Set in the 1980s, Not All-Ticket: From Withernsea High to Boothferry Park Halt chronicles a dramatic period in the history of Hull City AFC through the eyes of a young fan from rural East Yorkshire.

From relegation and receivership to the ‘Robinson renaissance’, Lusmore experiences a rollercoaster of emotions, culminating in dismay at perhaps the most contentious managerial dismissal in the club’s history.

In the process, he charts a course through his coming of age, capturing how it feels to follow an unfashionable team in an often unloved city.

He flirts with rival sporting attractions, then tosses them aside in favour of the small-fry team in this tatty fish town.

The football-fuelled adrenalin rush is soon replicated in his first forays into the local music and club scene. Discovering the delights of Hull after dark, he soon realises that Saturday is about much more than just the match.

First-hand terrace tales and musical memories abound in this uplifting memoir.

(Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd. February 2022. Hardback: 464 pages)

Book Review – Sir Unwin Pugh: From Hull to Camp Nou by Warren Dudley

The Bromley Boys DVD cover

Warren Dudley is a screenwriter best known for the 2018 film The Bromley Boys based on the book about Bromley FC by Dave Roberts. In 2020 Dudley turned his hand to writing novels, producing Baby Blue: An American Horror Story and then his football based book, Sir Unwin Pugh: From Hull to Camp Nou.

The author himself describes it as, “a comedy football autobiography about a 90 year old ex-player and raconteur called Sir Unwin Pugh. A bit Partridge, a bit Count Arthur Strong, a bit Ron Atkinson.” Traits from these three personas are presented to the reader, as Sir Unwin regals his life story against the background of an impending court case. Like Alan Partridge, Pugh is never afraid to promote his own worth and has something of the Little Englander about him, with his right-wing views evident through his story. Pugh also displays at times a pompous attitude with significant delusions about his abilities as a player and manager, and indeed his life in all aspects, features akin to the Count Arthur Strong character. In respect of Dudley’s nod to the much travelled ex-manager Ron Atkinson, Pugh comes to represent all the cliches that managers and pundits come to espouse in the game over the last few years. There are of course other influences, with this book also aiming an arrow firmly at the ‘boy-done-good’ football autobiographies.

As its title suggests, the book does indeed take readers from Hull and its team Hull City to the Nou Camp the home of Spanish giants Barcelona FC via Pugh’s playing and managing exploits. However, in addition to the football related aspects, there are various bizarre tales of song-writing, business interests and his various marriages, with each chapter a mini-story or anecdote in the overall tale. As the book cover itself headlines, this is a “Footballish Story”.

Dudley is clearly a skilled writer which means this is a very readable and in parts amusing adventure. Comedy like music or art, is all about personal taste and therefore whilst one might appreciate a particular form, invariably it can never appeal to everyone. With that in mind, this readers view is that this book is likely to divide opinion.


(Sixty6Media. November 2020. Hardback 278 pages)


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Book Review: Billy Bremner – Fifty Defining Fixtures by Dave Tomlinson

Never judge a book by its title?

If we tackle this question first, we can then move on to what Billy Bremner – Fifty Defining Fixtures is really about and we will find a pretty enjoyable book on the Leeds United era of ‘King Billy’ who was voted the best player ever at Leeds United and the greatest captain in the Football League’s history.

First things first, though; To judge or not to judge? that is the question. Another work by author, Dave Tomlinson, which has been reviewed on this site,  Leeds United – a History is claimed in the publishers’ press release to be a ‘definitive’ history of the club. But they don’t seem able to define ‘definitive’. This is hardly surprising since the publisher and author don’t even agree on where Dave actually resides. Amberley think he lives in Leeds, whilst his own website thinks he lives in Birmingham.

We have a similar problem with this book’s title. Amberley also struggle to define ‘defining’. And is it likely there are exactly 50 ‘defining fixtures’ for him? Of course not. Does that matter? Of course not. It is a celebration of a genuinely inspirational footballer who was loved by Leeds fans and hated by almost all opposition ones who would, still, have loved him to play for them.

