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 penultimate instalment, Eamonn chooses from the period 2003-2013.
If the previous decade had been grim, this decade was the best. Starting in the fourth tier in the recently opened KC, within five years (and three promotions) City were in the Premier League and, whilst after two seasons they were relegated (to some extent due to the shenanigans of Paul Duffen and his mates), at the end of the decade after a comfortable victory over Cardiff (or something like that), they were once again recommencing the Premier League experience. There were seven managers in this decade and (apart from Phil Parkinson and Iain Dowie) they all made their contribution: Taylor, Brown, Pearson, Barmby, and Bruce. Amazingly, four players played in all four divisions, deservedly keeping their places in the Premier League (and, in three cases, in my team of the decade).
Boaz Myhill – Boaz was only 21 when he signed for City and he immediately became first choice, a position he held for six and a half seasons, playing 257 league appearances. He was one of the select band who played in all four divisions with the Tigers. He joined West Brom after relegation in 2010 for £1.5m, still only 27.
Sam Ricketts – In just three seasons at the club, Sam was an assured full-back and played a big part in the battle to avoid relegation in 2006 and then to gain promotion the following season. He did not look out of place during his season in the Premier League with City, from whom he left to play three further years in the top division with Bolton.
Andy Dawson – Andy’s time as a player matches this decade exactly. Peter Taylor managed to pick him up on a free transfer from Scunthorpe. He was tenacious in the tackle, and was an excellent taker of free kicks, scoring from two in the Premier League. He was certainly not a prima donna and, after six years coaching with Scunthorpe, it was great to see him back at City in 2019.
Ian Ashbee – Signed by Jan Molby (who?), Ian didn’t have the best of starts, being sent off on his debut, but soon became the ultimate fans’ favourite. He is the only player to have captained a club in each division as they rose from the fourth to the top tier. He was a brilliant leader on the pitch and was able to get players, who had more skill and ability than he had, to reach even greater heights. Unfortunately due to two serious injuries he was out for the majority of the first Championship season, and missed the whole of the second Premier League season. I am convinced that, had he been present and leading the team that season, they would not have been relegated.
Michael Turner – Michael was a rarity, a Phil Parkinson signing that turned out to be good. He was at the club for only three full seasons, yet made 129 appearances. He settled in quickly and was a rock in central defence, despite still being quite young. He was ever-present in the first Premier League season, but moved to Sunderland shortly afterwards. He wasn’t satisfactorily replaced, and a string of successors leaked goals during the following relegation season.
Paul McShane – Initially, it was hard to understand why City had brought in Paul on loan from Sunderland in the opening weeks of the initial Premier League season, although scoring a goal at Anfield helped. Playing mainly at full-back he was recalled by Sunderland after a few months. At the time, it was quite a surprise when he made a permanent move the following summer. In the next three seasons, he drifted in and out of the side, in between loan deals, but came back into favour under Steve Bruce, in the 2012/13 promotion season and was a stand-out player during the two Premier League seasons that followed.
Kevin Kilbane – Whilst Kevin was 31 when he signed for City and in the autumn of his career, nevertheless it was quite a coup to sign a player who was still an automatic international choice. Indeed, whilst at City he made his 110th (and final appearance) for Ireland.
Nick Barmby – Nick was probably the finest English player who turned out for City. I still can’t understand how City were able to sign him, whilst also persuading Leeds to pay the majority of his wages. He shone in both the third tier (for a single season) and also the Championship, and was first-choice throughout City’s first spell in the Premier League. I was lucky to be there when he scored after seven seconds against Walsall in November 2004. My favourite memory though is of Deano and him sitting side by side on the bench at Wembley (arms around each other) awaiting full-time.
Daniel Cousin – Although Daniel only scored five times in 33 appearances, one of those goals was the winning goal at The Emirates in September 2008 and, as far as I’m concerned, that is enough for him to get into my team of the decade.
Geovanni – The signing of Geovanni at the age of 28 just before the start of the first Premier League season was a signal, to me at least, that, maybe, the seemingly inevitable immediate return to the second tier was not so inevitable. In that first season, he played 34 times in the league and finished as top scorer. One of those goals was the first one at The Emirates, a sublime 25 yard curler after cutting in from the left.
Jimmy Bullard – I suspect that this could be a controversial choice as Jimmy only played 23 times for City. And it was hardly his fault that Ian Ashbee played the ultimate hospital pass to him within seconds of coming on for his debut at West Ham. He was out injured for far longer than he was fit but, on song, he was an excellent reader of the game and had some silky skills.
And my game of the decade? No, not that one, but 27 September 2008 – Arsenal 1 Hull City 2. I suspect that I was not alone in hoping that City wouldn’t lose by more than three but, despite going behind early in the second half, goals from the aforementioned Cousin and Geovanni meant that City became the first non-London team to win there. The time after the final whistle still remains a blur!
Check back soon to see who Eamonn selected in his team for 2013-2023.