The Dentists Diary – 436rd

Can you have a crisis just 4 games into a season?

Well at Hull FC you bet you can, as for me we might just be approaching one and perhaps it’s even crisis point already! We can’t pussy foot around it, or say its early days, because in two weeks time when we meet Catalan, we will be over a quarter of the way through the regular rounds and likely bottom of the league. Some of you will say I’m over reacting but for me to be in the bottom two or three, having conceded 43 unanswered points in the second half of a game at home, when you have conceded none in the first half, is at any time of the season, a problem of pretty critical proportions. The issue with the smaller league and the standard of the teams in it, is that once you’re down amongst the bottom 4 you have to string a run of wins together to get out of it, but everyone will be picking up wins here and there and there are no gimme’s as far as teams being guaranteed to finish near the bottom is concerned.

This certainly wasn’t the plan at all! 2015 our 150th Year was the last chance saloon for so many reasons, the fans had lost patience and only decided to give it one last go because of their support for that celebration and the owner of the Club. This was crunch time, as across the Black and White Army many had lost faith in our ability of ever turn it round and it was obvious even back before Christmas that only a good season on the pitch could save Adam Pearson’s bacon and maintain the Clubs enviable supporter base. Anything less and we would be destined to simply haemorrhage fans during the season and then, when next year’s passes go on sale, thousands would vote with their feet; we all acknowledged back then that those were the basic and irrefutable facts. That was the deal and everyone in the Club and on the terraces knew it was!

‘And so began our ‘Crunch’ 2015 season, there was an unexpected and very heartening win at Huddersfield, we went close but no cigar against Warrington, didn’t turn up at Salford and totally capitulated in the second half last Thursday, against the team we always want to beat; crisis what crisis? However with only 4 games gone a pattern is definitely developing and already for those of us who have seen it so many times before over the years, the portents ain’t good at all are they??

For me that second half last Thursday was ‘Wigan at home last year’ all over again and I was verging on being distraught by the end, (two days later other description’s would perhaps be more believable, but still by no means accurate). After 40 minutes of watching open mouthed at some of the worst game management and defence I have seen for years, I slumped into my seat drained, disillusioned and disappointed. In a 30 round competition it took just 3 games and 40 minutes of rugby to find us out on our feet and knackered; what the hell is all that about!!!

I lamented the fact that next up it’s a bloodied Wigan (and who better to meet in our current state), then it’s Catalan with Carney and all, resurgent Castleford away, the bloody Dobbins and then the Saints, so where exactly are the next points coming from? It’s only 4 games played, but for me the only progress we have made is in a backward direction.

If I’m being brutally honest (and hopefully I’ll be proved gloriously wrong as the season unfolds), I thought as I walked back across West Park at 10-00pm, that there was no chance of us making that top 8 at all. In fact, I thought, if something drastic doesn’t happen soon, we could even find ourselves outside of SL next season. Since that long walk back to the car I’ve had a good long think, watched that second half again, looked at it outside the box a bit and…….you know what….I’m still pretty much of the that opinion!!! It was shocking!

You lot, I know, don’t like me over reacting and perhaps here I am a bit, but I’m still suffering 3 days on and that makes me a bit irrational. I love my Club as do all of you reading this and all we want is for them to be competitive, but its bloody soul destroying when you’re humiliated like that on national TV! These are the hardest Diaries to write and no mistake. It’s at times like this that I think enough is enough, it’s bad enough being there in itself, without having to sit down afterwards to crystallise my thoughts about it all over again in here. I spoke to Adam on Friday morning and if it’s any consolation he hadn’t slept and had an early morning meeting with Mr Radford at the training ground. If we thought it was bad, then imagine his despair; his guest at the game was Neil Hudgell!