We have to wait till Fixture 14 when Bobby Collins suffered a terrible leg break away to Torino to find something really interesting about Bremner. It is unsurprising, given how the book is constructed, that information comes via a quote from Billy himself. Describing his feelings towards the perpetrator of the top-of-the-thigh-when-the-ball-was-ten-yards-away horror tackle, he admits to murderous intent, such was his extreme loyalty to any and every team mate.

As someone who saw him play in his prime, I am confident that he deserved the highest praise and I enjoyed reading about a defining (yes!) period in the club’s history. And yet, Dave Tomlinson struggles to capture the essence of Billy Bremner’s qualities because so much of the author’s work is cobbling together match reports. In fact, Billy seems to be barely mentioned in so many of the matches described. And the selection of 50 does miss some really important ones, like when he scored the only goal of the game in the second replay of the 1970 FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United and sent us Leeds fans at Burnden Park wild with delight. And Billy tells us himself about a match that really should be in the 50. In Fixture 20, he reflects (in You Get Nowt For Being Second) that it was the recent Fulham match which earned him a lengthy ban and forced him to finally change and calm down – a bit. It was the defining moment of his career.

The best illustration of what Bremner was truly about has to wait till Fixture 42, a match of relatively low importance against Hibernian. But, finally, Tomlinson begins to focus on Billy’s leadership qualities. And, a little earlier in sequence, the report on Fixture 36 totally fails because it, absurdly claims to be objective about allegations of match-fixing against Wolves in 1972. Bremner won substantial damages and you are not being objective by once more airing the allegations, even if Mike O’Grady did later admit to having been a go-between. Perhaps ‘objective’ need defining?

As we draw to the eventual conclusion, we are surprised to find so much of the wonderful victory in the European Cup semi-final against Cruyff’s Barcelona is diverted to the conflict between Bremner and Giles over who should manage Leeds, presumably because the author felt it should be squeezed in somewhere.

The photographs are a little puzzling. Why does the cover (at least in one edition) have Bremner in Scotland kit when the vast bulk of the ‘Fixtures’ are Leeds matches? Who is the target audience? And it is amusing to see a caption alongside the photograph of Mike England, clearly trying to restrain an angry Billy, which describes them as ‘fighting’. Those who wish to know more about Billy actually fighting on a football field might be advised to check with Kevin Keegan about that.

For all his greatness as a player, he was certainly not the best manager in the history of Leeds United. Yet he was the one who cared most passionately about the club. His famous quote amply illustrates this, “Every time Leeds concede a goal, I feel like I’ve been stabbed in the heart.” If Dave Tomlinson decides to write another book on Bremner, I hope this is the ‘King Billy’ he writes about, the player the fans loved.

(Amberley Publishing 2017 160pp)


Review by Graeme Garvey


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2015/16: Capital One Cup Fifth Round – Manchester City v Hull City

Manchester City moved into what was, pre-sponsorship by Etihad, the City of Manchester Stadium for the start of the 2003/04 season. City had spent 80 years at Maine Road prior to that and fans down the years would have had their pre and post-match rituals down to an art, a tradition passed down the generations – same place, same time, same friends and family.

In moving ground losing those rituals for some City fans would have been unbearable and for those businesses that relied on match-day trade in Moss Side, financially catastrophic.

Those days getting to the ground amongst the back-to-backs in south Manchester have been replaced with a journey whether on foot, tram or car to a vast expanse called Sportscity, which includes City’s ground, a velodrome, an athletics stadium, the National Squash Centre and a link to the Etihad Campus (housing City’s Academy Facility).

It is an impressive site, yet what has this meant for the fan experience? With City drawn at home to Hull City in the Capital One Cup Fifth Round, it was an ideal opportunity to see for myself.

The Etihad Stadium sits to the east of the city centre and is easily reached by tram; tonight a £3 ticket provided a return ticket from Manchester Piccadilly to the Etihad Campus. It was then a short walk up a flight of stairs up to the exterior perimeter of the ground.

