Tag Archives: Hull City

Great Goals: Glen Johnson – PORTSMOUTH vs. Hull City (November 2008)

Right-back Glen Johnson flourished during his three-year spell on the south coast with Portsmouth from 2006 to 2009. His consistent, attacking-style performances for Pompey made him the regular England right-back following Gary Neville’s retirement.

Defensive quality isn’t always Johnson’s strength but scoring long-range stunners certainly are. Against Hull City in November 2008, he produced this pile driver of a shot.

The game was level at 1-1 in the 63rd minute when Michael Turner, who had scored Hull’s equaliser, cleared the ball from a cross into the box. Johnson raced onto the loose ball and controlled the ball on his chest. Then on his second touch, he launched a marvellous volley which went straight into the top corner of the net.

It was a stunning effort and it won the BBC Goal of the Season award for the 2008-2009 season, even if Portsmouth didn’t take all three points form this particular contest.

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The Clubs: Hull City

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
190 41 48 101 181 323 -142 171 5

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Ahmed Elmohamady 109
Tom Huddlestone 98
Jake Livermore 92
Curtis Davies 84
David Meyler 78
Paul McShane 74
Geovanni 60
Andy Dawson 60
Andrew Robertson 57
Boaz Myhill 55

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Nikica Jelavic 13
Geovanni 11
Abel Hernandez 8
Robert Snodgrass 7
Stephen Hunt 6
Marlon King 5
Craig Fagan 5
Jake Livermore 5
Dame N’Doye 5
Ahmed Elmohamady 4

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Hull City 6-0 Fulham 28th December 2013 2013-2014
Cardiff City 0-4 Hull City 22nd February 2014 2013-2014
West Bromwich Albion 0-3 Hull City 25th October 2008 2008-2009
Hull City 4-2 Middlesbrough 5th April 2017 2016-2017
Hull City 3-1 Liverpool FC 1st December 2013 2013-2014
Sunderland 1-3 Hull City 26th December 2014 2014-2015
Hull City 3-1 AFC Bournemouth 14th January 2017 2016-2017
Hull City 2-0 Fulham 29th March 2010 2009-2010
Sunderland 0-2 Hull City 8th February 2014 2013-2014
Hull City 2-0 West Bromwich Albion 22nd March 2014 2013-2014

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Hull City 1-7 Tottenham Hotspur 21st May 2017 2016-2017
Liverpool FC 6-1 Hull City 26th September 2009 2009-2010
AFC Bournemouth 6-1 Hull City 15th October 2016 2016-2017
Hull City 0-5 Wigan Athletic 30th August 2008 2008-2009
Manchester City 5-1 Hull City 26th December 2008 2008-2009
Hull City 1-5 Tottenham Hotspur 19th August 2009 2009-2010
Everton 5-1 Hull City 7th March 2010 2009-2010
Liverpool FC 5-1 Hull City 24th September 2016 2016-2017
Manchester United 4-0 Hull City 23rd January 2010 2009-2010
Everton 4-0 Hull City 18th March 2017 2016-2017

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Phil Brown 2 15th March 2010
Iain Dowie 1 9th May 2010
Steve Bruce 2 22nd July 2016
Mike Phelan 1 3rd January 2017
Marco Silva 1 25th May 2017

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Hull City 0-0 Liverpool FC 9th May 2010 25,030 2009-2010
Hull City 1-2 Arsenal 13th March 2010 25,023 2009-2010
Hull City 0-1 Sunderland 24th April 2010 25,012 2009-2010
Hull City 2-1 Manchester City 6th February 2010 24,959 2009-2010
Hull City 1-1 Chelsea 2nd February 2010 24,957 2009-2010
Hull City 2-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 30th January 2010 24,957 2009-2010
Hull City 0-1 Manchester United 24th May 2009 24,945 2008-2009
Hull City 1-3 Liverpool FC 25th April 2009 24,942 2008-2009
Hull City 3-1 Liverpool FC 1st December 2013 24,940 2013-2014
Hull City 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur 1st February 2014 24,932 2013-2014

 

Intro

Hull City reached the Premier League for the first time slightly unexpectedly in 2008 and have enjoyed promotion on two separate occasions since. Relegation has followed three times but the Tigers supporters have enjoyed some high points, including some notable victories over Arsenal, Liverpool FC and Manchester City over the years. Their survival in 2009 at the expensive of a much richer Newcastle United was a wonderful achievement and they reached an FA Cup final too during Steve Bruce’s tenure.

