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Hull City's 2009-2010 Season Revealed


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JULY

 

In response to their concern over the lack of activity in the summer

transfer window, chairman Paul Duffen assures fans that, with the deadline a

whole 48 hours away, "there's no real rush". "We do have feelers out," he

tells Sky Sports News, "but obviously, discretion is the key." Phil Brown

leans into frame and beams discreetly: "Aye, we're getting someone in that's

gonna blow your socks off!" This is the manager's first television

appearance since the pre-season hot weather training trip and it has many

thousand Sky subscribers reaching for their remotes to adjust their colour

balance. Brown does let slip two well-known foreign names that are high on

his shopping list: Paco Rabanne and Nino Cerutti.

 

There is, however, a flurry of transfer activity the next day. Having

expressed in the media that (preferably Arab) money is much more important

to him than football, Daniel Cousin is snapped up by Manchester City. And

after being encouraged in training to "do what comes naturally'" Caleb

Folan's contract is terminated when he twice stud-rakes Matt Duke's back.

After narrowly defeating Phil Brown in a team-bonding karaoke competition,

Richard Garcia is also promptly shipped out on a free to Melbourne Victory.

With the forward line therefore decimated, City duly increase their efforts

to secure the services of a mystery 41-year-old Italian left back. In the

final hours of the window, though, negotiations break down over personal

terms, the Italian's insistence on an attractive 5-bedroom villa with pool

in the Goole area being described by Mr. Duffen as "an impossible demand".

Fraizer Campbell, despite voicing a keen desire to return to the KC, is

meanwhile deemed "way too pricey" at what some others feel is a bargain £1m,

and remains trapped at White Hart Lane. Lionel Messi also reveals a hitherto

well-hidden love of the Tigers, surprisingly saying that he would be willing

to play for us for nothing, but is considered by management to be too high

risk: "We've said all along, we're looking for players with Premier League

experience." But with seconds to spare, the `socks-off' signing is

announced: Manucho is ours for just £14.5m. "Skill, passion, a `die for the

cause' mentality - these are essential ingredients" says chairman Paul

Duffen, "I mean, Manucho or Messi? It's a no-brainer." City also sign a

highly promising Hungarian Under-21 International midfielder, but he can't

play until Season 10-11.

 

To further boost City fans' hopes for the new season, Jimmy Bullard is

reported as being only four weeks away from full fitness. A week ahead of

schedule.

 

Most bookmakers have City as strong favourites for relegation. Following

Manucho's signing, Betfair pay out.

 

AUGUST

 

The Hull Daily Mail provide 20,000 squeaky foam tiger paws with which fans

can create an "intimidating atmosphere" for the opening day visit of

Premiership new boys Birmingham City. Amid a dreadful high-pitched screech,

Birmingham go two up in 12 minutes. And it remains 2-0 until the final

whistle when, after an unseemly incident behind the East Stand a Hull Daily

Mail employee is rushed to hospital to have a quantity of tiger-striped

sponge removed from his rectum.

 

The following week, trailing at Anfield, Phil Brown resurrects his

morale-boosting ploy of conducting his half-time team-talk on the pitch.

There is much discussion amongst the Sky Soccer Saturday pundits as to

whether this is motivational for the players, or simply humiliating. They

decide on the latter as they watch the City players have to strip down to

their jockstraps, get gunked with pink custard and, under threat of electric

cattle-prod, are forced to dance. "It certainly brought us all together"

says a trembling Ian Ashbee after a spirited goalless second half

performance ensures a 3-0 defeat.

 

Anthony Gardner finally gets off the treatment table, but injures his calf

doing so.

 

After Mr Duffen encourages KCFM's Steve Jordan to "lift the pre-match

build-up to a higher level", City get off to a bad start at home to

Tottenham, going behind in the first minute to a stunning goal from

want-away striker Fraizer Campbell. "We were all a bit confused early doors"

admits Andy Dawson afterwards, "what with the music still playing and that.

