Diary Dates for the 2019-2020 Season
A Forgotten Tiger
Following our Annual Meeting we settled down for another memorable conversation with an Ex-Tiger, but on this occasion an almost ‘Forgotten Tiger’. TOM MATHERS was a goalkeeper during the 1950’s but he never made a senior debut. Tom had the misfortune of being understudy to the legendary Billy Bly. The Tom we were introduced to bore no grudge or complaint but revealed himself as a wonderful, generous gentleman. Our members were quickly endeared to him.
On this occasion the interview with Tom was by our good friend, David Bond. David soon had Tom talking and we found out that he was a East Hull lad, born in 1937 in Walcott Street. He survived the Second World War but not before he and the family were twice bombed out. Eventually they had moved to Woodcock Street. At 11 years Tom had joined the Boulevard Boxing Club and from time to time he would be offered a pass to go and watch the Tigers. That led to him also playing the game, usually as a full back. He’d tried playing in goal but didn’t like it. Too much diving about in the mud! At 12 he was playing in the Senior Boys League for Somerset Street School and Pickering Amateurs.
Later, having started working in a signal box on the railways, he was “invited” for youth trials with Hull City - as a goalkeeper. A month later he received a card from Bob Brocklebank at the club saying “you’re playing at Sheffield Wednesday for the Yorkshire League! They were then promoted to the Midland League and were up against teams like Peterborough United & Boston United, made up of seasoned old pro’s. He remembered losing 7-0 (three down after 15 minutes!) and said he was “absolutely heart broken”. He was clearly doing something good and was even selected for an Amateur International whilst City offered him trials for the professional team. During those trials Billy Bly was an excellent encourager for him. Bly even taught him how to dive at a player’s feet but when he tried it out at Dulwich Hamlet he was taken off with concussion!
At City they had up to seven goalies to cover their four teams so competition was fierce. He recalled Bernard Fisher who eventually replaced Billy Bly and spoke with great admiration for Viggo Jensen who he described as a “wonderful player and a pianist”. When Jensen retired the club apparently bought him a grand piano!
Tom is very generous and freely admitted that “there were better goalkeepers than me”. He mentioned how Raich Carter had watched him play at Costello and offered him advice should the football option not come about. He was just appreciative of the kindness. He may never have become a pro’ but, as he said, “I’m a Tiger and a Tiger I will always be!” Huge round of applause.
Following his time with City he went on to play for Bridlington Central before moving to play for Wilson Line. They then decided only employees should play for their team!
Having started work in the Signal Box he would then become a Blacksmith’s Striker before eventually joining the British Transport Police in 1959 when he was 22 years old. Soon he opted to work as a dog handler and spent over 26 years working with dogs for Transport Police. He also played football for the police until he broke his ankle.
Later career saw him work as a Red Cross Ambulance Driver before he joined Hull University to do a job on the switchboard. They then discovered that Tom was a quality calligrapher and the University invited him to do all the calligraphy for their honours and awards. He recalled with pride doing the honorary degree for Desmond Tutu. In time the university appointed him as Assistant Beadle and he take great privilege on parading at the Cenotaph among all those “brave heroes”.
Later he joined the HRI as a volunteer working in support of dementia patients and the Elderly Assessment Centre. Last month he did an incredible 85 hours and was recently given an Award of the DME Star. Tom clearly loved serving the elderly – oblivious to the fact that he is himself nearly 82!
Finally, another side of Tom was also revealed. He is an excellent singer. With a rich Tenor voice he has sung with the Police choir, the Savoyards and local Male Voice Choir and soon he broke out into full voice, singing “If you want to hear the Boothferry roar ....”
Our thanks to Tom. What a wonderful gentleman. Thanks also to Dave Bond for steering the conversation that has got the Senior Tigers off to a wonderful new season.
Tom Mathers and David Bond entertaining a good turnout of Senior Tigers for the AGM and our guests
Presentations to Pat Betts and Barbara Wilkinson for their hard work supporting Senior Tigers' acivities last season
Summary Report from our September, 2019, Members’ Meeting
Another huge turnout saw our new season off to a flyer. Once again the football club had done us the wonderful honour of providing a Buffet Luncheon – a truly excellent spread enjoyed by all our gathered members. Our Chair, David, then introduced our meeting and giving a particular welcome to our guest speaker – JON BEALE, the Head of our Tiger’s Academy at Bishop Burton College. Jon had not come alone. He delighted us all by bringing one of the true rising stars of the future, KEANE LEWIS-POTTER.
