The Dentist’s Diary – 609th

Adam Comes out Fighting!!

“Apparently we’re not recruiting, our squad isn’t good enough and certain people think we are going backwards. It’s time to set the story straight I think. This squad has proven that it can be competitive, so we are quite content with people writing us off, because they do so at their peril”. So said our owner at the end of a big interview in last week’s League Weekly. Its fighting talk that’s very welcome and as fans, seeing what has been put in print of late, you can’t say fairer or want to hear better than that really.

As a Club we do I think seem to be over reacting somewhat to a few Dicks who have written us off already, but most of us have risen above that and tried to be objective which I think is the best way to handle it really. OK we haven’t been making Marquee signings but we have put together a squad that can perhaps overcome all eventualities, unlike a lot of teams who have made those high profile signings to great trumpeting, but left themselves short on cover and numbers to do it.

Most agree that with a fully fit squad we are a match for anyone, but there is still no denying that the ‘anyone’s’ are getting stronger individually if not as squads and whether we like it or not, as far as making forward progress is concerned it won’t get any easier heading into the 2019 campaign.

It’s hard not to get enthralled in the overall dynamic of the competition next season either and several ‘high interest’ signings are making our profile as a game quite prominent at present. That position is probably down to us having the strongest (big name wise) Super League we have had in a long, long time and in general that has to be good for the image and the appeal of the game. That situation, animated particularly by the signings that have come over from Australia, is pretty easy to acknowledge, but when you look more deeply at the actual individual squads, their make-up, and their average age, its clear that some clubs have simply decided to maximise what money they have, by reducing (greatly in some cases) their squads, to bring in ‘names’ simply to sell tickets.

Teams like Leeds have done this with two marquee signings, Warrington have built even more on the substantial influx of players that joined the club for 2017 and St Helens look to have a squad that will be very, very difficult to beat, but all three have unloaded heavily too.

Even the Dobbins have strengthened a bit, all be it with journeyman players, but they have shed a dozen or so as well, which could weaken the depth of their playing resources as the rigours of the season starts to bite. In fact, when you look at the teams taking part, with the exception of Wigan who were really strong in any case and London who seem to be well behind the 8 ball as far as augmenting their squad is concerned, everyone besides us and Wakey has beefed up their star quota’s but reduced their squad size. I have a look later, this week, at that exodus, but we are just about the only club that has chosen to go the other way, no doubt after being conned about the reserve league and stung by what happened at the end of last season! Will it pay off, who knows, but one things for sure, this year Super League will be very tough from the off and it won’t be for the faint hearted!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 608th

Well we’ve done our bit, now it’s down to the Players!!

With well in excess of 7500 Season Tickets sold, we are at least over 200 in front of last Year at this time, when we were selling on the back of a Wembley win!! So, a big well done to the Club, to those who are new to the mad house and particularly to those who have signed up to go around again!

For us lot, that is the big news of the week and Lee Radford said it all on Saturday when he commented, “On behalf of everyone at the club, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone that has signed up. Our loyal fans are the best in Super League. In all sports people’s opinions change from week to week, that’s the nature of what we do, but clearly our members backing hasn’t faltered and their support will be crucial next year”.

Great words from our Coach I thought, but some of you will be saying at this point, ‘Come on Wilf it’s only ticket sales” but on any level that’s a phenomenal effort! It’s great news for us and really does auger well for the coming season, however, further afield it was relatively quiet with the RL who are still no doubt smarting from the leaks about rule changes, new balls and golden points, saying nowt!

Still it’ll soon be January when Christmas is all over. It’s a cold and inhospitable month, but at least we have the pre-season games to look forward to and even attend. It’s just 8 weeks to the start of the season and other teams are still adding to their ranks, whilst we seem to be happy with what we have got!

Furthermore, with the Super League looking so much harder this year any outcomes are even more difficult than usual to predict (unless you’re Garry Schofield). All we can be certain of is that for Hull FC it’s going be tough going from the off, particularly in a competition in which, with the exception of London (who are hard to judge at present), everyone looks stronger.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 607th

The Great Reserve Team Fiasco!!!

As Hull FC continue their build up to the new season I guess that last week will be remembered for just one thing as far as the sport of Rugby League is concerned and that is the fact that the principle of reserve team rugby in 2019 and its promised resurgence, has been deferred and indeed fudged once again!!!!!!

As a game we have of late moved to try and get some credibility and a positive image back, with a revised divisional format, some good sensible rule changes, no more long-haul journey’s to away games on Thursday nights, the reduction of substitutions to 8 and the men with the money and the most to lose, the owners, getting more say in how the game is run. However, last week it was business as usual.

The owners had worked hard in loading the gun for next season with some great steps forward which started to see the sport moving in the right direction, before the RL administrators once again, shot themselves and the game in the foot!

