'I know it will be very emotional running out in front of my family'
SURROUNDED by a room full of memories, the pride emanating from Kirk Yeaman is as clear as the heart he wears on his sleeve.
A player known as much for his passion for Hull FC as he is for his thunderous defensive attributes and try-scoring record, the 29-year-old looks on at his old shirts, a smile enveloping him as each one catches his eye.
There are stories to tell with each, successes that were earned and honours much cherished.
Tomorrow evening, one more shirt will hang on the wall of the Yeaman household, taking pride of place. His testimonial shirt.
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Twelve years after making his Super League debut against Wakefield Wildcats, Yeaman will take the field once again for his beloved Hull FC.
"I feel lucky to have had the career I've had. When I made my debut in that Wakefield game I didn't think there would be 350 more appearances, I was just happy to get through that first one," Yeaman told the Mail.
"Tomorrow will be a really emotional day for me. I get to play in front of our fans every other week at the KC and that is something I always enjoy.
"But to run out for my own testimonial game, with all my family there and my kids, it will be very emotional for me and something I'll take away with me for the rest of my life."
From the streets of Bransholme to the KC Stadium, Yeaman's path to his testimonial has been the story of dreams for a local boy done good.
Spotted by former Hull coach Steve Crooks and FC's long-serving scout Mel Harman while playing for Myton Warriors as a half-back, Yeaman joined the Hull academy at 16 and never looked back.
A year later he was being, as he describes, "smashed" by Wildcats' Fijian centre Waisale Sovatabua on his debut, with another appearance in 2001 underlining his promise.
Seven appearances in 2002 elevated the former Winifred Holtby School pupil into the limelight ahead of a breakthrough season in 2003.
Ten years on from his breakthrough and Yeaman can boast a Challenge Cup final victory, a Grand Final appearance, eight international caps and 145 tries for Hull, putting him seventh on the club's all-time scorers list.
"I don't really think about the record books but I've been made aware recently that I'm climbing up the top 10 of all-time scorers for Hull," adds Yeaman.
"It would be nice to move up a few more places, but more important is finishing my career at Hull with more trophies to add to my Challenge Cup win from 2005. That would mean more to me."
A new two-year extension to his deal, announced today, gives Yeaman at least three more years to attempt to add to that solitary trophy.
And he's confident of doing just that.
"I don't want to be disrespectful to any of the sides we have had here in the past, and we've had some good sides and great players," he says.
"But I think this current side is as strong on paper as any we have had for a long time. When the club are signing players like Gareth Ellis, it shows you they are heading in the right direction and it shows the ambition this club has.
"This is as exciting a time as I can remember at Hull and it is great to be a part of that.
"I'm confident we can win trophies in the next few years and there's nothing I want more than lifting another trophy with Hull."
Boasting a plethora of new faces, the class of 2013 have high expectations on their shoulders.
The excitement which has stretched from the players' dressing room to the fans on the street ahead of the season will be amplified tomorrow when Peter Gentle's new-look side take to the field for the first time.
For most of the players on the pitch, it will be a chance to blow off the cobwebs and work on some new combinations.
For Yeaman, it is clearly much more.
But for a long time it was a game he feared he would miss because of a persistent ankle problem which blighted his 2012 campaign.
"I've had my eye on this game for so long now, but there was a time back in November, before I had the clean-out done on my ankle, that I thought I may not be able to play in this game," Yeaman explained.
"My ankle was very painful at the time and despite the operation it wasn't feeling any different.
"It was a tough time and I was really worried I'd not be able to play in this game.
"Thankfully, the clean out helped and after rehab I'm running again and I'm ready to play. It will mean so much to me to be playing in my testimonial game at the KC and to have missed it would have really hurt."