Everybody at Hull City was saddened to learn of the passing of former manager Colin Appleton at the age of 85 over the weekend.
Appleton had two spells in charge of the Tigers during the 1980s and is best remembered for leading the Club to promotion from Division Four in 1983.
As a player, Scarborough-born Appleton had enjoyed some memorable times with Leicester City where he was part of the side that won the second division title in 1956/57 before going on to enjoy League Cup success 1964. He was also a runner-up in that competition the following year, and an FA Cup runner-up in 1961 and 1963. Appleton would also play for Charlton Athletic before his attention would turn to management when becoming player-manager of Barrow and then Scarborough.
He enjoyed great success with Scarborough as he guided them to FA Trophy success on three occasions, working under the Chairmanship of Don Robinson on the North Yorkshire coast. Robinson would soon come to the rescue of Hull City as he saved the Club from possible extinction, and then turned to Appleton to help rejuvenate things on the field.
The Tigers had been relegated to the bottom tier just over 12 months earlier, but Appleton soon had supporters looking back up the pyramid. 1982/83, his first season in charge, would end in promotion as he lead the side to a club record haul of 90 points although they had to settle for second place as Wimbledon took top spot. Appleton, assisted by the legendary Chris Chilton, was leading a side featuring some household Hull City names including Garreth Roberts, Peter Skipper, the two Billys – Askew and Whitehurst – and Brian Marwood as well as future England manager Steve McClaren, and they lost just six times that season as a first promotion in 16 years was secured.
Appleton would take his side close to back-to-back promotions when the 1983/84 campaign came to a dramatic conclusion. An eleven-match unbeaten run at the start of the season had set things up nicely, and they travelled to Burnley for the final match of the season knowing that a win by three clear goals would take them up for a second time in 12 months. In the end, the Tigers won 2-0 and therefore missed out by a single goal. It was agonising, and within hours Appleton had handed in his resignation.
He went on to manage Swansea City and Exeter City before returning to Boothferry Park for a brief spell in 1989, although he wasn’t able to recreate to good times of his first spell.
Those that were there for his first spell will have some great memories, though, of the side that Appleton built and his contribution to the Club after some difficult times was huge.
Our thoughts are with Colin’s family and friends at this sad time.