Sunday, 20 August 2017

Saturdays: Syd’s, City and Spiders (or Sil’)

Three pillars of past Saturdays have been brought back to life in #Hull2017

Hull's UK #CityOfCulture year keeps taking me back to my own #CityofSubCulture years – and that’s before I’ve even got to visit Les Motherby’s “Tiger Rags” exhibition of historical Hull City shirts at the Streetlife Museum. 
Various events have been organised over the past twelve months that have revived memories of the three great pillars that played such a big part in my Saturday routine “back in the day”. To be completely accurate it's atually four if you separate the two nightclubs that provided the climax to the day's activities. But as I'm barely touching on Hull City during this particular post, we'll keep it at three for now...

During my earliest times following The Tigers, the match itself would be the climax to a day that began much earlier and involved shopping for rockabilly singles in Sydney Scarborough, or Syd Scarbs as we referred to it back then. We’d then carefully store them in the lockers in Paragon Station, after lunch at The Gainsborough fish restaurant – we were so sophisticated back then (well, actually, it was the place my mate always arranged to meet his mum and see whether she needed hand with her shopping!). From there, we'd hop on the shuttle-train to Boothferry Park.

As time went on, the Syd’s trip became more of a logistical challenge, not least because my record-buying potential had increased due to the working wage that had replaced my weekly paper round income. Initially, it meant an early morning service bus from Easington, fifteen minutes spent in the company of Steve Rowe and his jump-suited beauties at Classic Salon (in order to get the flat-top trimmed) then a mad dash to Syd’s and back home by eleven. Records ditched it was then back on the bus for the game in the afternoon.

Getting my own wheels eventually made the logistics easier, as did getting a city centre-based job, which meant my visits to Syd’s were no longer restricted to the weekend. This took on greater significance when home games became as much about the pre-match in Trog Bar and Cheese as the actual football – carrying a Syd Scarbs carrier bag full of goodies with you was no longer practical.

I was reminded of these halcyon Saturday mornings last month when I got to visit the Sydney Scarborough exhibition in Princes Quay, organised by former member of staff Varenka Allam. It was a lovely tribute to the store that had been housed under the City Hall from the early 1900s until its closure almost a century later in 2001. Looking at the various displays took me back to my own in-store “education”. From about 1979 to the early 1990s, this took me from the “Rock ‘n’ Roll / Rockabilly” section just inside the door at ground floor level, to the “cool” dark basement, before returning whence I’d come, this time to explore my new-found love of Northern Soul and R‘n’B. I can’t imagine how much of my hard-earned dosh was spent over the various counters therein but the weight of those purchases has already forced the collapse of one cupboard in my house!

Of course it was downstairs where all the cool kids hung out and one’s real musical education could begin. It was here that I discovered the joys of new wave, indie and the 12” remix, as well as being introduced to the previously undiscovered Hull music scene, courtesy of the various posters and flyers adorning the walls. Names like Quel Dommage, The Luddites, International Rescue, Hoi Polloi and of course The Housemartins were first introduced to me that way. Fanzines like 'Kindred Spirit' also helped with my education. From 1989 onwards, Syd’s was also a major sales outlets for the various City fanzines I became involved with, also helping shift the first compilation cassette “There’s Something Stirring In King Billy’s Bogs”.
Not that Syd's was my only port of call music-wise. The likes of Shakespeare Records in Station (suppliers of records to HCAFC no less - cheers Melvyn Marriott!) was another, while Sheridans on Anlaby Road could often be the source of a second-hand gem or two in those early days. Andy's Records and HMV were other ports of call as well as the magnificent Offbeat Records down the old town. But Syd's was my mainstay, my go-to when it came to vinyl. Saturdays were simple: Syd’s, City and Spiders, with Syd's very much the aperitif for what was to follow. 

With City the meat in the Saturday sandwich, Spiders was the place to bring the curtain down back then (after a trawl of the pubs beforehand of course - a trawl I won't go into here due to (a) its evolution from city centre to old town and even marina, and (b) the fact that many of the pubs are no longer with us!). And I’m not going to go into detail about what Spiders means to me, partly because I’ve already contributed a piece for Andy Roe’s forthcoming book on the club; and partly because others have already done it much better than me (see Mike Robbo’s piece for the Freakscene blog).

