LIFE is finally on the up in more ways than one for Hull City match-winner and Arsenal product Jay Simpson, who after braving the freezing temperatures in a short-sleeved shirt claimed: "I'm a Northerner now."
After waiting until his16th game to open his goal account for the Tigers, Simpson made it a double as Hull sunk the side they famously defeated in the 2008 Wembley play-off final to reach the Premier League.
London-born Simpson thanked the fans for their patience during his goal drought and put his recent improved form down to a more settled family life.
Having just turned 22, Simpson said: "It's been very difficult for me moving up here but I would not use it as an excuse because I know I have under-achieved so far. My missus Isabelle and my three-month old son Tyreigh have just moved up so that's been very good for me. We've moved into a house and everything is coming together – sometimes when you are stuck in a hotel room you think you are going crazy.
"I'm a lot happier now and I hope the fans will see the real Jay Simpson. I don't want to get too carried away. I just want to score more goals.
"The goals have been a long time coming to be fair and I'm just delighted to get off the mark. Every striker who goes through a drought knows it's a tough time for them but I have been working hard in training on my finishing and (on Saturday) that paid off.
"When you are scoring, you are always confident; when you're not it does affect your game so after I got the first I felt I was going to get another and I did.
"No, I hadn't forgotten how to celebrate. The fans had been really patient with me ever since I came here. They understood I was going through a drought and they are as glad as I am that it's over."
With Hull's financial turmoil at an end thanks to the completion of the takeover of the club on Friday by Assem and Ehab Allam, manager Nigel Pearson has made no secret of the fact that he will be looking to bring in new strikers during the January transfer window but Simpson welcomes the expected challenge.
"I think if we have the chance to strengthen it will be great for the squad because we want to climb up the table. Competition is always going to make you a better player," he said.
"The manager has been very supportive of me. He believes in me a lot and knows what I can do.
"Everyone at the club wants to get back to the Premier League. Everyone is hungry for it but at the moment we are in the wrong half of the table so we will work hard on turning draws into wins."
With three other forwards ruled out by injury on Saturday, Pearson paired Simpson with young Manchester United loan player Cameron Stewart and it worked a treat, their pace and link-up play keeping Bristol at full stretch.
Simpson added: "We played very well together and we get on well off the pitch. We've been friends since he came here and I think he was outstanding (against Bristol)."
Stewart set up both goals in what regulars described as Hull's most accomplished display of the season.
He weaved down the left channel in the 14th minute and Simpson was at the far post to convert his low, drilled cross. And when Simpson launched a counter-attack in the 62nd minute, Stewart was there to play a return pass which his fellow striker took in his stride to break through Jamie McAllister's attempted tackle and strike the ball beyond David James.
Former England goalkeeper James was chiefly responsible for preventing a rout. He palmed over an early close-range effort from Kamil Zayatte, held a snap-shot from Stewart and forced the striker to hit wide as he dived at his feet before beating down a fierce near-post attempt from Simpson before the break.
James was in action straight after the restart, making a double save from Jamie Devitt before racing out of his area to clear from Stewart, whose pace had again proved too much for the back four.
Bristol, who had been on a fine run of their own, had offered little apart from centre-back Steven Caulker ballooning over a good chance from 12 yards in the early stages and striker David Clarkson heading over from close range when he got in front of Zayatte shortly before Hull got their second.
The visitors, who were leapfrogged by the Tigers with this result, were finally sparked by Simpson's second goal, substitute Jon Stead failing to convert a couple of half-chances but Vito Mannone had no notable save to make as Hull proved the better team in all departments.
Bristol chief Keith Millen admitted: "We didn't see a response until after the second goal. We have to show more drive and desire to win games. I don't think the takeover had anything to do with the result. We just have to learn from (Saturday's) lessons."