Hull City v Scunthorpe United, 1983
Unthinkable today, but the BBC’s flagship highlights programme, Match of the Day, once regularly featured football from outside the top division. This snippet from February 1983 shows the cameras visiting Humberside for a Fourth Division encounter between Hull City (who commentator Tony Gubba insists on calling ‘Hull Tigers’ long before that was seriously proposed) and near-neighbours Scunthorpe United. This hard-fought encounter was watched by a healthy crowd of 14,252 at Boothferry Park, with Hull fans optimistic under Chairman Don Robinson, who was keen to explore the club’s commercial potential. Famous faces included future England manager Steve McClaren in the Hull City midfield, and their goalscorer Brian Marwood, who was to win the First Division title with Arsenal in 1989. The Scunthorpe manager was Allan Clarke, a prolific striker in Don Revie’s Leeds United team of the 1970s, scorer of the 1972 FA Cup-winning goal, who had been sacked as Leeds manager the year before. Both teams were promoted to the Third Division at the end of the 1982-83 season, but enjoyed contrasting fortunes the following year. Hull finished fourth, missing out on promotion to the Second Division only on goals scored, while Scunthorpe were relegated back to the bottom division.
Hull City’s former home, Boothferry Park, opened for the start of the 1946-47 season, after many years of work on the site. The first game there was a goalless draw against Lincoln City on 31 August 1946. Though it was incomplete at the time, like Don Robinson the club’s then-owners had ambitious plans to develop the ground and increase its capacity to 80,000. Sadly these were never fully realised, but from 1951 the stadium, uniquely, had its own dedicated railway station, Boothferry Park Halt, with turnstiles on the station platform leading onto the East Side terrace. An attendance record of 55,019 was set in February 1949, for the visit of Manchester United, but the club began a decline in the later 1980s; trains stopped running to the ground in 1986. The proposed stand with a stage, discussed on Match of the Day, was never built at Boothferry Park, although there was a supermarket behind the away end of the ground in its later years.
Hull City moved to the KCOM stadium in 2002, and it was there that they played in the top division of English football for the first time in their history in 2008.