The Dentist’s Diary – 542nd

Wow what a relief it was in the end, but I didn’t see that revival coming did you?

Five days on from a quite amazing performance in that Cup Quarter Final, for 50 odd minutes on Friday night we produced a real after the ‘Lord Mayors Show’ effort and trailing by 8 points in the second half, I was resigned to the fact that perhaps it had all been a bit much for those heroes of the previous weekend. Deep down I’d accepted that fact at half-time and although disappointed I consoled myself with the thought that I knew which of the two games I would have rather won if we couldn’t have them both showing a W in the games played column!

The thing is of course I don’t care who you are, as a team you can’t play like we did in that Cup game last week, every week!! It just doesn’t happen like that and whether it is down to complacency, injuries, fatigue or mental exhaustion, experience of years of watching rugby in general and Hull FC in particular, only goes to prove that every game is different. The thing is, in adversity, you have to try and find a way to win and to somehow get those two precious points particularly when you’re at home.

On Friday for long periods we were decidedly off it and it wasn’t just physical fatigue either because there were a few mental lapses in there too, particularly when we dropped the ball and forced passes near our line, so we were without doubt psychologically drained as well. From the kick off our overall demeanour was suspect and a couple of years ago that would have spelt disaster, but this team of 2017 is proving to be a bit better than that. At the end my pal Kathy jokingly exclaimed, “Never in doubt” although I freely admit as I said, that I had resigned myself to a defeat to a good and very sharp Wakefield outfit before that amazing last quarter. In many ways I guess we got out of jail. But in the end as I always say, who the hell cares!

Rugby League is a game of fine, fine margins and many in the aftermath of the victory attribute our come-back to Connors fortuitous intercept, which is a great example of those very same blurred boundaries that separate disaster and success. We get it and score and then roll on to win, but miss it and they go the length of the field and it’s ‘Goodnight Vienna’.

Yet On such twists of fate are matches and indeed seasons decided! It’s a funny old game isn’t it?

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The Dentist’s Diary – 541st

What a blooming great game that was!!!

This week’s offering is a bit hurried and a bit emotional but on a hot and sunny Sunday afternoon we certainly showed a national TV audience just what heart, tenacity and the will to win in a sports team is all about!

The best performance since Wembley? Well for me it was, without doubt! I absolutely loved it…. well I did when it was all over, but whilst it was going on it was a tortuous affair to watch from the terraces and when the final hooter went I was physically and emotionally wrung out. Knock out rugby eh? Don’t you just love it?

The Cup favourites were in town, backed by a huge travelling army, but that trophy was ours and we certainly weren’t going to let it go without a fight!

To boss a team that has averaged 35 points a game this season and keep them to 24 on a hot and humid day like that, took a gargantuan effort by every one of the lads. We were just too physically strong for them and in the end we ran out deserving winners.

Arthur Bunting will have been looking down on that game and be remembering other such great ‘wars’ that he oversaw in the late 70’s and early 80’s; he would have been so proud of that performance. What more can you say really, because the whole afternoon oozed emotion and passion from start to finish.

I kept it together quite well at the end, and loved the adulation of the crowd as they greeted their FC heroes, whilst the Castleford fans who had been just a tad cocky thirty minutes earlier, drained away to the exits like water down a drain. In fact, I kept my emotions pretty much in check until I met my lifelong mate Barry King on the concourse and then I have to admit a tear appeared in my eye, because we’d been through a lot over the years and it had been such a drama packed and emotional afternoon for us both; no one but no one, on the field or off it, wanted to let go of that Cup!

Driving home it crossed my mind as to how good it would have been to put the car away and go and get absolutely blathered, but I had this rubbish to write and so I came straight home. However, just after we arrived Mrs R shouted “How Ironic” from the kitchen, as she’d just switched on the radio and on Radio Two Paul O’Grady was playing “Sweet Caroline”. It was it seemed the end to a perfect day and I opened a bottle of Bud to celebrate!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 540th

Forever a Hero!

“We’re on the march with Arthur’s Army
We’re all off to Wembley
And we’ll really shake ‘em up when we win the Challenge Cup
‘Cos Hull are the greatest rugby team”

As Fans, a Club and a Family, this week we lost one of the finest people to ever be associated with Hull FC and our most successful Coach of all time. Arthur Bunting’s record as a hero for the masses speaks for itself. In 7 glorious years of unprecedented success, when we won everything, he gained the status of a Rugby League legend, as he masterminded a golden era in the history of our beloved Club. His star has shone brightly ever since! If you never saw a Bunting coached team, full of flamboyant rugby and classy players expressing themselves, you missed a treat, but no-one should ever be in any doubt as to just what a great coach he was, because those of us who did witness his years at the Club, will never forget. It is a measure of his significance to the Airlie Birds that since those halcyon days his has been the benchmark against which every FC coach and every period of success has been judged and indeed will be judged in the future.

Personally, with his death this week I lost a very special piece of my life and on Thursday lunchtime I went and sat on that stone bench at the Boulevard Memorial in Airlie Street, to reflect on a hero taken from us. Hull FC will certainly be a sadder place now he’s gone. However, we’ll always have our memories and at least before he passed away he realised ‘The Dream’ and witnessed Hull FC as they went ‘off to Wembley’, ‘really shook them up’ and ‘won the Challenge Cup’. Arthur will always be remembered by everyone who witnessed that glorious era between 1978 and 1985, an era that will always be referred to as The Bunting Years!

R.I.P. ARTHUR BUNTING

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The Dentist’s Diary – 539th

Wow didn’t that just make you proud to be black and white eh?

In addition to a great win and taking into consideration the draining schedule and totally unacceptable catalogue of games we have seen of late, what an effort that was from 34 players running on absolute empty. The game has a lot to answer for on the player welfare front, but that aside it was a wonderful performance and a massive effort from every one of our lads, as we fielded a team with some jabbed up, some carrying injuries, some out of position and some pretty inexperienced, but they all took the game to the Pies from minute one and produced a massive effort to secure the points.

By the end I felt like I’d played the game myself! The heat, the drama, the Wigan comeback and the absolute heroics from our lads left me completely wrung out. When you considered our depleted ranks, then I have to say that before the game I would probably have taken that result in reverse and then reflected in here on us making a good fist of it, as we faced the Champions with a squad that after the Leigh game in particular, I just couldn’t see getting anywhere near a win.

But how wrong was I proved to be, as every one of the team gave their absolute all and then some and in the end we got two precious points that got us back on track and put any chance of us finishing in the middle eight, almost beyond the pale.

That’s this season’s first target, but the heart and spirit we saw on show in that game has to stand us in good stead for the future. For me as well, it’s just so great to be able to live out the sentiments that so many readers shouted to me as I left the game and to ‘write an upbeat Diary for once!’

After the abject disappointment, concern and sulking of last week-end, I drove home to Beverley in the evening sunshine with a big smile on my face and ‘Born to Run’ at full blast in the car, as after a down beat week for this fan, the whole outlook suddenly looked a lot brighter. It’s a funny old game isn’t it and as reader Richard Hall said last night in an E Mail, “Who in their right mind would ever be a supporter?”
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