For the first meeting of this New Year we once again had a room full of members and a busy programme to offer. Unfortunately our hopes to have Craig Fagan as our guest speaker did not materialise although Craig has promised that he will be happy to come later in the year. Brendon Smurthwaite, our former Press Officer, had agreed to fill the breach.

To start our meeting our Chair had a number of announcements to make. He began by reflecting on the hugely successful pre-Christmas Luncheon when more than 160 members were present for what was an exceptional meal. At the Christmas Raffle Janet Brown had won two tickets for the forthcoming Launch of the Hull City Hall of Fame and David was able to present her with the tickets – to loud (and jealous) applause.

More applause followed when we were able to welcome back Pete Wilson following his recent hospitalisation. It was a real joy to have him back amongst us.

Plans for our special Memorabilia Day, Thursday 8th February, were then shared with the membership. The football club have kindly allowed us the use of the Kingston Suite to ensure that we have sufficient space for the many expected displays. It is also anticipated that a number of former players will be joining us, bringing some of their personal items of memorabilia, and that it is hoped to interview them during the afternoon. Arrangements have also been made for the Bar to open during the afternoon – so members might like to use their bus passes!

Every item brought along will be recorded for an On Line Museum and to help us we will have members of the Hull Photographic Society in attendance. Members were informed, however, that we do need some willing volunteers who will be able to record these items ready for the on line catalogue. A show of hands was requested – which, surprisingly, did not produce an expected avalanche! Hopefully members have now considered the request and will make contact with us after the meeting.

There will be a Swop/sell or Donate table for those who want to bring their items and leave them with us. Hopefully this day will be a prelude to a future Museum of Hull City or even Sport in Hull & the East Riding.

The Chair made a donation of £500 from our funds to the Executive Club to support their work with the club Academy in assisting some of the younger hopefuls who need support to follow their (and ours) dreams.

Barbara reminded members that the Hemswell/Lincoln Bomber Command Memorial on 18th February is full and will leave the stadium at 9.00am. The day includes a buffet lunch at The Dambuster’s Arms in Scampton.

The February visit to the Stadium of Light (Feb. 15th) will also take in the National Glass Museum before the stadium tour. Members were encouraged to take a pack lunch on this occasion.

The Grosmont visit in March is fully booked but having doubled the booking for the Anderton Lift (April) we now have space for an additional 17 members – 95 have already booked!!

Members were informed of a special Tribute Evening for Chris Chilton that is being planned by the Ex-Players for the Walton Club on 22nd March. Tickets need to be booked – ask Barbara. Chris has not been well recently and it is hoped that this will be a timely boost to help him along.

Rob Wilson then enthralled the meeting by launching the new Photo Archives on our website. They have long been promised and could never have happened without the generous support of the Hull Daily Mail by giving us full access to their photo archives. Rob had spent hours (hundreds of them) sifting through the photos and their captions (where they had one) and preparing them for a user friendly source readily available. The first sections come from the 1950’s and ‘60’s. Many had not seen the light of day for over 50 years – some never. Members are now encouraged to help themselves and help Rob too – if they spot any errors, spelling mistakes included!

That was the preamble!

The Chair now introduced Brendon Smurthwaite to the meeting. Hull born Brendan attended Bricknell Ave & Hull Grammar Schools before taking an opportunity with the HDM as a trainee journalist in 1995. He loved sport, Hull FC since being 5 years old, and Middlesborough! – the family had lived there for a period. At the HDM he was given early encouragement from David Bond and Dick Tingle, two well respected legends of the paper. In those early days he was sent to local league matches, rugby league, speedway and even asked to write the Ken Wagstaff column – though Ken might dispute that!

He was then invited to join the infamous Hull Sharks by Tim Wilby – until they were eventually locked out! He returned to Hull City as Press Officer and to run their website. What began as a small operation would grow over 10 years into the massive media scramble it has now begun.

In 2011, following a ‘redundancy’ at the Tigers he moved to Hull Kingston Rovers and spent 3 years with them before moving to a new career with Kingston Communications as Community Coordinator. This gave him family time (no more trips to Wigan on a Friday night) and the opportunity to mentor young people in our local schools and colleges, preparing them to reach for their horizons.

Questions followed including “If Brownie had stayed, could he have kept the Tigers in the Premier League?” No easy answer but a suspicion that maybe. Brendon was asked about the use of social media by the players and how they need to give more thought before sharing things so openly. There was a question about Grimsby Town & Radio Humberside were Matt Dean has recently been banned by the club. He shared our disappointment about the recent results of the Tigers but still recognised some hopeful signs both on and off the pitch. “The Club needs to be a happy club” he stressed and recalled days when people gladly worked for nothing just because they wanted to help the club. When asked about ‘characters’ at the club he mentioned J J Okocha who was brilliant with school visits yet couldn’t resist the wind ups. Arriving at a school he would ring Brendon with an apology, saying he couldn’t do the visit and leave Brendon to panic for a few moments and then walk in the door!

One more brilliant afternoon … now let’s look forward to our Memorabilia Day.

Allen Bagshawe