Given the space available, Manchester City have created various buildings and areas allocated with certain functions. So for instance, fans have the choice of the club shop, food and drinks outlets as well as City Square around the ground. This last space has a stage and is dedicated to providing pre-match entertainment, with interviews, competitions and live bands, which are beamed out on big screens around the stadium.

With the game being played on 01 December, it was a chance for the club to start the countdown to Christmas and had even installed an ice-rink outside the Etihad. Having arrived early it was a chance to experience the entertainment and facilities on offer. It was evident that City have put a great deal of time and effort into making sure that those arriving early are engaged, whilst of course ensuring they are spending money.

It may be a very different pre-match routine to that which many City supporters from the Maine Road era remember, but the reality is that for a new generation of fans, this is the norm – something the West ham faithful will have to come to terms with once they move to the Olympic Stadium next season.

Once inside the ground, you are struck by the fact that the concourses are bright and roomy with plenty of food and drink outlets and various television screens to continue the countdown to kick-off. As you would expect in a modern stadium, the seats are comfortable with plenty of legroom and a view free from any obstruction. They are facilities that are a lifetime away from those encountered in my early years of watching football around the country. However, there still remains a question as to whether these fine amenities in our fleet of all-seater stadiums have lessened the atmosphere in the game today.

On the pitch, it was Manchester City who triumphed 4-1 over Hull City in a score line which flattered them. When Wilfred Bony slotted home after twelve minutes, one wondered if the game was going to be killed off by the Premier League side quickly. However, despite David Silva making his first start since early October and Belgian international Kevin de Bruyne being in the side, chances were few and far between in a low-key game.

With just ten minutes remaining The Citizens were still ahead by a single goal as a few people started to head for the exits. Those leaving early missed four goals – on eighty minutes substitute Kelechi Iheanacho finished Raheem Sterling’s cross for City’s second and a third goal followed just two minutes later from De Bruyne. The Belgian added his second of the night on eighty seven minutes from a free-kick, which just left time for Andrew Robertson to score a consolation for The Tigers in time added-on.

At the whistle the 38,246 crowd dispersed into the cold December Manchester night, satisfied with a City win and progress into the Semi-Final. Whatever grounds have in terms of experience and facilities for fans in the future, some things they want will never change – a winning team.

2015/16: Capital One Cup Second Round – Hull City v Rochdale

Following a first visit to Brunton Park in the Capital Cup First Round, the Second Round also afforded the chance to tick another venue off the list of grounds attended, with a trip to the KC Stadium, the home of Hull City.

Both City and their opponents tonight, Rochdale, only made it into the Second Round after winning through on penalties. Hull emerged victors 4-3 away at Accrington Stanley, whilst Rochdale beat fellow League One side Coventry City 5-3 at Spotland.

Hull City manager Steve Bruce made nine changes to his starting line-up from the weekend loss at Charlton Athletic with only David Meyler and Andrew Robertson retained. The most significant change saw the return from a long-term injury of Mohamed Diame.

Dale manager Keith Hill made only two changes from the squad that drew 0-0 at Chesterfield with Andy Cannon and Reuben Noble-Lazarus coming in.

Despite the number of changes the home team settled quickest and had the first real opportunity of the game when Ryan Taylor fired a free-kick over the bar. However, it wasn’t long before the City faithful had a goal to cheer. On nine minutes Abel Hernandez played in Greg Luer who expertly slotted home past Rochdale keeper Lillis.

Hull though didn’t capitalise on their bright start and despite the energy of Diame in midfield, weren’t able to punish the visitors. Indeed it was Rochdale who looked more composed as the first-half continued with neat possession football that saw chances created for Ian Henderson, Cannon and Noble-Lazarus.

The lethargy from the home-side seemed to affect the majority of the 10,430 crowd who were muted in their response as the players left the pitch at half-time with the Tigers holding onto their 1-0 advantage.

