HCSS member Eamonn McCusker looks back on his last 60 years as a Hull City fan to select the best players he’s seen wear the black and amber. In this second instalment, Eamonn chooses from the period 1973-83.
After the promotion near miss in 1971, supporters continued to look up for the next few seasons, with no real concerns of relegation and just the occasional (always short-lived) promotion push. That all changed in 1978. It started as usual with 15 points obtained from the first 15 games, although John Kaye had been (rashly, in my opinion) replaced by Bobby Collins. The remaining 27 games yielded just 13 points, with Collins himself shown the door, to be replaced by fans’ favourite, but inexperienced Ken Houghton. But, if that was bad enough, three years later City were relegated to Division Four for the first time and the following season became the first English professional club to enter administration. None of us knew what that meant and whether the club would survive. Well survive it did, gaining promotion again in 1983, but it was hardly a glowing decade.
Jeff Wealands – see 1963-73
Gordon Nisbet – Gordon did not have the best of starts – a 5-1 defeat at Burnden Park but, despite being an under-23 full back with West Brom, he initially played for City in midfield. Once he played at right-back, he made 124 consecutive appearances and performed consistently well. Unfortunately, by then City were in Division Three. In one of Mike Smith’s many bizarre decisions, he was sold to Plymouth mid-season and, without him, City were relegated.
Peter Daniel – At City, Peter was a stylish full-back and one of our more successful penalty takers. And, very unusually for City, he was selected for under-21 honours. His undoubted skills were unable to stop City’s relegation in 1978, and it was no surprise that he moved to Wolves, in the top division, where he was converted to a more than competent midfielder.
Billy Bremner – Dave McKay had been the catalyst for Derby’s rise from the depths of the second division to league champions. City expected that fellow Scot Bremner would do the same for City. And it started so well. An exquisite free kick proved to be the only goal of the game on his debut against Forest. And later that season he totally bossed the midfield when he was up against Southampton’s Alan Ball. Unfortunately, despite Billy’s obvious pedigree, he couldn’t do it all and, when Bobby Collins replaced John Kaye, only to be replaced by Ken Houghton, with Billy being totally overlooked, he seemed to decide to take his ball home.
Stuart Croft – Stuart made his debut aged 18, but it was two and a bit years later that he forced himself into the side, forcing out the expensive Steve Deere. From then on, for a few years, he was an automatic in central defence. He really should have thrived after relegation but I suspect that football may not have been his main interest and it was sad but not surprising that, on the last occasion that I saw him (at the age of only 29), he was vastly overweight and running a pub in not the most salubrious part of Doncaster.
Dave Roberts – Dave was a stylish and classy Welsh international and settled straightaway into the heart of the defence. It is a sign of his defensive skills that, when City were relegated in 1978 (well adrift of the rest of the division), the number of goals conceded was the 9th lowest. Unfortunately, goals scored were the lowest, and by a long way.
Vince Grimes – Vinnie was a hard-working midfielder who, if not the most skilful, always put a shift in
Malcolm Lord – see 1963-73
Stuart Pearson – When Chris Chilton departed for Coventry, it seemed a toss-up between Stuart and Paul O’Riley as to who would take his place. My money was on Paul. With Ian Butler being injured, both started the next four games. But it was Stuart who cemented his place with four goals in his first five games. He notched up double figures in each of the next three seasons before departing for Old Trafford in 1974 and subsequent Cup Final and England appearances.
John Hawley – It is a sign of the paucity of striker talent at the time that John has made it into this 11. But he was better than the rest and, to be fair, he did play a lot of games in midfield. But others saw something in him, as he went on to play for both Leeds and Arsenal in the top division.
Roy Greenwood – When Roy first came into the team, he was very much (literally) a lightweight. But when the time came for Ian Butler to move on, the transition from Butler to Greenwood was seamless. And, despite spending most of the time on the left-wing, he contributed more than his share of goals. Unfortunately, in January 1976, he moved to Sunderland and, just like Stuart Pearson before him, was not adequately replaced. Undoubtedly, both of these decisions contributed to the 1978 relegation.
And my game of the decade? 23 November, 1974 – Hull City 2 Manchester United 0. A surprisingly comfortable victory, with goals from Ken Wagstaff and Malcolm Lord, made even better by the fact that I was living in Manchester at the time.
Check back soon to see who Eamonn selected in his team for 1983-93.