Hull FC

Hull FC was originally formed in 1865 by a group of ex-schoolboys from York, The founders used to meet at the Young Men’s Fellowship, at St. Mary’s Church in Lowgate. The vicar at that time was the Reverend Scott and his 5 sons made up the core of the team who were mainly plumbers and glaziers. They reamed up with Hull White Star and the two clubs merged. Hull FC was one of the first clubs in the north of England to join the Rugby Football Union.

Originally they played in East Hull but moved to the Boulevard in September 1895. They have had a few nicknames, All Blacks, Airlie Birds and Black and Whites. They were one of the initial 22 clubs to form the Northern Union after they split from the Rugby Football Union in 1895. Their first ever match was in September of that year. 8,000 people turned out to witness the first club’s match in which Hull beat Liversedge.

The early years saw Hull prosper, and their striped hooped jerseys became one of the most famous and feared strips in the league. They lost  in three Challenge Cup finals between 1908 and 1910, in fact they lost in more major finals than anyone else.

In 1913, they paid record £600, plus £14 per match, to Hunslet for Billy Batten, who was inducted into the British Rugby League Hall of Fame. A year later they won their first Challenge Cup, beating Wakefield Trinity in the final. Playing alongside Billy on that day was John “Jack” Harrison VC, MC, the only professional sportsman to win the Victoria Cross and the Military Cross, and the holder of the club record for most tries in a season.

Australian Jim Devereux became the first player to score 100 tries for Hull.[1]

In 1920, Batten was once again key in Hull’s first ever Championship final, scoring the only try in the 3–2 victory over Huddersfield. In 1921, Hull won the Yorkshire Cup but lost the county championship, both against rivals Hull Kingston Rovers.

In the early 1930s, Hull had a full back and goal kicker called Joe Oliver. Oliver was so dependable with the boot that the crowd at one match spontaneously started singing the Gene Autry song, Old Faithful at him. Hull supporters adopted the song as their battle cry from then on.

Hull’s record attendance was set in 1936 when 28,798 turned up for the visit of Leeds for a third round Challenge cup match.

Post World War Two

In 1954, Roy Francis became the first black professional coach in any British team sport, when he coached Hull.

Hull team won the league championship in 1956 when Colin Hutton kicked a last-minute penalty in the final against Halifax at Maine Road, Manchester. Hull won the play-offs again in 1958, against Workington Town. They also won the European Club championship in 1957.

Johnny Whiteley became player coach in October 1963 and took over as coach when Roy Francis retired in 1965. Hull F.C. lost to Wakefield Trinity in the 1968 League Championship in 1968. Ivor Watts was then appointed coach from 1970-1971 of which Hull won 28 matches and lost 17.

With the coaching appointment of Arthur Bunting in 1978, they began a period of dominance and won all of their 26 Division Two matches in 1978–79. They lost the 1980 Challenge Cup final against Hull KR 10–5 and have never won at Wembley since.

Kingston Communications Stadium.

Hull eventually won the league in 1983 and also reached the Premiership final, the Challenge Cup final and the Yorkshire Cup final, but the latter trophy would be their only reward from the three finals. They lost to Featherstone Rovers at Wembley in one of the great Challenge Cup final upsets and they also lost the Premiership final three years running.

They signed Peter Sterling, maintained Hull’s strength, and Bunting’s men went to their third successive Yorkshire Cup. were edged out in the Challenge Cup final in 1984–85 by Wigan.  Hull lost the Premiership final in 1989 to Widnes, but two years later returned to beat them at Old Trafford under coach Noel Cleal.

In June 1993, financial trouble forced Hull to put seven players on the transfer list and Royce Simmons ran five marathons to raise money to pay for players from Australia.

In 1996, the first tier of British rugby league clubs played in the Super League but Hull FC finished below the cut-off point in the existing top flight and were excluded from the new Super League.The club like many other rugby league clubs re-branded and became known as the Hull Sharks. Phil Sigsworth joined the club in and coached them to the First Division championship title and promotion to Super League in 1997. The renaming was unpopular with the supporters and the club spiralled in to financial difficulties and went out of business.

After 107 years at the home of the Black and Whites, they moved into their new £44m state of the art Kingston Communications Stadium, alongside Association Football Club, Hull City.

After Paul Parker scored the club’s final ever try at the Boulevard on Tuesday 22nd October 2002 against New Zealand, Hull began life in their new home with a match against Sheffield in 2003.

Hull Sharks closed and was taken over by the recently formed expansion team Gateshead Thunder at the end of 1999. Thunder moved its home games to The Boulevard and most of the Gateshead playing squad moved to Hull FC along with their Board and ex-St Helens coach Shaun McRae who remained at the helm until 2004. The Thunder, under the control of Kath Hetherington and Shane Richardson, were introduced to Super League at the beginning of the 1999 season. With crippling debts, the merger was the only real option and eventually saw the pair re-branded as Hull FC with the Boulevard as their home, until 2003.

In January 2003, after 107 years at the Boulevard, Hull FC moved to the KC Stadium and are joint tenants at the stadium alongside Hull City. Shaun McRae left the club to return to Australia at the end of the 2004 season; he was replaced by former England coach John Kear, who had previously been McRae’s deputy.

In his first season at the club, Kear led Hull FC to the Rugby League Challenge Cup final for the first time since 1985. Hull FC defeated Leeds 25–24 in a thrilling final at Cardiff‘s Millennium Stadium to lift the trophy. John Kear left Hull FC on 3 April 2006 after a disappointing start to the season, which saw Hull lose four out of their first seven league games and to the Bradford Bulls in the Challenge Cup. He was replaced by Peter Sharp and between 14 April – 15 July 2006 Hull won 13 matches in succession, and managed to finish in second place, their highest league position in the Super League era. They lost to the league leaders St Helens in the first Grand Final playoff game, but succeeded in reaching the final by defeating the reigning champions Bradford. Over 20,000 Hull FC fans travelled to Old Trafford, but again they lost out to the Saints.

For the 2007 season, Hull FC signed five new players: Matt Sing, Hutch Maiava, Willie Manu, Danny Tickle and Wayne Godwin. Paul Cooke, stand-off, resigned from Hull to join Hull KR claiming he was out of contract.

They had a poor 2008 season and dismissed coach Peter Sharp and appointed his assistant Richard Agar as his replacement.

On 22 July 2011 it was confirmed that Hull City’s, Adam Pearson had purchased the entire shareholding of the club and had taken over full control from Kath Hetherington.

Richard Agar left the club at the end of the 2011 season and was replaced by Australian Peter Gentle. The 2012 season was a largely transitional one, with high player turnover and many injuries hampering the side’s progress mid-season, however the club finished a respectable 6th in the regular season. They went on to convincingly beat Huddersfield in the first round of play-off games but fell to defeat away at Warrington in the preliminary semi-finals.

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