Tigers will always be in my heart, says Brown

Former Bradford City player Will Atkinson will play against Hull for Southend today.
Former Bradford City player Will Atkinson will play against Hull for Southend today.
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TO Phil Brown, there is never a bad time to play Hull City.

By that, the 54-year-old readily admits the chance to take on the club he took into the Premier League is something to savour.

In terms of FA Cup progress, however, Brown does not see the Tigers in a similar vein to the Millwall outfit whom Southend United knocked out in the third round.

The Shrimpers chief said: “Hull is a club that will always mean a lot to me. I have said as much in my programme notes for the Cup tie. They will always be in my heart so I was delighted when the draw put us together at Roots Hall.

“Unlike Millwall, though, I am not sure this is necessarily a good time to face Hull. I definitely thought that about Millwall in the last round.

“But I don’t see that about Hull. It isn’t too long since they put six goals past Fulham and they are also in mid-table in Premier League.

“We will have our work cut out. I have watched Hull a couple of times this season and I also know what Steve Bruce teams are all about. They are very organised and well-drilled.

“But this is the Cup and if Hull don’t play at their best, who knows? The two new strikers (Nikica Jelavic and Shane long) are Cup-tied so can’t play. Tom Huddlestone is also out (following his red card at Norwich City a week ago) and there can be no doubt what an important player he has become for Hull.

“He is a great passer and the surface down here is a good one so maybe that can help us, too.”

Today isn’t the first time Brown has managed a team against Hull since his reign at the KC came to an end in March, 2010. His Preston North End side lost at Hull a little under a year after he had been sacked by the Tigers.

It will, though, still be an emotional day for the Southend manager.

Brown said: “I had so many good times at Hull. Picking a highlight of my time is difficult, as there were just so many. But Wembley (winning the Championship play-off final) was extra special. To see the enjoyment that we gave the city of Hull by winning promotion was brilliant.

“That said, there were so many other great times. The win at the Emirates or at White Hart Lane. Then, there was St James’ Park - and all these were in the first 10 games. Staying up later that season was great as well.”

One other ex-Tiger who has been looking forward to today’s game is Will Atkinson, who joined Southend in the summer after being released by Bradford City.

Brown added: “Will is doing great. He has brought the experience he had from an incredible season with Bradford. He played 57 games and for me to get him to the club on a free was remarkable.”