Ant Northgraves / @AntNorthgraves
Ian Ashbee. A name that, amongst City fans usually needs no follow up. The phrase “Captain, Leader, Legend” may be associated with the likes of Steven Gerrard over at Merseyside, but we had a real leader in Ian Ashbee. A true cult hero amongst fans, and someone who was there wearing the armband for some of the most successful periods of Hull City history.
Ashbee signed for the Tigers in June 2002 from Cambridge where he had made 204 appearances, and despite getting sent off on his debut, he quickly became a fan favourite. He was made captain by Jan Mølby, and would go on to remain as Captain when Peter Taylor arrived as Hull Manager.
With Taylor’s arrival, came a whole new wave of optimism for the Club. Moving away from Boothferry Park to the KC Stadium and Ashbee was at the heart of it all. Acting as the shield for the back 4 and the platform for the more technically gifted players to have freedom to attack, Hull City flourished under Taylor. A successful Season ended with Ashbee clinching a peach of a strike to seal Promotion to League One away at Yeovil, which saw Hull end their 19 year stay in League Two.
Unfortunately for Ashbee, he was diagnosed with an osteochondral defect which threatened both his career and his ability to walk. Missing th majority of the Season, Hull still managed to seal back-to-back Promotion and earned Championship status. Peter Taylor departed for Crystal Palace after leading City to safety, and Phil Parkinson took the reigns. Now becoming more of a divisive figure amongst fans, Ashbee remained captain throughout the struggle of the 2006-07 Season which saw City only finish a place above the bottom 3, and was a pivotal figure to the side, showing the fight and endeavour that was needed in a relegation scrap.
Phil Brown was the new Manager. Ian Ashbee was again, named captain. But unbeknownst to Ian, he was about to make history. The 2007-08 Season saw Ashbee perform to his best and help Hull City, who was started the Season as relegation favourites, make the Play Off Final against Bristol City. We all know how that ended, “Campbell, a slip from Louis Carey, WINDASS!” (Any excuse for that one!).
Ashbee became one of very few players who had captained their side from the bottom League to the top, after being named as Captain in our first ever Premier League match against Fulham. He managed to achieve all this despite cutting a quite marmite player amongst fans. Despite having his ability to perform at each level questioned, Ash always rose to the challenge. He upped his game and really played for the badge on the shirt. Whether you loved him or never really came round to him, absolutely no City fan can deny his contribution and commitment to Hull City.
Ian Ashbee stayed with Hull from 2002 – 2011, eventually joining Preston North End and reacquainting with Phil Brown, a period of his career that, quite rightly, earned him legend status amongst the Tigers faithful.
Ashbee’s gonna get you!