“Never mind how Crap the Referee was, how brilliant were Hull FC this afternoon”, said a fan I over-heard as we left the ground and indeed how bloody good they were! What an afternoon it was yesterday, to be a black and white!
Come that final hooter, it was the first tears since Wembley for yours truly, after a victory that we’ll be talking about for years! That was a simply magnificent showing that saw the return for the first time this season of the heart, tenacity and never say die attitude that got us through so many epic encounters last year! That was the FC I loved last term and that was Lee Radford’s never say die heroes at last making a welcome return to the KCOM.
What an afternoon in the sun it was. Against all the odds we beat the league leaders in a game when 12-man Hull fought as if their lives depended on it and beat what was at times a 14 man Castleford outfit who stood proudly at the top of the league! On a weekend when two games saw two teams called the Tigers play at the KCOM, there were sending’s off in both encounters and in them both, the short-handed team were justifiably aggrieved but won the day and although I know and care little about Hull City, what heroes we had out there in black and white on Sunday.
With more drama than two years of Coronation Street for the near 13,000 crowd to follow, I was so pleased that I was there to witness it! I squirmed and fidgeted, berated the referee and watched through my fingers until I was totally wrung out and until the relief at the end was palpable. What more I’m still buzzing 14 hours later as I post this Diary. The only thing that was missing was the Club playing Sweet Caroline at the end, so we could serenade our friends from Castleford as they left the ground, just as they have serenaded us so often in the past. But you can’t have everything. Marvellous stuff though wasn’t it?
Fridays defeat was poor, made all the more significant by the fact that it was the biggest ever at home to the Leeds Rhinos. Well that’s what the Yorkshire Post claimed next day anyway!
58 years of watching Hull FC has seen me witness some massive, against all the odds, backs to the wall performances against Leeds teams at the Boulevard and even in the early days at the KC. Back then they were always the old adversary and boy, even in the really hard times we gave them some good matches! They hated playing us, because our pride and the bond between fans and players meant that even with a team of players performing ‘on one leg’ we could always raise our game against them. But, all that is sadly no more and they certainly seem to have the ‘Indian sign’ over us now! It has. it seems, got to the state were Leeds just have to turn up with their boots to beat us and for them and indeed all the adversaries who visit our home ground the atmosphere is certainly not in any way as intimidating for the opposition as it was back at the Boulevard.
Slowly but surely the 2017 campaign has seen us develop into something of a ‘soft touch’ at home and when you look at the current situation at our beloved Club, you could well pose the question, what a difference a year makes?
Last year at Easter I wrote, “As long suffering FC fans, so often reduced to having to ‘make do’, we have just witnessed a weekend when we beat rovers with an unprecedented late comeback in their own back yard, before going on to ‘sack’ the undefeated league leaders three days later at the KC, with a team that included 11 local born players. Is that the stuff that dreams are made of? Well, I think quite possibly it is!!!”
Heady days indeed and what a changed scenario we are faced with now eh? Just 12 months later and half way through the Easter weekend it’s all turning into something of a nightmare at home at present and with 18 tries conceded in 2 games against 2 of last season’s bottom 4 teams, it is, let’s face it, simply an unacceptable situation in anyone’s book.
Even for this pretty positive supporter, it’s hard to paint anything but a bleak picture of that defeat last Friday. For me it’s not the fact that we have lost two home games on the trot that is such a worry, but rather the manner in which we have lost them. In two matches at the KCOM we have gone from having the best defence in the league to conceding over 100 points in just 160 minutes of rugby!
What a blooming mess that was!
Did you expect that sort of reversal? Well, few did I guess, because it was not so much what was perhaps an anticipated defeat that was so hard to take, but more the magnitude of the reversal in a game in which for long periods our usually implacable goal line defence was left chasing shadows.
I guess I expected to lose, but not by that score and at times our defence was as bad as it has been in all the time Lee has been Coach. It was an ignominious way to end an unbeaten 5 game run, but in the end it was all we deserved. Furthermore, when I step back from the initial surprise of it all that performance has been coming for at least two games and in the week since that draw at Warrington I’d feared what would happen against a feisty, confident Salford side. I’d heard from training that players were struggling and niggling injuries were rife throughout the squad ….and I worried, apparently with good cause.
It was a bad night which will no doubt impact on future gates and quite ironically came as we as a Club set out on a Hull and Proud week that is stuffed with great events for the fans. Sadly however, there was little to be proud about last Friday. Of course a good win against Leeds in front of a big gate will take all the concerns away, but we’ve been spoilt, we expect too much at times as our team have flattered to deceive thus far this year and if you could stand back and be objectionable about it all, then one day a performance like we witnessed last Friday was inevitable. I think we should have known what was to happen and I feared all week that we might see some sort of negative reaction to the massive amount of ‘hang on for grim death’ type displays we have needed to produce over the past few weeks.
It was pretty embarrassing and pretty pathetic at times too and although there are mitigating circumstances, we only had 5 men out (critical though they all are to us) and we should at least have kept the score respectable. Salford were effective at times and pretty spectacular at others, but even with the team we fielded they were never 50 points better than us, well not on paper at least. Sadly, we don’t play on paper and it was for me a defeat that I want to forget as soon as possible, but whether our upcoming games will help me do that is matter for conjecture!
It’s a funny old game isn’t it?
It’s still early days but back in January we would have taken three points from the last two games. Last week after that scare at Wigan we would have taken anything this Saturday, at half time in the game itself, we thought we had the points in the bag and by the end we were pleased to survive with just one! Who’d be a rugby fan eh? We still ain’t getting it right and what goes on in the second half or rather doesn’t, seems to be causing us a lot of issues at present don’t you think?
I can’t complain really, nor will I be, because unlike some of the protagonists on social media I happen to believe that 11 points from 7 games is a reasonable beginning to the season, if not a blooming good start! We are missing players and I for one would get Hadley back from Wakefield and use him in the line-up on Friday, because he is a great defender, but we are still really well placed and there is certainly no cause for concern so far, although for me to keep the momentum going we really need to beat the Red Devils on Friday.
We are almost a third of the way through the season and third in the table, one point off the top clubs with a game in hand on the second one and we have the best defence in the league, whilst looking downwards we are already 6 points clear of ninth place. That would have done any of us when we set out on our journey through the 2017 season wouldn’t it? Saturday was certainly disappointing but let’s try and be positive, be patient and hang in there, we have high expectations I know, but hey, it’s still our best start for years!!