It was bad enough when they announced that only 7 teams had agreed to take part in a Reserve’s competition and that only three would come from Super League. However, since then, we’ve seen Wigan wobbling and likely to drop out and Keighley under special measures and so it’s a bloody debacle once again isn’t it? After our club had received assurances with regard to the make-up, structure and numbers in this proposed league and acted on that information, the games administration didn’t have the balls to enforce it. The formula is simple really, if the game is to survive and indeed flourish, its essential that every Super League team runs a reserve team and at least shares an academy outfit, because the risk if they don’t is that the game will implode on itself.

Not only is it the Clubs moral responsibility to develop young players, but in the long run such a structured approach to developing players will benefit them all and indeed build the game in general. Once again my preamble finishes with the well-used expression in here; what a bloody mess!!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 606th

In a week when training continued and our last International player, Bureto Fairamo finally finished his 2018 season, there was some good news from the RL about the Challenge Cup and the Magic Weekend and closer to home the new shop in St Stephens is rocking and really impressive! So, perhaps the only real worry for Hull FC fans as they looked around the RL scene this week was the players other Clubs have been signing.

In what we are told is a ‘pretty stagnant market that lacks any depth of quality’, several teams continue to seem to be able to find players that look to be improving their squads. Conversely, we have chosen to get all our players signed up again and to expand our roster with some new faces from the junior ranks and the lower divisions. I guess that we’ll only find out if we have got that right come 1st February at ‘The Land that Time Forgot’! You have to trust Lee and the Club as to whether they have chosen wisely and we have to have faith in their judgement, but it does seem to me that a lot of teams are looking stronger for next season!

Thank you for joining me again as this week when I’ll have a look at that, at why we all feel as we do at present and indeed at everything else that has interested me in the world of Rugby League in the past 7 days.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 605th

The Boys are back in Town!

So training has started and we now know who we are playing in 2019 and when! At first glance, it’s a really tough start in a season that dictates that hitting the ground running is a must. If we don’t get a good start and that unenviable losing run continues, then jobs and reputations could well be on the line. Having said all that, the first month of games which was announced in our 2019 fixtures this week, doesn’t look that straight forward to me at all, in fact quite the contrary for it is a tough old start all round.

The fixtures in fact threw up some strange ones for the coming campaign and I’ll have a close look at what I think are the plusses and the anomalies within the new schedule later on in here. In addition, in a busy week we have also opened a new shop, tweaked the coaching side of things somewhat, heard a bit more about the reserve grade, found a job for Gareth Ellis, launched a new shirt, remembered Jack Harrison and those fans that served and gave their lives for their country, plus we’ve also seen the NZ tourists muller England and Jake Connor complete his stint as one of the new golden boys of the English international team. Closed season? It’s never dull is it?

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The Dentist’s Diary – 604th

So after a short break, training starts on Monday as already we look towards 2019.

However, what’s unfolded of late has been pretty relaxed, in fact have we ever known a quieter couple of weeks at the FC? With several players not returning from holidays until this weekend prior to training starting again today (Monday), little has been going on and even the guys on the club site have been scratching around for stories. In fact, the usual pre-deadline ticket hype we usually see this time of year has been rather lethargic and slow to get off the ground.

We heard from Jordan Lane on how he will be ‘pushing on’ next season and how Lewis Bienek is enjoying playing for Ireland, but otherwise until Friday and Abdull’s departure, little appeared to be happening, as a shorter than usual post season break saw everyone scrambling to fit their holidays in. Let’s hope they’ve all had a well-deserved rest and are now getting ready for the big push for 2019 which starts this week.

The quieter than usual situation was emphasised as far as the fans were concerned as well when on the invariably busy RL Fans message board, the tumble weed has been blowing about for a couple of weeks now and at one point no one posted for almost 48 hours. Granted several players have been spotted in the gym getting an early start and I was talking with Washy there the other day and he appeared to be raring to go.

Perhaps we are deemed to be doing OK ticket wise, or maybe perhaps we will see more hype this week as the first renewal deadline approaches. None the less it’s certainly been quiet but a big well done to the 5000 or so who have signed up so far for next season and don’t forget if you want to secure your usual place and haven’t yet got it, then this coming weekend sees the cut-off point for a guaranteed seat.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 603rd

It’s never dull in Hull is it??

In fact, in a week when ‘Busy doing nothing’ Jamie Peacock, relinquished his role across the City at Hull KR and we welcomed back International RL to the KCOM, it has still in many ways all been going on. The Peacock news has been one of the worst kept secrets and indeed on the cards for ages and so, in the wake of that and several other interesting happenings, after a short three-week break, the Diary is back!

Mr P’s football manager role was one that I and numerous Dobbins fans I speak to never really understood anyway, but just the same I guess that it’s the end of another chapter in the ever changing face of the game in the City. Not that the action has been restricted to happenings over in the ‘Land of Make Believe’ either.

I thought I was safe jetting off to Tenerife at what has traditionally been a very quiet time at the Club, but, with a plethora of signings (which for me were as flummoxing and perplexing as they were fascinating), season tickets on sale, a quite revolutionary new home shirt, international call ups and indeed even an international opportunity being spurned, it’s been far from that!!

