The Hull Monty - What a Show!

A memorable  game from the archives, as reported by BILL THE BIRO

Hull City 0 Pools 3 (Division Three) 
Saturday 6 May 2000
Boothferry Park

It's the final day of the season, and it's too close to call. There's only one playoff place still up for grabs. 

If Cheltenham win at Southend, they've clinched it. If not then Pools or Torquay could overtake them, but our adverse goal difference makes us the outsiders. There is also an extreme outsider in Rochdale who need to score a shedful, and hope we all lose — a bit of a tall order. 

Never having been to Boothferry Park, I get out my footy grounds book, which tells me that it has the unique feature of six tall floodlight pylons, which make it very easy to find. 

I set off at 9.30 for the 150-mile trek. A subsequent motorway stop for a pastie and orange squash allows the opportunity of memorising the route to the ground. Nearing the City of Kingston-upon-Hull, the memory feat proves to be no great shakes when I find myself on the very road which had been specifically warned against. However, finding myself following a car decorated with a blue-and-white scarf, I relax and follow it. It tums off left. I turn off left. It indicates right at the next roundabout. I do likewise. I'm already indicating left to leave the roundabout when I realise he's going back the way he came, because he's lost too. There then follows a half-hour voyage of discovery, trying to pick up clues: looking out for  tall pylons; reading bus destination blinds; avoiding the city centre, etc., but eventually the target is reached and I park up in a nearby street, and walk to the ground. 

Now those pylons are indeed six, and they are indeed tall (about half as tall again as ours), and their tops can be seen from a long way off. Which is why the nearby street ends up not being as nearby as originally envisaged. However, with the ground reached, at 1:30 I phone the Monkey Business Postal Service to find out when and where the promised supplies will arrive. 'Ah!' comes the reply, clearly telling me that the two copies I brought with me will be the only ones on sale today. 

Pools shirts are much in evidence by 1:45 (as are Hull shirts, no doubt in anticipation of today's coming of their new Messiah, Brian Little). I start to sheepishly offer my vast stock for sale, but only at sufficient volume to be audible to passing Pools fans. One says ‘Which way is the chip shop mate? Oh, Monkey Business! Sorry mate.’ I like to think he meant 'Sorry for bothering you.'

One MB is sold to a Hull fan, despite my explanation of what it is. The other is a bit sad on its own so I give up, phone the people I'm meeting, and find that they're only 40 yards away.

Boothferry Park
-the highlight of the season?

It's now quarter past two, and we decide to go in. The away end already looks half full. 

Inside, Boothferry Park looks to be another ground that remembers the days when it was up there with the big grounds, but only just! A modern stand at one end, an overhanging building serving as a shallow roof for the rear of the other end, an elderly stand one side and an equally elderly covered terrace roof on the other. And two large stretches of terracing which for very obvious safety reasons are unused. 

The teams come out to warm up and still the blue stripes keep coming. Doubt is expressed that the away end will be big enough. 

Hull City choose the occasion to do their player of the year presentations, and to introduce the new manager, all to commendable (and unusual) restraint from H'Angus. He shows off his trick of balancing a football on his bald patch to anyone bored enough to look. 

Phones and radios are all prepared for the main event. The word is that Turner is going for it, 3-4-3, with three strikers. 
"Brains are being fried by hundreds of mobile phones. Daughters are under strict instructions to phone, the second that Cheltenham's score changes"

Kick-off time comes. The massed Poolies are now all up for it and the volume goes on boost. And they're off straight away, Pools are buzzing and looking hungry. 

The away end goes wild when someone scores at the other end (Who scored? Dunno!). The stewards (who all look like nightclub bouncers, not the weeds that most clubs have) eject a Pools fan for something or other. 

Radio listeners report that Cheltenham have gone one up. 'That's us finished then. Nobody comes back against them!' 

Then we get another. ‘Who scored? Who cares!' More Pools fans are ejected. The home fans are stunned. This was going to be the first day of a new life. 

Tommy is all over the place. Clarky keeps running at them and round them, and the front three are tying Hull's defence in knots. 

Torquay have gone into the lead. Then Darren Knowles goes down and has to be carried off. Arnison comes on and things look hardly any different. The game is so one-sided, we could almost sub Hollund for another outfield player. 

On twenty-nine minutes, disaster strikes. A late Strodder tackle is seen by the well-sighted (and well overweight) Mr. Stretton, and the red card is straight out. 

Graeme Lee then walks nonchalantly back to take over, and the game again continues as if nothing had happened. 

Seven minutes on, and there's yet another goal. ‘Who scored? We did!' More early departures. 

The Hull terrace fans, who have been taunting us by holding up a hanging monkey (guaranteed to wind a Poolie up), then receive the serenade 'Ten men, and we're still three up.' 

Half-time. That first-half performance was magnificent. Every radio and phone is in use to find out the other relevant scores. Cheltenham are drawing and Torquay are behind, so we are now favourites. 

The second half is as expected. Hull at least try to attack, although without troubling our defence at all, and our forwards still cause all sorts of problems. 

Brains are being fried by hundreds of mobile phones. Daughters are under strict instructions to phone, the second that Cheltenham‘s score changes. 

A couple of substitutions replace the overworked strikers towards the end, Coppinger and Henderson having run themselves into the ground. Again, the changes don't disrupt the pattern. No danger of conceding a goal, but still trying to score another. 

Two minutes from the end, a roar goes up, followed by panicked switching on of phones and radios for confirmation that Cheltenham are losing. 

Full-time, and it's party time! The p.a. system confirms the results. Then, punching the air, Clarky leads the team out to celebrate with the fans, knowing that it's Darlo in the playoffs. And if we can again play like this, then Wembley here we come! 

[This Bizz report first appeared in issue 50 of August 2000. Doesn't seem like 20 years ago. And Pools lost to Darlo in the playoffs]

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