Well it’s happened, it’s finally come to pass and after around 75 years of going to watch Hull FC and hoping, I’ve finally seen us win the blooming Cup at Wembley.
Can you believe it, because I still can’t. You know I never thought I would ever use the phrase, “Thank you for making an old man very happy”, but I can now; to seventeen heroes who I’ll remember forever. What’s more, should our editor Dan have to announce in the forthcoming weeks, (months or hopefully years), that this column is no more because I have ‘shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible’, then rest assured that this old stager will at least have died a happy and totally contented man. For me the whole Wembley experience was a life defining moment and what a bloody weekend I had.
One thing’s for sure, after years of trekking down there London was still not ready for the Cholmley lads. It all started on Friday night with me nearly getting into a fight in the Beehive pub on Baker Street. All I did was comment to a rather over-weight Wigan fan that I now understood where their nick-name came from and indeed who had ‘eaten them all’ but he seemed to take exception to my impish banter. No bloody sense of humour those pie eating Lancashire lads. The whole great experience then eventually concluded with the moment at 12’o’clock on Saturday night when, still singing Old Faithful, Billy Price, Sammo and Harry Flockhart carried me by my arms and legs back to the hotel in Russell Square. However in between it was simply the most nerve wracking, exciting and utterly amazing weekend of my life.
I worked out last week that I have been to around 35 Challenge Cup finals of which Hull have featured in nine and yet with the exception of that draw in 1982, Cardiff and this year’s glorious victory, I have been on every other occasion utterly disappointed and totally pissed off. As I said last month my first final was back in 1959 and the old place has changed a lot since then. In those days there were bench seats on both sides and standing terraces at the ends. I remember well too that crowd of 99,000 for the final against Wigan in 1985 and how tight it was on the ends that day. We were packed like bloody sardines in a tin and at half time it was impossible to get to the toilet. Believe me as well that led to there being some rather ‘unique’ and ingenious ways invented to relieve yourself that afternoon.
However for me, winning the cup at Wembley superseded all my greatest moments. There had been winning the Cholmley Club dominoes knock out five years on the trot, becoming the neighbourhood hero after ridding the avenue of that yapping dog with a couple of ‘laced’ chops in the 90’s and even finally getting our lasses bloody brother to move out of the spare bedroom (without having to resort to feeding him with more ‘doctored’ chops) which were all major highlights of my time on earth, but they were totally eclipsed by what was the biggest achievement of my long, long life; winning that bloody Cup at Wembley.
It was strangely tense beforehand and for the first time I can ever remember I found it almost impossible to watch the game at times as, dressed in my home made batman cape, a black and white afro wig and resembling a rather emaciated and aged Brian May, I squirmed and shuffled in my seat all afternoon. When the final hooter went the relief was palpable and the moment was made all the more sweet when I noticed a Rovers fan, also in fancy dress (his club shirt) on the row behind; that was when the fun really began.
I heard about a lot of folks crying at the end and I have to admit myself to shedding a tear or two. I was so pleased to have actually witnessed history being made, but was also mindful of all those black and white pals who have passed away over the years, without ever seeing what I had just witnessed and without living that moment that they all so desperately craved.
Billy Pierce who used to ride his bike to West Yorkshire away games in the 50’s, Harry Jennings who ran on the field and chased the referee off at half time in a game against Leeds at the Boulevard in the 70’s and Pat Norris the newsagent from Chiltern Street who, if their team had won, refused to sell Rovers fans a Green Sports Mail on a Saturday night; how they would have all enjoyed that victory.
Those silly buggers over at Caravan Park didn’t take it at all well though did they? You’ll remember if you read this rant on a regular basis that the only Rovers fan I had any time for at all was Billy Chambers who lives down the next street and (I’m sure you’ll recall) I only actually put up with him because he used to lend me his draining rods when our outside bog got blocked up. The other Saturday tea-time, half way down Queensgate Street and in the pouring rain, I bumped into him as he trudged home from that pathetic televised showing against Leigh in the Middle Eight’s and he had the bloody affront to accused us FC fans of being ’Childish and petty’. He was pretty mad because the Rovers had lost, but even more aggrieved about having to watch as that biplane trailing THAT banner flew backwards and forwards over Caravan Park.
“Childish and petty”, I said, “How bleedin’ ironic is that? You bloody lot have been childish and petty for the last 36 sodding years and what’s more you can now stick your pathetic little song and indeed your draining rods where the sun don’t shine” I was fuming when I got home as I told our lass what had happened, adding that she would have to be more careful in future when I send her to use the outside loo after a curry.
How Harry Standing laughed in Club next night when I told him of my encounter with old man Chambers and we both agreed whoever ordered that plane and banner should be bloody knighted. Harry then went on to say that he bet you could hear the sound of shattering glass down Preston Road at 4-45 that famous Saturday afternoon, as dozens of ‘dodgy and borrowed’ flat screen TV’s were thrown out of sitting room windows. I said I didn’t care and for what it’s worth, I added, what difference would one more piece of obsolete electrical equipment make joining the fridges, prams and washing machines already in their front gardens anyway?
So now you Dobbins can all belt up because like it or not, the Cup is ours, we won it at Wembley, the monkey is off our back and we are top dogs in the City. And what more guys, you’d better get used to it. However, as for me, well I still can’t really believe it’s all happened. No doubt it will all become more real when Motu and some of the players bring the Cup into the Cholmley Club for a ‘free and easy’ in October. That’ll be a great night and I think I’ll have my picture taken with the famous old trophy and then push a copy through Billy Chambers’ letter box on my way home. Draining Rods…………. my arse.