The Dentist’s Diary – 704th

‘All is calm all is Bright!’

It’s certainly been a quiet old week and I’m not sure at present (Friday night) if our new Coach has even arrived in this country at all. That said, I’m not sure either whether he has to go into quarantine or not on arrival anyway? What’s more, at the time of going to press it’s certainly been quiet on the transfer front and on what Andy Last has decided to do with his ‘job offer’ as well. Paul Cooke had some strong thoughts on that last one this week in the `Mail’ and I’ll be dissecting that article in some detail in here.

However, here we are with just the first of no doubt a lot of shorter closed season Diary’s, but I do hope you find something to interest you, on these wet, dreary and short winter days.  

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The Dentist’s Diary – 703rd

Welcome to Hull FC. Brett Hodgson.

The waiting is over, the result didn’t appear to suit everyone at first, but at times like these I have always said in here that whatever you think as changes are made, we should never forget that Coaches come and Coaches go, Players come and go and owners come and Owners go but the fans go on forever!

That said, for me this is an important moment in the history of the club and the most important thing Brett said on appointment was this, “Whether it’s a win or a loss, I think the effort is what fans want to see and what fans and supporters will appreciate at the end of the day. It’s a big part of English rugby and we’ll be striving to make sure they’re happy”.That’ll do for me, for a start!

So, as predicted in here 4 weeks ago, Hodgson’s got it and as always, the Diary is (and will be) 100% behind him. That said, I’m a fan and as such allowed my opinion. So, I have to say that, as an unproven Head Coach it was still a bit of a surprise and a lot of fans reading this will have shared a bit of an initial feeling of being a tad underwhelmed when the announcement was first made. 

One or two on social media went spare, but some would go on a rant if we won the Grand Final, but no one had polished the trophy properly beforehand. However, what I would say to them is that there’s been an expression around the place for years that goes, ‘In Adam we Trust’ and after what he’s done for all of us that’s just how it should be. It’s his money and his risk. Furthermore, taking on board the year we’ve all had and the state of the game in general, Hull FC can in many ways be described as being in, if not the last chance saloon, at least a bit of a worrying state. So, we all have to do just that! Trust our Owner, for he has been pretty canny over the years and in many ways at present he has a lot more to lose than any of uslot. 

Now the new Coach is in place and good luck to him, he’s looking good and making all the right noises, so let get behind the bloke and move forward again together. 

To the sceptics I would just say no-one had even heard of Brian Smith before he came to the Club, but I can to this day still see him leading his players to the adoring fans at the Boulevard as we got to our first Premiership Final for years, as  ‘Keeping the Dream Alive’ rang out from the stadium speakers. Let’s hope that Brett can emulate that.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 702nd

What a Difference a Week makes eh?

We were outplayed at times and pretty well mastered throughout and that by a Wigan team that simply out thought us! Had we been neutrals watching, we would have been full of praise for how they controlled the whole game, but when you’re the ones being done in a semi-final, it’s hard to have an objective view on things at all really.  

I think we all dared to dream and got a bit carried away with it  all and perhaps in the end it was all that we as FC fans should have expected. Wigan had all the play-off experience and were simply far too good for us at managing the game. Of the 4 that remained, they’re the best team in such situations by far and they proved it last night. 

They came out to control things from the off, went toe to toe with us when both sides were fresh, took their chances when they came and then just contrived to disrupted our game throughout. They held that stranglehold to the end, grabbed a couple of late tries that flattered them on the score board and so ran out easy winners. 

We gave it our all, never shirked a tackle and tried so hard to get right in their faces, but we didn’t get the breaks when the margins were fine, or the rub of the green when it was close, nor could we change our game once we fell behind. All through the last three seasons, form has come and gone, but we have never had a ‘plan B’ once the other team got on top. 

So, for us the season was over with what looked on the face of it to be a bit of a whacking. We know that it wasn’t like that, but that’s what the record will show!

