The Dentist’s Diary – 555th

ONE hell of a battle, TWO precious points, THREE departing Heroes and ‘FOUR Seasons in One Day!!!’


Three real heroes depart but how are we going to replace them at the Club?

It was as tight a game as you could ever imagine and excruciating to watch at the end. However, it was also 2 points that kept our season alive ….but only just, although there were certainly 3 departing heroes out there who were worthy of all the accolades they received. Nonetheless, all that said, what a nerve racking night it became. It was a game that firstly plunged us all to the depth of the way we played four seasons ago and then raised us again to the heights of the best of the fighting spirit we have shown in the last two campaigns. In fact, it was a match that spanned 4 years of FC performances in just 80 minutes of rugby. It was good, it was bad and at times, boy was it ugly! But after a game that certainly was ‘Do or Die’ we are still alive, but only by the skin of our teeth.

Of course, in the bigger scheme of things, I guess you couldn’t ask for more drama as a neutral and the TV guys got what they wanted as far as the much vaunted jeopardy was concerned. However, for us lot, sat with our heads in our hands, it was, in that last two minutes, almost impossible to watch, for then, it was only Minichiello’s heroics, charging out of the line to somehow defuse those two drop goal attempts, that got us home.

The week ahead will certainly be a nervy one as we all become a Salford supporter for a day and it will be a good old fashioned time for the fingernails as well, as the fans nervously bite theirs and the team prepare to fight and scrap as they just hang on by theirs!!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 554th

FIRSTLY …..what a wonderful performance that was!!!

On Friday night I was proud to be there, even in defeat. In fact, in hindsight it was a game that we should all have been remembering for years and one that we might well have been talking about in the pubs and clubs for generations to come, because that’s how good 12-man Hull FC were and how close we came to a famous victory. However, as the mists of time gather around the 2017 season, I don’t now expect it will be that memorable at all really, because even after circumstances saw us fall just short of a historic win, as usual we left the match talking about just one thing; an uninspiring display by the official. AND this one really was uninspiring!

Whilst we should all have been marvelling about that wonderful Fonua try, when a brilliant pass back from Connor saw our winger run over the opposition to score, or another wonderful and at times mesmerising showing from Albert Kelly, instead once again it was same old, same old as we walked home. After the farce of Ellis’s sin binning and suspension and Burrows thuggery at Leeds last week, which very likely robbed us of two points, it was business as usual on Friday as we were once again robbed of a win by ineptitude and a referee that completely lost control of the game and the players. It’s not about the big decisions but everything that goes on in the tackle and on the floor and with the niggle and leg lifting all of which he ignored completely. Mr Hicks was, in that first half, reduced to ‘ad hoc’, ‘on the hoof’ decision making and appeared at times to be just making it up as he went along.

When back home in the cold light of your own easy chair you watch it back and listen to the platitudes of Cummings and Co always defending the referee whatever he does, you realise that the heat of the moment and the reality of watching it all unfold in real time at the Stadium, does make you a tad biased. However, there was still so much going on in the contact and on the floor and off the ball that the referee either ignored or blatantly misinterpreted that it was at times nothing short of a travesty.

Seldom have I seen such an animated crowd and rarely has the support at the KCOM been more vociferous and passionate and in turn I think that was all instrumental in our magnificent fight back in that second half. Get that response every week and it really would be fortress KCOM, but sadly it was all ignited in the first place, not by that gargantuan effort, the sheer will to hang in the game or our lad’s obvious passion and wanting, but by frustration at the total ineptitude of the officials. It was something that resounded around the Stadium both on and off the field; Mr Hicks lost control and Tomkins took over, oh boy, what a bloody mess our great game is in!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 553rd

THAT WAS ALWAYS GOING TO BE TOUGH!

Thursdays was a horrible game and it’s hard to describe it as anything else really! Our lads did their best and in the end it was a lot better than many of us expected, but we were beaten not so much by the expected lack of energy but by bad luck, the bounce of the ball, having to force the play a bit late on and some baffling decisions and omissions by the officials …. again!