The Spiders book has come about by means of Crowdfunding  and the idea was formed following rediscovery of a superb set of photographs that Andy took in the club “back in the day” (some of which I'm sure he won't mind me using here). Publication of these pics in the Hull Daily Mail and on social media led to an official 'Spiders Reunion', which was held last October and proved a brilliant night (as can be seen from the other pics on here - even the drinks are still (relatively) cheap!). It was quite surreal to be in the same place as many of those who could easily pass for your own sons or daughters but, as was always the case, nobody batted an eyelid at these strange "old fogeys" recapturing a part of their misspent youth. And when "Temptation" came on, well, you should have seen us move! There is talk of another reunion possibly being arranged to coincide with any publication date/book launch. A 2017 date, as part of #CityOfCulture would appear very apt and cap things off nicely.

For those who want the music of what we’d regard as Spiders’ halcyon era but without requiring the venue itself, former deejay Chris Von Trapp hosts a monthly event called “Cleveland Classics” at The Halfway House pub on Spring Bank West. I first attended back in March 2016, as part of a multi-pronged 50th birthday celebration, and visited the event again recently. It’s a brilliant night, one that will appeal to any sad old soaks like me who for just a few hours want to take a trip back to those wonderful, carefree days of yore.

Similarly, The Silhouette Club is another “lost” venue from the past that has come back into focus as part of #CityOfCulture year. Back in April I was one of the 250 lucky punters who managed to secure tickets to the official Reunion event at the club’s second home on Park Street. Event co-organiser Mike Robbo again does a better job of putting the padding on things in this piece he wrote for Freakscene. Suffice to say a wonderful night was had by all of us and again another one at some time in the future would be more than welcome.

Similar to Mike, I didn’t frequent the original Silhouette on Spring Bank. If I recall correctly (and here for once my fairly reliable diaries from the time let me down) I went there just the once. It was a Thursday night as I recall, possibly Easter time as I seem to think I had the Friday off, and it was following a gig at The Adelphi. I can still remember the “fear” (for want of a better word) as I first entered the club and the sheer unfamiliarity with the toilet etiquette required therein! My only other memory is of dancing to New Order’s “Love Vigilantes” down in the basement!  
I graduated to the “new” Sil from Spiders shortly after its opening in February 1990. For a time our usual Saturday gang combined the new club with Spiders, sometimes splitting the night in two. Eventually, though, Sil became the first choice; I suppose it was deemed that bit cooler and dare I say more contemporary in the way it embraced all things baggy. Some of the nights there during Italia 90 for example were particularly memorable. My diary would suggest my regular Sil-going ended sometime in 1993 – meaning April’s return was my first in almost a quarter of a century. But similar to the Spiders reunion, I only had to step through the door to have the memories come flooding back. And when The Smiths’ “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”just about brought the curtain down, I suspect I wasn’t the only one struggling to pull myself back into the 21st century.

My Saturdays nowadays consist of dog walking, a “big shop”, a bit of local football, ‘Dads Army’, ‘Match of the Day’ and bed. If I really feel like pushing the boat out I’ll perhaps have more than just a drop of red with my pizza and bust a few moves to John Kane’s Northern Soul show on the wireless before settling down to some Scandi-Noir on BBC4. 
You can perhaps see why those Saturdays of yore have taken on such a magical feel...

Thanks to Andy Roe’s dedicated Facebook page, I’ve renewed contact with a few of the “old crowd” and enjoyed plenty of wonderful reminiscing over the past few weeks and months. One such conversation centred on our respective choice of favourite Spiders floorfiller of our time there (1985-89 in my case). I’ve never been very good at narrowing things down so I had to extend mine to a Top 40. Obviously some of the recordings pre-date these parameters but they were played there at least once as far as I can recall. So, here they are - I’d be interested in seeing yours...
(PS: And yes Jo, I did nick a couple of yours – thanks for the memory jog 😊)
40: Frank Sinatra: ‘New York New York’ (trad)
(The regular end of the night song. Always had me up…if I was still standing by then!)

