Memory Match: late blast sours festive spirit as Alex held by Hull on Boxing Day 2005

By Gwyn Griffiths

18th Sep 2020 | Local News

GAMES between Crewe and Hull have been graced with goals in the last quarter of a century, some of them spectacular.

Danny Murphy's howitzer strike in a Second Division (now League 1) 2-1 win at Hull's former Boothferry Park home in April 1996 (see YouTube highlights above) will live in the memories of Alex fans on the 1990s promotion bandwagon.

In fact, only two of the eight fixtures between 1994 and 2007 involved less than three goals, while some of the games were particularly high scoring.

Crewe were on the receiving end of a painful 7-1 thrashing in October 1994, but reversed the tables on the Tigers in an FA Cup visit in December 1996 (5-1 win).

Even a pre-season friendly at Gresty Road in the summer of 2008 saw the goals flow with Calvin Zola netting a hat-trick in a 4-0 Alex win. That was not just notable for the new striker's contribution, but the fact there were two divisions between the sides at the time as Hull were preparing for their first campaign in the Premiership.

During 2005/2006 both clubs were in the Championship and the meeting of the two sides on Boxing Day 2005 at Gresty Road proved to be a thriller.

Crewe were bidding to end a winless run of eight games and looked set fare to do so in front of a 7,942 crowd.

Gary Roberts scored before the break to put the Alex ahead after Craig Fagan levelled Eddie Johnson's opener.

But former Port Vale frontman Billy Paynter came off the bench to rifle in a long-range special past Ross Turnbull with 10 minutes left.

Crewe didn't win for another nine games after that fixture, form which was to eventually see Dario Gradi's side relegated.

They lost the return on their first visit to what was then called the KC Stadium (0-1) the following March after another stunning strike from a player, Stuart Green, who was to have a very short loan stint at Gresty Road two years later.

Coming off the bench with Paynter was former England international Nick Barmby who was still involved with Hull almost six years later, playing Championship football at the age of 37.

The oldest player in the Alex ranks on this day was Adie Moses, a late sub for Billy Jones, then one of the club's brightest prospects, aged 18.

Of the Alex line-up that day Jones is the only man currently playing full-time professional football. He came off the bench for Rotherham in a Caraboa Cup defeat at Salford on September 5.

Turnbull had displaced Ben Williams in the Alex goal after arriving on loan from Middlesbrough. He was to later feature as an understudy to Petr Cech during a four-year stint at Chelsea and is now goalkeeper coach at Hartlepool.

Goalscorer Gary Roberts is still with hometown club Chester in the Conference North and Steve Jones shows no signs of ageing, still turning out down the non-league circuit with Nantwich Town and Whitchurch Alport in recent seasons before signing up with Sandbach United in the North West Counties League.

On the day current Alex assistant manager Kenny Lunt was pulling the strings in midfield for what was to be his last full season with the club. He moved on to Sheffield Wednesday the following summer, but was to return for several loan stints before moving into the club's coaching ranks.

But some of those on duty that day were to move as far away from footballing life as was possible. Back-up keeper Stuart Tomlinson earnt a living as a male model when his rippling physique often featured on men's fitness magazines. He also joined the WWE wrestling circuit for a time.

Midfielder Ben Rix dropped off the radar in deepest Cornwall after calling time on his Alex career in 2009 during Gudjon Thordarson's reign. He featured for local side St. Blazey FC before retiring from football 10 years ago aged only 27.

Crewe 2, Hull City 2. December 26, 2005

Crewe: Turnbull, Moss, McCready, Foster, Tonkin, Lunt, Billy Jones (Moses 90), Gary Roberts, Vaughan, Steve Jones, Johnson (Varney 71). Subs: Tomlinson, Rix, Rodgers.

Hull: Myhill, Cort, Delaney, Collins, Dawson, Green, Price (Barmby 60), France, Andrews (Paynter 60), Ellison, Fagan (Elliott 60). Subs: Duke, Lynch.


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