The final whistle against Nottingham Forest not only signalled the end of another season but also Tony Pennock’s time at the club.
The 51-year-old has stepped down from his position as first-team coach after eight years in East Yorkshire.
A hugely respected figure, the Welshman initially joined the Tigers as academy manager in February 2014 before being promoted to the senior set-up in November 2016.
He had a short spell at Aberystwyth Town in 2017 and was part of the backroom team that masterminded our first league title in 55 years last season.
But now he has opted to call time on his Hull City career in order to pursue his ambitions elsewhere.
“I want to try and become a manager myself,” said Pennock when asked for his reasons for leaving.
“I had a meeting with Shota (Arveladze) and Tan (Kesler) on Friday and that’s the path I want to try and go down.
“Whether that happens, God knows, because there are lots of other people out there who want to do the same and can’t get a job. I put myself in that bracket now because that’s the type of job I want to have a go at.
“Thirty-two years in football, I don’t want to regret it if the opportunity came along and I didn’t take it. That’s my aim – that’s what I want to do – so I think now is the right time for me to move on.”
The former goalkeeper first stated his intentions to leave in March but stayed on until the end of the campaign, helping us retain our Championship status with four games to spare.
“I’m glad I saw the season out and didn’t go when I first said I wanted to and Shota persuaded me to see the season out with him,” he continued.
“I’m really glad I did that now because we worked so hard to get ourselves where we were in the league, and to see it through and stay in the division was a big achievement this year.
“I’m excited about what the future holds but I’m going into it with my eyes wide open and hopefully, fingers crossed, something comes along and I can have the opportunity to become a manager.”
Much has changed since he first stepped through the door, and Pennock remembers vividly how his Hull City journey began.
“It’s mad to think when I came here in January (2014) for an interview, I was only coming for an interview because I hadn’t had an interview in years,” he reminisced.
“Straight away, I knew I wanted the job after meeting Steve Bruce, Peter Chapman and Matt Wild.
“I’d been to the academy, where it was based at the time, the training ground, and they’d given me the address of Bishop Burton to go and have a look at where the academy was moving to.
“I knew I wanted the job and I was fortunate enough to be offered the job after another two interviews.
“If you’d said then I’d be here for eight years, I’d have probably laughed. Time has flown by and it’s been a great eight years.”
The last three years have been especially eventful, with relegation to League One in 2019/20 followed by immediate promotion as champions and survival this term in 19th place.
“Relegation two years ago was a tough one to take – that knocked us all,” Pennock admitted.
“To bounce back last year the way we did, and to stay in the division this year, the relegation is forgotten about a little bit.
“The relegation really affected us for a while and we were just glad to be given the opportunity to stay on and get us back into the Championship.
“Last season was unbelievable, not only to get promoted but to win the title – the club’s first title in 50-odd years.
“We broke so many records and to be part of that was special. It was really disappointing we didn’t have any fans to share it with us, but I was really, really proud to be a part of it.”
Homegrown players have featured prominently in the Tigers teams of the last two seasons, with a certain trio of academy prodigies turned first-team stars giving Pennock particular pride.
“Leaving now and having Brandon (Fleming), Jacob (Greaves) and Keane (Lewis-Potter) in the first team week in, week out has probably made the eight years worthwhile,” he beamed.
“There have been lots of lads who have come through the academy – and the academy is still producing fantastic talent from the area – but to finish with those three in the team probably tops it off for me.”
Of the plethora of young talent taken under his wing, the greatest success story has been West Ham United’s Jarrod Bowen, who Pennock spotted playing for fifth-tier Hereford United, aged 17.
“Seeing Jarrod doing what he’s doing has been unbelievable and it’s there for everyone to see, to strive to do the same thing,” he smiled.
“To play as much as he did and score the goals he did for us and end up at West Ham and keep doing the same thing in the Premier League is an unbelievable thing the lad’s done, considering where we managed to get him from and how far he’s come in that time.
“People always talk about Jarrod and my connection but there have been so many other lads as well who have done fantastic and gone on to have good careers.”
Many players have been and gone, while Pennock has also worked under his fair share of managers.
“You learn something from every one of them and they’ve all been really good to me,” he recalled.
“I look back on my time with the managers I’ve been lucky enough to work with, and the coaching staff, with fondness. I’m privileged to have done what I’ve done here for the last eight years.”
The closing moments of his final game against Forest could hardly have been more dramatic.
Falling behind in the 93rd minute, Lewie Coyle’s curling cross found its way in to rescue an unlikely point and give Pennock a happy send-off on an emotional last day.
“It was tough but to end that way, it was just mental really,” he laughed. “When the penalty was given and went in, we were really deflated.
“But to kick off and score seconds afterwards, you couldn’t have written that. It was a great way to end and a day I’ll never forget.”
Everyone at Hull City would like to thank Tony for his enormous contribution to the football club over the last eight years and wish him all the best for the future.