Anybody who has played in a team such as Sunday League Football or Rugby will be highly aware of the importance of characters in your team. They galvanise your side on and off the pitch and make your club a pleasure to be a part of. FC have been synonymous with cult heroes over the years and the Airlie Birds wave goodbye to the latest figure that they have taken to their hearts; Steven Michael Michaels.
Signed from the Gold Coast Titans ahead of the 2015 season, ‘Stevie’ as he’s more affectionately known in West Hull, had a quiet start to life at the KCOM Stadium. Truth be told he probably wasn’t Coach Lee Radford’s ideal mould of a winger, afterall, he has had a tendency to favour power and size in the shape of Mahe Fonua, Fetuli Talanoa and Tom Lineham. However, Michaels never let this deter him and injuries in the back-line allowed him to start a run of the games, including the 2016 Challenge Cup Final.
This was when we saw the evasive Australian come into his own with a series of tries including a vital one in the Challenge Cup semi-final against Wigan. It wasn’t so much his finishing abilities near the line that impressed me but more his all-round game. For all the pressure in the world he very rarely falters under a high ball, while his ability to punch holes in the opposition defence is freakishly impressive given his size.
While he was able to do this consistently in 2016, 2017 has seen him play a more bit-part role in the first-team with the arrival of Josh Griffin and superb form of Fonua and Talanoa. One aspect that’s been impressive about Michaels is his attitude throughout his time at Hull. Players in other codes would have voiced their disapproval at missing out on selection. Despite that, he has still scored a respectable 32 tries in 77 games (to date) and that’s no mean feat. Stevie always had the mindset that he would work for the team and put his body on the line for the cause. That’s something that the Old Faithful will never forget and in his own way, has also contributed to the on-field success as a collective group.
The figure on the pitch was just one aspect of his contribution to the club. Seldom found around the ground without a cheery disposition, the winger has always been well liked off the pitch as well. We all know about his affiliation with certain substances in the past and if you don’t then there’s a chant about it you can Google! Nonethless, it proves he’s human and just adds to the legendary folklore of the man. All of the squad were quick to say how much his exuberant character will be missed on the social scene and again this chemistry has been a key ingredient to recent success for the team as a whole. I’m sure supporters would echo the players sentiments about a man who always had time for them. The Black & White faithful will hope the Fans Favourite is able to start one more party before the year concludes. I’m sure all of the fanbase wish him well and we don’t think it will be long before a club secures his services for 2018. Selfishly we’d like it to be in Super League, the competition needs big characters right now.