Jon was asked about his early years and told us that he was a Swansea boy throughout he childhood/youth until the call to come over to Hull and help develop our expanding Academy. As a young lad he had played rugby (union down there!), cricket and football whilst his sister went on to represent Great Britain in Karate. In his mid-teens he realised that he would never make the grade playing football yet wanted above all else to be involved in the game. He took up coaching and following University began a career as a sport’s teacher. Two years later Tony Pennock recruited him to the Academy team at Swansea City and Jon had his dream career in football. Tony and Jon saw their club move from Category 3 to Category 2 status, developing what they had done into a much larger opportunity including sport’s science. Jon, meanwhile, had been taking his coaching qualifications and was among the youngest to gain his EUFA A Licence. There is only one level above that, the UEFA Pro Licence and Jon is working hard towards that qualification with hopes of achieving it in the next 12/15 months.
Keane was then asked about his background and he was clearly chuffed to identify himself as a local East Hull lad. When it was suggested that East Hull only played Rugby League it drew a quick response from the gathered – “not very well!” Jon was quick to avoid any chance on being drawn into that ‘tribal’ battle! Keane had played for Hessle Rangers and Costello before the opportunity to have City trials came his way. He was quickly invited to join the Academy structure as a 13 year lad. Asked about making his 1st team debut earlier this year he said how privileged he felt to pull on the shirt and represent the Tigers at the Lion’s Den – the FA Cup tie at Millwall. Last season Keane had been loaned out to Bradford Park Avenue to gain some experience and although he played mainly off the bench it had been a real help to him.
Jon shared how challenging it had been to leave South Wales and all his family to make to move to Hull with Tony Pennock. They had come with a purpose, to get our City Academy promoted to Category 2, something which they duly achieved. With changes to the first team coaching team Tony found himself drafted into a new role and Jon was then invited to step up and become the Head of the Tiger’s Academy. The structure sees boys as young as 7 years coming under their support and having regular training nights. Only when they can join the Under 9’s can the lads be formally signed on to the Academy. As well as the main centre on the campus of Bishop Burton College they also have satellite outposts in places like Grimsby, Selby & York. 9-11’s must, however, live within 60 minutes of the Academy, 12-16’s within 90 minutes whilst they can recruit 18’s+ nationally and 23’s internationally. There are currently 26 places in the full-time Academy including one current vacancy.
The Academy has a full time team of coaches, physios (3), sport’s scientists (4) plus part-time scouts.
With the younger lads they maintain a strong connection with their school. Good behaviour and academic progress is important and whilst they may be allowed to come into the academy for some days it is always on the proviso that they do not fall behind on their school work. The full time boys will be required to continue with the education beyond football. Many will study for BTec qualifications whilst others will be encouraged to study for their EUFA C Licence and we have a 100% pass rate for this over the past 5 years. That received a warm round of applause. Jon also talked about the philosophy at the Academy that boys must look forwards to coming in – each day. He wants them to feel that every day is another Christmas Day!
Keane was to receive a number of questions from the members. Was he well looked after by the Senior Pros when he joined the fist team squad? Definitely. Did he have to take on club chores? He admitted that he had learned how to mop – at which point Jon revealed that he had learned the hard way after mopping before he swept the floor and then mopping down from the door inwards and then not knowing how to get back out of the room!
Jon revealed that scouts are always watching the local Sunday Leagues and keeping eyes on late developers to ensure that talent is not being missed. Last season had not been successful in terms of results, they finished bottom of their league but the real success had to be measured in terms of player development with a number of players training on and playing with the senior squads. Jon declared that bringing players through the ranks is the primary target and the one for which they will be ultimately remembered. This season they are showing some great promise and the previous night our Under 23’s had travelled to Manchester and comprehensively beaten Man United five goals to nil!! Jon was asked what the relevance of having an Under 23’s team since most players will surely have been spotted by their late teens. Jon responded by saying that our U 23’s are mainly U 21’s but that they can play older players who may need match practice to get back into 1st team action. They are also permitted to play up to three over 23’s plus goalkeeper but it is still, primarily, a development squad.
Another question asked whether the Academy was involved in developing ladies but as yet they are not. It was felt, however, that it could only be a matter of time before they would bring girls into the academy structures. Parents play a huge role, providing crucial support but they can also be difficult to handle at times! A under 9 lad being signed up to our Academy may be dreaming of stardom but the reality is that only a very small number will ever progress to making prof-grade. The Academy promises not success but that each child will be a better footballer for his time in the structure. Meanwhile Jon felt that the link between the Academy and the 1st Team has probably never been stronger. Opportunities are definitely there for players to step up. Moving from County Road to Bishop Burton had been important in the quest to become a Category 2 Academy. Currently an Indoor Pitch is being planned.
Jon wanted to thank the Executive Club and Senior Tigers for their ongoing support providing grants to young players who need it. For some it is the provision of boots or the costs of going to overseas tournaments. Invaluable. Keane was asked about his physical strength since he was not the strongest lad in the team and could be bullied out by opposition defenders. He recognised this challenge and said that he spends extra time in the gym to build up his strength stock. He already feels that he is benefiting from this. As we closed young Keane was given the warmest of best wishes for his future with the Tigers and Jon for his leadership at the Academy.