39: Killing Joke: ‘Love Like Blood’ (1985)
(A great reminder of my first Spiders nights)

38: The Surfaris: ‘Wipeout’
(One of the few tracks you were allowed to “wreck” to in the early days)

37: The Mission: ‘Wasteland’ (1987)
(Always loved seeing the charge for the dancefloor when this came on)

36: New Order: ‘Love Vigilantes’
(Spoilt for choice with NO but bounced along to this at both Spiders and the old Sil’)

35: Grandmaster Melle Mel: ‘White Lines’ (1983)
(One of those tracks that shouldn’t have sat well at Spiders…but did!)

34: Jesus & Mary Chain: ‘Never Understand’
(Noise, wonderful noise!)

33: The Primitives: ‘Crash’
(Ah, Tracy Tracy and a “choon” to swoon to)

32: The Tams: ‘Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy’
(Always popular with the departing/returning students)

31: Ciccone Youth: ‘Into The Groove(y)’ (1986)
(The nearest you ever got to having Madonna played in Spiders in the summer of ’86!)

30: Joy Division: ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’
(Could have been ‘She’s Lost Control’ or ‘Transmission’ but played safe)

29: Sister Of Mercy: Temple Of Love
(Another of those early memory makers; Goth Heaven!)

28: Dinosaur Jnr: ‘Freak Scene’
(Just screams “S-p-i-d-e-r-s” at me despite being somewhat later than the others - 1988)

27: The Specials: ‘Too Much Too Young (live)’
(A pre-Spiders ‘old skool’ gem, regularly played for Jimmy Withers & his suedehead crew)

26: The Cure: ‘Boys Don’t Cry’
(One of those bands I’ve come to admire much more in later life; proper catchy “choon”!)

25: Jackie Wilson: ‘Reet Petite’
(Wouldn’t be my first choice of Jackie Wilson track – that would be ‘Because Of You’ – but it formed part of the “R’n’R Segment” afforded us by Chris back then)

24: The Cult: ‘She Sells Sanctuary’
(In all my years at Spiders I never saw this track fail to fill the floor)

23: The Meteors: ‘Graveyard Stomp’
(Banned from the playlist – I remember the night they finally brought it back: Carnage!)

22: The Redskins: ‘Keep On Keeping On’
(A proper stomper!)

21: The Housemartins: ‘Happy Hour’
(Who didn’t rush to the dancefloor to this in the mid-80s?)

20: Nitro Deluxe: ‘This Brutal House’
(My first taste of house music – a rarity in Spiders back then)

19: Spear Of Destiny: ‘Liberator’
(Our chief wrecking “choon” during The Meteors’ ban!)

18: Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five: ‘Saturday Night Fish Fry’
(One for the flat-tops/grease-backs among us to strut our stuff to…and a long one!)

17: Dead Or Alive: ‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)’
(The second song I heard on my Spiders debut in Feb 1985. Loved it ever since)

16: The Pogues: ‘Sally MacLennane’
(Perfect for a drunken jig)

15: The Cramps: ‘Human Fly’
(Wonderful to “slither” to!)

14: Pink Noise: ‘Thin End Of The Wedge’
(From ‘ull, Adelphi regulars, a John Peel fave & should’ve been a hit)

13: Johnny Todd (aka Sammy Masters): ‘Pink Cadillac’
(Pure rockabilly – a staple track of the 10-minute slot afforded us Hepcats back then)

12: King: ‘Love And Pride’
(Ditto Dead Or Alive – this was the first song I heard that night. Loved it ever since)

11: The Jam: ‘A Town Called Malice’
(Still regularly aired. I’m like a geriatric Billy Elliott when this comes on)

10: The Wedding Present: ‘Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft’
(The Weddos could be in here many more times; opted for this due it representing the brilliant “George Best” LP & classic Gedge lyrics)

9: The Soup Dragons: ‘Hang-Ten’
(From their pre-Baggy days; proper power-pop guaranteed to make you sweat!)

