10 May 2010

Relegation

The Last Game: Lining up yesterday against Liverpool

Not everyone likes watching football - I know that. They wonder what all the fuss is about but I love it - especially following my team - Hull City AFC. My father took me to my first match in 1964 - forty six years ago. Through the years I have followed them everywhere from Runcorn to Bournemouth and from Tottenham to Newcastle. I also followed them to the very bottom of the fourth division when crowds were down to four thousand and it looked as though the club would implode financially and die.

As a boy, cutting out newspaper pictures and reports, making scrapbooks and poring over programmes, I always dreamed that one day The Tigers would make it to Nirvana - England's Premier League - formerly Division One. Ten years ago that dream seemed more impossible than ever but then the magical journey began. We climbed up the divisions. We moved to a superb new ground on the site of The Circle in west Hull as the old ground - Boothferry Park - submitted to weeds, ghosts of past players and vandalism.

Then on May 24th 2008, at Wembley Stadium in London, the now legendary Dean Windass struck a wonder goal in the Championship Play-Off Final to take us into the Premier League for the first time since the club was formed in 1904. Joy upon joy. Tears of joy. The best feeling ever. Just to be there in the promised land taking to the same field as Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea. We had dared to dream and now we were about to live it.

If we had been relegated with zero points, I wouldn't have minded but we survived that first season by the skin of our teeth and our manager, Phil Brown walked out on to the pitch with microphone in hand singing: "This is the best trip I've ever been on" to the tune of "Sloop John B".

We saw some brilliant games beating Arsenal and Tottenham and Manchester City and Everton. Yes us! Little Hull City - a footnote in the history of English football. This season we were unlucky only to draw with Chelsea at home and only lost to them through a last minute Didier Drogba goal down at Stamford Bridge. They are now the Premier League champions while we go down - relegated to The Championship having been cruelly wounded by internal financial injury. Foolish egotistical money men who come and go and only pretend to be football supporters.

But I wouldn't have missed it for the world. To be up there - with the big boys. Once I walked in to the bar of our local pub where there are three TV sets up on the walls. One set was showing Sky Sports News, another was showing BBC "Match of the Day" and the third was showing Sky 1. On all three sets, Hull City were playing. Quite bizarre.

We may never get back there - those transitory money men have seen to that. But I have been there and my wife Shirley and our friends Tony and Fiona have been with me every step of the way. It really has been "the best trip we've ever been on" and we'll never forget it. Up The Tigers!
Shirley and Fiona at halftime

5 comments:

  1. craig1:00 am

    Sorry to see Hull get relegated but there could be some good games when they play leeds utd. Who knows both could be on their way back.

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  2. Elizabeth1:02 am

    A lovely, commemorative piece, YP, and what a beautiful wife you have.x

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  3. Which one is Shirley and which one is Fiona?

    We are a mixed family when it comes to sports: one son and daughter-in-law follow the University of Georgia (red and black), one follow Georgia Tech (gold, black, and white), and daughter and son-in-law follow Auburn University (orange and blue). I do not have a clue about their professional-team preferences, except we all like the Atlanta Braves baseball team.

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  4. I understand your pain only too well and while I'm rejoicing in the fact that my lot finished 15th, eight points clear of the drop, I'm bracing myself for next season's onslaught.
    £2.5m for Stephen Hunt?

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  5. CRAIG I am sorry if you are a Leeds fan. Many times I have heard the chant "We all hate Leeds scum!" even when Leeds are not playing. Crazy.
    ELIZABETH Thank you and yes I did pick a nice wife didn't I?
    RHYMES Shirley is the one laughing at you on the left and Fiona is the one laughing at you on the right. It was halftime and I had just told them all about you.
    MALC Thanks for your commiserations but maybe Wolves will do a Stoke and establish themselves in The Premiership. For Mr Hunt we require £3 million and a free all expenses paid jolliday on a luxury pig farm in Westray, Orkney. Breakfast in bed will be a nice feature of the service at The McPork Farm-Hotel.

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