Our focus for the October meeting will be a fascinating insight into one of the earliest men to play for Hull City. Don Patricio, as he became known, played over 100 years ago for the club but went on to become a legend of the game managing the mighty Barcelona.
Other things that were shared during our October meeting:
Dave, from the Chair, welcomed the two newly elected committee members, Paul Bryan & Elizabeth Clague and mentioned that they would share the portfolio of ‘Wellbeing’ for our members.
He mentioned that since our AGM, when we had some problems with our Speaker system, that it had now been condemned. The Committee had started the task of identifying new equipment.
Jeff Barmby of the Ex-Tigers had informed us that they are organising a special Fund-raising social Evening at the New Walton Club in Walton Street for the evening of Friday, 6th December. It was planned to raise funds for the family of the late Pete Skipper along with Geoff Barker & Mark Cooper. Members can apply for tickets (£7) from Tony Conway.
Barbara updated members on the special outings. There are still some places for the trip to Saltaire, a World Heritage site, on Thursday, 19th Sept. They were also reminded that this trip leaves the KCOM at 8.00 am! The trip to Middlesboro FC along with the James Herriot Centre is Thursday, 24th October, places available at £25pp. The final trip of the year will be a return trip to the National Football Museum in Manchester on Thursday, 21st November when there will also be the opportunity to visit the Arndale Centre.
Allen also spoke of the special visit to Hull Fair on Thursday, 10th October when we will meet with some of the key showmen who return year after year to entertain us. We plan to meet at 1.00 pm probably in the New Walton Club. Hopefully there will be some refreshments provided by the showmen and later the opportunity to walk round some of the fairground. Parking will be available at the Stadium and should not incur a fee! Full details will be given next month. Over 40 members had booked for this event. Others wishing to join the visit just need to contact Allen.
David announced that Brian & Brenda Beck had offered their services to the memorabilia team. This is greatly appreciated though more would still be welcomed!
Last month we launched a season-long suggestion that members, when claiming their free tea/coffee might like to make a voluntary donation to the World Wildlife Fund (save the Tigers etc). In August the contribution was an encouraging £62.20. This continues throughout the season.
Members enjoying their lunch
Our guests Jon Beale and Keane Lewis-Potter with our Chair Dave Jackson and also some happy raffle winners.
Summary Report from our October, 2019, Members’ Meeting
Our October meeting, held on October 3rd, was a little different. Instead of a former player or coach we were introduced to the story of a player who played for the Tigers over 100 years previously. No one present could even claim to have seen him play!
Patrick O’Connell played 58 times for our club between 1912 and 1914 before he was sold to Manchester United for the huge sum of £1000. Even the legendary Billy Boston was only signed by Hull FC for £600.
Our speaker was Rob Bell from the Hull History Troup, a man passionate to tell the story of our city and her people. His interest in O’Connell stemmed from a personal love of FC Barcelona, coming from the years he lived and worked in the Spanish city. The link that gained his commitment was that our hero went on to coach the Spanish giants and took on the name of Don Patricio. It is a remarkable story, one which we were privileged to receive.
O’Connell was born in Dublin in 1887, near Croke Park. As a young lad he would join Belfast Celtic before moving to Sheffield Wednesday in 1909 and then to Hull City. During his time with City he was appointed Captain of the Irish team that played in the British Championship and which won the Championship for Ireland in 1913.
He was strongly opinionated too and having moved on from us to Manchester United he joined the fledgling Players’ Union, one of the first to do so and making him none to popular with the club. On Good Friday, 1915, United played Liverpool in a game that would decide the survival of both clubs. At half-time United led by 2-0 which was a result that would ensure that both clubs survived. However a last minute penalty was awarded which would, if scored, condemn Liverpool. History says that it had been a second half that was “crammed with lifeless football” so no surprise that the resulting penalty missed the goal and hit the corner flag! The rigged game saw a number of player convicted but not O’Connell. Shortly afterwards all games were suspended for the duration of the War. During the War he moves south and is employed by the Ford Motor Company delivering new vans. He also guest appears for Clapton Orient but his playing days were coming to an end. Instead he took up coaching and moved to Spain were many of the managers were British or Irish. Don Patricio, as he now becomes, takes Racing Santander to five regional titles before moving to Real Oviedo and then Real Betis, Seville’s second club. In 1934-35 they won their one and only La Liga title playing ‘Total Football’. He moves again, this time to the mighty FC Barcelona. The European drive towards Fascism was firing many flames and the Catalan team was not popular with the Spanish Government under Franco but Don Patricio took a keen role to ensure that FC Barcelona survived despite Franco threatening to shut the club down.
