Another encouraging turn out of members, eager to enjoy another afternoon of Tiger Memories. Some of the early conversations were from those with bragging rights for having attended the first session of Walking Football earlier in the day. From all accounts it was a really encouraging session and promises to develop well over the coming weeks. Those who had attended nominated their choice of “MoM” and the winner was named at the beginning of our meeting. Not sure whether she could really qualify for “Man of the Match” but none the less Brenda Beck was the chosen one and to mark this she was duly presented with flowers from our Chairman. The Walking Football now continues for the next five Thursday mornings in the Airco Arena from 10.00am to 11.30am. It costs just £3 per session for an activity you will certainly grow to love. All will be welcome – just turn up.

Now to our meeting itself. Before introducing our guest speaker the Chairman gave a quick summary over our busy programme as Senior Tigers. There seemed a general approval for the Flamingo Land experience, with some members placing their safety on the line with some of the extreme rides! Next up will be the Beamish trip on 17th November. The coach is well filled but there are just 3 or 4 seats available if members want to join the fun! Our wonderful Outings Coordinator, the lovely Barbara, then informed the meeting of the planned outings for the New Year. Watch for further details but Senior Tigers are heading to the National Railway Museum in York (January 19th), the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham (February 16th), England’s new training set up at St George’s Park in Burton (probably March 16th) and the newly enhanced Anfield in Liverpool (April 20th). That should ensure that Senior Tigers remain as a truly exciting experience.

Our speaker was then introduced, Curtis Woodhouse. Curtis played for The Tigers for a brief period in 2005 but made his reputation at Sheffield United and Birmingham City. Born in Beverley he grew up in Driffield because he said he wasn’t “posh enough for Beverley” but he always considered the East Riding to be his home. Curtis made no claims to being a good scholar at school – mentioning that he acquired just one GCSE, and that was in PE! He mentioned that his driving ambition was to be a professional footballer and, indeed, to be the ‘next John Barnes’. That was all that mattered. Recapping over his career he outlined his schoolboy contract with York City. His potential was spotted and it was Sheffield United who persuaded York to allow him to join them – for a fee. Thus it was that he made his professional debut with the Blades at the age of 17 years. His career took flight and he became United’s youngest ever Captain and youngest ever winner of the Player of the Season. Peter Taylor offered him the opportunity to play for England Under 21’s, the first of four caps played in Hungary where the weather was “chucking it down”.

In 2001 Curtis was transferred to Birmingham City for £1 million where Trevor Francis was his coach. The following season Steve Bruce took over as manager and led the team into the Premier League but he only managed a handful of games at that top level. Soon he was moving clubs including a period with Barry “Mental” Fry at Peterborough and that short period with us at the K C Stadium. Curtis was losing his love and motivation for football and found an inner longing to change sports and try boxing. His tough upbringing had always shown him how to look after himself and he wanted to test himself in the ring. As he was registered with the boxing authorities he was ranked as 157 in the country – out of 157 registered boxers at his weight level! That was his spur and with a career that would see 22 professional bouts, 13 k.o’s and just 7 losses he rose from bottom to become the British number 1 when taking the British Title here at Hull Ice Arena. Asked whether boxing was a more disciplined sport than football he quickly responded “Yeah” and explained how in boxing you are on your own so you can’t cut corners. This demanded much greater discipline.

And what of the present? Curtis is back in football, still with a passion, but now looking to forge a career in Management. His first post was with Sheffield FC, the oldest football club in the world, then Goole Town, Hull United and now in his first season as Manager of Bridlington Town. With Ian Ashby as his Assistant they have been a revelation at the club – “eight wins out of eight, it’s a good time to resign!” he quipped. He is certainly settled there and looking to build a reputation. He accepts that he may have not quite become the “next John Barnes” but he is driven and passionate about becoming a success in management.

The meeting broke for refreshments but when we re-gathered it was clear that the members had many questions to put to Curtis. Members had clearly appreciated his refreshing honesty when talking about his career – both the highlights and the low ones! Certainly one of our best speakers.Finally, the book. Curtis has his autobiography now available and confessed that he had not brought copies with him because he didn’t expect more than a handful of people to be present! The Chair offered the members a list if they would like to order a copy and will see if it is possible to bring them to our pre-Christmas lunch on December 1st. He may even persuade Curtis to come and sign them on the day!Curtis Woodhouse had his autobiography, “Box to Box” launched this October. Published by Simon & Schuster UK (ISBN 9781471147722) it is on sale for £18.99. That could make a very welcome Christmas present!!