FOR the 10 or so minutes that followed last May’s FA Cup final defeat, Curtis Davies fulfilled his role as captain dutifully.
Any team-mates looking lost and distraught were immediately picked up off the turf and reminded of how proud they should feel at coming so close to bringing the famous old trophy to Hull for the first time.
In between this cajoling and commiserating, Davies also ensured the entire City team took the applause of the 30,000 fans who had descended on Wembley and were rightly hailing their team’s brave efforts. Steve Bruce, a successful former captain of Manchester United, looked on approvingly from the touchline.
Then, though, came the moment when the magnitude of Arsenal’s fightback finally hit Davies and left the Tigers captain openly weeping on the Wembley turf.
“I was on the pitch and looking up at Thomas Vermaelen, going up to collect the Cup,” said the Hull captain ahead of tomorrow’s re-run of the 2014 final against the Gunners.
“He hadn’t even played in the game but he got to lift a trophy that I, as captain, wanted to lift so badly. And I thought we had done enough to lift it.
“As I looked up at him, that was when everything hit me and I melted. I turned into a blubbering wreck.
“I’d had my captain’s head on up to then, going round trying to lift the rest of the lads. Telling them to be proud and get their heads up.
“But then, as Vermaelen went up to get the Cup, that turned into the significant moment for me. I wanted it to be me so much. It is one thing to hold the trophy (as a member of the winning team) but to be the person who lifts it as captain means you go down in history. It was hard to take.
“That feeling is something I will hold on to because I never want to feel like that again. I am hoping that feeling and emotion is something we can pull on now things are hard.”
Davies and his City team-mates have an earlier than expected chance in the Cup to avenge that heart-breaking 3-2 loss at Wembley when the two teams meet tomorrow in the third round.
As with last season’s final, the Gunners go into the encounter as overwhelming favourites. That, though, did not stop the Yorkshire club racing into a 2-0 lead inside the opening nine minutes thanks to goals from James Chester and Davies.
Had Alex Bruce made it a hat-trick of goals by City’s centre-halves just a few minutes later rather than heading against the post, Arsenal’s impressive fightback may never have got going. Hence, Hull’s sense of lingering frustration over how May 17 unfolded.
Davies recalls: “In a way, we owe them one. You do have that thought in the back of your mind, about how they killed my dream and made me cry. But when you go into the game, the idea of revenge goes out the window.
“This is just a third round tie, not the final. Mind, we are hoping that if an air of revenge is what it takes then we will use it.”
As for his Wembley goal, Davies added: “I have watched it a few times. I think I got all my mates a DVD edit of those 30 seconds, my goal and then the celebration afterwards. It is a good pick-me-up when I see it.
“It still gives me tingles, to be honest. To play in a Cup final is one thing, to captain the team is another but to score is something else. Especially as it was with my foot and it put us 2-0 up. What an incredible feeling.
“My celebration said it all. It wasn’t a calculated slide or anything like that. I just ran and went ballistic. It is a good job Elmo (Ahmed Elmohamady) is quicker than me, as if he hadn’t caught me I think I’d still be running round Wembley now.”
Those thoughts and more rushed to mind when City and Arsenal were paired in a third round draw that was held at Hull’s The Deep. Incredibly, the practice draw had done exactly the same half-an-hour or so earlier.
“I couldn’t believe it when we came out together again,” said the Tigers captain. “I was at The Deep with the gaffer and our reaction was funny.
“But, sometimes, these things are meant to be. And that this time things can go our way.
“We were so close to winning there in the league only recently (when a last-minute goal from Danny Welbeck goal rescued a 2-2 for Arsenal). We have to take the positives from that performance, even though we didn’t hold on.
“We put on a good display that day, even if it was a battling one at times rather than a nice flowing one. Sometimes, it has to be like that at places like Arsenal.
“If we can repeat that sort of performance, I am hoping the extra pressure of being in the Cup could get the fans on their back. I know a lot of Arsenal fans and they will be expecting to beat us. Hopefully, that could work in our favour.”