Centre half David Mail joined the Tigers in July 1990 at a time City were looking to rebuild after Stan Ternent had steadied the Tigers ship following the disastrous three month tenure of Colin Appleton the previous season. Mail was an experienced Second Division performer who slotted straight into the heart of City’s defence and when he scored in his second start in August 1990 against former club Blackburn, it was hoped that Mail would add a goal contribution to his yeoman defending and organisational skills – alas, he scored only once more in the next five years (in a January 1992 defeat at Bradford).
Ternent’s hopes of building a competitive Second Division side that could match the exploits of Brian Horton’s team in the previous decade were soon dashed – only five league wins in 28 matches by the end of the calendar year left City adrift at the foot of the table and while City were capable of occasional excellence – a 1-0 win at Watford, a 2-1 defeat of Newcastle and a 5-2 thumping of Leicester – it was defensive frailty that saw the Tigers lose 12 of those 28 games. Mail was absent during October, a spell that saw four defeats and suggested that perhaps David was not the problem defensively. Mail’s second period of absence over Christmas and New Year coincided with six defeats in seven games, further reinforcing his importance to the first team. When Mail returned in February City conceded only three goals in seven league games as a brief upturn in form suggested hope of survival, but a winless April saw City relegated to the Third Division ahead of an impressive last day of the season win at Newcastle that completed an unlikely double against the Geordies.
With Terry Dolan installed as manager for 1991/92 season Mail was used sparingly in the opening weeks as City again struggled, but when he was restored to the first eleven in October City won seven of the next 11 games in League and Cup competitions. While Mail was not the quickest, he as an experienced defender that read the game and influenced those around him and his value to the City team was assured. City again struggled for form in the early weeks of 1992 before a run of 10 games without defeat in February and March – all of which David started – saw the Tigers ease into mid-table security. Dolan’s City struggled in 1992/93 after a fine start that saw the Tigers top the table after five games – good work that was undone by the eleven winless matches that followed. David was first choice centre half for all of the season, other than an eight match absence in September and October.
Mail’s bones were starting to creak as he entered his thirties, and he also had to cope with the tragic early death of his first wife. For these reasons he became increasingly absent from first team action – in 1993/94 and 1994/95 seasons he played in only 40 games as Dolan’s Tigers, fired by the goals of Dean Windass, twice flirted briefly with the play-offs before finishing ninth and eighth. Mail’s injuries meant that he left the club in January 1996, unable to make a contribution to a 1995/96 season that saw a massive collapse in form and ended in relegation to the fourth tier. Mail played briefly for Brigg Town, lifting the FA Vase Trophy in May 1996 when he came on as substitute at Wembley alongside ex-Tigers Andy Flounders and assistant manager John Kaye, before his playing days came to an end.
David Mail was born in Bristol but joined the Aston Villa youth setup as a teenager. He was part of the Villa team that won the FA Youth Cup in 1980 but after two years as a professional at Villa Park Mail had still not broken into the first team and he joined Blackburn Rovers on a free transfer in January 1982. Mail stayed at Ewood Park for eight years, becoming a fixture in the defence and assembling an impressive 248 senior appearances in all competitions. In 1987 Mail played in the victorious Blackburn side that lifted the Full Members Cup, which was followed by Rovers losing in the Second Division play-offs for three consecutive seasons – 1987/88 in the semi-final against Chelsea, 1988/89 in the final against Crystal Palace and 1989/90 in the semi final against Swindon. Mail left Rovers in the 1990 close season after playing in both games of that third unsuccessful play-off challenge.
After giving up playing in 1996 Mail stayed in the Hull area and was involved in the youth team coaching setup at City, while also working as a truck driver.
Date/Place of Birth: 12 September 1962, Bristol
Hull City First Game: 25 August 1990, Notts County H (Division Two), 27 years, 347 days old
Hull City Final Game: 29 April 1995, Wrexham H (League Division 2), 32 years, 229 days old
Aston Villa (1978-1982), Blackburn Rovers (1982-1990), Hull City (1990-1996), Brigg Town (1996)
Hull City Record
Career: 169 apps, 2 goalsDavid Mail
|1990/91||35 (1)||1||-||-||1 (0)||0||-||-||1 (0)||0|
|1991/92||36 (1)||1||2 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||3 (1)||0|
|1992/93||38 (1)||0||2 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||3 (0)||0|
|1993/94||21 (3)||0||-||-||-||-||-||-||1 (0)||0|
|1994/95||10 (4)||0||-||-||-||-||-||-||1 (0)||0|