Even in these more enlightened times, wetting the baby’s head is regarded as a rite of passage by many new fathers.
David Meyler, however, did things a little differently eight days ago when, instead of nipping down the pub with a few friends to toast daughter Alanna’s arrival, the bleary-eyed Irishman instead dashed back to Hull City’s training headquarters to commit his future to the club by signing a new contract.
“It had been arranged that I would sign before training on the Friday,” explained the Tigers midfielder when asked about the unusual ‘double’ of welcoming Alanna into the world and then putting pen to paper on a two-and-a-half year extension just a couple of hours later.
“But my girlfriend’s waters broke during the night. She had been staying in the other room towards the end of the week when we had games so she came through to wake me. That was at 1.50am and we rushed straight to the hospital.
“Alanna arrived at 6.25am and I signed my contract at 9.45am, maybe 10am.”
Pressed on why he had not merely asked to put off for a day or so the signing of a deal that had all been agreed, Meyler added: “Everything had been arranged.
“I could have decided not to come in but I had been at the hospital for eight hours. Plus, I think (girlfriend) Cally wanted me to go more than I did. It was her who said, ‘Go’. Though she did tell me to get some more nappies on the way home!”
Meyler’s delight at the birth of his first child was obvious from the moment The Yorkshire Post met the midfielder yesterday in the same office at Cottingham where he had, exactly a week earlier, penned that new contract.
His face beamed throughout our chat, as he, first, explained that ‘Alanna’ means ‘beauty’ in Gaelic before then recounting the birth.
“I was so caught up in the moment,” said the Irishman, “and making sure my girlfriend was all right that, at one stage, I found myself holding the bottom of her foot. I think I was trying to help her push!”
Meyler has this weekend to tear himself away from the bliss of domestic life for a likely return to action as Hull take on Bury in the FA Cup fourth round.
The 26-year-old was excused last Saturday’s victory at Fulham by Steve Bruce, who is set to make a host of changes against the League One side.
Sixteen year-old Josh Tymon is included in the squad for the first time and could be involved alongside returning defensive duo, Michael Dawson and Alex Bruce.
For Meyler, being on Cup duty will be a big reminder of a very proud day in his career and one of many reasons why he was so keen to extend a stay at the KC Stadium that began in 2012.
“Playing in an FA Cup final was something I will never forget,” said the midfielder, who was part of the City side beaten 3-2 by Arsenal in the 2014 showpiece after taking an early two-goal lead.
“That is why the contract was an easy decision for me. I have really enjoyed my time here. There have been some magnificent moments, from promotion in that first year to staying in the Premier League and playing in Europe. Then, there was the FA Cup final. You only dream of achieving these sort of things in a full career but I did them all in the space of three seasons.
“Obviously, relegation (last year) was disappointing. But you have to take the lows with the highs. Now we are in a fantastic position, with everything looking good.
“The big thing is I am settled here. I bought my house a couple of years ago, my girlfriend lives with me and we now have our daughter. I have also been with Steve Bruce a long time (including two years at Sunderland). I saw one of his quotes recently. He said, ‘I have watched him grow from a boy to a father’. That shows how long we have been together.
“I like the people here. At Sunderland, they were diehard fanatics. Everywhere you went, they talked football. Here, football has been on the rise in recent years, but rugby (league) still dominates people’s minds. I quite like that.
“In fact, the only thing I’d change is the airport flying straight to Ireland. They used to fly from here, seemingly. But then I moved to Hull and they stopped!
“So, if anyone (at Humberside Airport) is listening, please get some Ireland flights on.”
Suitable means of travel home apart, the East Riding clearly suits Meyler. Today will be his 118th appearance for the Tigers, whom he joined initially on loan from Sunderland before making the switch permanently in January of the promotion season.
“I have had enough time off,” said Meyler about today’s likely return to action at Gigg Lane. “I was due back into training on Tuesday but came in Monday, instead, to do a little bit.
“I wanted to get back into a routine. The manager was great in giving me time off but I am looking forward to the Bury game. The FA Cup means a lot.
“We got to the final in a season when Premier League survival was the priority. This year, promotion is the priority. But, it is just a few games to get to Wembley. That is how you have to approach it.
“The Cup can open up after this round. Look at the run we had on the way to the final. Every team we played, we said, ‘We can beat these’. Before long, we were on a bit of a run.
“It could be the same this time. But, before that, we have a big game to focus on. Bury are a good team and know what they are about. They will also want to go through,
“We know it won’t be easy but, as a group, we are going there full of confidence.”