The Dentist’s Diary – 714th

“We know the sacrifices our supporters have made and the real impact on them. This year more than any it is important to give them something to cheer and we are confident we can do that. We have built an expensive squad full of quality and we go into the new season confident.”

Some heartening words from Adam Pearson indeed, as I welcome you to this week’s offering with just 4 weeks to go to the start of the 2021 campaign and an interesting pre-season run out at York coming up quickly on the rails. 

It was great to hear from Adam yesterday as, in an exclusive interview with The Mail, he outlined his plans to keep the club going and to reward the fans who have stood by him so strongly and so loyally, by giving us all a more successful season at home. 

In some ways that won’t be difficult, because our home record under Lee Radford and Richard Agar was patchy at best and with the exception of one or two purple patches over the years, it’s a very long time since the days when we went along to the KC just expecting to win! In fact, if we’re honest, most season’s we thought we had more chance of winning an away game  than those we played back home in Hull, didn’t we? 

As you know, I have examined that conundrum a time or two in here over the years, as I’ve tried to analyse the claim that clubs look forward to coming to and playing in what is the best Stadium in the British game. The ambience and the atmosphere of the place seems to raise their game and for most of the time us lot on the terraces have hardly been intimidating have we?  So, I’ve also come to the conclusion that it’s a scenario which is something of a handicap for us from the off, because our visitors often visibly lift their game. I reckon too that we have to go back to the heady days when Shaun McCrae was running things, before we find a time when we honestly never ever doubted our team’s ability on home turf and were bitterly disappointed for a week afterwards, when we lost! 

As they prepare to take on that challenge and the gauntlet thrown down by Adam, the players are itching to get a game under their belts and so the York match can’t come soon enough. All that, whilst us fans just try to stay safe and long for a return to the KC to watch a match again, although even that’s likely to be delayed somewhat now. Still, everyone, from the players, to the Coach and the owner are positive, but then again why wouldn’t they be, as we haven’t dropped a ball in anger yet! It’s going to be a tough season and no mistake but that’s for another day and so now back to this week, when I hope below you find something to interest you.    

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The Dentist’s Diary – 713th

Welcome again to another edition of the Diary as the new season creeps even closer. It’s once again been a quiet week (its Groundhog Day in here again isn’t it?) but at least we got the squad numbers released and an indication as to who we are playing in the second round of the competition. Those team numbers actually put a lot of things in perspective and offers us the opportunity to assess the strength and indeed depth of our squad this year, which is something I’ll look at later on in here. However, much in the game, is still up in the air, including what we do about the Elstone situation and how relegation will work if as is expected we bring in a points percentage system to cover for when Clubs can’t, for one reason or another, play games. 

At our club it’s still all quiet, but it was good to hear from Adam in the Yorkshire Post midweek when he described his battle with Covid and the after effects he’d experienced. Thank goodness he’s OK! Our noisy neighbours announce this week that they had 4,500 signed up season ticket holders and it would be nice, I think, to hear how many we have got but for one reason or another it’s pretty silent on that front. 

As for other developments, well, our first two fixtures are now confirmed and as such both look winnable, but at the same time big challenges against two teams with greatly changed squads who both have new coaches, making their first steps with their new clubs. So, we have to be ready, because everyone will want a good start this season, as with the debt that will be ‘hanging round the necks’ of all 12 teams by the end of the year, no one will want to be in a scrap down near the bottom or indeed, heaven forbid, be relegated! 

I watched the Aussie All Stars game on Saturday on Sky and a fast a furious encounter really got the juices flowing for the new season and I consoled myself afterwards with the fact that at least the FC will soon be playing again.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 712th

Another week goes by and I’ve had a go at another Diary as the League season draws closer and by next weekend when the full fixture list comes out, we will be just 5 weeks away from at least seeing some action again. The first-round fixtures are out and we get our first hit up against Huddersfield in a game in which both sets of fans will be looking to assess the effect of a new Coach.  

After another quiet few days, we have at least learned that the reign of our first Super League Chief Executive is over and although, as I’ll discuss later, there were issues on both sides of the argument, the decision signifies more in-fighting and dirty washing being aired in public, which doesn’t really show our great sport in a very good light at all does it?.

 Once more British Rugby League looks in disarray and the sooner we get playing again and put ‘back office politics’, back where they belong the better.

It comes at a time that can best be described as being one of ‘Choppy waters’ for the game, with no sign of crowds returning, TV negotiations going slowly (and if you believe the media badly), uncertainty about the fixtures and the Magic event and the start of any sort of action on the field still a month and a half away. Many armchair pundits are now left to ponder what is worse between the current situation with Super League Europe haemorrhaging money through debts to merchant bankers and top-heavy administration costs and going back in with the RFL, whose past record of running the game stands for itself! Talk about the devil and the deep blue sea eh? Perhaps we have to look for some middle ground, but more about that later. 

