The Dentist’s Diary – 728th

In the end it was a disappointing outcome but boy did we give it a go!!

Welcome to the post semi-final Diary which is both a sad affair and a pretty significant edition of this waffle for me as well.

It’s always crap to lose a semi-final, of course it is. But, the thing was, in the end, we came up against a top team, the best in the British game and one that doesn’t see the L against their results very often. Warrington, Leeds and Wigan have proved that you can sign all the big names you like and still miss out on the trophies. However, truly great teams have that bit of pure magic and a certain something that is almost indescribable, but whatever it is Saints, certainly have it! 

We showed great heart, resolve and attitude particularly in that second half as we clawed ourselves back into the game. The guys dug in and had a real go and I guess we can ask no more really. We won the first quarter and couldn’t score, Saints won the second quarter and did score, twice, we got into it big style in the second half but the unfortunate injury incident to Griffin in the first half and Jakes intercepted pass near the end, were the turning points. Had the referee seen how serious the injury was and blown up straight away to stop the game, Fages try would not have stood and had Jakes pass stuck, that would have been academic anyway, for we would have won the match. On such fine margins are games won and lost. So, the score-line certainly didn’t reflect the game at all but, we all know that we really gave it a good go and that’s at least some consolation isn’t it?

There were plenty of tears in the dressing room afterwards and no doubt on the terraces too, but quite how we get up for Thursday’s game at Cas after the disappointment of all that, isanyone’s guess. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 727th

Beaten by the better team on the night? Without doubt! Are Saints a pretty special team? undoubtedly!!!

After showings like that, it’s not easy to write these Diary’s at all, for whilst you all try and forget about it, I have to endeavour to explain how I feel about a performance that is, quite frankly, pretty hard to make any excuses for. 

You know, Rugby League is a pretty simple game, often over complicated by the so called ‘experts’ whilst, for me, an ordinary fan, it’s obvious that on Friday one team just wasn’t good enough and has to learn two very basic lessons very quickly. Firstly, when you have the ball you have to endeavour to, at the very least, keep it to the end of the set, whilst when you are defending you have to try to get through 6 tackles without conceding a penalty or a six again. Possession is everything and as I say, the game is that simple and if you can do those two things consistently, then you always have a chance of winning. It’s not rocket science, but at present we are just piling pressure on ourselves because we ain’t doing either. Our discipline is progressively crumblingand so as a consequence, we are playing more and more of thegame in our own half.   

On Friday we were second best throughout, but it was bound to happen wasn’t it? We watched on as a tired and listless FC team played out our worst performance of the season against a red-hot Saints side, hell bent from the off on retribution after their loss in Catalan. In essence they had the game won by half time. We simply didn’t get off the bus, we started too sluggishly and once behind, our mistakes ensured that we would never get back into it. 

Still knacked after a massive defensive stint on the back of more mistakes and conceded penalties at Leeds, we simply weren’t physical enough. What’s more, our discipline is a now a real issue and if we could just halve those misdemeanoursand errors, we would exert so much more pressure in games. 

It’s been gradually getting worse since the Salford game and on Friday the opposition recognised that, played to it and in a nut shell Saints taught us a lesson. They started strongly, grabbed the initiative and controlled the game, in fact the urgency and wanting they showed in doing that, meant that they probably played us at our own game!!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 726th

Well, we wouldn’t have won that last season (or the season before or the season before that), would we?

The rain poured down much harder than you could ever appreciate on TV and how many times have we been stood there on that open end at Headingley with rain running down our necks and out of our shoes, being mullered by 30 points? 

If I’ll always take a win, then I am in my high heaven if my team is fighting like hell against the opposition, the crowd and the elements and playing with passion and pride. There is littledoubt that this team, this season, meets that criteria perfectly and I was so proud of the lads come the final hooter yesterday. That defence was brilliant which was all we’ll really remember, because despite our discipline and ball retention being woeful  at times, we saw resistance and zeal of the first order, but boy,  did we make things hard for ourselves. 

A lot of the ‘Doubting Thomas’s’ were critical afterwards, but we beat Leeds in their own back yard, broke a few Leeds fans hearts in their first attended game back and got two very valuable points, and you can’t knock any of that can you? All I will say to such protagonists is ‘Just imagine how good we could be?’ Because, I think that with our current Centres and Houghton, Sneyd, Reynolds and Connor in the spine, come the dry pitches, we will really worry a few teams attacking wise as well. 

