by Sam Hawcroft
More than 100 people packed into Withernsea Golf Club last week for a Q&A session with two of Hull City’s home-grown stars.
Captain Lewie Coyle and vice-captain Jacob Greaves were the guests of honour at the event last Thursday, organised by the Hull City Official Supporters’ Club and MC’d by Hull City’s PR officer and matchday announcer, Dan Briggs.
The Gazette’s Easington United correspondent, Rich Lusmore, also had a stand at the event to promote his acclaimed memoir, Not All Ticket, which chronicles his experiences following Hull City in the 1980s as well as his forays into the local music scene.
In his welcome speech, Withernsea Golf Club chairman Neil Baxter emphasised the community focus of the club, especially on encouraging younger members.
This Easter, a free taster session will be taking place at the club on Thursday, April 13, with PGA golf pro Ivan Oliver. Places are limited, so booking is essential. To book, text 07395 798328.
During his Q&A, Briggs chatted to Greaves and Coyle about the change in direction and style of play under new manager Liam Rosenior, and the atmosphere of “positivity” under new owner Acun Ilicali, which has seen fans “flocking” back to the MKM Stadium.
The City stars also talked about the influence of their fathers. Greaves, whose father Mark played for the Tigers between 1996 and 2002, said he felt like he’d been at the club “forever” despite only signing for City in 2019.
He said he had been “over the moon” to be named vice-captain, and described his first career goal last October as “a monkey off my back”.
Greaves added: “I am just trying to be a little bit more aggressive – my dad always says, when he watches me, that he doesn’t think that I want to go and attack the ball and get hurt. So I think I’ve kind of changed that now.”
Coyle, meanwhile, told fans how his father Chris, a well-known figure in Hull as the owner of the Original Barrow Boys fruit stall in the city centre, died aged just 59 last June – a week before his son was made club captain.
Coyle said: “It was mixed emotions, really. When people say, surely that was the best day of your footballing career? For me it was one that I wanted to share the news with my dad, which was tough. I’m quite vocal about what my dad meant to me.”
The session was later opened up to the floor, and there followed a range of serious – and not so serious – questions from fans young and old.
Indeed, Coyle remarked on the number of children among the audience, saying: “To see so many young kids here is amazing.”
Asked about how to embark on a journey towards becoming a professional footballer, the pair both stressed that playing football at any level was an achievement in itself.
However, Coyle added: “If you’re serious about football, it doesn’t come easily without hard work and sacrifice – and sometimes you have to do the things that you don’t really want to do to get to where you want to. Nobody’s going to just give you it – you have to work incredibly hard.”
One brave audience member wearing a Leeds shirt asked Coyle what it was like to play for a “proper club”. Coyle, who started his career at Elland Road and admitted supporting Leeds as a boy – which elicited a chorus of boos – replied: “If you don’t make it out of here alive, it was lovely to meet you…”
A raffle was drawn with prizes including signed shirts and footballs, before fans queued up to meet the players and get their autographs.
Kathryn Townsley, chairman of the HCOSC, said £250 had been raised by the raffle, £150 of which would be donated to Withernsea AFC, with the rest going towards future events in the community.
In recent weeks, the HCOSC has offered free return bus travel from Withernsea to home matches at the MKM Stadium – the first being for the Rotherham match on April 1, which attracted City’s biggest home crowd in six years. Buses will also be running for the Millwall match on Easter Monday, but by the time we went to press, the offer had closed.
For more information about future events and offers, visit hullcityosc.org.