GEORGE BOYD is pondering the Yorkshire Post’s enquiry about his favourite FA Cup memory.
Earlier in the interview, he admitted that Hull City’s run to the fifth round this season represented the furthest he had gone in the competition.
As for the game he looks back most fondly on, however, Boyd is clearly having to wrack his brains. Eventually, the answer comes.
“To be fair, I am usually knocked out in the third round so it isn’t so easy,” admits the 28-year-old, who moved to the KC Stadium a little over a year ago and was one of the key performers in getting City over the line in the promotion race.
“But there was one game when I was at Stevenage. We were non-League at the time and we drew with Northampton. I scored that day so that is probably my best memory.”
Even allowing for the Cobblers going on to win automatic promotion at the end of the season in which Boyd and Stevenage Borough took the League Two side to a replay, a player of Boyd’s quality surely deserves a better Cup memory than that. Especially as Northampton won the replay comfortably at Sixfields 10 days later.
That is where the Tigers come in. Thanks to the demands of television, Steve Bruce’s men have to wait until Monday night to play their fifth round tie at Brighton & Hove Albion.
But there can be no mistaking the growing excitement in the East Riding that a path towards a possible Wembley trip is opening up.
Victories on the road at Middlesbrough and Southend United have earned Hull another crack at Football League opposition.
With several of the Premier League big guns going head-to-head over the weekend, a kind pairing in tomorrow’s quarter-final draw and a victory at the Amex would leave Bruce’s men within touching distance of the last four and a first return to the national stadium since that never-to-be-forgotten day when Dean Windass volleyed his home-town club to promotion in 2008.
“I have never played at Wembley before so that would be special,” said Boyd, whose appearance in a play-off final when at Peterborough came in a 3-0 victory over Huddersfield Town at Old Trafford.
“It is on my ‘to do’ list. It would be an amazing experience for everyone. Mind, there is a lot of hard work to do before we can think about that.
“Brighton are a good team and my old Peterborough team-mate, Craig Mackail-Smith, could make his return after injury. He has had a few reserve games and could be involved.
“That said, this is a great opportunity to get into the quarter-finals. It is certainly the furthest I have been in the Cup. And we have done well away from home in the Cup this season.
“We don’t know what the team will be but it could be a chance for a few of the squad members to get a chance. That is a real opportunity to impress.
“If you get to the quarter-finals, anything can happen. We could be 90 minutes from Wembley.
Hull are one of three Yorkshire sides bidding to reach the quarter-finals. The last time the county had such an impressive showing in the last eight was in 1997-98 and Boyd sees no reason why City can not dare to dream about a possible first semi-final appearance since 1930.
“The draw could help us in that respect with a lot of the big teams playing each other,” said the Tigers man. “Games like Manchester City v Chelsea and Arsenal v Liverpool mean a couple of the big teams will definitely go out.
“When I saw the draw, immediately I thought ‘brilliant, that is two of the big ones gone’. Then, there are ties like Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday.
“If we can get through and then draw one of those, who knows what could happen?”
The Cup tie on the south coast may be Hull’s next assignment but there is no doubt that Bruce, as manager, already has one eye on the trip to Cardiff City a week today.
With the Bluebirds sitting second bottom and Hull fresh from being well beaten by Southampton in midweek, an away victory to follow last week’s three points at Sunderland would be very timely.
Boyd said: “It was disappointing but Southampton have a lot of good footballers so we shouldn’t be too down-hearted. Sometimes, you can only be as good as the opposition will let you. They showed that down at St Mary’s and they did the same again (on Tuesday night).
“They have a lot of good footballers and pressed us really well all night. That meant we were unable to really get our passing game going. And they took advantage of that, which is fair play to them.
“Looking at the table, the gap (between Hull and third-bottom Sunderland) is down to three points. West Brom getting a draw like they did against Chelsea was a bit of a killer. But everyone remains confident. We believed in ourselves at the start of the season and we still do now. I firmly believe we will be fine.
“We are capable of getting the wins we need. In many ways, the Premier League is a bit like the Championship was last season. Everyone seems to be taking points off each other and there are some strange results every week.
“We came through that and won promotion so I believe that experience could help us this time.
“Those of us who were here are a better squad for what happened in the run-in.
“We are used to playing under pressure. The final few weeks of last season were certainly that.”