They Might Be Giants: The Big Six of League One

Hull City

Kai Connell, KCOM Stadium, CC BY-SA 4.0

I did wonder whether I was justified in including the Tigers in this review but in terms of League One, they are a pretty big club and so they scrape in, courtesy of their three stays in the Premier League in the last 15 years. Prior to that, Hull were at best a reasonably successful second tier club who occasionally slipped into the third and fourth divisions. One such occasion was in the 1997 – 98 season when, along with Cardiff, Swansea and Brighton they languished near the bottom of the professional game’s basement division. That was the year the Imps, under Shane Westley (following the dismissal of John Beck) sneaked into the final promotion spot with a 2 – 1 victory over second bottom Brighton on the last day of the season.

That Hull City AFC have prospered is all the more remarkable given the dominance of Rugby League in both the city and the region. Indeed they ground share with Hull FC and not for the first time either since they also shared their first home, The Boulevard with the Black and Whites in the early years of the 20th Century.

For many years Boothferry Park was the Tigers’ home and in the post war era of massive crowds throughout football, their highest attendance was 55,019 for a game against Manchester United.

Uniquely, though, among the six clubs featuring in this review, Hull City have never won a major trophy. The nearest they came was runners up in the 2014 FA Cup Final when, having scored twice in the opening eleven minutes, they lost 3 – 2 to Arsenal.

The past decade has been perhaps the most controversial in terms of their ownership with a substantial rift between supporters and owner Assem Allam resulting from the latter’s proposal to rename the club Hull Tigers. Fans responded with chants of “City till I die” during games, to which Allam retorted “They can die as soon as they like”. The furore finally died down when the FA refused to sanction the name change. Allam’s reaction was that he was not interested in football and never had been and would not invest another penny in the club unless he could change the name. In the meantime, he reportedly put the club up for sale but 7 years later, no potential buyer has come forward and no sale has been effected.

Hull’s recent reputation as something of a yoyo club endures as they have bounced back with promotion to the Championship after a single season in League One.

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