Sunday, 25 May 2008

Back the Gaffer

I'm afraid I've been a lousy blogger of late. Unfortunately, Roz has been quite ill and I've taken some time off to look after her.

That's why I spent Saturday watching Hull City's greatest moment from a pub in Kerry and not in block 122 at Wembley (glad to see JP went - apparently he got mobbed everywhere he went by City fans!) I still can't comprehend the upcoming fixtures list - goodbye Glanford Park, hello Old Trafford!

What struck me was we got promoted thanks to the inspired leadership of a certain Mr Brown. Compare Phil Brown's treatment - sacked by Derby after just seven months in charge - with Alex Ferguson.

Ferguson took over Man U in 1986 and after three seasons, had no silverware. Fans and journalists wanted his head. But the board stood by him, hoping that he would pull it around. Which he did, by making the right decisions in difficult times and getting on with the job.

In fact it wasn't until 1992-93 that he won the league. But since then, he has become the most successful manager of an English team of all time with 10 Premierships, five FA cups and two Champions Leagues titles!

What would have happened if Phil Brown had been given the chance to stay with Derby? Perhaps it's telling that the Tigers under his leadership have gone up as the Rams have gone straight down after a terrible season.

The point is it's all too tempting to sack the manager when the results aren't going your way.

If you're prepared to take more of a long-term view, you get results through consistency and stability.

But any successful manager has to learn from the mistakes of the past and use that experience to change tactics and strengthen the squad.

We're one nil down after 45 minutes - now is not the time to sack the Gaffer.

He needs the chance to make the right changes so we can kill 'em in the second half.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

I can't help falling in love with you....

28 years ago, Hull came to a halt. A city, divided by a river, came together for a grand day out in Wembley.
The Challenge Cup Final saw Hull FC and Hull KR face off for glory.

On May 3rd 1980, almost 100,000 - half the city - boarded the special trains and coaches to make the pilgrimage. By the side of the A63 by the Humber Bridge (signed off to win a by-election!) an improvised sign read ''last one out turn the lights off."

28 years later, Hull once again has its Wembley moment. The Twin Towers are no more but the thrill is just as strong. I never thought I'd see that day. But at the age of 37, after relegation seasons, false dawns and lock outs from Boothferry, City fans finally get THEIR big day out.

You don't like to think about the Murdoch money -60 million pounds in extra TV revenue, gate receipts and sponsorship - but a place in the greatest league in the world is its own reward.

The trips to Exeter, the bore draws, the battles with the taxman; by god we've earned this moment.

So let's relish every damn second of that walk down Wembley Way.

Because years ago we once sang a song that typified the Hull spirit. A bloody-minded, almost absurd aspiration, based on nothing more than a romantic dream.

"Flying high up in the sky, we'll keep the Hull flag flying high. From Boothferry to Wembley, we'll keep the Hull flag flying high."



Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Really Open Government

Say what you like about Caroline Flint but at least she's brought a greater transparency to politics!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

From Boothferry to Wembley.....

In a world where agents hold clubs for ransom and players demand £100,000 a week, it's heartening to see two Hull lads in the their 30s grab the goals to take us one step closer to the Premiership.

Barmby and Windass have both experienced the highs and lows of life in the Premiership. But I'm sure nothing will compare to taking their hometown up into arguably the best league in the world; driven not by money but sheer pride.

Roll on Wednesday at the KC. Sorry Elton, but this year the Hull flag's flying high!

Friday, 9 May 2008

Top of the class

John Harris has written a brilliant article in
today's Guardian asking whether meritocracy died and social mobility seized up.

In spite of calls from Government and educationalists to make our top universities more pluralistic and diverse, Oxford admitted almost twice as many Old Etonians in 2006 as in 2001.

Elliott Major, research director at the Sutton Trust, claims buying a private education actually gets you so much more than an education - it buys you membership to an establishment that encourages children to build elite social networks from a very early age.

This early networking then repays the intial investment countless times over throughout a pupil's life by supercharging your career prospects. The fact that 70% of High Court judges were privately educated is testament to this.

If we really believe in promoting aspiration and opportunity, we need to do more to show young people that they can go as far as their talent can get them, not as far as society will let them.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

City Till I Die!

I'm bracing myself to go through the mill for six hours today - Hull City chasing the Premiership dream followed by the Hull derby at the Millennium Stadium.

I'd have been happy at the beginning of the season to finish it knocking on the door of the play-offs. But the prospect of automatic promotion seems absolutely surreal.

