The best 5 one season wonders in the last twenty five years...
Euro 2020 is why I'm writing this blog.
I think somebody said it's the first major tournament since 2006 that hasn't featured a current Hull City player. Which led me to looking at former City players in the competition (Robertson, Marshall, Maguire, Gulasci, Larsson), which led me to watching a Seb Larsson masterclass against Spain, which led me to this question. Who are the best one season wonders at City in recent times? Seb was certainly a good example.
The other question here is why were these players only at City a year if they were any good? From the examples below I'd say there's three primary reasons. One, the player is on a late swan song at the end of a high level career, two the club is relegated with the player and they were too good for the lower level we fell to or three we just found a gem that was clearly well above the level we were playing at the time.
Either way, in no particular order, here's the five that stood out to me as one season wonders.
Bought in from non-league Winsford United by Warren Joyce during 1998-99 season. Andy Oakes only played nineteen games as part of the famous "Great Escape" squad. He was a massive upgrade straight away, technically gifted, calm and excellent from set pieces as he added to the likes of Whittle, Brabin and Alcide as we pulled off an unlikely and heroic Houdini act to avoid the ignominy of falling out of the football league.
At just 22 years old he was some prospect though and the big time called quickly with Derby County paying £465,000 for him that summer. I'm not sure he ever really clicked with Derby and was mainly a sub for them before spending time at Walsall, Swansea and Darlington. He was a huge part of the club surviving that season and it's hard to pick out any fault in his nineteen appearances so Andy Oakes fills the criteria well.
Brought in by perma-tanned Phil Brown in the summer of 2009 for £3.5 million, Stephen Hunt was a quick starter. He scored on his debut against the Russian Billionaire bank rolled Chelsea and then in our next league game vs. Spurs (although the spanked us 5-1 and really gave us a lesson that night). He was one of the brightest points of a season that would slowly come apart like Jimmy Bullard's ACL ligaments.
He was a goal threat, an absolute worker and always had some creative spark. So when the worst appointment in modern times Iain Dowie was brought in seemingly to ensure our relegation, it was no surprise that Hunt wasn't hanging around for Preston away. He was sold that summer to Wolves. You couldn't blame the lad, but he also fitted the category very well.
Sunderland fans aren't very good scouts. Every time a player leaves them for us, so comes the posts celebrating the exit of our new signing. This more or less always goes badly for them, which is in itself rather lovely and the cases of Meyler, Honeyman and Elmohamady have all been City's gain over their loss.
So when Seb Larsson joined City in 2017 I took a rather dim view of all doomsayers in red and white and this proved a wise move. Again in what wasn't perhaps our finest hour of recent seasons Larsson was a very solid performer, turning out forty times for the Slutsky/Adkins led team that eventually survived in the Championship. A good range of passing, some bite in a tackle and some strong set pieces were all features of one of the brighter points of a poor season, although his penalty miss at Derby might still be in the air..
We did try to keep him for another year but he returned to his native Sweden with AIK.
Technically this one is cheating. Adam did actually play one game in the 1998-99 season vs Hartlepool, but that's a statistical anomaly I'm prepared to overlook. He featured a lot more heavily in the following season as a Warren Joyce led City side sat mainly in mid-table.
Derby County must have had a scout with a season ticket in this era as although he was still a teenager they'd signed him in March of his first full season. Much like the Andy Oakes the money was probably hot footing it to a rusty old safe in Sheffield due to the fact we were being ran by actual court proven criminals. Joy.
It wasn't that Bolder was incredible, it was that he played fourth level football like a man at nineteen, he was strong, good on the ball and measured. Derby were buying at least a championship player for relative peanuts and so... one season and he was gone.
5.Jay Jay Okocha
Ok, so these five are in no particular order but if they were. Augstine Azuka Muhammed Yavuz Okocha would be number one. In 18 games at Championship level I'm not sure I've ever seen a City player play with more sheer joy than him. He was often a cameo role in the promotion season of 2007-8 but his sheer presence helped galvanise us and gave City a swagger we'd rarely seen.
Then there's the highlights, the destruction of Alex Bruce who was at Ipswich at the time, where Jay Jay tore him a new one in a thirty second lesson. To be fair Alex still laughs about it now, but you really had no choice when he was in the mood, he was unplayable.
My own personal highlight of his time with us was away at Wolves. With City hanging on at 1-0 up Jay Jay did the classic "run the ball to the corner flag trick" however, he did this trick to the flag on the half way line. When two, three and then four Wolves players came across to get the ball back he simply danced between them and ran off, much to the delight of the away fans. It gets said far too often, but Jay Jay really was magical. I was always a bit disappointed we didn't give him one more season at the end of the year but perhaps we couldn't afford that brand of luxury a league up.
I'd love to know any other choices you may have as one season wonders, so pop them on the Twitter.