HULL CITY LEGEND SAYS NO TO HULL TIGERS

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Former Hull City captain Garreth Roberts has spoken out against the proposed name change to “Hull Tigers”. 

Born and raised in Hull, Roberts was a one-club man. Between 1979 and 1991 (when injury forced him to retire from the game), he made 409 appearances for his hometown team, scoring 47 goals. 

Speaking to Pete Mills of the Hull City Fans Forum last week, Roberts said that he was strongly in favour of retaining the name Hull City AFC, and had been shocked by some of Dr Allam’s remarks to the media. 

“It’s very traditional. We’ve been going since 1904. This is how it is, this is what we are. Like it or not, this is what we want to stay. We were Hull City in 1904, we’re Hull City forever. When he said that the word ‘City’ is ‘common’… I don’t think he realises that he’s attacking everybody who supports – so if you support Hull City, does that mean you’re common? That is really disrespectful.”

“I think fundamentally it’s just a bad idea to start changing names. Can you imagine Manchester Red Devils, or Tottenham Lilywhites Hotspur, or Everton Toffeemen? It’s just ridiculous.”

Although Roberts gave Dr Allam credit for the good he has done for the club, he is firmly of the opinion that the chairman is wrong when it comes to this issue. “He did a marvellous job to keep us afloat, and everybody will be eternally grateful for that, but you can’t walk all over people either. The supporters have got to stand up for themselves and stand up for the club… there’s certain things that you can’t just walk away from, and this is one of them.”

Roberts added that his view is shared by other ex players he knows. “It’s just laughable. Everybody just says, ‘Why is he doing it?’”

He went on to praise the way in which the No To Hull Tigers campaign has been conducted. “I think they’ve done everything properly. They’ve been really respectful of the club. I think they’ve been really civilised about it.”

Asked what message he would give to Dr Allam if he could, Roberts said, “’Please have another think about it’. But I think he’s gone too far down the line to back out. I think he’s heading for that moment when hopefully the FA turn around and say, ‘No, we don’t agree with you Mr Allam, we’re not going to let you change the name.’”

Roberts is just the latest former player to say that the club should retain its historic name, following the likes of Ken Wagstaff, Chris Chilton and Ian Ashbee, along with many others.

You can hear the full interview (which also includes a discussion of Roberts’s City playing career) here.

A detailed transcript of Roberts’s key comments on the name change follows: 

“I talk to fans all the time, and they don’t talk about the club and the playing so much now, they talk about, ‘Oh, what do you think about the name change and all that?’ And that’s the sad bit about it.”

“When I speak to supporters, they do talk about the name thing, and all they wanna say is, ‘Is it this?’ and ‘Is it that?’ and ‘Would you trust anybody that says, ‘These guys are hooligans’ and that they can die when they want to?’ and all these different things.’ I mean, first of all, [Dr Allam] needs a PR manager, because if you’re in sport… That’s the difference between the businesses that he’s had. He might [only]have to answer to other people within his company or shareholders or whatever, but in football it’s totally different. The supporters are your lifeblood. They’re the ones that give you hard-earned money for your season passes, that come along and pay your outrageous prices for your soft drinks and your pies, for your programmes and all that, and it does cost a lot of money.”

“When he said, ‘Oh well, If you don’t like it you can bring your pass in and you can get your money back’… why would a supporter do that? My job as a supporter is to watch the team through thick and thin and cheer them on no matter what happens, like everybody else does – and, yeah, give a bit of stick out as well now and then. But you’re a supporter of the club, you’re not there to just pack them in when you don’t fancy it. You might go home chuntering one day – like I did after the Palace game – and say, ‘I’m never going back there again!’… and there you are again next week. He cannot treat people like that, and that’s what people are saying to me. That’s why I was a bit surprised that there wasn’t more in the recent OSC poll, the 60/40. From what people have been saying to me, it’s been more like 90/10, to be honest.”

“And also the fact that he calls them names – he says they’re hooligans just for holding a banner up and all that sort of stuff. They’ve got every right to do it, as long as it’s peacefully. I mean, some of the songs that they sing are absolutely brilliant. They bring a smile to my face. You have got to listen quite closely to some of them, but it is funny.”

“I just think he thinks he’s in a different world. That whole thing about business – ‘Nobody says no to me in my world, in the business world’… but it’s not like that. It’s not like the boardrooms of the business world, where one man can rule his work, his factory or whatever it is. He changed the business name without anybody knowing about it, we found out after he’d done it. So it’s all these types of things. It’s about the City Council, the whole thing about the word ‘City’ being, ‘common’ and ‘lousy’ and all that sort of thing – I mean, that is really disrespectful. Really disrespectful. And I know he’s put his money in, but he will get his money back.”

“I think the FA will turn it down. It’s been in the national media quite a lot, and all the national media is so much for ‘Don’t change the name’ that it’s incredible.”

“I think fundamentally it’s just a bad idea to start changing names. Can you imagine Manchester Red Devils, or Tottenham Lilywhites Hotspur, or Everton Toffeemen? It’s just ridiculous.”