 

2008-2009

This was Hull City’s first season in top-flight football in their 104-year history and it started brilliantly with an opening day 2-1 success over Fulham. The Tigers won six of their opening nine matches, including victories on back-to-back weekends in north London over Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. A 3-0 triumph away at West Bromwich Albion even took Hull joint-top of the table at the end of October with Liverpool FC and Chelsea.

A drop in form was bound to happen but it did happen quite dramatically after a first half nightmare on Boxing Day at Eastlands. Hull were trailing 4-0 at half-time to Manchester City when manager Phil Brown elected to give his half-time team talk on the pitch infront of Hull supporters. The players looked bemused and a slide down the table followed.

The Humberside club won just one more match all season with Manucho’s late goal snatching a 1-0 victory at Fulham in early March. Going into the final day of the season, Brown’s side were one point clear of Newcastle United and had their destiny in their own hands. They lost 1-0 to a youthful Manchester United side but Newcastle also lost by the same scoreline to Aston Villa. By the skin of their teeth, Hull had survived and the KC Stadium celebrated.

 

2009-2010

Hull began their second season in the Premier League with little investment in terms of new players with the main arrival being Stephen Hunt from Championship outfit Reading. They began with defeats to Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur and won just two of their first 11 league matches. The return of the charismatic Jimmy Bullard from injury saw a mini-revival in November. Hull beat Stoke and Everton and drew at Manchester City where Bullard’s celebration after his spot-kick was a mock-up version of Brown’s infamous team talk from the previous season. Luckily, everyone saw the funny side!

There had been changes at boardroom level though with Adam Pearson becoming chairman in November 2009. He didn’t see eye-to-eye with the manager and after a run of four successive losses, including a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Everton, Phil Brown was put on gardening leave in March. Iain Dowie arrived as a management consultant but only won one game in-charge and the Tigers were effectively relegated in late April due to an inferior goal difference after losing 1-0 at home to Sunderland.

 

2013-2014

After an absence of three seasons, Hull City returned to the Premier League under the guidance of former title-winning captain of Manchester United, Steve Bruce. He added plenty of Premier League experience, with Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore and Maynor Figueroa among the summer arrivals. Hull made a bright start, winning three of their first six matches, rising to seventh after a 1-0 win over West Ham United in late September.

The most memorable moment of the season came when title-chasing Liverpool FC were beaten 3-1 at the KC Stadium in December. Later that month, Fulham were destroyed 6-0 in a result which is Hull’s biggest margin of victory in the Premier League. Bruce added to his attacking options in January with the double signing of Shane Long from West Bromwich Albion and Nikica Jelavic from Everton. The two formed an excellent partnership to ensure Hull finished with their highest-ever points tally in their Premier League history. There was agony in the FA Cup final, with defeat in extra-time to Arsenal but 16th place meant the target of survival had been comfortably achieved.

 

2014-2015

Hull were looking to push on following the qualified success of 2013-2014 but exited the UEFA Europa League in the qualifying rounds and were dealt a blow when Long was sold to Southampton on the eve of the new Premier League season starting. Despite an opening day victory at Loftus Road, Hull lost big summer arrival Robert Snodgrass to a season-ending injury and struggled to find any real momentum.

By November, it was clear this was going to be another season battling relegation and although there were positive results during the festive period away at Sunderland and at home to Everton, wins were few and far between. In fact, Hull managed just eight during the season. Although they did briefly rally to defeat Crystal Palace and Liverpool FC in April, Hull went into the final day in the bottom three. Once again, they were fighting against Newcastle United for survival but unlike in 2009, it was Newcastle who prevailed. Hull drew 0-0 with Manchester United confirming their second Premier League relegation.

 

2016-2017

The Tigers made an instant return to the top-flight via the play-offs but their pre-season plans were thrown into complete disarray when Steve Bruce walked out on the club in mid-July, frustrated by the lack of new arrivals.

Mike Phelan stepped into the breach and started brilliantly with back-to-back wins over champions Leicester City and Swansea City. The success in south Wales would turn out to be Hull’s only away win of the entire campaign. Phelan was handed the job on a permanent basis in October but the celebrations of his appointment were cut short when Hull were well-beaten; 6-1 by AFC Bournemouth.

