Brown makes apology to WI for 'unsavoury' behaviour

Tony Blair once upset the Women's Institute and was given a stern heckling; now Brown's had to apologise to them. It is, though, Phil of Hull City rather than Gordon of Raith Rovers who has had to say sorry to the jam-makers of Humberside as the problems mount around the KC Stadium at a rate with which the occupant of No 10 might sympathise.

Brown has a knack of becoming embroiled in peculiar goings-on. On Monday, Jimmy Bullard and Nicky Barmby were seen fighting in an "unsavoury" brawl as the players finished training near the Humber Bridge. "I'd like to apologise to the Women's Institute," said Brown yesterday. "I didn't realise there was a rally going on and there was apparently 50-100 women going on a march across the Humber Bridge. The incident was unsavoury."

Brown could do with some of the resolute spirit that no doubt propelled the Women's Institute to stride out across the Humber Bridge if his side are to survive for a third successive season in the top flight. They face Arsenal today with only doomed Portsmouth beneath them in the table.

It will be Hull's first home game for five weeks and if they are to stay up, says Brown, their results at the KC Stadium will be key. "We've been on our travels since the Man City game [their last victory] and the performances haven't been one of credit," Brown said. "We know what the problem is, we certainly know what the solution is at home. We have six out of our remaining 10 games at the KC Stadium, starting with Arsenal. If we bring out that level of performance that we did against Man City [2-1] and Chelsea [1-1] then we have a great chance of taking something out of the game."

With four of the other relegation contenders playing each other today – Burnley hosting Wolves and Wigan travelling to Bolton – anything Hull can cling on to against Arsenal, in scintillating form and not having lost in Hull for 95 years, would be timely.

Cesc Fabregas is likely to be absent again for Arsenal, but Barmby and Bullard will feature. "These things do happen," said Brown of the brawl. "I'm not condoning that kind of behaviour but it's an emotive game, it's a passionate game. Emotions do run high when the pressure is cranked up. We are coming to the business end of the season."

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