4th of May 2013
Through a completely fortuitous congruence of time and place, this trip offered me the possibility of gate-crashing not one, but two celebration parties in a single afternoon. For not only were Hull City looking to seal promotion back to the English Premiership by matching or improving upon Watford’s result against Leeds United but, seven miles along the road (and five levels down the pyramid), North Ferriby United were seeking the three points which would clinch the Northern Premier League title.
But before any of this I had first to pay my respects in
Hull town centre to one of my earliest musical heroes: Mick Ronson. Ronson, I hope I do not have to tell you, was David Bowie’s guitarist and musical arranger during the latter’s Ziggy Stardust incarnation in the early 1970s, before going onto enjoy a lengthy and varied musical career working alongside the likes of Bob Dylan, Morrissey, John Mellencamp and Ian Hunter.
In 1993 Ronson succumbed to cancer at the appallingly young age of 46 and, some years later a memorial was erected to him within
Queens Gardens in his home-town of Hull. The memorial takes the form a small stage where, I assume, concerts take place from time to tome. And the modest aspect of the erection is probably apt for the man, who was as self-effacing as any rock star could be. Indeed, it has been argued, such was his reluctance to self-promote it was only really after his death that the breadth of his musical legacy became apparent.
Now I should not be so facile as to suggest Mr Bowie would not have “made it” when he did without the guitarist’s input, but one only has to listen to recording such as Width of a Circle, Queen Bitch, Lady Stardust, Moonage Daydream and Panic in Detroit to recognise that Ronson elevated Bowie’s output immeasurably during their time together.
The other two chaps in
Bowie’s band around this time (Trevor Bolder and Woody Woodmansey) were also local lads and, although I knew the latter came originally from Driffield, I was inordinately pleased to discover there was a community called Woodmansey to the north of Hull. So before commencing my return journey home I made an utterly pointless and illogical diversion through this community, just to sort of doff my hat in the direction of Woody ‘n’ Trev.
I don’t know if Mick, Trevor or Woody were ever
Hull City fans, but if so I am guessing they would probably have attended matches at the club’s former ground . City vacated this ground in 2002, but I was aware redevelopment had been slow so, before pitching up at the new ground, toddled along to see what was left of the place. Boothferry Park
Precious little was the answer, and what did remain was actively being destroyed by a herd of busy yellow-painted plant. The only clue that a football ground ever existed was what looked like remnants of the banking upon which the railway side enclosure once stood.
|The Mick Ronson Stage, Queens Gardens, Hull|
|Hi Woody !|
|The remnants of Boothferry Park, looking towards where the railway enclosure stood.|
|Plant hard at work destroying the remnants of Boothferry Park - looking south.|
|The approach to the KC Stadium|
|The KC Stadium, Hull.|
|The KC Stadium, Hull.|
|The KC Stadium, Hull.|
The club’s present home the KC stadium lies only a mile or so to the east of the site of the old one, and sits in a rather pleasantly landscaped park, where despite it's size the stadium does not look out of place. Inside however it felt rather smaller than I had expected, but at least it was an enclosed bowl which channelled and amplified the din being made by both sets of fans quite impressively.
fans, still celebrating their recent promotion were in predictably high spirits, but all around me in the eyes of the home fans all I saw was stress and anxiety. This seemed to somehow translate itself to the home players, and for the first 45 minutes we had to endure a procession of misplaced passes and wayward shooting from the clearly nervous Cardiff City Hull lads. Only the imposing figure of Irishman David Mayler in the centre of the home midfield remained a beacon of calm.
Football-wise there was little of quality to shout about during this first period, with the loudest cheer being reserved for the news Leeds had taken the lead at
Four minutes after the break however, all changed when visiting substitute Frazier CAMPBELL (who had taken a bit of mostly good-natured flak from the home support as he had limbered up during the first-half), broke clear to calmly pass the ball past David Stockdale to open the scoring. No Ronaldo/Van Persie restrained celebrations here I noted.
Campbell was utterly delighted to have put one past his old club, and did not care who knew it.
Undaunted, the home lads just rolled up their sleeves and got on with things; Nick PROSCHWICH levelling on 58 minutes before Paul McSHANE gave them the lead five minutes later – the Cardiff defence not really looking very clever on either occasion.
And that appeared to be it, really. The visitors looked to have lost interest in proceedings slightly, and even the news that
Watford has equalised seemed unlikely to rain on anyone’s parade. But then came the mad minute deep in stoppage-time when first Hull then Cardiff were each awarded (both rather soft) penalty-kicks. Hull missing theirs and Cardiff not.
Thus did proceedings end 2-2, and so began the interminable wait for the Watford- Leeds match to complete. 5, 10, 15 minutes crawled past (there had been a lengthy hold up for an injury at
Vicarage Road) before the unrestrained dancing in the stands heralded the news Leeds had scored a second, confirming 's promotion. Hull City
Phew. What an afternoon!
People will occasionally ask me why I travel the length and breadth of the island attending football matches, often between clubs which mean absolutely nothing to me. I can only answer “For days like this”. The drama and emotion this afternoon was utterly unique, and it was privilege to be present.
|The moment before Cardiff's penalty award............|
|...................and a few moments after.|
|Praying for divine intervention during The Long Wait..............|
|...................which arrives courtesy of Ross McCormack (a Scot I might add).|
From the KC it was then a short drive to take in the last hour of North Ferriby United's tussle with Ashton, where the home club achieved their aims with a darned sight more efficiency and less fuss than their
neighbours. Big City