Au Revoir Phil Brown

Last updated : 10 June 2010 By Carolina Tiger

Brown had been on "Gardening Leave" since the 15 March, 2010, with Adam Pearson the then club Chairman handing the day to day coaching of the club to "Temporary Management Consultant" Iain Dowie.

Unfortunately for Pearson his gamble failed to bear fruit, and the Tigers slipped into the Championship with a whimper.

However, after such a glorious and tempestuous tenure in charge of East Yorkshire's finest football club, it is only fitting that we look at Brown's time riding on the back of the Tigers.

When Pearson brought in Brown to assist struggling young manager Phil Parkinson and then replace him, it was seen as a bit of an uninspiring choice, and not a little bit worrying for some after his unsuccessful tenure at Derby County.

However, with the new manager effect, Brown managed to save the club from relegation and help send down Yorkshire rivals Leeds United in the process. For this alone Brown would be engraved in Hull City folklore.

The Tigers would go from strength to strength, playing at Wembley Stadium for the first time in the club's history, winning promotion to the top flight for the first time, and surviving to fight for a second season in the top flight. All this whilst under the control of Phil Brown.

Duffen had come in with the standard three-year plan of year-on-year growth with the objective of promotion to the Premiership by year three. The on field plan was even more successful than expected, with Brown's Tigers winning promotion within the first year, through the Wembley Playoff Final.

The year 2008 will forever live long in the memories of Hull City fans. It started with Phil Brown's Tigers riding high in 8th place in the Coca Cola Championship after fighting relegation the season before. The rest of the regular season would see the Tigers winning 11 of the next 24 regular season games and drawing five, which would be enough to see them through to the Championship play-offs in third place behind West Brom and Stoke City.

The Play-off Semi-Final was against pre-season favourites for automatic promotion Watford. The Tigers provided a 6-1 (on aggregate) demolition of the Hornets, which saw Hull City head for Wembley Stadium for the first time in their history to play against a Bristol City side hoping to get back into the top flight for the first time in over 25 years.

The stage was set for a nail-biting match but for fans that weren't involved it was pretty much a dire affair that will be remembered for one of the best goals to have ever been scored at either the new or the old Wembley stadiums. On 38 minutes Fraizer Campbell received a threaded pass through the Bristol City midfield and weaved his way through the Bristol defence, taking the ball to the edge of the six yards box. But instead of taking a shot on goal, the on-loan Manchester United striker saw the old war horse Dean Windass running to the edge of the box, and cleverly chipped the ball to the free Windass, who hit the ball sweetly on the volley into the top corner of the net, despite the despairing dive of the the Bristol City goalkeeper. 1-0 to the Tigers, and that is how the team got to the top flight of English football for the first time in their history, with a goal from a local lad who had saved us from bankruptcy by being sold many years ago in his prime, only to come back and save the club from relegation the year before and to be the oldest player to score at Wembley Stadium.

Conventional wisdom has it that the team winning promotion from the play-offs is at a disadvantage by being three weeks behind everyone else in preparing for the new season. Phil Brown and Paul Duffen the Hull City Chairman didn't agree with this. Tthey held the belief that we were ahead of the rest of the Premiership teams as we were fitter because we hadn't had the lay off that other clubs had had.

The battle plans were drawn up and new recruits were brought in. Geovanni from Manchester City on a free transfer, Anthony Gardner from Tottenham Hotspur, Marlon King on loan from Wigan, Bernard Mendy from Paris St Germain, Peter Halmosi from Plymouth Argyle, and George Boateng from Middlesbrough.

After an indifferent pre-season, the opener against Fulham would be at at the KC Stadium in front of a sell out crowd or Tigers fans, and they wouldn't be disappointed. As Ian Ashbee lead out the Tigers on that warm August day with fellow Hull City players Boaz Myhill and Andy Dawson it is worth remembering that these three special players have been with the Tigers all the way from the fourth division through to the Premiership. Indeed Ian Ashbee has the distinction of being the only player to have captained his club through all four professional English divisions.

After going behind to an early goal from Fulham's Seol Ki-Hyeon in the 8th minute, a sublime strike from Geovanni on 22 minutes saw the Tigers go in at half-time all square.

In a game were the established Premiership side were supposed to be in control it was hardly the case and on 81 minutes Hull City sub Caleb Folan popped up and grabbed a late winner after some tenacious play from Craig Fagan, who stole the ball from a Fulham defender on the edge of their box.

The season would carry on in this vein with Phil Brown's Tigers gaining confidence with every match. Even after the 0-5 thrashing to Wigan the Tigers resolutely stuck to their principles and played fast paced counter attacking football built on a solid hard working team performances.

The highlight of the season was the four game winning streak which included wins against Arsenal (this at the Emirates on only the second time Arsenal had lost there), Tottenham, and West Ham.

