Sunderland vs Hull ‘Who are You?’: (2) an easy vote for Norman

Jake demands answers
Jake demands answers

Gary Clark‘s* answers to the Salut! Sunderland questionnaire are long by any standards and it seemed like a good idea to split the interview into two rather than expect people to plough through 2,500 words or more in one go. Read Part One here –– and now sit back to enjoy the rest of the Q+A, including an amusing reference to the respective goalkeeping qualities of Tony Norman and Ian Hesford – and why Raich Carter, son not ghost, will be in the away end on Saturday …

Salut! Sunderland:
Give me your highlights of supporting Hull – the first Premier promotion season and the book/s must be up there somewhere?

The stand out memory is our first ever appearance at Wembley on 24th May 2008 when we beat Bristol City 1-0 in the Championship Play-Off Final. It was a day all supporters of a certain age never thought they would see because Hull City had up to then always been tagged as the biggest city in England never to have had a team in the old First Division. It hung around us like a stray dog. Plymouth have now been lumbered with that particular millstone.

Before that glorious day any highlights usually involved rare promotions from one lower league to one not so low, then usually back down again. Of course there are many memorable games in between the yo-yoing.

My stand-out season has to 1965/66 when Hull won the 3rd Division Title and smashed every record imaginable on the way. It was a fantastic time to be a supporter of the Tigers and of course the perfect year was topped off when England won the World Cup at Wembley in the July, of which I still treasure the match programme as I do every home one from that season. I saw my first away game that season too at Scunthorpe United’s Old Show Ground which meant a trip across the River Humber of the old paddle steamer Ferry, then a train from New Holland to Scunthorpe, and a 4-2 victory in front of 18,000 mainly Hull City supporters. Happy Days indeed.

Also that year was a memorable, and still our best result at Chelsea, a 2-2 draw from two down in the FA Cup 6th Rd, we lost the replay 3-1 at Boothferry Park on a Thursday night and all the schools in Hull closed at dinner time so the kids (and teachers) could get to the game in time. Wonderful memories.

In the league stand out games for me are a 2-1 win in front of a record crowd at Bramall Lane three days after we had surrendered a two nil lead at home to Stoke in the FA Cup 6th Rd, losing 3-2 in 1970/71. A 7-0 victory over Barnsley in the first game under the ‘new’ floodlights, a 2-0 home win against Manchester United in the 2nd div, 1974, Same score against Spurs four years later and a 3-0 win over Chelsea at home in the early 80’s.
Everything was eclipsed and the history books re-written and re-written again when we finally reached the Premier League. Now I look fondly back on away wins at Arsenal, Spurs, Newcastle (where we are unbeaten at this level) putting three past Man Utd at Old Trafford, being two up against Liverpool at Anfield, beating them at home 3-1, and the memories and highlights grow every week.

By far the greatest belongs to our very first home game as a Premiership Club when we beat Fulham 2-1 on the opening day of the 2008/9 season. Winning at Wembley in a one-off game is all very good but actually arriving as a Premiership club and coming from one nil down to win was not only a truly a dream start but a dream come true.

And the lows?

Seeing our once proud stadium of Boothferry Park which was considered as one of the best in the FL during the mid 60s deteriorate so badly through lack of investment by people who didn’t care to such an extent that we finished up playing from virtually a three sided ground with a 10,500 capacity battling it out at the bottom of the old 4th division in front of three to four thousand diehards. We became a laughing stock in our own city amongst those who switched to watching rugby league and a sport were winning silverware, compared to football, is almost compulsory.

Four victories, including two against pub teams, and you are in a Wembley Final, that’s is what we up against, and we lost two generations of supporters before our club found its feet again. Victory because of those dark days tastes so much sweeter.

Name the greatest players you’ve seen in Hull colours – or wish you’d seen – and the worst

I never saw the great Raich Carter play for Hull and if I could be granted one wish it would be to see just one game with him playing for Hull in front of the regular 40,000 plus crowds his teams used to attract. His son, also called Raich, is actually driving one of our mini buses to Sunderland so not a lot of people will know that Raich Carter is in the away end on Saturday.

My boyhood hero’s were the undoubted goalscoring talent that was Ken Wagstaff and Chris Chilton. Probably the best strike force never to play for England.

I have an admiration for one club men like Andy Davidson and Gareth Roberts both ex-Hull City captains with almost 800 games between them under their belts.

Old fashioned centre forwards like Stuart Pearson, John Hawley and brickies labourer Billy Whitehurst. Even Les Mutrie who we bought from Blyth Spartans. Pete Skipper who the fans chipped in to buy back from Darlington, then of the modern day players, Andy Payton, Brian Marwood, Gary Parker, Geovanni, George Boateng, Micheal Turner, Dean Windass, in fact I could go on for ever with my list of favourite Hull City players because I love them all, seriously. A mention must also go to Ian Ashbee who captained the club through all four divisions and I cannot see that particular honour ever being repeated.