That said, that second half was so hard to watch, I was behind next doors settee!!!!!  But still great stuff and a great win, because after all ‘We All hate Leeds’ don’t we?  

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The Dentist’s Diary – 725th

This is going to get messy and all FC fans must unite behind our owner and our Club!!!

I make no excuses for leading with that headline, because the black clouds are gathering over the KCom as our long battle with the SMC is finally out in the open and after Adam’s programme notes on Monday, the gloves are most definitely  off! This is really serious stuff and there is a lot more to come out yet believe me. It may soon be a time for us all to ‘man the barricades’, get behind the owner and back whatever he decides is best for our club. At present it appears that we are being bullied and I don’t like bullies!  

As for the game, well, the fans were back and typical of the FC, we saved the worst for the best, as it wasn’t the homecoming any of us hoped for, was it? Just like that first ever game at the KC when London came to spoil our party, Catalan did the same and as Diary reader Jim commented afterwards, as 4 of the 5 games on the night were won by the away team, perhaps the pressure of playing in front of your fans, after so long, really did get to teams. 

All the expectation and wanting that had gone into fans returning to the KCom was blown away in what, I guess, can only be described as a typical Hull FC fashion. 

Everyone knew that whatever happened on the field it was still a momentous occasion. 431 days since the last attended game and at last the fans were back, but vociferous though we are, fans don’t win games! We simply didn’t deliver this time and the Dragons were worthy winners in the end. Brett has done a superb job on our defence and attitude, but for me he now needs to major on finding more ways to score tries. 

So, in the end I guess for many it was business as usual, as the supporters turned up at the KC full of hope, only to go home frustrated and unfulfilled. I was bitterly disappointed, but come on, why were we surprised, for that’s Hull FC for you isn’t it? 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 724th

Saints in the semi and shades of 2005!

One for all and all for one! After the racism stuff this was a significant departure before we even started!

That was simply amazing, absolutely enthralling and so inspiring! This team of our is just so together!

The conditions brought mistakes a plenty, but Cup games are about one thing and that is finding a route to victory. Winning is everything and that was some performance with big raps to every player for the steel they showed, Brett Hodgson for a perfect game plan and our defensive coach Gareth Ellis for a brilliant backs to the wall effort. With local lads Lane and Cator and now ‘local hero’ Savelio again killing it at the back of the pack, it was a real against all odds victory and I was so proud to be an FC fan. 

What changed from last week? Well, I believe that Hodgson thought we needed to start faster than them and play more of the game in their half and we did both things brilliantly as we pressed them back and Sneyd’s precision end of set field kicking turned them time and again. In fact, in short, we played the Pies at their own game. From the moment the players gathered beforehand in that huddle instead of a line, no doubt in support of Andre, you knew it was going to be special. 

Yet, when you’re an FC supporter who has endured the last three seasons, it’s hard to get your head around a Hull team that turns up buzzing like that every game, because we have as fans got used to being surprised one week and disappointed the next. Whether Radford actually did target games, as has been hinted at, or we were just not focussed enough long enough, I don’t know, but perhaps like you, this year as I prepare myself for each game I can’t quite believe that we can repeat the heights of spirit of the previous match. But each week we do!! In fact, after that game I struggled to remember a more passionate, focussed and committed FC performance since the last time we won at Wembley, for despite, (due to the conditions), it being a bit of a messy game to watch at times, the effort was outstanding.    

So, what a win that was and after all his talk of having a few surprises up his sleeve during the week and how the conditions would nullify Reynolds, the Wigan Coach was visibly shaken afterwards. As my pal Kathy said straight away, “That wasn’t because they had lost but more that he had been totally out-coached”. I couldn’t agree more! Well done Brett Hodgson.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 723rd

So Close, yet so far!

But in the end our first loss and yeh, I was disappointed, but at the same time I was so very proud as well. 

At the present time I support a team that has heart and spirit in abundance and really I can’t ask more than that. The effort once again was exemplary. That basis of a strong defence is so important because it makes sure that even if you’re misfiring in attack, you stay in the scrap. I think attacking wise we were second best, but we were always in there with a chance, because of the effort and spirit shown everyone. For spells we were the better team and Wigan knew it. We didn’t get much from the referee when as usual it seems that the official took far too much notice of Bateman and Hastings and their arm waiving and pointing theatricals and perhaps we have to get a bit smarter at that sort of stuff ourselves.  

