What an amazing victory against all the odds that was!!
If ever there was a time when the FC fans travelled ‘More in
hope than expectation’, this was it!! But as my pal Sarah said straight after
the final hooter, ‘On this occasion, hope overcame expectation”.
I’m in danger of being over the top again here, but why not?
That was for every true FC fan a most unexpected victory and after the
announcement of the team before-hand, it was one that exceeded everyone’s expectations.
The Coach and players had been quiet all week, whilst the
social media from Warrington was, I thought, a bit arrogant yet I guess that’s
understandable from a team that are starting to become the self-styled ‘Billy
Big Heads’ of the game. We all hoped that it would get a response and I
suspected that something was stirring down
at County Road!!!
You must have felt it too and so it was that with around 9
players missing, our resolve was unyielding and Lee’s game plan spot on. We followed
it to the letter, battled for each other to grind it out until every one of the
players was out on their feet; yet always believing that they could do it! As
the much fancied opposition got more and more frustrated some of the backs to
the wall defending in that second half, particularly inches from the line, was
nothing short of super human. In fact, some of their massive pack were shaking
their heads as they got up from being hit by some of the smaller FC lads.
Smaller guys maybe, bigger hearts definitely.
Pretty it wasn’t, but well done to the team, to Lee and to all those who went. This will once again (and this time for all the right reasons), be a display that will be hard to do justice to in here, but it’s going to be fun having a go
You’ve got to be in it to win it and we’re in the hat for
the quarter finals, two games away from Wembley and what’s more, our passion
and wanting is back (although what’s still pretty baffling now is how it went
away altogether last week only to return in abundance 7 days later!)
In the end, it was the old scrapping, cup fighting FC that
saw us unbeatable in the glorious 2016 and 2017 Cup campaigns that suddenly
manifest itself once more on Friday. Despite blowing them away in the first
quarter, it wasn’t our best ever performance, nor was it that cultured and at
times it certainly wasn’t flowing, but that special, ‘all in it together’ fighting
spirit was back and it was great for every FC fan to witness.
We came out energised and buzzing just as we have against so
many teams in the cup in the past. Our forwards hit the ground like a steam
train and rolled right over the much fancied Castleford pack. That saw the
Tigers rocking and panicked into mistakes, which thankfully we capitalised on, just
as we had done against Rovers.
However, then, when the tries dried up, we found the
strength the passion and a Plan B that we always seem to find in Cup games.
That attitude, so different from last week, saw us keep our shape, defend like
hell and tough it out. It wasn’t a good Castleford performance by any means, in
fact you had to feel for their fans when at times in the first half they looked
like us last week!!
However, we had a plan to unsettle them and it worked and
what’s more, unlike last week, in the end we had the wanting and grit to both out
smart and out muscled them.
Paea and Taylor targeted their big front row and rolled
right over them, whilst they both bottled up Watts perfectly, Houghton then buzzed
and goaded them around acting half, our wingers were so much stronger and
tougher than theirs and in Sneyd we had the consummate game manager, as he led
us around the field ably assisted by his generals, Albert Kelly and Jake
In the end it was so good to get a win, but after last week it’s even better to report on the return of the desire and passion that we so obviously missed against Catalan, how long it will stick around is anyone’s guess, but battered and bruised it was job done and we could look forward to 8 days off and the Quarter Finals!!
I don’t really feel like writing this journal at all this week.
I know a lot of you read it and some even enjoy it at times, but I feel guilty
to even put my thoughts into words, because at present, I really can’t find
anything at all positive to write about that game on Friday. I know all the
excuses and the ‘reasons’, let’s face it we have heard them trotted out time
and again, but that was disappointing to say the least.
Those who weren’t there will no doubt read what follows and say
I’m over reacting and being too doom and gloom, I mean, “Let’s face it we did
have 17 players out!” On the other hand, perhaps those who were there will have
had time to digest some things and gloss over others in their minds and probably
won’t agree with me after they have had a couple of sleeps to get over it. I
love the Club and the players and everything to do with Hull FC but, right now
I think myself that what I have just witnessed, was one of the most passionless
performances we have seen from an FC team for a long while.
As a team we are so up and down, its just unbelievable really!
This week we were certainly down, so don’t read on if you want
to be enthused and excited because no one who sat through any of that, will,
right now, be feeling anything but the same dejection and frustration that I’m
feel. Regular readers know that I write this from the heart, usually straight
after the game and thus whilst I am still if you like a bit ‘raw’, so sometimes
it is so far over the top its euphoric, whilst on other occasions, such as this,
I am despondent and totally frustrated. That’s being a fan and buying into it,
if we didn’t care so much and couldn’t take such doses of disappointment, we
wouldn’t go would we? But by the same
rule we pay’s our money and as such have every right to speak our minds and this
week I’ll be doing just that!!
I’ve got my lap top on my knee and a bottle of Bud on the table, its 10-30 pm, the game has only been over for an hour and I’ve seethed about a massive opportunity lost, all the way home!!!
Well another two points, a gritty performance, a great
showing from Albo and some well worked tries …. And otherwise? Well it was
hardly a classic, but it was job done!
In all honesty, it was scrappy, unconvincing and frustrating
to watch at times, but we found a way to win and regular readers will know that
at this point in the season, all ‘glass half empty’ old me looks for every year
is that 20 or 22 points that you need to survive relegation. Once that’s
attained and ‘we live to play another season’, I can look upwards and that win
gets us well on our way!!