If pushed, the worst player and one who I thought was responsible for one relegation from the old second to third divisions is one you lumbered us with. Ian Hesford.

I will not insult the man any further only to say you got Tony Norman and we got him. Chalk and very mouldy cheese.

Brazil? Excited or couldn’t care less?

Horrible venue and we will be home before the postcards. I know several lads who are going, £8,000 before they’ve bought a pint!!!

I don’t have a lot of faith in Roy Hodgson either, I think his southern based teams look dated and play as though they are wearing deep sea divers boots. Sorry and all that but this World Cup will end in tears. And it’s about time it was played in the home of football, namely England and the FA in their 125 year should be hosting this one.

Anything in the modern game that inspires me?

I like to see young lads in Hull wearing Hull City replica kits but besides that, sadly, nothing.

And what appals you?

Plenty. Cheating, diving, hounding referees, big club biasedness (I’ll allow that “word” on novelty grounds – ed), greed and the way the television companies mess about with kick off times with no regard to the fans who actually pay at the turnstiles. Prime example being Hull’s FA Cup Rd 5 match at Brighton, it has been moved from the traditional 3.00 pm on a Saturday to a Monday night. Scandalous, the television companies should be putting on free travel for away fans and making up our lost wages.

Will you be there and what is your score prediction?

Leaving Hull before 9.00am and our little party of mini buses hope to be in a nice little boozer for opening time, police permitting.

I really fancy us on Saturday and it’s time we got a result at the SoL. I’m sticking my neck out for a 2-0 win to the Tigers.

* Gary Clark on himself: I clocked up 50 years of unbroken support for Hull City on January 4th this year. My first match being v Everton on Jan 4th 1964, FA Cup Rd 3, 1-1, lost the replay 2-1, but I was instantly smitten. I now work part time as a bus driver for kids with learning difficulties. Not a king’s ransom but I get my week ends free for football and that is worth its weight in gold. Before that I owned a local hardware shop in Hull straight out of ‘League of Gentlemen’ In fact one of the writers lived around the corner! I sold the business in 2008 to concentrate full time on supporting Hull City AFC.

I have written a couple of books on City. My first was called From Boothferry to Wembley – the title gives a way the plot somewhat – and amazingly the book sold out within weeks. I really should get my a*** in gear and do a second edition. My second book is called This Is The Best Trip…. and is about one man’s obsession with his football club (me) and Hull City’s first ever season in the Premier League.
It sells, or did, at £10.99 but if anyone fancies a copy just send me enough to cover postage and I’ll send you one. Email me at

Interview: Colin Randall

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3 thoughts on “Sunderland vs Hull ‘Who are You?’: (2) an easy vote for Norman”

  1. Thank you David, the Hull chairman you refer to in the 60’s must have been the late, great, Harold Needler. When he died in the late 70’s the club sadly died with him.
    I was once hitchhiking to York with a friend for a mid week game. City were playing York in the Barry Johnson testimonial. Mr Needler pulled up in a huge Rolls Royce and offered us both a lift to the ground. Shame it wasn’t Jimmy Saville as we could have been quids in now!
    Reflecting that generosity, move on twenty years and one wet Tuesday night on the car park at Deepdale, one of the Needler siblings was present and attracting a rather large crowd. I ambled across to see what all the fuss was about and this person’s chauffeur was taking handfuls of ten pound notes in return for complimentary tickets for the game. Hardly like father like or son (or daughter)
    I was at the FA Cup replay at Boothferry Park between Leeds and Sunderland and I too wrote to the local rag saying that’s what we could have had at Boothferry Park every other week if we had a board with ambition, which was a 14 year old’s way of attempting to be ironic. It won me £2 though. which was more then I earned all week delivering newspapers.
    Great atmosphere that night and didn’t a supporter run onto the pitch and attack the referee with a rucksack?

  2. An excellent article. I became friends with an ex-pat, ex- Ryhope, Aussie-based SAFC fan called John Lynn (sadly lost him to prostate cancer about 12 years ago) and he spent his early married life in Hull and used to watch them too. I remember him telling me he wrote to the local press in the early 60s making the same point Gary has about the lack of investment and – “the biggest city in England never to have had a team in the old First Division” tag – the Hull chairman invited John to meet him at the club, John went and had a great chat with the guy. I doubt the current incumbent would be so forthcoming!!

    My first memory of Hull is losing that second FA cup replay 2-1 against Leeds, a riot after a disgraceful late offside/penalty for them and 2 sending-offs for us. I’m still convinced Revie bribed the ref. It still hurts.

  3. I didn’t realise that there was even more good stuff to come after reading Part 1.

    We used to call him Wing Commander Hesford because of that stupid moustache.

    He wasn’t the very worst that we’ve seen in our colours but he was a long way from being one of the best either. He wasn’t too clever was Iain Hesford. It’s a funny thing but whenever his name gets mentioned I can see him in my mind’s eye playing for us the only time I ever got to Boothferry Park for a ridiculously early kick off on New Years Day, Must have been i Jan 1990 unless I stand corrected.

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