M26 Warren Joyce


Warren Joyce was elevated from club captain to first team manager in November 1998, ten days after the sacking of Mark Hateley. He inherited a club that was marooned at the foot of the Football League and staring relegation to the Conference National league square in the face. After a halting start, what Warren went on to achieve was nothing short of truly remarkable.

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 Gary 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 new signing 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 herald the start of partying like it’s 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 ten and drew eight League games to lift themselves out of the trap door zone and into a place of safety. The Hull City Great Escape of the 1998/99 season 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 the 1999/00 season 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 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. Between January and March 2000, a period that had been so fecund for Joyce’s side a year earlier, his team won only three of 15 games as the Tigers drifted down the table. In April 2000, after a swansong 4-0 thrashing of Carlisle United, 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 (see below), 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.

Warren Garton Joyce was born in Oldham, the son of a professional footballer Walter Joyce who had a sixteen year career with Burnley, Blackburn Rovers and Oldham Athletic that featured just shy of 300 senior appearances. 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 County and Nottingham Forest midfielder John McGovern, who eighteen years later would become Warren’s assistant manager during Hull City’s Great Escape season. Joyce was a key part of Bolton’s first team for four seasons, winning player of the season awards, becoming club captain and amassing 21 goals in 221 first team appearances – all before his 23rd birthday. In October 1987 Warren moved to Preston North End for a £35,000 fee, where his father Walter was on the coaching staff, and his importance to the Lilywhites was the same as at Bolton – in five seasons he potted 45 goals in 210 appearances in all competitions. In May 1992 Plymouth Argyle paid £160,000 to take Joyce to the south west coast, but his stayed at Home Park for only one season, scoring four goals in 40 appearances, 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 the 1995/96 season, taking his overall tally for the Clarets to twelve goals in 90 appearances.

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 City boss was creating a decent competitive squad despite an extreme lack of disposable cash. He 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 to add an experienced clenched-fist presence to the new-look City midfield and he missed only one game in all competitions in his first 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 Hull City regime. 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 League Division 3 table. Joyce was absent from the first team at the start of the 1998/99 season, Hateley’s second season in charge, and he was sorely missed as the Tigers were soon marooned at the foot of the entire Football League structure. 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 Hateley had inflicted on Hull City.

On conclusion of his playing days at Hull City, Warren Joyce had played in 731 senior matches and scored 101 goals in a nineteen 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 – indeed he had already worked as a part-time coach at Bury during his time playing for Burnley in the mid-1990s. He was in charge of Leeds United’s youth team between 2000 and 2004, helping to develop a number of future England stars, and was individual development coach at Stockport County during the 2004/05 season. He was appointed the Centre of Excellence Manager at Tranmere Rovers 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 Hull City 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 City 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 first team manager at Wigan Athletic but his tenure at the DW Stadium lasted only five months, in March 2017 he was relieved of his duties. Three months later in June 2017 Joyce was appointed first team manager of Australian A-League side Melbourne City, twice guiding The Heart to top five league finishes. 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. After two years at Salford, Warren was appointed Under-18s lead coach at Nottingham Forest in the 2021 close season.


Nationality: England
Date/Place of Birth: 20 January 1965, Oldham, England

Appointed by Hull City: 20 November 1998; 33 years, 304 days old
Left Hull City: 19 April 2000; 35 years, 90 days old
Tenure: 516 days

Clubs Managed

Hull City (1998-2000), Royal Antwerp (2006-2008), Wigan Athletic (2016-2017), Melbourne City (2017-2019)

Hull City Record

Playing Record: Played 86, Won 33, Drawn 25, Lost 28, Goals For 93, Goals Against 90
Achievements: 21st in League Division 3, 1998/99 season

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