Oh Dear, don’t you just love Derby’s?
Well you all know I certainly don’t!! But I quite enjoyed the game, even when we were behind and although it was a bit stop start at times, unlike the FC performances in past pre-season derbies, we really wanted this one and that was a massive plus. After what Radford said about him and the players understanding how vital these games are to the fans, I still had some doubts, but this was the proof of the pudding as most passed that test with flying colours.
It’s only very early days, but these are games that I always want to win, so it was job done and there is little doubt that as pre season games go, like them or not, it’s the most intense hit out you can have! In whatever shape they come Derby’s are important to the fans, so afterwards it was good to hear Radford saying the win was important to him as well. It’s only the start, but writing this, as we drive through the long faced red and white as they trudge home down Argyle Street; that’ll do for me and after two disappointing displays, we seem to be back on track for the opening game.
However on the downside, do you remember in the good old days and the brilliant build up there was to the Boxing Day and Good Friday spectacles, how we all looked forward to them and talked them up for weeks, before packing both grounds to the limit? Well for me, despite a distinct increase in the antagonism and perhaps even hatred, that unique and very special rivalry has now been devalued, with the two ‘manufactured’ Derby’s (pre-season and Magic) taking away the impact and splendour of those iconic league occasions. Still, we’ll all take a win against them lot and the performance in an entertaining game was far better than we have seen thus far this year and that alone was a big relief.
What do I make of the outcome of the restructuring meeting on Friday? Well, my first thought was why the hell didn’t they ask us? Why didn’t the fans of this great game get at least a bit of a say in the sweeping changes to the format of Rugby League that we will all now have to buy into from 2015 onwards?
Still, disappointed as I was by that predictable outcome, there was always Bradford to look forward to, although the leaden skies and pouring rain that greeted me as I opened the curtains on Sunday Morning didn’t lift my spirits much at all! I should have known what to expect really and we got it, as hundreds of travelling FC fans sat and watched a first half display that was certainly rudderless at times, a worryingly poor line defence and our favourites well and truly undone by a feisty Bradford outfit.
The name of the game this year will be relegation rugby where we will see teams that are near the bottom scrapping like hell for precious points at the end of the season. As a team that has been under adversity for weeks, Bradford showed just that sort of wanting and we were second best for most of the game. It was only a warm up game, but Bradford dominated in all departments and showed just what can happen if you don’t rise to that challenge, because for long periods yesterday we certainly didn’t!! It was disappointing and a bit shambolic at times, but at least it was only a friendly…. but by hell it certainly gave me and the great folks I sat with some food for thought.
However I should have expected that performance really because it’s been a funny old week, with Gwilym Lloyd telling us Gareth Ellis was injured when he wasn’t at all, while Mr Allam opened both his wallet and yet another can of worms and then there was us all witnessing an ex Labour Deputy Prime Minister telling ‘plebs’ like me watching him on Look North, that when you’re rich, you have the right to do as you like.
A cold frosty Sunday morning, the first real severe night we have had this winter and hey ho it must be the rugby season again!
As the day grew lighter and I saw the back lawn covered in frost, it reminded me of ‘proper’ Winter rugby and all those mornings when I went out there to ‘see if it would take a stud’ before setting out to confront the Pennines, on the way to Leigh or Widnes or some other dreary destination, wondering all the while if when I got there the game would be on.
But this time we were off to Donny, for our first pre season match of 2014 and a game featuring Rich Whiting (a late replacement for Kirk Yeaman who had a stomach bug), Chris Green and Jacob Miller, from what I would say was our starting 17, some fringe players, some Under 19’s I recognised, and several players I hadn’t even heard of (note for this season; get to Bishop Burton more often). It was an interesting afternoon with our constant changes leading to a lot of disjointed play against a Donny team whose quality was dictated by the fact that most had their squad numbers and names on their shirts, so it wasn’t far from their starting 17. It was men against boys at times, but it’s still early days, I told myself, and with a bumper following from Hull, it was certainly good to be amongst friends again.
So whether you spent the week lamenting the cold trip to Donny, wondering why we always seem to get pre season injuries even before we start playing games and whether Tom Biggs hair will be back on his shoulders by the time he finally gets released from Bath, or even how Hull KR can launch their fans Weight Loss Challenge without a mention of Neville Costigan we’re off, and with just over 4 weeks to go to Catalan at home, the anticipation (or indeed that familiar feeling of impending doom) is once again gathering pace!
At our Club at least, it’s certainly been quiet over the holiday but the lads trained before and after the Christmas break and were then left to their own devices last week, for what was intended to be a short respite before the final phase of pre season commenced this morning. Although that said, many of the lads still appeared regularly at Total Fitness clutching their training instructions and having a go. However during that period it was good to at last see our latest attempt in the never ending quest for a half back arrive at Manchester Airport, as on Thursday Jordan Rankin flew in to hopefully commence training with the rest of the guys this morning.
The squad is almost complete now although one or two are still in the latter stages of their re-hab after operations etc. however we await the arrival of the Flying Dustman with Talanoa still reported to be about 10 days behind Rankin in the visa application process, (although apparently the Club don’t see any problems with everything going through). He should be here by mid January, but for now at least the rest of us can look forward to some rugby this weekend. The Club have been as good as their word with regard to restricting the usual annual hype and although there was a bit of the old rhetoric from Ellis in the Mail on Saturday, by and large this year it’s the Robins who are doing all the crowing about where they will finish and what they will win! And although there’s still time for plenty more talking, that suits me down to the ground, as at long, long last there’s a game to look forward to at the weekend. It should be fun and as for Cooke and Radford well they played together for the Hull A team in 1997 and now they both make their Coaching debut’s, against each other on Sunday; it’s funny how things work out isn’t it?