3. Jun, 2021

Never go back? Most probably agree that bringing back former players isn't the right approach... but the examples don't back that up..

I'm never sure if it's City fans on Twitter that are a little different or if it's just City fans in general.

If a former player is released or is a free agent or to be honest posts about making a cup of tea it's often followed by our fans imploring the names of yesterday to return.

There's players that are way out of our wage structure (see Niasse, Grosicki, Jakupovic)

There's players that are past their best and/or injury prone (see Brady, Davies, Elphick)

Then there's players that are just puzzling as they weren't really very good or effective even when they were here (Diomande, Aluko, Toral)

I like an ex-city player as much as the next person but some of the beggy messages beneath some of their posts are a bit cringworthy. To me there's a line, and that line is... is the ex-city player posting about City? If so (see Huddlestone recently about the play offs of 2016, or Curtis about the FA Cup final) I think it's fine. But if it's Andy Robertson talking about Scotland or Kamil hawking his energy drink maybe give it a miss?

Are other sets of fans as into former players as we are? I'm not sure to be honest but from our sample size I'm confident enough to say I think we are a bit busy at times.

But as we are now officially in the off-season mode and there's not much to do I think this has intensified. Most of these players are (quite rightly) on the beach and I think somebody posted yesterday that only six or seven teams have made any moves at all in our division so far. This got me thinking about former players returning. And to be honest the facts don't look pretty for me, maybe I should be on Chuba Akpom's Instagram, because returning players have really done pretty well... and here's some examples.

Peter Skipper

Most City fans of a certain age would have Skip amongst our very best, he was a proper defender, read the game so well, even though he wasn't a giant he played like a much bigger man. His timing was as good as anyone's in the shirt and he was beloved by the city faithful, it was a dark day when he was taken too early in 2019.

He was indeed a player that we re-signed, having left his hometown club for Darlington in 1980, has returned in 1982 and was a pivotal figure in the team who would rise from the fourth to the second level in three years. His partnership with Stan McEwan was phenomenal and he'd rack up 265 appearances for us over six years. Thank god we did go back with Skip.

Keith Edwards

City fans of the era that Keith played in may go misty eyed when he's mentioned and there's a good reason for this. He was not only outstanding as a striker but arguably as good a natural finisher as we ever had. I only really saw the second era of him as he returned to the club in 1988, by then he was into his thirties and city were at the second level of the ladder again. If anything he was even better second time around, and his scoring record backs that up. An incredible 29 goals in 55 appearances in an era where players scoring more than 1 in 2 really wasn't very common. As soon as he had one chance vs the all conquering Liverpool team in the FA cup, you never doubted he would score. Absolutely clinical, and his second run was definitely a hit.

Billy Whitehurst

The term "cult hero" is overused. Billy Whitehurst is one. He was giant of a man that struck fear into the heart of any opposing defender. He was a classic target man and was a huge factor just like Peter Skipper in the team that rose up through the eighties. In the end he was just too successful in terms of goals and so he left the club in 1985 for Newcastle. By the time he returned 3 seasons later he perhaps wasn't quite the same as he once was (those who knew Billy know that he lived a colourful lifestyle) however he did roll back the years and although his transfer will always be a bitter sweet pill as we sent the imperious Tony Norman to Sunderland in return and recieved the car crash that was Ian Hesford most fans would concede that both Billy's runs were a success. Notably second time round Bill was very much the battering ram that allowed for Keith Edwards to thrive, not only did he do well on return, he played in a different way, however both versions of Big Billy weren't to be messed with.

Dean Windass

This is a Hull City blog. I don't have to fill in the details here. Technically he re-joined the club twice, having returned from North Ferriby in 1991 after not making it through the youth ranks first time around. Again, his strike rate of one in three was pretty much the same in both stints and he obviously had the second run at a much higher level. The best thing about Deano was he was slow as mud at 22, so at 38 he still was, but it was his touch, delivery and ability to strike a ball that hadn't changed and this meant we somehow dodged the drop in 2007 and then the next year... you know the rest.

Frazier Campbell

Another returner (although technically the first stint was on loan). Like Deano, Frazier was a different sort of player at 30 to the more explosive and dynamic verson we saw in 2007/8. However he cut it both times and he led the line with maturity and experience second time round. If Big Bill helped Keith Edwards shine then thirty years later Frazier did a lot of leg work for a certain J.Bowen, that was undoubtedly a massive factor in his development. We know the financial reasons why we didn't keep him longer than the two years in 2019 but I think many fans would have happily seen him stay. Frazier was another success second time around.

Now, all the players that came back weren't this level of success. Alan Fettis did a steady job but nothing special and poor old Max Clark couldn't get fit enough for the bench (although he was really just cover for Callum Elder anyway), however you'd have to admit the players we have brought back have done generally pretty well.

Does that mean we should bring anyone back this season? Maybe not and it certainly doesn't seem to fit the ethos of the club at present. IF we did, maybe Curtis would help with his experience alongside Jacob Greaves and Alfie Jones, or Jak would be a positive member of the keeping team alongside Matt Ingram?

I personally don't see that happening and if we can move forward in the same way we did the last season with young hungry players I think on our budget that's for the best. Even if the evidence suggests that a carefully selected former player has worked out well in the past.

At least Billy Whitehurst never had Twitter...

Thanks for reading. UTT. Charlie.