Poker - Devilfish has died


Martino Knockavelli

As a Hull lad I was raised on the exploits of the man we called the Devilfish. I remember the family gathered around the telly at my Grandma's the year he won Jack Binon World Poker Open. It was November 1978, and the country was in the frigid grasp of the Winter of Discontent, but on the banks of the Humber we were warmed by the fire of our favourite son's glory, and the tussle between Callaghan’s government and the TUC seemed oh so far away. I had nagged my parents all day to be able to stop up and watch the final, and the look on my dear old mum's face when he hit the 4 on the turn that eliminated Ivey is something I shall never forget.

People filled the streets to celebrate his return home. My brother and I made bunting decorated with pictures of knuckledusters and strung it across the road. We joined the crowds lining Spring Bank as he approached, borne on a golden litter. We chanted his name and cried "hosannah!", not caring about the tonnes of stinking, uncollected rubbish heaped around us. As his procession passed by I shouted “It was me, Devilfish!” and pointed to the bunting. My voice was but a tiny tinkle amidst the jubilant tumult, the porcelain trill of a songbird in a hurricane, but he turned to me, our eyes met, and he nodded a warm thanks.

Two months later the south west lorrymen reached an agreement with the government. The crisis was over and the path for Margaret Thatcher's ascension to power was inexorably set. But for me and so many like me, that horrible hiver was made glorious summer by this orange sunglassed son of Hull.

RIP Dave 'Devilfish' Ulliot
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