Hull City Association Football Club is an English professional football club in Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire. Founded in 1904, the club will compete in the Championship in the 2021–22 season after winning the 2020–21 League One title.
In 2007–08, they achieved promotion to the top flight of English football for the first time in their history by winning the Championship play-off final at Wembley Stadium. Their highest league finish was in 2013–14, when they finished 16th in the table, a season in which they also reached the final of the FA Cup.
Hull City play home games at the MKM Stadium (previously known as the KCOM Stadium), having moved there in 2002 after 56 seasons at Boothferry Park. Hull traditionally play in black and amber, often with a striped shirt design, hence their nickname, The Tigers.
Early years (1904–1930)
Hull City Association Football Club was founded in June 1904; previous attempts to found a football club had proved difficult because of the dominance in the city of rugby league teams such as Hull F.C. and Hull Kingston Rovers. The club was unable to apply for membership of the Football League for the 1904–05 season and instead played only in friendlies, the first of which was a 2–2 draw with Notts County on 1 September 1904 with 6,000 in attendance. These early matches were played at the Boulevard, the home of Hull F.C. The club's first competitive football match was in the FA Cup preliminary round, drawing 3–3 with Stockton on 17 September, but they were eliminated after losing the replay 4–1 on 22 September. After disputes with landlords at the Boulevard, Hull City moved to Anlaby Road Cricket Ground. After having played 44 friendly fixtures the previous season, Hull City were finally admitted into the Football League Second Division for the 1905–06 season. Other teams competing in the league that season included the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea, as well as Yorkshire rivals Barnsley, Bradford City and Leeds City. Hull defeated Barnsley 4–1 at home in their first game and finished the season in fifth place.
Hull City and Grimsby Town were the only two professional teams which had official permission to play league football on Christmas Day because of the demands of the fish trade, but that tradition has now disappeared following the dramatic reduction of their trawler fleets in recent years. The following season a new ground was built for Hull City across the road from the cricket ground. Still under the managership of Ambrose Langley, Hull continued to finish consistently in the top half of the table. They came close to promotion in the 1909–10 season, recording what would be their highest finish until they matched it in 2008. Hull finished third, level on points with second placed Oldham Athletic, missing promotion on goal average by 0.29 of a goal. Hull regularly finished in the top half of the table before the First World War, but after the war the team finished in the bottom half in seven seasons out of eleven, culminating in relegation to the Third Division North in 1930.
Cup success and financial crisis (1930–1985)
Hull's greatest achievement in cup competitions until 2014 was in 1930, when they reached the FA Cup semi-finals. The cup run saw Hull knock out the eventual champions of the Second and Third Divisions; Blackpool and Plymouth Argyle respectively. They then knocked out Manchester City, to meet Newcastle United in the quarter-finals. The first game at St James' Park finished as a 1–1 draw, but in the replay Hull beat Newcastle 1–0. The semi-final match against Arsenal took place at Elland Road in Leeds, the game ended 2–2, and was taken to a replay in Birmingham. Arsenal knocked Hull out at Villa Park, the game ending 1–0.
After the Second World War, the club moved to another new ground, Boothferry Park. In the 1948–49 season, managed by former England international Raich Carter, Hull won the Third Division North championship. "Yo-yoing" between the second and third tiers of English football, Hull City had promotion seasons from the Third to the Second Division again in 1959 and 1966, winning the Third Division in the latter season. Hull also became the first team in the world to go out of a cup competition on penalties, beaten by Manchester United in the semi-final of the Watney Cup on 1 August 1970. By the early 1980s, Hull City were in the Fourth Division, and financial collapse led to receivership.
Don Robinson took over as chairman and appointed Colin Appleton as the new manager. Both had previously held the equivalent roles with non-league Scarborough. Promotion to Division Three followed in 1983, with a young team featuring the likes of future England international Brian Marwood, future England manager Steve McClaren, centre-forward Billy Whitehurst, and the prolific goal-scorer Les Mutrie. When Hull City missed out on promotion by one goal the following season, Appleton left to manage Swansea City.
