This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Rewind’ series, this content strand is where we rewind back to a particular moment at a club, assess the initial reaction from the fans, and then proceed to evaluate and reflect on whether the fans were right to react that way
A clash between two recent Premier League outfits at the KCOM Stadium just before Christmas Day, with both looking to move themselves ever closer to a place on the Championship top six.
Hull City come into the tie in 14th place and sitting just five points behind Fulham, who at the time occupied the final place in the promotion places, and, with half a season to go, the Tigers supporters felt that their side could finally return to the dazzling lights of the Premier League.
Their visitors, Birmingham City, were in an identical position to Hull, but they sat two points further back at the half-way point in the season. The 2011 League Cup winners were also dreaming of the play-offs and knew that three points at the KCOM could go a long way in making that dream a reality.
QUIZ: Can you name the player who scored the first Hull City goal in each of the last 16 seasons?
Both sides were looking to turn mundane mid-table finishes into something that could keep their supporters awake at night. Despite neither being highly tipped to be involved in a promotion race this campaign, each set of supporters were hoping that they could rub shoulders with the giants of English football for just one more season.
Come 3pm on December 21st, both teams would give their blood, sweat and tears to try and inch themselves closer to the excitement of the top six. Tigers manager Grant McCann opted to use a 4-2-3-1 system that had served him so well with his former side, Doncaster Rovers, as he guided them to a place in the League One play-offs just last season.
In the number 10 position was Jarrod Bowen, the jewel to the Hull City crown. He had been instrumental for Hull up to this point with his goals and creativity causing many of teams an issue. Interest in Bowen was growing by this point with Premier League clubs starting to take note of his performance levels that were dragging Hull towards the play-offs.
It was his partner in crime though that got the ball rolling against Birmingham. Polish international Kamil Grosicki’s perfectly weighted corner found the head of Tom Eaves and the striker made no mistake at the front post as he nodded past Connal Trueman, right on the stroke of half-time.
That goal seemed to put a spring in the step of the Tigers after half-time whistle. Shortly following a Birmingham City free kick in a dangerous area, Hull won the ball back and countered with pace and power. Bowen slid Grosicki in, but the Pole could only fire over the crossbar; it was coming.
The creative force for Hull would link up again just minutes later but this time the consequences for Birmingham would be far more deadly. Grosicki raced through on goal and showed his class to life the ball effortlessly into the visiting goal. The game was as good as won and the Tigers looked set to be closing the gap on the top six to just two points.
If the game wasn’t won at 2-0 it certainly was at three, with substitute Keane Lewis-Potter showing his promise as he held off a Birmingham City defender and slammed the ball into the corner.
A vital three points had come the Tigers way and the play-offs were in sight, or so they thought…
Our gift to you:
— Hull City (@HullCity) December 21, 2019
Christmas Eaves, Camel Grosicki and er… Keane Lewis-Potter 🤣🤣🤦♂️
— 🐯TigerBase🐯 (@Tiger_Base) December 21, 2019
— TigerDor (@TigerDor) December 21, 2019
Well done lads. Excellent result.
— Marc Jowett (@marc_jowett) December 21, 2019
Well done never realised it was Christmas eaves
— tiger boy (@tigerbo43346276) December 21, 2019
Regulation 3 points against the Blues!
— Dave Rowe (@_daverowe) December 21, 2019
Brilliant win for us
— Amy Key 🐯 (@amykeyhcafc) December 21, 2019
What Hull City supporters didn’t know at the time was that the two players that gave Hull that constant threat at the top end of the pitch would be gone just over a month later. Premier League interest turned into a Premier League move for Bowen as he joined West Ham United, whereas Grosicki would swap Yorkshire for the West Midlands, moving to West Bromwich Albion to help their bid for promotion back to England’s top-flight.
The play-offs were on the cusp for Hull City and with half a season to go, many fancied them to fire their way into the top six. Following their New Year’s Day victory over Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday, the Tigers are yet to register another win in 2020 which has seen a run of nine defeats from 11 games.
The club have swapped one dotted line for another, but this time they will be hoping that they don’t fall under it by the end of the season.