O’Connell had married Ellen Treston but she wouldn’t leave Ireland. She remained there and Patrick did other things! In time he met and married another Ellen – possibly bigamously! Returning to England he stayed with his brother who ran a hotel near Kings Cross. The later years of a man who has shaped and changed so many things would be disappointing as he hit the bottle. In 1957 O’Connell passed away in London and was buried in a pauper’s grave at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Kilburn. Since then efforts have been made to ensure he is given honour and that history does finally recognise a most remarkable talent – and, yes, he played for the Tigers!
During the meeting praise was expressed for the brilliant trip to Saltaire and members were reminded of the up coming trip to Middlesboro FC and the James Herriot Centre in Thirsk. Bookings were now being taken for the Christmas Luncheon on Thursday 5th December. Our Chair introduced our two Well-being Co-ordinators, Elizabeth Clague & Paul Bryan, encouraging members to take issues to them. Elizabeth had been asked whether we could have a Senior Tigers Ladies Walking Football or Netball and this was being explored.
Jeff Barmby is organising a Fundraiser Support night on Friday, 6th December – call him on 447472
After another excellent Raffle it was left for David, our Chair, to announce that our speaker in November will be Les Hare, from the re-emerging North Ferriby United.
Rob Bell with Committee member, Pat Ellis holding a copy of Rob's book, 'Sharp Street'
Summary Report from our November, 2019, Members’ Meeting
The Senior Tigers were delighted to welcome Les Hare, the Chairman of the phoenix North Ferriby United club.
Les has been involved in grassroots football since his schoolboy days although he had to play Rugby League at Mersey Street School whilst football was an out of school activity. When he joined the RAF he had the opportunity to play football and took it with enthusiasm. He would also follow the Tigers and has done since the early 1960s.
So why North Ferriby? A friend 'conned' him into helping with one of their Sunday League teams and he found himself being 'sucked in'. North Ferriby United started as a hobby but one that would eventually take over his life. He became club Chairman in 1994, a post he held until finally relinquishing it in 2015. Here was a village football club that had twice played at Wembley Stadium, truly remarkable. Yet he watched with dismay at their sudden fall from grace. This finally led to their demise earlier this year, their Centenary Year. Under the ownership that had followed Les the club had suffered back to back relegations, an experience the club had never previously experienced, not once let alone twice. The club motto seemed to have been lost - Pride, Passion, Belief!
In March 2019, there was no queue to rescue and resurrect the club and when Les stood up he found himself to be in a queue of one! This was the potential tragedy because it wasn't the loss of a team but a club which had 18 teams and 190 players as well as Walking Football teams. It was a potential catastrophe. Les, against his better judgement, took the challenge on, the challenge to restore this club as a phoenix rising from the ashes. It would once again be a family and community club. Prices were kept at a good value level - Concessions £3, Pies at £2 and pints at £3. It would be non-profit making with every bit of generated income being put into running the club and not into owners' pockets. They applied to be readmitted into the football pyramid and were invited in the Northern Counties East League - back where they were 10 years previously. Now six months later the Stadium has undergone a full refurbishment and the new journey was underway. Asked whether he was surprised as to what would be expected of him as Chairman when he initially took the office in 1994 he mentioned that he had to understand the financial implications, all the rules of the game, the requirements of ground maintenance and health & safety. Far more than anyone could possibly appreciate.
He soon realised that every promotion brings new challenges, extra requirements, extra seating, extra toilets etc. Once they reached Conference level it was almost on a par with the professional game - minimum 3000 seats and fan separation.
Being Chairman was akin to being a professional Fundraiser. A recent Sportsmen's Dinner had raised £4k!
Les acknowledged just how proud he had been of their meteoric rise since the Millennium. He recalled the Wembley final against a fully professional Wrexham team when from a 2-0 losing position they came back to draw level and eventually win on penalties.
He was asked whether the club had overreached themselves when taking their place in the National League. He agreed they had but aid that you have to maintain momentum and commitment or the pendulum will surely swing against you.
Did he want to say anything about the time when he resigned? He admitted that he felt that the new owners had seemed a great fit for the club only to find that as they returned from Wembley they had immediately put the club up for sale. He was totally against the plan but realised he could do nothing to prevent it so he retired from the club - with a very heavy heart.
He was asked how much it costs to stage a match. He reminded us that there were 18 teams, each needed full team kits with only the top team able to charge for entrance. All the teams cannot play on the main pitch meaning that they have to hire many additional grounds for the teams. Whilst hard to break it down to individual matches he mentioned that it required £150,000 per season. 18% of that cost can be covered in entrance money plus food/drink sales meaning that 82% needed to be raised by fundraising/sponsorship etc. The only people who are paid at the club are players, if they play, plus the cleaner and bar staff. The rest are all volunteers - including the Chairman.