However, although we lost, I’m still smiling and furthermore I’m pretty confident that after that glorious day at Wembley, I will be grinning my way to the end of the season, whatever happens. I watched the Final again on Saturday afternoon in sort of real time – 7 days on, (we won again) and who knows I’ll probably do the same next Saturday as well!

But, that’s just me and talking this week to a lot of fans it appears that their feelings about the rest of the season are split pretty definitely along ‘age’ lines. The younger fans are by and large with the Coach and owner in wanting a Grand Final finish at all costs, with for some, only us winning the Super League Trophy being seen to make it a successful season. Conversely, many of us older members of the Hull FC community, although happy to enjoy whatever else comes our way, have already got what we wanted, because that famous old Challenge Cup is back in the cupboard again, we have been blessed to see history made and anything else that transpires now, will be a very welcome bonus.

Winning the Grand Final would be brilliant, although I think the possibility of that is fading a bit myself, but if you ask Adam where we are overall at present, he would admit to us probably still being a couple of years away from being where Leeds or Wigan are as Clubs, but to win back to back Cup Finals must give us a massive boost on that road to the top of the game.

Leeds was always going to be a big ask and in the end we put up a valiant and gutsy performance under difficult circumstances in a match, the result of which probably hinged on that Ellis sin binning and no action being taken against Burrows for a blatant head butt on Jake Connor.

Still we played well, gave it a real go, scored some good tries and could even have won it at the end. It gone now and there is little we can do about it, but even if you’re in the ‘Grand Final or bust’ camp, don’t despair, because we live to fight another day next Friday! But we do it in a game that will I’m afraid, be a very tough proposition indeed!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 552nd

OLD FAITHFUL WE ALWAYS WIN AT WEMBLEY!!!!!!

HULL FC ARE THE CUP KINGS!

Can you believe it? No neither can I! As I sit here on the train travelling back home on Sunday morning with a happy heart, a smile on my face and a raging hangover, I’m absolutely bursting with pride and I’m so, so pleased for everyone who is in any way connected to our quite amazing rugby club. However, I’m particularly thrilled for our soon to retire Captain, (seen above in a wonderful pose) because that win made it official; Superman really does wear Gareth Ellis pyjamas!!!

As another chorus of ‘Mark Sneyd’s on Fire’ rings around the train, how can I really explain just how honoured and indeed privileged we are as a generation of fans to watch a team that despite spluttering and stuttering at times this season, has probably more spirit, heart and will to win in such big matches, than any other Hull FC team in our clubs glorious 152-year history. Well, certainly, no other team can have had more spirit and wanting can they? Some will talk of the early 80’s and quite rightly so, but remember, back then, there were more cups to win and we were the big spenders and like it or not we bought a team. Now, with the salary cap we’re all equal and so it’s down to tactics, coaches, recruitment, the level of team spirit and the will to win of the team.

We’ve got all that right and these are for all of us who have suffered so long, very special times indeed!

That Final, a credit to the game and the two teams that played in it, was a contest of brutish strength, gargantuan effort, feisty fracas, acrobatic catches and personal sacrifice and you simply couldn’t take your eyes off the action for a moment. These guys really are the heroes, these are the history boys and these are fast becoming the FC ‘Hall of Famers’ that will be remembered forever as we say, “I was there” and of whom future generations will say, “I wish I’d seen that team!”.

We all know dozens of family and friends who have over the years died wondering about winning at Wembley, but we haven’t and our generation is just so lucky, for we have seen it done twice in successive years. I’m just so pleased that I have been spared to stick around on this mortal coil long enough to witness history being made in such an unbelievable fashion.