8: New Order: ‘Perfect Kiss’
(Both 7” & 12” versions were my original NO floor-fillers. Superseded by…  see below)

7: The Wedding Present: ‘Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm’
(Safe choice perhaps but a guaranteed dancer. Again the lyrics are belting)

6: The Smiths: ‘This Charming Man’
(Another safe option and also probably the finest guitar intro in the history of pop music)

5: The Cure: ‘In-Between Days’
(Can you ever listen to this song without smiling…or dancing? I can’t)

4: New Order: ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’
(Another song whose intro immediately has me rushing for the dancefloor)

3: The Lotus Eaters: ‘The First Picture Of You’
(Confession time: I hardly ever heard this aired at Spiders but Chris recently ended a Cleveland Classics night with it and it filled the floor. Plus it’s my funeral song so it’s in!)

2: The Smiths: ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’
(A masterpiece. Perfect for dancing with tears in your eyes when you’re a sad old soak!)

1: New Order: ‘Temptation’
(This could really have been a Top 40 NO floor-fillers chart; As it is, this one gets the No.1 slot due to it being the first track to really switch me on. 35 years on it remains a timeless classic)

* Thanks to Andy Roe and Mike Robbo for use of some of the pics in this piece. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

A Nantes Event

Hull City AFC made history last month. But you could be forgiven for not noticing...
It’s good to be back…I think. A lot has happened since I last posted, much of it far too depressing to record in detail here. 
For starters my local sporting concern, Easington United, were firstly kicked out of (sorry, invited to resign from) the Central Midlands League then relegated in their first season back in the Humber Premier League! 
Hull Kingston Rovers reached a Challenge Cup Final (only to lose by a record margin) and then lost their Super League status in the most dramatic fashion possible – but not before twice managing to snatch relegation from the jaws of safety in successive weeks. 
And Yorkshire CCC went from back-to-back County Championship winners to also-rans and even possible relegation candidates.
To round things off, on the home front my Dad died, just three months after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.
So to put things more succinctly, The Ez and Rovers lost their league status, The Tykes have seemingly lost their lustre and I lost my Dad. But at least one thing has remained consistent throughout the past two years since that last post - the Allams have not lost any of their abililty to piss people off as they continue to ride roughshod over the good name of Hull City AFC. 
It is also nearly two years since I set foot inside ‘The Circle’ (aka KCOM Stadium) to watch a City match. My last game there was the "dramatic penalty shoot-out win" over future Premier League champions Leicester City in the League Cup in October 2015. Since then, I’ve watched 'The Tigers' twice – a low-key league cup away night in Manchester and a gloriously old-skool FA Cup away day in Bury. It’s not a fact I’m particularly proud of but it’s one I’ve been forced into given my objection to so many of the things Assem and (particularly) Ehab have done.
The biggest victim in all this has been my youngest daughter, Katie. For a few years she has/had been a regular companion of mine to both City and Rovers games. She was lucky enough to be with me at both the 2-0 dismantling of Leeds in 2012 (“perhaps the best team performance I’d seen by a City side in years”) and the Tom Huddlestone-inspired 6-0 win over Fulham at Christmas 2013 (“perhaps the best individual performance I’d seen by any City player in years”). Sadly, due to my "pig-headed" stance on the club’s "pig-headed" ownership, she hasn’t been able to add to those memories.
So when City announced that for the first time ever they would be playing a fixture in east Hull, at the home of Hull KR, it gave me chance to “right a few wrongs” with The Younger Slushette whilst at the same time not necessarily swallowing my principles. Naively, I thought both clubs would push the game as a truly historic event in #CityOfCulture year, allowing Rovers to show off their brilliant Colin Hutton (North) Stand to a new audience and, perhaps, helping City tap into a new seam of support. I should’ve known better.
