MIdfielder and striker Dean Windass played a pivotal role in two eras of Hull City’s history – the struggles of the 1990s under Terry Dolan’s potless leadership then ten years later the incredible campaign that turned the Tigers from Championship consolidators to Premier League contenders. Dean was the epitomy of a local lad made good and his role as a Hull City player was immense.
Dean was born and raised in the Gypsyville Estate in West Hull, within the glare of the Boothferry Park floodlights during night matches. He joined the Tiger’s youth setup as a teenager in the mid 1980s but in 1988 he was released by manager Brian Horton without making a first team start. For some this rejection would have led to disillusionment, but for Dean he continued to work on his game and his physique while playing for North Ferriby United and working locally on building sites and at a local food factory. By 1991 Dean was a stand-out player at Church Lane and North Ferriby United were regular hosts to scouts from higher divisions. City manager Terry Dolan had been in post for ten months in October 1991 and his eye for a bargain took him to Ferriby where he saw a raw talent whose touch was now matched by enhanced strength. Dolan signed Windass for the Tigers and the second act of a three part Hull City drama began.
He made his senior debut at right back in an October 1991 1-5 thumping at the hands of QPR in the League Cup. He stayed in the side and scored his first goals two weeks later in an Associate Members’ Cup tie against Bradford. By January 1992 he had moved to an advanced midfield role and he netted eight times in total in his first season. At the start of the 1992/93 season Windass was a first team fixture but as Dolan’s Tigers struggled for form Dean had scored only three times by the end of the year. Another four goals in the New Year helped City to narrowly avoid relegation and as he grew in confidence a swagger started to appear in Dean’s game.
At the start of the 1993/94 season the rag-tag squad of players assembled by manager Dolan put in an unlikely winning run that propelled the Tigers to the top of the table by mid-September. Windass scored in five consecutive games which included two hattricks in wins against Cambridge United and Bristol Rovers. A third hattrick of the season against Barnet in December 1993 took his goal tally to 14 and while City’s form waned, Dean continued to impress and took his goal tally to 24 with an April 1994 goal against Exeter. His form continued into the 1994/95 season as he scored 17 goals and was now recognised as one of Legue Division 2’s most potent players. A long winless run in the early weeks of the 1995/96 season affected Windass’s goal rate but he roared back to action in late October 1995 with a stunning and audacious long distance goal at faraway Wycombe. By the end of November 1995 City’s continuing financial difficulties meant that the club’s most saleable asset was available at a suitable price, while Dean was growing more disatisfied with the disciplinarian approach of management team Dolan and Lee. Scottish Premier League side Aberdeen were willing to pay the price that prised Dean away, £500,000, and his first spell at City drew to a close.
Dean adjusted effortlessly to footballing life in the SPL and scored nine times for the Dons in the second half of the 1995/96 season. He started the 1996/97 season by scoring in each of the first four League games, which were supplemented by four extra time goals in a September 1996 League Cup 7-3 win over Greenock Morton tie that took his tally to nine within the first month of the season. Ending the season with 16 goals, Dean was one of Aberdeen’s most important player as well as one of the City’s most thirsty bar customers during the week. He developed an increasingly feisty attitude to his profession in the 1997/98 season which pinnacled in November 1997 in a League match against Dundee United when Dean was shown a red card for a scything tackle, earned a second dismissal for aiming a volley of abuse at the referee, then was sent off a third time (sent even further off?) for uprooting the corner flag as he left the field of play. Aberdeen lost the game 0-5 and Windass was suspended for nearly two months. He was in and out of the Dons’ first team for the rest of the season and after 31 goals in 93 senior appearances for Aberdeen he left the club in the 1998 close season.
In Augsut 1998 Windass joined Oxford United, who were managed by early 1990s City defender Malcolm Shotton, a man who knew about Dean’s skills. Oxford paid £475,000 for Windass’s signature and he scored regularly in a team struggling at the foot of the League Division 1 table. With relegation looking inevitable by March 1999, Oxford cashed in and sold Dean to Bradford City for £950,000, having scored 18 times in 38 starts.
Winass’s three goals in 12 appearances at the end of the 1998/99 season helped Bradford gain an unlikely promotion to the Premier League and in August 1999 he made his top flight against Middlesbrough at the age of 30. His first full season at Bradford yielded ten Premier League goals including a hattrick in April 2000 against Derby County. He remained a first team regular as Bradford struggled at the foot of the Premier League table during the 2000/01 season and in March 2001 he transferred to top flight rivals Middlesbrough. Despite scoring on his Boro debut against Chelsea, Windass and starting the last 8 games of the season, he was used mostly as substitute in the early months of the 2002/02 season and was loaned to Sheffield Wednesday in December 2001. Dean returned to Middlesbrough in January 2002 and continued to play a peripheral role in the Boro first team though he did start 3 of six FA Cup ties that propelled the Teessiders to the semi-final, which they lost to Arsenal. Largely out of the first team picture in the first half of the 2002/03 season, Windass spent a month on loan at League Division 1 side Sheffield United that yielded three goals in 4 starts and prompted the Blades to sign him for keeps in January 2003 – he scored three times in 46 appearances for Boro during his two years at the Riverside Stadium.