Late 20th-century decline (1985–2000)
Hull reached the Second Division in 1985 under player-manager Brian Horton. They remained there for the next six years before finally going down in 1991, by which time the club's manager was Terry Dolan. Hull finished 14th in the Third Division in the 1991–92 season, meaning that they would be competing in the new Second Division the following season. In their first season in the rebranded division, Hull narrowly avoided another relegation, but the board kept faith in Dolan and over the next two seasons they achieved mid-table finishes. Financial difficulties hampered City's progress, as key players such as Alan Fettis and Dean Windass had to be sold to fend off winding-up orders. In the 1995–96 season Hull were relegated to the Third Division.
In 1997 the club was purchased by former tennis player David Lloyd, who sacked Dolan as manager and replaced him with Mark Hateley after Hull could only finish in 17th place in the table. Hull's league form was steadily deteriorating to the point that relegation to the Football Conference was looking a real possibility. Lloyd sold the club in November 1998 to a South Yorkshire-based consortium, but retained ownership of Boothferry Park. Hateley departed in November 1998, with the club at the foot of the table. He was replaced by 34-year-old veteran player Warren Joyce, who steered the club to safety with games to spare. Hull City fans refer to this season as "The Great Escape". Despite this feat, Joyce was replaced in April 2000 by the more experienced Brian Little.
Despite briefly being locked out of Boothferry Park by bailiffs and facing the possibility of liquidation, Hull qualified for the Third Division play-offs in the 2000–01 season, losing in the semi-finals to Leyton Orient. A boardroom takeover by former Leeds United commercial director Adam Pearson had eased the club's precarious financial situation and all fears of closure were banished.
Rise to the top flight (2000–2008)
The new chairman ploughed funds into the club, allowing Little to rebuild the team. Hull occupied the Third Division promotion and play-off places for much of the 2001–02 season, but Little departed two months before the end of the season and Hull slipped to 11th place under his successor Jan Molby.
Hull began the 2002–03 season with a number of defeats, which saw relegation look more likely than promotion, and Molby was sacked in October as Hull languished fifth from bottom in the league. Peter Taylor was named as Hull's new manager and in December 2002, just two months after his appointment, Hull relocated to the new 25,400-seater KC Stadium after 56 years at Boothferry Park. At the end of the season Hull finished 13th.
Hull were Third Division runners-up in 2003–04 and League One runners-up in 2004–05; these back-to-back promotions took them into the Championship, the second tier of English football. The 2005–06 season, the club's first back in the second tier, saw Hull finish in 18th place, 10 points clear of relegation and their highest league finish for 16 years.
However, Taylor left the club to take up the manager's job at Crystal Palace and Colchester United's Phil Parkinson was confirmed as his replacement, but was sacked on 4 December 2006 with Hull in the relegation zone, despite having spent over £2 million on players during the summer.Phil Brown took over as caretaker manager, and took over permanently in January 2007, having taken Hull out of the relegation zone. Brown brought veteran striker Dean Windass back to his hometown club on loan from Bradford City, and his eight goals helped secure Hull's Championship status as they finished in 21st place.
Adam Pearson sold the club to a consortium led by Paul Duffen in June 2007, stating that he "had taken the club as far as I could", and would have to relinquish control in order to attract "really significant finance into the club". Under Paul Duffen and manager Phil Brown, Hull City improved greatly on their relegation battle of 2006–07 and qualified for the play-offs after finishing the season in third place. They beat Watford 6–1 on aggregate in the semi-finals and played Bristol City in the final on 24 May 2008, which Hull won 1–0 at Wembley Stadium, with Hull native Dean Windass scoring the winning goal. Their ascent from the bottom division of the Football League to the top division of English football in just five seasons is the third-fastest ever.
Promotion, yo-yo years and sale (2008–2016)
Despite being one of the favourites for relegation in the 2008–09 season, Hull began life in the Premier League by beating Fulham 2–1 on the opening day in their first ever top flight fixture. With only one defeat in their opening nine games, including away wins at Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, Hull City found themselves (temporarily) joint-top of the Premier League table on points (third on goal difference), following a 3–0 victory over West Bromwich Albion – ten years previously, they had been bottom of the fourth tier of English football. Hull's form never replicated the highs of the early autumn, with the team winning only two more games over the remainder of the season, but secured their top-flight status on the last day of the season due to other results.