Sat writing this on Hull Trains on a hazy, headachy Sunday morning it’s pretty hard to believe even now that it actually happened. It was such a great moment, which was, once again, all gone much too quickly. For once we actually got the breaks, and that bit of luck that so often alluded us in the past, we were undoubtedly the best team and our reward was to taste sweet success once more and to do it on another baking hot August afternoon, when all the rugby league world stopped to watch. Anyone who wasn’t there missed a real treat and another seminal milestone in the Radford/Pearson revolution. For all of us lot, it was simply a must be there moment …again!

We all knew that there would never be another 2016 Final, for that was the ultimate instance for all of us, that was our time and it is now etched on the hearts and minds of every Hull FC fan who witnessed that epic win, but last Saturday ran it pretty damn close and I’m so, so proud to be a Hull supporter this weekend. Does it get any better? Some will tell us it will, but for this fan the answer to that one has to be, probably not!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 551st

OH NO, IT’S THE CUP FINAL SPECIAL!!

 

“We’re the famous Hull FC and we’re off to Wembley!”

 

 

AGAIN!!!!!

 

Again …. Yep, that’s right, we went to Wembley and won the blooming thing there last year and now we are back at the National Stadium on Saturday to defend it! A few years ago it would have been hard to imagine it and yet these day, as fans, we pretty much take it all in our stride. However, having failed to get there at all between 1985 and 2005, when you actually sit back and reflect on things, it’s all pretty blooming hard to believe isn’t it? Particularly when you consider it’s the third time in five years that we have been there! In that alone we are as fans so, so lucky!

However, some things never change at Hull FC do they? There we were early last week approaching the final with probably for the first time since 1983, a modicum of confidence as we seemed to be on a roll; rotating the squad, steering clear of injuries, targeting the big games, blowing away Leeds in the semi in some style and preparing to face a Wigan team that had spluttered and stuttered all season. But, what a difference one night makes eh? All of a sudden after an abject display against Huddersfield and with Wigan producing probably their best performance since the Grand Final last year, we are doing what we do best before Wembley and wobbling a bit!!!

No wonder years ago we used to sing “We’re on our way to Wembley, our knees are getting trembly”. Oh and by the way many reading this will, like me, also remember what happened in 1983, as we defended the trophy last time around all those years ago.

Wembley is the maker of dreams and the breaker of hearts and we all know to our cost how painful that second option can be! Last year just as we were about to kick off Lisa Yeaman, whose husband was out there preparing to do battle, text me the single sentence. “Do we dare to Dream” and now 12 months on her words return to me and still ring so, so, true.

But nevertheless here we are again, on the threshold of Lisa’s dream once more, as our moment in the spotlight has just about arrived, the talking is almost over and its time for the flags, scarves, shirts and lucky underpants to be produced all over again. But just remember too that…..

“LIFE IS NEVER EASY FOR THOSE WHO DREAM!!!!”

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The Dentist’s Diary – 550th

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC IS RETIRING!!!!


It was always going to happen but it was still a sad day when it did!

When the excitement should have been growing, it’s been a sad old week really! That breaking news on Gareth Ellis made for a miserable day for the fans, because with everything else that is happening it’s still a really big deal for everyone on and off the field. For me it’s been an absolute privilege to watch him play in that world famous irregular hooped jersey. He is an icon, a leader of men and a real winner and perhaps it will be a few years before we can all look back and eventually appreciate just how good he actually was!!

Then of course we were subjected on Friday to possibly the worst performance from Hull FC we have seen in two years and that on the eve of a Wembley Final which made for an even more down beat and worrying end to the week for us all. In here I’ve never ever been afraid to tell it as I see it and despite at times the protestations of the Club, I have to say what I’m feeling because usually its pretty much in line with what your all thinking anyway. For me Friday was so bad that quite frankly I just sat there for an hour and then just wanted to go home. I stayed to the end but many around me didn’t and from around 20 minutes before the hooter went, there was a steady procession of folks heading for the exits. Who can blame them for on Friday our attitude was sadly pretty appalling!