It was a strange night for me too, because we parked just off Selby Street for the first time, so that I could collect some books I had been given by my pal Richard. It was good to meet up and good to walk down to the stadium with loads of other fans that were all enthusiastic and excited about the game. The first half was a fine example of playing to your strengths managing the opposition and toughing it out, but anyone who was with me on the night will bear out that all I kept repeating at half time was “Leeds can’t be that bad again and we should have twice that amount of points on the board”. You see, I sort of knew what would happen next, didn’t you? Let’s face it; we’ve seen it happened so many times before, haven’t we?

I just wish our Coach would come on the radio and say how sorry he feels for the fans, how gutted he is and how crap the team were, because that would do for me. Instead we have a list of excuses trotted out, about short turn-rounds and injuries etc. Yes this new format is unforgiving and brutally tough, but injuries and short run in’s are the norm now and the same for all of the Clubs.

In any case that turn-round of 5 days was no different to a Sunday to Friday one which is quite common place in modern rugby and with two periods when we are to play 3 matches in 8 days, we must hope that we have more resilience and ability to recover in future. Lee Radford said that we just ‘ran out of gas’ and if we had lost energy and missing tackles etc in the last quarter then you could understand that comment, but to concede two tries in three minutes straight after a long almost 20 minute half time break, just doesn’t make sense. I just don’t buy the excuses do you? Losing Watts late on was a blow as it left the front row too light and meant Ellis’s tackling out wide was missed, which in defence made a big difference when they cut-loose. It was also a very inopportune time to blood Turgut for his first game and re-introduce Abdull to the fray. They were both like rabbits caught in the headlights, but they were in good company as so where some of their much more celebrated team mates.

However all that said, we should still never have capitulated so early on in the second half should we? Perhaps Leeds got all the right instructions at half time because they stopped their off load game that wasn’t working and started to go more direct from acting half and we…… well who knows what we were told to do???? We should have brought Houghton back at the start of the second period because then he would at least have made an effort to stop up the acting half scoots down the middle. My pal suggested that this team seem obsessed with just turning the ball back inside time after time after time, to try and play a power game reminiscent of Bradford in the days that Lee Radford played for them. I think he has a point too but that relies entirely on the supporting players running the right lines and anyway we don’t have the pack to do that anymore!

As for player performances, well Pryce had a great first half before he got a knock and Paea didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. Sneyd tried hard without being spectacular and at full back Shaul did well when under a lot of pressure, but that apart it was all pretty woeful in that second half. For me it’s just impossible three days afterwards to single out poor performances because there were so many and as someone said on social media, “….people don’t know where to start. It’s like a speech at the Oscars; there are so many to name check it’s hard to get them all in”

It’s the obvious things that get me. I see them, you see them, so why don’t the players! Take momentum for instance. In the modern game when a team scores, the challenge for the other side is to stop the scoring outfit’s momentum in the next set after the kick off, you have to stop the roll forward and get the ball back anyway and anywhere on the field. On two occasions after tries we conceded penalties after three or four tackles and handed the opposition a run of 9 or 10 tackles with which to score again….and they did! Stopping that surge and indeed not adding to it is game management and we simply don’t have any.

Another worrying thing for me is the fact that it now appears that we held a couple of players back from the Salford game, (thinking we could win it easily) to concentrate on Leeds. We lost both but should play every game as it appears in front of us with our strongest team. That’s why I say we are in crisis, the relentless nature of week in week out rugby of this standard means that there is simply no escape from the pressure which will mount now from round to round as the bottom 4 looms for at least half the teams in the competition.

Had we started with that Leeds performance, moved onto Salford, then Warrington and on Thursday beat Huddersfield 19-0 it would have been progress and a team heading in the right direction. Reverse that and it’s a team going backwards. Big wins at Wigan and against Catalan will get us back on track, but can you see that happening? That was simply an abysmal half of rugby and I honestly had readers E mailing me from around the world, who had been in tears during that second half. Leeds were good, make no mistake about that, but we were bloody awful. Where do we go from here? Well to Wigan of course! The Wigan who are sore and mad after a humiliating defeat at Castleford, that should be a cake walk then!! Oh dear I’m certainly depressed at present!!!

