Another great turnout with about 140 members present saw us welcome Jackson Irvine & Harry Wilson to the Senior Tigers. During the meeting David, our Chair, mixed the questions between our two guests but for the purpose of clarity in record we will deal with them separately.
First, our Aussie signing, Jackson Irvine:
Born in 1993 he grew up in Melbourne and agreed that it was a great place to grow up in with a laid back, outdoor lifestyle. He is mixed international with Dutch and Maltese grandparents and a Scottish father! He even represented Scotland at Under 19 level – 3 times – much to the joy of his father but Jackson clearly sees himself as an Aussie boy and when Australia came calling in 2013 he was quick to respond.
Growing up we learned that he played many different sports, Aussie Rules, Cricket, Hockey and Football. He was just 6 years old when he joined his first football club – which was coached by one of his grandfathers. He acknowledged that football is still a growing sport and far from being the number one sport in Australia. The Junior network has still to establish itself and many young talents find that they emigrate overseas to develop their passion and skills. Jackson’s opportunity came when he was 16 years old and a chance opportunity opened up for him to have trials with the Celtic Academy in Glasgow. They immediately offered him a 2 year contract.
He made his Scottish League debut against Hibernian and in front of 60,000 fanatical fans. Celtic then loaned him out to Kilmarnock where he played 30 games in the SPL. The following season (14-15) he was loaned out again, this time to Ross County. The club were so pleased to land him that they persuaded Celtic to let him sign full time. Playing regularly he helped his new club to a top half finish in the SPL and beat Celtic on the way!
After two season in the Highlands he was offered a contract in the English game by Burton Albion at a time when the club were playing at their highest ever level, in the Championship. In their first season at this level they survived and he scored 10 goals and was named as Player of the Year. He started the current season with Burton and playing early season at the KCOM Stadium he managed to score for Burton and get sent off. He didn’t comment on the sending off but suggested that the goal was one of his best and that “it got me a move!!” A few days later he duly signed a 3 year contract with the Tigers!
He recognised that it has been a difficult season with 3 different coaches but he has ambition and looks to be very much a part of our future at the KCOM.
Questions from the floor included “Who supplies your hair conditioner?” and “How do the players get a word in during team meetings with the manager?” His response to the second question was, as we suspected, “We don’t!” Another question referred to an incident when Michael Hector came onto the field with an A4 sheet of paper from the manager. “What was written on the sheet” which was passed around the players? The reply … “Don’t let them score!!” Someone had picked up that Claire Baldwin said on TV that she knew him – how? The link was long standing with Claire being a friend of Jackson’s mother through horse racing and that he’d known her since he was a seven year old. Other questions were about home sickness and jet lag from those long flights to Australia for international breaks. His parents have visited here, he has opportunity to see them on his trips back and the class of flight he enjoys does include a bed in the cabin!
Now for our Liverpool loanee, Harry Wilson:
Harry was born in Wrexham in 1997 and went to school in Llangollen. Liverpool had him on their radar when he was playing Under 9’s and would invite him over for regular training sessions. His school even had the wisdom to allow him to leave early to get to there. At 15 he joined the Liverpool Academy full time. In his first season he was playing some Under 18’s matches and from 2013/14 he was a fulltime member of that team. Later that season Liverpool offered him full time professional terms. The following season he played and scored against Real Madrid in the FA Youth Tournament and was taken on the club’s pre-season tour of Malaysia in 2015. He had an unsuccessful loan period at Crewe before Liverpool brought him back with a new contract and appointed him as Under 21’s captain. This January his club agreed to loan him to the Tigers in that important search for first team experience. He has never looked back and Liverpool are already eyeing up their options for next season.
He is clearly delighted with the move to the Tigers and said that he’d been given other options but coming to Hull was the one he wanted and that he was delighted when it happened. He is now recognised by the Wales international team and stressed that on his international debut against Belgium he was 108 days younger than Gareth Bale – even if it was only for the last few minutes. That was four years ago but he was recently picked to play for Wales in matches against China (when he scored) & Uruguay. He told us that when he was only 18 months old his Grandfather had placed a £50 bet that he would play for Wales – it won him £125,000!
Questions asked of Harry included “Who is the most excitable manager – Klop or Adkins?” He answered with diplomacy but agreed that both were fantastic managers. Like Jackson Irvine had been, he was asked about homesickness. He certainly recognised the difference in one been multiple thousand miles from home, whilst he was almost local. He still mentioned that staying in digs leaves you thinking of mum’s cooking and the way she made the bed! Scoring his first international goal in the recent match against China had been real boost and he was certainly delighted to make an impression on the new Welsh team manager. The Chinese fans had been, he said, “absolutely fanatical”. Someone asked if he was required to return to Anfield during his loan period. He said this was not a requirement but that the Liverpool club keep in regular contact with him. There is little doubt that they will be anything other than impressed – we certainly are!
The Raffle was interesting and not just for the incredible selection of prizes that our Peter had assembled. Harry Wilson was invited to draw the first number – his own number! He quickly apologised (why?) and drew another number. Smart move, he drew mine!!!