Saturday 24th April 2004
Northern Premier League First Division
Hyde United: Tim Mullock, Steven Clegg, John Gaynor, Paul Jones, Craig Buckley (Wayne Dean), John O'Kane, Nicky Hill (Ian Pendlebury), Phil Salt, Neil Tolson, Dale Johnson (Kieran Delaney), Matty McNeil
North Ferriby United: Sharp, Moore, Farley, Foot, Hobson, Botham, Hartley, Wood, Fothergill, Bradshaw, Gowen. Subs: Dewhurst, Northern, Waller.
The Tigers made sure of the First Division Championship with a champagne performance in front of a bumper crowd boosted by 76 ladies who had taken advantage of the free admission. The weather was gorgeous and the pitch in prestine condition. All was set for a memorable afternoon.
However it had been a tense week, but it was probably the faithful who were more nervous by kick-off time. Many had woke up early and couldn't go back to sleep. The players were in confident mood, however, after being given the week off from training and only meeting for a Megabowl session on Thursday.
Within ten minutes, the Tigers could have been four up, but the goal didn't come until 29 minutes when Matty McNeil headed home. 'keeper Paul Sharp clawed the ball back, but an alert assistant gave the goal. It transpired he was spot -on. More chances were created from the flowing football, but the Tigers finished the half with only one goal to show for their efforts.
Nicky Hill had to be replaced at half-time by the fit again Ian Pendlebury, and North Ferriby had a good ten minute spell at the start of the second half. Fortunately for Hyde Tim Mullock was again in top form and kept the Humbersideans at bay. Another goal would seal it and it came on 60 minutes. Pendlebury curled a free-kick, Sharp could only turn it onto the post, McNeil crossed the ball back in, and Dale Johnson slotted home. It was nothing less than he deserved as the big occasion had affected his goal touch. The rest of his play was superb.
The Tigers were now home and dry. Craig Buckley, seemingly supported by half of Salford, come off to a standing ovation as did Johnson ten minutes later, but not before he had been brought down by the unfortunate Sharp. Phil Salt slotted home the pen, for his fourth goal in the last three games. They say you can't keep a good man down and who else, but Tolse, popped up to knock in the fourth for his 30th of the season, after a great run by Wayne Dean.
It was time for the celebrations to start. A conga around the ground led the way. Gus wore the biggest kaftan ever seen and 'Podge' prompted many to start an immediate diet. But who cared, the players had done the business when it mattered and fully deserved the championship. The humble John O'Kane collected the trophy and what an inspiration and true professional he has been.
Paul Jones was rightly awarded the man of the match award, but on the day, there were many contenders. The celebrations will be short-lived however as the Tigers travel to Ashton on Tuesday for the first play-off. The winners will meet the winners of Bradford PA and Spennymoor at home next Saturday.