PRONGERED-UP for payback tonight at the Wachovia Center, Bully devotes today's column to keep-the-faith diehards like these:
JUST LIKE ROCKY: You know it's underdog do-or-die time when Flyers fans run the Art Museum steps, as they did yesterday.
John "Gumbo" Guminski of Plymouth Meeting struggled to put an XL orange Flyers T-shirt on Shane, his 2-year-old Lab.
"We just came from a long run in the dog park," Guminski said, as the pooped pooch stretched out at the foot of the steps and yawned. "C'mon, big guy," Guminski pleaded, but Shane's eyes were closing.
Guminski said that in 1974, despite the threat of suspension, he and his La Salle College High School classmates - including Pat McLoone [now Daily News managing editor] - cut school to see the first Stanley Cup Championship parade in Flyers' history.
The Flyers had beaten the heavily favored Boston Bruins and superstar Bobby Orr.
Guminski said, "We were walking north on Broad Street from South Philly when, somewhere around Broad and Snyder, we saw a guy walking south, butt naked, beer in hand, screaming, '1,2,3,4! Who the [bleep] is Bobby Orr?' I'll never forget it."
Shane suddenly roused himself and started up the steps with Guminski, but soon slipped his collar and returned to his resting spot.
Second-graders from the Dorothy L. Bullock School in Glassboro, N.J., including Jade Wesley, 7, also were running the steps.
"We're originally from New York," said her mom, Tracy, "but we've lived in South Jersey for five years and we're with the Flyers all the way home, baby!"
Jeweleigh Palitti, whose daughter Alexis, 8, ran the steps, said her husband, Johnny, is such a fanatic that, "when we were on vacation in Jamaica, he still managed to see his Flyers games.
"Two years ago, he got so excited when the Flyers scored at the Wachovia Center, he jumped up and pulled his sciatica. We went to the hospital after the game because he wouldn't leave during it, despite the pain."
Margaret DiPatri, whose daughter Morgan, 8, ran the steps, said her husband, Dan, "never misses a Flyers game, never, never. I mean never."
RALLY-TOWEL DRESS: Kelly Simmons, 20, of Douglassville, Berks County, wore a dress made out of Flyers rally towels to see her team win Game 3 at the Wachovia Center, while her friend Scott Pringle, 26, carried a Stanley Cup that he built out of hockey sticks. They hope to channel the same Cup Karma tonight.
CUP ON THE BRAIN: Mike Braz, 45, of South Philly, a Flyers lifer since he went to both championship parades as a kid in '74 and '75, will wear his orange Flyers helmet with a mini Stanley Cup on top tonight, hoping to get closer to his third parade.
"I live in Packer Park, five minutes from Broad Street," he said hopefully.