I was so sorry for everyone who has anything to do with Hull FC and particularly for Adam Pearson. These are tough time and although someone had to lose, with all that is going on around here at present I just wish it hadn’t been us. 

None the less, we all awoke on Friday morning with a very different Christmas ahead of us and another four months before we see the lads play again. However, last night, you just couldn’t fault the effort or the passion, we were just beaten by a better team who turned up intent on stifling and frustrating us, before they clinically finished their chances. 

What’s more, as the seasoned play-off contenders that they are, they executed that plan perfectly!   

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The Dentist’s Diary – 701st

“Best performance in the last two years!!”

That was a text I received from reader ‘Ian DesForges at the end of the game and who can argue with that. Man, I was so proud!! It was such a relief to see a FC team playing with so much passion. For in our most complete showing for years, everyone was simply outstanding!

On the day that Hull went to the top of the infection tables in the country we needed a lift, …..boy did we need a lift and hell did those 17 hero’s give us one with that performance. 

All over the West of the City and indeed across the extended worldwide FC family people were on the edge of their seats again and watching through their fingers but in the end were all so proud. Even with ten minutes to go I said to Mrs. R. that whatever happened now (and something often does at that point with us) we should all be very satisfied. I also said that perhaps at the end in the post-match interviews, we were looking at our next Coach.  

I’m a big ‘all change’ and scrap ‘Club Hull’ advocate, as you know, but man Ian was right, for the passion and will to win for each other was there for all to see. Our interim Coach has believed in himself, picked players on form (and not on who buys him a pint in the pub) and made some brave, brave decisions and most importantly the players have bought into his beliefs. All of a sudden our overall shape and attitude is so much better. 

It’s the first time I think, that we have seen an FC team going into the play-off’s getting better and better, we have actually peaked at the right time and weren’t we all proud of that showing, for it was just what all of us who were worried and concerned about everything that is happen around us needed.  As another reader Ian Middleton commented, “It was like we as supporters would want to play” 

How anyone can still doubt Sneyd’s ability beats me. Once again just as in two semi-finals and two Wembley wins, ‘cometh the hour cometh the man’. All the plaudits were flowing for Jake again and what a player he is now becoming, but Marc simply controlled everything, managed the team brilliantly and with a pack on the front foot against a big Wire six, he was the master. What’s more unlike most of the other things that happened that didn’t surprise me at all! 

Incidentally as a footnote, I still couldn’t help wondering what ‘Mr Watson’ was thinking, as he watched that performance!!! 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 700th

No game this week, but after a crazy season when without even playing we are back in the play-offs for the first time in three years!!!

As episode 700 of this drivel arrives, it’s certainly a milestone for me and in a lifetime of watching Hull FC and indeed in that period of writing this rubbish, I’ve certainly been through some strange times. Yet in over 60 years of regularly watching rugby league, I have never seen times like these. Look for instance at the 7 days since the last Diary!

In just a week we have seen Toronto refused in their application to re-join Super League, because we presumed the game wanted to save money for struggling Clubs, before we put out an open invitation for another Club to join the competition next year but with half the Sky money. Next, we curtail a season that was already being decided by win averages rather than points and devise a bigger play-off competition to take its place. Then, all of a sudden a season that was fizzling out sees Hull FC in there with a chance of the Grand Final which is quite unbelievably being played at our own ground; bizarre or what??

As the crazy stuff continued, that revelation was quickly followed by us finding out the almost unbelievable fact that the RFL didn’t actually go through the necessary due diligence when Toronto joined Div. 1 in the first place. Next up, Rovers dropped out altogether three games short of the end of the season, ditto Castleford who now have 20 people infected, the current Salford club are docked three games (6 points) for reneging on a CVA that dates back to 2013 and that is charged to a Salford City Reds company that no longer exists anyway and finally the new Ottawa team have decided to drop out of next season. 

