Hull City has seen more than its fair share of tryers, underachievers and lowlights over the years but none can hold a torch to the deadly Dave Bamber.
One of the great joys of supporting Hull City is that it keeps the dream alive. Whilst the likes of Messi and Iniesta leave you in no doubt that you could not play at their level in a million years, some of those who have worn the black and amber over the years made you believe that, with the aid of full-time training, you could actually get paid for playing football too.
Many of these players were simply under-talented triers and deserve a modicum of respect, as there is no crime in working hard but not being quite good enough. Some, such as Chris Lee, even attained a kind of anti-hero status. His limitations earned him lots of stick but he always flogged his guts out and helped us through a particularly impecunious period off the pitch. To his credit he actually held down a proper job during the week throughout his time at City and was allegedly being charged £2.50 a week subs to play. For me, the players who truly “not even a fan could love” were the overpaid, over-hyped and utterly work-shy, of whom Hull City have also had plenty.
Nick Deacy, in the early eighties was the first outstandingly bad City player to fit this bill that I can remember. His former international manager, Mike Smith, paid a big fee for him and introduced him as the missing link that would return us to being promotion contenders from the old Division Two. He certainly played like the missing link and seemed to be on a quest to prove Jimmy Greaves’ claim that anyone who could do three tap-ups could get a cap at centre-forward for Wales. Deacy ultimately tarnished his infamy, though, by discovering late in life that he was actually a serviceable centre-half and doing a reasonable job for us once we had sunk to his level in the Fourth Division.
Even the Prince of Idleness himself, Dimitar Berbatov, failed to erase the ghost of Bamber when he played in Hull during our recent Premiership stint. When he moved at all, Bamber shuffled around with all the grace of an asthmatic pit pony, only with worse ball control.
Another memorable lowlight was Richie Appleby. He was signed by Jan Molby from Kidderminster on big wages during our most recent fourth division spell. Molby, who we not unreasonably figured might know something about such things, described Appleby as the “best midfielder in the lower divisions”. Doubts were raised about the lad’s strength of character when he missed pre-season and the first few games of the season with blisters. Certainty about his lack of ability followed when he did eventually get onto the pitch. He was like one of those mouthy kids in the playground who insists on taking all of the corners only to keep slicing them out into the road behind the goal. Absolutely useless.
But pride of place in the Tigers’ Hall of Shame has to go to the mighty Dave Bamber. He came to us as a seemingly proven centre-forward with a decent goalscoring record. We paid a fairly hefty fee, for the time, to get him from Stoke. We also paid his relocation expenses - which would have been fair enough if he hadn't spent them on moving to Blackpool.
Bamber was undoubtedly the laziest player ever to grace our hallowed turf. Even the Prince of Idleness himself, Dimitar Berbatov, failed to erase the ghost of Bamber when he played in Hull during our recent Premiership stint. When he moved at all, Bamber shuffled around with all the grace of an asthmatic pit pony, only with worse ball control. His sole achievement during his time with us was to repeatedly break the world record for being caught offside by the biggest distance – well over 40 yards a number of times. Memorably, he once even got caught offside on two separate occasions during the same agonising trudge back from the penalty area to the halfway line. All of this might have been partially forgivable if it had turned out that age had caught up with him and his body was failing. However, he finally left us to go to Blackpool, which must have been handy for getting home, and played for another 4 seasons scoring 56 goals in 108 appearances. This came as shock to City fans who had assumed he was going there to take up a job giving small children rides along the beach.
And so it is, for tossing it off so brazenly, that deadly Dave Bamber ambles away with the prize of Hull City’s worst ever player – truly one “not even a fan could love”.
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