Fourteen years ago, Hull City was locked out of its home grounds as a result of fiscal mismanagement and missed rent payments. Only ten years ago, the club competed in England's Third Division, only one rung up from what is essentially semi-pro soccer. (The English system, in all its Byzantine glory, is explained in detail here.) The Tigers slowly found financial stability, and earned promotions in 2005 and 2008 before being relegated to the Championship, then clinched their return to the Premiership last year. Despite being an early favorite for relegation, Hull City managed to stay up, finishing 16th, three points clear of the dead zone.
|"I haven't heard of me, either"|
Win or lose tomorrow, the Tigers have already clinched a berth in Europe next season, grabbing a spot in the Europa League by virtue of Arsenal's entry in the Champions League. From a geographical and probabilistic perspective, this would be roughly akin to the Portland Sea Dogs earning a berth in the American League. (Roughly akin, as there really isn't any American equivalent to the extra-league play that's such a vital part of European soccer.)
In the Tigers' honor, and because one can never have enough Housemartins, a song that describes (at least in the title) Hull fans' barely contained anticipation of tomorrow's 5:00 GMT kickoff.