Neil Humphreys: Fulfilling my childhood ambition

Before I came to Singapore, before I went through puberty, I nurtured several childhood ambitions.

First, I was going to save a penalty in the FA Cup final for West Ham United.

Second, I was going to marry Tiffany, the teenage pop sensation who sang "I Think We're Alone Now".

Third, I was going to run up the "Rocky Steps" in the US city of Philadelphia.

There is no chance of me saving a cup final penalty for West Ham, not so much because of my monumental lack of goalkeeping talent but more so because West Ham will never reach an FA Cup Final.

In 1987, Tiffany was any teenage boy's dream date.

But she came to Singapore recently, and she looked like my mother.

I may never get over the horror.

But earlier this week, a childhood dream became an adult reality - I ran up the Rocky Steps in Philadelphia.

They are the 72 stone steps that lead to the prestigious Philadelphia Museum of Art. I'll go out on a limb and suggest that 90 per cent of the people I saw making the climb were paying homage to Rocky Balboa.

I'm not certain what constitutes an art critic, but I'm fairly sure they don't raise their arms aloft outside every museum and shout: "Yo Adrian, I did it!"

For the benefit of those not familiar with the Rocky movies, let me explain by saying... you're either under the age of 21, over 65, or there's something wrong with you.

Anyone who has never seen a Rocky movie needs to buy or download one immediately. Anyone who has never seen a Rocky movie, but has watched all the Transformers movies needs medical attention.

For most men of my generation - and more women who would care to admit - Rocky wasn't just an integral part of childhood.

He was childhood. Millions of people across the world are, consciously or subconsciously, members of the Rocky club.

You can take a couple simple tests. For example, when you hear the phrase "Eye Of The Tiger", do you think of an endangered animal, an American golfer or do you shadow box when no one is looking?

And if you hear the name Sylvester Stallone, would you think of a Vietnam War veteran, a leggy Danish supermodel called Brigitte Nielsen or would you shadow box when no one was looking?

If you did all three on the second test, you are officially a child of the 1980s.

I used to work with a guy who did nothing but think about Brigitte Neilsen or Rocky IV.

That's amazing when you consider how quickly these things get dated and look cheesy.

Rocky IV looks pretty old now, too.

Growing up, I wanted to be Rocky Balboa, Marty McFly and Roger Rabbit. Rocky had the muscles, Marty had the time-travelling DeLorean and Roger had Jessica Rabbit.

So I was a kid reborn at the foot of the Rocky Steps.

The very steps that the heavyweight champion and cinematic icon runs up in three of his six movies as he trains for one of his 168 title fights (the next movie is rumoured to be called Rocky Fights Rheumatism.)

As it was a deep, spiritual moment in my life - a near religious experience - I had hoped to have the steps to myself, as Stallone does in two of the movies.

But the steps were packed with tourists, at least 50 local Boy Scouts and an American couple so large that I believe they are still only halfway up the staircase at the time of writing.

When I began my jog up the legendary steps, I was constantly irritated by someone playing the cheesy Rocky training theme Gonna Fly Now. Every time I took a step, I heard "Der der derr ... der der, derr."

It was me. I was singing aloud. It was psychologically impossible to not sing the theme tune. It's like jogging to the Rocky soundtrack on the iPod. It's just not possible to run slowly.

And don't even think about running to Eye Of The Tiger. By the time the chorus kicks in, you're preparing to take on Mr. T and punching random strangers.

And notice I ran up the Rocky steps. Walking is inconceivable as the psyche doesn't allow it.

I tried walking, to savour the experience, but my legs ran away from me. It was Tourette's syndrome for the legs. They take control, you struggle to the top and then you start swearing.

Everyone was afflicted. Toddlers, parents and even grandparents all ran to the top.

The Rocky Steps can kill more people than Mount Everest.

When I reached the summit, I threw my arms aloft, ran around in circles and shouted, "Yo, Adrian, I did it" at terrified children.

But I had done it. I had finally realised a 30-year-old childhood ambition. I can tick that one off the list. Now if West Ham could just reach the FA Cup Final...

To be honest, I have a higher chance of going out with Tiffany.