The Dentist’s Diary – 684th

Well we are almost there at the ‘Big’ kick-off and things still seem to be anything but clear. At least the game is facilitating a way by which all season ticket holders across the game can watch all the action, through a live stream, but it’s going to be a strange old carry on, although the lack of relegation at least means we can all sit back and enjoy some rugby and do it largely stress free. It’s certainly a big few weeks for Andy l

Last and I wish him well. It must be hard for him having been Radford’s assistant and although the players are making all the right noises, it will be interesting to see if they can deliver for him. 

The Challenge Cup draw was a strange old carry on as well wasn’t it? Still it is what it is and we have to fit in another game against Castleford, probably mid-week,  so who knows what will happen there. 

During lockdown, about 500 of you have followed the books right through the last 19 weeks as I have serialised them here and I have to admit to enjoy reading a bit about our past myself now I’m not so close to writing it all anymore. There’s just this week and another edition, to finish up the story with that wonderful day in Cardiff in 2005. 

To ensure its out of the way, you get a chance to finish the story and so that I can start the old-style Diary again next week after our first game, I’ll slip an extra edition in this Wednesday or Thursday to finish the second book off. Thanks for all your support with this as over the last 20 odd weeks it’s been tough going for us all and I hope that in reading it you at least found something to enjoy.

 Before we get going again a big good luck this week to regular reader Brain Chapman over in Spain. Brian has been a reader from the start of the Diary and is at present doing it tough after a recent operation and good luck to him in his forthcoming Wedding as well. So, onto episode 19 of the story of this ordinary fan and his life supporting the club he loves. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 683rd

Welcome along again to a new Diary, in a week when the disaster that was waiting to happen with the Toronto Wolfpack came to fruition, as at the last minute the best laid plans of Super League were again thrown into disarray. Yet we are still encouraging new clubs in Ottawa and New York to join up!!! Man, is that just plain Madness!! Will we as a sport ever learn eh?

Globally, any sort of date when the Covid 19 crisis mighty be a thing of the past seems to be disappearing further and further over the horizon, whilst we as a country just seem to be waiting for it all to come surging back again and we just have to hope that our game, as it is now, can survive. 

This week as fans starved of the game we love, we also heard how the percentage number of people allowed in grounds is likely to severely inhibit some clubs who are desperately waiting to get folks back in stadia to get some income. In fact, even if that return happens in October as they plan, I think it will be a mix of small live gates for the brave attending games and subscription live streams for the more apprehensive sat at home. 

Your probably all a lot braver than me and I guess I’m maybe on my own in the fact that I’m still pretty apprehensive about attending games anyway, even with social distancing in place. 

I see myself as an extremely young 70, (although others might disagree) but none the less for me I suppose, it’s the issue of toilets, getting in and out and folks regularly pushing past you to go to the lieu throughout the game (which was the norm where I sat) that scares me a bit. Still, who knows, come October things might all be different. Although the way things are progressing they might not be as well!! There must be a few lower division clubs out there that look at the cessation of the furlough scheme with great trepidation and wonder as to how they are going to survive after it, until next March! It’s all a real mess isn’t it! 

Still, as the almost farcical situation concerning the Championship, relegation and promotion etc. has at last been resolved in part, all the players are back in training and the time when we can at least watch some rugby will soon be here. It will be interesting to see what the Clubs do about getting access to games for those who don’t have Sky TV, but with the sword of relegation no longer hanging over the Clubs heads at least the players can enjoy themselves a bit and produce some stress-free rugby that will be good to watch. When you list the changes ranging from the lack of that relegation, through to there being no scrums and the new 6 tackle again rules, it’s certainly going to be different isn’t it? 

Who knows though, often good things come out of adversity and just as the country seems to have found a bit of humanity one for another and people seem to be caring for others more than ever before, these new rules and structures  etc. may lead to long term changes for the good in our sport as well. 

You certainly appreciate how lucky we all where when we used to turn up at the KCom with only the quality of rugby to worry about don’t you? However, often out of adversity comes change for the better, but what legacy’s actually eventually come out of all this for Rugby league, we’ll just have to wait and see. 

