Great Sports Clubs of Yorkshire: Hull City AFC Volume 7 Part 5

Through the 1990s and Millennium period, Hull City had seen as much of the inside of a courtroom, than they had done a football stadium. From fan protests to being locked of their ground, the club had made the national headlines for all the wrong reasons. In 2001, though a possible knight in shining armour had bought the club, by the name of Adam Pearson. Could this man who had travelled east from Elland Road be trusted, or was he yet to prove another false dawn at the club?

The Road to Glory? 2001-2008

On the day Adam Pearson took over the reigns of Hull City, they were still in a mess. The gruesome twosome of Hinchcliffe and Buchanan may have gone, but the trail of destruction they had left behind had to be cleaned up by Pearson and his team. A transfer embargo was lifted, after Buchanan had borrowed money from the football trust to keep the wolves at bay and David Lloyd. Pearson paid back the money and suddenly things seemed to be sorting themselves out.


Performances had improved under the experienced Brian Little and a playoff berth in 2001 had been an improvement on what had gone before. At this time, City had two Jamaicans in the team, Theodore Whitmore, a rangy playmaker and tough defender, Ian Goodison. Collectively they were known as the “Reggae Boyz.” In the close season, backed by Pearson’s new money, Little delved into the transfer record, breaking the club’s transfer record in the process. A blonde haired striker, known as Lawrie Dudfield was signed for £250,000 from Leicester City and he was joined by Gary Alexander from Swindon. Together these two would form initially a potent strike force at the start of the 2001-02 season. Before Christmas, City were riding high in the league, but a run of defeats saw them fall to 11th place, which in this brave new world at Boothferry was simply not good enough. In March 2002, Little was sacked and replaced by former Liverpool favorite, Jan Molby. The Dane had enjoyed a successful spell at Kidderminster and had made the perennial cup giant-killers into a football league outfit themselves. His time at Boothferry was not to be so successful. A 4-0 defeat to Luton in his first game in charge was the sign of things to come as City limped their way to a mid-table finish. Molby was known in his playing days for having an eye for a good pass and although his record of two wins in seventeen during his short reign was absymal, his record in the transfer market and eye for talent proved to be second to none.

Backed by Pearson’s money, Molby recrutied several players in the summer of ’02, which would form the nucleus of the team which would propel Hull City back up the football league during the noughties. Ian Ashbee, a tenacious midefielder joined from Cambridge, Stuart Elliot a free scoring left winger was procured from Motherwell, and Stuart Green, a skilful playmaker, was acquired from neighbours, Doncaster. Elliott was a particularly interesting case. Guided by his strong religious beliefs the denomination of his faith had only three churches in the UK, one in his native Belfast, Motherwell and Hull! This triumvirate of signings laid the foundations for others to follow and a turnign point in the fortunes of Hull City AFC. Molby left Boothferry Park with his new team lying in a miserable 18th place, having annoyed the fans, dressing room and eventually the chairman with his uncompromising demeanour.

Apart from wanting to escape the dungeon of Division Three, Pearson had another reason for producing a winning team on the pitch. In one of the biggest strokes of luck that this beleaguered club have had came in 2002. A cash windfall from the sale of half its shares in Kingston Communications had led to Hull City council suddenly becoming one of the richest in the country. A cool £245m was to be spent on bricks and mortar projects around the city. One of these was a brand new community stadium, similar to the McAlpine in Huddersfield, which saw both football and rugby club share the facility. The 25,000 seater stadium, located ironically adjacent to Hull City’s pre-war Anlaby Road home.