Farewell To The Boulevard

Farewell To The Boulevard

Hull FC played their final game at the Boulevard 19 years ago today!

Club News

19 years ago today, on October 22nd 20h, the Black & Whites played their final game at the Boulevard against the New Zealand touring side!

The Airlie Birds played their final game at the ground with a fixture against the touring New Zealand side on a night filled with nostalgia and emotion.

A huge crowd of over 12,000 turned out to say farewell to the ground that had created memories for generations for over 100 years.

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The game former the start of the Kiwis’ first tour in the UK since 1993 and the visitors played their part as fitting opponents – the nation that had played a major role in Hull’s most previous glorious era of the 1980s. Former test full-back Gary Kemble even features in the pre-match veterans curtain raiser.

The same ground had hosted the first test match played by the iconic 1907 Kiwi touring party on their first ever tour.

Emotion was palpable around the ground when Johnny Whiteley MBE led out the sides out for the pre-match event alongside some of Hull’s greatest players of years gone by.

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Hundreds of local schoolchildren paraded the perimeter of the field, releasing black and white balloons into the air as the two sides took to the field to the sound of thunderous applause and a chorus of Old Faithful.

Lee Jackson, Hull’s long serving and popular hooker who had been controversially omitted from their squad for the following season, was given the honour of captaining the Airlie Birds for this historic match. The thirty-three-year-old former Test player was considered by McRae to be ready for retirement, but he turned in a vintage performance that included the setting up of Hull’s first try and a couple of characteristic midfield breaks.

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The fixture was played at a fast and furious pace, but for all the great tries scored at The Boulevard, ironically the moment of the night will be remembers for a huge drop-goal from Graham Mackay, probably one of the longest ever kicked at the drop-goal, from just inside his own half, taking the score at the break to 7-6 in FC’s favour.

The lead at the break was nothing more than the hosts deserved. Despite losing Steve Prescott to a shoulder injury early in the clash, Hull set the pace and took the lead after five minutes as Richad Horne got on to the end of a delightful Lee Jackson grubber. Matt Crowther added the goal.

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Hull continued to startle the Kiwis but former FC man former Michael Smith helped give New Zealand their opening score, sending Clinton Toopi leaping over a grounded defender before he put in David Vaeliki near the posts. Lance Hohaia’s goal made it 6-6 until Mackay’s booming drop goal edged Hull ahead at the interval.

The introduction of soon-to-be Black & White Richard Swain in the second-half saw New Zealand up the ante in attack, and were ahead with 30 minutes left on the clock. Hohaia made the most of a Hull error on halfway and kicked through got Henry Fa’arili to score.

Nigel Vagana made the lead more comfortable less than eight minutes later as he touched down from his own kick. The centre would grab another to take the scoreline beyond the hosts.

Francis Meli scored the try of the night with less than 15 minutes left on the clock when he intercepted Paul Cooke’s pass to race 90 meteres unopposed to score under the posts.

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Paul Parker was to have the distinction of scoring the final try at the Boulevard, scored with just ten seconds left on the clock. Craig Greenhill chipped a short kick for Parker to catch 20 metres out before the winger swept around Vaeliki to dive over in the corner.

And that was that. 107 years of history came to an end and the Boulevard;s round-up days were over.

The New Zealand legacy would however continue with the club, with Motu Tony, Richard Swain and Stephen Kearney all signing for the club in the coming seasons.

Squads

Hull FC: Prescott: Parker, Horne, Mackay, Crowther: J. Smith, T. Smith; Greenhill, L. Jackson, Maher, Logan, Ryan, Chester.

Interchange: King, Poucher, Fletcher, Cooke.

New Zealand: Vaeliki; Fa’afili, Vagana, Toopi, Meli; Tony, Hohaia; J. Cayless, Betham, Rauhihi, Puletua, Wiki, Swann.

Interchange: M. Smith, Swain, Guttenbeil, Kearney.

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