How are they placed then? Les mentioned that the level of support has exceeded all expectations and they are keeping their heads above water.
Will he be happy for North Ferriby United to remain where they are or does ambition still burn? Les said he'd started the year with no ambition other than to develop as a Family Club, one run by and for the people.
Did he feel the East Riding Cup had been devalued? He agreed that reaching the Final and playing at the KCOM Stadium was the highest motivation for any local football club. Since this has been denied our County FA is the only one in the country not to have access to a professional ground. Yes, he regrets this.
Would Hull City ever return to North Ferriby? Les responded by saying that Jon Beale from our Tiger's Academy had visited since the refurbishments had been carried out and was "blown away" by what he saw. He had wanted to bring the Under 23's back to Ferriby but was overruled. The Under 23's currently play at the East Riding's Roy West Stadium. Les was delighted to say that the Hull City Ladies team are now settled at his stadium on Sundays.
The Centenary year for North Ferriby United had been a most traumatic time but they are still an astonishing story. A village club with over 60 trophies and two appearances at Wembley - hard to beat. We can all cheer them on at the start their second century!
The meeting gave a huge vote of thanks to Les Hare.
Other things shared at the meeting.
Dave, our Chair, was delighted to announce that we were testing out a potential new sound system. Our previous one had failed and we had to make new plans. The system we were using for this meeting had been very kindly loaned to us by Debbie Anson from Anson's Electrical on the Boulevard. If it passed the test at the meeting we would look to purchasing it in time for our January meeting.
There had been a number of requests for a Ladies Walking Football or Netball team. Our committee had recently met with representatives from England Netball and Haltemprice Leisure who were happy to promote a Ladies Walking Netball team. The committee invited them to join us at the start of our January meeting (January 9th) and share the possibilities.
Members were informed that the Christmas Luncheon on 5th December would commence at 12.45 pm and that the doors would be open from 11.45 am. The bar would also open at that time.
The trip to the National Football Museum in Manchester is set for Thursday, 21st November and that Catherine Bishop from the Tiger's trust would be joining us.
Our January trip would be to the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes. Tickets still available at £22 p.p. We also have an exclusive Classroom visit to the Deep on 10th December. Only 3 places left available - ask Barbara.
Our October meeting had raised £45.09 for the Save the Tiger's Appeal at the WWLF and giving a running total of £179.09.
Finally, we were told that the National League were trialling Sin-binning during matches. An offender would be sent to the bench for 10 minutes with no replacement. It sounds a positive move and had already given signs that on-field dissent had already shown a significant reduction.
Summary Report from our January, 2020, Members’ Meeting
There was a special welcome awaiting our members for this first meeting of the year, a year which also marks the 20th Anniversary of The Senior Tigers. On every seat there was a gift pen for every member along with a special card to mark the anniversary. At the front were two wonderful decorated cakes with the promise of a piece for everyone who came, well over the 150 mark. When the Chair gave his usual warm welcome he called upon those members of the original committee to step forward and cut the cake before they were taken by the Events staff to prepare for the refreshment break. In addition to the four former committee stalwarts we also invited all other original members to declare and a further six stood and received the applause of all present.
The Chair then called upon two guests who had been invited, Pauline Hardy from England Netball and Sarah Johnson, the East Riding Sports & Active Community Officer. They briefly introduced themselves and the programmes they have established to engage ladies of a certain age in healthy activities, walking groups, Walking Netball and even Lifting Tea Cups! The hope being that this would encourage some of our members to get involved in existing activities or even set up their own – why not Senior Tigers Walking Netball? The members were informed that the first Walking Netball teams were in the East Riding (Haltemprice Leisure Centre) before England Netball gave it their support. Ladies, the opportunities are there.
Another welcome was extended to Kerry Jennings who was representing Wiltshire Farm Foods. They are long established in the provision of ready meals that are delivered direct to the home for a modest cost. Whilst Senior Tigers were not endorsing Wiltshire over other firms making similar provisions the committee felt it was something that members would appreciate when Wiltshire came calling.
Now down to football issues, after all that is what brings us together! Our meeting on 6th February would bring the official Launch of our new Memorabilia On-line Archives. It has taken a full 2 years since that special day in 2018 and a massive amount of cataloguing and computing has been happening but, at last, we will have something to show members for that work. It will be a very special afternoon and members were encouraged to turn up. Meanwhile for our January meeting we were going back into the Archives of Club history as our good friend DAVID BOND introduced ROY BLY and engage him in a fascinating conversation about Roy’s father, the great and legendary BILLY BLY. During this conversation we were reminded that Billy always preferred to be called BILL, but no one listened! He was sometimes referred to as the “Brittle Bone hero” and more particularly as “The India Rubber Man”, a title which gave itself to his official Biography. He was born in Newcastle exactly a hundred years ago. He watched Newcastle United as a boy and started playing at school, in goal only to find he got cold and asked to play up field. He was started at full back, then centre back and even centre forward. He just loved playing, for school and the Walker Boys Club but his fate was decided when their goal keeper was injured and Billy was sent between the sticks and there he remained although he would say “it was never my goal in life to spend it in goal”! He continued playing as an amateur and earning his living by decorating houses when Hull City came calling and invited him to join them as a young professional. He responded but it so easily might never have happened. Going to his first match he got lost and missed the kick-off only arriving in time for the second half. They put him in the young Tiger’s goal and 45 minutes later he was signed. That was 1937, he was just 17 years old, and they offered him £2/10s per week with a bonus of £1 if he played for the 1st team.