The game, a turgid goalless affair that did little to entertain the few souls opting to waste a sultry summer’s evening, was bad enough. But it was City’s attitude and approach to the fixture that left me with the bitterest taste. Along with social media, I chose the Tiger-Chat Group as the vehicle for my frustration. In reply to a rather downbeat assessment of City’s performance, I wrote…
"Wouldn't disagree with much of what's written there regards the game and Campbell's lively showing was one of few high points in a first 45 minutes that had my youngest regretting ever asking me, "why don't we go to City anymore?" The second half I thought was marginally better. Stewart possessed some nice touches, Mazuch looked solid enough and I did think Lenihan grew into the game after a poor start. Overall though I agreed with Rick's opinion on Twitter that some of the young lads looked knackered from Saturday's exertions.
"As for my daughter's questions, without boring her over each of my arguments with the current ownership, a quick answer could be found all around the place last night even before kick-off. This was even down to the programme in which the only mentions of "Hull City" came in Mike Smith's welcome (yes, it was Hull KR's chief executive's job to write in the City programme) and the other one in Leonid Slutsky's piece. Overall, can't help feeling that last night was a missed opportunity and another in the succession of "own goals" by our owners. The simply historical / novelty factor around last night should have been enough to have attracted more than 2,097 spectators. Indeed, when the game was first announced I know of several fellow Rovers fans who were interested on those grounds alone. But no real marketing and ridiculous ticketing arrangements subsequently saw the opportunity lost. Standing outside the main stand watching stewards desperately trying to relocate those who'd inadvertently bought tickets for the North Stand was amusing but also, quite frankly embarrassing. Similar to the club's stated expectations of a "high walk-up" on the night. Given Rovers' success at marketing second-rate rugby league this season (regular 7,000 gates) perhaps Smith and co should have been asked to handle the whole operation last night?!
"Finally, I can't let the comments on KCOM Craven Park (to give it its proper name) go without a bite. Yes, it has its limitations and looks very dated in parts - pillars obscure the view in both stands and the South ("Zeebrugge Stand") terrace is unfit for purpose (I believe it's the next proposed development whenever funds allow). The East Stand has been extended one way (northwards) and now needs that extension to be mirrored at the southern end. It's a shame that the North Stand remained closed - it is quite simply one of the best stands to enjoy sport from locally and that's an opinion I've heard told from rugby league fans of many clubs who've visited. A brilliant set-up with amenities for kids, decent bar and food outlets as well as also local live music on Rovers match days. Last night it could and should have been showcased. Instead, we were left with a "limited" food and drinks range from that which is normally available. Another example of the "half-arsed" attitude prevalent throughout the run-up to the game. And yes, Rovers are an easy target for many but their ownership's current relationship with the fans is one we can only currently dream of at City.
"As we walked away from the ground to our usual parking place, I asked my youngest if she'd like to start watching City again. "Think I'll stick to Rovers for now" was her reply. I suspect she may well have said that even had the game been slightly more exciting. The whole event felt like an "inconvenience" for both parties, but especially the Allams.”  
Eleven days after the probably once-in-a-lifetime never-to-be-repeated-event at Craven Park, City opened up their Championship campaign with a heartening draw at pre-season favourites Aston Villa. An encouraging second half performance, capped by a wonderful goal (and even better celebration) from young Jarrod Bowen gave many fans renewed hope for what was to follow. I do hope for the die-hards that this is the case. And new manager Leonid Slutsky is certainly a man one can easily warm to. Unfortunately, any hopes of warming to his boss were extinguished when I saw the posters advertising the "Hull City Tigers"' forthcoming game against, wait for it, "Wolverhampton Wanderers Wolves". 
Just when you thought Ehab couldn’t sink any lower…

