I remember being initially disappointed when we appointed Steve Bruce.
Partly tinged with diminishing anger from the way Barmby had been treated (an initial insight into the future impetuosity of our owners), but also recalling that he didn’t stay manager long at clubs, particularly early in his career – and also not trusting him after leaving Crystal Palace somewhat ignominiously.
Once I had looked into his record in more detail, recalling the two promotions with Birmingham City, and the very creditable 11th place Premiserable League finish with Wigan, I had more hope.
Plus we had a good squad – the likes of Rosenior, Dawson, Chester, Hobbs, Koren, Fryatt and more would make the core of our promotion team.
He made some impressive signings – Aluko, Elmo, Quinn and the returning Brady, on loan at first then signed permanently. Not forgetting Meyler, who was added in January.
Though not every signing worked. Proschwitz being an early, and considerable failure, given his £2.6 million fee. Which seemed a hell of a lot of money back then.
Promotion in his first season was stumbled upon as we tried our hardest to throw it away, and we ended up celebrating a Leeds United victory for the first time ever. But still, Bruce was on his way to becoming a hero and those celebrations on the pitch at the KC were something rarely eclipsed in joyous feeling as a Hull City AFC fan.
2013/14 started well in the league, with other important signings made, such as McGregor, Livermore, Huddlestone and Davies, to make the spine of the team.
Although we also signed Danny Graham on loan.
At Christmas it was certainly possible that we would go down, but two strikers were signed that arguably kept us up – Long and Jelavic. Bruce is sometimes lamented for his signings, but it should be remembered just how many important players were signed by him. Even Alex Ferguson signed some absolute tosh on occasion – Manucho, Taibi, Kleberson…
And then out of everything I had never expected, we reached the FA Cup Final. I had always expected to be in the Premier League, even in our darkest Dolan days, but I had never expected to make the FA Cup Final. Sure, I dreamed of it as a child – Christ, I dreamed of the third round for many a year of my life, but this was another level. And being 2-0 up? Despite the defeat, Bruce was a hero. One of the abiding memories is the exceptionally drunk yob next to me standing on the chair during the whole of the first half shouting “Steve Bruce, Steve Bruce…”. He rarely relented. He never made it back for the second half.
The team coach had passed my family on the way to Wembley, and Steve Bruce was there, waving to my family, waving to the fans. Not only that, Bruce had befriended a terminally ill relative of mine who would turn up to training – Bruce took time to speak to him which I know meant a lot to said relative. Steve Bruce was ours. He belonged to the fans of Hull City AFC.
And he even recorded a short 30th birthday message for my sister.
Even when Bruce’s tactical shortcomings became increasingly apparent the next season, my support for him never wavered, as it didn’t for many a fan.
Relegation came with a standing ovation for Steve Bruce and a desire amongst most fans for him to stay and ensure we returned to the Premiserable League.
There were certainly those opposed to him. I doubt anybody loathed him, due to his enviously personable nature. But there were those that thought he had taken us as far as was possible.
Steve Bruce’s teams became known for faltering finishes, which happened all 4 of the seasons that he was in charge.
Despite the records broken in both the FA Cup and League Cup, he never took the cup competitions seriously, which caused frustration amongst some fans.
Occasionally the positioning of players was baffling, the formations sometimes seemed accidental and the amount of times in the relegation season that we lost points from taking off our strikers was infuriating. Bruce was imperfect. But Bruce was ours. He was one of us. Hull is imperfect. Our club is imperfect. Bruce was perfectly imperfect for us.
That relegation season was typified by the European adventure. Hull City AFC in the Uefa Cup. Crazy. But we didn’t take it even vaguely seriously – and missed out on the opportunity to get stabbed in Italy/Turkey, etc.
Bad luck also played its part with the serious injuries to Snodgrass and Diame – but the unbalancing of the squad when we “won” transfer deadline day was arguably our main undoing. And I felt Hernandez was badly managed – he had potential to score goals and needed more opportunity.
Disappointment was soon over as we were back in a proper footballing league – and Hernandez was given the opportunity to prove that he was worth the £10 million.
A season of expectation was one in which we initially flourished, although I had my reservations about signing “We’re going up as fucking champions” at Brentford, it didn’t stop me from expecting our 1st place finish.
Alas, we stumbled like what happened in every Steve Bruce season.
Though Bruce is a winner and the experience of our manager, along with the players, guided us to a play-off victory that most people seemingly bar Hull City AFC fans, expected.
And now he has gone. An inability to hide his shared loathing for the verminous cretin in charge, followed by a small, or possibly non-existent transfer budget despite the riches of the Premiserable League, along with the seeming impossibility to complete relatively straight-forward signings have done for our most successful manager.
One can only assume that Ehab wanted to force Bruce out of the club. The Allams may have lost the name change – but they will likely, Ehab especially, enjoy this victory over the fans, with the ousting of our man. Our manager. Our hero.
That Steve Bruce lasted 4 years in this throwaway football culture is quite remarkable. A week ago, there were only 6 league managers that had been currently employed longer than Steve Bruce.
Life moves on. I didn’t expect Peter Taylor to be bettered. I didn’t expect someone to reach a more cult-like hero status than Phil Brown.
Yet Bruce did. Bruce was our hero. Bruce will forever be a bona-fide Hull City AFC legend. Bruce was one of us and always will be. Thank you, Steve Bruce.
I have no idea why the hell a manager would want to take on a poisoned chalice such as ours, but the support and adoration that the fans gave Steve Bruce would surely at least feature in any potential next manager’s decision as to whether to accept the role.
Though my money is on Phelan at 13/2 with Coral.