Three goals in 18 starts helped Sheffield United reach the League Division 1 play-offs but Dean was not selected for the Wembley final and he left the Blades with unfinished Wembley business on his mind – more on that shortly. In July 2003 he returned to Bradford City and he spent three and a half seasons as a Bantams first team regular in the Championship and League One. In the 2004/05 season Bradford finished midway down the League One table but Dean found his fiorm and scored 28 goals, the best seasonal return of his career, and he scored anorther times the following season – triple goal hauls in April 2005 against Bournemouth, August 2005 against Rochdale and April 2006 against Scunthorpe all added to Dean’s tally of career hattricks. Dean scored 12 goals in 28 appearances in the first half of the 2006/07 season, taking his Bradford totals to 243 appearances and 87 goals across two spells.
In January 2007 Windass was lured to rejoin Hull City by newly appointed manager, initially on a half season loan. His eight goals in 18 appearances helped revive the Tigers who avoided relegation after Dean scored the winner at Cardiff in April 2007, a victory that also banished Leeds United – rivals of both clubs – to the third tier. Windass made his transfer to Hull City permanent in the 2007 close season and in the 2007/08 season he struck up a deadly partnership with on loan Manchester United tyro Fraizer Campbell. The combination of age and youth saw City rise up the Championship table as the season wore on and saw the Tigers qualify for the play-offs.
in tandem with Nick Barmby, another Hull born player who made his name in the Premier League before joining his hometown club, Dean masterminded a remarkable play-off campaign. Windass and Barmby both scored in the semi-final first leg at Vicarage road that saw Watford lose 2-0, then in the return leg at the KC Stadium Dean was a creative force as City dealt with an early goal concession to win 4-1 and qualify for the club’s first Wembley play-off final. At 3:38pm on Saturday 24th May 2008 Dean Windass made his greatest contribution to his hometown club – a surge by Campbell down the inside left channel led to a lofted pass across the penalty box to Dean, who smote a superb sliced volley into the Bristol City net that took the Tigers to the top flight for the first time since its creation in 1904 – quite simply destined to be.
Now 39 years old, Dean was used paringly by Phil Brown as City surged to the upper reaches of the Premier League that to goals from Geovanni, Cousin and King. Dean scored his first and only Premier League goal for City in November 2008 when he came off the bench and forced a bouncing ball into the Pompey net using his nose. They all count. His last City match ended at half time at the Etihad Stadium with manager Phil Brown wagging his tanned finger at his players on the pitch, Dean was subbed off and two weeks later loaned to League One side Oldham Athletic.
Windass left the Tigers a third time in the 2009 close season when he was appointed player and assistant manaer at Darlington. The Quakers ran into a financial brick wall in October 2009 and after four months he left the club and ended his senior career – 733 appearances and 235 goals between 1991 and 2009, a quite remarkable achievement given the halting start he made in the late 1980s in the City youth team.
The subsequent years after football proved to be a rollercoaster for Dean. He applied for several managerial jobs in the two years after he stopped playing including the Hull City job in 2012, but was knocked back by several chairmen. He suffered depression and struggling with alcoholism before getting expert assistance at the Priory Clinic, private matters that became public in 2012 when his marriage broke down. He later got himself straight and worked as an ambassador for Hull City for three years then fulfilled a number of marketing roles that made use of his high profile within the game. Despite this tricky spell in his life, Dean remained a treasured figure amongst Hull City fans who could always attract a crowded room as long as he was willing to regale those present with the story about how he scored the goal that gave Hull City top flight football for the first time in the club’s 104 year history. Magical.
Date/Place of Birth: 1 April 1969, Hull
Hull City First Game: 9 October 1991, Queens Park Rangers A (League Cup Second Round Second Leg), 22 years, 191 days old
Hull City Final Game: 26 December 2008, Manchester City A (Premier League), 39 years, 269 days old
Hull City (1986-1988), North Ferriby United (1988-1991), Hull City (1991-1995), Aberdeen (1995-1998), Oxford United (1998-1999), Bradford City (1999-2001), Middlesbrough (2001-2003), Sheffield Wednesday (2001, loan), Sheffield United (2002, loan), Sheffield United (2003), Bradford City (2003-2007), Hull City (2007, loan), Hull City (2007-2009), Oldham Athletic (2009, loan), Darlington (2009-2010), Barton Town (2010), Scarborough Athletic (2011)
Hull City Record
Career: 271 apps, 89 goalsDean Windass
|1991/92||31 (1)||6||-||-||1 (0)||0||-||-||4 (0)||2|
|1992/93||40 (1)||7||2 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||3 (0)||0|
|1993/94||43 (0)||23||2 (0)||0||2 (0)||1||-||-||1 (0)||0|
|1994/95||43 (1)||17||1 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||1 (0)||0|
|1995/96||16 (0)||4||1 (0)||0||4 (0)||3||-||-||3 (0)||1|
|2007/08||29 (8)||11||0 (1)||2||0 (1)||0||-||-||3 (0)||2|
|2008/09||1 (4)||1||-||-||1 (0)||1||-||-||-||-|