On marketing the club in Asia: “We’re not as big as the Man Us and the Liverpools, and they’ve been at the top of the Premiership for donkey’s years, ever since it started, so they’ve got a massive start. So it’d be really hard work for us to get our foot in the door as far as the marketing side of it. But why should we? We’re Hull City, that’s who we are. We’re Hull City, and we’re gonna remain Hull City.”

On City Till We Die: “I think they’ve done everything properly. They don’t seem to have been shouting from the houses and effing and blinding and causing much of a stink. They’ve been really respectful of the club, they haven’t really gone about it in the wrong way at all, I think they’ve been really civilised about it. Even the supporters – the ones that Mr Allam has been calling hooligans – they’ve been pretty good about it, they’ve done it at the right time, they haven’t shoved it down people’s throats, they’ve just gone quietly about it but done it in a positive way. Whereas the PR side of City at the moment is just a disaster.”

“Everybody wants to support them, and they’ve got the best support they’ve had ever, but I think this whole thing has really rankled and it is taking away from how well the club is doing.”

“We need everybody to pull in the right way, we don’t want any different factions going on. I think the City Till We Die group have gone about it in a professional way, and that was the reason why I thought, ‘Well, I’ve been chuntering away in the background, and thinking to myself, shall I have a chat or not’?’. I did play for this club for 13, 14 years, and If anybody deserves a bit of a word there’s only a few of us that have played more than me, so it’s like, ‘Why not?’”

On what other ex players think: “It’s just laughable. Everybody just says, ‘Well, why is he doing it?’ People who go the other way and say, ‘He’s done this, he’s done that’, I don’t think they quite understand football as they should. Also I think they just look at it from a financial viewpoint, of ‘Well, if he’s put in forty million…’ But has he put in forty million, is it this, is it that, will he get it back? If I had that sort of money I wouldn’t be putting forty mlllion into something that I wasn’t going to get sixty million back from. There’s no way – I’d be wanting a profit.”

“In football it’s not quite like that. You’ve got to make sure that everybody is going in the right direction – the supporters, your board, all the supporters’ groups – and getting that whole football community going in the right direction. When you see it on the back of the Sunday papers as well, all having a laugh and saying, ‘What’s this guy doing?’ you think, ‘Thank goodness we’re on the same wavelength’. For them it might be a bit of a laugh but for us it’s really important. It means a lot to us.”

(On the FA decision): “You just hope that they don’t just look it from a financial viewpoint. It’s the fact that it’s not right… It’s never been done before, and why do you think it hasn’t been done? Because it’s wrong.”

“The reason why rugby union did it was because they needed something different to do, because they didn’t have any support, so call it Leicester Tigers. The reason why they did it was because they were on their uppers. We’re not on our uppers! We don’t have to change.” 

“It did seem as though [Dr Allam] was the saviour, and he did a marvellous job to keep us afloat, and everybody will be eternally grateful for that, but you can’t walk all over people either. The supporters have got to stand up for themselves and stand up for the club, because he could be gone in a couple of years or he might be gone in April – who knows? He seems to be the type of character that will just act on a whim.”

“It’s very traditional. We’ve been going since 1904. You’re thinking, ‘Look, this is how it is, this is what we are. Like it or not, this is what we want to stay. We were Hull City in 1904, we’re Hull City forever.’ And that whole thing about the word City, that started the whole ball rolling, I think that just showed his animosity towards the council more than anything else. And when he said that the word is ‘common’ and all that… When he says things like that, I don’t think he realises that he’s attacking everybody who supports – so if you support Hull City, does that mean you’re common; does that mean that he’s not bothered when you die? All these stupid, flippant remarks.”

“You put all these things together and you think, ‘It’s just not right’. You’d expect your chairman to be a bit of a leader, to have respect for him. You do respect the fact that he definitely saved us a few years ago, but you can’t let him keep walking all over you and saying these strange things, because we don’t want to be the laughing stock of the country. We are a Premiership club and they fought hard to get there, Steve Bruce has done a cracking job, the players have done a brilliant job, and all we’re talking about is the name change, which should never have happened in the first place.”

(Asked if he had a message for Dr Allam) “Get a public relations manager, first of all – get somebody to look after your PR. Don’t bother going anywhere near it. Do an Abramovich and stay well away from that side of it… Just second-guess yourself – please have another think about it. But I think he’s gone too far down the line to back out, and I think he’s heading for that moment when hopefully the FA turn around and say, ‘No, we don’t agree with you Mr Allam, we’re not going to let you change the name.’”

(Asked if he had a message for the fans) “From the supporters’ point of view: yeah, voice your opinion, but do it in the right way. Don’t do it in the same really strange way that the chairman is doing it – do it in the right way. Sing your songs, make them as polite as you possibly can. The supporters are the lifeblood of the club and you’ve got to consult with them. They are the people that are going to come through thick and thin, they are the ones who pay the money, and you need them. You’ve got a great new stadium, brilliant things have been done… but there’s certain things that you can’t just walk away from, and this is one of them.”

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