Tommy Coyle represents!

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There was some tidy cross-promotion work done last week when local boxer Tommy Coyle promoted his fight with Derry Mathews at Craven Park by visiting the KC Stadium for a new City home shirt. The 2013/14 Tigers kit went on sale Saturday, the same day that ‘Boom Boom’ fought mouthy Scouser Mathews on the same card as Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell making his pro-boxing debut.

Even better than the shirt holding photo-op was Coyle sporting the new home kit’s brilliant hooped socks for the fight, pairing them with black and amber boxing shorts. Coyle bossed the fight, with Mathews later admitting that the Hull fighter “bullied” him in each round, but our lad succumbed to a superb left hook in the tenth round that took Coyle down.

Aesthetically speaking at least, Tommy Coyle is our champion, wearing City socks for a pro-boxing fight makes him somewhat of a legend in our eyes.

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A team bus of a different stripe

Footballers have polyester garments, buses have paint jobs. Though the physical differences between kit and livery are obvious, ultimately they perform the same function: to visually denote membership of an organisation. “Why are you banging on about vehicle paint instead of raglan sleeves or hooped socks?” you might ask, and here’s the answer…The other day a certain passenger service vehicle whizzed by and we thought “that bus is, effectively, wearing a Hull City kit.”

We’re referring of course to East Yorkshire Motor Services’ ‘Tiger bus’, also known as fleet number 698, registration number YX05 EOR. The Volvo B7TL (wearing Wright Eclipse Gemini bodywork) is ‘kitted out’, not in EYMS’s usual livery of burgundy and cream, but in City’s colours of amber and black, and like the 1992/93 home kit it features tiger stripes.

The double decker, in service since 2005, was given a makeover in 2008 to salute City’s promotion to the Premier League and it has stalked the city bearing club colours ever since. “Hull’s premier operator supporting Hull’s premier football club” reads the blurb along the sides, which is a nice touch, and no matter that City ply their trade outside of the Premier League nowadays, we are still the city’s premier side, ahem.

Just as football fans can buy replica shirts, bus ‘enthusiasts’ can buy replica models, and the Tiger bus has been faithfully recreated in 1:76 scale toys that retail for £25.99. Ace.

Fleet number 698 is not EYMS’ first tiger striped City themed bus however. A similarly schemed double decker prowled the town in the mid 1990s, clearly based on the famed home kit of that era. This vehicle, a 1978 Bristol VRT/SL3, had a registration number of CPT 729S and fleet number of 729.

From the front, it looked like a regular East Yorkshire red bus (EYMS was privatised in 1987 but retained the National Bus Company red and white livery until the switch to burgundy and cream) but the sides and back were tiger striped.

The crossbar section of the T shaped advertising space on either side featured several small ads grouped together, but the upright bar was the home of ‘Terry the Tiger’, an anthropomorphised ball clutching cartoon tiger presumably named after then manager and ire-magnet Terry Dolan.

Fleet number 729 was withdrawn from service in 1998 and was sold to Big Apple Tours of New York. We’d love to think that ‘Terry the Tiger’ became a regular sight in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but they probably changed the livery back to red, bah!

The city of Hull’s other bus company Stagecoach have never gone to the lengths of painting a vehicle amber and black, but they have featured the club crest on at least one bus. Stagecoach were an ‘associate business partner’ with City for the Premier League years, which is to say they sponsored a few matches, and the bus that regularly went by the KC Stadium after leaving the city centre featured a grey decal on one of the windows advertising the link up.

Though not remotely Tigers related, we also applaud Stagecoach for giving two buses a retro look. To celebrate 110 years of providing public transport in Hull, the company gave two vehicles throwback liveries, harking back to when the service was known as Hull Corporation Transport and later Kingston-upon-Hull City Transport (KHCT) before the Council operated company was bought in December 1983 by Stockton-based Cleveland Transit, who were themselves bought by Stagecoach Holdings plc in September 1994.

Limited Edition ‘Barmby Army’ Home Shirts

Barmby Army 2012Nick Barmby today lost the caretaker prefix of his job title, becoming City’s manager on a permanent basis. To mark the official appointment of the club’s first Hull born gaffer, Tiger Leisure have produced a limited edition run of home shirts featuring ‘BARMBY ARMY 2012’ printed above the club crest.

Each shirt, priced £39.99 (£29.99 for child sizes) comes with a signed postcard and message from the new manager. Furthermore, one purchaser decided by random draw will receive a commemorative shirt signed by the 2011/12 first team squad, presented by Nick Barmby ahead of our home game against Brighton next month.