Wakey had injuries, but according to Lee Radford we were
down to our last 18 fit players before we even started and soon we were
managing with a two-man bench and therefore it was pretty much ‘even Steven’s’
on the adversity front. So, to get the points in a game which also featured the
worst refereeing performance thus far this year (which was totally baffling at
times for both teams) and saw one player sin binned and a few either leave the
field or soldier on with knocks, was certainly satisfying.
Of Mr Moore the referee, my pal Kathy turned to me and said,
“No doubt he was at that meeting about the play the ball this week, he looks
like he’s remembered all that and forgotten the rest of the rules completely!”
But in fairness it was a game that never really rose above
the run of the mill, but the points are ours and we move on to Friday and a
real chance to consolidate our position of 3rd in the table. That bit
seems pretty surreal really, because as a team we don’t seem to have got going
at all this year, yet we’ve got 8 wins and with County Road resembling the
A&E at Hull Royal, the only healthy thing about Hull FC at present is our
As for us lot on the terraces, well it wasn’t a performance that allowed anyone to settle until we were well in front and even then you didn’t quite know what would happen next. Still we prevailed and whatever the circumstances, it was good to see those precious two points in the bag.
“Hopefully we’re saving a special performance for this week”.
So said Craig
Hall on Thursday and you have to give him some credit, for that absolute
humbling of the old enemy was, as far as I’m concerned, certainly pretty
What a game, what a victory and what a humiliation it was for
the boys from ‘the Land that Time Forgot’!!!
I said last week that the next Diary would be after the
Saints game, but I couldn’t resist this one and once I’d started I just wrote
and wrote, for it was fabulous afternoon for everyone who has ever had the
slightest leaning towards the FC.
Glorious Sunshine, over 20,000 through the Turnstiles, a record defeat in the history of local Derby’s, two 37-year-olds, one 18- year-old and a hat trick for a player who so richly deserved one, all added up to the absolute humiliation of a shambolic Dobbins; if you’re an FC fan what more can you want really to make a really GOOD Friday. I’d have taken four points from our 4 Easter games before the trip to France and yet, by mid-afternoon on Friday, we already had them in the bag. Bigger battles lie ahead but for now that was simply phenomenal stuff!
Let’s all, as well, give great credit to Lee Radford for our
game plan last Friday was close to perfection and our substitutions and bench interchanges
inspiring. I have a go at him at times as you know, but I have to give credit
where it is due and after Friday, Lee
deserves a big pat on the back.
The game plan was superb, as, thanks to Danny Houghton, the ruck
speed when we had the ball was as fast as we have seen all year, yet we toned
it all down with some clever defence and working hard in the wrestle, so that the
game was much slower when KR had the ball. It all worked to perfection, simply
because everyone carried it out to the letter.
In addition, the way Lee managed the bench and took Wynne
off at half time, switched Connor to full-back and then brought Albo to half
back, (where his introduction was electric), was inspiring; and was all done in
the same spirit that Lee had switched it around in a different way last week in
You know, someone once said, “You should never underestimate the power
of sport” and with Tiger Woods, Man. City v Tottenham, Hull and Catalan and then
that mullering last Friday, who could ever really argue with that. Wherever I
went today, (Saturday) Cottingham, Beverley, Morrison’s and Marks and Spencer’s,
everyone was wearing their colours, stopping to chat and smiling from ear to ear.
You know, The Housemartins once released an album called ‘The People Who
Grinned Themselves to Death’ and that just about summed us lot up this weekend!
All that said, it’s hard to forget as well that the time
leading up to the match was fraught with nervous anticipation and a deal of
dread. You see, I still hate Derby’s! There is little doubt that there is no
better atmosphere or occasion than a Hull Derby at the KCOM on a sunny Easter
weekend; the pity is that you can’t fully enjoy it even when it is as
conclusive as it was on Friday! You see, by the time you can sit back and try
to enjoy it you’re totally wrung out and you feel like you’ve been through a
liquidiser!! Why??? Well I guess it’s
the nagging prospect of always being wary of what could happen, even when your
miles in front!!! That’s being an FC fan, always has been and always will be, but
of late we have certainly seen some spirited and gutsy performances and on
Friday, although that was to be repeated in spades, we were about to be
thoroughly entertained as well.
Nevertheless, as usual, once kick-off had arrived, it was
with great trepidation and a deal of hyper tension that I settled down to watch
through my fingers, as the drama began to unfold in front of that massive Derby
As the sun shone down I just wanted it to get started and if
you like, get it over with. However, after a tough first set, a brilliant
return from Connor Wynne up the middle certainly settled him and us lot down a
bit, but we soon had to drop out. Rovers certainly looked lively as Tommy Lee thought
he had scored (bless him) but a great slam tackle by Mini ensured it was a
double movement and with the Rovers line open to their right, ‘Knock on Tommy’
had certainly missed a great chance to put KR in front. Then as we charged
forward we lost possession because on a couple of occasions we appeared to over
play things a bit. In fact, I guess at that point both sides looked nervy, making
mistakes and giving away penalties, but Connor brilliantly dummied and a great
show and go saw him over the line and we were on our way.
Then, almost as we expected after an opening FC try, Wynne
dropped the ball near our line and straight from the kick off, we were under
the cosh as almost predictably Keinhurst rolled in wide out. At 6-6 mistakes
were costing us dearly and although I declined to admit it at the time, they
looked good as we gifted them field position. But an absolutely brilliant leap
from Logan saw him get his first try of the season and we were back in front. Almost
immediately some brilliant fast hands across the line through Connor, Wynne and
Logan saw the winger in again from a pass that was far beyond the tender years
of our young full-back, who read the situation and over-lap play brilliantly. What
a start it had been in a game that must have been a white hot spectacle for the
neutral, if still purgatory for us lot. True to type, the immaculate Sneyd missed
an easy penalty (which was to be his only miss of the afternoon) that would
have stretched it to three scores and that seemed to give the Dobbins some heart again.