Sunday, 8 February 2015

The White stuff

Feethams photo is one for the kit geeks...

For someone like me who is a bit of a self-confessed "kit geek", trawling through old match programmes can prove immensely rewarding. Every so often I come across an action photo that leaves me thinking, "I never knew (insert team name) played in (insert colour)?"
As a City fan it is even more "exciting" - I acknowledge that this may well be a term many of you would struggle to associate with looking at football kits - when the picture in question shows the Tigers in a strip or combination of strips that they must have rarely worn.
From the Darlington v Hull City programme 28/12/82
But this is exactly what happened when sifting through my programme collection from the 1982/83 season the other night (there wasn't much on telly).
One of the 32 matches I'd been to that promotion season was the 2-1 away win at Darlington in late December '82. Inside the programme was an action pic from the previous season's encounter, which the Quakers had edged 2-1 during City's post-Receivership renaissance. My eyes lit up when noticing the kit City were photographed playing in.
That night the Tigers had "mashed up" the stylish Adidas home shirts of 1980-82 (my second favourite City kit of all time) with the white away shorts and socks in a look that I hadn't seen worn by a City side since the mid 1970's.
The closest they had previously come to this was when pairing the home shirt with white away shorts and black home socks, as worn at Sheffield United in the pre-season Anglo-Scottish Cup (and featured on several programme covers that season - see 'Croft Original' post below) and also against Tottenham away in the FA Cup in January 1981. (Incidentally, I always thought that particular look had a real continental feel to it, like when the AC Milan side of the 1990's used to combine white shorts and black socks with their red/black striped shirts on Channel 4's Football Italia.)
The Hull City squad 1975/76 
Of course what I really wanted was a return to the 1975/76 playing strip, the one worn for the first City live game I attended. That season had seen the Tigers take a break with tradition when unveiling their new playing strip. Not inasmuch as they again sported stripes for the first time since the early 1960's but in the choice of colour of their shorts and socks. For the first time since 1935 City wore white shorts and for the first time in their history, white was also to be the first choice colour of the club's socks. Both, I must add, came with a stylish black and amber trim. It easily remains my favourite City kit.
The strip was manufactured by Europa Sports and the original badge was a diagonal "HCAFC". This would eventually make way for a tiger's head in 1979/80, which would become the first replica shirt I bought.
The 1975/76 strip was retained for three seasons until the club reverted to a more traditional choice of black shorts and amber socks. It was the end of the white socks experiment. Oh to see them back one day.

Sources / Recommended reading:
Historical Kits
Hull City Kits

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Croft Original

Stuart Croft - now pub landlord but once City regular and scorer of the winner in my first away match... 

Later today, instead of paying fifty quid to see The Tigers entertain the reigning Premier League champions, I'll be heading off to the village of Bentley near Doncaster, where my local team Easington United meet Bentley Colliery in a Central Midlands League North fixture.
The Avenue has been a decent ground for us in recent years, with a 2-1 win on each of our last three visits. Making the most recent of these, in April, more enjoyable, was the post-match hospitality provided by the nearby Jet Club. For the host at this establishment was none other than former Tiger, Stuart Croft.
According to Douglas Lamming's "A Who's Who of Hull City AFC 1904-1984", Crofty joined City as an apprentice before turning full professional in April 1972. He remained a City player for nearly a decade before joining Portsmouth in March 1981.
Lamming says: "Developed into a very useful central defender, permanently supplanting Steve Deere in the mid-1970s. Mostly a regular thereafter until his departure to Pompey but left the League scene in a matter of months."
A brief stint at York followed before the player saw out his days with non-league Bridlington Trinity.
Stuart Croft was a member of the first City side I ever saw, against Fulham at Boothferry Park in 1975, as well as in most of the teams I saw in action for a few years thereafter. 
Prominent among my memories of the man, however, was the goal he scored at Elland Road in December 1980. Along with an effort from much-maligned young striker Craig Norrie, it helped City overcome non-league Blyth Spartans at the third attempt. It was also my first "away game" watching City, as recounted below in an extract from my, er, forthcoming book...

