It wasÂ 14 years ago today that the Tigers ended an eight-year sojourn in the lowest echelon of the Football League and a 19-year wait for promotion with a 2-1 win away at Yeovil Town.
Peter Taylor’s side went into what was the Club’s penultimate game of the 2003/04 Division Three campaign knowing that only a draw was needed to finish the job and they set about their task in positive fashion, opening the scoring from the penalty spot after just ten minutes.
Adam Lockwood was penalised for pulling Danny Allsopp’s shirt inside the box and Stuart Green kept his cool from 12 yards, sending Glovers keeper Steve Collis the wrong way with the resultant penalty.
Colin Pluck almost levelled for Yeovil close to half-time, only for his free-kick to cannon back off the crossbar, but on 64 minutes the home side deservedly drew level when the 6ft 8in Hugo Rodrigues powered an unstoppable header past Boaz Myhill from Lee Johnson’s free-kick.
The Tigers had looked pretty assured and comfortable with their solitary goal advantage, but suddenly looked nervous as Yeovil pressed hard. However, Taylor’s men gradually regained their composure as the Glovers began to somewhat run out of ideas and just pump up high balls that were easily dealt with.
And with Yeovil slowing down, it was the Tigers who took the initiative and scored a winner 14 minutes from time with a goal of real quality. When the ball rolled favourably into Ian Ashbee’s path 20 yards from goal, the Tigers’ skipper curled a stunning strike into the top corner.
It was a goal worthy of winning any match and signalled the start of the promotion party for the 1,700 delirious travelling supporters who had made the trip to Huish Park – and the 2,000 fans back in Hull watching a beam back of the game at what is now the Airco Arena – on what was a truly unforgettable afternoon for all of a black and amber persuasion.
“I was always confident that we’d eventually get what we were looking for,” said Taylor after the game.
“Everybody was so desperate to get promotion and I’m just pleased that it’s finally happened. It was very difficult because Yeovil are such a good footballing team but we got the job done and I couldn’t be prouder of my team.”
Reflecting on his promotion-winning strike, Ashbee said: “I was just lucky to be the person who got the winner. It was a real team effort, but it was nice to get my second goal of the season.
“The ball bounced funny and hit my knee before coming back to me off Junior Lewis. I’d seen the keeper off his line and just decided I was going to hit it – luckily it went in!
“It would have been nice to secure promotion in front of our own fans, but we achieved our goal at Yeovil and that’s all that matters.”