Using mentions on the #hcafc Twitter hashtag as a rough (and admittedly far from indicative) gauge, the response to the club’s announcement of the shirts has been lukewarm, and we can understand that reaction. It all seems a bit… unnecessary.

Consider that the text enhanced shirts worn during the club’s finest hour-and-a-half, the Wembley win that sealed promotion to the Premier League, were never released as a replica, yet you can buy a shirt marking a managerial appointment. Odd.

Still, there is no obligation to buy one, and the club increasing fan choice when buying  merchandise* can only be a good thing. The club are offering fans who have a shirt that is sans-printing (presumably this doesn’t include shirts with player names and squad numbers) the chance to trade it in for a half-price ‘Barmby Army’ shirt. They’ll be available from Saturday.

*Be aware that while stocks last, shirts ordered from the Tiger Leisure webstore “will automatically be a commemorative shirt”. Strange that you can’t indicate whether you want a standard shirt or not.

City shirts in popular culture

Harry Shearer, the man who provides the voice for numerous Simpsons characters (among them Ned Flanders, Mr Burns and Dr Hibbert) is also known for his portrayal of bassist Derek Smalls in mock rock band biography This is Spinal Tap. In several scenes, he appears wearing a distinctive blue and amber Shrewsbury Town shirt in perhaps the finest instance of a football strip being irrevocably connected to a slice of pop culture.

There are many more, goalie shirts are de rigueur for Angelina Jolie’s coding-meff mates in Hackers (her bloke wears a Nike Arsenal keeper jersey), line dancing masseuse and Royston Vasey dweller Charlie Hull wore a Rotherham shirt in The League of Gentlemen, and what about the starving kid who cadges fruit from Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins wearing an early-90s Sheffield United shirt?

City have gotten in on the act too, with Tigers’ shirts appearing in TV shows and music videos, as we shall now explore…

Get It Together

Actor and friend to Basil Brush, the anthropomorphic raconteur fox, Roy North has never made his love of The Tigers a secret. On a 1978 episode of Granada TV’s music show Get It Together, North wears the 1976-79 white collared and cuffed City shirt made by Europa that featured a HCAFC monogram instead of the tiger head. Given that replica shirts were rare at this time, it’s possible he’s wearing a matchworn shirt for the show’s football special.

Renford Rejects

The Nickleodeon show about a school 5 a side team ran from 1998 to 2001. Character Jason Summerbee (played by Marin Delaney) was usually seen in a City shirt, wearing the maroon 1995-97 away shirt (here with green shorts, ugh) and the 1997/98 home shirt (above) during the show’s run.

Too much sun

An abysmal BBC sitcom about a posh actor and a down to earth writer trying to get a break in Hollywood ran for 6 episodes around 2000. Fall Guy star Lee Majors mystifyingly agreed to be on the show, playing an actor usually cast as a cowboy who loaned his Hollywood home to the English pair. Mark Addy played the uncouth slob writer, who’s uncouth slobbiness was made evident by, you guessed it, his wearing a 1999/00 City shirt.

Kingmaker

Local indie-rock band Kingmaker made a video for the song ‘Really scraping the sky’ (from the album Eat Yourself Whole) in 1992 that features Warwickshire born bassist Myles Howell wearing a 1990-92 City home shirt with the Bonus sponsor crossed out with two strips of gaffer tape. In the video, the band’s three members climb atop rickety stairs above the clouds. Howell suffers a precipitous fall late in the video, fitting given City’s relegation the first year that kit was worn.

Bostock’s Cup

City were briefly referenced in the London Weekend Television comedy-drama Bostock’s Cup, about a fictional lower league team that go on an astounding FA Cup run. It is later revealed that the team progressed underhand means, including hypnotising City’s players, instilling a deep fear of the balls ahead of a cup tie. The few ‘City’ players shown on screen wore the early 1970s shirts produced by TOFFS.

Up ‘n’ Under

Though filmed in Cardiff, the 1998 film adaption of the John Godber play about an inept pub rugby team was set in Hull. In one scene, a chap wears the 1995-96 Super League/IBC home shirt. Or so we’re told, we have no desire to watch a rugby film to confirm.

See You At Wembley, Frankie WalshIt has been too long since a City shirt was used on screen as a pop culture prop. Director Mark Herman may be the best hope for rectifying that, his penchant for slipping City references into his films is well documented. His first film See you at Wembley, Frankie Walsh (1987) was about a City fan who’s wedding would clash with The Tigers playing in the FA Cup semi final and featured a mostly obscured 1982-83 home shirt, but forget dogs called Brabin, pigeons called Duane and black and amber balloons behind brass bands, let’s have some proper kit action in your next film please Mark.