As an aside and away from all our woes, I have to say some will no doubt, like me, be asking what price good coaching? I have long been a big admirer of James Webster and my thoughts on that subject were certainly not diminished at all when I watched Washbrook, Lynne, Hall and Miller play for Wakey on Friday! None of them were any good for us where they? Look out for Arundel heading for England selection next!

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Great try!

So to the week passed and it seems that there has only been one big subject around the FC camp; Steve Michaels. After almost a week of silence it was only on the eve of the Leeds game that we heard a statement from the Club. It was then that Lee Radford said the ex Gold Coast Titan will be treated as innocent unless anything changes. “At the minute with him, it is a report in a paper,” he said, “There has been no contact from the NRL, Gold Coast (Titans) and the Queensland Crime Commission and no contact from the ‘Old Bill’ over here, so at present it’s a press report in the Courier Mail. Until that changes I think Steve could do with a game to be honest so we’ll continue putting him up for selection unless something changes and puts a different light on the matter.” Then Adam Pearson said the same sort of stuff in is programme notes.

That’s the Clubs stance and for better or for worse it’s pretty clear, however it has been really interesting to read the comments on message boards etc and to hear the views of the fans I bumped into in Beverley and those I spoke with last Thursday at the game. Sometimes in here it’s hard to comment on such things but once again, we have something that has certainly been occupying my mind of late and so here’s what I think about it as an ordinary fan. I’ll try and say what I think, but please forgive me if I get it wrong!

What is certain is that there is definitely a deal of polarisation going on with regard to which end of the argument you stand at! At present there appears to be three distinct camps. The ‘holier than though brigade’ of the flog him and hang inclination, having a go on twitter and RL fans, while in the opposite ‘corner’ the equally implacable and blinkered ‘as long as he wins games for us I don’t care what the hell he’s done’ camp, with, early last week at least, the rest of us pinging around like pin-balls between the two factions thinking one thing one minute and another the next!

I’m getting old, I’ve seen most things in sport and life and I like to think of myself as a live and let live type of individual, so these days there are few things that really get my goat, particularly when it comes to how others conduct themselves in their lives. Narcotics are something I’ve never got that close too really. In fact until I was 50 I thought Cocaine was something you got at the Dentist, Charlie was the future King and a dope peddler was a Rovers fan on a bike! I don’t know much about drug taking at a recreational level simply because, as far as fixes go, a few beers have always been good enough for me, my Dad and his Dad. However as for role models and the like partaking and setting a bad example, well that’s simply not on at all. That’s my simplistic view of it all but then again, I’m bloody ancient anyway! On a serious note however I do know that I absolutely abhor drugs, steroids and the like when it’s anything to do with a sportsman trying to gain unfair advantage over their peers and when it comes to the folks that sell the stuff and sometimes kill people by doing it, well………. I’ll say no more!!

That’s just my own view however and although it’s a really difficult one for the Club, as fans we are just every day Joe’s who don’t know all the fact anyway. However as such, just like about everyone else in society these days, we are also I believe victims of the ‘Face-book Generation’. The everyday use of social media has, for me at least, tarnished all our morals, standards and ethics, because we are all now in danger of being influenced by a tide of comment and recrimination from a lot of faceless people tapping away at their keyboards.

Hark at him I hear you say, however in my defence I would say that a few sporting rumours and a bit of friendly media bashing is one thing, but many now seem desperate to be the first to put someone down and ‘stick the knife in’, before they are even found guilty of anything. Somehow the need to be first with the news, or to appear to know something someone else doesn’t, means that society these days appears to have everyone guilty before some are even aware of what they are supposed to have done!