After sinking to the bottom of the table during the festive period, he was given his marching orders in early January and replaced by the former Olympiacos boss, Marco Silva. Silva galvanised what looked like a lost cause, steering Hull to important home wins over AFC Bournemouth, Liverpool FC, West Ham United and Middlesbrough. This was despite selling star assets Snodgrass and Livermore in the transfer window, replacing them with largely loan arrivals to beef up the squad’s depth of players.

It ended unhappily though. A damaging 2-0 home loss to already relegated Sunderland opened the door for Swansea City to claim survival. A 4-0 defeat to Crystal Palace sealed Hull’s fate on the penultimate weekend. Silva resigned to take over at Watford and Hull’s struggles in the Championship this season mean they face the prospect of playing League One football next season.

Shock Results: Arsenal 1-2 Hull City (September 2008)

Goalscorers: Paul McShane 51 OG, Geovanni 62, Daniel Cousin 66

Teams:

Arsenal: Manuel Alumina, Gael Clichy, William Gallas, Kolo Toure, Bacary Sagna, Denilson, Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Eboue (Nicklas Bendtner 69), Theo Walcott (Carlos Vela 77), Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie

Hull City: Boaz Myhill, Andy Dawson, Paul McShane, Michael Turner, Kamil Zayatte, George Boateng (Richard Garcia 76), Ian Ashbee, Geovanni (Bryan Hughes 72), Marlon King, Daniel Cousin (Bernard Mendy 80)

Referee: Alan Wiley, Attendance: 60,037

Although they had made a promising start to their debut Premier League campaign in 2008-2009, few gave Hull City much hope of turning over Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium. Phil Brown’s side had won twice already but a third victory on their first trip in successive weekends to north London was seen as a long shot. However, the Tigers would tear up the formbook, producing a stunning performance and a wonderful victory.

Brown made two changes to the side that had drawn 2-2 with Everton six days earlier, recalling the maverick attacking midfielder Geovanni and experience at the heart of the midfield in George Boateng. Both selections turned out to be inspired decisions.

They had to stay in the game against an Arsenal side which on their day could overpower any team in the Premier League. In the first 30 minutes, it looked like the game was going to go to the planned formbook. Emmanuel Adebayor had the ball in the back of the net but the Togolese striker was denied after referee Alan Wiley adjudged he had fouled Paul McShane when climbing to meet a Cesc Fabregas cross.

Despite their possession dominance, goalscoring chances were at a premium for the home side, kept out by a well-drilled offside trap and some last-ditch defending from Hull defenders. They deserved to be level at half-time. However, five minutes into the second half, the Gunners did take the lead. Theo Walcott’s cross was diverted into the path of Cesc Fabregas. He struck the ball into the net but it was eventually credited as an own goal off the luckless McShane who fought valiantly but couldn’t prevent the ball crossing the goal-line. Surely, this was the end of the Hull resistance?

Not so. In fact, Arsenal’s lead lasted just 11 minutes. Geovanni was given plenty of space on the edge of the penalty area and elected to go for goal. His right-foot shot flew into the top corner of the net. Manuel Almunia in the Arsenal goal had no chance of keeping it out. Brown did a dancing jig as he celebrated one of the most spectacular goals of the season and now, his side had a genuine chance of leaving with at least a point.

The away supporters began to dream further when Andy Dawson’s corner was met by a towering header from Daniel Cousin just four minutes later. Incredibly, Hull were ahead and now had something mighty to protect. Arsene Wenger threw on Nicklas Bendtner and Carlos Vela to try and revive his team but it was to no avail. The closest they came was a William Gallas header that hit the crossbar.

This was Hull’s night and a crucial win too. They would stay up by just a single point come the end of the season. Arsenal finished fourth but it was a fourth successive season without a trophy for them.

Premier League Files: Jimmy Bullard

Premier League Career: Wigan Athletic (2005-2006), Fulham (2006-2009), Hull City (2009-2010)

Jimmy Bullard was one of the funniest footballers in the last 15 years. You could always see the passion he would have for the game and also, his determination to have a bit of fun whilst doing it. He figured for Wigan Athletic, Fulham and Hull City and has also had a spell in management with non-league side Leatherhead since retirement in 2012.

