The Boulevard, why was it so special?

As any current Hull fan will testify, the vocal support from Hull FC is always better away from home than at the KC. However this was not always the case, from the moment we moved to the Boulevard the 3d stand became synonymous with Hull RLFC. The noise humour, banter and intimidation generated was the original 16th Man – back in the days when we only had two subs.

I remember glorious days and nights when the Boulevard was rocking to the tunes of Old Faithful, what a referee, and the Blaydon races. Hull Derbies always were the best, from the Floodlit trophy of 1979 “Steve Dennison’s” final hour (and a half) to the notorious Good Friday “brick” incident. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed attending home games more.

In the 1980’s you had to be in the stand over an hour before kick off or you were on the end. Those old railway sleepers, soaked in tradition and well something ”less inviting” welcomed you, held you, and made you long for more. But I race ahead.

Being the mascot I was allowed on the field and for the first year or so after becoming just a supporter I was in the well stood with my mum. She attended just about every game in the 1970’s whilst on duty with the St John Ambulance. She stood on an old bench just inside the opening on halfway with another lady who has sadly passed away now called Carol Hood. They, I remember always got a little annoyed when they actually had to treat a casualty as they were missing some of the game!

In 1974 I was allowed to move over to the 3d stand and myself and Terry finally had the freedom to join in with the singing, we would never have won prizes for our singing but we added to the general noise emanating from the stand. The results were not always good, never the less we still attended each home game and learned very quickly where you could stand and where you could not…… at 15 I wasn’t going to argue with a rather large Docker or Fisherman!

I remember Derby days with particular fondness it seemed that every game someone had “nicked” a scarf from the opposition and it was ceremonially burnt in the centre of the stand. Looking back now I should have been worried as it was an all wooden stand but the laughter which accompanied the burning was as loud as any song we sang.

The glory days of the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s were something special. Starting in 1978/79 when Hull won all 26 games, a feat never to be matched to the present day and one culminating with the game against Hunslet with over 16,000 fans.

Team   Pld    W   D    L     PF     PA     Pts  

Hull       26    26   0    0   702    175     52                 

A record still unmatched to this day.

In 1979 the ground was rocking for the Floodlit final with an official attendance of 18,500 but I believe there were many more inside, I witnessed people climbing over the gates and railings to enter the ground. Steve Dennison was magnificent that night as we triumphed 13-3.

The early 1980’s just became better and better, with Hull having many consecutive home games with in excess of 10,000 fans attending. Our first season back in the top flight saw us finish third, with a team of internationals. Throughout this halcyon time for our club the song base became better and better.

1983 stands out for me when we finally managed to win the First Division Championship. Our coach, the legend that is Arthur Bunting, brought our team over to the stand, led by our Kiwi contingent they proceeded to perform “a Hakka” much to the delight of the whole ground.  I remember that the stewards had to force people from the Boulevard that day, no one wanted to leave.

It was safe to say that the noise did not only come from the 3d stand. I later moved back to the well in the best stand. The view was not the best in the ground I must admit but the people and banter more than made up for that. On good match days the best stand generated as much noise as the Threepenny. It always started in the well and quickly spread up to the Airlie Street end of the ground.

The late 1990’s brought Dan my son to the games, the crowds by this time had dwindled down and he spent his first game running up and down the terraces at the Gordon Street end being chased by his Nan! But still the reactions and noise made this an intimidating place to play rugby.

The Boulevard will always be in my heart, the place I “cut my teeth” on the finest game in the world. A place were legends were made and a place where legends were brought back down to earth.  The fortress as it was – was always a welcoming place for the home team, and always a place an away player never wanted to come to.

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