Gareth Ellis will be forever considered a Hull FC legend. The first captain to lift the prestigious Challenge Cup trophy at Wembley puts him up to immortality status, and an icon of the most historic day of 152 proud years of Black and White history.
A feat never before achieved, to put the words into context is a stumbling block many still face today. For Gareth it’s the same as it is for us fans. The 12-10 victory will never be forgotten. It was a rollercoaster of emotions as Hull met their war of attrition against Warrington at the Holy Grail.
“I sometimes worry because I think how will I ever feel that happy again in my life,” Ellis explained. “Honesty the joy felt was unlike anything before, and having played in finals and having felt like they passed me by a bit, I really tried to take it all in.
“People say to me would you like to do it all again and I think to myself there’s absolutely no way I’d want to play that game again in this world but from the final whistle I’d love to do that all again.
“Walking up the stairs, looking at all the people and high fiving everyone, to getting to the top and lifting that trophy was incredible.”
Hull FC’s Wembley nemesis of course looked like coming back to haunt them again as Ben Currie made the score 10-0 to Warrington, but on the hour mark Marc Sneyd stepped up and swayed the momentum in his sides favour.
Ellis, who was back on the pitch then after a well-earned rest, was on hand to give Hull the influence they needed.
We all know the record books. Two tries later from Mahe Fonua and Jamie Shaul and the tide had well and truly turned. Hull were in the lead and there was no drop from there.
“I remember in the final thinking we’re not going to do it. Things weren’t going our way they were going against us but there was just a moment where we just clicked and I thought we could get them here.,” Ellis continued.
“You talk about winning and losing being such fine margins and there was no bigger advocate for that than that game.”
So what is next for the 36-year-old? His contract may expire at the end of the 2017 season but there’s no backing down for the old war horse yet.
There’s still a buzz there and a desire for Gareth Ellis to further achieve things with Hull FC—to prolong his career and get through the adversity.
“That fact that I’m playing still keeps me hungry,” he said. “I keep putting my hand up to go round again. Obviously I’ve got to justify that and when the time comes that I don’t feel like that will be the time to hang up my boots.
“I’m still enjoying it. I enjoy the banter between the boys every week and I suppose that’s the worrying thing really that when it does finish is how you’re going to cope with all that.
“I’ve always looked after myself and hopefully now getting into the mid-30s I’m sort of reaping the rewards for some of the sacrifices I made earlier on in my career.
“I almost need to step out of that comfort zone to get the best out of me. When I left Wakefield I could have easily stayed but my career kicked on at Leeds. It was the same at Wests Tigers where my game went to another level. When I made those decisions I realised earlier on that those challenges and those uncomfortable and awkward situations got the best out of me.
“That was exactly the reason I chose Hull after coming back from Australia. We were ready for home and my first thought was lets go back to Leeds. But as we got talking other clubs came in.
“Nearly every Super League club showed some interest in me. That was phenomenal and it was a bit surreal to be honest.”
So what set Hull above the rest? Well for Ellis it was their ambition. Their ambition to spend, to have goals of success, to win things and create a dynasty.
“Having spoke to Hull I was really impressed with their ambition. Adam Pearson really sold them to me and what he wanted to do with the club,” Ellis added.
“I could have called him a liar after my first year. I was injured in the first game and I felt really down in the dumps after that.
“It was a tough period but I still could see things were building at the club. People were coming and people were leaving but the ambition was still there.
“That willingness to want to make that success was always there and I like to think that in my four years at Hull we have evolved.”
Such ambition paid off with the Challenge Cup triumph last year. Hull, ever since Pearson bought the club, have showed that ambition. But now it’s about the next step, and kicking on after such a dramatic high.
“We’ve been close to the top of the table and we won the Challenge Cup. That’s sort of a reward for all the hard work from everybody that’s believed in what we were doing,” Ellis added.
“I just hope now that the club can kick on and I can be a part of that for at-least the next 12 months and if not beyond that too. I want to take us to the next level. This is our hardest challenge to see how we build and react to the success we had last year.”
But there’s nothing like your first love. No matter what Hull FC achieve in the future no-one will ever forget what happened at Wembley and the joy that came with it.
Ellis is under no denial there, as he goes on to explain the emotion, the night and how it drained him.
“To finally get that opportunity to lift the trophy was a dream come true,” he said. “To be the bloke stood up there it was absolutely phenomenal.
“I’ve got a long picture of the gantry with all the boys on it at home and to see the joy on their faces is incredible. I got the privilege to lift that trophy but they were all there lifting it with me.
“We had a good night when we got back to Hull. We were well looked after. The night of the game you’re that tired you just want to be with your family.
“It’s an incredible feeling. I do think how I am ever going to be that happy again. People say what about when you had your kids but that’s different. That’s more relief than anything. The Cup was just pure joy and I can’t describe it any better than that.
“Being the first Hull FC captain to do that at Wembley. That’s something that was mentioned when I joined. We spoke about captaincy back then. They’ll never be a first again and it was just such a magic moment.”