Our new season got underway with a wonderful buffet spread, provided by the kindness of the football club. Members tucked in and thoroughly enjoyed the provision. Our grateful thanks to Hull City AFC.
With lunch consumed we gathered for our meeting and were introduced to the club’s Assistant Coach, Mr Andy Crosby. The Chair’s first question was to ask whether the players were responding in training following that tough loss to Derby County. Andy assured us that they had responded well and that they really cared about their performance. It had clearly been our best performance of the season to date and that young Dan Batty had been the best player on the pitch. Andy mentioned that young guys will make mistakes but that they are really trying hard and were determined to do well.
He mentioned the frustration of the Deadline Day when, as well as the two players they had signed, they had another player at the training ground but were unable to sign him because his own club had failed to bring in the player they needed as his replacement. Even so, he felt that bringing in Tom Elphick was bringing a player with knowledge & experience that would benefit the other players on both the pitch and at the training ground. Of Chris Martin he mentioned that 3/4 years ago he was a top top striker but that he had since lost his place in the Derby squad. This was the move he needed and that he would add good value to the team.
Our Chair then turned to Andy Crosby with a series of questions about himself. We learned that he was born in Rotherham, the only child to a mining family. From early days he loved football and mentioned that “if you love football, it will love you back”
Asked about his early heroes/idols he suggested Arthur Scargill!! He was watched by Rotherham United but at 11 years they turned him down. Three years later he was signed by Leeds United and progressed to their YTS scheme at 16 years. This coincided with Leeds challenging at the top of the Premiership and meant his own progression could be hampered by their ability to attract players from across the country. At 18 years he therefore moved to Doncaster Rovers. He played for them in defence or, as Andy preferred, as “a ball playing technical defender”. His next move was to Darlington where he became club captain at 21 years and appeared at Wembley in a League 2 Play-off Final. Unfortunately they were not successful.
In 1998 he was about to move to Wigan where terms had been agreed but the very next day, before forms had been signed, John Dehan, their manager, was sacked! He was then called in by Brentford only for their manager to also get the sack before forms had been signed! The only other option he had was an offer to join Chester City and with a pregnant wife he took the offer …. only for that club to go bust! Can anyone have a better series of misfortune than that?
Eventually an offer came in from Brighton, paying £10,000 for his signature – “absolute bargain” was his comment. During his 4 years at the club he helped them to promotion into League 1. His next club would be Oxford United for whom he scored 12 goals (“mainly penalties” he claimed) before finally joining Brian Laws at Scunthorpe United – as an experienced pro’ to help develop the young players in the team. He played 167 games for the Iron, scoring 16 goals and promotions from League 2 to the Championship. In his 700th league game he had a penalty against Southampton. He always scored his penalties, always, yet on this occasion he failed – however he still scored a goal from the rebound! After 2 years at Scunthorpe, in 2006, Nigel Adkins took over as coach. Andy gave praise to his colleague, “a fantastic guy and friend”, “honest, does his best every single day” and “I’d trust him 100%”.
He mentioned that when Scunny lost the Johnson’s Paint Trophy Final at Wembley Nigel had gathered his disappointed squad and promised them they would be back at Wembley for the Play off Final and win. He really motivated those players. Andy’s playing days were largely behind him but Nigel wanted him to play in the play off semi against MKD for the experience he would bring to the players – it was his first match in almost 6 months but they won on penalties, after extra time. The Wembley Final would be against Millwall, what would also be Andy’s final match, and they won! There was a spontaneous round of applause round the room.
As a coach he went with Nigel to Southampton in League 1. They were fifth bottom on arrival but would be promoted to the Championship and then, again, to the Premiership. Sadly they were not to enjoy the fruits of their labours. With an opening run of fixtures like .. the Champions, Man City, away, then home fixtures first with the Cup Winners, Wigan, and then Manchester United followed by an away trip to Arsenal, they were always likely to struggle and the Saints were not to be patient. He would later go with Nigel to Reading and then Sheffield United, two clubs wanting success without delay before they eventually arrive at the Tigers last December – a large squad and 17 injured players! Here’s to the future.
Questions from the floor included one about the value of “Free Agents”. The difficulties were explained, Age, Injuries, Expensive Wages and whether they were prepared to give 100% to our club. He was asked whether we might go to three at the back. “It is an option” What went wrong against Blackburn? They didn’t do the fundamentals and basics. He mentioned that they had a frank & honest review on the Monday and the response was there to be seen the next night, at Rotherham. Was Dan Batty on contract? Yes, he was committed for the next 2 seasons. He was pleased with his development and that the player had been knocking on the door at the end of last season! His start had been “fantastic!”Is football in your DNA? “It has to be!”It had been an inspiring interview. Andy was then leaving us to go direct to the airport for an engagement somewhere on the Continent.
The meeting continued with the Chair first expressing our sadness at the loss over the summer of two members, Trevor Dunn and Pay Poskitt. Peter introduced us to the Raffle – brilliant as ever. Barbara mentioned that there were 6 places still available for the Hartlepool Naval Museum visit on 20th Sept. and that she was taking bookings for the National Brewery at Burton (October 18th) and Bradford City (November 15th). Rob gave us a brilliant introduction to the website and the photographs of old players waiting for members to come up with names. Finally, to great delight, our esteemed Chair, Dave, announced that the October meeting (4th) would be addressed by “Burnsie” from Radio Humberside.