During my time at Leeds, Hull City weren’t on the regular fixture list. When we were handed a pre-season game there in the summer of 2003, they were starting out on what was to prove to be their successful climb to the Premier League, under the chairmanship of my old pal and former Leeds commercial director Adam Pearson.
We had survived in the Premier League by the skin of our teeth the previous season – beating Arsenal at Highbury in the penultimate game. Peter Reid had been given the manager’s job on a permanent basis, but the financial state of the club was such that we were losing players through a revolving door. A few weeks before Harry Kewell was the latest when he joined Liverpool for a paltry £3m. Another one of our Champions League side gone.
By the time we went to Hull in pre-season, we had already had a disastrous friendly at York when Mark Viduka was ‘sent-off’ inside 20 seconds and we’d drawn at Bristol City with a very young side. Hull were still in the bottom division, and if we were looking for a confidence boosting win, then we were in the wrong place. We lost 2-0, and I’ll never forget the outstanding travelling support must have wondered what the hell was going on with their club. It wouldn’t be the first time or the last.
Unfortunately, things didn’t get any better when the season for real started, but that’s another story…