A West Ham United supporter as a boy, Jimmy was signed by the club in 1999 after some non-league appearances with Gravesend & Northfleet. However, he never managed to make the breakthrough at Upton Park and was given a free transfer two seasons later. He rebuilt his career at Peterborough United, scoring 11 times in 66 appearances, before being snapped up by Wigan Athletic in January 2003 for £275,000.

He helped Wigan secure promotion to the Premier League in 2005 and became an important figure in their debut season in the top-flight. Bullard scored a late winner in a 2-1 success at West Bromwich Albion in September and struck another three goals, including a goal against Arsenal. His antics became almost as common as his play on-the-pitch. In a match against Everton, he famously leapfrogged a pile of players in a goalmouth scramble, resulting in him falling on his face!

Fulham were impressed by Bullard’s performances and triggered a clause in his contract which saw the Cottagers’ pay Wigan £2.5 million for his services in May 2006. He made an instant impact, scoring goals to rescue a point at home to Bolton Wanderers and a free-kick winner to overcome Sheffield United. Sadly, he sustained a dislocated kneecap in the club’s next match away at St James’ Park. He would be on the sidelines for a minimum of nine months with cruciate knee ligament damage. The injury would ultimately keep him out of action until January 2008. A month later, he scored a brilliant free-kick to defeat Aston Villa and his joy was crystal clear. He even hugged referee Chris Foy at the full-time whistle which just showed how happy he was to be back on the football field.

Bullard’s performances in the second half of the season were a crucial part in Fulham escaping relegation on the final day. Despite starting 2008-2009 in arguably the best form of his career, negotiations over a new contract stalled and in December 2008, the west Londoners decided that Jimmy could surprisingly leave the club. A month later, he joined Hull City for a club-record fee of £5 million.

In an interview with the BBC’s Football Focus shortly after his arrival, Bullard said: “I didn’t feel I had the backing from the club, so I felt like it was time to move on. I felt like Fulham didn’t want me and it was as simple as that really. I was in talks with Fulham over a contract and I was told I’m not getting a new contract and I can leave in January.”

He made his Hull debut a week after his arrival against West Ham but sustained further knee damage in that match and this ended his season prematurely after more surgery. After a nine-month absence, he returned to the Hull squad and made an immediate contribution, scoring twice against the Hammers’ in a 3-3 draw and striking the equalising penalty in a 1-1 draw with Manchester City. He famously imitated Hull manager Phil Brown’s on-pitch team talk from the same fixture the previous season in his celebration which luckily went down well with his boss. Another knee injury was sustained in the next fixture against Aston Villa which kept him out for eight further weeks and it became clear the supporters were getting frustrated with his constant injury absences. Hull ended the season in the bottom three and were relegated to the Championship.

Jimmy was one of the club’s highest earners and with the debt piling up; he was allowed to leave that summer. However, his wage demands put many teams off, as well as his injury record. A loan move to Celtic collapsed and he stayed at Hull until January 2011, when he joined Ipswich Town on-loan. He eventually retired from football in October 2012 after a very brief spell at Milton Keynes Dons.

He moved into management in the 2016-2017 season, spending a year with Leatherhead. He won 19 of his 47 matches in charge but resigned at the end of the campaign. Since retirement, Bullard has been a regular on our TV screens, appearing in ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!’ in 2014. He is now one of the three main hosts on the Sky Sports Saturday morning magazine show, Soccer AM.

Premier League Files: Robert Snodgrass

Premier League Career: Norwich City (2012-2014), Hull City (2014-2015, 2016-2017), West Ham United (2017)

Robert Snodgrass has been like a yo-yo in recent years, spending seasons in-between struggling Premier League sides and higher forces in the Championship. This season, the Scottish international is on-loan to Aston Villa after a disastrous five months at West Ham United.

To be fair to Snodgrass, his time at West Ham was not helped by a lack of research done by the club when they signed him in January 2017 from Hull City. Being asked to play outside of his natural position by then manager Slaven Bilic led to a rapid deterioration of his career at the London Stadium. On leaving, he revealed: “I went to West Ham and had a manager that played me out of position. To be honest with you, it was very tough to take.”

