Experienced midfielder Warren Joyce first came to Hull City in January 1995, spending a two month loan spell with Terry Dolan’s Tigers at a time when the ex-Bradford boss was creating decent competitive squads despite an extreme lack of disposable cash. Joyce played nine times, scored on his debut in a defeat against Brentford and provided an impressive presence in the midfield engine room. Alas City were unable to extend his loan and Warren returned to Burnley.
Joyce re-signed for City in July 1996, when Dolan was still in charge but the Tigers had just suffered a grim relegation to the fourth tier and the weak squad needed considerable rebuilding. Warren joined add an experienced clenched-fist presence to the new-look City midfield and he missed only one game in all competitions all season. However his perceived role as front man on the pitch for the now much-despised Dolan meant Joyce was at times a lightning rod for supporters’ disquiet and anger with the failing regime in charge at Hull City. This came to a head in March 1997 when Joyce scored twice in a fine 3-0 home over Brighton and celebrated extravagantly and ironically in front of an empty Kempton while the City faithful were massed in the South Stand.
When Dolan left in the 1997 close season and was replaced by colourful ex-England striker Mark Hateley, Joyce was the link-man that held Hateley’s new squad together and his form improved significantly. On reflection it could be concluded that Joyce, as club captain, played the same on-field role for Hateley as he had previously for Dolan, except Hateley received a more positive response from City fans. Again missing only one game in all competitions, Joyce was a pivotal presence in City’s survival as Hateley’s devil-may-care attitude to training and tactics saw his City side slide down the division. Joyce was absent from the first team at the start of 1998/99, Hateley’s second season in charge, and he was sorely missed as the Tigers were soon marooned at the foot of the Division 3 table. Joyce returned to fill in at right back in October 1998 but results continued to be poor and in November 1998 Hateley was sacked. The City chairman Tom Belton turned to Joyce to take over the managerial reins and reverse the damage that Hateley had inflicted on Hull City – it was a challenge that he rose to magnificently.
Joyce set about replacing the young, inexperienced and flair-heavy signings of Hateley with gritty professionals able to dig a football club out of a massive hole. Justin Whittle, Steve Swales and Jon Whitney were early signings as a frightening none-shall-pass defence was assembled. In midfield the emerging talents of youth team product Adam Bolder were matched by the aggressive determination of Gray Brabin and Joyce himself, along with the flair of Dai D’Auria. The pacy goalscoring threat of David Brown was matched with the aggressive power of Colin Alcide. Progress was initially slow, with only one win and five defeats in Joyce’s first six league games over the 1998 festive period and the Tigers were six points adrift at the bottom of the Football League when Big Ben struck to ring in 1999. However City’s form picked up in the New Year and in 21 league games between an early January 1-0 win against Rotherham and a May Day 1-0 win against Torquay, Joyce’s band of warriors won 10 and drew 8 games to lift themselves out of the trap door zone and into a place of safety. The Hull City Great Escape season of 1998/99 was amongst the most remarkable achievements in the club’s long history, and it was guided and curated by Warren Joyce’s superb management.
Warren started 1999/00 with another rebuilding job on his hands. The brawny squad assembled for the Great Escape provided an excellent platform, but more flair was needed to conduct a challenge in the upper reaches of the division. Striking options like John Eyre and Jason Harris were acquired along with the extravagant skills of Jamaican pair Theodore Whitmore and Ian Goodison. However the cohesion that Joyce had created when at the bottom of the table had started to fade, strong personalities were affecting team morale and results began to suffer. In the January to March period that had been so fecund for Joyce’s side in 1999, his 2000 team won only three of 15 games as the Tigers drifted down the table. In April 2000, after a swansong 4-0 trashing of Carlisle, Joyce was sacked by owner Nick Buchanan and replaced three weeks later by Brian Little. Despite this disappointing end to his management of Hull City, and the ire that he generated in his first full season under Terry Dolan, Warren Joyce’s time at Hull City was defined by an extraordinary triumph as he built stability and success in an environment where all looked lost and the Tigers appeared destined to slide into non-league oblivion. He is one of the club’s most important managers of all-time.
