The Dentist’s Diary – 617th

As we pass the 16th Anniversary of our first game at the KCom, it’s almost been nice to have had a week off playing hasn’t it?

In that passage of time so much has changed and yet so much has stayed the same in the tumble drier that is being an FC fan and so the drama continues, as does the unexpected and as ever, it’s not always good either is it?

Already this season loads of stuff has gone on and been crammed in around those two defeats and all in the first fortnight of the FC 2019 campaign. Sadly, any dreams of a good start are in tatters and so this week its almost been a relief to catch our breath a bit and regroup our thoughts before we hit the road to Wigan next Sunday.   

It’s been one of those weeks that offers a time for reflection and looking forward and indeed for ensuring that as a club we do everything we can to avoid the escalating misfortune of another defeat this weekend. That would be an all-time record breaker, but we won’t dwell on that as with recovering players, a major suspension and our first Reserve game it’s been an interesting week off for us lot, as it has been for Scott Taylor who has another three off and poor old Matty Dawson-Jones who is done for the year!!! It’s therefore I feel, been one of the most incident packed and toughest starts to a season I can ever remember!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 616th

Oh Dear!!!!!!

In the end I guess the best team won but, as it happens and looking back, only just!

Yet we are fast becoming the nearly team and that’s not good enough at all. We toiled and worked and tried and tried, but in simplistic terms we just can’t finish the opposition off and it’s now a question of how long can our lads come up short and yet still turn up so enthusiastically. In sport confidence is everything and ours has to be under stress. After 13 straight defeats, it plays on my mind, so it must do the same to the players. Only this weekend Jake Connor commented on the fact that he now faces two weeks of ‘being in a bad place’ after yet another reversal.

I’m not one for predictions so early in the piece, but I do think it’s going to be a tough old campaign for our team. But, if we are honest, few of us really expected anything less did we?  

Attacking wise we have certainly improved, Connor, if we can keep him away from the disciplinary panel, is shaping up to be a ‘world beater’ and Westerman, if we can keep him away from the treatment table, is a big plus in the line as well. However, on the other side of things our pack, that once struck terror into even the biggest sets of forwards, seems to have lost a lot of it’s potency, they are getting older, looking too lightweight and failing to get the jump on their opposite numbers. Too many opposing players are in fact just allowed to stand in the tackle instead of being put on their backs and its stinging us big time. On Thursday the opposition ‘6’ ran through and even over us, because we just couldn’t slow the play the ball down to hold them when they rolled forward. Its tough for any FC fan to see our forwards bettered so easily by another team.

We were certainly marched down field a full 80 yards on several occasions, just as we were at the death at Caravan Park. So, it’s frustrating, as the attack improves and the forwards go backwards. Unfortunately, and critically, having seen 6 Super League games now, I’m starting to think that every other team seems to have got better, rather than, like us, marked time. On that evidence I base my assumption that we are going to toil a bit in what is shaping up to be a long hard season. First up however somehow, somewhere, we have to get a win and although that’s easy to say, where it will come from is much more difficult to predict. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 615th

Heart-breaking in the end? Yes, but passionate, valiant and packed with heaps of endeavour too; for we certainly had a go!!

You can’t always win, but all the qualities we as fans ask for where there is abundance on Friday. It was a loss at the toughest of places to be defeated, but the hope of better things to come still burns on for another week at least.

Rovers were playing at somewhere around their first choice roster, but we have much more to come. Despite a Derby loss to start the season off, with the heartbreak that brings, the depleted ranks that took to the field, played with pride in the fans and the badge and should be proud of themselves. We could ask no more as spectators, for it was a fine effort against all the odds and it almost came off! With only 8 tackles missed in the whole game it was a tenacious performance and when you take away the heartbreak of that finish, if we’re honest, it probably still ended up a lot better than any of us thought it would!

But at least it’s out of the way and we escaped with our pride and credibility intact! You know, this week Jurgen Klopp said, “I can never ever enjoy being involved so closely with the Premiership title race”, probably I would guess, because he is so anxious, stressed and involved in it all and indeed in the weight of expectation it brings. And you know what? I get that completely, because I’m afraid these days, I can’t ever truly ‘enjoy’ a Derby game either and I doubt I ever will again!

Perhaps once in the dim and distant past I used to be able to go along, enjoy the spectacle, revel in the occasion and appreciate it for what it was; just another game. However, just like Mr Klopp, for me that’s all changed. I can survive it, just about, and enjoy the result if we manage to win and if we lose, I’m disappointed, but strangely relieved that its all over as well! In fact, all my analogies of watching from behind the sofa or through my fingers, really are, for me, completely authentic and truth be known, most of the time I’d just rather not watch at all!!

