MY first professional team remain among the game’s big boys in terms of stature and support, with last season’s recorded average attendance of around 12,350 behind only Leeds, Wigan and St Helens.
But the admirable loyalty of the old faithful has hardly been rewarded, with the Black and Whites failing to reach the play-offs since 2020 and failing to win a trophy since that second successive Challenge Cup success back in 2017.
It was Lee Radford who masterminded the Wembley win over Wigan, and since dispensing with his services, Adam Pearson has tried Andy Last, Brett Hodgson and now Tony Smith.
Of course there’s no doubting Tony’s experience and past achievements, and he did a fine job across the city at Hull KR before a difficult exit. But even allowing for his relatively recent appointment, a tenth-placed finish in 2023 was still a real disappointment.
Hull started quite well, but it proved to be a false dawn, because while they later strung together successive league wins over Huddersfield, Wigan and Wakefield, they were nowhere near consistent enough over the season as a whole.
Now the honeymoon period is well and truly over for Tony and he desperately needs a top-six finish.
Will he achieve it? I’m not so sure, because I’m not so sure that the signings Hull have made will add the necessary quality and depth to the squad, while they’ve lost a valuable source of points in Adam Swift to Huddersfield.
I think they’ll be slightly better, but not good enough.
Hull FC – 8th