It has been an interesting decade on the west side of Hull, overseen for the most part by local hero and head coach Lee Radford.
Under ‘Radders’ the Airlie Birds finally ended their Wembley hoodoo back in 2016 and much like London buses, having waited a lifetime for one, another soon followed.
Their back-to-back Challenge Cup triumphs won’t have come as a shock to many, especially when you look at the quality of their team over those two years.
In fact, the last 10 years has seen a number of iconic names don the famous black and white jersey, whether that be overseas stars or local lads, FC fans have been spoilt.
Full-back – Jamie Shaul
A player who loves life in the spotlight is Jamie Shaul, having stolen it from predecessor Shannon McDonnell. The pacey full-back made his debut back in 2013 and though he struggled through 2014 and 2015, he came to life in 2016 and has been a regular ever since. Having made over 150 appearances, scoring over 90 tries for the club, Shaul has been a valuable asset, with his speed and support the highlight of his ever-improving all-round game.
Wingers – Mahe Fonua & Fetuli Talanoa
Mahe Fonua is back at the KCOM Stadium after a two year stint in the NRL and the Hull fans are understandably delighted. In his last stint at FC, Fonua scored and assisted the two tries that ended the club’s long wait for Wembley glory, and was also named in the Super League Dream Team twice.
Much like Fonua, Fetuli Talanoa possesses strength, speed and an outstanding finishing ability. Those attributes have helped him to 54 tries in Super League for the Black and Whites, making him a huge favourite amongst the old faithful.
Centres – Jake Connor & Kirk Yeaman
England and Great Britain star Jake Connor has come into his own since joining the club from Huddersfield. With a superb natural running, kicking and passing game, it’s no surprise Connor has earned international recognition, but he does need to be more consistent if he is to take his game to that next level.
In the other centre position we have long-serving FC hero Kirk Yeaman. The one-club man has endured an eventful career, still performing to a high standard in the 2010s. His best was arguably the decade before, but to continue his form and even come out of retirement briefly in 2018 just showed how committed he was.
Stand-off – Albert Kelly
There could only be one name in the stand-off role and that’s Albert Kelly. When he traded in East Hull for West ahead of the 2017 season many fans questioned the signing, however Kelly has come into his own for the Airlie Birds and played a huge part in helping the club win the 2017 Challenge Cup. Quick, evasive and still a vital asset to the side, the 28-year-old has undoubtedly been one of Lee Radford’s best signings.
Scrum-half – Marc Sneyd
Sneeeeeeeeeeeeeeyd! The back-to-back Lance Todd trophy winner Marc Sneyd introduced a new dimension of attacking rugby to Hull and is one of the main reasons for their success. Often proving his critics wrong, Sneyd’s awareness, organisation and game-management make him indispensible to the club. Almost akin to Kevin Sinfield at Leeds, Sneyd’s goal-kicking ability often proves the difference between victory and defeat.
Props – Mark O’Meley & Liam Watts
Hull’s own Scott Taylor remarkably doesn’t make the front row. I have instead opted for ’the ogre’ Mark O’Meley who arrived at the club in 2010. The no-nonsense Kangaroo spent four seasons on Humberside and helped the Black and Whites climb the table, with his sheer power and fearlessness making him highly-respected at club and international level.
Liam Watts is my other front-rower who possesses much of what O’Meley offered, only with superb ball-handling skills. His ambitious offloading and direct running often laid the platform, with his contribution to both cup successes perhaps underrated. His move to Castleford and his recent Man of Steel nomination still has Hull fans scratching their heads as to why he was allowed to leave.
Hooker – Danny Houghton
Not much of a surprise as tackle machine Danny Houghton is named at hooker. Since replacing Shaun Berrigan in the role, Houghton has been a rock, guiding Hull around the field, with his unrivalled defensive work seeing him make 1000+ tackles over multiple seasons. Who could forget ‘tackle 52’ at Wembley that earned Hull their first ever triumph at the national stadium, a moment that will be forever rubber-stamped on the 2016 Challenge Cup final.
Second-row – Sika Manu & Mark Minichiello
Sika Manu arrived with his ‘brotherly’ contingent in 2016 and helped Hull climb from a seventh-place regular season finish to the very top of the league. His power, offloading skills and solid defence saw him slot into the side seamlessly during his four-year stint and Manu’s retirement will leave a huge gap in the side.
Mark Minichiello edges out one of his predecessors Willie Manu in the other back-row position. Despite arriving in Super League aged 33, he took the competition by storm with his quick feet and hit-ups particularly eye-catching. Much like Manu, fan’s favourite Minichiello will be sorely missed.
Loose-forward – Gareth Ellis
A cult hero at Hull FC, Gareth Ellis recently came out of retirement for one final fling in his luxurious career. His arrival in 2013 saw many people’s perception of the club change from pretenders to contenders, and that’s exactly how things materialised. Lifting the Challenge Cup twice before his ‘retirement’, Gareth’s leadership is priceless to the side. Since returning, his hits-ups and tackles are as ferocious as ever, and it’s almost as if he was never away. Ellis is treat as royalty in west Hull and always should be.
Coach – Lee Radford
The only manager to lead Hull FC to silverware this decade, Lee Radford is another figure of royalty on the black and white side of the city. After overcoming a tough start to his tenure, Radford shook off the stick and settled down into the job. His ability to build a team capable of winning silverware should not be understated and there could be more success to come yet. He is the only boss in the Hull FC history to lift the famous Challenge Cup at Wembley Stadium, so let’s put some respect on Lee Radford’s name!
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