Both teams looked good on each other’s lines and the trick
was to keep the opposition away from your end, but with mistakes and penalties
it was really nip and tuck, although our forwards were doing their best to
batter the opposition down the middle. However, you felt that disaster was coming
and a try late in the first half saw us go in just 6 points up. It was so tense
I could hardly make any notes at all at this point and the start of the second
half couldn’t come quickly enough if only to get it over with!!
It started poorly! Carlos immediately lost the ball but it
was to prove a small set back that belied the excitement that was to come. Next
up came an absolutely fantastic moment as we saw a massive break and run from Mark
Minichiello, as he rolled back the years and strode through the Rovers cover as
if it were 2016. The way he just kicked on away with the last chasing tackler just
at the right time was vintage Mini and it was a fine game breaking touch down
that had the FC fans dancing in their seats. He’s struggled a bit of late and I
was so pleased to see him score, He was as well, as a grin as wide of the
Humber spread across his face. What a try to start the half that was. With
Kelly on for Wynne, we looked to be rolling plays out everywhere, there were
dummy runners at both sides of the play the ball as Houghton scooted out of
acting half and at times the Rovers defence looked incapable of catching up.
Sometimes we looked just too expansive moving from side to
side as if we almost had too many play makers out there and we just had to
steady it down. A fortuitous penalty when Mini was ‘robbed’ of the ball by a
clutch of Rovers players saw Sneydy stretched the lead and Faraimo almost got
in twice as at our end of sets, Marc was kicking them to death. Lunt dropped it
near the line in a rare Rovers sorte into our ten-yard area as across the park
one or two of the ‘more porky’ Dobbins, appeared to be either melting in the
heat or ‘Blowing for a tug’.
A brilliant ‘captains tackle’ from Danny Houghton stopped
McGuire on the break-out and we were just playing it all too fast for the opposition,
but perhaps at times too fast for ourselves as well. As three-quarter time
loomed Minichiello, who belied his years with what was a classic performance, did
one of those cross-field runs were he draws and beats tacklers, before he poked
Westy through a gap and Joe crashed in off the post under the sticks. Houghton was at his absolute best, snipping
and running like a human dynamo from acting half, as the speed of our play the
ball was just too much for the Dobbins to handle.
Then we witnessed a bizarre score when Griffin was the
victim of a ball strip and Kelly touch down the loose ball in front of the fans
that once adored him and we were cruising. At last in a Derby we were able to
sit back and enjoy it and yet there was more to come. Radford shuffled his
cards again as Wynne returned for Connor who was rested for future battles.
The ironic despondency for the Dobbins fans continued as next up another old boy Mickey Paea crashed over in front of them under the sticks after more great work at acting half from Danny Houghton. However there then followed the try of the game to complete Logan’s hat trick, as he nut-megged Craig Hall wide out and ran 60 yards to the line after Kelly had made some great space as the extra man running around the tackler. Next followed what can only be called the icing on the cake as a massive take and bump off from Kelly straight from the kick-off, saw the now rampant Albo shoot down field fending off tacklers before there was Wynne to gallop in under the sticks. Back on as our eighth substitution to saver the last few minutes, the 18-year-old was in fairyland! Marc slotted over his 9th kick from 10 and that was it, a total annihilation was complete.
What a blooming victory it was as well, a record Derby score
a record Good Friday gate and a great afternoon for everyone who was there. All
that battling and bashing through the tension and pressure of that first half saw
the damage done by our forwards, because in the new game of 8 substitutes, its
who does the most in that period that reaps the benefits later on and we
certainly did that on Friday.
It was just an
unforgettable afternoon coming as it did hard on the heels on another totally memorable
game in France last weekend. We all worried when we were so comprehensively
beaten by Warrington yet here we were with three victories following on from
it, two of which we will all recount and retell for a very long time.
You, know there are two guys in the FC ranks who are classed
by the rest of the players as true FC fans, supporters who have made the
journey from the terraces to the pitch, Scott Taylor is one and Jack Logan is the
other. So, how great it was to see that smile of Taylors at the end and to
witness Logan scoring that hat trick. A particular well done goes to Jack,
after all those months of injury, weeks at Toronto and all that suffering from
lost form, I was so pleased for a guy who as a kid in early 2016 was keeping
Yeamo out of the team. But, on Friday, there were so many heroes.
Six years ago we couldn’t buy a half back now we have three
of the best in the game, two years ago we worried like hell when Shaul was
injured because we didn’t have a decent replacement, now we have Connor to step
in and a great 18-year-old prospect in Connor Wynne whose knocking on the door
and in danger of keeping Jamie out.
As Talanoa retired we looked light-weight out wide, now we
have Ratu, Logan and Fairamo, with Dawson Jones waiting in the wings. So it
goes on and from a season that looked to be in tatters a few weeks ago when those
unprecedented injuries struck, the resilience we have shown in bouncing back
from the Wire debacle is just amazing. Returning afresh, Taylor, Paea and
Matongo absolutely bashed them down the middle, Houghton was a dynamo and in
Tumavive we had a centre that seemed to make yards every time he got the ball.
As I say, everyone was a hero, but credit to Marc Sneyd who
managed the game on the field and Lee Radford who did the same stuff off it!!
It was a fabulous afternoon to be an FC fan and great to see so many FC shirts
out in the sunshine in Beverley on Saturday morning!!