Joyce was born in Oldham, the son of a professional footballer Walter Joyce who had a 16 year career with Burnley, Blackburn and Oldham. Warren was a trainee at Bolton Wanderers in the early 1980s and broke into the Trotters’ first team in April 1983 shortly after his 18th birthday. He immediately became a key part of Bolton’s first team under the management of former Derby and Nottingham Forest midfielder John McGovern, who 18 years later would become Warren’s assistant manager during Hull City’s Great Escape. Joyce was a key part of Bolton’s first team for four seasons, winning player of the season awards, becoming club captain and amassing 219 first team appearances – all before his 23rd birthday. In October 1987 he moved to Preston North End for a £35,000 fee, where Warren’s father Walter was on the coaching staff, and his importance to the Lilywhites was the same as at Bolton – in five seasons he potted 34 goals in 201 appearances in all competitions. In May 1992 Plymouith Argyle paid £160,000 to take Joyce to the south west coast, but his stayed at Home Park for only one season before returning to Lancashire and signing for Burnley in July 1993, in return for a £140,000 fee. Warren found first team starts hard to come by for two years at Turf Moor, though he played fifty games in 1995/96, his final season at Burnley before rejoining the Tigers.
On conclusion of his playing days at Hull City, Warren Joyce had played in 739 senior matches and scored exactly 100 goals in an eighteen year career. Such experience, coupled with his success as rookie manager at Hull City, meant that he was destined for a second career in football management once he retired. He was in charge of Leeds United’s youth team in the early 2000s and coached at Stockport County before being appointed the Centre of Excellence Manager at Tranmere in August 2005. A year later he was appointed Head Coach at Royal Antwerp, commencing a long association with Manchester United and their feeder system. In 2008 he was appointed Manchester United’s reserve team manager, a role held for eight years, the first two as joint manager alongside former Red Ole-Gunnar Solksjaer. It was during this period that Joyce provided a steady stream of Manchester United talent to join the Tigers on loan and on permanent deals – Fraizer Campbell, Manucho, Cameron Stewart, James Chester, Robbie Brady, Corry Evans, Joe Dudgeon and Josh King all played for Cty after being under Joyce’s wing at Old Trafford. During this period Joyce was once or twice linked with the manager’s job at Hull City but no return ever transpired.
In November 2016 Joyce was appointed manager at Wigan Athletic but his tenure at the DW Stadium lasted only five months and in March 2017 he was relieved of his duties. Three months later in June 2017 Joyce was appointed first team manager of Melbourne City, twice guiding The Heart to top five finishes in the Australian A League. In July 2019 Joyce left Melbourne, returned to England and was appointed Development Squad Coach at Salford City, a newly-promoted football league club owned by a quartet of former Manchester United stars.
Date/Place of Birth: 20 January 1965, Oldham
Hull City First Game: 21 January 1995, Brentford H (League Division 2), 30 years, 1 days old
Hull City Final Game: 7 March 2000, Rotherham United A (League Division 3), 35 years, 47 days old
Bolton Wanderers (1981-1987), Preston North End (1987-1992), Plymouth Argyle (1992-1993), Burnley (1993-1996), Hull City (1995, loan), Hull City (1996-2000)
Hull City Record
Career: 170 apps, 19 goalsWarren Joyce
|1996/97||45 (0)||5||3 (0)||1||2 (0)||0||-||-||2 (0)||1|
|1997/98||45 (0)||4||1 (0)||0||4 (1)||1||-||-||2 (0)||0|
|1998/99||28 (1)||2||2 (0)||0||-||-||-||-||1 (0)||0|
|1999/00||19 (0)||1||2 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||-||-||2 (0)||1|