I'm sure I could have got a block in on Fraizer if that Jordan t*** hadn't

got in the way."

 

Geovanni scores two in a fine home win over Bolton, but when the sun goes

in throws a tantrum because he is not being substituted. Jubilation over the

very welcome three points is doubled by the news that Jimmy Bullard is now

only four weeks away. Back on schedule.

 

SEPTEMBER

 

Live on Radio Humberside, the BBC's David Burns asks Phil Brown how he is

today, only to be told that it's none of his business. As a result of this

"invasion of privacy", Brown refuses to do any more interviews with the

station, but will of course still be available to absolutely any other media

outlet.

 

Down in the lower leagues, after gaining just one point from a possible 18,

Alan Shearer (known in Hull as `Our Messiah') resigns as Newcastle manager,

blaming their abysmal start on events that occurred before and up to his

appointment. Multi millionaire owner Mike Ashley concedes to fan pressure

and hires Peter Beardsley as replacement.

 

When, in a club profile-raising appearance on ITV's `Loose Women', Phil

Brown lets slip that he's "never heard of Darfur", the previously presumed

selflessness of his own `Tan For Sudan' charity becomes a matter of some

debate. What is not in question, however, is his dedication to the project

when at a Fans' Forum he is mistaken for George Boateng.

 

As the global recession deepens, The Financial Times publishes a report on

secure savings. Topping their list of `Safest Money', by some margin, is the

£10,000 held by Marstons Brewery as prize money for their half-time

`Crossbar Challenge' at Hull's KC Stadium. "Even for a professional

footballer to get anywhere near the goal let alone hit the crossbar from the

centre-spot is some ask, so for these beer-bellied, flabby-kneed,

flimsy-trainered unfortunates, none of whom in the history of the

competition has managed to lift the ball out of the centre circle, it is

clearly an impossibility. Marstons could up the prize money for this

so-called `entertainment' to a billion and still sleep very easily, much

like the KC crowd seem to do during it" the article states.

 

City move off the bottom of the table after a 1-1 home draw against

Burnley. To boost City fans' morale even further, there is news that Jimmy

Bullard is only five weeks away.

 

OCTOBER

 

In an attempt to bring to an end the winless run, Paul Duffen believes the

solution is not so much in team tactics and selection (an area in which he

believes "Phil is being wonderfully, phenomenally brave") as in "further

expenditure of effort on creating a more exciting atmosphere at the KC".

Despite widespread fan protest, he announces that we are to have "music

after goals". The system, however, is not tested throughout October as The

Tigers fail to hit the net against Wigan, Stoke and a virus-depleted

Sunderland. Finally, out of sheer desperation, it is played anyway upon

Sunderland's fifth (McShane 72). Disappointingly, given that in his

announcement Mr. Duffen had described us as an "innovative, forward-thinking

club, whose global footprint is highlighted by its uniqueness", the music is

`Tom Hark', and even the Sunderland fans stop celebrating in order to clutch

their heads in despair.

 

After a 0-0 draw against Arsenal at the KC which sees a series of

outrageous refereeing decisions deny the visitors the win they deserve, a

dignified Arsene Wenger offers his hand to shake Phil Brown's. Under huge

media scrutiny, Brown reaches his hand out but then pulls back and c***s a

snoot. It is described by the Setanta panel as being "embarrassing,

undignified and childish" but by Paul Duffen as "just another indication of

The Man's greatness." "It's why I love Him so" he blushes.

 

When asked how far away Jimmy Bullard is now, Phil Brown says "about 5,000

miles". He explains that Bullard is actually in Los Angeles undergoing an

exploratory operation on his knee. "I thought that was all mended"

Humberside's David Burns politely suggests, only to be told to "F*ck right

off." It's subsequently revealed to Hull City fans (outside the Radio

Humberside region) that the problem is not with Bullard's injured knee, but

with his other one. Doctors fear it may have suffered long-term "wear and

tear" damage, Jimmy having only stood on that leg for the best part of a

year.