For me, this parlous state of affairs stems from the very top of news sourcing. The national newspapers no longer break the news, because social media and radio has usually done it already and so they tend to at best over sensationalise it and at worst make it up!! That rubs off through our local media and across society in general, so that now we’re all at it to some degree or another. No one appears innocent until proved guilty anymore because in many cases everyone is guilty whatever, simply because it makes for better rumour mongering and offers 5 minutes of fame and prestige for the instigator!!! We all love a good rumour or in the case of this weekly drivel a good ‘Whiff’ and I have to admit that when you look at the Steve Michaels stuff the way it is going over in Australia and the company he is in, it’s hard not to believe that that there is nothing in it, well I certainly find it hard anyway! So, although I’m not broadcasting my concerns, in my heart of hearts I’m as bad as everyone else.

However, perhaps we all have to take a step back in these situations, we are the fans and the ones that although scandals come and go, players are sacked and taken to court, punch ups occur in the pubs, players are linked with drugs, supplements change hands etc etc, (we’ve seen it all over the years haven’t we?) we are the ones who simply have nowhere to go. We can’t be suspended, sacked, or transfer listed, nor can we ask for a transfer, or move on to another Club or even Country; we are stuck with Hull FC, it’s the Club we love and whatever is thrown at us we have to sit tight and ‘SUPPORT IT!’ I know that for many of us at times like this, it’s tough but we have little option really.

The ‘moral high grounders’ have certainly been out in force demanding Michaels goes ‘home to face the music immediately’; of course they have and that’s their right as fans, but with the exception of a newspaper article no one is sure exactly what music he has to face! At times like this we can chunter all we like, but in the end all we can do is sit tight, take the crap from across the river and trust the owner and the action he is taking. Plus, we have to do it in the hope that what he does do is in the best interests of the Club we all love.

With the last lot we would have wondered, boy wouldn’t we have wondered? However with Adam I think we are pretty sure it will be in our best interest! There is no way he would keep a drug user and/or dealer on our books, so one has to presume that the decision to keep Steve at the Club has been made on the basis of some sound legal advice. Adam certainly doesn’t want to be paying anymore compensation out, so until the police come knocking or there is an extradition request, we have to presume that all this is just paper talk.

As I say, personally I think it looks bad for Mr Michaels, you can’t help but think that, but rest assured questions will have been asked of both the player and the Australian authorities and had the right answers not been forthcoming, the players would have been on a Quantas ‘big bird’ days ago. Furthermore Adam’s legal team will have told him exactly what he has to do and when, and indeed what the consequences of not doing it will be! So although we all have our thoughts we have I believe, to keep our Council and sit tight! The social media harbingers of doom have had their day and who knows Steve Michaels might be guilty and if he is, I’ll be the first there with my ‘Send the bugger back’ banner! Whether he is or he isn’t the Club have handled things as they see fit to do so. For now, for me, we have to trust Adam and his judgement, rather than the thoughts of the ‘bedroom lawyers’ out there hypothesising on facebook and twitter!

NEWS with Ben story 5-3-15 The Hull FC cheer squad, Airlies's Angels/DWS clown around with Hull FC's Setaimata Sa for Red Nose day before the Leeds match at the KC Stadium. Picture: Simon Renilson **WITH VIDEO** Prints can be ordered at www.thisisphotosales.co.uk/hullandeastriding or telephone 08444 060 910
A load of comedians at the KC on Friday…. this time it’s Airlies Angels (with Sentimata Sa) doing their bit for comic relief!

Now, the new Hull FC 150th exhibition is at last open at the Hull Streetlife Museum and is certainly worth a look. There’s plenty to read and lots of interesting stuff, both belonging to the Club and donated by fans, to look at and I would really recommend a visit if you’re in Hull with half an hour to spare!

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Worth a look!