That said, I did watch and I have to say I was heartbroken at the end. However, that’s a feeling that only lasts as long as the circumstances that surround it, allow it to. Once I’d stepped back a bit, I realised we actually almost prevailed against all the odds, the heart and spirit was quite amazing and with a bit better discipline and a couple of creative players back to help the over-worked Sneyd, we would have won.

So for this fan its onwards to Thursday!!!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 614th

Here Beginneth the 2019 Season!

This is it, here we go and it all starts again on Friday and at the most difficult of places to play. We all have to get right behind the boys, be we watching at home behind the settee, in the seats at Caravan Park watching through our fingers, or stood there braced against the elements in the Beirut End of the Land that Time Forgot. It’s a massive test of a weakened FC team, but make no mistake about it, we have to be up for it because the game is so important to us as a Club!

Like it or not and play it down if you will, but I’ve gone out of my way to speak to dozens of fans over the past few weeks and just about everyone agrees that this is a watershed season for the Black and Whites. What’s more, with so many out of contract players this year, not to forget the whole coaching staff seeing their deals expire at the conclusion of the season, for everyone inside the club and out on the terraces, a good start to the campaign is an imperative. We have all stumped up again for our passes, but confidence amongst the fans is probably best described as wobbly at present.

Even with a fully fit squad it would have been difficult, as we have to navigate a torrid looking start to the season that combines beginning with a Derby on the road, with games against sides like Castleford Tigers, Wigan Warriors, Huddersfield Giants and Leeds Rhinos, all of whom have big ambitions. So, not only is a good start needed for the players and those soon to be out of contract coaching staff, but it’s also important for us lot, for the club has now to inject some self-assurance and belief back into the Faithful.

A win on Friday would do so much!!!

No one is panicking after the end of last season and there is a fragile calm amongst the supporters right now, but boy it’s going to be tough and we all have to do what we can to get behind the players, to give them our support, rally around the team and hope!! We all know that this squad has it in them and we have to do what we can to bring it out!

Sometime, in life, it’s not what you achieve, but what you overcome on the way to achieving it, that can really make you great.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 613th

R.I.P. WILF


As you’ll all probably know by now, the death was announced last week of one of my all-time rugby heroes as Wilf Rosenberg passed away aged 84 in Israel. You’ll also be aware of what his memory means to me, indeed I have adopted his name as a pseudonym to write this drivel for the last 14 years. I did that as a tribute to a bloke who, although he only turned out for us for four seasons, will be remembered for ever by anyone who ever saw him play. For us lucky, lucky guys who saw him perform, his memory lives on.

As with Paul Woods, Alf Macklin, Ronnie Wileman, Garry Pearce and a host of other heroes of our back pages as fans, it’s not always the longest serving, highest scoring or internationally acclaimed that are indelibly stamped on our memories, but rather those who were characters, brave beyond the call of duty, massive servants or extraordinary talents that are retained and so it is with Wilf. As the Club sadly didn’t see fit to feature him on their website this week, there’s quite a bit about Wilf in this edition of the Diary and I hope you’ll excuse me for that. As with many of you reading this I’m sure, I’ll always remember him out there on the wing, on damp December afternoons in the gloom of the Boulevard, often 3ft off the ground flying towards the try line.

It’s now almost 56 years since he last played for Hull FC and perhaps I was an impressionable youth, perhaps time distorts and sugar coats our memories, perhaps I’m just a silly old fart, but when, for the umpteenth time again last week, I saw that (only existing) grainy footage of him on YouTube playing for Leeds, it brought it all back again. From the correspondence I have received from those who, like me, saw Wilf play, it would appear that I’m certainly not the only silly old fart about either!!!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 612th

Two weeks on Friday and we’re off!!!!

Next week it’s Saints in our final warm up game before we are plunged straight into a season which will, I’m sure, be tough going for everyone at the Club.

Although great for the two Danny’s the game at Wakefield was always going to be a bit of a lottery with 51 players being initially named to take the field and although it was good to get more first teamers out there to honour the two stalwarts of our game, it was always going to be hard to judge our chances that much; that’s something that we will only really be able to gauge on 1st February. This week was all about a step up, a bit of game time for some first teamers, dusting off the cobwebs and avoiding injuries. At least we ticked the first three boxes!