We played one of the two best teams in the British game, lost a key forward for 60 minutes, had a player in the bin and once again the referee gave us bugger all, yet we fought and fought and had Reynolds been out there, we might just have won it. With him missing we lacked the structure of Wigan on attack, but we gave it a really good go and I was proud of every one of the guys. If we can get Reynolds and Ma’u back next week, then I really do feel that we have a good chance of getting a result and a 9 day turn around will do us the world of good as well. 

Brett Hodgson must be pleased with our character and determination to stay in the fight, but he’ll be frustrated by the moments of ill-discipline that ultimately let us down.

I feel so sorry for Tag though, for his loss is another real blow to us. Looking through the fixture list I think we were all aware that the FC are probably entering the most difficult passage of games we will see in the 2021 season as successive tough fixtures are followed by a long run of away games and now we enter it with a somewhat depleted squad. We are doing it tough at present but still doing it well and when you see how players like Brad Fash, Connor, Swift and Savelio have improved this season, you have to have a lot of respect for Brett Hodgson. He is proving to be a shrewd accusation and, even in defeat, he acts and talks like a true professional. So, he’s doing OK for me!!!  

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The Dentist’s Diary – 722nd

Heroic, battling stuff and a real war of attrition! 

But it’s another win and another two points. 

Ok, let’s say from the off there were a few problems and issues in our attack, which a few have been quick to jump on, we looked jaded and it wasn’t pretty at all, but we won!! It’s very easy in these situations to cite a lack of attacking ideas, mistakes and discipline issues, but we were pretty knackered and, when you scrape away at the surface of the circumstances that surrounded the game, it was a fine effort that ended in the best possible way. 

For me as a bit of an old stager, it reminded me of some of those epic backs-to-the-wall encounters we witnessed at the Boulevard in the 70’s (usually against Leeds) when the opposition threw the kitchen sink at us and everything including the referee was against us winning. Yet just like so often back then, somehow we hung in there and battled through to the end. On this occasion it appeared to me that the Officials favoured a Wildcats victory and the Sky commentators certainly did, so in the end the final outcome was all the sweeter really! 

Yes, it was probably our worst performance under Brett Hodgson but there were some mitigating circumstances and I think we saw 17 real heroes out there. Again, for me, it was a game we simply wouldn’t have won last season, so well done to Brett and to our defensive Coach Gareth Ellis. I love the way that although they were off-side at the play the ball for one of their tries, one of their scores was an interception, we were denied a try by the video referee at the end and we had to play with a forward short and a ten-minute sin-binning, we just got our heads down and got on with it. In fact, in that period with 12 men on the field it was us that scored, not Wakey! 

If you spoke to the players last week, it was apparent that the aftermath of that marathon game against Warrington had made for a very, very tough few days. Even the Coach alluded to that fact when he said this week, “We’ve already spoken about it (the fatigue), this is another big test for us as a group and we’ll be treating it like it is just that,” 

As fans we all know that to succeed we had to try and make our home ground a fortress, because over the years we’ve given too many visiting fans a good day out at the KCom. But, our first two showings there, although lacking that cutting attacking edge, have seen us battle like we haven’t done for a couple of seasons and I simply love the passion and togetherness this current FC team displays. Long may that continue.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 721st

In the end we drew, but it was all a bit underwhelming really!!!

But it was certainly a big day for records as we are with Warrington the first clubs to get a draw since Golden Point was introduced and Danny Houghton broke the record for most tackles made in a game (85), since the OPTA stats process started in 2003. What a guy eh?

However here on Monday morning several of you are no doubt waking up and sharing reader Richard’s frustrations, when he text me first thing to say how unhappy he still was about us letting that game slip from our grasp. It’s really frustrating for it was exciting at times and dour at others, however we’d done enough to win and to concede on the very last play of the 80 minutes was a real killer. We certainly missed Reynolds, as they watched Sneyd and Connor closely, but with an exceptional attitude throughout, the effort was there and we are a work in progress at present, so against a team like Warrington and with several players missing, it was an OK performance. However, I still maintain that we should have bloody won!  

It’s a point lost for me, although it’s only five tries conceded in three league games (half as many as the same three games last year) which is, on our previous form, some record for us. I’d hazard a guess that we would have conceded at least that many in that one game, had it been played in the last weeks of Radford’s reign. We look more organised in defence and more enthusiastic and excited about playing for the club and with each other, but for me this time we lacked that bit of invention,  yet our endeavour dictated that we deserved to prevail, but we didn’t. We have to get over that and move on, but with a five day turn around and a desperate Wakefield coming up, what toll that extra ten minutes took on us, remains to be seen. 

