PLENTY of players have worn the amber and black at both the KC Stadium and Hull’s previous home, Boothferry Park. But surely none has been adored as much at both venues as Dean Windass.
Now 43, the former Tigers striker can look back with pride on two spells with his home-town club.
In the first, which lasted four years from 1991, he netted 57 league goals and was the one shining light for supporters during what was an incredibly difficult time for the club. His sale for £700,000 to Aberdeen then helped keep Hull alive at a time when the vultures were circling above Boothferry as the unpaid bills mounted.
By the time Windass returned to the East Riding 12 years later, the Tigers had moved across the city and were still basking in the glow of back-to-back promotions.
He may have been 37, but age proved no barrier to success as the former Bradford City and Middlesbrough striker scored the goals that, first, kept Hull in the Championship and then, in the most glorious of fashions, ended Hull’s wait for top-flight football.
Few, therefore, are in a better position to judge just what the building of the KC Stadium has done for the Tigers.
Windass said: “Boothferry Park is somewhere I will always have good memories about. I went with my dad as a young lad to watch City and was then fortunate enough to play there.
“I also captained Hull at Boothferry Park. So, I was sad when the club left. But I also realised that City had no other option but to move.”
Windass’s debut in Hull colours at the KC came against Leeds United early in 2007 when the club’s then biggest attendance (24,311) saw the visitors triumph 2-1.
Four months later, City exacted revenge by staying up as Leeds went down after Windass netted the winner at Cardiff City. He was at it again a year later with ‘that’ volley at Wembley against Bristol City to ensure the KC would soon be hosting Premier League football.
He recalls: “I loved playing at the KC but I never thought it had the same atmosphere as Boothferry did, even when we were in the Premier League.
“I put that down to there not being a Kop end for the fans to gather at and sing, like happened with the south stand at Boothferry Park.
“I always thought the Kop at Liverpool used to suck the ball into the net. A lot of home ends were like that and if I was captain of a team, I would always choose to attack the home team’s main end in the second half.
“The KC doesn’t have that sort of thing and the atmosphere suffers as a result. But I still loved playing there.
“I was fortunate to go back to Hull in 2007 and, in terms of the KC, my personal highlight was probably the Southend game when I scored a hat-trick. I scored five in my career and three were at Boothferry Park, one at Cambridge and the other was at the KC.
“ It was a special moment and something I will never forget.”