The Dentist’s Day – 674th

So, hello to week ten of the serialisation of my first book and as we reach the late 70’s, things start to get exciting down at the Boulevard with the coming of Bunting and the amazing ‘Knocker’ Norton. 

This week has been a quiet one rugby wise as the pandemic rumbles on and there is really little sign of it ever ending. There has been a lot going on behind the scenes as the Clubs got together again this week, for a long meeting to decide just how to get things moving again. I know that games will start behind closed doors but, I also believe from what I’m hearing from readers and people who keep in touch, that it will take a lot of convincing to get some fans back in the grounds even when we are told that the game is opening up again. There’s still a lot of apprehensive folks out there. 

Still, the Aussie experiment seems to be going well and they have made a good job of re-launching the season for the TV cameras and all the sit at home fans. However, they do seem to have been a bit smarter than us with this and indeed with how as a country they have dealt with the virus in general. 

Still I’ll keep going and move, after next week, into the second book, as we continue the life spanning journal of an average fan with an undoubted obsession for his Rugby League team. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 673rd

So, at last this week, we saw some news coming out of the club, but all of it not good really, as we heard that both Ratu Naulago and Albert Kelly won’t be with us in 2021. Ratu for me is a massive loss because, he has real potential to be another Vianicolo type player who could have been a real sensation in the game, but thankfully he had the decency to reject at least one approach from another British Club, in respect for what Hull FC has done for him. 

He had everything in his armoury that you can’t teach a naturally gifted player and that just needed working on, whilst his explosive speed is something that had at times to be seen to be believed for such a big bloke. I’m convinced we will see him starring at Bristol in RU but perhaps not as much as he would have done, (with two less defenders on the field) in League. So, for me as I say, he is a big loss. 

Albert has been threatening a move to Australia for two years now and after what has been going on across the world of late who wouldn’t want to be at home?  But as Kelly departs we lose a real old-fashioned maverick of a player who can make the big play and turn a game with one shuffle of his feet or flick of his wrist. He’s had his moments disciplinary wise, and also been rather prone to suspension and concussion of late so perhaps the time is right, but he’s an enigma that it will be virtually impossible to replace. In saying all this, as if they are gone already, I guess it looks like I am writing this season off and in effect if I’m honest I think I probably am. For normality seems as far away now as it did when the game was suspended all those weeks ago. Who’s next for leaving? Well we’ll just have to wait and see.  

Also this week, the Challenge Cup Final was ‘postponed’ and despite all the hoo haa that accompanied its announcement that was something that was always going to happen. Fact is, I think it is a competition that is unlikely to be enacted at all this season, particularly if we are intent on cramming in the rest of this league campaign as well. 

Personally, as things stand now, I’m for scrapping relegation as well, because even if we get started and try to cram games in, perhaps at 3 a week and through the winter weather, with postponements etc. the ‘playing field’ will not be even at all, so I think that to retain relegation in such a scenario will be a travesty.    

But now back to the story of my lifelong passion for Hull FC and you know, I have been amazed (when I have read back these chapters for the first time for 6 years), just how tough those years in the seventies were and just how much we celebrated anything even a gallant loss. They were such tough times, but this week’s episode ends with one such great day all be it a losing one. So here goes and I hope you find something to enjoy in it!! 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 672nd

Hello Everyone, I hope you’re all hanging in there. As the virus stuff continues and we all self-isolate, it’s all getting a bit tedious isn’t it and even with my most optimistic head on it’s hard to see when life will ever be the same again. There is little doubt that at such times, some things are much bigger than rugby but across the various sports in this country everyone is just trying to survive as best they can and as such rugby league certainly has its challenges. 

At such a time it truly was a masterstroke for the RL to secure that £16m loan for the Government. The money is clearly a crucial lifeline and will certainly help all clubs in the months ahead. What’s more Sky TV have now pledged to support the game for the last two years of their contract which is great too. 

