Derby County forward Rob Hulse has been outlined by Vital QPR as the One to Watch ahead of this Tuesday’s clash.
Name: Robert William Hulse
Date of Birth: 25-10-1979 (Crewe)
Former Clubs: Crewe Alexandra, Hyde United (L), West Bromwich Albion, Leeds United, Sheffield United, Derby County
Appearances (Goals): 373 (116)
The Crewe-born forward started life at his home-town club coming from the bench in a home victory against Norwich – and his first goal came shortly after in a 2-0 victory over Barnsley at Oakwell.
He starred in a successful loan period at Hyde United where he banged in nine goals in eight games to impress Crewe boss Dario Gradi, which saw him get a consistent run in the side.
11 goals ensued in 2000-01 as Crewe secured a mid-table finish in Division Two, and Hulse added to a growing reputation in the game.
His second full season of first-team football was bitter sweet however, because despite bagging 12 goals for Alex, they were relegated from the second-tier to Division Two.
He and Dean Ashton didn’t want to hang around at that level for too long and secured promotion at the first attempt at the expense of promotion-chasing QPR who had to settle for the playoffs.
27 goals that year completed a truly memorable season for Hulse who had now officially burst onto the scene as another of Crewe’s stunning youth products.
This prompted West Bromwich Albion to pay £750,000 for his services and 13 Championship goals later the forward helped the Baggies to promotion alongside Sunderland.
A new era in his career began as he was able to display his talents in the Premier League, but it didn’t go as planned after five appearances without troubling the scorers he was shipped out to Leeds United.
He fared better with the Whites netting six goals and this prompted Leeds to shell out £1.1m and it seemed money well-spent as Hulse’s 14 goals helped them to the Championship playoff final.
An important goal in the semi-final against Preston North End saw Kevin Blackwell’s men through to the final which they eventually lost to Aidy Boothroyd’s Watford.
It mattered little to Hulse who signed for Neil Warnock’s Sheffield United in the Premier League and his second attempt went a little better with eight goals to his name.
Unfortunately for he and the Blades they were relegated on the final day with a defeat at home to Wigan Athletic condemning them to Championship football.
A disastrous 2007-08 saw Hulse go through a sizeable baron spell, failing to trouble the scorers in his appearances for Sheffield United as they missed out on the playoffs.
Another big-money move ensued however with Derby County securing his signature for £1.75m in Paul Jewell’s new-look Rams.
It didn’t go as planned with Jewell sacked after a disastrous spell at the Pride Park helm, but Hulse had a decent season with 18 goals to his name, proving himself as a consistent Championship goal-scorer.
This season looks to be another positive one for Hulse who has already netted 18 times for Derby despite the Rams’ poor season thus far.
He has netted a pair of braces against Coventry City and Preston North End in crucial wins to take them away from the Championship relegation zone.
A sizeable forward with an eye for goal – Hulse will be doing his utmost to make sure Derby’s positive form at Loftus Road continues tomorrow night.
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