The Dentist’s Diary – 602nd

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

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

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

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

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The Dentist’s Diary – 601st

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

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

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

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

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

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The Dentist’s Diary – 600th

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

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

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

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

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The Dentist’s Diary- 599th

Halleluiah!!!!

For me on Friday morning the greatest game in the world stood at a crossroads! The sport held its breath and waited. Of course, the competition has changed so many times before, in fact its infamous for it, but with seriously declining gates and mounting indifference, this really did look like the last hurrah! However, in the end, quite miraculously and against what was the general belief, sense prevailed and wisdom won the day. The new structure isn’t the solution, but I think those leading it do at least give us the best chance of finding it!

For this fan who has spent literally hours and hours studying the options and the arguments, one road, on the back of bloody mindedness, avarice and parochial thinking, saw the status quo prevailing and the (eventual) demise of our sport as we know it, whilst the other at least gave us a fighting chance of sorting things, before we have to renegotiate the new TV deal. A deal that is sadly something, that in two years-time will undoubtedly be make or break for the game as we know it. Ironically, Sky TV and their money has in many ways ruined British Rugby League already, but we had to give the owners one last fighting chance to save something from the escalating apathy that is surrounding the game at present.

With minimal interest in the Super Eights and the Qualifiers, attendances at games down to 2000 in the latter and Sky viewing figures running at around 80,000 when compared with the 200,000 that have watched the regular rounds, we are as a game in as big a mess as we have seen for decades. In a nut shell, the season, and perhaps even our great game, was dying on its feet. Sky is calling the tune, it’s ludicrous that the whole survival of a full time professional sport depends on one TV company and their money, but it does; what’s more it was becoming a dead certainty that come 2021 they won’t be paying anything like they did, because their patronage as a broadcaster depends solely on the popularity of the product with their viewers and that has declined significantly as well.

It may be too late already, who knows, but we desperately need to get our act together and personally, when compared with the owners of some Championship teams and/or the blazers of Redhall, then Elstone and Co. were always our best and perhaps only chance of doing that.

For me, the Super League owners are, through their vested interests and their own money being on the line, the ones who give us the best chance of doing something, so that as a game at least we don’t die wondering. I have banged on about this unprecedented crisis for months now, but on Friday it all came to a head and thankfully sense prevailed and at least for the moment we can all breath again. Now it’s time to see some action!

Oh and the FC tried hard again and fought valiantly again, but again came up short and more worryingly, a few, by their actions seemed to accept that defeat all too easily. But more of that later; bring on the end of the season

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The Dentist’s Diary – 598th

Well last Friday it was all a bit more acceptable and indeed a lot better wasn’t it?

Apologise again for the late posting of this week’s Diary, but at least a couple of day’s delay does give me time for my thoughts to gel after a game which we lost …again, but in which I think we got a bit of our self-respect back.

Three more players missing with injuries, a team under the microscope and a squad down to its bare bones didn’t exactly inspire much confidence before Fridays game did it? In fact, I’m told if anyone got injured in the warm up we would have just played a bench of 3!! Afterwards the headlines on the Love Rugby League web site that read ‘Castleford ease past lousy Hull FC’ ensured that, to the casual observer, it looked like business as usual for us lot, in what is a horrible run of results for the famous Hull FC’s.

Of course if you were there and saw not only what everyone saw on the TV, but what we saw as far as the spirit and togetherness of our players was off the camera, you’ll know that a headline such as that is so far wide of the mark it stinks. We were far from lousy, yes we lost and at times we lacked ideas and were profligate with the ball, but the spirit was back and we played as a team that despite being severely weakened by injury still had a lot of pride in the shirt. That I think was the difference and what a refreshing change it made. Quite frankly as far as Friday goes most of us couldn’t have wanted for much more really, because we were on a hiding to nothing from the off.

What’s more there is little doubt that this is as tough a time for some fans as they have known, whilst for others like us old timers, well, we have seen much, much worse over the years and so we simply try to just get on with it and hope for sunnier days. However, whether you are a new supporter or a weathered and battered campaigner like me, the rules are still the same. You simply have to stick by your Club!! You have every right to grumble, every right to protest, but you have to stay with them. As long as the players are not taking the what not (as they appeared to be at Warrington and Wakey) then performances like that one this week at least remind you of why you suffer it all and where your true loyalties lie; even when you are in the sort of rut we, as a team and a club, are in at present.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 596th

Oh boy, I really can’t wait for this season to be over!!

At Huddersfield we really did try hard and gave it our all, in fact we probably shaded the first half and it was only the fact that we continue to be clueless close to the line that saw us go in at half time not winning, but level at 0-0. I guess, looking back we weren’t that far off really but to have Westerman, Sneyd, Connor and Kelly missing would see any team in Super League struggle to score points.

In the end, a couple of quick tries off mistakes in the first few minutes of the second half saw us trailing 14-0 and our glaring inadequacies close to the opponent’s line meant that we would never get that back. We played better, we showed a lot more energy but had to defend too much and too many players are simply buggered.