Looking at cost cutting, it also appears that there seems to be a growing move from many in Super League to scrap the two-tier system of administration so that the two bodies unite again. I know it’s a case of needs must but for some of us, the shambles that ensued before Super League split away still hangs heavy in our memories. However, Ralph Rimmer who has done so well to secure the funding, but who didn’t exactly covered himself in glory on several occasions in the past, has other problems to sort now, including the one that could be the most problematic yet: promotion and relegation. 

Lots have been calling for there to be no relegation in 2020 due to the unusual circumstances under which the competition currently finds itself. There is little doubt that the fixture list could look very different to how it was originally planned, with so much uncertainty about whether Catalans and Toronto will even be able to travel. Although, as I always said in the diary, any format that involves loop fixtures and Magic Weekend is flawed and open to accusations of inequality anyway. So, those in favour of scrapping relegation have a powerful argument given the unprecedented chaos Covid-19 has brought. But that won’t bode well at all with those in the Championship and League 1 who are striving to earn promotion. They have set up working groups to sort it out, but most Super league clubs will be averse to relegation after a truncated and disparate season.  

However, the likes of Toulouse Olympique, London Broncos and Leigh Centurions to name three have invested heavily in their bid to reach or return to the elite. If it is decided there should be no promotion or relegation (and one is almost certainly not going to happen without the other) the owners also won’t have one up but no-one down, as no cash strapped Super League club will agree to the money pot being reduced to include 13 teams in Super league will they? 

Conversely, any suggestion on no movement at all will probably fall on deaf ears for those in the Championship and League 1 striving to earn promotion as without it, their season will effectively be a write off. Furthermore, if it all does eventually start up behind closed doors, as is expected, it is hard to envisage how many Championship clubs will be able to make any money at all. That £16m only spreads so far and a lot of clubs will simply be intent on surviving into 2021. Undoubtedly all of this will be a minefield which will involve some careful negotiating by Rimmer in the weeks ahead. In many ways it’s a tough one and some owners including Neil Hudgell, who are against relegation in a manufactured fixture list, want a definitive answer shelving relegation, before play resumes and they invest anymore. What’s more they are right, for you need to know exactly what you are playing for before you get underway. It’s a tough situation and someone is always going to be unhappy, so there are certainly interesting times ahead!

In the meantime, here we go again with the next part of the ongoing saga of the life of a fanatical FC fan as we look at the 1970’s, at the departure of Johnny Whiteley and the Coaching of Ivor Watts and Clive Sullivan, Saturday nights on the town, annual general meetings, ginger groups, tall tales on wet afternoons, Magic sponges and the lack of any sort of political correctness on the Threepennies! 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 671st

Welcome to another week of the Diary, as the lockdown continues and we all try to stay safe and await what happens next. It’s been a quiet old week again in the game, but as the Premier League consider a return to playing football behind closed doors in June and muting the possibility of perhaps even having to consider continuing with the same set up for the whole of next season. There is little doubt at present that the future of rugby league hangs in the balance.

It was a little sad for me to hear that the players union werethis week flexing their muscles and issuing ‘strongly worded letters’ about the players getting a cut of the £16m loan from the government, before it had even been received. I say that simply because at times like these we all have to pull togetherand work as one for the common good. Players must have enough money to survive, pay their commitments and look after their families, that point isn’t in doubt and the owners know that. It was intimated this week from our own players that Adam has even told them that once they are back playing, their wages will be restored.

Whatever they are, I can’t honestly see the owners stuffing their pockets with the money at the expense of keeping the game going or the players solvent, can you? There is no point in anyone getting heavy handed in all this and what is done with the loan has to be done equitably, taking the clubs, the fans and indeed the players along with the process.  

On the other side of the coin this week our Club sent out a letter of thanks to all their sponsors and commercial partnersfor the ‘phenomenal’ help and offers of assistance they have received from these organisations, all of whom are under pressure themselves. The response and offers from this sector of our club has been amazing and is just great to see. In the meantime, whilst us fans await to see how we can all help, theGovernment money has to be used to simply keep the clubs going, so that the game stays afloat. 

