23. Nov, 2021

What did the Allams ever do for us?

We live in a world where everyone is biased.In politics, in sport, in media. If there’s someone we don’t like, people can’t say one good thing about them and in many cases vice versa.

It leads to grown adults acting like they are in a cult, refusing to acknowledge anything good associated to somebody or something that they don’t like. It’s really quite sad, there should be strength where there’s balance and honesty but that’s not a very 2021 thing. But it really will make you look stupid at some point if you can’t speak and see the world with balance. If you blindly hate a club or person you’ll eat humble pie eventually. A certain ex-Sandy Row inhabitant did that last year (even if it was just at that level), you have to be prepared to be proved wrong sometimes and that’s something I’ve always tried to do when it comes to the club, I have strong opinions but I also know that this is all subjective and I’m wrong sometimes.

Thus when we review the stewardship of the Allams people lose their marbles. There’s pretty much two groups, the biggest which is obviously “Allam out” and ranges from anger and mistrust and seeing very little good at all in the regime to people (like me) who just wanted to move on and were unhappy with quite a lot of things. Then there’s then a smaller but quite forthright group who still want them to stay and are positive about them. The two don’t exactly get along and most attempts to ever write about the last decade or so gets pelters flying in from both extremes of argument.

Which means that writing the piece “What have the Allams ever done for us?” makes me somewhat of a glutton for punishment. I guess that’s the problem with trying to see both sides of an argument, you please nobody, and thus it’s easier to pick a strong position at one end and stick to it. A longer and easier task would be to document the mistakes made and bridges burned..but… an easy life was never for me and I don't think that blog would ever end… so here’s 5 things they’ve done for us (not all intentional)… send your hate tweets to @thelikesofhull.

1.      Transformed our youth systems

This is the easy one. Our youth systems were rarely great, as well as the lack of finance in our development systems historically we also let too many players slip between our fingers, often because we were perceived less than (and pre-2001 really were less than for long periods) thus several players born within a thirty mile radius of the city slipped between our fingers often before we even started. See Barmby N, Robinson P and Prutton D. 

Now it could be argued (and no doubt will be) that the foundations of improving the youth set up started pre-Allam family taking over. What can’t be argued is their continued support for it and the fruits of this labour. The carousel of talent coming through the club is not slowing down and it’s been significant. From Daniel James to Keane Lewis Potter, Jacob Greaves to Conor Townsend and Josh Tymon to Brandon Fleming, we haven’t always recognised the talent that’s in front of us, but we have created it.

A cynic could say it’s because you make money from a good youth system, a realist would say that’s good management. Anyone with eyes would say it’s been the owner’s biggest strength.

2.      Made the running costs of the club non-bonkers and manageable

Again before there’s pots and pans thrown at me, I fully know why they did this and it wasn’t for the fans primarily but the fact remains that they’ve made us quite manageable in terms of wages and outgoings. Old drunken sailor Duffen did enough damage to have bankrupted a small country and it therefore never sits well with me that he’s not really framed as a villain, yes he took us up, but the mess he left us in afterward could and probably should have seen us do a Portsmouth and go for a tour of the bottom leagues. Yes we did still have times when the wages were high (especially whilst the relationship between Assem and Bruce was strong) but once they were relegated for the first time under the dinner lady faced-assassin the relationship was never the same again. I think we’ve been ultimately easier to sell on because we don’t have a wage bill like Derby or the gargantuan Sheffield Wednesday, who simply didn’t navigate reality and paid a heavy price. The Allams don’t hide the fact they aren’t “football people” however they’ve stopped the bleeding. Even if the motivation was arguably not entirely honourable.

3.      Appointed some very good staff at the club

If there’s another weakness (and there are several more) of the outgoing owners, it’s their less than stellar record of communication. The recipe for which was, do an in-club interview, say nothing for a year, maybe make another one, or not. This left fans confused, unclear and rudderless in knowing about what direction we were in. However the staff in place do well to manage the day to day for the club despite this. You’d need to go a long way to hear a bad word about Ann Holland, Joe Clutterbrook too has a good reputation, as do most of the staff in the retail department, the ex-players the club gets in for the commercial side are well chosen, the staff at the Tigers Trust, the social media team… the list goes on. I think Graham Cannon, chair of the supporter trust has tweeted more than once about the need to keep this group together. I think most city fans would echo these thoughts.

4.      Given fans a clear definition about what they do want

These last two points are inter-related.

 I think whenever Adam Pearson first got the job he must have wondered why he was meeting fans, talking about pie fillings and brands of beer. This has long since been a running joke amongst fans, mainly on the message boards of the era. However the devil is in the detail here, the fans of this club like to be listened to, some may find the subjects of less than stellar importance, but these lines of communication varied between erratic to non-existent in the last decade. Fans weren’t listened to and the relationship inevitably soured to levels we hadn’t seen since the mid-nineties. Going back to Captain Bullshit Duffen, the one thing you couldn’t argue he lacked was presence or social skills, before him Adam Pearson was liked on the whole and also was accessible.

We as supporters know we may have seen our most glorious hours as City fans, I’m not sure too many of us would be heartbroken if we became an established, well ran, second tier club. But we all know we want to look after the clubs heritage also the youngest and oldest and most vulnerable fans, we want input, we want a sense of community and we want to feel in touch with the club. The wilderness years have hopefully galvanised the support about what we do want.

5.      Revealed a doubled fan base in 20 years.

Ok so my tongue is firmly in my cheek here. But under the real lows of Dolan Ball © and later the Sheffield Stealers lock out days (my god, they’ve made another blog) our low points were around 3-4000 fans, yes I know there’s “that” game against Torquay. Fast forward twenty years and a bit, and we never saw quite those levels. Maybe because the pandemic saved us (although I think the attendances would have slowly climbed last season because… winning) but I think really this time our bottom end was more like 8-10,000. We’ve grown because a generation saw some good teams, had some great days and the plastic element of the city, which is always there, became increasingly challenged by the numbers of people in black and amber.

Now if the new owners can have the same effect as those in charge of the 2001-11 period again, we might just be about to see the club be an appropriately sized fan base for a city of three hundred thousand. We may now have a club that grow again and where people are more or less, you know, happy? ish?

One of my favourite modern quotes is by Karl Pilkington who says, “You need a bit of the badness to have the goodness”. Wise words Karl, most fans would regard the last few years as “badness” let’s hope there’s goodness incoming soon..

Thanks for reading….