Hull City 2 – 0 Preston North End – In The 1904 Lounge

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This is not a match report.  There isn’t much point in me trying to match the eloquence and detail of the Hull Daily Mail.  Actually…scrap that.

There isn’t much point in me trying to match the eloquence, humour and detail of Amber Nectar.  Other good match reports also available.

So on the rare occasion that I attend games, I shall offer an experience review.  Most of the games I plan to attend will be away games – if I attend home games then I will try to add something a bit different.  Last season I attended just the 1 game, the least since I started supporting City.  This season I will probably attend around 5, most likely in London and around the south, but we shall see.

Now going in the 1904 Lounge wasn’t my choice.  I’d rather be with my fellow hooligan in the North or East stand, kindly asking the opposing fans who they are, although asking 1,000 people who they are at the same time could get a confusing response.  However it was my sister’s birthday and she prefers champagne to cheap lager so I took one for the team/family.

And £70 a ticket.  And you thought Liverpool away was expensive.  I had to wear shoes, though at least smart jeans and a t-shirt were allowed.  I wore my special customised t-shirt of a tiger with Chinese inscription on it that said “No To Hull Tigers”, for all our fans watching in China.

We arrived at around 12:30pm, having not got stuck in any traffic and found somewhere to park on Walton Street car park close to the ground.  We walked through the beautifully curated gardens (photographed below) and were warmly greeted by Hazel, whom before I forget, was welcoming and helpful throughout the day, an exemplary standard of customer service.

The £70 thankfully included dinner, in the form of a carvery.  I do have a blog which involves reviewing roast dinners down south so I’ll try not to go overboard in my criticism, for so many roast dinners down south are distinctly average.  The pork loin was nice and tender, the beef was overcooked, the roast potatoes were not roasted, the cauliflower/broccoli cheese was good but more creamy than cheesy.  The stuffing was stuffing-esque and the gravy was reasonably thick, certainly better than that jus shit I get down south from pretentious gastro-pub abominations, but it was very heavily meat-stockified – did anyone actually think to taste it first?

It was better than a Toby Carvery.  6.5 out of 10.

Next up was the quiz.  Can I remember the questions?  Hmmmm.

Which player played for both Manchester City and Manchester United, and also Liverpool and Everton?

Who did Barcelona sell to Real Madrid in 1999 for €60m?  I may be slightly out on the date and amount here.

Who was crowned European player of the century in 1999?

Which footballer turned TV pundit scored (roughly) 350 top flight goals in his career?

I’ve remembered 4 out of 5 questions.  We got 3 right, ended up in a tie-breaker which we won, and meant my sister received the prize of a replica shirt.  I should also mention that my sister had a double on West Ham and Crystal Palace to win.  Jammy bugger.

Then the quizmaster, who accidentally mentioned the hallowed word “city” on a few occasions, introduced us to Kevin Gallacher and Dean Windass, who gave a pre-match assessment – Gallacher was the jovial, amusing Scot, Deano rather more bumbling – he isn’t the most cutting public speaker ever and spoke in footballing clichés.  Still a hero though.

Kevin was encouragingly enthusiastic about his fellow haggis-muncher, Maloney, and in particular his ability on set-pieces which I found intriguing.  When was the last time we offered a real and consistent danger from set-pieces?  Was it with Andy Dawson?  It certainly isn’t through Tommy Tenpies.

One final beer and we were ushered from the cosy and rather air-conditioned 1904 Lounge (and it was very much 1904, I didn’t see the word “Hull” anywhere) to the slightly warmer stand.  An idea which remains a tad discombobulating.  Of course, we were sat in the West Stand, so had plenty of empty seats around us and not a huge amount of vocal co-operation.  I did try to start a chant of “We’re the West Stand”.  My sister joined in.

So the game itself.  Preston started brightly and looked vaguely threatening, though never had any cutting edge up front, something that was to persist all match.

We grew into the game and seemed to have particular success working the right-hand side, with crosses coming in from both Elmo and the enterprising Moses – Robertson on the left was disappointing, not only defensively but his crossing was off-target more often than not.  I’d rather see Robertson playing left-midfield but at least this season should see him learn his defensive trade without costing us too much.  He kind of reminds me of Robbie Brady, in that both initially showed flashes of genius, then settled into a pattern of disappointment and mistakes.  Brady grew significantly as a player under us, and Robertson has the potential.  He particularly appeared unsure as to when he should try a buccaneering run, and when to hold back, and this dithering held his game back.

The goal itself came from either a cross or a corner, from one of our players.  This is why you won’t be relying on me for match reports.  Hernandez, whose work-rate and attitude were contrastingly admirable compared to a certain striker not even on the bench, managed to inadvertently bumble the ball into the net.  You can offer criticism of the inelegance if you like, however had that been Aluko playing, I doubt he would have been in that position.

Hernandez’s two goals this season are hardly worthy of a £9.5m striker but they are goals.  And goals win games.  I have long said there is a good player in there somewhere and I am very pleased that he is staying to prove himself.  Come January maybe we can sell him for £15m to Sheffield Wednesday.

Though it is a shame that he didn’t convert what was a fairly easy chance from the deflection off Dawson’s shot.

Overall it was a calmly engrossing affair, and half-time arrived far sooner than expected.  We popped inside, straight to an empty bar in the 1904 Lounge, with 3 staff members all waiting to serve me.  How refreshing.

The second half started a little tamer, and clearly we were not playing a Premier League side.

Both sides made changes half-way through the half, and it seemed to give Preston the upper edge, to the point when they had a clear header that really should have gone in.  In the Premier League, we would have been punished for that.

The introduction of Maloney for a leggy Diame, who really had worked tirelessly and been a class above most of the rest of the players on the pitch, gave us a mystery factor.

Kevin was proven right, and Maloney put in a superb corner for Davies to smash home, who ran all the way over to where I was standing (only joking, I was in the West Stand, don’t forget), and sent a great big kiss my way.  I assume this was my thank-you for my post some time ago arguing that he should be in the England squad.

Though my sister reckons his family were a couple of rows in front of us.

The bar beckoned after the game to drink more beer and listen to the thoughts of Kevin and Deano, who I am pleased to say had been warmed up by the football and was much more in style with some good jokes.

We were then invited through to the not-so-cosy Kingston Suite to listen to an interview with the man of the match, Michael Dawson.  I cannot remember a thing he said, however he did advise one of the autograph hunters that he would still be at the club on Wednesday.  And how vital that will be to our promotion.

I’d go so far to say that if we kept Dawson and Davies, we will have the lowest goals conceded record in the league.  I would like to see us have a back-up keeper to push McGregor however he is a class above most other goalkeepers in this division – I’d rather have him than Preston’s goalkeeper any day.

So far, so good as far as the season is concerned, though 6pm yesterday clearly defined the upcoming season with greater clarity than 6pm on Saturday did.

And I really enjoyed my day in the 1904 Lounge.  It’s a different way to do football, but it was more relaxed and I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would.  And I didn’t encounter one orange-jacketed marsupial.

Was it worth £70?  Probably not but if you are thinking of doing something special for a loved one’s birthday, as a one-off, then I definitely recommend it.

By the way, the answers to the questions are:

Peter Beardsley
Luis Figo
Johan Cryuff (I wanted to say Eusabio)
Jimmy Greaves

3 points or better from the Brighton and QPR games and we can start to assume a top-half finish at the minimum.
The next game I’m planning on is Bristol City away in November, followed by ****ing Burnley at home on Boxing Day.
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