I started the diary three editions ago with the headline, it’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and guess what? I do believe it’s getting madder!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 699th

2020 Bragging Rights to us!!!!

Whenever, wherever and indeed however you beat them, it’s academic ….as long as you beat ‘em!!!!

Thursday’s Derby was I guess to the neutral, a scrappy game at times, but who cares, for in the end it was easy enough for the FC against a Rovers team that showed some fight, but that by and large had little idea at all. On another night on a drier pitch, our edges would have run even hotter and I believe it could have been a bigger win, whilst at Caravan Park in front of the baying hoards of the ‘East Stand Inteligencia’ it could have been closer, but we’d still have won, because we are at present a lot better team than they are. However, 6 tries to 3 says it all, on a night when the conditions were probably a leveller and so played in their favour a bit.  

Our big players stood up and we had far too much for the opposition, as our wingers fed off some great ball from Jake Connor and our rotating forwards, coming off the bench, again turned the game in the middle of the field. In the end the team which had only a couple of months earlier been branded the ‘Entertainers’ were well beaten and I loved it!! Of course, it was a Derby and of course they knew that and played with some pride, but what was most rewarding for me was the way that after they had fought their way back into the proceedings, we pulled away again, before we managed what happened there on in really well. 

We did as much as we had to throughout and were up to everything they had to throw at us. Whilst they were full of heart, that was nowhere near enough as we frustrated and then over-powered them, to leave them a well beaten side by the end! 

In short, Jake Connor murdered ’em! 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 698th

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World !!!!

One minute I am writing two Diary’s in a week to accommodate games coming thick and fast and the next, when other clubs are playing two matches in one weekend, I have no game to report on at all? One minute we are strapped for cash, the next we are chasing the most vaunted and hyped Coach in Super League …allegedly! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; this is the craziest of seasons we will ever see in our life-time’s and, who knows, perhaps the last one for our game in its current state. For, as with most things these days, predicting the future with any sort of certainty is getting rather difficult. 

It’s Derby week but who would believe it and indeed for many, who cares? For everyone inside the game and out there on the ‘terraces’ have bigger issues to worry about really. I simply can’t see this current set up in our game going on much longer without there being casualties amongst the Clubs. A couple are apparently already in dire straits and the rest must be looking to winter and wondering just how they will pay their wages, because it’s simply impossible to see when they will ever be able to get fans back into Stadiums to restore at least part of the sports much needed cash flow. These are tough times and tougher ones are perhaps just around the corner. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 697th

The Best So Far? Or just an abysmal Castleford, making us look good???

Well perhaps it was a bit of both really! 

With two editions in one week, welcome to a shorter, interim, Diary as I try to negotiate the fixture list, as in this ridiculous season the games come thicker and faster and so I guess, the Diary has to do the same. What’s more it’s great to report on a big, big win, particularly when I fear what might happen on Thursday in France. 

Good old positive Pete eh??? Still, it’s a long time since I have sat back with 30 minutes to go and decided that we couldn’t lose. I wasn’t completely relaxed, but as reader Richard Kirk said on Monday Morning, “It was only my perpetual pessimism that caused me any anxiety at all”.

We looked so good and as a team, (as opposed to a group of players), we played for each other, didn’t get sucked into the obvious defeatist demise of the Castleford players and scored some impressive team tries. Cas. on the other hand, were abysmal and looked a beaten side from their first carry. Their overall disposition looked to me to completely reflect the rationale of their Coach, who has totally lost it as far as having any sort of optimism at all is concerned and it looked like that raison d’etre had rubbed off on a lot of his players!! 

We have battled through two outbreaks of the virus and numerous injuries, yet after all that adversity, we look a better team now than we did when we restarted the season. I’d like to say that it is the Andy Last effect and I hope it is, for he should take a lot of the credit, but a group of players that looked down and out before the virus struck and have indeed looked lost at times since, suddenly seems to have found it’s mojo. 

