13:09:43

I forgot to mention, there's no such place as Humberside, we are in the East Riding of Yorkshire, just in the name of accuracy !

Comment by briddj 2009-10-28 14:22:23

Actually, the headline is still wrong. Hull is not in East Yorkshire. It is a unitary authority. Just like Manchester is not in Lancashire and London is not in Middlesex, Surrey etc.

Comment by Lincoln 2009-10-28 15:11:36

"By prior standards Hull fans are now supporting a "big club", which many didn't choose to", Hull have always been a big club. As a Lincoln fan we would look to playing them with relish as they were rivals and also considered the big boys. They travelled in large numbers and packed out the stadium when we went to them.
I can't speak for Hull fans but as a Lincoln fan I would give anything to be a Premiership team and I am sure I am not alone in that. Supporting your local club does not always mean you enjoy lower league football, it means you enjoy supporting a club that is as much a part of the city as you and your friends who go along to the games.

Comment by WSCTigersDave 2009-10-28 15:28:37

Lambrettaman has got it right. It is not just the glory seeking new fans who have tired of Phil Brown. I am a City fan of 38 years of my 46-year life. It is strange that the media - and I am disappointed that WSC should jump on the bandwagon too when you used to be such a well-informed fanzine - seem to think that we are all being disloyal to Phil Brown, when it is the same media that have consistently ridiculed the tanned one, for first his half-time on-pitch dressing down of the players and subsequently for his 'karaoke' after the last game of the season. The true fans could understand both of these quirks because that's just the way Phil Brown is - enthusiastic and always looking for a new way to motivate. Hell, we deserved to stay up (we played Newcastle four times and beat them twice and drew the other two) and what's more, we deserved to celebrate that achievement. It is much more than all the experts and even we, the fans expected. However, that doesn't mean that we cannot now look back at the season and see where things might have gone wrong. We were an attacking team for the early part of last season but Phil Brown got nervous after successive heavy defeats to Sunderland and ManCity this led to us becoming ultra-defensive and this does not play to the strengths we had. Since then Br5own has also fallen out with a number of players - King, Fagan, Cousin, Altidore etc and now plays so many players out of position whilst constantly changing the team. Ghilas, a striker, plays on the wing (and despite being our best player against Fulham recently was taken off, and then dropped for the next match against Portsmouth). Kevin Kilbane has played at centre-back and centre-midfield this season - in fact everywhere I think, but at his favoured left-back. Turner was sold and it was clear that no thought had been put into a replacement despite this being an obvious possibilility for weeks. With our talisman and captain Ian Ashbee already ruled out for the season, Brown decided to select a new captain saying that it had to be someone who could lead the team on the pitch and then selects Nicky Barmby who is sadly, rarely on the pitch these days. In fact Anthony Gardner became our seventh captain of the season on Saturday. Since the New Year we have won what, four Premier League games? This is not impatience, it is just that Phil Brown proved unabkle to turn it round last season, and this has just continued and yet he recently said "That was not a Phil Brown team" when he had signed something like nine of the eleven players. I love Phil Brown (he is a great character) and will ALWAYS be grateful to him for getting the Tigers into the Premier League, but I think the time has come for him to step aside. It would be a shame, having waited so long, to throw it all away without a fight and that is the way it look at the moment.
Your reporter wrote..."In the big league everyone knows your team and unfortunately that also means everyone knows when they lose 5-0 too." and do you know one of the other bad things about being in the "big league" - it means that you get all sorts of people expressing views about your club, when they know nothing about it, and have not bothered to do the most basic research.

Comment by darkglobe80 2009-10-28 17:17:59

I would recommend you chaps to look at the last couple of issues of Private Eye, some very interesting stuff about Hull and non-disclosed accounts etc....

The phrase "something to hide" comes to mind.

Comment by chris_donkin 2009-10-28 17:25:42

Hello guys, thanks for the comments... I'll deal with the points one at a time if I may... For the record I've been going to City since I was 13, in 1993, and have been to most of this seasons matches - how much more research do you want?

The average crowd stats are a little misleading, if you look at the Championship promotion season before Christmas when City were sitting 13th the average goes down to 16,638 - including one of the Sheffield matches which skews the figures slightly. That's down on even when we were winning all the time in league two. How then, apart from band-wagon hoppers, do you account for the sudden burst of sellout matches towards the end of the season? Where did all the loyal fans from the promotion seasons go? Back to the TV - which is exactly where they'll be next season.

Brown actually has, or had, (depending on when you're reading this) more support than the Hull City message boards would have you believe. There is no way internet message boards represent an even cross section of supporters, the critics are always the most vocal. I took my opinions from people I've been speaking to at the matches over the last few weeks. Last Monday at Fulham, for example, despite an appalling display I didn't hear a word said against Brown. Perhaps if you sit around the boo boys or believe what you read on fan sites you may have a slightly different opinion to those who don't.

To be fair, there have been some interesting tactics recently which are hard to explain away. However it's can't be easy when you have to sell your best player to keep the club going. In the coming days we may find out why there was no money to spend in the summer and that's hardly his fault.

With Brown out - who are you going to get in? With no money to spend (especially after PB's payoff) and too many egos in the dressing room no good manager is going to be stupid enough to risk their reputation unless they want one last payday. At least Brown cares/d about the club, surely even his biggest critics accept that and that must be worth more than a past-his-best boss getting one last payday?

