My old man bless him is 76 now. When I was a kid of like eight or nine he took me and my cousin to City, and when I say he took us, he took us whenever he conceivably could. He was in the British Transport Police though and worked shifts, therefore we would go to one game and then not another as he worked. My Mum was never going to be able to take me and my cousin and we didn’t live in Hull. Therefore, the eighties in particular is like a random mosaic of football memories to me, some great, well, mainly great and towards the end some a bit less so.
We went all over the country, I could read maps at an early age and get us to Cambridge, Mansfield, Burnley or Brighton as easily as most kids could get upstairs. It was a brilliant childhood for me and one that sewed the seeds of the love of our club to this very day. Now you may as yourself at this point, what’s he on about today? I mean that’s a lovely story and all that, but what’s the point or relevance of it today?
Well it meant like I said that some games weren’t possible, I went to the home game against York where we celebrated promotion in 1985, but not the game at Walsall where we secured it, I went to an easy 3-1 win at Cambridge United in the run in that helped us secure our top three place, but not the miraculous win Leyton Orient earlier in the year where we came back from 4-1 down to win 5-4. Because the old man simply couldn’t go to some games. Indeed, he was listening to the radio on the Orient win after he woke up before doing a night shift and nearly deafened the neighbours when City scored the 5th in the last minute.
Some people can’t always go, some people work Saturdays, or work nights which rules out midweeks. Some people in 2022 struggle to afford to go every week, despite the brilliant work by the new owners this off-season, because they are struggling to make ends meet at every turn of what is increasingly a volatile and sky rocketing economy. Does it make them less than as fans? I’d say strongly no but at times I think I’m in the minority.
I, as most of you know live in the south. I go to an average of about 12-15 games a year. Doing the long drive to Hull sometimes, but also doing multiple away games within reason. I work a bit Saturdays too doing work for a local non-league team but if I can go to City I do. The most games I ever did in a season was around thirty in the great escape season, mainly as you always felt that was our darkest hour and they needed us most. Thus, I was at Macclesfield, Halifax, Orient, Barnet, Scunthorpe, Southend and Swansea watching some fairly industrial performances but loving it never the less.
Lots of people chose not to go under the previous ownership and although I didn’t do that I didn’t have a problem with those that did. I think the Manchester United fans packing their stadium out week in week out, pouring money into the club and wearing all the merch whilst asking for change from absentee owners is a little strange. They aren’t going to leave whilst you keep their coffers ringing with the million’s fans of that club pump in. I tried to go to more and more away games in this era although I did home too, and the desolate stands for three or four years definitely had an impact on us going into this new era.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a “I’m a better fan than you” piece. I’m just a fan and this is how the club figure into my diary. I went to QPR on Tuesday but I watched yesterday on i-follow as I was due back to work very early today and figured it was better to plan to go on a more realistic date. I guess this is my way of saying don’t be THAT fan, the one that says you’ve no excuses not to come back, the ones who shout down others when they say that not everyone can always go, show a little class, for example, I know of fans that are still reticent as they are clinically vulnerable and afraid to go away in tight stands. Know that everyone doesn’t have the same life, same opportunities, same resources, or freedoms you do.
Football is a broader church than it used to be in terms of demographic, with more families, women, people with disabilities and from more diverse backgrounds than ever and it’s also got a further reach than ever. We have fans who are abroad, or work abroad, and lots in exile (see the excellent HCSS, who I saw some of Tuesday). Now more than ever and especially after the reports of intolerant and ignorant abuse being aimed at players Sunday we need to come together. And that includes accepting we all will watch and consume the product in slightly different ways.
Don’t be THAT fan and definitely don’t be like the idiot on Sunday. Be a fan that welcomes, encourages and is a friendly face to everyone. Because ultimately that’s what the new owner wants, a happy and cohesive fan base, and he deserves one after the current investment. That is what will create a great atmosphere in the ground and away, it will keep the good people from Hull and further afield coming week in week out, and that’s what ultimately will help us on our aim of building a promotion winning team again. Now, where’s my map?