On another note wasn’t that gate magnificent eh? But does
anyone else like me think that ditching the pre-season game and changing the
structure of the Magic Weekend has made Derby’s a bit more of a rare
occurrence, a little more anticipated and therefore a bit more special? Well,
with a record aggregate across the games in the first part of the Easter
weekend, I think that Rugby League might just be moving in the right direction
again and that Elstone and Co. are making an impact. Let’s hope so eh!
But, you know, after all that stress and worry, Derby’s
always throw up some comical moments as well and watching it back afterwards my
pal said at some point in the second half, “Why do they always manage to zoom
in on half-wits when the TV cameras pick up on their crowd?”, to which the unanimous
reply came, “Probably because they’re all half-wits in the first place”.
Throwing bottles beer and flairs around indeed, what a disgrace a few of their
I had some fun too and I’m sure that regular readers will
remember I related in here how, wearing my Hull shirt, I had been absolutely
ragged by the Dobbins supporting guys on the greetings card stall in Beverley
Market after Rovers finally managed to break that 7 game losing streak in
Derby’s at the KCOM last July. Well, it actually went on for weeks afterwards
but this Saturday I wasn’t wearing my colours and I think by now anyway they
had forgotten me. So, in the spirit of friendship, I just walked up and
politely asked, “Do you have any condolence cards for Rugby Teams” they
certainly remembered me then!!!!!!
Oh the fun I’ve had, I could go on all day, but reluctantly
again, I’d better have a bit of a look at what’s been happening in a busy week
in the game and at Hull FC.
For starters, let’s look at the best news we have had for
yonks. You all know that I went a bit over the top with my headline about it
last week, but boy was I pleased to hear the news about Marc Sneyd’s new
contract when it was announced on Tuesday. Of all our out of contract players
this year, there are a couple I’d be sorry to see go and a lot that I would
understand being released, but there was just one that had to be sorted out for
the good of the future of our Club and thankfully now it’s done.
With Marc and Jake now on board for at least a couple more
seasons the prospects for us all, on and off the field are so much brighter. Everyone
likes to see open and exciting rugby and these two can, given the right
platform, instigate it ‘all day’! The fact is that ‘game managers’ like Marc
are few and far between, as are players with his kicking ability and his play
making skills. Add all that together and we have at Hull FC, one of the most
coveted players in the game.
The sarcastic shouts of ‘Sneyyyddddd!!!!’ from the opposing
fans when he occasionally misses a goal kick and the way that so many fans on
social media, from other clubs, played down his feats last weekend as ‘lucky’
or ‘a fluke’, shows how jealous many are of our half-back. On top of all that he
is a prolifically accurate goal kicker and a natural number 7 and there ain’t
many of those around these days either! But most of all he really is the ‘Ice
Man’ when it comes to playing under pressure, making the big plays and
converting the big kicks.
Marc seems to thrive when the opposition is trying to
compress the play around first or second receiver and that is a skill that is
admired by his peers and something that several players have pointed out to me
over the years. You simply can’t teach or coach that, it’s something that comes
natural. For me his signing is a big weight off my mind, because as I said to
Mrs R last weekend before he signed, I couldn’t really ever contemplate seeing
him run out against us for anyone else.
I was also pleased to see that Lee Radford has come out
and said things about this crap that is going on around the play the ball
particularly when the tackled player is getting up, stepping over the tackler
playing the ball at him and getting a penalty for off side. I even thought that
in the weekend games the referee tidied the ruck up a bit too. For me its
cheating and it seems Lee agrees, when in mid-week he said, “I’ve spoken to the
RFL about it and we need a coaches meeting for it to be sorted out. The NRL
have sorted it and it’s working for them so we need to revert to what they’re
doing over there. It could have cost us a game today which I don’t believe we
deserved to lose. Ultimately, it is cheating.”
I looked at the law on playing the ball this week and it
clearly says at clause 10(d), “The tackled player may not play the ball before
the players effecting the tackle have had time to clear the ruck”. It seems
pretty clear to me and all I can think was happening is that the officials were
trying to keep the game going and allowing players latitude to do this. But,
what about players stepping over the tackler to play the ball? Surely that is moving
off the mark? I’m glad Lee said something because it’s spoiling the game and it
needs sorting. For me it just doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of the game at
Talking of Lee, it was good to hear an extended interview
with him on Humberside the other night but it was spoiled somewhat by a fan
taking him to task. The supporter raised some great points, but I was
interested to hear more about recruitment and future plans etc. but as usual
all that got side-tracked as the Humberside guys lost the focus, although one
interesting point did come out when Lee announced that he was only on a 6
monthly rolling contract. I though he was given a three year one after Wembley
2016 and it was up for renewal around now, but apparently that must have been
split into 6 monthly review periods. It’s a strange one about which I have no
answers at present, what’s more, I’ve asked some questions but no one seems to
know what is happening?
When the Cup draw took place last Monday, we were certainly
given a tough start on the road to another Wembley appearance, as we came out first
and at home, but against Castleford. Before the draw I have to admit to
thinking, “The way things are at present, I’ll take anyone ….. away!” Then when
it came out, I did worry a bit about that Castleford team that beat us earlier
in the season and wondered if we will be wearing that nice new Challenge Cup
strip many more times this year.
