TEN years after Match of the Day cameras caught him in tears of joy, Hawks fan Billy Parker says: ‘I don’t regret a thing.’
In a David versus Goliath FA Cup tie on January 26, 2008, Havant and Waterlooville took the lead against Liverpool at Anfield – and the then-14-year-old could not hold back his emotions.
In a moment of raw passion, he was spotted in the crowd by a BBC snapper – a freezeframe top-flight managers collectively dubbed symbolic of the magic of the FA Cup.
Now, a decade after winning the hearts of football fans across the nation – and landing a News front page – the 24-year-old groundworker from Leigh Park is taking time to reflect.
He said: ‘Looking back, that day is a great memory of mine. I don’t regret a thing.
‘I was only young at the time but when the ball went in I couldn’t help crying – it was so emotional.
‘We eventually lost 5-2, but I only turned up hoping we would grab a goal.
‘To take the lead not once, but twice, against a team as massive as Liverpool was incredible.’
In the months that followed the match, Billy became something of a celebrity among fellow football fanatics.
He said: ‘The reaction was mad. Whenever I went to away games, fans of the other team would say: “you’re the boy off the telly, aren’t you?”
‘I still get it in the pub sometimes even now, but not quite as much – I suppose I look a bit different with a beard.’
Kept busy by night shifts and life as a father to two-year-old Willow, Billy is not always able to get to Hawks games.
But he hopes his daughter will one day emulate the support he has shown over the years for his home team.
He said: ‘I have taken her to a few games and she loves it.
‘I’ve got my fingers crossed she’ll turn into as big a fan as her dad.
‘But honestly it seems like she’s already a big football fan, so things are looking pretty good.’
Now 49, it was Billy’s uncle, Duane Slape – a Hawks season ticket holder of 15 years – who took him to the match in Merseyside.
Touching on the game and its subsequent fallout, he said: ‘From the early start on the coach, to walking through the turnstyles with the realisation we were playing Liverpool – it was surreal.
‘It was a special day but the utter joy came when that first goal went in and I saw Billy so happy and emotional.
‘The reaction to it was amazing, one we didn’t expect, but this is what the FA Cup means to a non-league team,’ he added.