It’s been a torrid few weeks and as for the near future, well I suppose that looks pretty grim. I find it hard to believe that there are any players left at our club who are not either out with injuries or playing on with them. I said it last week and I’ll say it again; thank goodness we are clear of the Middle-Eights, I mean to say, can you imagine what trouble we would be in if we were two rounds into that ‘group of death’ with our current resources?

Six defeats on the trot is not good news, but I can only see that run continuing, because for me it’s getting less and less apparent as to where we will get the players from to pull on the shirt and play in the remaining 5 games.

I, like you, I’m sure, just want the 2018 season to end!!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 595th

Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear!
In the Tiger in Beverley after the game, we all raised a glass for a toast, as we hailed the efforts of the young kids in those two home victories towards the end of the regular season, against Widnes and Salford. For, without those four points we would have been in the middle eight’s and, with our current issues and on our current form, likely heading for the million-pound game at best.

It’s going to be a strange few weeks isn’t it? It would have been nice to think that those making the decisions on retention and possible recruitment would be casting a close eye over the player’s in black and white throughout the meaningless challenge that is, for us, this Super 8’s competition, and that in turn the players would be playing for their future contracts.

This would then be a time for players to make their mark and bag a place in the squad for 2019. However, that incentive has gone, because we have signed up most of our current players to long term contracts already. Indeed, some that we all thought might be off have actually been retained for another year, so there is little room for manoeuvre at all, and thus, some would say, little for the team to play for either.

Surely the imperative going forward had to be that we should put on some sort of show so that everyone starts to look forward to next season with some hope. That was the challenge that faced us and Wakefield were the first part of it but it’s sad to say on Friday night, we failed miserably.

Our performance was poor but our resolve and mental strength in that second half was awful. There was a lack too of any sort of courage or inspirational play and despite all the rhetoric that preceded the game, Scott Taylor apart, we looked like a team who all had new contracts and were safe for the next campaign and who thus had nothing to play for. In the 2016 and 2017 seasons we had strength, size, resolve and an unending will to win, all qualities that if they were on show at all at the KCom on Friday, were only possessed by our opponents in the last quarter; but it appeared to me, by us.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 594th

It’s been a quiet, old week and after the recent defeats we have experienced, quite frankly ….. that’ll do for me!! However, after the last two glorious years it’s a bit hard to watch other teams getting to Wembley (and Tommy Lineham scoring the tries) isn’t it?

At the FC little news has been coming out of the Club at all, which I guess isn’t surprising, but instead of having a week off the lads have been in and working hard on turning their form around a bit. And, with still no indication of the league structure for next year coming forward either, the season grinds on and we now look to Friday and a chance for revenge against Wakey, a team who will come to the KCOM full of confidence, and intent on beating us again.

Will we see an improved performance after the poor showing against Rovers and will the score be different to three weeks ago at Belle Vue? Well, I bloody hope so don’t you? Still, hopefully it won’t be raining as much as it was for our last home game, but otherwise, with Hull FC of late, everything else is up in the air.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 593rd

Derby defeat puts out any burning embers of hope about Hull FC reaching The Play-Off’s!
……Hull Daily Mail 28-10-18.

I rarely pinch much from the local paper but that headline on Saturday morning said it all, but even that was much too late, as it just quantified everything most FC fans have been saying for the last three weeks. We can now apparently officially forget about having anything much to play for and are now resigned to cruising to the end of the season with the vagaries of this ridiculous league structure ensuring that not only the FC, but Catalans, Wakey, and Huddersfield have all got little to play for but their pride.

The Dobbins were victorious, the bragging right are theirs and have I got it in the neck from the East Hull ‘inteligencia’ ever since! But boy I was upset because Derby defeats are hard to take, particularly when we never really looked like winning. Even when we drew level we somehow knew that we would struggle to finish them off and yet all our Coach could say much about straight after the game was how pleased he was with our defence!

OK our intensity and application in that department was good even in the first half when all the luck went the Robins way, but once again our attack was woeful!! This isn’t football where you can boringly hang on for a draw, in Rugby League you can’t win games if you can’t keep hold of the ball, complete your sets in a structured way and get the processes right at the end of them. The fact is in our game you have to score more tries than the opposition.

We had the Dobbins on the rack at 16-16 but couldn’t finish them off and as I have said a few times of late, for me our inability to build pressure, turn the screw and get over the line from positions in the oppositions 20 is an on-going and worrying trend.

Should we be concerned? Well consider for a minute last season at this time. We had finished third in the league on 27 points, 3 points behind the second placed team Leeds and we were looking forward to a semi-final date next weekend with the Rhino’s at Doncaster to attempt to get back to Wembley again.

We could hardly be in a more contrasting situation this time around could we? And as our 2018 season stutters to its close perhaps it’s time to consider whether we have improved since then? Do we, looking back on the 2018 campaign, still feel that the future is bright? Can the injuries we have sustained in such great numbers, be the only reason we are where we are now? Have we replaced Ellis and Watts who took us so far last year? And finally, despite every one of our starting 17 having been injured some time or other during the campaign, for us disappointed FC fans is it all getting just a tad worrying?
As a fan of 60 years I’ve paid my money and done my time and like everyone reading this I’ve every right to big my Club up and celebrate when they are good and by the same measure when we are rubbish I have every right to complain and grumble about them and so having said that please now read on …..

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