1904-1915: The Formative Years
Feature by Historian
Updated Wednesday, 2nd January 2002
Hull City was formed as a professional football club in June 1904 after previous attempts to establish a football club in a city dominated by Rugby League had floundered.The timing of its formation did not allow the club sufficient time to apply for membership of the Football League, so its first season in existence consisted of friendly games against clubs from the North of the country as well as the East Midlands. These were played at the Boulevard, home of Hull F.C. (one of the City's professional Rugby League clubs). The Club also entered the F.A. Challenge Cup but they were eliminated, after a replay, in the preliminary round against Stockton.
Hull City's First Game in 1904
Hull City in white against Notts County in stripes. The final result was a 2-2 draw.
The relationship with their landlords was an uneasy one and having encountered a number of problems during the first season, the club's directors looked elsewhere for a permanent home. Eventually a deal was struck enabling them to make use of the Anlaby Road Cricket Ground. Having successfully gained admission to the Football League, they commenced their 1905/06 season home matches on this site and later moved to a new site adjacent to the Cricket Ground. This became their permanent abode until after the Second World War, when they took up residence in their current home, Boothferry Park.
Under the management of Ambrose Langley, the club quickly established themselves as a competent team, always finishing in the top half of the Second Division and coming agonisingly close to achieving that elusive goal of First Division status in 1909/10. An inferior goal average meant missing out on promotion by the narrowest of margins to Oldham Athletic. In the remaining seasons before the outbreak of the First World War, they confirmed their status as a solid Second Division team but never threatened to breach that Division One barrier. Although the Football League continued in the early part of the war, this was against a rising swell of opposition nationally. At the start of the 1915/16 campaign the League closed down its formal competition and replaced it with a regionalised structure, the Tigers playing in the Midland Section for the next four seasons. They enjoyed no major success during this time as many of their established players were fighting in France. As with many other teams, they relied heavily on 'guest' appearances to enable them to fulfil their fixtures.