Hull started the better at the beginning of the second-half and Hernandez had an early chance, but put it over the bar. However, as with the opening forty five minutes, it was the visitors who came stronger into the game dominating possession.

Despite seeing plenty of the balls, Rochdale didn’t create any clear-cut opportunities, although there were half-chances for Calvin Andrew, Lewis Alessandra and Cannon. Hull though had a glorious chance to kill off the game late-on, but Hernandez managed to fire wide after a tantalising cross from substitute Ahmed Elmohamady.

At the whistle, Hull had managed to maintain their 1-0 lead and progress to the Third Round and a home tie with Swansea City. Rochdale though will have considered themselves unlucky not to have taken the game to extra-time based on their possession.

* * * * * * * *

In terms of my impression of the KC Stadium, it was unspectacular from the outside, as most new-builds are, but it was good to see that had an attempt had been made to break up the plain exterior with a series of fresco’s featuring greats from Hull City and the rugby league legends of Hull FC (who also play at the KC Stadium).

Internally, the layout reminded me of Rotherham United’s New York Stadium, with a larger main stand sweeping down and round to the remaining three stands.

With the ground less than half-full it was difficult to assess the atmosphere and intensity that a packed KC Stadium would generate.

FA Cup 6th Round 2010/11: Cup half empty or half full?

The weekend saw this seasons FA Cup Sixth Round fixtures come and go and has left the nation with the prospect next month of a Manchester derby and a battle between the Trotters and the Potters. The 2010/11 FA Cup campaign has taken place against a backdrop of yet more murmurings in the media about the death of the competition and outline plans of tinkering by the FA to keep the appeal of the oldest Cup tournament in the World.

For me the reasons for the change in perspective of the FA Cup lay across the football community. The FA itself is complicit in damaging the competition in a number of ways. Firstly, there was the decision to allow Manchester United to opt out of the 1999/2000 FA Cup to take part in the revamped World Club Competition. This decision was part of the political gamble by the FA at the time, as they tried to sway FIFA in awarding England the hosting of the 2006 World Cup. And we all know how that worked out. Secondly, there was the ruling to have ties settled after a single replay (excluding the Semi-Final and Final itself). Personally, a major part of the glamour and thrill of the Cup was the odd occasions when a particular tie within a round went to a number of replays. As a Fulham fan I remember vividly the 1974/75 Cup run when we played Hull City three times to get through the Third Round and Nottingham Forest an incredible four times to make it through the Fourth Round. However, those Fulham fixtures were nothing compared to the record breaking fixture in 1971/72. Alvechurch played Oxford City in the 4th Qualifying Round. It required six games before Alvechurch emerged 1-0 winners. Sadly epic battles like that are a thing of the past. Thirdly, because of the burden of rebuilding Wembley Stadium, Semi-Finals now take place at the famous ground. This in my opinion also works to devalue the competition as the act of making it to Wembley and the Final are cheapened. Reaching a Final should be special. Certainly for me in 1975 seeing Fulham in the Final (despite defeat) was and is a treasured memory.

UEFA too has played its part in destabilising the FA Cup. How you may ask have this done this? Well quite simply by the reorganising of their own competitions. Once the 1999 winners Lazio had left Villa Park after defeating Mallorca with the trophy, the European Cup Winners Cup (ECWC) disappeared from view and with it the European prize for the FA Cup winners. Now we have the winners going into the poor relation of the bloated greedy cousin that is the Champions League – the Europa League. For me, if we had a return to the European Cup, the ECWC and UEFA Cup things would be a lot better. Quite simply, the European Cup should be for clubs who have won their domestic League. The Cup Winners Cup for domestic Cup Winners and UEFA Cup either domestic League Runners-Up or in England’s case the winners of the League Cup. This way there are only three European places up for grabs in each country. It would mean that there isn’t the importance placed on the Premier League and the scramble to finish in the “top four” and that both the FA and League Cup would be must win competitions if clubs had intentions of playing in Europe.