However, perhaps a group of guys who looked as if they couldn’t be arsed at times earlier in the season, have embraced the problems and the trauma of it all, used it to motivate themselves as a group and that has welded us into a unit again. From adversity has come steel and determination? Well who knows with Hull FC? Where that performance came from is hard to say, but it was certainly nice to experience it!!

As Diary reader Mike in Cheshire said afterwards, “I feel a bit cheated by a performance like that in an empty stadium, after all the crap we have had to sit through at the KCom in the last few seasons.” And I guess we all felt like that!!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 690th

Well, we all needed that one!!

That warm glow you get when you finally sink back in your seat as a game like that one is won, is still a great feeling to have. I fretted and fumed and even shouted at the TV and it was just like the old days again. Our lot really do exasperate us all. They looked to be winning it, looked to be losing it and it was certainly hard to watch at times. We should have been 24 points up at the break but we blew chance after chance. Yet, in the end it felt good and the relief was palpable, because at times we were good and at others still so bloody frustrating! Good old Hull FC eh? World beaters one minute and egg beaters the next! 

However, in the bigger scheme of things to have had reality suspended in that way for a couple of hours, was still a blessed  relief as well really. 

 As I say, we should have won that game by a country mile and that’s no reflection of a handy Huddersfield outfit at all. Fact is we made enough chances, had enough ball and commanded enough territory, to be out of sight! But as always with Hull FC it was a real arm wrestle right up to the final hooter. We blew chances, dropped ball and made daft mistakes that invited a ‘wobbling’ opposition back into the game, but we fought hard, dug in, our middles stood up and we didn’t let our set-backs get to us and anyway let’s face it in the end we won and it’s always great to win ….always! 

After a tough week on the virus front when no doubt many of you, like me, must have wondered what the hell is going to happen to us all, we needed a lift and that’s what we got. In Marc Sneyd we had the guy who again orchestrated the best stuff we produced. As I said last week, he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but for me he organised the line all night, before he coolly stroked over the two points that won us the game. Plus, in Joe Cator we had an absolute machine who chased and harried the Giants into the ground. What a signing he’s been. 

So, once again as FC fans, we experienced the whole remit of emotions on Tuesday night and it was harrowing to watch at times, yet at the same time, such a relief at the end. 

But, we have got used to that over the years for that’s the enigma that is Hull FC, isn’t it!   

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The Dentist’s Diary – 695th

In Any Kind of Weather!!

A committed and spirited performance saw a depleted FC go down fighting, but for once, the game itself was bigger than the result! 

Occasionally as a fan, you are really proud of your club and your players. When that happens, it’s usually because of some brilliant fighting performance or for some magnanimous gesture towards the community. However, sometimes your heroes do something over and above what anyone could expect, which makes them shine out as an example to everyone. 

Those times are pretty rare and yet we saw one this week. What’s more when we got out on the field we didn’t let anyone down at all. We might not have won, but boy, playing the Cup Finalists, ill prepared and 13 men short, we had a real dig and everyone at least had a go.   

I know that every Club agreed that they would standby to step in at short notice and Castleford did the same for us when we had that outbreak in the early days, but we now have cases in camp again ourselves, so the reality was a lot different to the original principle, made as it was in less harrowing and less testing times. 

We played Leeds in a home game, yet did it at Headingley with one player having being diagnosed with the virus, three more isolating through the games track and trace set up and 9 out injured; all that in a match that was only re-arranged 22-hour’s earlier. And, after everyone at the Club had taken a pay cut from day one of the crisis!

To stand in was a great and magnanimous gesture by the whole organisation and in honesty, looking at some of those who took to the field carrying injuries, it’s pretty unlikely that we had any more ‘fully fit’ players than Castleford, but the call came, we did the selfless thing and the club and especially our players have to be congratulated for that. What’s more, as I say, once again we were poor in some aspects (the same old aspects) of our game but we had a go and I was proud of the lads at the end. 

But man do we need to get this bloody season finished. 

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