 

NOVEMBER

 

Following defeats at Villa, Chelsea, and at home to a 4th string Manchester

Utd, the Tigers find themselves back in the drop zone, five points from

safety. When fans express their concern over Phil Brown's reported absence

from training at this crucial time, Paul Duffen explains: "Phil is away

actioning a pre-planned strategy to further enhance the global profile of

the club brand" he says, lovingly fondling a flower last seen in his

manager's lapel. A few hours later, Brown's whereabouts are revealed when,

amidst flashbulbs and raucous screaming, he steps out of a limousine and

enters the Big Brother house.

 

Brown is the first housemate to be evicted. Whether the club's global

profile has been enhanced is arguable after Channel 4 report that the scale

of the eviction vote is the highest in the programme's history. BT also

describe themselves as having been "unable to cope" with the volume of calls

even a week before voting was opened. "I think what started it were those

celebrations he did after winning that arm-wrestling match" a spokesman

says. "People felt that was a bit over the top, I mean, against Stephen

Hawking?" Upon his exit, Davina McCall asks `Nasty' Phil how, after seven

days spent entirely indoors, he has managed to emerge "looking so healthy".

Phil smiles, winks, pinches her bum then her microphone and serenades the

viewing public with "The Sun Always Shines On TV'

 

Phil Brown returns from his television commitments to find The Tigers have

climbed up to 16th, Brian Horton having guided them to two successive wins

in his absence. "It was all down to Phil's team selection" says a nervous

Horton.

 

In the lower leagues, after failing to turn around their poor run of form,

Peter Beardsley is dismissed by Newcastle. Quite wealthy owner Mike Ashley,

bowing to fans' superior football knowledge, replaces him with Robson Green.

 

DECEMBER

 

A survey in media magazine `Global Footprint' reveals that Hull City have,

in nine short months, plummeted from being everybody's `second favourite'

Premier League club to being everybody's `most hated'. "There is no such

thing as bad publicity" says chairman Paul Duffen outside Hull Magistrates

Court having been charged for driving without due care, attention, licence

or insurance, "and if that survey tells us anything it is that Phil Brown

perhaps needs to raise his profile."

 

Possibly as a result, the following week sees Phil Brown pop up on BBC's

"What Not To Wear". In a coincidence of some irony, Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas

appears on the same edition.

 

In an attempt to maintain morale, City go on a team-bonding trip to the

Yorkshire Dales. "We did it when I was responsible for Big Sam keeping

Bolton in the Premiership" says Brown. "We're going on one of these `Murder

Weekends' at a hotel in Richmond. It's great for team spirit."

Unfortunately, late on the Saturday night, Geovanni is indeed murdered.

Several people are interviewed by the police, including Manchester City's

sixth choice but very happy striker Daniel Cousin, who happens to be in the

area seeking extra income for still not doing very much. As he boards the

coach back to Hull, Phil Brown – clearly irked that another Brazilian's

death is getting such media attention - is asked for his reaction. "Well, it

leaves us a bit short in midfield, that's plain for all to see" he smiles.

"But if you don't mind, these lads need their spirits lifting" he adds,

before grabbing the bus microphone and stunning the already traumatised

squad with a rendition of: "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?'

 

JANUARY

 

City progress to the 4th round of the FA Cup after brushing aside recently

appointed Jimmy Nail's Newcastle 1-0. After sacking Nail, owner Mike Ashley,

who has a bob or two, accedes to fan pressure by appointing Geordie legend

Sting. Players are confused by Sting's first team-talk, when all he wants to

say to them is de do do do, dah dah dah.

 

The January transfer window nears its close with so far no new additions to

the squad. Asked by Sky Sports News whether the club learned anything from

the effect of their dealings in last year's window, especially with regard

to the Bullard signing, Mr Duffen guffaws: "Don't worry, we won't be doing

that again!"