What’s more, this week I reached another milestone with the 550th edition of this weekly diatribe and since it began that’s around 3.5m words (with some actually in the right order and spelt properly) which equates to the equivalent of writing around 29 books!!! Thanks for all your support over what is now almost 12 years of the Dentists Diary and I’m always so grateful to Joe Bennett from blackandwhites for his continued patience and perseverance, he’s certainly become a big mate over the years! Oh and before I go any further can I just say, you’ll read very little in here about Wembley because as had become tradition (and you know my feelings on that before a final) The Dentists Diary 2017 Wembley Special is coming out on this site on Tuesday morning!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 549th

“It was the ugliest, prettiest result I’ve had in an awful long time”.

Lee Radford is, for anyone who writes about Hull FC, an absolute dream at times. I’ve already written a book on the back of a season of his most exceptional, intuitive and downright quirky quotes and here he is once again, doing what the man does best, because you don’t get much quirkier than that one! But as always, in his own inimitable fashion, how true he was about Friday.

A massive if enforced selection gamble by Lee, a master pocket picking exercise by the team and a great win based on an exceptional spirit, all gained against the much fancied Saints in their own back yard. Top stuff indeed!


That’ll do!!

OK, I agree with you, it was a shocking game to watch, but whilst on occasions a great win is signified by brilliant rugby and a scintillating performance, on many others it is symbolised by the significance of the victory in the context of the season, the team you have out there, who you are playing and even perhaps the weather. Although certainly not scintillating by any means this latest win embraced all of the other four indicators on what was a quite extraordinary night. The referee added to the woes with a stop/start performance that took away completely what bit of flow there was left in the game, however, let’s not forget either that this was St Helens, the pundit’s present favourites and the current darlings of Sky TV. Therefore, all of a sudden, it was as big a game as we will contest in the Super 8’s. Now, with all the top four spots taken by Yorkshire clubs and the Lancashire boys dropping off the pace a bit, no wonder Phil Clarke isn’t happy.

Well done to every FC player involved and to the coaching staff and the owner, for in such games it really doesn’t matter how you win, but rather that you win …..whatever the cost. On Friday, because of all the late withdrawals and with a game plan that was cobbled together on the bus, it was always going to be tough.

Good teams find a way to get over the line and whether they do it as we did at Donny in the semi with sparkling rugby, or in shocking conditions and a war of attrition littered with mistakes, like on Friday, in the end it matters little. This team is special it hasn’t won anything yet and it may not do, but believe me it’s special! That was a showing of great resilience and passion against what were considerable odds and it was a massive tick in the box for building gradually and peaking at the right time.

A win next week will present us with all we need to go forward with momentum into the last four Super 8 games and, who knows, perhaps even a top two finish. So let’s not dwell too long on a hat full of handling errors and mistakes that were mostly down to the conditions. Instead let’s just focus on the points we gained as we move on to a battle against a dangerous Huddersfield team who visit the KCOM on Friday with nothing to lose but their last chance of glory in 2017. There, with a big gate, a send-off to the final and a chance to all but secure our place in the top four, it’s all to play for, but for now at least history would dictate that it still isn’t wise to talk too loudly about Wembley at all, is it?
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The Dentist’s Diary – 548th

Heroes and villains!

It was without doubt a good effort, a bit scratchy at times, but a good effort just the same! We got the job done, saw some great tries, grabbed the two points and witnessed another pretty atrocious refereeing performance! (Get rid of the back line judges, Mr Wood, we now have referee’s with bionic vision!!!) Another week, another game; Welcome to the Super Eights!


Kelly was great again, but there was another hero against Salford!

On Friday it was all about the result rather than the performance, for it was, when you looked at how the fixtures fall, a must win game. Yet, as I walked to the Stadium, I pondered on the fact of how much our success at Donny would influence the outcome on the night. I believed that what we took from that victory, coupled with how a disappointing outcome impacted on Salford’s resolve, would probably decide the game. I don’t care how good a team you are, there is no way that you can completely overcome the physical and mental stress inherent in such games so soon after a semi-final and it was always going to be about who best overcame the ‘hangover’ from the happenings of the previous weekend. In the end some shrewd preparations by Lee Radford, during which the players just rested up and did little else, got us the win and as the results fell, we ended up with three points on the teams in fifth and sixth and six points on those in seventh and eighth.