FA Cup 2nd Round 2nd Replay: City 2 Blyth Spartans 1

One of very few bright spots in City’s dismal campaign came via a mini-run in the FA Cup. And it was therein that I doubled my Tiger-trekking tally; indeed a good friend of mine still quotes me that year as saying, ‘I support Leeds in the league and City in the FA Cup’. Obviously I refute such allegations.
I’d actually attended Boothferry Park during pre-season, when for the first time I viewed a game from the West (or “Best”) Stand. Grimsby Town were the visitors for an Anglo-Scottish Cup tie on 28th July 1980. A meeting that had drawn over 14,000 to Boothferry in the league the previous term, there were less than half that number in attendance this particular afternoon to see a Nick Deacy header settle things in the Tigers’ favour.
City exited the competition following defeat at Sheffield United and a draw with Chesterfield. They then lost 0-5 at Lincoln in the first round, first leg of the League Cup rendering my next visit to Boothferry – for the return leg – all but academic. As such I have no real memories from the 0-2 defeat that completed a disastrous tie; with the exception of Mike Smith’s slightly strange programme notes  in which he spent more time extolling the virtues of the likes of Nottingham Forest and, in particular, Liverpool than he did trying to explain his own team’s apparent early season deficiencies.
Another four months were to elapse before I found myself back in the ground and standing on Bunkers Hill with my mate Al to watch City eke out a nervy 2-1 win over Halifax Town in the first round of the FA Cup. The draw then paired us with non-league giant-killers Blyth Spartans. It turned out to be an epic tie of the sort no longer seen in the competition.
The programme for the first of three meetings 13/12/1980
Les Mutrie’s late strike cancelled out Keith Edwards’ early goal in a 1-1 draw at Boothferry Park, leaving City – without a win in 34 games on the road – facing a tricky Tuesday trip to the North-East. The teams again couldn’t be separated. Edwards (again) and the much-maligned Craig Norrie twice brought City back from a goal down after spectacular strikes from that man Mutrie and Ray Young had edged Blyth towards glory.  Even now a second replay was only earned the hard way; Tony Norman saving Mutrie’s extra-time penalty.
As was the format back then, the teams reconvened for a second replay on a neutral ground. The venue in question was Elland Road, Leeds and on 22nd December 1980 I attended what could be termed my first City “away” match.
As the self-styled ‘Cottingham Tiger’ recalled in a City fanzine some years later, the game has gone down in Hull supporters’ folklore on account of the “infamous British Rail football special with its unofficial stop and pick-up at Hessle Road flyover, the scenes at the final whistle and on the motorway as we all celebrated a small piece of overdue success”[i].
It was quite surreal to be stood on the Gelderd End, Leeds fans’ own “Spion Kop”, with a couple of thousand Hull City supporters for a game against a bunch of Geordie part-timers. At least I enjoyed a winning start to my career “on the road”, goals from Stuart Croft and Craig Norrie securing a 2-1 win. The Tigers marched on, Blyth returned home with reputation enhanced and Mike Smith, in perhaps his best decision as manager, immediately signed Les Mutrie for City.
From the City v Doncaster prog, FA Cup 3rd Round, 03/01/1981
The third round draw threw up a home game with Yorkshire rivals Doncaster Rovers, managed by Billy Bremner. It drew a near-11,000 crowd to Boothferry Park, the biggest of the season. The figure again included Al and me, indulging in our pre-match ritual of shopping for singles at Sydney Scarborough[ii] before enjoying lunch at The Gainsborough fish restaurant (how very sophisticated!). Nick Deacy’s solitary strike settled matters and earned City a glamorous tie at First Division Tottenham Hotspur in the next round. Al and I wouldn’t be going to that one. Two thousand City fans did and saw the Tigers bravely bow out to two Spurs goals in the final seven minutes.
I had travelled to Leeds for the Blyth game ‘door-to-door’ thanks to the fact that Easington bus company Connor & Graham was the operator chosen for use by coach organiser Simon Gray. Simon was – and still is – something of a cult figure among a generation of City supporters thanks partly to his trademark “red and white jacket” but mainly due to his insatiable appetite for organising coaches, which would enable him to follow his team almost anywhere. It’s impossible to say just how much this must have cost him over the years; especially when I remember the pitiful numbers present on some of those I travelled on at the time.
That particular night’s coach to Leeds was full and everyone was in good spirits as we arrived at the ground. Everyone that is except Simon whose walk across the coach park was interrupted by an irate man who I later realised must have been the infamous “Mad Eddie”. Bus driver for the City Psychos referred to in Shaun Tordoff’s Hull “hooli-lit” contribution[iii], he proceeded to accuse our “operator” of having shopped him to the police for allegedly drink-driving his coach to the previous week’s replay on Tyneside. The nearby presence of members of the local West Yorkshire constabulary ensured Simon suffered nothing more than a vocal assault but it wouldn’t be the last scrape I’d have cause to witness involving the man.
My regular “Tiger Trekking” days were about to begin…

[i] From “Home Alone – The 1980’s”, Issue 3 of the Tiger Rag fanzine 
[ii] Hull’s famous independent record store based under the City Hall
[iii] ‘City Psychos - From the Monte Carlo Mob to the Silver Cod Squad: Four decades of Terrace Terror’

According to what I was told on my last visit, Stuart has been "mine host" at The Jet for over a decade. On the evidence of our meeting in April, he remains a most genial chap who couldn't wait to reminisce about his City days when prompted. Depending on our performance at Bentley today, I may just get in early to have another catch-up with the man again...