The Dentist’s Diary – 443rd

The Challenge Cup Final; the Biggest game in British Rugby League? Well it always used to be!

In ‘Wembley week’ it makes you realise, I think, just how things have changed in our sport. I watched the match on TV, but back in the 70’s and 80’s no doubt I’d have been sat in one of that plethora of empty seats, whoever was playing.

I guess some of you were in attendance, but gone are the days when every pub had a trip down to the final with hundreds having saved up every week in their locals, to finance their annual sojourn to the capital. Two or three special trains left Paragon Station on Thursday and Friday even if a Hull team wasn’t involved and East Yorkshire always ran coach trips on the day. All that because supporters of all persuasions wanted to be there at the greatest event in their sporting year. However, changing trends, other leisure pursuits and Sky TV and the Super League has buggered all that up.

But, it’s nice to watch the teams walk out and remember some great times (although I doubt I could drink that much anymore!!) However, I use this analogy because it does make you think how the Final and our sport have been devalued and whether it will ever get that kudos back. As we all know, people around the world, sometimes in the middle of the night, tune in to watch it as a great sporting occasion. It has always been the shop window of our great game and let’s hope a change of date next year can make it so again. It’s still brilliant if your teams playing in it and glorious if you win, but if you aren’t involved, these days it is for many now, just of passing interest!! And that’s really sad!   

For me it’s been a week off and time to reflect a bit? I’m quite relieved to be honest, because I don’t think I could face another showing like the Salford game just yet!!!!

Because of that this week’s Diary is pretty random (in fact even more random than usual) I’m still stinging a bit from that last home game, so its tainted somewhat, but with a week off this journal is just a collection of my thoughts about our Club and where we are at present. It uses stats, records and the views of the readers out there who have contacted me and it’s about what we hear and what I think is happening at present. By the end you’ll probably be saying thank goodness there’s a game next week, but here goes ….  

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The Dentist’s Diary – 642nd

Oh dear, what a shambles?

Well it’s hard to say much else really, for on Saturday we probably squandered the best chance we will have of getting a home draw in the play-offs, in a league that is probably as poor as it will ever get.

It was a massive game that we should have been so up for, but again we looked disinterested and this season is quickly descending into the one that got away! It will never be easier for a workmanlike team, that is just a bit consistent, to get to Old Trafford, but the last few weeks have proved that we are neither workmanlike nor consistent. Wigan on Friday night really, really wanted it, yet with us, to have so much to play for and yet to not turn up for long periods of the game, is simply criminal for me.

We were clueless at times and people won’t pay to see what we all sat through on Saturday much longer, for our 2019 home form is now verging on a disaster. This was our most inept performance since we played Huddersfield in the Magic Weekend jamboree, if not, perhaps, our poorest of the season. The tragedy is that Salford although adequate and disciplined in their execution of a simple game plan, were not that good either.

They were brilliantly led from scrum half by Hastings, but otherwise 5 of their scores came from us either making mistakes in our own 20-meter area or from us giving penalties away in the same zone. But, some of our lot appeared to be simply going through the motions, they’ll deny it and perhaps I’m being a bit harsh here, however, in the end that’s how it looked to the scores of people who were streaming out of the ground with 10 minutes to go.

Last week in the build-up to the game we knew it was a massive chance to go 2 points clear in second, surely you have to want that? Surely that must motivate you to at least give your all? Surely it’s your, defining moment of the season so far? Well we mere mortals might all have thought that, but from a shambolic looking warm up to the final hooter, some of our lot simply lacked any sort of wanting or passion at all.

I love my club and I can take defeat, I can take humiliation and even disastrous outcomes and do it with pride, but only if I’m convinced everyone is giving their all for me; on Saturday I’m convinced a lot didn’t!!! It’s simply in the end all about playing for the FC, for the shirt, the badge and the fans, yet I saw precious little of that on show at all. In fact, in the end, Salford came out worthy winners. I’d like to say it was heart-breaking, but for this season at least, I think I’m past that now!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 641st

It’s never an easy ride as an FC fan is it?

First thoughts from the game at Wakefield? Well I think I had just two at the end; firstly, we’ll never play a worse team than the Wildcats and playing like we are at present, we will never get to a Grand Final, never mind win one.

So come on FC; 4 games to go ……prove me wrong!

For me as a spectacle Sunday was instantly forgettable. It was always going to be a battle and Wakefield is hardly a happy hunting ground, but it was hardly convincing either, yet there everyone was as the hooter went, breathing a little easier after a real ‘mistakeathon’, yet two points clear of Wigan again and level with Warrington in second. Who wouldn’t have taken that back in February eh? We have seen some real dross at times in 2019 and it was the same again in West Yorkshire on Sunday. None the less, in the context of the season, it was a massive win, we are back on the horse points wise, but not exactly galloping towards the Grand Final either.

BUT!!!! If Wigan beat Warrington on Friday and we beat Salford on Saturday, we go clear in second!!!! Crazy times eh??? I never like doing the Dobbins a favour, but we’ve given them a leg up and if our noisy neighbours can’t beat that lot at home next Sunday, they don’t deserve to stay up!! Poor old Wakey were clueless at times, but although we had a lot more idea than them, we just made mistake after mistake. Yet it’s certainly all happening and it’s never dull at the FC is it? It’s been another interesting week signing wise, what’s more, injuries and our current form makes next Saturdays hit up with Salford at the KCom a critical yet difficult looking affair to say the least. They are for me, the form team of the competition at present. What’s more, I bet with our injury situation they’ll smell blood!!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 640

Well that was closer than most of us thought it would ever be, wasn’t it? 

Again, I can’t be downbeat this week, particularly after all that effort and fighting spirit coming as it did, just 5 days after pretty much the same group of players had their hearts broken and their bodies battered, in such tragic circumstances in the Semi-Final. However, looking at it all objectively, we must learn quickly to be smarter and turn pressure into points.  

I didn’t really know what to expect on Thursday although I did feel that we had little chance of really competing after a five-day turn-around following that battle royal in Bolton;particularly as we faced a team that had experienced two weeks with their feet up. 

However, in the end we did show incredible energy and resolve to hang in a game that we almost came out winning. Sadly, once again after all that resolute line defence and tons of heart and spirit against all the odds, our attack was clunky and disjointed and our frustration at this was summed up perfectly by what a lady said to me, (as she passed to grab an early cup of tea as half time approached) “I won’t be missing much, if we play till midnight we won’t score!”. And that was exactly how it looked to me.  

Our defence, like Wigan’s was magnificent, but theLancashire team were there for the taking. We simply lacked any sort of plan from Kelly and Connor and with Sneyd well watched and flattened a time or two, we didn’t have enoughguile or enterprise to score more than the one try we got from Taylor. So Wigan probably deserved the points, but it was a good effort from the boys, if not as I say, a bit of a dumb one at times.

After the weekend our destiny is still in our own hands, nothing has changed, we are still third, all be it with a shrinking gap between us and Wigan, but they have four home games in the five remaining, whilst we have three; BUT they are good at home and we are better away, so it’s going to be a real battle to hold onto our position here on in! 

Therefore, with a long turn around coming up, we simply have to get recharged, practise our moves all day long, switch our centres around and get our attack sorted out, for we really do have to win at Wakey next Sunday. 

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