THE BOULEVARD, home of Hull FC before they moved to KC Stadium in 2003, was never a happy hunting ground for Leeds.
One of the most hostile venues in the sport, Hull’s fans – especially those inhabiting the infamous Threepenny Stand – made it especially uncomfortable for their two most hated foes, city rivals Hull KR and the supposed aristocrats from Leeds.
Forty-five years ago, Leeds fans felt a familiar sinking feeling when their team was drawn away at Hull in a Yorkshire Cup semi-final.
They were doing it tough, having already won two tricky away ties in the county competition, but the trip east – on September 29, 1970 – was expected to be a game too far.
For most of the 80 minutes, it appeared it would be.
Leeds were second best and trailed going into the final stages, but a grandstand finish saw them through.
Yorkshire Evening Post reporter Trevor Watson hailed Leeds’ “sheer tenacity” in what he described as a “remarkable smash and grab” victory.
Watson admitted Leeds were perhaps lucky to get away with their 12-11 win, but he added: “Few teams come back from 9-3 down in the second half at the Boulevard and to reach the final Leeds have won at Wakefield, Castleford and Hull. You can’t ask for much better than that.”
Hero of Leeds’ semi-final triumph was tigerish stand-off Mick Shoebottom, who had a hand in both tries and kicked a drop goal.
His “brave running and fearless tackling” turned the game on its head after Leeds had gone six points behind just four minutes into the second half.
Leeds made what Watson described as an “astonishing” number of handling errors, but defence kept them in the contest with Peter Dunn, John Burke and Ray Batten leading a massive tackling effort.
The Loiners – with Chris Fawdington also in good form – were 11-6 behind in the 77th minute, but Phil Cookson rampaged over from Syd Hynes’ pass for their second try and John Holmes kept his nerve to land the winning conversion.
That followed a try by Barry Parker and drop goals from Hynes and Shoebottom.
Watson admitted: “Hull had reason to feel robbed after what was described as their best display of the season.
“Prop Broom and half-backs Davidson and Hancock has storming games which would have sunk most sides, but on this occasion not tenacious Leeds.”
Leeds went on to win the Yorkshire Cup, beating Featherstone Rovers 23-7 in a drab final at Odsal.
September 29, 1970
Yorkshire Cup semi-final
Leeds 12 (Tries Parker, Cookson. Goal Holmes. Drop goals Hynes, Shoebottom).
Referee: Mick Naughton. Attendance: 7,200.