A near sold-out away following will back Hull City at Stoke City this weekend
This weekend, over 2,500 Hull City supporters will travel to Stoke City’s bet365 Stadium hoping to see Liam Rosenior’s side maintain their terrific recent run.
City have lost just once in nine games away from home, winning five and drawing four before that narrow loss at Sheffield United while at home, the Tigers have claimed six points from their last two outings to move them to within four points ahead of this weekend’s round of fixtures.
Off the pitch, this weekend marks a significant moment for City and their supporters for it will be the latest away game where owner Acun Ilicali has laid on free coaches.
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It’s not the first time the City owner has done such a thing, in fact, two of the last three away trips have been paid for by the Turkish businessman, having done it for the visit to QPR early in the campaign after being made aware of Loftus Road’s extortionate ticket prices.
Almost 3,000 made the journey to Bramall Lane last time out, but this is the beginning of a nine-game run to the end of the season where City fans can enjoy free coach travel from the MKM Stadium.
More than 30 coaches will depart Hull around 10:30am on Saturday in what will be quite a sight as the convoy snakes along the A63 and M62 before heading onto the M18, M1, and finally the A50 towards the Potteries.
Come Valentine’s Day afternoon, another eight coaches and 700 supporters will make hefty the eight-hour round trip from East Yorkshire to Norwich and back and that will be a theme replicated for away days at Bristol City, Coventry City, Reading, Sunderland, Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough and finally, Luton Town.
The cost to Ilicali is well in excess of six figures, but to the supporters, it’s a significant gesture, and in a way, caps what has been a year many will not forget in a hurry, and it does make a difference to the players.
While events on the pitch up until recently have not matched those off it, City fans have become re-engaged with their football club once again after a long and at times, bitter feud with the previous owners – the relationship has been repaired and continues to go from strength to strength.
Since Ilicali’s takeover in January last year, fans have been treated to a host of different things, namely an all-inclusive holiday for 300 supporters to Antalya, and more importantly, reduced ticket prices.
As the old saying goes, you can take a horse to water but you may struggle to entice it into having any, and in City’s case, fans are gradually making their way back, they’re taking advantage of the club’s generosity.
Crowds at home have improved significantly from where they were pre-takeover (12,888 average in 2021/22), and while there’s a demand from within the boardroom to see 20,000 become a regular attendance, an average of 17,222 is something to be proud of, particularly given the difficulties the team has had playing at the MKM this term – and taking into account away allocations have been reduced, makes the turnout even more impressive.
Laying on free coaches is a grand gesture, particularly for those supporters in and around East Yorkshire that are in a position to make the most of it, but it still takes commitment to give up your day off, buy the match tickets and everything else that goes with a day out at the football.
Fans are doing their bit for Liam Rosenior and his side, and on the pitch, they’re now being rewarded with some exhilarating football – and some fine results, results which are threatening to generate some serious excitement as the season draws to a conclusion.