Bright start for City in marathon season
Saturday marked six years to the date that Hull City AFC made their Premier League debut, with a home game against Fulham.
How we remember that day. It was over a century in the waiting, and the sun shone brilliantly in East Yorkshire. The stadium was engorged with new shirts proudly sporting Premier League patches and the fans were wreathed in giddy, excited smiles.
Then on eight minutes, Seol Ki-Hyeon scored for the visitors. And the collective "gulp" from the home fans could probably be heard back at Craven Cottage. Fulham at home had represented a friendly opening to life in the big time. Notably erratic travellers and a side we thought would occupy the lower reaches of the table, this was a fine chance to get at least something on the board on the opening day. But City failed to hold out for even 10 minutes.
That day came to mind when the fixture list decided to send City to QPR on the opening day, for this match bore similarities to that afternoon in 2008. This time, City were the gentle home start to life for the new boys. And though the timings were different -- 52 minutes instead of eight -- on both occasions the visitors scored first to dampen spirits.
But wait, for there's a twist. On that unforgettable day, City recovered to beat Fulham and convinced themselves that survival was possible. There was no such recovery from QPR this time around. That bodes ill for them, for although nothing is decided on the opening day, this will have been a deflating experience for Harry Redknapp's side. However it augurs well for the Tigers, who have three points on the board before their first home game.
It wasn't a performance that'll live long in the memory, however. Unless there's a lot riding on the game, or it's against particularly disagreeable rivals, doughty 1-0 away wins eventually become blurred in the memory. Nonetheless, while it's still fresh in the mind, there are some encouraging signs for City fans.
They felt ready -- a consequence of having already played two competitive fixtures this season, perhaps. As expected, the newly promoted side hurtled out of the traps, but found a City side expecting a fast opening and looking well prepared to quell Rangers' initial flurry. The European adventure, if it lasts beyond August, could well have a less positive impact upon League form later in the season, but for now the initial indications are that it's helped.
Summer transfer window roundup
- Premier League: Team-by-team ins and outs
- Transfer Centre: All the done deals
- Marcotti: Mind-boggling transfers
- Delaney: What did we learn on deadline day?
- Horncastle: European transfer grades
- Smith: Transfers more important than the game?
- Macintosh: We worship goals, not balance sheets
Then there's Andrew Robertson. Let's be honest, we all like a flying young full-back, don't we? Well, here could be one. Signed last month for the puzzlingly precise sum of 2.85 million pounds from Dundee United, he combined the enthusiasm of the 20-year-old with the assurance of someone who's been in the Premier League for years. Just as we shouldn't extrapolate an opening day result into a whole season, we ought not forecast an eager left-back's career based upon one promising afternoon -- but wherever you look, good judges are purring about his debut.
So, QPR begin life in the Premier League in a faintly dispiriting manner, while City resume it with a stout victory. With a trip to KSC Lokeren on Thursday next then Stoke at home on Sunday, hopes are naturally high that this time next week they'll have one foot in the Europa League group stages and six Premier League points.
Perhaps that will happen; perhaps it won't. But if QPR fans want a bit of cheering up, there's one thing I forgot to mention at the start. Remember the Fulham side who had a disappointing opening day six years ago? They finished seventh. There really is a very, very long way to go.