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Rating each side’s experience in Super League: Hull FC

After some diffcult beginnings, Hull FC have managed to consolidate themselves as a Super League side.

Like some others, Hull FC were asked to be part of a merger for the formation of the Super League. They were to merge with city rivals Hull KR to form Humberside. It was resisted,  despite the shareholders giving their general consensus in favour of the idea. They would later be re-branded as Hull Sharks.

Early Struggles

Unfortunately, Hull missed the cut off to be named in the inaugural Super League season as they finished 10th in the Championship.

They did win the Championship, and earn promotion in 1997. This was thanks to new Head Coach Phil Sigsworth, who took over a year previously for his first coaching role.

However, they struggled to assert themselves in the Super League, and a year later, it was announced they had merged with new Super League side Gateshead Thunder. The merger was accepted as a takeover of the Gateshead club by Hull in order to retain their Super League status.

Once this happened, they went back to Hull FC, and appointed former Thunder Head Coach Shaun McRae as their new man in charge.

The Australian, who previously won the league with St Helens in 1996, was at the helm until 2004, when he returned home. His replacement was his assistant John Kear.

In his first season in charge, there was progress as they won the Challenge Cup after beating Leeds at the Millennium Stadium.

He left a year later, as he paid the price for a slow start. He was replaced by another Australian in the shape of Peter Sharp, who was an assistant at NRL side Parramatta Eels.

The explosive rein of Peter Sharp

Hull FC made to Old Trafford in 2006, but lost out to St Helens. Credit: Simon Whitehead/News Images

Sharp would help the Black and Whites to 13 straight victories between April and July, as they roared up the table to finish in second place.

They even made the Super League Grand Final, but they were beaten by St Helens in front of a new record crowd for the showpiece event.

A year later, the club made strides off the pitch. They signed Matt Sing, Hutch Maiava, Willie Manu, Danny Tickle and Wayne Godwin. They would also entertain city rivals Hull KR at their new stadium and for the first time in the Super League era.

Also that year, was the controversial transfer of Paul Cooke from FC to KR. Cooke allegedly told the Robins he was out of contract, and had not signed a deal to stay with Hull FC. However, it happened and he was subsequently banned for six matches. He made his debut for Hull KR against the Black and Whites.

The next season saw Sharp dismissed after a slow start to the season. He was replaced by Richard Agar, but he could not stop them from finishing in a disappointing 11th. However, they did make the Challenge Cup Final, but were beaten by St Helens at Wembley.


Hull then went on another spending spree ahead of the 2010 season. They signed Craig Fitzgibbon, Mark O’Meley, Sean Long and Jordan Tansey. Expectations were high once again. They finished sixth, and went out of the playoffs in the first round with a 21-4 defeat against their city rivals; Hull KR.

Agar left the club a year later, and was replaced by Peter Gentle. He would guide them to two straight playoff appearances, but left the club after two seasons in charge.

In 2013, they reached the Challenge Cup Final, but were beaten 16-0 by Wigan Warriors. They then were given a record defeat in the playoffs by Huddersfield, they lost 76-18 at the John Smith’s Stadium. Both of these were considered factors in the board’s reasoning for change.

He was replaced by former player and assistant coach Lee Radford. It took the former forward a few years for his side to come together, but once they did, they became a force.

Back-to-back Challenge Cups

Lee Radford led Hull FC to back-to-back Challenge Cup titles before he was sacked in 2020. Credit: News Images

In 2016, they claimed their first win at Wembley with a last-gasp win over Warrington. However, the Wolves would get their revenge to win the League Leaders Shield against the Black and Whites on the last night of the Super 8s. They also went on to lose their semi-final against Wigan.

The next year saw them go back-to-back in the Challenge Cup with a win over the Warriors. It was the first time in their history they had done that.

However, the Black and Whites would fail to make the playoffs for the next two seasons, and their hold on the Challenge Cup was loosened.

The end for Lee Radford came after a home defeat to Warrington Wolves in 2020. Hull had spent big again, with several big names coming in, but they had made a slow start to the season.

At the time of the pandemic, they were yet to appoint a permanent Head Coach, with Andy Last currently in caretaker charge.

The future

Whilst for now, it is unclear exactly what the future will hold for Hull FC, what is clear is, they have the talent to perform at a high level.

If they can find a Head Coach that can bring the best out of that group of players, then they could well have a big future.

Radford had also started planning for the future, with several young players coming through into the first team. If they can be integrated with the likes of Jake Connor, Jamie Shaul, Marc Sneyd and Danny Houghton, then it could work out well for them.


7/10- they have certainly had their moments. They have won three Challenge Cups in that timeframe, but have yet to make their mark on the league. In 2006 and 2016 they came close, but just haven’t quite been able to get over the line. If they can, that number will be higher.

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