Well as you know I try, in here, to steer clear of ‘official/referee bashing’, but I told you last week that two fellow ageing Salford fans came over to me after the game in Manchester and said, “Hard Luck, we needed that win and we’ll certainly take it, but Lineham was certainly robbed by the referee!” They were, they said, in line with the touchline in that corner and although I was interested, because I was at the other end and at the opposite corner, I was not sure whether they had a point or not. However having seen it again I have to agree and there was a blatant forward pass in the build up to their first try too. It was apparent to me watching it again afterwards had the game been televised, we would’ve walked away with the two points. However that’s the way it goes I guess, we shrug our shoulders and move on, but why should we? Why the hell should any team put up with being robbed? Once again the referee was a big talking point in Hull after a game and indeed had Chase not been in such scintillating form then he would have been the only talking point.

We just put it down to crap officiating and move onto the next game, but as Craig Murdoch said this week in the Mail, “Tom Lineham had a perfectly good try chalked off and it somehow wasn’t given by referee Tim Roby. If that’s the difference come the end of the season between Hull reaching the Super 8’s or not, then there’s some serious questions need asking of the RFL and their refereeing standards”.

By then of course it will be forgotten and buried under the avalanche of bad decisions that will invariably followed it as more games across the competition are decided by poor officiating. Some say we should celebrate this crass mediocrity and that it’s OK because there are so many bad decisions they even themselves out in the end. But, what the hell is that all about? Should we be happy to accept that poor refereeing has become an un-necessary and accepted evil? Dozens of wrongs don’t make it right do they? The RL need to get their fingers out and sort this before it reduces our game to even more of a farce than it currently is. Look at obstruction, after the ridiculous situation of last season, the rules are changed and now no-one seems to know when to blow and when not to! Danny Lockwood said last week that a senior referee had informed him that controller Jon Sharp had told referee’s to keep the penalties down, to keep the game flowing; I see his point, no one wants whistle after whistle but you have to disagree with such a carte blanche statement because once you start to over look stuff, then it’s almost impossible to be even handed and selective as to what you actually do ‘overlook’.

Then of course there is the continuing saga of crap decisions like the Lineham one that could in the end cost people in the game their living. It’s been a bone of contention for years and something that whatever you do will not be completely sorted out. However instead of the Sky blokes picking at every decision and highlighting them as much as bits of good play, we should use whatever resources are needed to get it sorted, it cost us the points at Salford and has already cost at least two other Club s a win this season, so it’s obvious that crap officiating is threatening the credibility of the actual game.

While I’m having a grumble I’ll press on with another because you know, this might be the big season, the bright new future for our game and the time when every second counts, but boy have the Rugby League got their work cut out if they want the game to succeed right down the three divisions. The new set up was said to be created to re-popularise the game right across the board and would be the saviour of not just the Sport but many of the smaller Clubs too. Complicated and difficult to grasp for many fans, the new structure is under way and up in the Super League it’s easy to see how every game is critical as the quest for points and the avoidance of the ‘group of death’ becomes the first and only priority!

Like football before it, that need to get points at any cost is stifling style, class and ‘entertainment value’ as a win at all cost mentality will pervade everything else as the season progresses. That’s fine as long as that’s what the fans want but with just 7,600 at Rovers last week for a game against Wigan and 3,600 and 5,800 at Salford and Widnes respectively it’s hardly appears to be gripping the fans at present, does it? That’s a minor issue for all the ‘poor’ Super League Clubs with TV money coming ‘out if their ears’ however what’s much more worrying is the amount of people watching the game further down the Leagues.

Last weekend in the Kingston Press Championship, (the big, and now we’re told, more competitive League with a possible chance of promotion into the elite group for 4 Clubs), there were 1,113 at Batley 983 at Hunslet, 701 at Whitehaven and 741 at Workington. Then there was, the same weekend, the Cup competition for Clubs in the bottom of the three senior competitions the newly introduced Ipro Sports Cup for teams in the third tier of the game. This really grabbed the fans imaginations with 836 at Gloucester, 423 at Keighley, 349 at Swinton and an amazing 156 at London Scholars. In fact there was no attendance figures declared at Oxford at all!! In total 8 games were played in that Cup with the total attendances amassing just over 2000 fans in total. 2000 fans for 8 games featuring Championship One Clubs; that is quite frankly appalling! Instead of shovelling all the TV money out to the Super League big boys, the RL should be doing everything they can to spend some on events, launches, advertising, TV campaigns, community involvement initiatives and anything else that will get folks into these games in the lower two Divisions. It’s OK if you are Bradford, Leigh, Featherstone or London but otherwise it’s getting very apparent that getting folks through the gates is becoming a massive issue. Months ago (in October) in here I said of the new structure that, “The top 5 or 6 Clubs in Super League will certainly prosper, they will benefit and get stronger while the rest thanks to Sky TV and the flights of fancy of the RL with falter and ‘yo-yo up and down the structure as they are stripped of their assets by the top few”