At Hull FC we have been occupied with the business of engaging those new players, two or three of whom, a bit like Peacock’s job description, were a mystery to many of us! However, in our case, we are told all that frenetic activity signing wise was in the name of building a Reserve grade team for the 2019 season when, we are assured, most teams will have one.

So here, in the first diary back, I’ll try and make some sense of it all as we endure the closed season, approach a return to training on 5th November and face a 2019 campaign in which we simply have to deliver. And you know what? I think that both at the Club and in the game at large we could yet see more changes to come.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 602nd

The Week after the three months before!!!!!

Here is this week’s Diary which is the first of the last twelve when I’ve not been stressed out and I’m not reporting on a loss!

It’s thankfully been a pretty quiet week for Hull FC and once ‘Mad Monday’ and the ‘celebrations’ after a relatively disastrous season where over, without apparent incident, the dust is, for this fan, starting to settle on an unquestionably unmemorable campaign. A lot of players have gone away, whilst others are staying ‘home alone’ at the training ground trying hard to get fit for the start of pre-season on 5th November. The reviews are done, the hand wringing is no more and the excuse making is finally over, as for the first time for weeks, the words ‘Hull FC lost again’, have not featured in here or in the media coverage of our sport. We had so much bad luck and injury woe and thank goodness that’s all behind us now and we can look to the future.

Furthermore, with Season tickets on sale and the fans signing up again, next season already beckons. Although I’m sure some will be giving it all a bit of thought before subscribing, most will decide to go around again because it has to be better next season. Let’s face it, our luck and our form can’t be much worse and it’s not often you can lose eleven in a row but are still guaranteed to finish eighth!! I honestly believe that once we have something to play for again then attitude wise things will be much improved; Adam will see to it, if they ain’t, I’m sure!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 601st

“I’m Glad it all Over” sang Captain Sensible back in 1984 and never had the title of the song been more pertinent for every FC fan, as the final hooter went on Friday night.

For once, we didn’t look as if we felt sorry for ourselves and put in a really good shift, which brought a bit of positivity back as the curtain comes down on 2018.

It’s been a disastrous conclusion to a season that at the outset promised so much, but in the end it delivered just frustration and heartbreak. We needed some hope from our final game and despite only having 17 fit players to pick from and 11 first team starters missing, we got a bit of it last Friday. I’ve never been one to sign up to all this ‘We need a performance more than a win’, stuff because I just want us to win every week. However, this time around I guess I got that bit completely and as we got a passionate showing from the lads it at least sent us all into the closed season with a bit of positivity for the future.

There’s is always a lighter side to everything as well and Lee Radford does have the ability to be a class act at times with his quotes. This week’s post-match Press Conference was one such occasion. After 11 weeks of living in the vacuum of being safe from falling into the Qualifiers, but not close enough to crack the top-four, Lee was as relieved as all of us as he joked, “It’s been an unbelievably challenging time when you know you’re playing for nothing; you’re a double glazing salesman selling poor windows to people who don’t need them in the first place”. Before going on to add, about having so many stars out injured, that it was like, “Having a Ferrari at home, but getting the bus to work every week.”

At least we can laugh, for we aren’t those poor Widnes fans are we?

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The Dentist’s Diary – 600th

After 600 editions of this drivel all I needed was a good win to report on and one that brought some hope for the future and perhaps a good night out at the KCOM to relish. However, as so often has happened of late, in the end I was to be disappointed on all counts. This time though the game was there for the taking, but in the end it all came down to some shoddy defending.

What can you really say about that performance? It was yet another evening of heartbreak for the Hull FC Faithful as we managed to claw our way into a winning position, before we capitulated again and suffered a record-extending tenth successive Super League loss. When Jamie Shaul sprinted over following Bureta Faraimo brilliant run to put us ahead for the first time in the 71st minute, it seemed we would finally have something to celebrate. We showed some real grit and determination during the middle period of the second half as maverick play from Connor created two great tries and a superb flowing move then ended in that Shaul touch down, but again we couldn’t seem to sustain it. However, that bright spell aside it was business as usual and our defence was woeful. At 20-16 up with 8 minutes to go the opposition just breezed through our ranks in their next set, as once again we switched off at the death to allow Catalans the chance to score not once but twice to seal the win.

Our defence, for so long our strong point in previous seasons was just not good enough and the fans deserve more. You have to wonder if it can be anything else but a complacent acceptance of our demise this year, that sees the players so lacking in steel and grit. If Adam was looking for a win to boost the season ticket campaign, as the brochures drop through our letter boxes this coming week, then he will have been sorely disappointed.

So a disappointing display again and it’s sad to report that as far as I’m concerned I’m glad that it’s almost over for this year. However, at least this week it’s a significant milestone for this weekly rubbish and as it’s the 600th Edition of this drivel I’ve included some personal insight into what’s gone on as it has over the last 13 years covered over 400 games in the rollercoaster life of an average fan. There’s also some memories, some regrets, some great moments and some disasters, all encapsulated in some of my favourite photographs from previous editions.

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