What does it say when approximately 10 times more friends offer their condolences upon the death of Margaret Thatcher than offer their congratulations upon the promotion of my football team, Hull City?
My conclusion is that many of my mostly Berkshire/London based contingent of friends whom may have been excluded from such working class delights of football simply do not understand, or that the fact that most of my friends were gained from time spent in nightclubs, and the promotion having been achieved on the Saturday, they were simply too hungover/drunk to have any vague appreciation that it was happening. Football happens when sleep happens for nightclub people.
So I will endeavour to explain what they missed.
Long gone are the days when it was the most important thing in my life, more important than life itself, now it is a family thing, something that binds myself, my sister and my parents together, and something that keeps me connected to the fabric and people of Hull.
If you know me well, you will know I tend to achieve my goals the difficult way – well so do Hull City. With 4 games to go, and 6 points (if I remember correctly!) clear of Watford, all we needed to do was win two more than Watford did – we were on good form, and Watford were doing everything possible to gift it to us.
Not only that, we had to play the bottom 3 teams next.
We lost our next game – but then so did Watford so then we only needed to win one. So we drew against the bottom team and Watford won. And then were hammered by the second-bottom team, and Watford won again.
So it came to the last day of the season and we had almost thrown it away, just one point ahead with a far worse goal difference. With a train to Hull booked (£90 ffs) and tickets to the game with my family, I had reminded my mother that there was no point in us winning promotion unless we were all together to celebrate it – plus I have long-wanted to add to my list of criminal offences with a pitch invasion.
I have never seen an atmosphere like it at a Hull City stadium – I assume all thanks to the Cash Converter Clappers. If Reading want to know why they were relegated – blame Waitrose. I bet there were not any Waitrose Clappers in Royal Berkshire.
Before the Watford match, they had their number 1 keeper injured so there was some hope. But they were playing TWS (Leeds to my southern friends). Why the hell would Leeds do a favour for the number 1 team in Yorkshire?
So we knew we had to beat the champions, Cardiff. We played much better than recent games, really well in fact. But come half-time it was still 0-0. During the first half at Watford, their second-choice goalkeeper was also injured, seriously, with 16 minutes injury time having to be played.
However, just before half-time, the crowd erupted in applause as Leeds went ahead. Though don’t get too excited – Watford equalised soon after.
Cardiff brought on the reviled ex-hero, Frazier Campbell for the second half. We booed him roundly. He scored. 1-0 Cardiff. Dream over?
This was actually just the spur for us to attack, attack, attack – though our strikers are not very good at scoring goals. Especially the German bought for £2.4million in the summer.
However, said German got the equaliser and then one of the season’s hero’s, Paul McShane put us ahead. 2-1! We are Premier League, sang both sets of fans.
And then in injury time, we got a penalty. The crowd ran onto the pitch thinking it was all over – the players tried to shoo them off. Steve Bruce instructed our German striker to take it – after all – have you ever seen a German miss a penalty?
I have now.
Cardiff went up the other end, launched the ball into the area and the referee then gave them a penalty for handball. Shit. And they scored it. 2-2. One final chance for Hull City and the game finished a draw.
Meanwhile, Watford still had 10 minutes to score the winner, and came ever so close, but after 10 agonising minutes of waiting around the stadium, not knowing what to do with ourselves with no TV screens to watch the Watford game on and no mobile internet connection (this is Hull), we found out that Leeds had broke away and scored, thanks to a mistake from Watford’s 3rd choice keeper who wasn’t even expecting to be on the bench on Saturday morning.
I wish I could dance like that.
Before the match I told my sister that we were going on the pitch if we won, and she let slip in front of my mother about our plans – “No You Will Not” was the forthright reply.
But mother and father were still in the concourse so we ran onto the pitch waited the final few extra-agonising minutes before we could celebrate.
So promotion is ours. Hopefully we can stay up and in a few years we will be playing Barcelona in Europe. You may laugh – but I wrote to the Hull Daily Mail in 1996 and said that if everyone got behind Hull City (this was when we had crowds of 4,000 in the bottom division), we could rise like Wimbledon and be a Premier League team.
I wasn’t wrong. I rarely am. They don’t call me Prophet Winfield for nothing.
Here is a picture of my mother on the pitch.
I look forward to beating Arsenal again.