Has anything changed since then? Not a bit of it!! The game might be talked up by messr’s Wood and Co at Red Hall but in effect, it’s just the ‘Kings new Clothes’ all over again and through their lack of marketing effort and assistance towards the survival of some of the struggling heartland Clubs, the game is on its arse. Gloucester, Oxford, the Coventry Bears and Hemel Stags? What’s all that about? They are set up ad hock in areas with no support for the game, at some considerable cost, while famous traditional teams like Rochdale, Swinton, Workington and Oldham flounder and are left to their own devises.

I have a suggestion to make! Instead of pushing more and more dosh into expansion, the Rugby League should, for me, appoint a group of Marketing and crowd development experts and second one to every one of the traditional Clubs down there that are struggling. There are many brilliant sport marketers out there (like James Rules sister for example) who would thrive in such positions, brilliant innovators who could get people back into the habit of supporting their local Club. That would give the Clubs the expert assistance that they can’t afford, it would get their game days sorted, their community interface right and the Club back in the hearts of the local residents.

One appointment per Club could do that! I banged on all the closed season that the game was heading for a big crunch very soon and I haven’t changed my mind on that one at all, as gates down in the bottom echelons of the game struggle to be viable. In fact when you analyse them as I have done above they are a bloody embarrassment. There will without doubt be casualties before long! As far as the administrators, all their posturing and tweaking of rules etc are ‘Fiddling while Rome Burns’ and for me the attendances at present indicate the RL have to do something because people are out of the habit of watching their local club and now, for me, it’s getting all a bit too late!

Well we have managed to acquire a Test match at the KC and that has to be good for the game in Hull. That got me thinking and this week in Codgers Corner, as part of my 150th year recollections I thought I would get the old Diaries out and look up the first international club game I saw at the Boulevard which was against the Kiwis. It was season 1965/66, and we were having an indifferent time really. We had lost 6 of out 11 games when the Kiwis came to Hull on Hull Fair Saturday 9th October. It was a misty dank day best described back then by most folks who lived around the Boulevard as typical ‘Hull Fair Weather’ and the fact that Hull City were starting to put a good team together down Anlaby Road did nothing to help our gates that season either.

Of course as usual with visiting touring teams we were the underdogs and the fact that NZ put out 10 of their side that had just won the Test at Station Road Swinton did nothing to raise our hopes of an upset. I was still at school then and I watched the game from the Well of the best stand with a couple of my pals from Kelvin Hall.

The game kicked off with a good gate for those hard times and the opening exchanges saw some dour stuff with a lot of ‘Incident’ in the tackle. Both teams dropped the ball at regular intervals and a slippery pitch did nothing to encourage open rugby. However then, straight from the scrum, the visitors flashed the ball along the line and winger Reidy took a smart pass from loose forward Hammond to scorch down the wing with Clive Sullivan in his wake. Just as Clive caught him about ten yards out he swung a great inside ball to Bailey to score a smart try, that the partisan but knowledgeable home crowd roundly applauded.

Then we went onto the offensive! Firstly Sykes made an opening for Foulkes who subsequently knocked on and then Alan McGlone made a great gap for Sykes to exploit but again the ball was dropped. Finally McGlone who was having what was to turn out to be a career defining game, put Club Captain Arthur Keegan clear, only for our full back to be held inches short of the line in a three man tackle.