The 2nd World war would sadly interrupt his career, like it did for a whole generation of footballers. Billy was called up to the Artillery Corps but it soon became an extension of his football career. He was selected for the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) team and found he was excused many of the normal soldier duties. A key behind this was a certain Edward Heath, a future Prime Minister. Billy also played for the Land Army Select XI, which was full of international players. He kept the menu from the post match meal along with the signatures of the England team that had lost to France 2-0. Team mates included Stan Mortenson, Joe Mercer, Maurice Linley and the Compton brothers.
After the War Billy returned to Hull and became the Tiger’s Number One keeper under Raich Carter. In 1954 he was selected to play for England B against West Germany but the Tigers insisted on him playing first in a friendly against Falkirk when fate again played a hand and Billy broke his hand, so his opportunity to represent his country the following weekend was lost and he was annoyed!!
Outside football Billy continued Painting & Decorating, decorating houses for Alec Ramshaw before they sold the house; he even painted the ‘For Sale’ signs! He also ran his own sweet shop near Boothferry Park. Although he had retired he was pressed to do a favour and play for Weymouth Town. He obliged and the team were drawn at home to the then mighty Preston North End. Unfortunately a dense ‘pea souper fog’ descended and after 10 minutes the referee called the game off, but no one told Billy! He was blissfully unaware as he stood between his sticks, thinking his team were doing really well at the other end. Then the search party came and rescued him!
Although our dear Barbara was unable to be with us she sent an able deputy in Ian Puckering. Members were reminded that the Hawes trip was full and would leave the car park at 8.00 am!! The trip to the steelworks in Scunthorpe on February 20th was also full but members could add their names to the waiting list. There were places still for the visit to Wold Top Brewery on 19th March, a visit which would also include lunch in Bridlington. The Senior Tigers were going to be Associate Sponsors for North Ferriby United v. Dronfield Town on Saturday 28th March. It is hoped that members would like to turn up and if they let us know space will be reserved for them to stay together.
Summary Report from our February, 2020, Members’ Meeting
There was an air of expectancy as we gathered in the Dug Out for our February meeting, it was just 2 years since we had held that most exciting MEMORABILIA DAY and now we were about to see the launch of our On-line Memorabilia Gallery. It was another bumper turn out too, the room was packed.
After the opening preliminaries Tony Conway was invited to speak to the meeting. In the past two years Tony has been the key lead to creating the Memorabilia Gallery but he reminded us that the vision had come a little before. It was October 2017 when the Hull Daily Mail gave us full and free access to their photo archives and the challenge was on to preserve these for future generations. What the newspaper had buried in their archives reminded us that this was also true of many Hull City fans who have collected memorabilia over decades of support. They too needed to be preserved before fate took a hand and they became lost. Tony said that this gave rise to the idea of a permanent Archive/Museum and that it was soon apparent that they had unwittingly “unleashed a monster!” Tony helped to gather a team of volunteers, Helen Carter, David Jackson, Trevor Richardson, Peter Lincoln, Roy Bly, Ian Puckering, Dave Norris, Martin Bachelor, Gordon Towse, Stewart Tomlinson, Brian & Brenda Becks and the key to it all, Rob Wilson.
As things developed they found cooperation with Tiger Base who already had a mass collection of statistics and programmes going back to 1946, and also Mike Scott who have created pen pictures of every Hull City player. Approaches were made to the football club and also Tiger’s Trust, the latter being particularly supportive. Other sources of encouragement included the Hull History Centre and the National Football Museum in Manchester.
For the launch of the On-line site we had an archive of 11,000 programme images and 1400 images of memorabilia scattered among fans. The aim is to have every single programme scanned, covers and contents. The earliest programme that can be viewed is 1913 and we now have a further four even earlier programmes which will shortly be added to the contents.
Rob Wilson, who it should be noted has spent endless hours preparing every image for the site, was then invited to give the members a demonstration of what they will now find when they go to the web site. He was able to show members what they would find and how will a few simple touches they would be able to navigate themselves on the site. He showed members what they could expect to see, old tickets, trophies, medals, letters, kit & clothing, novelties, statistics and photographs, many photographs. Today the site was up and running for the members to use but a public Press /Media Launch would follow at a later date.
