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Hull 1 - Chelsea 1. Absolutely awesome game that the crowd was well up for :-)

Chelsea are the league leaders. Hull remain in the bottom three even after this result, but make no mistake, it was epic.

To be honest, I'd had misgivings about dragging P along to this one, on a school night: aside from the 2hr round trip to do the school run (having left work early), since kick off's 7.45, the match doesn't end 'til about 9.30ish, and we weren't back at Castle Fox until 10. The school bus leaves at 7.55 from the Farm, so we had an early start this morning, too (since Mali had to be walked before we left).

All this I was mulling over on the drive back from school yesterday - get home, walk dog, rush food, get to stadium etc etc... but once we were actually there at the game, I knew it was the right decision to have made the effort. Hull were really up for it, and put in a massive effort, and when we went 1-0 up it was gratifying and welcome, but definitely not undeserved.

That they levelled was inevitable, but Hull maintained the pressure in an intense game, and as I said at the top, the crowd was awesome, making a ferocious din half the time that managed to shut up the (surprisingly large) travelling contingent in the North Stand.
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Hull hosted Wolves this afternoon, and P and I were there to watch the game under a clear sky, which meant it was pretty darned cold.

The Wolves supporters were quite a vocal lot, but we shut them up early doors with a goal on 11 minutes (or thereabouts). Unfortunately, we then conceded an awful own goal at the start of the second half, and although Hunt (our best player) scored from the spot after Altidore won us a penalty, Wolves levelled the score at 2-2 in a move that just had all of us in the stands expressing dismay before their player had made the shot - the move just had the look of cast iron inevitability stamped all over it.

1 point from a draw leaves us in 19th place, and in deep trouble. To be honest, I can't really see us escaping the drop to Championship football next season - it's going to require a fellow team to do us a favour (like Newcastle last year) to get us out of this fix - we're not strong enough to do it on our own...

Anyway, despite what was a disappointing result, it was still a good occasion; 24,000+ people all invested in the match generates quite an atmosphere, even in the cold.
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So, yesterday's match saw Hull City take on Stoke, and at half-team the Tigers (for such are called Hull City) were 0-1 down, due to some awful defending on our part. We'd started brightly, and Jimmy Bullard (our star player who lasted all of 37 minutes last season before succumbing to a knee injury) was clearly exerting a positive influence on the side.

Nonetheless, at half-time I was texting to [livejournal.com profile] brundle that although I could see us scraping an equaliser, if Stoke got a second then that'd be it, game over.

Stoke have terrifically vocal away support, and they were on top form yesterday, what with some stirring renditions of 'You're getting sacked in the morning' and such like in the first half (Phil Brown, Hull's not universally-loved manager, has something of a metaphorical guillotine hanging over his head, given a really rather appalling run that covers most of the current calendar year).

However, in the second half, Hull equalised courtesy of Olofinjana, a former Stoke player himself, at which point the Hull faithfull broke into a rousing chorus of 'You're not singing any more' at the Stoke fans. And with the crowd well and truly up, the pendulum swung in the home side's favour.

At 1-1, with five minutes to go, and Hull clearly on top, I said to P that the match was going to end with us disappointed with 'only' a point, whereas at half-time I'd been thinking that if we'd been lucky, that was the most that we could have expected.

And then (deep breath) Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink scored in injury time, the crowd went wild and Hull secured a vital three points and moved out of the relegation zone.

The first half, despite some glimpses of promise, hadn't been that great, but the second half? That was epic :D
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Hull City 1, Bolton Wanderers 0.

w00t!!!

In the second half, Jozy Altidore made his Hull debut, despite only having landed in the country a couple of days previously. With his first touch, he sends another new acquisition, Kamel Ghilas clear in the penalty area, and we're one up.

Anyway, the subject line refers to the semi-ironic chant that the crowd got going after this fantastic introduction in Altidore's honour: ordinarily, football chants are a lot more involved, and it is a near constant source of mirth on this side of the pond that the colonies haven't yet come up with a more inventive repertoire than 'USA! USA! USA!'

There is, indeed, a great Billy Connolly sketch* about football crowd chants, where he's describing how, as one, the crowd will all say something, complete with arm gestures and the like, and you never see anyone on the fringe sort of trying to keep up.

Wisdom of crowds, 'n all that.

Anyway, 'twas a good game, quoth I, from the safe perspective of 3 points, but in truth we were outplayed in the first half, and although we might have scored another two goals, the same could be said of Bolton. Three games in, three points on the board: it's generally reckoned that 40 points is assured safety, which, given that there are 38 games in the season, means that we need to average a little over a point a game. And that, in turn, means that we still need to pick up some momentum.

Typing this from work - am on call here from 9am to 3pm today. Then it's a mad dash home, whisk Mali 'round the Avenues before heading out again for a second viewing of HBP, this time with a work colleague who I'd promised to watch the film with (we've done the last few), but where events on either their part or mine have continually conspired to thwart whatever plans this mouse fox might lay.

* there are *lots* of great Billy Connolly sketches {"insist on Afghan melons", "about that carpet...", "Beware! Stingers!" and so on}
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...on the downside, Hull City 1, Tottenham Hotspur 5 was a bit of a chastening experience.

So, dutifully clad in this season's pin-stripe tigers' shirt, I took my seat in the upper tier of the West Stand, more or less in line with the penalty spot at the southern end of the ground, at 7:45pm yesterday evening. You could see across Hull to the Windmill off Oslo road - rather nice view.

Defoe got a hattrick - his final goal (and Spurs' fifth) was absolutely awesome. Watching the game live, rather than with the luxury of action replay/commentary or what not, is a different experience - things happen incredibly quickly, and you're sometimes (often!) left a little bemused by the ref's decisions. On occasion. Every now and then.

Hunt scored Hull's consolation - he looks pretty sharp, to be honest, and the fans all perked up at Giovanni's introduction, mid-way through the first half, too.

The second half started off very quietly, but gradually Spurs asserted themselves, and once they scored their third it was all over as a contest. Nonetheless, too frequently were we looking lethargic and uninterested - players would lose the ball upfield, and then stand around, artlessly, as Spurs pinged the ball around the pitch, edging towards our goal.

Ah well. Next match is Bolton, at home. P and I'll both be there for that one.

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