The players have effectively been furloughed and like millions of others in the country, everyone in organisations have sadly to take a cut in their standard of living. What’s more our lot have done that and taken their ‘medicine’ in a good spirit. Like all other workers too, all employers and theiremployees will only find out what happens next, once that furloughing has ceased to be in place and the workplaces are starting to open up again. 

Until then, Clubs have to effectively be mothballed and go into hibernation at the lowest possible level of existence, to hopefully re-emerge in some form, when things get better. So,let’s hope that we see some common sense in it all, everyone pulls together and we get back to playing, so that we have a sport left at the end of this tragic debacle. 

For now though, in here, it’s back to my journey through life as a fanatical FC supporter, finding his way in the world, as this week I recount the emergence of Sunday rugby, the great Mick Ronson, ‘We all Hate Leeds’, a victory at last in the Yorkshire Cup Final, tragedy at home, Terry Kirchin, the magical qualities of human urine and the rise and fall of the Clockwork Chicken.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 670th

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of the Diary and a further serialisation of my life as an FC fan growing up in the world of work, as I gradually develop a distinct dislike for the team at the other side of the city. 

But before we get into that, thanks so much for all the feedback I got last week about what I had to say about the way our club staff and players had rallied around Hull FC and accepted pay cuts etc. It was a great effort and it looks as if it may shortly be our turn as fans to chip in where we can. 

This week as the days dragged by, I was lamenting the possible future of our great club and the sport in general, because everything I read indicated that the storm clouds seemed to be gathering over British Rugby League. It is atime when depressing stuff seems to be surrounding us anyway and to lose the sport that I had dedicated my life to, would be I thought, for me and thousands of others, a massive blow.  

However how heartening it was to hear that, setting us apart from all other sports in the Country, the Government had agreed to a one-off independent loan of £16m, to underpin a game that I have always believed is fundamental to the sporting tapestry and indeed the life of the North of England. Many people have worked tirelessly for this development,particularly the MP’s for East and West Hull Karl Turner and Emma Hardy and they should be heartily commended for their efforts. 

But you see, for me, this horrible crisis the country finds itself in, isn’t a political issueat all, for what is happening is far above politics and the sooner a handful of cheap shot politicians and the majority of the ‘stirer’s’ in the media learn that the better!!At present everything has to just be totally about saving lives and trying to ensure something of the life we knew before, is left for those who are lucky enough to come through this disastrous and shocking time intact. So, you have to welcome a move to save our game such as this is, wherever and whoever it is coming from. 

So, you’ll understand I think, that what struck me most was the comment of Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when he said: “From my first sports visit as Secretary of State to Leigh Centurions, I could see how important these clubs are to the communities they serve. They are the beating heart of their towns and cities, and their impact goes far beyond what happens on the pitch. Sports across the board are facing unprecedented pressures, and we are supporting them through wider Government measures.  In this case we are intervening as an exception, not to save an individual business or organisation, but to protect an entire sport, the community it supports, the World Cup held here next year and its legacy for generations to come.”

That said it all and it has to be good news for the game we all love and indeed for Adam and our beloved Hull FC. However, it also reflects a growing understanding of what the game means to communities and the populous of the north of England and in this instance at least, it animates the current Governments promise to look after the North.

However, in the game itself, the big test of integrity now is to see if any clubs try to ‘poach’ players who are now free agents from other teams. Some Clubs are simplynot at present in a position to secure contracts with those players, although in an ideal situation they would want to keep them. Let’s hope everyone the clubs, the players and the RFL play fair (although rumour is already that one or two ain’t) so that we can hold the line and get through all this together as one game. The RFL had better get the allocation right too, because their record of late hardly engenders faith in them, does it? 

Still, we all have to welcome this intervention in the hope that we have a professional sport to support again one day, when we can all get back to the KCom and back with the great family that is Hull FC. What a day that will be eh !!!!

But now, back to the 60’s when you’ll remember we had just moved from my spiritual home in Airlie Street to Sutton, deep in the heart of enemy territory………

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