Following the presentation there was Vote of Thanks to Tony and all the team and loud applause followed. A special vote of thanks followed for Rob Wilson and Pete Magee who services our web site.
Before we moved to our special guest speaker the members were informed of the sudden death of Chris Blakeston, one of our key Academy coaches at Bishop Burton. Over his many years with the club he has helped to bring so many lads through into professional football and his tragic and early death is a massive loss. He will be remembered at the up-coming fixture against Swansea City.
Our February guest was an ex-player who the Chair described as “the ultimate professional”, we welcomed Andy Dawson. Andy was born in 1978 and grew up in Leyburn in Wensleydale. He is the eldest of three lads, all of whom would become significant professional footballers, Michael, ex England Spurs, Forest & the Tigers, and the younger lad, Kevin. Growing up they played football together in the street before bed. Local teacher, Lee Wasden, an old pro from the game, saw the emerging talent and nurtured the lads. They would play for Leyburn Town, Northallerton Town and then on to Nottingham Forest.
Andy was first, as the eldest, and had trials with Forest, then a top Premier League club, and quickly he was signed on, that was 1995. Both his brothers would follow. Andy recalled that he was made ‘Boot Boy’ to no less a player than Stuart Pearce but Stuart kept stables and horses. Soon he was taking young Andy down to the stables and invited to ‘muck out’! Andy’s debut came in a League Cup match against Leyton Orient and this was followed by two matches on the first team subs bench. He was ready for more and Brian Laws called in 1999 and took him on loan to Scunthorpe United but what they saw soon persuaded them to go back to Forest and sign him on permanently. One of Andy’s earliest games for Scunny was at Wembley Stadium in the Play-off Final, they won and were promoted. He went on to play 186 games for United and scored 9 goals. It was then in 2003 that Peter Taylor enticed him to cross the river and join the Tigers. His start was not so good, on pre-Season tour to Essex they played at Canvey Island and Andy was tackled by Damian Delaney, leaving him on the side lines for 2 months! That season the Tigers were promoted to League 1, their first promotion in 19 seasons. Like buses once one comes ..... well, Tigers went straight through that division and were promoted to the Championship in 2004. Andy was now a firm fixture as City’s left full back, in season 2006/07 he was voted Player of the Season. The following season he was back at Wembley for the Play-off Final against Bristol City, another victory and Andy’s third promotion. Phil Brown may be remembered for one Premier League moment but Andy said that he was a great leader and that “players would run through a brick wall for him”. Andy, meanwhile, was one of a very small group of players to have played in all four divisions. For two seasons in the top division he was an ever present and asked for his stand out moment he responded – Arsenal away at Highbury. Andy said that people kept coming up to him and say “I can’t believe we’d won at Arsenal” and that he would reply “Neither can I!”
During his playing days he was well known for his set piece ability, direct shots and crosses. He did admit that he practised constantly but he also said “I believed I had the ability”. His club Testimonial sadly came after he had moved back to Scunthorpe but they were not too excited to find that his commitment to the game meant he’d miss an Iron fixture! The move was about his future as playing days were nearing the end he was also able to start his coaching career. He will always be remembered here, the first player to win four promotions with the club. Now, after a few seasons transitioning into coaching he has returned to the Tigers to take up a coaching role in our Academy at Bishop Burton. Welcome back lad!
There were numerous questions from the floor. Asked about managers he mentioned that Klop (Liverpool) was the manager that everyone would want to play for. At the Tigers, his best coached were Phil Taylor and Steve Bruce. He saw that Keane Lewis-Potter was a ‘stand out’ player for our future. Others with a promising future were Jacob Greaves (son of Mark) and Max Sheaf. Maybe we need to keep an eye out for Dawson Junior who is now progressing on the books at Scunthorpe! Asked about the GPS tracking equipment that players now wear he said it was more for the sport’s scientists who can use the information to ensure that players get the right preparation and recovery to avoid injuries. They were more about developing fitness than measuring effort. He also mentioned that in a recent game with Leeds Juniors the GPS readings were the highest we had ever recorded yet the performance was their poorest!
It was another fantastic afternoon. We saw another excellent Raffle and members kept booking for the outings. Scunthorpe Steel Works has two coaches and is fully booked, in March we have Wold Top Brewery t o look forwards to and then a trip to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at RAF Coninsgby. Additionally we are fixing two or three visits to the Deep with their Silver Sharks programme and sponsoring North Ferriby United’s home fixture against Dronsfield Town on March 28th. At least 30 members signed on for the match!