Born in Glasgow, Snodgrass began his playing days with Livingston after turning down an apprenticeship offer from Celtic. He spent four years in their youth ranks before graduating into the first-team setup in 2003. He scored 15 times in 79 games and impressed on a regular basis. He left the club in 2008 after deciding not to extend his contract.

Barnsley offered him a trial on his release from Livingston but it didn’t go well. Leeds United stepped in and took the player on for the 2008-2009 season. Snodgrass would spend the next four campaigns in Yorkshire, scoring 35 times in 168 league appearances. Highlights included being part of the Leeds side that won at Old Trafford in the FA Cup third round in 2010 and being made club captain in his final season by Neil Warnock. However, with Leeds stranded in the Championship, Snodgrass knew he’d have to move if he wanted to sample the joys of Premier League football.

That opportunity arrived in the summer of 2012, as Norwich City snapped him up on an undisclosed fee. His first goal was a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane with Tottenham Hotspur. He impressed as the season progressed and the Canaries finished a comfortable 11th in the table. The fans at Carrow Road quickly recognised Snodgrass’ strong form and he was runner-up in the club’s Player of the Season awards to central defender Sebastien Bassong.

Snodgrass had already produced a reputation of being a fine dead-ball specialist. His first goal of 2013-2014 was a cracking free-kick when Norwich beat West Ham United 3-1 in November 2013. A winning goal against Tottenham followed later in the season but the East Anglian side failed to build on their promising previous two seasons and were relegated to the Championship.

He stayed in the Premier League though, joining Hull City in June 2014. Fate would deal him a dreadful blow. He sustained a serious injury on the opening day of the 2014-2015 campaign when Hull won 1-0 at Queens Park Rangers. Tests later revealed a dislocated kneecap which would keep him on the sidelines for the entire campaign. In fact, he wouldn’t return to first-team action for 15 months. By that point, Hull had been relegated.

The Scot battled hard to return to full fitness and he scored four times on his return to action in 24 matches as Hull went straight back up to the top-flight through the play-offs. This gave Robert another opportunity to sparkle and he did so, scoring seven times in the first 20 matches of the 2016-2017 season. This included an opening day winner over champions Leicester City and a trademark free-kick at home to Everton in December.

By now, Marco Silva had arrived as Hull boss and wanted to bring in some players from the continent. Whilst he appreciated Snodgrass’ qualities, he saw him as an asset which the club could cash in on. Hull accepted offers of £10 million from Burnley and West Ham United. He would choose to move to the capital. It didn’t work out.

15 games later and without a goal, he was informed he could leave the club permanently or on-loan. The chance to work with Steve Bruce again at Aston Villa was an opportunity too good to turn down and Snodgrass decided to drop back down to the Championship. He has made himself a regular at Villa Park as the former European champions aim to return to the elite for the 2018-2019 Premier League season.

Premier League Files: George Boyd

Premier League Career: Hull City (2013-2014), Burnley (2014-2015, 2016-2017)

What do Steve Kabba, Mark Robins and George Boyd have in common? These three players have suffered the ignominy of playing in the same Premier League season for two relegated teams. In Boyd’s case, this happened to him during 2014-2015 when he started the campaign with Hull City but was a Burnley player by the end of the season.

The Scot, who won two caps for his country is a creative player who likes to play out on the wings and lay on chances for his teammates. He left the Premier League in the summer of 2017, turning down a new deal at Turf Moor to sign a two-year contract with Championship side Sheffield Wednesday.

He grew up in Kent and is a Crystal Palace fan. George started his career at fellow London side Charlton Athletic but was rejected at the age of 15. With this early setback, he had to work his way up the football pyramid again, starting with Stevenage. Whilst playing in Hertfordshire, he was working in a sweet shop to earn the money for his train fare to training and was also studying at North Hertfordshire College. He was definitely doing things the busy and hard way.

He made his Stevenage debut at the age of 17 and spent the next five years with the club before joining Peterborough United in 2007. It was with Peterborough that he enjoyed the most productive spell of his career, featuring 263 times for the club during seven seasons at London Road. This included three campaigns in the Championship, having begun with Posh in League Two.

