A WELCOME addition to the KC Stadium this season has been a number of giant banners featuring iconic figures from the history of Hull sport.
Dean Windass, Johnny Whiteley and Raich Carter are among those depicted in the images, which adorn the back of the West Stand and serve as a fitting tribute to those who provided such sterling service to the football and rugby league clubs that now call the KC ‘home’.
Considering the rotten season that Hull City have had, expecting one of the current team to join the ranks of true sporting icons in the city may be asking too much.
But if, for instance, Dame N’Doye or Tom Huddlestone score the goal that ends up keeping the club in the Premier League this coming Sunday then surely neither would have to buy a drink ever again in the East Riding.
Certainly, Paul McShane, the Tigers’ longest-serving player after first sporting amber and black in 2008, believes hero status is beckoning for someone in Steve Bruce’s squad.
“Sunday will be a day when people can make themselves heroes in a city,” said the Republic of Ireland international ahead of a final day that will see City either make history by securing a third straight season in the top flight or drop down into the Championship.
“That is what the lads will be striving for. We are fighting for our lives but everyone believes we can do it.”
McShane’s optimism is not shared by the bookmakers, who have Hull as odds-on to go down. With good cause, considering a league table that has Bruce’s men two points behind Newcastle United and another adrift of Sunderland.
The Black Cats can secure their own safety tomorrow night by taking a point from the trip to Arsenal.
If they fail, a second chance awaits at Chelsea on Sunday.
Newcastle, meanwhile, look the more vulnerable. A Hull victory over Manchester United would leave a team that has taken one point from a possible 30 needing to do the same against Sam Allardyce’s West Ham at St James’ Park to condemn the Yorkshire club to the drop.
McShane said: “Everyone is vulnerable down there. The only difference is they are in a better position than us going into the final day.
“If there are any positives to take out of Saturday (when City were beaten 2-0 at Tottenham Hotspur) – and, don’t get me wrong, it was devastating to lose – then it was how we played.
“We did all right. I am not one for playing the ‘unlucky’ card but we should have got something out of that game.
“We have to take that positivity into the Manchester United game. Maybe we are not expected to do it but people wrote us off before Crystal Palace. We won there and are still in it, we still have something to fight for going into the final day.
“It could be a case where the pressure is not really on us. Newcastle will know we are just behind them. There is always pressure. We are in the relegation zone and they are not.”
The stakes couldn’t be much higher going into Sunday for the Tigers, who have lost all 10 of their last meetings with the Red Devils.
City have, though, been here before. In 2009, they hosted United on the final day and survived – albeit only thanks to Newcastle losing 1-0 at Aston Villa as Alex Ferguson’s men triumphed by the same scoreline at the KC.
McShane made 17 appearances that season but had been recalled by Sunderland long before that final day drama. Nevertheless, he is eagerly looking forward to Sunday’s meeting with a club where he started as an apprentice.
“It is just another game now,” said McShane when asked about the significance of taking on the Red Devils. “I was there a long time ago so it is no different that it is against my old club.
“I don’t know many players who are still there. Jonny Evans is around who I was with but that is probably it. I don’t have any strings attaching me to the club. This is just another game for myself.
“The only thing that matters is we need to win. At the start of the season, we all wanted to be over the line by now.
“But things haven’t worked out and we are not there. This is something we have to deal with and this is the position we are in. We have to win.
“I honestly don’t know what they will be thinking. But I am sure they will be up for it. And we certainly are, as we are fighting for our lives.
“We have worked hard to get to this league and we will come out fighting on Sunday.
“We just hope we can do enough to win it.”
On Hull’s hopes of emulating their final day survival of 2009, McShane said: “I was back at Sunderland by then but Newcastle went down that year so you never know.
“It could be the same. Goal difference could yet play a big part,” he added.