However, it’s a tough one whichever way you look at it! It’s been scheduled for Friday night and on Sky
so it’s also a bit of a worry how many spectators we’ll get there too. Still
it’s the sort of game you have to win if you’re to progress to a final again
and so that should be our mindset as we approach the match. With the Challenge
Cup, all most clubs long for is to come out of the hat first to secure a home
draw, but with what has been happening at the KCOM this term, when compared
with our form away from our home turf, It’s now an even tough prospect isn’t
Well we don’t hear much from Adam Pearson these days but
last week in the League Express there was an interview with him that I think a
journalist grabbed whilst he was in Catalan. Under the headline ‘Hull to Plunge
into the Market’ it stated that we had the largest off contract list in the
game with 15 players out of contract by the end of the year and commenting on
this Adam said that we would be making some new signings in the coming months
in preparation for 2020. Despite everything he has said on the subject he even
indicated that one might be a Marquee signing as well.
When asked about the likelihood of Hull being able to afford
such a signing he said, “Absolutely we can. Our wage bill this year had we not
gone down the big squad route would have allowed two such signings this year.
Our cap is £2.2 million so we could easily afford one but our coaches are
‘fixed’ on the problems that could cause. That is having a player on £300,000
sat next one on £50,000 and that second player giving better value. Lee
fundamentally finds that a problem with such a small cap. However, I think
we’ll be smaller next year even after bringing in 6 or 7 new players”.
On those signings he added, “We’ll be bringing five or six
in from Australia at the end of the year and I’d be surprised if our ‘no
marquee’ policy isn’t tested because the sort of players we want will have seen
their price go up until perhaps they will become marquee signings”. He then
said we will be reducing our squad next season, but keeping the reserves and
topping that team up with academy players, trialists and first team players.
Now I know that Adam does at times tend to err a bit on the
side of exaggeration in such matters, for we have seen it in the past, but it
looks like we are in for a big clear out and some new faces arriving who’ll
hopefully have the same effect as the 6 we brought in when last we went through
such an exercise, pre 2016. However, it does seem that perhaps we are suffering
from not having some long term vision moving forward because just months after
being told big squads, lots of bodies, big reserve rosters and quantity rather
than quality was the way to go, here we are apparently planning to now go the
other way? Just at the time that the big squad seems to be working for us! It’s
hard to fathom really but looking through the players that are free to talk to
other clubs from 1st May, we certainly have some work to do on retaining
or replacing our current assets.
Despite what he says about going around again I think that Mini
will be returning home and Gareth Ellis will surely be retiring (again), Washy
will probably go, as might Micky Paea too. I like to keep Faraimo who, although
not quite as popular, actually has a slightly better strike rate that Fonua had
and his 191 meters on Friday is case of point really. But then we get into
uncharted waters. On top of those there’s Westerman, Green, Hadley, Manu,
Litten, Sanderson, Scott and Logan. Westy is a great player on his day, but a
bit injury prone and then for me the jury’s out on Green, Logan and Hadley,
Manu is still a 100%er, but slowing up a bit, Litten is for me at present a
must keep, Sanderson will probably go to Doncaster and Scott will be retained. Whilst
it looks now like we will have to keep Logan.
Well that’s how I see it anyway, but the big one was Marc
Sneyd, because we can do without any of the others at a pinch, but not Marc. Thank
goodness, as I say, that he is signed up and sorted and as for the rest, well
it should be an interesting few weeks watching what happens next!
When I was working on the Council one of my areas of
responsibility was Tourism which in Hull was always a tough ask. However, what
did become apparent is that the image of the City didn’t match the reality and
once we had got folks into Hull they invariably spoke well of the array of
cultural and heritage sites and even came back. So the challenge was to
introduce the City to new people. One of our biggest coupe’s was a great two
page article that we secured after months of work, in the New York Times. That
was envied by other authorities across the country as it is placed in the most
influential newspaper in the States. The response from American tourists coming
to the city in the next two years was marked and although things have slipped a
bit since, back then the City was doing well from the exposure it received.
All that waffle is by way of leading up to the fact that
last week the same newspaper led with a long article about Rugby League
following the British lower league clubs agreeing to the bids of both New York
and Ottawa being considered for inclusion in 2020. It was a well-researched and
informative article promoting the game big style to the US audience. If that is
an example of the sort of exposure a team there could regularly generate, you
can see why some feel that it is simply massive for the game.
Quite frankly, I’d much prefer to see the British game
thriving, playing to packed houses at Oldham, Swinton and South Wales, having
record TV viewing figures and gaining the ensuing revenue that all those
scenarios would generate! But, let’s face it I’m old and a bit of a dreamer and
such imaginings are perhaps pitched somewhere between far-fetched and totally
ridiculous. Truth is, none of those utopian scenarios are ever likely to
happen. So, perhaps the North American experiment using Toronto and these two
new bidders should be given a go, but if we do that and want to capitalise on
the opportunity, whilst ensuring that we keep the two new clubs interested and
thriving, then I fear there will have to be a radical rethink of exactly how
the whole game is structured.
Rugby League is
only going to get one chance at this. So, do we really want the first glimpses
of a New York Rugby League team to be them playing at, with all due respect,
the Vestacare Stadium in Oldham or Moor Lane in Swinton? The main
justification for this experiment is that it opens rugby league up to new
markets and potentially lucrative sponsorship and broadcast deals, but those
sorts of fixtures and venues are hardly going to
have the blue chip companies and massive TV conglomerates in New York State falling
over themselves to get involved is it?