He was the subject of plenty of interest during this time with the likes of Burnley and Nottingham Forest submitting bids that were rejected. Eventually, it looked like he was going to move to the latter in January 2013. Everything was agreed and a medical passed until Forest pulled the plug on the deal due to an “inconclusive eye test.” Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony didn’t hold back with his thoughts, saying: “I’m devastated for George. I got a phone call off him in bits… He said that he passed the medical then they made him do an eye test. He’s played 300 matches and scored from the halfway line the other month, but Forest say he has an eyesight problem. The whole thing stinks. Alex McLeish wanted to sign him. It’s the most ridiculous thing that’s happened to me.”

He eventually did move on but to Hull City on-loan before the move became permanent in the summer of 2013 with the club enjoying promotion to the Premier League. His time with Hull in the top-flight was not as successful, scoring just twice in 29 games although one did come in a 6-0 thrashing of Fulham in December 2013.

After starting the 2014-2015 campaign at Hull, making one appearance against Stoke City, he moved to Burnley on a three-year deal on deadline day. His finest Premier League moments would come that season against Manchester City. In December, he scored the first of the club’s two goals in their fine 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium. Three months later, it was his 61st minute strike that saw the champions defeated at Turf Moor. Unfortunately, Burnley didn’t have enough all-round quality to avoid an instant return to the Championship.

The Scot stayed with the club to help them win promotion at the first attempt back to the top-flight and figured 36 times in 2016-2017, scoring twice as Burnley survived in the Premier League for the first time in their history.

Although he was offered a new deal, he decided for a fresh challenge away from Lancashire and signed for Sheffield Wednesday where he has only just made his league debut after injury hampered the early months of his time in Yorkshire.

Iconic Moments: Phil Brown’s half-time dressing down (December 2008)

Hull City were a breath of fresh air into the Premier League in the early weeks of the 2008-2009 season. They won on the opening weekend at home to Fulham and then pulled off a famous London away double in successive weekends against Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. They even were joint-top in late October after a 3-0 away triumph at West Bromwich Albion.

By Boxing Day, results had dried up slightly but the Tigers’ still sat in a creditable seventh spot in the table – only behind the traditional big four teams plus Aston Villa and Everton. They travelled to Manchester City, hoping to pull off another away scalp. This trip won’t be remembered for a shock result though.

Mark Hughes’ side were rampant in the first half and led at the interval 4-0. Stephen Ireland was in sparkling form, setting up three of the goals as Felipe Caicedo (2), Robinho and Shaun Wright-Phillips all found the back of the net. Hull were simply not at the races and manager Phil Brown was incensed with their opening 45 minutes.

So, rather than take out his fury behind closed doors, he took his players over to the supporters at the visiting end of the ground and furiously berated them for everyone to see. This must have been public humiliation for the players as Brown was seen wagging his finger at various individuals for several minutes. They did improve in the second half but still lost the game 5-1. Afterwards, Brown defended his decision to carry out his team talk in the public eye. He told the BBC: “I thought it was nice and cold and I thought I would keep the boys alive because they looked as if they were dead. Our 4,000 travelling fans deserved some kind of explanation for the first half performance and it was difficult for me to do that from the confines of a changing room. We owed them an apology for the first half performance.”

That decision seemed to have a negative effect on the rest of Hull’s season. They won just one more match all campaign in the Premier League and only managed to avoid relegation by a single point.

A year later, Hull returned to Eastlands and performed far better to leave with a 1-1 draw. Jimmy Bullard’s penalty ensured they would return to east Yorkshire with a point and he decided to mimic Brown’s team talk in a hilarious celebration that luckily, everyone saw the funny side of!

Premier League Files: Sam Ricketts

Premier League Career: Hull City (2008-2009), Bolton Wanderers (2009-2012)

Sam Ricketts represented nine different clubs over the course of 16 years before a knee injury forced him to retire from professional football in November 2016. At the time, he was the club captain at Coventry City.

The ex-Welsh international was commonly deployed as a full-back but could play on either side of a back four and should an injury crisis develop, he would also chip in with a role at the heart of central defence. Ricketts played for both Hull City and Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League. These clubs produced the most fruitful spells of his career.

Ricketts came from a showjumping background. His father, Derek Ricketts was the world showjumping champion in 1978 and Uncle John Francome is a former jockey champion in horse racing and a respected TV pundit. As a teenager, he was tempted by the world of horse racing but elected to concentrate on football instead.

He began his career at Oxford United in October 2000 and joined Swansea City four years later after a spell in the non-league with Telford United. He helped Swansea win promotion to League One during his time in south Wales before moving to Hull City for £300,000 in 2006.