But, we’ll all come through and make the best of it because that’s what we do, for when you step back from it all, as human beings we are a resilient old bunch really!!  So, onto the books and the serialisation of my life as a sad old FC fanatic. We are now in the mid-nineties and sort of in limbo, in a calm before the storm situation which at the time seemed to be terrible, but even then with the advent of Mr Lloyd (David not Gwilym!!), perhaps we didn’t know just how lucky we were!!! 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 682nd

Hello and welcome to another edition of the lockdown diary. We are now another week closer to the season starting and have the lads back in training on Monday! Well done to those who went in early to do some extra’s and let’s hope that we can hit the road running and put that bad start to the season behind us. What’s more, we know who we are playing and when, however it’s all a bit strange with triple headers in neutral Stadiums isn’t it? But, with the issues about Toronto’s Visa’s relegation and promotion, the Championship’s future this year and the rigours of weekly testing, I’m not at all sure how the coming season will pan out for us at all. I’m doing my best to get the two book serialisation finished by the games commence again, and thanks to everyone who has supported me through the last 16 weeks. So here we go again this time through the Brian Smith era and back into some darker times at the Boulevard!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 681st

Well here we are again, as another week passes and the crowd at the RFL continues to drag their feet on sorting out what will be happening for the rest of what is to be severely truncated season. As well as the whole campaign being reduced by seven games, teams will lose home advantage for certain fixtures and new rules have now been introduced during the campaign, rather than at the start of the season as is usual. 

Several games have already been played under the old rules and Toronto will probably not now play a game at home at all, whilst the Catalan position is still unclear. Plus of course, if any player gets the virus, you can see all his team mates and indeed the players he has opposed on the pitch, isolated for 14 days and perhaps missing two or three games, and that through no rugby injury or fault of their own. A level playing field 2020 is not!! 

Add to that the fact that half the Championship clubs are for restarting the season and half are dead against it, primerilybecause of the escalating cost of Covid testing, whilst some clubs are still in dispute about wages and it’s a real catalogue of issues. So, at present for me, the whole thing is a mess and needs someone to grow some and make a few decisions somewhere and to do it quickly!! 

Relegation and promotion has to be scrapped simple as! In fact, it’s been indicated this week by one of the country’s top sporting lawyer’s, that so many things have changed mid-season that any club who were relegated would have a good case to take legal action against the RL, because of all those circumstances. But typical of the governing body, they are still trying to please all of the people, all of the time and as usual that’s solving nothing. We haven’t even got the fixtures agreed yet! So, it goes on.

On another tack I was wondering this week if, in my serialisation of the first two books, we’ll get right up to the glorious 2005 season finale where the second book finished, before the season restarts. I’m not sure we will, but I’ll press on, as this week the 80’s draw to a close, we lose big Len Casey as coach and start to experience the start of three great seasons of Brian Smith being at the helm at the Boulevard. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 680th

Hello again and wasn’t it heartening this week to see Adam Pearson going into print, reaffirming his backing for the club and his commitment to it and looking forward to our games starting again. Then in chimed James Clark, with more interesting, heartening and reassuring stuff as the pair of them battle to keep the club we love afloat and look to restarting our season. 

I guess there are troubled waters ahead though and with so many Rugby League clubs run on a shoe string in the first place, I simply can’t see everyone coming through unscathed. Neil Hudgell over in the East painted a bleak picture in the Mail on Wednesday and I guess we just all have to await what happens next. 

One thing that is strangely in our favour at Hull FC is the fact that we don’t own our own ground or have any sort of long lease on it, because in effect we are just tenants of the SMC. Normally that’s a disadvantage and it’s fair to say that we have often envied Clubs who have the ‘security’ of owning their own stadiums, or leasing them long term. Indeed, having our own home has always been the dream of everyone from Adam to ‘Joe Public’ sat on the terraces, but now perhaps the lack of such a facility, is a bit of a god send. 

You see, for now, those owners and tenants have to continue with the upkeep of their grounds, whilst they also have balance sheets that depend on functions, bar takings, room hire and out of game-time activities to stay afloat. Their maintenance and upkeep costs will be escalating, with no income coming in and as is now happening at Rovers, the debts are totting up. 

Owning your own stadium, or having a long lease means that you can spread your wings a bit, but you then come to depend on that income and you can see how the loss of those lucrative rock concerts, that they were so proud of attracting, have hit Hull KR hard, as they revealed this week that they have caused a £500,000 hole in their 2020 balance sheet and that’s without the Corona Virus stuff. At Hull FC we have had to live without such income streams and hone our business around playing rugby on game day, selling shed loads of merchandise and attracting large amounts of sponsorship, memberships and external income. As a Club we have long lamented not owning our ground and not being able to do such things as others could do, but now conversely, I guess that it’s an advantage of sorts. 

Still as I have said for weeks now, we can only await developments and as fans, see what we can do to help when we are asked. This Covid thing is far from over and, with the irresponsible actions of the few, who knows what spikes and surges will be upon us in the coming months. In the mean-time things move on, slowly, and so for now we return to the mid 80’s when we had other troubles at Hull FC, as the great days of the Arthur Bunting reign were fast disappearing and the debts were again beginning to mount. 

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