Phil Brown - The Hull City Years (part 2)

Last updated : 16 March 2010 By Carolina Tiger

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. They held the belief that we were ahead of the rest of the Premiership teams as we were fitter than the rest 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, Kamil Zayette from Young Boys of Zurich on loan, 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 of 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 Division Three 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 teams go in at half-time all square.

In a game where 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 (only the second time Arsenal had lost at the Emirates Stadium), 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 and draw. 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 come back and 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.

The season has had its ups and downs, more ups to be sure but the season  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 the end of last season, with a few exceptions we have proven we are a very difficult team to beat. 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. 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.

Duffen failed to file the club's tax returns for the promotion season for almost nine months and they did not prove to be comforting reading for Hull City fans, and with Duffen and Brown intertwined it didn't look good for Brown as well as Duffen. From being a club on a stable financial footing to a club on the brink of financial meltdown in the space of a year.

After Brown and the Tigers reaped all the plaudits and fanfare of the club's 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.

Click here for part 3 of this article