 

The following day, City tempt Darren Anderton out of retirement with a 70

grand a week 6 year deal. "The money's irrelevant", says Anderton from his

motorized wheelchair, "I love it up here. It's so flat. I know all there is

to know about this club and I just can't wait to pull on a Hull F.C. shirt

and get out there at Boothferry Park."

 

Bernard Mendy demands a transfer to F.C. Dieppe, and is consequently sold

on a free. Unfortunately the deal is already closed before a translator

explains that Bernard had merely wanted to "go to The Deep". After his

recent call-up to the England squad, a modest Michael Turner does a

60-second interview for BBC's Football Focus and as a result is promptly

sold to Liverpool. "I'm not having anyone here who thinks they're bigger

than this club's manager" this club's manager says. When Manucho complains

that he "doesn't like the area", the club offer to upgrade him from

Bransholme to Beverley. When he explains that he means the penalty area, he

is sold back to Manchester Utd for 25 grand.

 

In the final hours of the window, City confirm their desire to bring in

"not just the right sort of player, but the right sort of character" by

bringing in Joey Barton and Lee Bowyer. They also welcome back Marlon King.

 

Jimmy Bullard is reported as being "much closer". (He's now in a clinic in

New York.) Darren Anderton meanwhile is ruled out until next season with a

recurrence of a 1997 arthritis problem.

 

FEBRUARY

 

Prior to the away match at The Stadium of Light, Paul Duffen does his usual

mingling with fans, chatting to them about the team-sheet and formation. "I

think Maestro Phil's got it absolutely, beautifully right" he tells them,

eerily massaging the ear-wax on what looks like one of Brown's discarded

headsets. "Obviously there's a slight lack of choice up front after the ugly

incident with Marlon on the way here, but playing Nathan Doyle as a lone

striker I personally think smacks of genius, don't you agree?" "Why-aye,

man" says a helpful Mackem, "but ah think you should be up the other end,

where aal them amba and black fellas are."

 

Just three minutes into their debuts, Bowyer and Barton are both red carded

after an almighty brawl. No other players from either side are involved. But

nine man City win 1-0. (Doyle 89).

 

The evening news reports that a 16-year-old girl who works behind the

counter at an A1 service station was at lunchtime savagely attacked by an as

yet unidentified animal. The ferocity of the attack left her with three

broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder and several bite-marks to the face. When

asked what she remembers about the animal she says "All I remember is it

asking me if I fancied a shag." A recently signed Hull City footballer is

helping the police with their enquiries.

 

City are dumped out of the cup by Darlington, 2-0. (Windass 25,40)

 

MARCH

 

At the start of the season Sky Sports's Jeff Stelling said he expected

new-boys Burnley to "do a Derby" but after a fantastic start they have since

gone into freefall and Stelling now says they may actually be "doing a

Hull". Hull, he thinks, might well be "doing a Stoke", whereas foot of the

table Stoke are clearly "doing a West Brom", who, as it happens, he says are

"doing a Norwich". Newcastle, so recently having "done a Newcastle" might

now be "doing a Leeds", while Leeds are in danger of "doing an Aldershot".

Bored co-host Paul Merson accuses Stelling of "doing a Lineker".

 

Even Paul Duffen accepts that the image of the club might be "slightly

tarnished" after Phil Brown's undignified exit from BBC's `Strictly Come

Dancing'. His post-eviction interview - effectively a rabid rant about the

judges' poor decision-making – becomes headline news when he accuses Len

Goodman of spitting at his dance partner. "Hopefully he's proud of himself.

I was there, or thereabouts, and I witnessed it, I think", fumes the

sequin-spangled Brown, "And what he's doing dressed like that, in black tie

and stuff, I don't know. It just shows you what this programme is all

about."

 

APRIL

 

Mark Lawrenson is finally relieved of his duties as BBC Online's tipster

having managed just one correct result out of 462 predictions so far this

season (Manchester Utd's home win over injury-ravaged Burnley). About his

sacking, Lawrenson rather pointlessly says: "Well, I didn't see THAT

coming."

