Hull City v Birmingham City: Maturity helps Fraizer Campbell to lead from front for Tigers

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FRAIZER CAMPBELL has been here before.

This may sound like a glaringly obvious statement to make, given that the Hull City striker returned to his old stomping ground in the summer, but it is not meant to be construed in the way that most would imagine.

Indeed, the Huddersfield-born forward is back on familiar ground in more ways than one.

A decade ago, the coltish striker with the penalty-box dash began to emerge as a bright young Championship thing after moving across the M62 in a loan spell from Manchester United.

No one of an amber-and-black persuasion needs to be reminded as to how that 2007-08 season panned out.

Given the alarming form of the present-day Tigers squad of which Campbell finds himself a part, memories of promotion glory akin to that unforgettable Spring afternoon at Wembley in May 2008 must seem a world away.

Hull City's Fraizer Campbell battles with Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo at the KCOM Stadium earlier this month. Picture:Tony Johnson.

Hull City's Fraizer Campbell battles with Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo at the KCOM Stadium earlier this month. Picture:Tony Johnson.

But Campbell, who recently turned 30, does spy one similarity between then and now that offers a potential ray of hope.

Those Tigers fans who know their history may also recall how the autumn of 2007 was not particularly benign for Hull, who were stuck in lower mid-table for spells of what was ultimately a momentous campaign.

It may be pushing it to suggest that Hull, who currently reside in a similarly underwhelming position of 17th, could perform anything resembling a repeat, particularly given that they head into this afternoon’s meeting with Birmingham City on the back of a worrying run of six losses in their last eight league outings.

But it does provide a spot of perspective to Hull’s current malaise and a reminder of the Championship’s innate capacity to surprise within an ever-changing and fluid landscape.

It is important that everyone knows we are all in this together. You try and be friendly. But you cut them down if you need to.

Hull City’s Fraizer Campbell

Campbell, who scored the first goal of his second spell in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Reading, said: “There’s been a lot of change and it would have been lucky for us if everyone had hit the ground running and everyone had dropped in and done really well.

“There are 30-odd games left and a long way to go. I was speaking to one of the lads and said that the last time I came here, I think it was the end of October or November time and we were 16th in the league, which is similar to now.

“We all know how that ended. You just need to go on a run and do well and you can be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.”

Campbell’s sage observations speak of a seasoned and rounded professional who has seen a fair bit in the game, a far cry from those relatively carefree days of 10 years ago at Hull when everything came naturally and easily.

Fraizer Campbell jumps on Hull City team-mate Dean Windass after he scores what proved to be the winning goal at Wembley back in 2008. Picture: Nick Potts/PA

Fraizer Campbell jumps on Hull City team-mate Dean Windass after he scores what proved to be the winning goal at Wembley back in 2008. Picture: Nick Potts/PA

The added maturity means that responsibility sits snugly on the shoulders of Campbell, a father of three and a regular on the school run where he is well-accustomed to the “6.30am starts” that are part of the parental package.

A duty of care to his body in his quest for longevity in the game is also apparent.

Chiropractic sessions are now structured into his daily training routine whereas, a decade ago, it was a case of “turning up 10 minutes before training”, as Campbell puts it.

His first spell at Hull did see him learn certain valuable lessons from Hull’s ‘old-school’ brigade, even if the way that he imparts his advice to young professionals is probably a little bit more new school.

Campbell remarked: “It definitely wasn’t calm. We had Ian Ashbee and Deano (Dean Windass) and Wayne Brown was here and Dawse (Andy Dawson).

“Those were the type of players who wouldn’t keep it calm; they were proper men.

“You knew that if you were in a battle, you’d want them by your side. It was good to have those type of players around.

“I took a lot of stick. It was my first introduction to men’s football and a great way to start.”

As for his own style of leadership, he added: “I don’t know. You would have to ask the young lads. I try and just be as honest as I can with them. If they are doing well, I will tell them. But if they are doing bad, I will also tell them that.

“It is important that everyone knows we are all in this together. You try and be friendly, but you cut them down if you need to.

“When you have got three kids, you have got to be responsible sometimes. It is part of growing up and it is nice to have some of the young lads look up to you and talk about things. It is added responsibility, which is always good.”