That’s where the
radical bit come in because perhaps if we are intent on this sort of exercise
and there really is an opportunity to open the game up to millions of new
supporters and sports hungry TV viewers, then we have to revisit the Franchise
system again, because how long will these teams hang around trying to get into
Super League, before their interest wanes. They need, I guess, to be seeing the
games top player’s week in week out from the off, for it to really be a
success. I hate the idea, but I’m trying to look at things from a common sense and
perhaps business angle.
thought that a breakaway by Super League Clubs from the RFL was a possible
scenario in years to come and perhaps if this is to work, an NRL sort of set up
embracing 16 teams with two French, three North American and 11 British outfits
fighting it out over 30 rounds would be the best structure.
Before you stop
reading this any further, I’m certainly not condoning that point of view and
don’t particularly like the idea much at all, but in the end radical solutions
may be needed to make this latest expansionist experiment (which potentially
promises the possibility of millions of Dollars coming into the game) work. Most
expansionist efforts in the past have failed because the game has seen them as
an add on rather than embracing the opportunities they present. But this isn’t
Kent Invictor, Gateshead Thunder, South Wales or the London Scholars, this is
big time and an opportunity that will only ever come once. Perhaps as a game, we
have to either decide it’s not for us, or embrace it totally.
Fact is that to
get column inches in an influential publication like the NYT is massive and
brilliant for the game and I guess just shows what could happen should a New
York Team be welcoming Wigan, Saints and the mighty FC to the Big Apple.
Franchises work really well in the NRL and in the North American NFL and like
it or not perhaps the most successful and stable time we had in the British
Super League, was when they were in operation here.
As I say I don’t
like the idea, but, I also like to think that even at my age I’m open to a bit
of lateral thinking now and again, I don’t think that promotion and relegation
into a league of just 12 is working at all, because it doesn’t give a promoted team
time to grow into the competition. It’s such a big leap from the Championship
to the upper echelon which I think will just see teams yo-yoing back and forth.
Then of course as with Widnes and Leigh there is the imploding of the relegated
team to consider as well.
Issuing 4 or 5
year franchises with set criteria and that set review period would give teams a
chance to grow into the competition and allow teams such as New York to welcome
the best players in the world which would, in a sports mad country, immediately
attract large scale media attention and blue chip sponsorships. Let’s face it
the only team to be catapulted straight into Super League is the only
expansionist Club to really succeed; The Catalan Dragons.
Had the lower
division clubs turned down the New York and Ottawa application, I’m told on
very good authority that it could have perhaps seen Super league act and even
break away, but they didn’t and so at present at least due process continues.
There are strong
arguments (as with these two new potential franchises) for a closed shop Super
league and many as well for relegation and promotion but, you can’t have both. It’s
all just conjecture on my part at present, I don’t like it one bit, but I do
recognise that this Stateside development does offer a massive opportunity to
boost the game beyond our wildest dreams, it might not work but perhaps, just
perhaps, we have to give it a go. Do we have the bottle. balls or brains to
pull it off and make it work? As always with our great game, the answer to that
one is who knows?
Many traditionalists like me, like the idea of promotion and
relegation in a traditional format (as long as Hull FC ain’t involved J), and I know I’ll be criticised by some readers for even
raising the issue of franchises again. The whole North American thing, as with
the Franchise debate, sets the message boards on fire as soon as it is
mentioned and it appears as with Brexit, that there is no middle ground. You’re either in one camp or the other. You can’t
have reasoned debate with those who have decided you are the enemy before you
It has been painted as, your either for expansion and the bids, and for
progress and innovation, or against them and closed off/small-minded/stuck in
your ways. Of course in reality most of us fall somewhere in between the two
camps and just want to see what is best for the game. I’ll wait now and see what the next
moves from New York and Ottawa are, but It’s all very interesting isn’t it?
listing of my favourite scrum halves and comparing them to Marc Sneyd last week
seemed to gain much approval but many also quoted the fact that I had missed
out one player who was a great servant to the Club over many years. He is an
individual who was without doubt one of the greatest local hero’s that I have
had the honour to watch in my 50 odd years of supporting Hull FC and perhaps I
was remiss not to include him.
Market Place ta few months ago I happened to come across Chris Davidson, who
although pretty skilful was without doubt one of the toughest half backs I have
ever seen pull on a black and white shirt. We have been and are still blessed
with some great half back some were more skilful, but none were harder and more
tenacious than Chris! So here are a few random memories I have of a full on
well my dad going with me to see him in the Yorkshire Cup Final at Leeds in
1967, when he got the man of the match award despite us being narrowly defeated
by the Dobbins 8-7.
amazing that day, and I always remember my Dad said to me, “Just watch Davidson
when he comes out of the tunnel”. The team ran out onto the pitch and Chris
hung around waiting for the Rovers players to enter the fray! I swear, he then
glared at each one of them in turn as the Dobbins ran out. From the first
minute he was really fired up. Soon he had scored a great try with a dart from
acting half and that before Rovers had even had possession and although we lost
he was a hero for me from that moment.
later he got his one and only winners medal when we played Featherstone in the
same final as this time we ended up winners 12-9. Chris was only 20 then, but
had an amazing game and with Joe Brown was instrumental in what was a great
victory. However, over the years it was his dedication to the club that
impressed me the most. He actually played from 1963 until 1979, clocking up 296
games, 87 tries and 157 goals. I remember his debut well, it was played against
Wakefield at the Boulevard when the visitors included the flying winger and ex-British
sprint Champion Berwyn Jones, and from then on he was a regular in the side.
great performance by Chris came in the Yorkshire Cup semi-final in 1967, which
led to that defeat by Rovers in the final. We were particularly excited about
the game, because it was on a Wednesday night and one of the first to be played
under our new floodlights at the Boulevard. Firstly, Chris intercepted a Leeds
pass from Bev Risman and sent Terry Devonshire away on a 70 yard run to the
line and then he started another move that saw Stocks score in the corner.