To the Lincoln fan - that is a good point, the ground was always packed because it was a bit of a local derby though. Had you gone to Hull-Exeter you may have seen a slightly different story. I totally agree that the fun is supporting your local side, but as soon as everyone wasnts to do that, you'll soon find that you may not be able to just meet up with your friends on a saturday afternoon and go to the game. Especially if a couple of you have season passes and the others don't. The problem with having so many season ticket holders is that they are always sat together leaving one section of the ground to throw everyone else in.

Sorry - this reply has gone on forever... but at Henry Cooper School in the year when Sheffield Wednesday were in two cup finals you couldn't move for Wednesday supporters - they'd recently changed from Leeds.

Comment by Lincoln 2009-10-28 18:04:03

Fair point on the ticket problem, there have only been 1 or 2 occasions where I have had to scramble for tickets and both times got sat by the box office exactly where I asked not to be. That said, I would gladly pay over the odds to see us in the Premiership and I would be sleeping a few days over night to be first in the queue for a season ticket. Those fans who don't want to do that, then that is their decision and they must take the consequences. At the end of the day the end goal (pun intended) of football is to win and to move on up. It is, in some ways, a little ungreatful to complain that you have become too sucessful.

Comment by chris_donkin 2009-10-28 18:19:15

For some, though, a season ticket just isn't possible, what if you work every two weekends or don't live in Hull? Does that mean you should fork out hundreds of pounds for 9 games? Not including the many Monday nighters?

Of course I want City to do well, I just think it's a shame the club has turned its back on many of the fans that have been there through thick and thin by trying to charge them £40 to be allowed to buy tickets. That was totally unneccessary. The scheme could have been free it's like them saying "cheers for the support lads, but we don't really need you lot now. If you give us a bit of cash we'll let you buy a couple of tickets next year, though." You can bet as soon as they go down the membership scheme will be back on the scrapheap.

If they needed the cash that badly they should have charged people who didn't have a customer reference extra for their season tickets.

Comment by Lincoln 2009-10-28 19:47:30

I don't think this will be something we will ever agree on. For my sins I have previously been a member of Norwich City and currently a member of Fulham (due to home location), because I have to be in order to get a chance of getting a ticket. It is the price you pay for success and clubs will only ever be loyal to season ticket holders as these are the only people they can rely on 100% to fill the seats at a club as they have paid in advance.
However as much as I would want Lincoln to do well I would hate not to be able to watch them and if I was in the same situation as you would probably have a different view. Best of luck for the season, despite being a rival I am a keen for them to do well after the kindness a fan showed to me at a game a few years ago despite knowing I was a Lincoln fan.

Comment by WSCTigersDave 2009-10-29 14:28:15

Chris, I don't want to make this personal, but when you ask...
"how much more research do you want?"...I would have to reply, that with that much background, I would at least have expected you to have got the name of the county that Hull is in correct, especially if you're going to use it as the headline to an article. Clearly, we are surrounded by people with differing opinions, but I don't think it is as simple as being split between new fans and old fans, which is what you seemed to be suggesting. You are right of course, that some fans will drift away if we are relegated. It is the case with most clubs I think. But I do hate it when our loyalty is questioned, just because many feel it is time for Phil Brown to be moved on. Even today, the Burnley manager Owen Coyle has had his say on the subject and made similar suggestions regarding the fickleness of fans.

Comment by Admin5 2009-10-29 14:34:37

The headline was nothing to do with the author of the piece. And we corrected it as soon as the error was pointed out to us.

Comment by enzee199 2009-10-29 18:12:24

I totally agree. £40 just to give you the right to buy tickets is really squeezing loyal fans beyond a reasonable point. In fact its on a similar ethical plane to ticket touting, the club might as well just bung the tickets on ebay.

It's unpopular to say it, hence a lot of the comments disagreeing, but life in the Premiership sucks. Paying through the nose to see your team get stuffed so you can go home depressed! Give me League One anyday.

Comment by Dalef65 2009-10-31 14:52:49

Do i have this right....??
Is this guy saying that real Hull fans dont want their team to be in the Premier League...??
If so then where exactly do they want to be..??
Remember the old saying be careful what you wish for..??

Im not a Hull fan and i havent git any answers vis a vis Phil Brown etc,but unfortunately Hull do look to be the modern day equivalent of Carlisle of the 70,s or Swansea of the 80,s.
Ie a relatively quick rise to the summit of the league quickly followed by dropping like a stone back to the lower reaches of the footballing order.....Sorry

Comment by enzee199 2009-11-01 18:42:34

I think the authour is just trying to point out that from a fans perspective reaching the premier league is not a ticket to footballing nirvana or the kind of greener-grassed utopia its always made out to be. Long-term fans are pushed aside by new faces eager to squeeze through the turnstiles, not to support their local side, but to watch the opposition. To add insult to injury in the case of Hull, loyal supporters who just don't happen to be season ticket holders are being fleeced for £40 just to give them the right to buy tickets at some point in the future.

Anyone who speaks up about the flip-side of the premiership is treated as if they are clinically insane. Yet its just this attitude that allows clubs to get away with it. You wouldn't pay £40 just to have the option to shop at Tesco's if you chose to at some point in the future. Sure as hell you wouldn't. In your mind you'll be saying but, supporting my club is about being more than just a consumer. Problem is, maybe you don't see yourself as a mere 'consumer' but you're club do especially when they need every last £ to try and hang on in the premiership for as long as possible.

On the subject...


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