Still hope springs eternal and I’m really starting to look forward to seeing how our lads do out there on the field again under new management, and it will be so good to simply get away from the politics and back to playing rugby again.  

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The Dentist’s Diary – 711th

It’s been another funny old week, but things have looked up a bit for yours truly and all being well I should be having my jab tonight (Saturday) at Beverley Racecourse which has already made me feel a bit better about things in general. 

At the FC pre-season continues with a new loan signing and with Josh Reynolds continuing to be the darling of the media, whilst once again I’ve scraped around and found one or two bits of stuff to talk about. 

Later in here I celebrate the fact that we have at last got together with the NRL and discussed rule alignment between the two competitions. Some of the changes that we’ve made are a bit baffling and one strikes me as being pretty unnecessary, but thank goodness we have at last gone some way towards gaining some parity across the sport, which  hopefully in the end will see us all playing to the same rule book in both our domestic and international competitions. We ain’t there yet, but at least it’s a big improvement, which immediately makes our game so much more understandable for the uninitiated and more credible as a World sport. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 710th

Welcome to this week’s Diary and thanks again for joining me as another week goes by when again (for most of us at the older end of the community at least) one day looks very much like the last. It’s been a long cold January in more ways than one and I for one am glad to see the back of it!

Normally whatever the crises we have faced in our lives we have always been so lucky to have our beloved rugby team to at least offer a modicum of distraction. I have talked in here in the past about how a visit to the Boulevard or the KC has always for me, even in the darkest of times, offered a sort of oasis and a diversion for a couple of precious hours each week. There was always something happening and always something to distract you a bit. 

And boy, if ever there was a time when we need that sort of thing then surely it is now. Yet here we are with no rugby, no meet ups with our mates in the pub or at the KC, no chance to meet the players or enjoy a fans forum and no opportunities to even visit the club shop and get ‘all excited’ when we see the new seasons strips and range of merchandise. All we have is the media and because of the state of things across the country the level of news about our game and our club is now at an all-time low. Not because its being kept from us, but rather that there isn’t anything to report on. 

Still with vaccines rolling out, there is at last hope on the horizon and with just 8 weeks to go to the new season (whatever that actually means) I can’t wait to get going again, even if it is behind closed doors. But boy could we do with something to get our teeth into! Still as always, I’ve done my best and so once again here is my take on the last 7 days in Rugby League and around Hull FC. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 709th

It’s been quiet again this week hasn’t it? Well, it has with regard to our club and even the Mail (which at times produces articles that at best resemble those of Hans Christian Anderson) have struggled to find anything meaningful or otherwise to discuss. Our noisy neighbours seem to find plenty to talk about, but news on our side of the City certainly seems to be in short supply, but more about that later. However, I hope I have got something included in this week’s edition that will interest you. 

If it’s been quiet in West Hull, it’s certainly been another strange week around the game, with both Leeds and Huddersfield declaring cases in their ranks and having to shut down their operations for 10 days or so. I guess that was to be expected and whilst, with masks to be worn when training inside and sometimes outside and daily testing in place, the game has done its best, it only takes one player to bring the disease into camp and the whole thing collapses under the pall of self-isolation. As it was in the spring, we can’t help but wonder who will be next and whether we will ever get to the start of another season any time soon! 

At Hull FC our Coach at least seemed happy with the delaying of the start of the campaign because, as he prepares for his first season in charge, it gives him another two weeks with the players. Those players must however wonder what is happening in the bigger scheme of things because there is certainly a deal of understandable uncertainty about across the game.

So, although I’m still trying my best to find something to talk about, this week it hasn’t been easy.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 708th

Another week, more doom and gloom, more uncertainty and more changes to the season ahead!!!

This last week is traditionally the most depressing’ in the calendar of a normal year, so with all that is happening it was always going to be a dire one for all of us lot craving a bit of rugby to watch, wasn’t it?  However, as another tough week comes to an end, the only certainty in the future is, once again,  that everything is uncertain. The season has now been put back two weeks and although the guys are all in at training, they must wonder exactly when things will get anywhere near normal again and even indeed when they will get playing at all! 

In such a cold and very dark January, things are nothing if not mundane for all of us. Covid continues to ravage the country and it’s certainly ironic that it’s the only thing that I have ever known that was made in China, that’s lasted more than a year!! 