So, with everyone having to play each other and thus not just gaining points but taking them off their nearest rivals as well, we are on course for the top 4, but with still a bit to do to cement our place. However at least that win gives us some breathing space and allows us to go to Saints with a bit of the pressure off and hopefully a couple of players back. Now we have a slight cushion over 5th and 6th and if we win our other 3 home games, we should be home and dry in the top four with another ‘objectives for the season’ ticked off. So all in all, Friday night was without doubt ‘Job Done’!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 547th

 

What a Wonderful Afternoon!! Does it get any better??

 


One of our own!

If there was one question on the lips of the rejoicing FC Faithful at the end of that fabulous demolition of Leeds, it was probably, “Where the hell did that come from?”

There was so much skill on show, but I’ll tell you where it came from, because first and foremost it came from the heart, it came from the wanting and the passion the team spirit and the belief. Want to see that animated into actions? Then just look for a moment at how long it took us to form the victory huddle at the end of the game. We waited and waited until every player had finished their interviews, then Gareth Ellis told it to them all as it was, the team were together for a moment in absolute solidarity as one and then the celebrations began! But everyone was part of it all!

The thing is when that team plays like they did on Saturday they are pretty implacable and as I marveled at what was unfolding in front of me I was so, so proud of the effort they put in and the way they won it for us lot singing ourselves hoarse on the terraces!! Yes, it’s great to be hailed by the media for our performance, yes, it’s great to be back at Wembley and yes, it would be superb to do Wigan and retain the Cup, but for now let’s just savour that moment for all its worth, for such performances and occasions are so rare and so fleeting.

You know, people will have been sat in front of their TV sets in Rochdale, Swinton, Dewsbury and Oldham wishing it was their team that was getting the accolades and plaudits after that performance and that were about to set off on the journey to Wembley Way. They know that although they can dream, it will probably never ever happen, but for us lot its real, its happening and it’s ‘the famous Hull FC that are off to Wembley’ AGAIN and we are, in the context of all those other fans around the game, so, so lucky to have a team like that!!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 546

PHEWWW!!!!!

……that was a close call wasn’t it? We just got home in a dour and at times frustrating game, but those two points were as precious as any we have grabbed this season.

On Friday night we just prevailed by the skin of our teeth, but boy we needed that victory didn’t we? It really didn’t matter how we got it, because we had to move forward to next week on a win and to, if we could, secure a top 4 spot and 4 home games in the play-offs, although in fairness the latter objective relied entirely on other teams slipping up. However, thanks to another desperately brilliant defensive showing in what was a scratchy performance against the Giants and a freak result at Leigh that saw Salford oblige us with a defeat, for now, on the journey that is 2017, its job done.

That of course hides the concerns we all still have about our current form and our perceived inability to score tries, but this game was always going to be a grind because we simply had to contain and frustrate a free scoring Giants outfit who were on a good run of results. So, on a sunny warm evening and to the calypso like accompaniment of a set of Huddersfield supporters who sounded as if they had pinched their mother’s pans and kitchen utensils and brought them along to the game, we just got home! It wasn’t pretty and at times in attack it wasn’t good either, but we still have that special togetherness that brings the will and tenacity that is needed to hang in such games. I would be a lot more worried where we throwing the ball about, losing concentration and collapsing when put under pressure.

As for the match officials, well listening to the observations’ of Chico Jackson on the way home, as he commented on how he didn’t think Mr Kendall got much wrong, then I’ll have to beg to differ on that one, because for me I’m afraid it was Leeds Rhino’s last week all over again! Mr K. had a shocker.

Still it was two points, the top four secured, no major injuries and now just the small matter of that game at Donny to concentrate on. Come on You Hull!!

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