Hull are 90 minutes away from playing in the top flight of English soccer for the first time in their 104-year history after beating Watford 4-1 on Wednesday in the Championship semi-final play-off. Hull’s win at their KC Stadium in the second leg of this tie gave them a 6-1 aggregate victory. It means they will now face Bristol City at Wembley in the play-off final on May 24, a match billed as “the richest game in football,” with the winners receiving some £60 million (US$120 million) for gaining a place in the lucrative Premier League.
Goals from Hull-born former England international Nick Barmby, Caleb Folan, Richard Garcia and Nathan Doyle helped the northeast club build on their 2-0 first leg advantage after Watford’s Darius Henderson cut the Tigers’ overall lead to just a single goal. It wasn’t until two minutes before half-time that Barmby, who netted in the first leg together with fellow Hull-born forward Dean Windass, settled home nerves following Henderson’s 12th minute opener.
Three goals inside the final 20 minutes from substitute Folan, Garcia and Doyle sealed a victory that set Hull on their way to Wembley.
Wednesday’s win was particurlaly sweet for Hull manager Phil Brown, who took over in December 2006 and steered a club seemingly destined for relegation to second-tier survival. Earlier in the season, Watford looked destined for one of the two automatic promotion places following their relegation from the Premier League last season.