Monday, 6 February 2012

Boo Who?

Tuesday 31st January
Football League Championship
Hull City 0 Doncaster Rovers 0

While we were sliding to defeat against Kinsley Boys, Hull City were exiting the FA Cup at the hands of Crawley Town in what amounted to the “shock of the round”.
Many fans were understandably disappointed and frustrated at having shelled out good money to see a “second-string” Tigers team that, in their view, “couldn’t be arsed”.  I imagine several of them may have booed the team off at the end.
Whilst the FA Cup has long since disappeared off my “set aside” days in the calendar, I confess that I too felt frustrated by the apparent lack of interest shown in the competition.  Moreover I wasn't the only one concerned that any negativity from the day would carry over into the game against Doncaster – one that most observers would see as a “home banker”.
I was right to be worried.
For despite enjoying the lion’s share of things, not to mention a reported twenty attempts on goal, the Tigers drew a blank against opponents who had shipped over thirty goals on their travels thus far.  The natives were understandably restless and showed it.  Some in the West Stand booed their team at the end.
In his post-match interview on Radio Humberside, Nick Barmby expressed his disappointment at this, pointing to his side’s current league position, the aforementioned chances they’d created and the relative youth of the current squad.  Unlike any such reaction at the Crawley game, I find it hard to understand the reason why anyone should have booed the side off and must confess to not having heard any myself.  Comments of frustration certainly.  But booing? Nah.  That said, to hear there was some is sadly predictable.
While I love the fact that the Tigers now command the level of support they could only dream of when I attended Boothferry Park regularly during the Eighties and early Nineties, the increase in numbers and associated success has also brought an impatience, a "want it all now" approach and, in truth, almost a detachment from reality.  That was never what it was about to follow the Tigers.
This is a generation for whom real disappointment is yet to be felt.  The only setback a lot of the current "Tiger Nation" have experienced has come via relegation from the top-flight - and let's face it, even this was only after the unexpected bonus of a second season therein.  These are the types who love to clog up the phone lines of the local station in the wake of results like this one saying, as one such wag did, “I thought they (City) were sh*t!”  
I will concede that every fan sees a different game – and given that our seats were just three rows from the front in the North Stand – we probably didn’t see as much of it as those better elevated.  But were City really that bad?
But who am I to preach?  This was only my third game this term (the others being the win over Birmingham and the defeat by Derby).  On both occasions I’d left reasonably impressed by the type of football that Nick Barmby intends his team to play.  However, I actually thought some of their attacking moves in this match bettered anything on show in both previous visits.
Among the three of us who driving back to the ‘Humber Riviera’, the consensus was that had Fryatt’s first half effort gone just a couple of inches this side of the far upright, it would have opened the floodgates and the points would have been comfortably obtained.
As it was, the chances continued to come and go and when Donny eventually decided to “park the bus” for the last twenty minutes, City simply didn’t have the extra bit of quality required to break them down.  It proved frustrating to watch and I would imagine even more so for those directly involved.  But it wasn't worthy of boos at the end and Barmby was right to express his disappointment.
In fact I left the ground quite heartened by what I’d seen and still optimistic about what this season may yet hold (fixture congestion aside of course).  For a start, despite dropping points, results elsewhere were relatively kind to the Tigers.  Some of the football on show was excellent to watch.  The return of Olofinjana could prove very, very timely, while latest Man United recruit Josh King, although looking raw and at times ungainly, showed signs that he can be the goal threat Barmby & co obviously see him as.
In the days immediately following the game, Mike White on Radio Humberside's Sports Talk programme encouraged those moaning at this perceived negativity (e.g. people like me) to call the programme and offer an opposing view.  To be honest, I couldn't be bothered.  I spent my first few years of Tiger-trekking standing up for "Boo Boy" targets like Bobby McNeil, before then trying to preach positivity during the late Eighties/early Nineties via the pages of 'Hull, Hell & Happiness', 'From Hull To Eternity' and even the Sports Mail (in which we were given our own fanzine slot).  It was often a thankless task.  Now I simply prefer to sound off on Twitter...or here! 
Perhaps some of those booing City off would prefer to have watched the likes of David Jones - a player described by “On Cloud Seven” thus:   “Despite a footballing upbringing at Stamford Bridge, this lumbering useless forward was just about as disgraceful a performer as has ever been witnessed in black and amber. Shocking.”  Then they would really have had something to complain about - even I came close to booing.  But I didn't.  And I don't intend to start now.  These are good times for the Tigers...aren't they?!

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