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 fourth instalment, Eamonn chooses from the period 1993-2003.
Easily the worst of my City-supporting decades, both on and off the pitch. It started in the third tier, but not for long. At the end of the third season they were relegated, an incredible 21 points from safety. The rest of the decade was spent in the fourth tier with two narrow misses from a drop to the Conference as it was then. Oh, and I almost forgot, administration. This list of names will bring back memories of that decade. David Lloyd, Tim Wilby, Mark Hateley, Nick Buchanan, and Stephen Hinchcliffe. Shall I continue? Probably, best not. In terms of a team of the decade, any random selection would probably suffice but maybe this lot were slightly better than the rest.
Roy Carroll – Such was the state of the club at this time, Roy made his debut aged 18 and immediately became first choice. He showed signs of promise so, obviously, within 15 months he was off for the sum of £350,000. Good business? Hardly. Four years later he joined Manchester United and played in teams that won both the Premier League and the FA Cup.
Adam Lowthorpe – Another promising youngster who made his debut aged 18 but, despite showing lots of promise, developing youngsters was not something at which the club were much good, at that time.
Jimmy Graham – “Got no hair – we don’t care”. Jimmy made an inauspicious start in a 4-0 reverse at the Manor Ground (but, at least, there was a recovery from losing 4-0 at half-time!) He was a popular player and was a tough tackler as well as being good moving forward. After 39 appearances in his first season, injuries restricted him to just 24 in the awful season of 1995/96 and, as a result, the short-sighted club released him that summer.
Lee Warren – Lee was at the club for six seasons and was in and out of the team, playing in a variety of positions. He played full-back, central defence, midfield and, even on odd occasions, up front. He was the “go to” player when a gap needed to be filled. He was at his best in central defence and, to my mind, was a far better player than was recognised by the club.
Rob Dewhurst – “The butcher”! I really liked Rob. He controlled the defence and was towering in the air. So much so that he notched up 13 goals from his 132 appearances. Unfortunately, a broken leg just before Christmas 1995 kept him out for almost a year. On his return. City had been relegated and he never really got back to being an automatic choice. When Warren Joyce became manager, he signed Justin Whittle and that was effectively the end of Rob. But he deserves his place in the team as a result of those early performances.
Gary Hobson – Gary played in both the centre of defence and at full-back. He was only 18 when he made his debut towards the end of the ill-fated 1990/91 season. He had quite a few injuries whilst at City but it was no coincidence that, in each of the two seasons in which City finished in the top half of the third tier table, Gary made 36 appearances. He missed a lot of games in the following season, which culminated in (another!) relegation.
Warren Joyce – Whilst Warren is obviously remembered for his role as manager in the “Great Escape” season, he had been a pretty decent player prior to that. As captain, he was seen by many as being too close to the, shall we say, unpopular Terry Dolan and was widely disliked for that reason. Nevertheless, he always put a shift in and without him being in the team in the first half of the “Great Escape” season, the Escape itself may have been beyond the club.
Neil Mann – Neil was a regular for four seasons until two serious injuries effectively ended his career. He played in a variety of positions but was at his best in a creative midfield position, although he should have probably scored more than the fairly meagre total of nine goals.
Dean Windass – At last a name on which we can all agree. Deano is rightly lauded for keeping City in the Championship in 2007 and for scoring THAT goal that took them out of it in 2008. What is often downplayed is how good he was in the early ‘90s. For the best part of four and a half seasons he was a virtual ever-present weighing in with 57 goals despite, at least in the first half of that period, playing in defence and midfield. In one extraordinary spell, he netted eight times in just four matches (including two hat-tricks) and added a further hat-trick later in the same season. I was privileged to see probably his best goal (just before departing for Aberdeen). At Wycombe, he received the ball on his chest around half-way with his back to the goal. As I remember it, in one movement, he turned and leathered it past the bemused Wycombe custodian.
Linton Brown – Linton was at his best playing alongside Deano and, whilst not prodigious, he did put away 24 goals from his 110 appearances. Following Deano’s move, he didn’t score again for City. Mind you, only 23 goals were scored in total from the remaining 28 games of the season. City were relegated and Linton was on his way.
Graeme Atkinson – Primarily playing up front, he was another player who sometimes had to fit in to defence and midfield. He was always consistent and could have been a really good player with City but, aged only 23, the board cashed in on his talents after receiving an £80,000 offer from Preston.
And my game of the decade? 1 March 1995 – Bristol Rovers 0 Hull City 2. Maybe another surprising choice. Only two other HCSSers braved the blizzards and travel difficulties to turn up at a very exposed Twerton Park. Living in Reading, I did wonder whether I would make it there (and back home!) in pretty appalling conditions. But the trip was worth it. Goals from Linton Brown and Ian Ormondroyd made it a surprising victory at play-offs bound Rovers.
Check back soon to see who Eamonn selected in his team for 2003-2013.