Still, at least we were back home at the KCom again, but did anyone else feel really sad at around 2-00pm, when you thought of walking up to the game. Did you miss all the hopeful faces around you, as you met friends and said hello to fellow fanatics, whilst the FC army full of expectation prepared to back the lads from the terraces? The reality was that I was sat there on the settee, (well until I was behind it in Golden Point) in glorious isolation and as the sun streamed through the windows, whilst across the country people mixed in vast numbers outside pubs and restaurants. It hardly seemed fair at all!

As I said last week, as restrictions are eased and we start to piece our lives back together again, as far as attending sport is concerned it’s not easy being part of an emergency of historical proportion, is it? 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 720th

All over in 20 minutes?

Well of course it was really. Although, after that second half I was all set to entitle this Diary, ‘The return of the headless chickens’, but that was perhaps a bit harsh, because we crushed them in the first half and got through the second unfocused, a tad flat, but with minimal fuss. 

The thing was that after a first half which, for me, was for such games, as good, slick and focussed as I have seen us for ages, in the second we put the cue on the rack and rode it out. We lost our way a bit and thank goodness it was Featherstone and not a Super League Club that we were up against. Of course, the conundrum is that had it been against one of our peers, that second half probably wouldn’t have happened anyway. Points difference is matter less in Cup games because all that really counts is winning! 

In our house the game was undoubtably won at half time, as apparently it was in the heads of the boys in the dressing room as well. However, for me the second half was to be expected in some ways. Brett Hodgson thought we were clunky in the first half, well, he should have seen the way we have performed at times in in the recent past, if he thought that was clunky!! 

You know there are few times in my life that I have missed an FC game at home and it’s safe to say since the end of the 70’s there are few I have missed away either and I always like to be there early and soak it all up! But, as excuses go for missing at least the start of a game, this week I think I had the best there could be, because I spent the first part of the evening at Beverley racecourse …….. getting my second jab. Good old Boris eh? Fancy giving me a 7-10pm appointment on a night when Hull were kicking off ten minutes earlier; no sense of planning at all. 

However, I got there early and the good old NHS interpreted my demise as an emergency and were very understanding, before Mrs R raced us home and in the end I missed exactly a minute of the match, which thankfully included that first Featherstone try. Incidentally there is no truth either in the rumour that after receiving a jab at the race course, you can go straight out and do 8 furlongs without breaking sweat! Although as I left one of the Dog and Duck regulars who was a steward on the door did shout a cheery, “See you in the pub” which didn’t go down too well with the medical fraternity!!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 719th

Last week was good… this week was excellent!! 

 ……….. and I loved it!!!

We had to win to make sure that the dreams of last week could become a little more of a reality and more important still, we had to perform for the whole 80 minutes. We did all that and indeed I found it as easy to watch as I had any FC game for ages; we were just in so much control.

The fact is, we all thought we looked OK last week, but you can never be sure with Hull FC particularly when the C word that has evaded us for so long comes in; for consistency is something that has evaded us for a few years now. I guess most people reading this would have only been convinced that things really had changed for the good when we had seen how we performed under adversity and whether some disruption would see us revert to ‘headless Chicken’ rugby, such as we have seen so many times before in the last few years. 

There is little doubt that with both half-backs and an influential Prop off the field we certainly coped well and with Houghton fitting seamlessly into half-back and Carlos operating next to him, we kept our shape and our pattern and saw the game out, only conceding one try throughout the whole 80 minutes. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be Hull FC with all this positivity about, if there wasn’t a fly in the ointment as there is with both our influential and at presently charismatic half backs crocked in the same game! We just have to hope it isn’t too serious with either! 

There is no doubt that when all three are on the field Connor, Sneyd and Reynolds are, with Houghton, perhaps the best spine in the competition, yet they will always be ineffective without a strong forward performance that puts the opposition onto the back foot. Our 6 were superb again this week and there has to be some big praise for Cator, Taylor and Fash who came onto the field and really stood up from the bench. That extra push when the foundation had been laid, was what in the end saw Salford’s forwards out on their feet at the end of each half. What’s more when that spine was decimated by injury so strong was the forwards pressure on the opposition, that our make-shift play making department still looked really good and more importantly when we had to change things around, we kept our shape.      

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