Hull City 0-1 Torquay United (KC Stadium) 21st February 2004
Season 2003-04 was a magical time to be a Gulls fan. Leroy had us purring like a new born kitten, and I attended more away matches that season than any other. I had time on my hands and money to spend, so that year’s success was there to be enjoyed. Me and my mate Rich had earmarked the Hull City away game for a while, and decided to take the plunge. Hull had a shiny new ground and we had a shiny team; so why not!
It was a very very early start, and still quite dark when we boarded the supporters coach at Newton Abbot with a motley crew of fellow hardy supporters. The trip up went as smoothly as it could (unlike the trip back…). We grabbed some food and beverages outside the city and then got a quick view of what a lovely looking place Hull was (or not!) on the way to the ground.
We were tucked away at one end of the KC, and marvelled at what a huge ground it was for a Division Three team – this was after all years before Hull made it to the Premiership. It was certainly a big step up from Plainmoor in every way possible – especially when you consider we sat in the old Grandstand. I had dressed for a freezing afternoon up north, but with the stadium engulfing us it was barely coat weather!
Twelve and a half years on and I have only vague recollections of the game, but we definitely held our own from start to finish and surprised the Hull team (and supporters) with our skill and passing precision. The Hull fans didn’t make much noise; a typical example of a new ground struggling to find its voice when their team is not winning.
Unfortunately Jo Kuffour had to come off after half an hour, but his loss was sub Martin Gritton’s gain. Just before half-time Davie G took charge of the ball in City’s half and looked up to see Gritts making a run between the defenders. The through-ball that followed was right on the money, allowing MG to take it in his stride and then finish confidently past the Hull keeper down the other end of the KC. We all remember the Scotsman scoring plenty that season, but he could also pick out a perfect assist.
I jumped up to rejoice the moment, knocking my wallet out of my coat pocket and scattering change under my seat. It’s funny what you remember from games isn’t it? It didn’t matter to me as we were ahead, and I made sure all the coins were safely deposited back into the pocket. Well I had money to spend, but not to waste!
The second-half saw Boaz Myhill in the City goal make some cracking saves as we searched for a second. We never looked in real danger of conceding the lead. Woods and Taylor bossed things at the back, Hockers was typically tigerish, and that maestro Alex Russell pulled the strings in midfield.
Martin almost scored another to put the icing on the cake, but it didn’t matter as we held on for a well-deserved victory. It removed Hull from their perch at the top of the division (they still won promotion), and set us up for a promotion push of our own. A happy day up in the North-East!
But hold on my story does not finish there; as the journey back home ended up being a total nightmare! A motorway accident caused a big delay on the way back, and when I say big delay I am not exaggerating. The coach driver had to keep stopping as his driving time was running over, so I think we stopped at least three times in the end to give him the right rest time.
The slow progress was quite infuriating and enlivened only by a game of Tiger Woods Golf on my Gameboy. Rich is good company but some of the other Yellow Army did try our patience. I remember one guy on his mobile phone explaining the situation to his friend/family member.
The conversation went something like this – “No we are still not moving (few seconds), no we’ve not move yet (few seconds), no still not moving….” To be honest I had to almost restrain Rich from jumping out of his seat and telling him to put a lid on it! We still see the bloke at Plainmoor every game now, so probably best for everyone there wasn’t an awkward confrontation!
Eventually we hobbled back into Devon and our tired coach finally made it back to Newton Abbot at about 5.30am I think. I remember it slowly getting light by the time we got picked up by Rich’s dad, who took pity on us weary travellers. Almost twenty-four hours from start to finish and the longest away trip I’m ever likely to be involved in (until United make it into the Europe….). Thank goodness we won!