Summary Report from our March, 2020, Members’ Meeting
There was another great turnout from the Senior Tigers, 176 turning up for the opportunity to be introduced to their 1st Team Coach, Grant McCann. Perhaps the cynics might have been expecting a ‘no show’ in the light of recent results, but cynics are rightly dismissed. Grant was as good as his word and joined us at the Chairperson’s Table. David, with genuine concern, kindly asked him ... “How are you?”. Grant responded sincerely saying, “I’ve been better”. Suddenly we all seemed to warm to him and so the interview proceeded.
He grew up in Belfast, 1980, at the height of the troubles, learning how to survive and playing football. His first love was the Linfield team but recalled how timing worked for him, just missing the bombing of a local hotel. He had only taken football as a serious thing as he approached 12 years of age, a relatively late starter, and at 15 he was playing at youth level for Distillery. Fortune smiled, he was seen by no less a person than Harry Rednapp and offered the opportunity to join the youth set up at West Ham United. It was a good time to be in such a squad, the under 16’s at the Hammers producing 5 full internationals, no less. That included players like David Heeley & Aaron Hughes. He settled in, although he missed home. Ahead of him in the Academy would be players that he had to try and match - Michael Carrick, Joe Cole & Frank Lampard, some challenge!
Eventually his opportunity was about to come with a debut promised, only for him to turn his ankle in training. His opportunity was gone and Michael Carrick took the place. He eventually made 4 appearances for the Hammers before taking the opportunity to go out on loan. It was first to Livingstone in the Scottish League, then Notts County before Cheltenham Town came calling. Playing in the lower levels was an eye opener for a lad already used to being molly-coddled at West Ham. No such privileges down the leagues but the opportunity to learn and develop his skills. He readily admitted that he owed so much to Cheltenham, describing them as an “unbelievable club”. He played a total of 30 games for Cheltenham during his loan period and scored 3 goals too. His transfer was completed in 2003, for a club record £50,000, and he went on to make 158 appearances and score 31 goals.
In 2006 he moved on to Barnsley, initially on loan and then bought for £100,000. He scored a 92 minute winner in his Tykes debut against Ipswich Town but things didn’t work out in South Yorkshire. He admitted that he “didn’t perform” and in 2008 he moved to Scunthorpe United, playing a total of 102 games for the Iron and scoring 18 goals. In 2010 he moved to Peterborough United and was handed the captaincy on arrival, taking over from one George Boyd. His time at the Posh saw another 128 matches and 29 goals. His playing career would draw to a close in 2015 and initially he moved home and joined Linfield, playing just 5 games when the call came to return to Peterborough following the sacking of manager, Darren Ferguson. Suddenly McCann was transitioned from player to coach. He had played 482 matches and scored a credible 86 goals during his playing career. Add to that three promotions via the end of season Play Offs, with three different clubs and in three different stadiums. First with Cheltenham at the Millennium Stadium, then with Scunthorpe at Wembley and finally with Peterborough at Old Trafford. Quite an achievement, to which he modestly added that he was also Man of the Match on all three occasions!
Grant is also a full Northern Ireland International player. During his loan at Cheltenham he was called up by Sammy McIlroy to play for Northern Ireland Under 21’s, playing 11 times and scoring 3 goals.
Full international call ups would follow. Between 2001 & 2012 he played 39 games for Northern Ireland scoring 4 goals and was rightly proud, yet he seemed to hold even greater pride when adding that his 14 year old son was making his international debut on the following Sunday.
Grant the manager. He spent 3 years at the Posh before he was relieved. Soon after Doncaster Rovers called him in and he took the club to the 1st Division end of season Play Offs where they were beaten on penalties in the semi-final away to Charlton Athletic. Soon after that Hull City gave him the opportunity to move into the Championship. He accepts it was a slow start while players were adapting to the club and him but then they started moving forwards and by the turn of the year there was optimism. We are all only too aware of how circumstances changed in the New Year that finds us struggling. “It’s a tough league” he said of the Championship.
Grant was quizzed on other issues, like his family. He is married and together they have three sons and whilst football still important so is family time. He knows he failed to get that balance between club and family at Peterborough but does all he can to ensure it now. He does enjoy some escape on the golf course.
He was asked about the reason behind so many injuries and commented that the boots players use today are very light, made of plastic and offer very little in the way of support and protection. 5/6 of the current injuries have occurred when no other player was involved.
On the loss of Jarrod & Kamil he replied that he felt he was fortunate to have Jarrod for so long but the life-changing wages being offered in the Premier League were hard to oppose. Of Kamil he said “he’d been trying to leave the club for nearly 3 years!”
Looking to the future he recognised the huge asset we had in our young players. This included reference to KL-P and young James Dixon who had just signed a new contract. He told us that the Under 23’s join the 1st team players every Tuesday.
He was asked about the return of Andy Dawson, describing him as a “Club Legend” and that he was a superb recruit with a wealth of experience to offer.