Here at home after another week of asking the three questions I outlined in the last Diary, it’s been a time of not doing anything besides getting up, walking once a day and going to bed. Mind you, I’ve again been guilty of drinking endless amounts of tea and coffee, which usually means that the dishwasher is full by tea time. Then, because there’s no mugs left to drink from, if we’re thirsty, we have to drink wine! And, we always seem to be thirsty these days!!! Every cloud or just a recipe for disaster? Who knows and indeed who at present even cares!!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 707th

I hope like our family you managed to have a good, if not restricted, Christmas and welcome to 2021 and the first Diary of the New Year. 

I’ve purposely refrained from using the ‘Happy’ word above because things are, at present, decidedly far from ‘happy’, but at least we now have some future prospects, as the ‘jabs’ role out and although I really can’t see us all back at the KCom for a long time, you have to hope don’t you?

I’m pretty confident that we will have to start the 2021 season behind closed doors again and what’s more, as I have said before in here, it will be a while before folks like me have the confidence to get amongst big crowds again anyway; for the last year has changed a lot of people, perhaps in more ways than we possibly know. 

With no rugby to watch, the weather doing its January best to imitate the inside of our freezer and with this damn virus again terrorising large swathes of the population, these days life in our household circulates around just three daily questions. Where are we going to walk today? What are we having for tea and what the hell are we going to watch on TVtonight? That’s about it at present, as I’m sure it is for a lot of you reading this. 

The fact is, at these times, we don’t only need books, TV and films that speak of life and give us a lift, we all need sport to do that as well. Now more than ever we all need the sort ofbuzz our great game can bring us and hopefully, after a massive effort from everyone inside and outside the club over the winter that, at our beloved Hull FC, is once more in sightfor us all again. For now however, the proliferation of inane articles in the media and the lack of any sort of substance in the editorial across the game indicates that we are in a sort of state of suspended animation, where everything is in place but nothing is happening. As fans we are all desperate for something to get passionate about again, even if we can only watch our heroes on TV. 

Thankfully, at least the lads are back training, our owner has got over his health problems, the new Coach is getting to grips with the issues and our new ‘Marquee’ signing is here and making all the right noises. So, at least we have a real hope that perhaps despite all the doom and gloom around, ‘things can only get better’.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 706th

Season’s Greetings and thanks to everyone for sticking with the Diary through 2020!!!

So, another year has almost passed us by and Christmas or at least what this year passes for Christmas, is upon us. Thankfully at last there is a light ahead for all of us, but at present, sadly, things all around seem to be getting worse rather than better. That said, despite everything that has gone on, we are still talking about rugby and we still have our Club, our game and our hopes and dreams for the future. 

The nightmare that was 2020 is almost behind us and we have to look to that future and indeed next season with a bit of optimism. We also have to show some faith in those people who can ensure that the sport of Rugby League and our beloved Club keep going until the storm clouds clear, all our  fortunes change and we get back to something like normality (whatever that will be). 

It’s been a quiet old week news wise hasn’t it? However, it usually is at this time of year. But, none the less here in the last Diary of 2020, I’ll try and look at what news there is around rugby wise and indeed at what being a fan is all about for me at times like these, as I reflect on a year and a season that, in both cases, I think we will all be glad to see the back of! 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 705th

We’ve signed a man called ‘Grub’!!

In a week when we saw the arrival of our new ‘Marquee’ signing in the form of Josh ‘The Grub’ Reynolds, there was certainly a deal of excitement about. Meanwhile, our new Coach was settling into his surroundings in the capitol of British Rugby League, whilst back home in Australia the NRL were discussing buying a stake in Super League and introducing another slew of rule changes to their competition, that no doubt many in this country with ridicule and dismiss out of hand; before, of course, we introduce most of them ourselves in 2022. 

However, before you switch off completely on those rules, it’s perhaps worth considering that their current list of changes have been led by the fans and their views on how the game can be improved. For us lot in this country who have existed under the stoic, autocratic and sometimes bombastic  stewardship of the RFL for so many years, is that refreshing or what??

In a statement the NRL rules commission said, and this is the really important bit for me, “You’ve got to give the customer what they want. We want to attract new fans to our game and we want our current fans to keep coming back to watch games live at the ground or on TV. It was important to understand what they want. It is clear the new innovations last season were a success. You only have to look at the data, there were more tries, more line breaks and more minutes of ball in play and the response from our fans and players has been positive. In  particular, the six-again rule has addressed the biggest issue that was in the game and that was the wrestle. The changes have speeded up the ruck and made the game more free-flowing which is exactly what the Commission wanted to see.”

At a time when, as I say, we are told tentative talks are taking place with regard to the NRL buying a stake in Super League and some in this country are already turning their noses up, you have to at least listen to what they have to say for their attitude towards the game is certainly refreshing!!!

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