1: What a day. Nobody could be unmoved by what Hull City achieved in the FA Cup final at Wembley, even if the only thing we truly wanted to be moved by was victory. The whole occasion was galvanised by our presence, a team representing a club and a city with no notable footballing success to look back upon and therefore giving it more than their all. They were superhuman.
2: And yet we really need to address the fact that City were 2-0 up and lost the game. In consolation, we can say that a 2-0 lead after eight minutes is nothing like the cushion given to you by a 2-0 lead after 78 minutes, and at the very least we scared Arsenal to death. Their inevitable comeback only happened in normal time to the tune of getting level, and ultimately they were ahead for only the final 11 minutes of the 120. Exhaustion contributed far more to City’s defeat than any lack of comparative quality on the ball.
3: Everyone was immense, but we feel we should select an individual or two. First up, Alex Bruce. We stated in our match report that this final should be the making of his time as a City player, proving once again that nepotism never played its part in getting him into either the club or the team. He is a tackler and an aerial warrior, and not much else, but boy did we need him to be those things at Wembley, and be them well. He didn’t disappoint. He’ll remain a player for a specific formation next season – only injury to someone else will ever see him play for us in a flat back four – but when called upon he’ll be ready.
4: James Chester. The very fact that he played at all was a shock, that he then managed the full 120 minutes without even getting cramp (let alone a recurrence of the hamstring injury that had apparently ended his season) was bewildering, that he played so well was both inspiring and brilliant, that he scored the opening goal and created his own permanent piece of Tigers history just caps it all. He can be really proud of himself.
5: Having singled out two of the starting three centre backs, we have to mention the third, the colossus with the captain’s armband. Curtis Davies was on good form with the media up to the game, describing eloquently the mood around the city as the final neared and encapsulating exactly how we would hope a well-paid professional would feel going into an FA Cup final. Grateful for the chance, Davies played like a chap possessed. He defended ruthlessly, led brilliantly and risked every muscular injury under the setting London sun by going up front as City chased the game desperately from the 109th minute on. We’re used to great captains – Andy Davidson, Garreth Roberts, Justin Whittle, Ian Ashbee – and now we unquestionably have another.
6: Let’s mention the rest: Allan McGregor was comfortable and it was reassuring to see him back and properly ready; Ahmed Elmohamady and Liam Rosenior slaved away on their flanks to little reward beyond an appreciation from the City fans; the midfield trio of Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore and the tireless David Meyler were their usual cohesive and resourceful unit; Stephen Quinn justified his surprise inclusion by being an unpredictable, liberated nuisance who set up our goals; and though he never had much chance in front of goal, Matty Fryatt never, ever gave up. These eleven men, and the three that got on late, have their places in our history secured, even as runners-up.
7: Arsenal weren’t great, threw themselves around with typical lack of gallantry when the going got tough, but showed their quality and their composure when it mattered. We’re content to say they are worthy winners, and undoubtedly we have acquired a new respect from them, and perhaps from the watching fans of other clubs, as to our own credentials in this sport.
8: The City fans were magnificent. Even the newcomers, the hangers-on, they knew what importance this one-off occasion held and were happy to join in with the songs. Hopefully we came across loud and clear on television, as this isn’t often the case (especially at the Circle) when we’re bring broadcast live in “ordinary” matches.
9: City know now when they’ll start their European campaign, it’s just a question of against whom. That draw will be the most keenly anticipated cup draw we’ve ever been party to. We can’t wait.
10: The final word is for Steve Bruce, our brilliant, astute, rehabilitated manager. We are more than happy, privileged even, to have provided him with an outlet to re-establish his credentials as a top rate manager following difficulties at other clubs and a year out of work. It’s chicken feed compared to what he has provided for us, isn’t it? Promotion, survival, FA Cup final, European competition. And come the Europa League draw, then the League Cup draw and, finally in December, the FA Cup draw, we know he’ll be as keen to do well in these competitions as the rest of us. He’s enjoyed his taste of a new kind of success as much as we have, and he’ll want more. So now the drama is over, let’s not treat it as the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity it was. Let’s try and do it again and again and again.