The five best Hull FC players of the Super League era

For 23 seasons, Hull FC have been ever-present in the Super League after earning promotion from the old Division One in 1998.

In that time, the Airlie Birds have won the Challenge Cup three times and have reached one Grand Final, though that ended in defeat. A number of high-profile stars have passed through the dressing rooms at the KCOM Stadium during that period, five of whom are listed here.

Kirk Yeaman

Mr. Hull FC himself, Kirk Yeaman made his debut in 2001 before retiring in 2017. The centre even came out of retirement in 2018 to play one game as the club suffered a mounting injury list. After 374 games with 177 tries over the course of 17 seasons, Yeaman broke a number of records. He came the first player ever to win the Challenge Cup twice with his hometown club – in 2005 and 2016. And, he was part of the squad that set a club record 13 consecutive Super League wins in 2006 to reach the Grand Final. If those accolades weren’t enough, Yeaman holds the record for most tries in competitive Hull derbies – 17.

Paul Cooke

Though a later move to Hull KR in 2007 would ruin the reputation he forged amongst the terraces at Hull FC, Paul Cooke was still a major influence during his eight-year spell with the Airlie Birds. Whether with the boot or hands, the playmaker could create something out of nothing as illustrated in the 2005 Challenge Cup Final when he sauntered through the Leeds defence to win the game for the black-and-whites. In 220 games, he registered almost 900 points, earning international honours with England in the process.

Richard Horne

Cooke’s halfback partner in that infamous cup win was this man, Richard Horne. With over 400 career games under his belt spanning 16 years, halfback Horne equalled the club record of scoring in 11 consecutive matches in 2006 – a record which spanned nearly 100 years. A master tactician with a passing game that often changed the outcome of matches, the playmaker was almost forced to retire in 2008 with a severe neck injury. As tough as he was clever, Horne returned to play another six seasons before retiring in 2014.

Gareth Ellis

Hull’s free-spending nature in the past decade has seen some unbelievable stars join the club, but none have perhaps been more influential than Gareth Ellis. Signed from Wests Tigers ahead of the 2013 season, the forward proved just why so many teams were chasing him on his return to the UK. He captained FC to back-to-back Challenge Cup success in 2016 and 2017 and even came out of retirement in 2019 as a 38-year-old to help Hull out during an injury crisis. One of the toughest and fittest to ever take to the field, Ellis was ever the ultimate professional, finally hanging up his boots for good in 2020.

Richard Swain

Despite Hull great Danny Houghton being one of the most consistent number nines in the competition, Richard Swain had so much of an impact during his four seasons that he has to make this list. The New Zealand international was an instant hit on Humberside, being one of the key performers in Hull’s 2005 Challenge Cup success with an unbeatable work-rate that laid the platform for Houghton in later years. Having racked up 93 appearances, Swain retired midway through 2007 with a back injury.

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