From Hull, Hell and Halifax

Dave Woodhall on Villa’s draw at Hull, and other matters. 

The title of this piece is taken from the Beggar’s Litany by seventeenth century poet John Taylor. It refers to the Halifax Gibbet Law applicable in the Manor of Wakefield during the middle ages, whereby felons caught in possession of stolen goods worth more than 13 1/2d were liable to decapitation. Carson Yeung has never, as far as I’m aware, been to Wakefield. You can’t tell me that’s a coincidence.

Hull City used to have two claims to fame. Hull was, apparently, the biggest city in Europe never to have had a top-flight football club and theirs was the only name in the league where you couldn’t fill in any of the letters.

The first of those claims ended in 2008, when they were promoted to the Premier League. The second will be ending soon, if owner Assem Allam has anything to do with it. He wants the club to be renamed Hull City Tigers, which hasn’t gone down well and has led to Allam becoming an unpopular figure with supporters, despite overseeing a return to the Premier League and bringing financial stability to what he probably calls the brand. There were protests inside and outside the ground on Saturday, with stickers being given out to both sets of supporters, and very nice they looked too. It takes a lot to make supporters protest when they’ve just got promoted and, despite being tipped for relegation, started the day seventh in the table after winning their last two games, so well done Mr Allam.

Talking of the match, there isn’t much to say. Villa were also in form after winning two in a row, so in hindsight a draw was inevitable. Hull don’t score many, we were without Christian Benteke again (hopefully for the final time) and while Libor Kozak might one day prove an adequate replacement, he’s nowhere near ready to terrorise defences in the same way as the Belgian.

The game started off slowly and had petered out long before the end, with neither side wanting to gamble in the final stages. Hull will be aware that clubs who get promoted tend to need every point that can get while Villa, yet again, didn’t possess a player with the guile to unlock a cautious opposition defence. The one plus point of the afternoon was another clean sheet – two in three games; we’ll be Boring Villa soon.

I suppose we can also take heart from the fact that this was a game we could easily have lost last season, the sort that poor teams lose and good ones can usually find a way of winning. We drew it so what does that make us? Average, I suppose. Tenth in the table, which at least looks better after seven games than it did last season. With Spurs and Everton coming up next I’ll be happy if the position stays like that for another three weeks.

Finally, and on a slightly Villa-related note, it was sad to read that Hinckley United, who hosted our reserves for a few years, almost certainly played their last game at the weekend as they’re due to be wound up in the High Court today. I don’t know the full story and I have little sympathy for clubs who spend money they can’t afford then expect someone to bail them out when things go wrong but it’s never nice for over a century of history to be wiped out and even worse when football supporters, though no fault of their own, lose their club.


I was at the launch of the Villa in the Community initiative on Monday afternoon, which aims to bring all the club’s charitable and community work under one umbrella and a lot of the work done locally was shown. To hear the head of Small Heath school, of all places, talk about how much help Villa give to them, to hear the head of the Premier League’s community department say the club set the standard in the field, to listen while a student with cerebral palsy from Wilson Stuart Academy said that all through regular school he was told he could do nothing but since working at Villa Park on a placement he knows he can do anything he wants and most of all to hear the CEO of Acorns say that their link means that they can handle 50% more cases than they did before the association began was incredibly humbling and made me realise once more that we are, indeed, més qué un club.