The fairy tale at least unfolded from the off as both Testimonial Beneficiaries scored the first two tries and what are the chances of that eh? The game did its job as well, but as for what’s ahead in 2019 for Hull FC and indeed what our starting line-up will be, there are still more questions than answers!

The anti for the coming campaign was cranked up a notch this week with the Club’s Press Day at County Road. The emphasis from Coaches and players was on positivity, a big season and a top 5 finish. However, for the casual observer it was hard to get away from the fact that we were also reminded that at least 4 players won’t be fit to start! The depth of the squad however and their fitness levels, are without doubt the best I have ever seen at this point in the proceedings and I guess at present we just have to hope that we catch a couple of other teams cold. But credit to the Club because as an organisation we are certainly in optimistic mood!

Off the field the news from Hull FC was even more encouraging. Our season tickets sales for this year have now gone well over, (what is in the current climate, a staggering) 8000, while many other clubs are not doing so well again this year. Attendance wise we are the only club to have increased our match day gates year on year for the last 4 seasons and we were last year one of only two clubs to actually increase their home attendances. I’ll be having a close look at just how parlous was the state of British Rugby League live audience wise last year and revealing some of the fact behind the headlines, which I feel indicates that something has to be done about the issues some Clubs are having, and quickly!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 611th

Welcome back to The Dentists Diary and here’s to a Happy and Successful 2019.

The game at Doncaster heralded the start of the 2019 campaign and whatever this year brings, and at this juncture who knows what that will be, we’ll have a go at getting through it again together, whilst hopefully enjoying the ride.

We gave most if not all of the fit junior players and several academy lads a run out yesterday in the traditional fixture against our duel registration partners and although you can only play what’s in front of you and Doncaster weren’t up to much, we took the opportunity for a run out and looked really handy at times. As a group of players we are certainly fit and sharp and when we broke out, (which we did on a regular basis) our speed with the ball was impressive. You can’t really argue with 72-12 can you?

That said not much can be gauged from such matches, but everyone got a run out and although we looked a bit suspect at covering short balls from acting half that brought them their two tries, Liam Harris ran the game from half back and organised well which led to some great FC scores. Still we might learn a bit more next week at Wakey, where it will be much harder, although this, as a first run out, was still a heartening showing.

We need to be heartened too, as we are all, I guess, starting to look towards the coming campaign and hoping for ‘better luck this time’. It’s a big call though and let’s face it, as far as signings are concerned, the club doesn’t seem to have delivered what many of the fans had hoped for at all.

We have all heard the arguments about the quality of the team if we can get them all on the field at the same time and I’m sure they are valid, but as Chris Chester of Wakefield said last week, “This is going to be one of the hardest Super League seasons ever and a lot of clubs are really going to have their work cut out to stay with the leaders!”

Its always an exciting time and we are up and running and have a practise game in the bag, but we shouldn’t get too carried away either. Hull FC are already counselling us against inflated expectations with warnings of us starting short-handed and players taking longer than expected to get back from injuries and operations, what’s more, let’s face it, looking at what other teams have done recruitment wise, even the most optimistic of us can get what Chezzie means can’t we? However, for now let’s just try and enjoy the ride eh?

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The Dentist’s Diary – 610th

A Merry Christmas to You All!!!


Out for another year Lucky Joe the Diary mascot!

This is the last Dentists Diary of 2018 and as Hull FC fans I guess that we are all glad to see the back of this year, for however philosophical you are, it all came as a massive anti-climax after the two previous seasons, when we spent most of our time on Cloud 9! On the other hand, the response of all us sometimes downhearted fans to this year’s season ticket campaign has, if nothing else, at least confirmed that the Clubs greatest asset is its supporters. Although for some of us that was a fact that was never in doubt.

Of late the weather has certainly been seasonal hasn’t it? Boy it’s been bloody cold! On Saturday in Beverley it was ‘coming down in stair rods’ and certainly ‘as cold as Christmas’. That got me thinking, how the heck did we ever stand all those years on Bunkers Hill, surrounded by 70 and 80-year old blokes shivering in their shoes, as we all watched our heroes, usually losing, in weather like that! It buggers belief really when you look back!

That’s FC fans for you though isn’t it? Granted, we haven’t had to do that or even get the banners and placards out for a long time, but we all know we still will do, if we needed to. That unfailing, lifelong loyalty is a rationale that avid fans of ‘their club’ understand completely, whilst few on the ‘outside’, struggle to understand it at all. And you know what, that love affair is something that has been on my mind a bit of late, but more of that later!

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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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