(Incidentally, does anyone remember Geoff Stocks, what a sight he was, he used
to run like a chicken, with his legs almost appearing to touch his chin).
to come back in the second half, but then came an incident involving Davidson
that sticks in my minds-eye and will probably do so forever. Chris got the ball
from acting half and was immediately enveloped by four Leeds players. He lost the
ball out of the front of the ruck but got his foot to it before it hit the
ground. He then shrugged off three tacklers, and took the remaining one with
him on his back as stumbling forward he chased the kick for ten yards to the
line, and touch down. He got up and turned to the crowd with the opposition
player still hanging on; it was just an amazing piece of rugby, which had the Threepenny’s
dancing for joy.
again before the end and we beat the mighty Leeds by 31-6. Chris had a
fantastic game and I was on the pitch at the end, as the 14,600 crowd (many of
whom were initially attracted by the new floodlights) flowed onto the pitch and
carried Chris shoulder high across the field. Had it not been for his loyalty
to his hometown club, through difficult times, Davidson would have won many
more honours, than his two Yorkshire caps. But he was a Hull lad through and
suffered some bad injuries because he would literally run into brick walls for
the club he loved and later in his career he switched to loose-forward. However
right up to the end of his playing days, and I saw his last appearance which I
think was against Saints in 1978, he continued to play the only way he knew how
to, hard and tough! He was a great player and a great servant to our club! Over
the years it is players like Chris on which our great club is built and I’m
pleased here to mention him again.
So there we
are and what a six days that has been with that almost dream like ending to the
game in Catalan the like of which you’ll probably never ever see again in your
lifetime and then that record win against the ‘Wizards Wonders’. As we walked home
after the Warrington game no one, but no one could have predicted that! It was
so great to hear from so many readers at the end of the game and to see how
much that win meant to us all, for in tough times, it’s just what some of us needed.
I was so proud
of our efforts and the way that the lads finished the Dobbins off so clinically
and what a crowd and what an atmosphere too. The game had everything, but now
we look to Monday and the trip to Saints. Will we win? Well that’s debatable to
say the least, but quite frankly, I don’t really care too much at this moment
and because I felt so elated and wanted to share that with all of you
likeminded individuals, I ditched the idea of covering that game in this
edition and dedicated the full Diary to the total annihilation of the old
enemy. I’m still buzzing and still so proud; wasn’t it great and doesn’t it
make all the heartache pain and frustration so worthwhile!!!
reading the Diary, enjoy next week at work and I’ll speak to you next time
after the Wakey game.
SNEYYYYYDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!…. and the one and only priority at the Club at present; getting him signed up!!!
a game and what an ending that was! As the Rugby League world witnessed our 2,500th
win as a Club in all competitions, it was the manner of the victory, crowned as
it was with one of the truly great endings to a match, that sees it all still
being replayed again and again in our minds. I can’t remember anything
marginally like it at Hull FC since March 1988 at the Boulevard, when drawing
with Wigan, the visitors had a 50-yard penalty attempt which they took after
the hooter. It fell short before fast hands in a Gary Pearce inspired move
swept play 95 yards down the field, for McCaffrey to score under the sticks at
the other end.
the Super League era not since the Dobbins joyous capitulation against Salford at
the end of that MiIlion-Pound game, have the fans of the sport seen anything
like it and yet, compared with this one, both those two climaxes pale into
insignificance, for in France there was so much more going on. We were down and
out, we had a bit of luck, we had belief, there was poise, focus and a pre-conceived
plan that everyone stuck to ….and then of course there was Marc Sneyd!
Dynamo an age to produce one bit of magic, well, step aside buddy, because here
comes Mr Sneyd, with 4 in a minute! A short restart with 4 seconds to go, that threw
the Catalan player into indecision, a great 50-meter penalty under intense
pressure, a superbly grubbered kick-off that found touch and that wonderful
drop goal that spiralled high over the posts to send us all into raptures. Has
there ever been a more spectacular finale to an FC game? How can you ever
really believe it actually happened, however many times you watch it back
again? What’s more, how can I ever really do justice to it in here?
now sat in the early hours of Sunday morning I’m at a loss to explain it all
for it was just an amazing ending to a wonderful against all odds performance,
that was littered throughout with heroic acts!!
Rugby League as a dramatic experience doesn’t get better than that finale, well it doesn’t if you win and thankfully again in Golden Point, it was the FC that prevailed.
4 successes already, we actually look like the away win specialists at present
Lee Radford said before the game, “If we win, we’ll be sat fifth in the
competition and things are looking up again”. We did win and we were all
relieved, but for me it doesn’t excuse that debacle last week. It would have,
had that game been a one off landslide defeat, but it wasn’t, was it? In fact, despite
loads of injury crisis’ over the years it was the third such record breaking drubbing
in just 10 months.
win at Salford wasn’t pretty and it certainly wasn’t flashy! It wasn’t even good
to watch at times, we made errors but we played with a real wanting and after a
home game in which we showed no passion or spirit at all, we had loads of it yesterday.
I loved the result particularly because in the end it was all the player’s
passion deserved. However, what is still depressing, worrying and frustrating
is why we didn’t we show an ounce of that fight last week at the KCOM?
Lee said after the game, “No one bothers how you play at this point in the season your only bothered about fight and spirit and to turn up with 11 missing it was a fair result”. So it was, but although it’s a big well done boys, I still believe that many of you reading this will join me in scratching your head and asking Lee, “Where was all that ‘fight and spirit last week?????”
“It was an
Ugly performance but a very important result!”
