Saturday, 20 September 2014

"Transit Van From 'ull" (The Caravan of Love remix))

#CityinEurope was a much too short-lived experience but at least it witnessed the revival of an Eighties classic...

You could say I was a bit down following City's premature exit from the Europa League. As I tweeted in the immediate aftermath of the defeat on away goals to Belgian side Lokeren: 
"Home. Bitterly disappointed and angry that it's seen as some sort of blessing. It's not, it's a missed opportunity. #TypicalCity #hcafc." 

I have no truck with those who say an early European exit will ultimately help City’s survival in the Premier League. Partly this is because I never have seen it as an either/or argument; surely Steve Bruce has assembled a squad strong enough to cope on both fronts, even more so after an amazing transfer window. I also had very personal reasons for feeling short-changed by the defeat, as I again made clear on Twitter: 
"On purely selfish grounds, I'm also gutted that I won't now get chance to sing #CaravanofLove on a Europe-bound ferry full of #hcafc fans!" 

Caravan of Love is suddenly an in-vogue track among City fans, with many - including those noble chaps at Amber Nectar - campaigning with some success for it to be played pre-match at the KC (although on the evidence of first airing against Lokeren I don't believe City have used the best edit). To get a better idea of how the song could be utilised, you probably had to be one of the many Tigerfolk aboard the aforementioned P&O Ferry to Zeebrugge en route to the First Leg. Thanks to a @Kurtis Rial via Twitter, some footage of what I mean is now available on YouTube. 

As with many aspects of current City-related topics, watching the above immediately transported me back in time to my own days of regular Tiger-trekking. and more specifically to the year when we first made this Housemartins classic our a fashion.
“Caravan of Love” was originally released in 1985 by Isley-Jasper-Isley, a “splinter group” born out of legendary Motown act The Isley Brothers. The Housemartins’ classic acapella version of the song was released a year later and became their only Number One single (although not a Christmas chart topper as many people mistakenly believe – it was knocked off top spot by Jackie Wilson’s classic “Reet Petite” the weekend before Christmas).
I can’t recall who came up with the lyrics for our version of the song. Perhaps, as often happened, it was a group effort hatched over a pint or three. Whoever was responsible, the “Transit Van From 'ull” became our own take on the Hull band’s effort and we hoped it would become another terrace favourite.
If my memory serves me correctly, the song was first aired with conviction at Selhurst Park, home of Crystal Palace, on 13th December 1986. It was on the old open terrace behind the goal that formed the away section back then. I’m guessing there were between four and five hundred of us, our numbers – as usual – bolstered by the Hull City Southern Supporters Club, and we were in good spirits...well, at least, prior to kick-off!
Our particular crew had travelled down on one of Simon Gray’s legendary “London All-Dayers”, which involved being deposited in the capital around lunchtime, enjoying the usual pre-match lubrication then finding our own way to the game. Afterwards, there were six hours to be spent trying to sup London dry before meeting up with the coach at the Embankment for the journey through the night back to Hull. They were traditionally very enjoyable excursions, though not without menace as was the case with most away trips in the 1980s.
Still, everything had passed off fine in the hours before kick-off and we negotiated our way to this particular corner of "sarf Landan" trouble-free. And so, on a cold, miserable winter’s afternoon, with Christmas just around the corner and vocal chords suitably lubricated, the travelling contingent treated the rest of the 4,839 in attendance to the following Festive chorus: 
Every woman, every man,
Join the transit van from ‘ull
(Tigers) Tigers
Every living City fan
Join the transit van from ‘ull
(Tigers) Tigers

I know, I can’t believe it never really caught on either ;-) Anyway, we enjoyed it, which made it about the only part of the afternoon we did. City were awful, slumping to a 5-1 defeat with player-boss Brian Horton sent-off. To compound our misery, we were then attacked en route back to the tube station and therein, resulting in some of us ending up almost on the rail track. Still, no lasting damage was done and the usual tea-time meet-up was made in "Polar Bear, Leicester Square" before the pubs of the capital were subjected to further renditions of our new-found terrace anthem.
And it wasn't only the pubs. The nearby branch of Ann Summers received a visit, while a local pizza restaurant was treated to Pozzy the Punk setting a new record for devouring a twelve-inch pizza in one (long) mouthful. I can still see the girl at the next table finding it hilarious whilst her boyfriend was rather less amused. 
Then there was the pub where the landlord told us we could stay for one but to make it quick as he had a private party of Chelsea Headhunters in the function room upstairs. He kindly locked the door on them to allow us to finish our pints - and him to take our money of course.
Of course, age could be playing havoc with my memory and some/all of the above could have occurred the following August when we revisited Selhurst (these London trips have almost merged into one with the passage of time). 
One thing that certainly did happen on both occasions was the post-match kick-off. Following a 2-2 draw, we found ourselves under attack at the station for the second time in just over eight months. This time several of us were actually forced into hiding under a footbridge further down the line while the local loonies scoured the area in search of us. We then found shelter in the home of a student who provided us with tea and sympathy (and access to BBC's Final Score) before it was felt safe enough to venture back out on to the same line. Here we were picked up by the next passing train and transported - in the guard carriage - to Victoria Station where the Met were waiting for us. After a brief inquisition and the obligatory warnings as to the dangers of walking along railway tracks (we weren't on there by choice officer!) we were free to go on our way. Ah, we did laugh about it...later.
I can't quite remember whether we sang “Caravan of Love” that day :-)  

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