On 29 October 2009, chairman Paul Duffen resigned his position with the club, and was replaced by former chairman Adam Pearson on 2 November 2009. On 15 March 2010, manager Phil Brown was put on gardening leave after a run of four defeats left Hull in the relegation zone. Brown's replacement was former Crystal Palace and Charlton boss Iain Dowie, and the appointment was met with some disbelief by supporters who were hoping for a "bigger name" replacement. Hull City's relegation from the Premier League was confirmed on 3 May 2010, after a 2–2 draw at Wigan Athletic. Both Brown and Dowie had their contracts terminated, and Leicester City's Nigel Pearson was confirmed as the new manager.
A reported block on player transfers into the club, set in place by the Hull City board on 28 July 2010 until transfers out would substantially reduce the £39 million-per-year wage bill, at first cast doubt on the new manager's efforts to build a squad capable of a quick return to the Premier League; nevertheless, Pearson brought several transfers and loan signings into the club in his bid to strengthen the squad for the season's campaign. The team set a new club record on 12 March 2011 with 14 away matches unbeaten, breaking a previous record held for over 50 years. This 17-match streak was finally broken by Bristol City on the last day of the 2010–11 season, Hull losing the match 3–0.
On 15 November 2011, Nigel Pearson left the club to return to Leicester.Nick Barmby was appointed as his successor, but was sacked in May 2012 after publicly criticising the club's owners in an interview given to a local newspaper. In the same month, the club's consultancy agreement with Adam Pearson was terminated. On 8 June 2012, Steve Bruce was appointed manager of the club on a three-year deal, and he guided Hull back to the Premier League by drawing with League champions Cardiff City on the final day of the season.
On 13 April 2014, the club reached its first FA Cup Final after defeating Sheffield United 5–3 in the semi-final at Wembley Stadium. Their place in the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League, regardless of whether they won the 2013–14 FA Cup, was confirmed on 3 May as Everton's failure to win meant that Hull's FA Cup Final opponents Arsenal would compete in the 2014–15 UEFA Champions League, leaving Hull City to enter in the Europa League third qualifying round, in their first ever European campaign. The FA Cup final on 17 May saw Hull go 2–0 up within the first ten minutes, before losing 3–2 after extra time.
On 31 July 2014, Hull made their debut in European competition, in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round, with a 0–0 draw against Slovakian side FK AS Trencin before winning the second leg 2–1 a week later. An error from keeper Allan McGregor gave them a 1–0 loss away to Belgian outfit Lokeren in the first leg of their play-off tie on 21 August 2014 with the second leg at home ending in a 2–1 victory, but away goals marked the end of Hull's first foray into European football.
In March 2015, Steve Bruce signed a further three-year deal with the club. Hull were relegated from the Premier League after the 2014–15 season, finishing eighteenth with 35 points after a 0–0 draw against Manchester United, along with Newcastle United securing their Premier League Status after beating West Ham United 2–0. In October 2015 Hull beat Leicester City in a penalty-shootout to take them through to their first ever quarter-final appearance in the Football League Cup. The club reached the Championship play-offs and on 28 May 2016 beat Sheffield Wednesday 1–0 to return to the Premier League.
Decline and fall to League One (2016–present)
On 22 July 2016, Bruce resigned from his position as manager due to an alleged rift with the club's owners and Mike Phelan was appointed caretaker manager. In October 2017, Phelan became Hull's permanent head coach but he was sacked just 3 months later on 3 January 2017 after a poor run of results.Marco Silva was appointed as his replacement two days later but he could not prevent relegation at the end of the season.
Following relegation Silva resigned, and on 9 June 2017, the club announced the appointment of Leonid Slutsky as the new head coach. However, after a poor run of results Slutsky left by mutual consent in December 2017. He was replaced by former Southampton boss Nigel Adkins who led the team to avoid relegation and finish 18th at the end of the season. The following season, despite being in the relegation zone after 19 games, an upturn in form saw the Tigers finish in 13th place. However, Adkins resigned at the end of the season after rejecting a new contract.
On 21 June 2019, Grant McCann was appointed as head coach on a one-year rolling contract. In a season delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, Hull started well but lost 16 of their last 20 games, a run that included an 8–0 hammering at Wigan. On 22 July 2020, Hull were relegated to League One. On 24 April 2021, Hull were promoted back to the Championship at the first time of asking after a 2–1 victory away at Lincoln City. The following week, a 3–1 win at home to Wigan Athletic saw the Tigers crowned EFL League One Champions.
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