If we were not that good at most things back then we were certainly good at goal kicking and the great John Maloney, making just his second appearance for the club having just signed from Shaw Cross Amateurs, made sure with two penalties to give us a 4-3 lead. Just on half time in fact Maloney was at it again converting a great 50 yard effort from half way to send us into the changing rooms with an unlikely 6-3 lead. The second half opened with the FC playing their best rugby for two years and only a great last ditch tackle by the Tourist’s full back Tait avoided another score for us, that could have seen us take control of the game. Then the mercurial Terry Devonshire, who was playing in the off half berth, shot through a couple of poor tackles and drawing two defenders he passed to Arthur Keegan who drew the last man to put Sullivan clear only for the great man to juggle the ball and drop it as he crossed the line.

If the rugby was getting hot, the exchanges in the scrums were reaching boiling point and half way through the half a massive punch up erupted. Let’s face it if you went down the Boulevard back in the 60’s you wanted your money back if you did not see what was usually a weekly occurrence. Eric Broom, and as usual Jim Neale, were pulled out and lectured by the referee who awarded the opposition a penalty in our 25. They pressed and pressed but we somehow held out mainly due to a great ball and all tackle by David Doyle Davidson which effectively stopped a two man over lap on the left. Tait was awarded a penalty for some sloppy high tackling though, and the full back converted his own penalty, to put the Tourists just one point behind!

Then from the kick off (That old trick we have seen time and again) Kenny Foulkes kicked straight into touch and Tait opted to kick at goal from the centre spot. As the heavy ball literally crept over the posts we were a point behind. On we battled with Pearson at prop going close and Terry Stocks (who always ran with his legs in the air like a chicken) almost getting in at the corner flag at the Gordon street end of the Threepennies.

However that was it, and despite some sterling work by Alan McGlone to give us a big pull possession wise in the last ten minutes, the fitter and more polished NZ defence kept us in our own half and a late penalty to the visitors left the score at 8-11. As has so often been the case we created some great opportunities to score but could not convert them and after playing our best rugby for a couple of years we came up short on the scoreboard. No doubt that night having read in the Sports Mail’s report of the game I had seen that afternoon I would be off to the Fair to work, collecting the money and chatting up the ladies on ‘Doubtfire’s Jets’, as I did most years between 1962 and 1968, but that’s another story. However it was great to muse about my first club encounter with the Kiwi’s, which was the first of several defeats we suffered at the hands of the Tourists.

So that’s it, the second half on Thursday was a real debacle but as always it was great to be amongst friends and particularly good to see my life-long pal Barry and to meet Richard from West Yorkshire (RL fan’s celebrated poster ‘Trevor Loves Janice’ who takes his ‘Monica’ from the famous piece of Graffiti we all saw as we approached the Boulevard back in the good old days). Thanks as well go to Alec Smith who came up at half time to give me a disc he had recorded full of great memories; more of that in future weeks. Thanks as well to my pal Brian who is in the depth of despair in Spain and indeed a big thank you to everyone who has been in touch. We are so lucky to be part of such a great family aren’t we?

Well we’re off to Wigan on Friday!! I’ll no doubt get lost on the way home as I usually do and no doubt the Pies poor start and thumping at Cas will have them really fired up! Quite frankly I can’t ever see us winning these days. I don’t go into any game with the confidence that we are going to beat the opposition because for me at present, I’m afraid It’s a case of hope for the best expect the worst, but I’ll be there just the same and if we do win it will be great. If however we lose, then with Rovers, Salford and Huddersfield at home next week we could well be bottom by the next Diary is out! Thanks as always for sticking with my ramblings after such a massive let down in that second half and for putting up with my grumbles, I’m pretty upset at present really! See you at Wigan …bring your blindfolds and a good book!

And…..try to keep believing

Faithfully Yours

Wilf