 

Training ground injuries to Fagan (broken leg), Marney (broken nose),

Turner (ear-loss), and the end of Ian Ashbee's playing career (cigarette

burns), are put down to Joey Barton having got out of the wrong side of bed

this morning. "When his psychiatrists said we needed more interaction, I

didn't think they meant this" says Brian Horton, in traction, at Hull Royal

Infirmary.

 

Umpires hold up play in the England v Pakistan Twenty 20 match at Old

Trafford when a stray football bounces across the pitch. In the nearby

Manchester Utd v Stoke game, an embarrassed Rory Delap is handed another

ball.

 

The biggest shock of the season occurs on Radio Humberside's post match

phone-in, where a stunned David Burns receives a call from somebody who has

actually been to the game.

 

April sees City tackle a run of five `must win' games by going for a draw

in each. They lose all five, leaving them above the drop zone only on goal

difference. But there is encouraging news as Jimmy Bullard is described as

being "days away" from full recovery. Possibly as few as 40.

 

MAY

 

There are more tears on Tyneside as Newcastle are relegated from the

Championship. Distraught caretaker-manager Mark Knopfler explains he

couldn't bring into the club the things he really needed. When asked what

exactly it was that he had wanted to install, he says "Microwave ovens and

chicks for free." Destitute owner Mike Ashley meanwhile slaps a £500 million

price tag on the club in order to achieve "a quick sale".

 

The last game of the season and `Survival Sunday' sees City entertaining

Sam Allardyce's Blackburn Rovers. Safety will be assured if the Tigers match

or better Sunderland's result at home to Manchester Utd. With United playing

Real Madrid in Wednesday's Champion's League Final, there is concern that

Sir Alex Ferguson might put out a severely weakened team against City's

rivals. "Well what else do you expect from that Scottish c**t? We'll sue the

b******s" reasons the under pressure Phil Brown.

 

"People have been saying I'm losing the plot" the stressed manager tells

the assembled media (except for Radio Humberside). "Losing the plot is doing

something daft like saying you're getting into Europe when you've just won a

couple of games, or using your own name in the third person, well I can

assure you, you won't catch Phil Brown doing that." "It's time to throw

caution to the wind, and that's why I'm going for a 3-man midfield. People

can say I'm crazy, but I'm not" he adds, before announcing a novel 7-3-0

formation through the medium of modern dance.

 

Sir Alex Ferguson's talented youngsters struggle against a Sunderland side

that, bizarrely bucking the trend set by last season's relegation

candidates, seems to want to score, and a McShane header gives The Black

Cats a 1-0 half-time lead. Early in the second half a roar erupts around the

Stadium of Light as news comes through that Blackburn have taken the lead at

Hull.

 

At the KC, a flustered Phil Brown turns once more to his trusty advisor for

help, but Big Sam is too busy celebrating. Slightly misreading the

situation, Brown brings off his most attacking players (both midfielders)

and shores up the defence with Cooper and the barely mobile Gardner. It

turns out to be a stroke of genius, as Macheda equalises for Manchester Utd.

With a minute to go, and needing a goal to stay up, Gardner hobbles off to

be replaced by Jimmy Bullard. It's the first time in the history of the game

that a player has been stretchered ON to the field. It turns out to be

another Phil Brown tactical master stroke: In added time, seconds remaining,

Fagan scuffs a cross, Paul Robinson fumbles, straight into the path of

Bullard. Leaping on the chance much in the style of Douglas Bader, our Jimmy

controls the ball, steadies himself, then skies it into Row Z just as, up on

Wearside, bargain-buy Manucho rises gloriously to head a winner for

Manchester Utd.

 

Final whistles at both grounds. Sobbing at the Stadium of Light, euphoria

at the KC. Phil Brown mounts a centre circle podium to sing "My Way",

omitting the line that confesses to having had any regrets, and is once more

rightfully hailed as a hero.

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