However, it doesn’t do away the fact that teams could still place more importance on League survival than the domestic Cup competitions. This is where Sky, the Premier League and implicitly clubs must take some of the blame, since the money involved in being part of that elite group means Chairman and their Boards want Premier League survival delivered as the first priority. So far you could be reading this article thinking what an “old fart”, what a “stick-in-the-mud traditionalist”. Well just to show that I can be a little radical, what about this idea? For the teams reaching the Finals of the League and FA Cup, award the finalists 6 bonus points which are added to their respective League totals? Surely that would be an incentive for clubs to put out full strength teams in the Cup competitions?

Finally are fans excused from being to blame for the troubles with the FA Cup? Well, I believe that fans have been taken in by certain sections of the written media telling us that the competition is on its last legs. Fans also react in terms of attendance according to how seriously their clubs treat the Cup competitions. TV has brought more football into our homes, but does stop people going to the ground as does the shifting of kick off times to all hours and days of the week. Perhaps only the FA Cup Final should be shown “live” and all other Rounds only as highlights? The trouble is that the whole relationship between television, broadcasting rights, clubs and money has taken us down a path which only goes in one direction.

What’s wrong with tradition and history? To me nothing, but the reality is that my views would be seen as nostalgic, unrealistic and naïve by the “powers-that-be”. I fear for the FA Cup and truly hope that it is not watered down even further by those in charge. As fans all we can do in the future is get out and support the FA Cup. It isn’t as special as it was, because the things that made it special are slowly being taken away.

FA Cup 5th Round 2010/11: Fab Four? Nah – Famous Five

With Fulham’s impending FA Cup 5th Round game on Sunday at home to Bolton Wanderers, I was thinking back to that particular round over the years that I’ve been watching football. I found to my surprise that I’ve never actually attended a 5th Round tie. From the 1st Round to the Final, the 5th Round is the one I’m missing. When I look back the one Fulham game at this stage I wish I could have got to would be the game at Goodison Park the year we got to Wembley. Whilst a regular at Craven Cottage that season, away games were few and far between because I was always playing football for the school in the morning and that restricted severely the amount of travelling times to fixtures beyond the Midlands.

Fulham played seven games in reaching the 5th Round of the 1974/75 FA Cup. The 3rd Round went to three games against Hull City and an incredible four against Nottingham Forest in the 4th Round. Viv Busby scored two goals in the 3rd Replay against Forest at the City Ground to set-up a tie away at Everton. The team from Goodison Park were top of the First Division and this game looked on paper one that for Second Division Fulham would be a tie too far. However, within a quarter of an hour Viv Busby had put The Cottagers ahead, pouncing on a mistake between Toffees keeper Dai Davies and defender Roger Kenyon. Fulham went in at half-time with a 1-0 lead, but this was soon wiped out in the second half when on 52 minutes Kenyon headed home an equaliser for the home team. Fulham must have feared that another replay beckoned as the game approached 85 minutes on the clock. However, Viv Busby changed all that with a swivel and shot from inside the Everton box with 5 minutes to go and send The Whites into the Quarter-Finals. The match details were as follows:

FA Cup 5th round, February 15, 1975

Everton                      1-2                  Fulham

Kenyon (52)                                      Busby (15, 85)

Attendance: 45,223

Everton: Davies, Bernard, Seargeant, Clements, Kenyon, Hurst, Jones, Dobson, Lyons, Latchford (Telfer), Pearson

Fulham:  Mellor, Cutbush, Strong, Mullery, Lacy, Moore, Dowie (Lloyd), Jimmy Conway, Busby, Slough, Barrett

I’d settle for a 2-1 win this Sunday and a trip to the Final please Mr Hughes, but with a different outcome to 1975 of course! Meanwhile, Everton will be hoping that they don’t come unstuck against another West London team as they visit Stamford Bridge for their 4th Round Replay. It’s a bit of a mix and match weekend as Manchester City also have a 4th Round Replay at home to Notts County alongside the other scheduled 5th Round matches. If your team is still in the competition – enjoy! That Wembley arch is getting ever nearer.