14th May, 2008 - almost 24,000 fans witnessed one of the biggest and best nights in the Tigers' history as Phil Brown's side booked their place in the Championship Play-Off Final and a first-ever trip to Wembley with a resounding 4-1 victory over Watford.
It was a night packed with tension for both clubs. Watford – trailing 2-0 from the first leg at Vicarage Road three days earlier – dominated the opening proceedings and grabbed the early goal they so desperately needed when Darius Henderson slotted home from 12 yards.
The Tigers were looking nervous and breathed a huge sigh of relief when Jobi McAnuff’s deflected shot went wide of the post with Boaz Myhill scrambling across his line, much to the frustration of Hornets boss Aidy Boothroyd on the touchline.
But Brown’s players showed great resilience and grabbed a crucial equaliser on the night two minutes before the interval that changed the course of the game. Michael Turner’s lofted header inexplicably drew Watford keeper Richard Lee out of position, allowing Richard Garcia to head towards goal and Nick Barmby raced in to make sure, nodding the ball over the line with a brave header.
The Tigers were unstoppable in the second half and grabbed a deserved lead through Caleb Folan on 70 minutes. Sam Ricketts raced down the right and provided a perfect cross for the substitute to plant an unstoppable header past Lee just seven minutes after being introduced into the action in place of Dean Windass.
Watford were understandably demoralised, but Henderson almost got his second of the night, only for Bryan Hughes to clear his header off the line. But any slim chance of a comeback from the visitors was snuffed out when Richard Garcia cut through Watford’s defence to make it 3-1 on the night two minutes from time, which brought joyous scenes on the pitch, in the stands and in the home dug-out.
And the Tigers’ joy was complete when Nathan Doyle’s shot deflected past Lee with what was virtually the last kick of the game to cue scenes of jubilation from all inside the KCOM.
What They Said:
“There must be a god up there! This is something I’ve dreamed about – playing for Hull City at Wembley. Tonight was really special! It’s so emotional, I can’t really describe how I feel. I’m a Hull lad. We’ve done it for the people of Hull… our fans – it’s brilliant!”
“This is what we’ve worked so hard for. Watford had us worried but we came through in the end. What a result! What a night! It’s got to be one of the best ever, but we know there’s a lot of hard work still to do yet.”
“It’s a fantastic result and we deserved it over the two legs. Credit to Watford, they gave it a real go, as we knew they would. Barmbs’ goal just before half-time was the turning point. I’m so proud to be captain of this Club. We’ve come so far in the last few months. We’ll all enjoy tonight, but we know we haven’t won anything yet.”
“We’ve all worked long and hard this season and it’s a fantastic, fantastic feeling to be at Wembley. Tonight was up there with anything I’ve ever experienced. We did it for the fans! They’ve been superb but we know we still have a lot of work to do. No-one wants to go to Wembley and lose.”
“It’s been a tremendous night, a tremendous season – but it’s not over yet! Still, we’re almost there – 90 minutes away from the Premier League. I’m pleased for everyone – the Chairman, the back-room staff, the players, the fans. Now, we’ve got it all to do at Wembley. No-one remembers a side that loses in a final.”