There were also some other notable games last season, against Everton we out-played them for 75 minutes only to let them back into it in the last 15 minutes. After losing easily to Chelsea the Tigers travelled to Manchester United at Old Trafford and gave them the scare of their life in a gritty 4-3 loss. Liverpool were lucky to scrape a 2-2 draw with the help of some dubious refereeing. The 2-1 victory against Newcastle United when they were in turmoil helped to give the Tigers belief that they could compete in the Premiership.

2008 had its ups and downs, more ups to be sure but the year ended on a low for the Tigers. Only seven points from the last 11 games and three losses on the bounce was not mid-table form but relegation form.

However, there was some hope to come out of it, with a few exceptions we had proven we were a very difficult team to beat.

Yes, there were heavy losses, in two of the last three games, but the loss to Sunderland was a game ruined by a poor sending off and a deflected goal. The first half against Manchester City was one of the best displays of attacking football I have seen for some time - and added to the fact that Hull City had one of their most lacklustre performances for that first half display added to our misery.

January brought a record breaking transfer in Jimmy Bullard from Fulham and with him huge wages. The signing was also accompanied with a very suspect medical. Bullard's signature was an attempt to stem the loss of form that was seeing the club slip down the table after the stellar start to the campaign. Unfortunately, he re-injured his anterior cruciate ligament on his debut for the Tigers, within 40 minutes.

From Brown and the Tigers reaping all the plaudits and fanfare of the clubs meteoric start to their first season in the best league in world football, the season ended with a whimper. Scraping survival on the last day of the season because other teams were poorer than the Tigers.

Brown's on field rendition of Hull City favourite, "the best trip I've ever been on" was roundly condemned by football fans of other clubs and pundits for its hubris considering just how lucky the Tigers had been in winning survival.

The last day Houdini act meant that the Brown and Hull City seriously needed to find new blood to bolster a team that had the Premier League's second worst defence, and one of the worst home records ever recorded in Premiership history.

Hull City's Championship goal scoring hero Fraizer Campbell was a major target for Brown, and a fee of around £6 million was accepted by Manchester United but Campbell was away on England Under-21 duty at the European Championship, and he ended up joining Sunderland.

Michael Owen was also a summer target for Brown after getting relegated with Newcastle, but when Manchester United came calling, Brown lost out again.

Marc-Antoine Fortune was targeted but he chose to team up with his former manager at Celtic rather than signing with the Tigers.

It was looking like Brown was the bridesmaid never the bride in his attempts to sign a much needed striker. The tabloid press and some of the Tiger-nation blamed the lack of a solid second half of the season on Brown's on field dressing down of the players at Eastlands.

Then came the signatures of Stephen Hunt from Reading for £3.5million, Seyi Olofinjana for £3million from Stoke City, Kamel Ghilas from Celta Vigo for £1.7m and Jozy Altidore the young American striker on loan from Villareal. It left the club and its fans feeling better.

Brown also managed to captured the signature of the Dutch international Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink who was out of contract after leaving Celtic during the summer.

However, during this period the experienced Sam Ricketts was sold to rivals Bolton Wanderers with no replacement immediately on the horizon, which seemed to be a very bizarre turn of events. This was to look even stranger when at the start of the season Michael Turner, arguably the Tigers' best player, was sold to Sunderland for an undisclosed fee, with Paul McShane going in the opposite direction.

The new season continued as the last one ended with the team playing backs to the wall football and conceding goals like the Titanic taking in water, and the strikers failing to find the net.

The financial mess ultimately lead to the resignation of Duffen as the Club Chairman, and with the late filing of the Club's taxes and his inability to get any of the high profile signings that the Club targeted it was proving harder for Duffen to have any credibility.

Duffen's staunch faith in Brown did not help him keep his position. Duffen backed his manager and friend on a number of occasions, even insulting Hull City fans in the process.

With the appointment of Adam Pearson the Club looked like it was stabalising after a turbulent couple of years. Pearson said he would give Brown some time to sort out the club's on-field woes. He attempted to offload some of the club's playing staff with only a modicum of success.

Since the arrival of Pearson and Brown's stay of execution the team went on a mini revival gaining eight points from a possible 12 that coincided with the return of record signing Jimmy Bullard, but it didn't last as Bullard sustained another injury and the club's form dipped yet again.

Since Pearson's return the club have only gained 16 points out of a possible 54 points, with the side not winning any matches away from home and only drawing two. This has culminated in the Tigers going on a losing streak since early February, when the team beat Manchester City at the KC Stadium in one of Hull City's finest ever performances.

The club was languishing in the relegation zone three points adrift of safety when the tenure of Phil Brown came to a close. Brown had lead the Tigers through heavy seas and seen the club through some highs as well as lows. Would the club have ever played at Wembley without him? Would we have won promotion to the top flight without him? Would we have had such a fantastic first season without him?
Whatever your answers, without a doubt it has never been boring with Brown at the helm.