Three years later, Ricketts played an important role in Hull’s shock promotion to the Premier League in 2009 and made 29 appearances in his debut Premier League campaign as the Tigers’ stayed in the top-flight by the narrowest of margins at the expense of Newcastle United. Although Hull wanted to extend his contract, Ricketts’ performances had caught the attention of Gary Megson who brought him to Bolton Wanderers in July 2009.

Four months into his maiden season with the Trotters’, Ricketts was involved in one of the most comical own goals in Premier League history. At home to Blackburn Rovers, Ricketts got himself into a big muddle with goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen. As the Finnish goalkeeper came out to sweep up a Blackburn free-kick, Ricketts headed the ball towards his own goal, leaving Jaaskelainen stranded and Blackburn given a gift on their way to a 2-0 victory. The reactions of both players summed up embarrassment and massive strain.

In February 2011, he snapped an Achilles tendon in an FA Cup tie against Wigan Athletic which ruled him out of action for the best part of seven months. When he returned to the fold, Bolton were in the midst of a relegation dogfight. He scored on his first game back on New Years’ Eve against Wolverhampton Wanderers but it would be a losing battle against top-flight status. Bolton dropped out of the league on the final day of the season.

He stayed for one more campaign in Lancashire before moving to Wolves and therefore reuniting with his manager from the Swansea days, Kenny Jackett. As club captain, he helped spearhead the Black Country club make an instant return to the Championship with over 100 points. He ended his career with Coventry and played 56 times for the Sky Blues’ before quitting the game on medical advice. He won 52 international caps for Wales.

Referees in the Middle: Stuart Attwell

Premier League Career: 2008-2010, 2016-

First Premier League Match: Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Hull City (23 August 2008)

Nuneaton-born referee Stuart Attwell has worked hard throughout his refereeing career and is now among the Premier League referees list for a second time after a spell back in the Football League.

Starting out in the non-league ranks, Attwell’s first Football League appointment came in 2007 for a fixture in League Two between Hereford United and Rotherham United.

His first full Football League campaign impressed many of his peers and observers and at the age of 25, he became the youngest-ever official to referee a Premier League match when Blackburn Rovers drew 1-1 with newly-promoted Hull City in August 2008. This record has since been broken by Michael Oliver but it was a great accomplishment in such a short space of time.

A year later, he was added to the international referees’ roster and has taken charge of international friendlies, UEFA Champions League qualifiers and a group stage game involving Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Europa League.

Controversy has followed Attwell around occasionally – as it has for many referees over the years. In 2008, he and one of his assistants gave Reading an infamous “ghost goal” in a Championship match at Vicarage Road against Watford. His linesman on the day, Nigel Bannister mistakenly flagged for a Reading goal when he should have given a corner kick only. The bizarre incident left him off-duty for the following weekend.

In September 2010, another strange incident occurred in a Premier League game between Liverpool FC and Sunderland. Sunderland had a defensive free-kick which Michael Turner rolled back to Simon Mignolet. Believing the Black Cats had taken the free-kick; an instinctive Fernando Torres ran onto the loose ball, stopped to check with the officials that it was okay to play on and then rolled the ball into Dirk Kuyt’s path for an easy tap-in. The goal was given, much to the condemnation of the Sunderland players and management.

In February 2012, Attwell was dropped from the Select Group list. Mike Riley admitted: “Throughout his career in the Select Group, Stuart has demonstrated great courage and mental strength in responding to the challenges that he has faced. Stuart has a high level of maturity and responsibility and I’m convinced that he has a long-term future as a referee at the very highest level.”

His last Premier League appointment was a New Years’ Day 2012 encounter between West Bromwich Albion and Everton and was seen as a strange decision for the change to happen mid-season. Stuart wouldn’t referee another top-flight match until November 2014 when the Baggies’ won a fixture away at Leicester City.

Sporadic Premier League appointments would follow but Attwell’s hard work was rewarded with a return to the Select Group list in time for the 2016-2017 campaign. His return came for Hull’s 2-0 win at Swansea City in August 2016; their only away Premier League success of the season. Attwell would referee another 10 top-flight games during the season. Still in his mid-30s and nearly 80 matches under his belt, he looks set to fulfil what Riley said about him and have a long-term future as a man in the middle at the highest level.