I spent between 1989 and 1992 following the Tigers across the country with Jivin' Jeff's Self-Driving Army - a band of like minded dreamers who felt one day we'd hit the big time.

I remember going to St James Park for the last match - after already being relegated to Division 3 - and chanting at the Toon Army: "We're going down, we're going down, you're not, you're not!" We were wearing home made t shirts with a cartoon tiger dressed as ship's captain saluting as he disappeared under the waves with the slogan "Down with the Tigers!"

Yep, we had our fair share of lows - relegation down to League Three in 95-96, The David Lloyd years, getting locked out of Boothferry, bucket collections for the players and the Pepis Tiger Skin strip - consistently held up as the worst kit of all time (look at that picture!)

But Warren's Joyce's Great Escape season in 98-99, where we defied the drop to the conference typified the Tiger's fighting spirit and the move to the best community stadium in the country - owned by the people FOR the people - allowed us to start again.

So to contemplate seeing City playing week in, week out at the Emirates and Stamford Bridge is still hard to grasp.

Some might say it's unlikely we'll do it today - Stoke only need a point against Leicester and we need to beat Ipswich.

I think it'll come down to how much our opponents want to win - will Leicester's determination to avoid relegation be stronger than the Tractor Boy's desire to make the play-offs.

But the one thing I've learnt following City is they'll give it their all. And, if not today, there's still our chance of our day at Wembley.

They say that it's only by tasting the bitterness of defeat that you really appreciate how sweet success can really be.

Watching City of the years, I've had more than my fair share of bitter lemon. Hopefully we'll get to enjoy the land of milk and honey.

Johnson & Johnson

"He's very good at Greek and Latin and I can tell you something – if you can do Greek and Latin you can do anything, certainly run a city like London." Stanley Johnson on son Boris

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Beyond our Ken

Maybe it was the tear in the ear or the slight trembling in the voice. But as he stood there at the podium, Ken showed us that he was a class act all along.

It would have been so easy for him to blame it on Brown and stick the knife in as he left the stage. But he didn't. Instead, he took it like a man, shouldered all the blame and wished his successor all the best.

They say you only really miss something when it's gone. Well it's been just over an hour, and I think we've lost the greatest leader London has seen and ever will. A man who gave four decades of his life to the city he loves, who made London a bulwark against the worst excesses of Thatcherism, provided true leadership after 7/7 and played a pivotal role in securing the Olympics and Crossrail.

He could be his own worst enemy, ran against the official Labour candidate and his judgement over a few advisors could probably be called into question.

But he was a conviction politician - a true maverick who weathered the most prejudiced and sustained media onslaught with good grace and great dignity.

How ironic that yet again he's forced from the job he loves by another rabid right-wing Tory blond and sadder still to see the BNP claim an assembly seat. Ken made this city a fairer and more tolerant place. Let's hope that lives on as his legacy.

Still, if you want a smile, see Jon Craig make an arse of himself on Sky News after getting told off by City Hall officials for doing lives during the Mayoral speeches.

Bit of advice Jon, ask permission first.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Don't mourn - ORGANIZE!

I'm really sorry to see that the people of Ings have missed out on a fantastic councillor in Tracy Noon.

But she's every reason to hold her head up high today because:

a) she was only selected less than a month ago and faced an uphill struggle to unseat the incumbent

b) she had the highest turnout of all East Hull wards at 31% - the city average was 25.5% and some wards were as low as 17%

c) with 942, she had the fourth highest number of Labour votes in the city

Hull now has to wait two years for the next local election but local ward parties should start selecting candidates NOW.
Every prospective candidate should spend the next two years winning the confidence of the electorate, becoming their champion and holding the Lib Dems to account, ward-by-ward and street-by-street.

Our candidates can make a massive difference by campaigning for further investment and funding in our wards. For example, there's more than £200 million available for new playgrounds through the Children's Plan - we don't need the Lib Dems to help us access it - we can get it ourselves.

And it's not about sticking out thousands of leaflets a few weeks before the poll. Voters are wise to that. They want an on-going relationship, not a one-night stand. If candidates or councillors aren't prepared to do the work, they should stand aside and let those who are committed to carry the torch.

That's why for me, people like Tracy are the future - committed people who are making a real difference to the lives of others.
Tonight - like every other Friday night - she'll be teaching more than 80 kids drama and music at East Hull Urban Arts; a project she can be very, very proud of.

So take heart Tracy - you did a great job. But remember the last words of the trade unionist Joe Hill before he was executed.

"Don't mourn. Organize!"

Thursday, 1 May 2008