LONDON (Reuters) - There is something strange in the air down by the Humber Bridge, at least there would appear to be if you are a Hull City footballer.
For the second time this season a training work-out at the scenic suspension bridge on the East Coast has been interrupted, although this time there was nothing much to be proud of as a melee broke out in the wake of last weekend’s 5-1 Premier League defeat at Everton.
On Friday manager Phil Brown said he had to apologise to the local branch of the Women’s Institute after two of his players, Nick Barmby and Jimmy Bullard, came to blows in full view of around 50 members of the organisation who were enjoying a stroll in a nearby park.
In October Brown was leading the players in a “contemplative walk” across the bridge when he stumbled across a distressed woman apparently considering suicide and offered some comforting words.
Brown, who was not present when Bullard and Barmby, two of the second from bottom club’s most experienced players, squared up on Monday, said they had since shaken hands and made up.
“This incident was unsavoury and very unfortunate,” Brown told Sky Sports. “But the players have settled their differences. It was back to normal at training on Tuesday. They shook hands and got on with it.
“It was a normal training ground spat where two boys want to settle their differences and slug it out, unfortunately it happened away from the training ground at the bridge which was the warm-down area for the training session.
“I would like to apologise to the Women’s Institute. I didn’t realise there was a rally going on. There was apparently 50 to 100 women going on a march across the Humber Bridge,” added Brown.
“When the news came back to me we got everybody back and dealt with it.”
Brown, no stranger to controversy after his infamous halftime centre-circle lecture to his players last season, rejected suggestions the fisticuffs betrayed a divided dressing room as they prepared to face Arsenal on Saturday.
“It’s a sign for me they care and I am looking forward to the responses of the players in question,” he said.
“There are no fractures in the camp, we’re united and the squad is in this together.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Tony Jimenez