Tiger On Tour: Introduction
Thailand is going to be the starting place for a 6-month backpacking trip around South East Asia and Australia I've decided to go on with my girlfriend. We actually made the decision in March. If you can think back to then, City were starting to show a bit of form, beating favourites-for-the-title West Brom at the Hawthorns and hovering around the play-off zone.
Promotion seemed by no means a certainty. Believing so usually just sets you up for a bigger fall. But if we were going to go up, I desperately wanted it to be in 2007/08, having booked flights for December. If we didn't go up when we did, we'd be hoping to do so this season - and I really wouldn't have wanted to leave half-way through a promotion campaign!
Hull City's about the only thing that might have put me off going. Some reading this may already know that I graduated from university last year and have not found suitable permanent work since then, and only rent accommodation, so have no ties to keep me here other than wanting to watch the team I support.
Since deciding to go, I saw some incredible games as City made it to the play-offs - thrashing Southampton and Watford, saving a last minute draw against QPR, and Ian Ashbee keeping our automatic promotion hopes alive with the late winner against Crystal Palace.
Since then I've seen just about every Hull City dream fulfilled. I will never forget the relief felt when Nick Barmby helped Richard Garcia's header over the line against Watford to restore our two-goal lead, followed by the party we had in the second half.
Wembley was simply the best day of my life. I would have said Deano's volley will forever be the definitive moment in the club's history, but after the unimaginable things that have happened this season, anything now seems possible.
I've been lucky enough to see City play 9 Premier League games already this season. In the first, we proved we can score in this league, and that we can win a game.
I watched the Arsenal game on TV amongst hundreds of other City fans at Blackies club in Brough. I felt sheer exuberance when Geovanni scored that goal, and again minutes later when Daniel Cousin gave us the lead... although this was soon followed by considerable anxiety; all of a sudden, we actually had the three points in our hands to throw away. I wouldn't have minded too much if Arsenal had pulled it back after Geo's goal, but for us to draw or lose after leading 2-1? Thankfully we didn't!
I watched Hull City play Manchester United at Old Trafford - that there is an ambition filled. And we didn't turn up for a defeat in a one-off cup game; we played them because it was our next league fixture, and while they did give us a tough time for the most part of the match, I was so happy to leave the ground knowing that we'd done the same, even if only for the last 20 minutes. It turns out I will be back in England just in time to watch the return game at the KC Stadium, unless my travel plans change.
I'll be honest and say that I felt satisfied I'd timed my trip away to have seen the pinnacle of a promotion season and some Premier League football, then would be leaving with City doomed for relegation. I don't think any of us really had much reason to expect we'd do any better than what the majority of teams promoted to the Premier League do. From a selfish perspective, I'd have rather City were dead and buried now than be hovering just above the relegation zone, and I would miss a second half of a season with something to play for. As it is, we do still have plenty to play for, but I'm confident in saying it won't be a relegation fight or a championship attempt going to the wire. Whilst it's regrettable to miss any match, this is the perfect scenario, from my point of view.
I'm also lucky that now City are a Premier League team, I'll have a better chance of staying up to date and watching some games on TV where I'm going. While I'm there I will still write for the site to tell you how my journey's going, what it's like trying to follow Hull City from 10,000 miles away, and anything else that happens on my travels I think you may enjoy reading about.
Service on the site should, hopefully, carry on as normal. You'll still be able to read Rick Skelton's reports after each match, as well as the other columnists' contributions. The volunteers on the message board will continue to help with administration. All other Footymad features, such as the newsletter, Beat The Manager and the statistics sections, will also run as normal. If you do encounter any problems, please email email@example.com and you will receive an automated response with help for the topics I most commonly receive messages about, or you can still email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, but please appreciate that I may not respond to all messages as I don't want to be stuck in internet cafés the entire time! If any City fans situated on my route would like to join me in seeking out a Tigers game on TV, please drop me an email.
Providing my flight isn't delayed too much longer, the next time I write for the site will be for my new 'Tiger On Tour' column, which I'm sure will be more concise than this introduction!