So said Lee after the game and quite frankly
when you step back from it all, two points is all we needed and two points is
what we got, just…….
We did our
best to lose it, but in what was a heart stopping finale against the
self-titled ‘Come back Kids’, we made it more of a struggle than it actually
needed to be. None the less at this point in the season, it’s all about getting
some wins on the board and we did that down in London yesterday.
about took the first half, but we took the second despite that come back and scoring
6 tries to 4 we should have had it put to bed way before the end. I guess on
reflection we made some stupid errors, particularly when giving away penalties,
but our mental strength and a deal of tenacity saved us, as we almost snatched defeat
from the jaws of victory. But, we actually deserved the win and the
London Coach agreed with that assumption in his after match comments.
We needed it
too after last week! You know, I have said a few times of late, since 2016 I’m
a lot more resilient and accepting after defeats and so by last Tuesday I had
got the Wakefield debacle (and when you watch it back that’s just about what it
was) out of my system. None the less, I thought a trip to London was always a
potential banana skin and so, as I always need something to worry about, that
then became my ongoing concern.
That said, I
guess I have to admit that a heartening display by Huddersfield on Friday night
certainly bucked me up a bit!
same and as I suspected it might be, it was a real cardiac arrest job yesterday
and thank goodness we managed to get home with those two valuable points. I
always said that if we could get to 15 games with around 15/16 points in the
bag we could kick on in the second half of the season, but first and foremost, you
need that sort of bedrock to build on. So despite some alarms and excursions we
are, for now, just about on course.
However, as I say conceding daft penalties almost cost us yesterday and although some point to an off day by Sneyd with goal kicking as the issue, for me he will always have the occasional one of those and we have to cope with it. Somehow we got by at the Bronco’s, we battled, we prevailed, we brought the points home and after last week, what a bloody relief it was to do it!!!
After an upbeat Diary that last week looked positively
towards the future, this week’s offering is I’m afraid, a pretty downbeat
affair. You see, quite frankly for me after last week, we went from a
heartening showing to produce far and away our worst display of the season.
It’s hard for me to write and I hate doing it, but I would challenge anyone who
was there to find much that was positive from our showing, in what we will look
back on as a scrappy and one dimensional performance.
It might have been Comic Relief Night but for me there was little
to smile about and our only relief came with the final hooter. In fact, it
seemed a pretty universal point of view afterwards in the media and at the
club, that we got exactly what we deserved!!!
The Wildcats were far too good for us on Friday. They were
well drilled, their game plan was good and executed brilliantly by all 17
players, whilst their half backs were allowed to dictate the speed and the flow
of the game, simply because their forwards just bested our lot up front all
night. We simply never seemed to be able to change the pace of the game. For
me, we were totally out manoeuvred on a
night when, once it became apparent that Chris Chester and Co. had rumbled us,
no-one in black and white looked to have a plan B.
It’s never easy to criticise the team you love, but, as Lee
Radford observed afterwards, the lack of atmosphere was palpable, as we all sat
there almost bored to distraction by what we were watching. It was only for a short
period when Litten was on the field, that we looked anything like lively. For
the most part we lacked any sort of fizz or urgency, as all the while the
opposition completely dictated the momentum of the game.
As for the week’s other big news about the arrival of Andre
Savelio, well I didn’t see that coming did you? The speed that the deal was
done must have helped keep it under wraps, because after Andre was told by Brisbane
Bronco’s that he would be released, it was only 48 hours before it was all done
The media over in Lancashire announced that Wigan, Salford, Rovers and Huddersfield had also shown an interest in a player who played for England at both the under 16 and Under 18 levels. However, we had been in touch with his agent for months about getting first chance at a deal, should he want to return to this country. Lee in fact said that he was regularly discussed at the club’s monthly recruitment meetings and well done to them for getting him, for I think with a bit of luck he’ll be a great signing. Mind you, judging by Friday, it looks like we can do with all the help we can get.
That was some victory wasn’t it!! Can you believe it?
I’m still struggling to grasp it all!! I simply can’t
remember so many tries being scored by the FC without the opposition putting a
hand on the ball. And good tries at that!!! All worth the admission money alone
as was the sight, with 15 minutes to go, of the Leeds fans all …..
“Marching out Together”
In that first half I wondered why I ever bothered buying a
seat for all that money, because I was stood up for most of it!!!
If all the accolades are piled on that domineering and
totally authoritative 30 minutes in the first half, then the second half
defensive showing was equally impressive. I’ll grant you, we missed a lot of
tackles, but our willingness to work for each other shone through and from
being 10-0 up after only a few minutes the Rhino’s weren’t allowed to score a
single point for the rest of the game, whilst we scored 34!
Since last June, at so many games at the KCom, we have sat
there in silence, downhearted at what we were witnessing. We were certainly all
silenced again on Friday, but it was stunned disbelief this time around, for we
all sat there pretty incredulous as to what we were seeing. I guess looking
back, it was just too much to take in!
I can’t remember seeing a better 20 minutes of rugby from an
FC side for years. It was simply imperious stuff and for once, writing this in
the early hours of Saturday morning, I find it hard to do justice to just how
good we were in that spell. Even watching it back its hard to appreciate the
spring, verve and ruthlessness there was across the team in that period.
Leeds are a shadow of their former selves, we all know that,
but they still held a hoodoo over us that has, even for the best FC teams, been
difficult to overcome. Not this time though!
The purists will say that it was not as good a performance
as I am about to make out, but who cares, after all those defeats at home on
the trot, whichever way you look at it, for any FC fan that was a bloody