10 years on, Steve Melton on scoring Hull City's first goal at the KC Stadium
HISTORY books may state that Steve Melton played 33 games for Hull City and didn't score a goal.
But any of the 22,647 who were at the KC Stadium on December 18, 2002 will know that those stats don't include one of the most significant goals scored by a City player in the last 10 years.
Melton's only goal for the Tigers may have come in a friendly, but it happened to be the first to ever be scored at the brand new KC Stadium against Premier League side Sunderland.
Now 34, he was on loan from Brighton at the time and hoped the historic goal would be the first of many. But it wasn't to be for the Lincoln-born midfielder who recalls the goal as if it were last week.
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"It doesn't feel like 10 years ago," Melton told the Mail.
"A lot has happened since then, but it's great to be the player to have scored the first ever goal at the KC Stadium.
"Nobody can ever take that away from me.
"Unfortunately, it remains the only goal I scored for the Tigers and Peter Taylor reminded me of that all the time.
"We had a big league game a few days later on Boxing Day and I had a couple of chances to score.
"But I missed them and Peter told me not to save my goals for the big occasions."
Occasions don't come much bigger than the opening of a brand new £43.5m stadium.
Moving to the KC Stadium spelt an end to an era of playing at Boothferry Park and the beginning of a new chapter in the most spectacular of grounds.
Melton recalls the hype surrounding the arrival of the KC Stadium as football's newest home.
"There was a lot going on at the time of the KC Stadium opening," Melton said.
"We got to go on a tour of it a couple of days before the Sunderland game and I thought it was far too good to be in the fourth tier of English football.
"It was like a cup final for visiting teams, who normally only took a handful of fans to away games.
"We had just lost our last ever game at Boothferry Park 1-0 to Darlington which was a bit of an anti-climax.
"I don't know if the players were distracted by the fact we were moving to a brand new stadium.
"On the day of the Sunderland game, we didn't train and left Boothferry Park with our families at 5pm.
"There was a lot of traffic in the city as it was close to Christmas.
"When we got close to the ground, there was a buzz with a lot of fans getting to the ground early."
Over 22,000 fans braved the wintry conditions for the visit of Howard Wilkinson's Sunderland to see Melton write his name in City folklore with his first-half strike.
Melton admits he wasn't sure if his goal would stand as Sunderland appealed for offside, but the assistant referee's flag stayed down allowing Melton to celebrate his moment of glory.
"I remember the game was very tight in midfield," Melton said.
"I made a run and played a one-two with Stuart Elliott who put me through on goal.
"Sunderland's back four were very square and nobody tracked me.
"My timing was perfect and the angle of my run took me through one-on-one with their keeper Michael Ingham.
"I decided to round the keeper and rolled the ball into the net but my initial thought was about being offside.
"A couple of seconds passed and I looked nervously at the linesman with my arms opened out as if to say 'does it count?'
"The flag didn't go up to my relief and it counted."
The only thing that counted after that was whether it would be the only goal scored that night.
Melton didn't want his moment stolen by one of his team-mates with a spectacular strike or a hat-trick.
Thankfully, that didn't happen and Melton was allowed to savour the strike ever since.
"It didn't sink in until the days afterwards when I read the paper," Melton said.
"No-one can ever take away what I did that night.
"When I knew the goal would stand I was buzzing.
"The following day I remember signing a new two-and-a-half year contract. Things may not have worked out the way I would have wanted them to after that, but I'm still reminded of that goal.
"I'm labelled with being the player who scored the first ever goal at the KC Stadium and I don't mind that one bit."
When the stadium opened, Melton felt it was far too good to be hosting League Two football.
With City now well placed in the Championship play-off places, he hopes the KC can again welcome back Premier League football.
"The stadium deserves to be at the top of English football," he said.
"The team is well placed at this stage of the season and I'm sure the fans would love to see Premier League football back there.
"They've had it before at the KC Stadium and they might well see it again next season.
"I miss playing there."
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