The Dentists Diary – 437th

Bottom of the league, rock bottom…..have we ever been there in our Super League history before?

Yet, victories, draws and even one point defeats are rare indeed at Wigan and in the end on Friday we went so close to a pressure relieving win didn’t we? But, even if you were there, you knew deep down, if you’re honest, that it was never going to happen!

Back in January I said that if we could get 4 points from our first 5 games we would be doing OK and of course with one 4 point reversal, two one point defeats and a nilling of Huddersfield we have come very close to attaining just that, which I guess for the uninitiated has to be commended. However, us seasoned campaigners know that the Huddersfield game is now an age away and if we were to be anything like contenders for the top 8 we should have beaten both SaIford and Wigan and been up there in the top 4 or 5 at present. But, we didn’t beat them and we’re rock bottom.

In fact in all three of those games, we didn’t do the one thing we had aimed to eradicate this term and that was get over the line in these close encounters. In the old scheme of things, with no relegation or just one or two teams down, to go to Wigan and lose by a point would be hailed as a good result. In the modern idiom where 4 teams are threatened with the drop, it’s just another disastrous opportunity lost!

Make no mistake, this was a battling and valiant effort, however sadly that only tells a fraction of the story, because we were still disorganised and clueless too. It was a shocking showing really and what makes it worse is that Wigan were little better, but stuck to a plan and toughed it out. Once again for the umpteenth time….we couldn’t and our lack of smart plays and focus was again our downfall! So, the casual observer will point to a close game and nearly a win, Mr Radford will take ‘positives’ from it and the ‘hype busters’ in our marketing team will pump it up for Friday, but for those of us who were there it was two more points lost in what was compared with the previous four games, the most winnable of them all. Looking back in the cold light of day, Wigan were crap and we should have won.

I love the times (short periods that they may be) when we are upbeat, looking forward and hoping for the best. Then this journal is a joy to write, the words flow and the feedback is enormous, as we all look forward to the next game with expectation and relish. Losing and yet looking organised, determined and capable is good enough to keep me hoping, but at present we are just losing and regularly, and that’s as far as it goes.

These current circumstances therefore dictate that I’m rarely in an upbeat frame of mind these days, news is in short supply and as has been the case so often over the last few years, this Diary has, every week, turned out to be downbeat and introspective, which is a shame. Looking up from the bottom of the League it’s hard to produce and no doubt even harder to read, but I only write what I feel and go with the flow of my own demeanour as a fan, if it’s worrying me I include it, if it makes me laugh or feel good it’s in here too. I don’t try to sound positive when I’m not and make no bones about blowing my trumpet when I am and things are going well. Sadly the old trumpet hasn’t been out of its box for a while and my concerns for my Club are spreading a lot wider than losing games, because we have sunk down the table and people are already talking of the threat of relegation. For me the issue is quite simply that the players should from minute one to minute 80 ooze a demeanour that winning is everything and the only thing; and they simply don’t do that for me!

But let’s go back a few hours because it was without doubt the most difficult Friday night journey across the Pennines I have experienced for several years. It was horrendous and really made me think if it’s actually worth going through all that hassle. I left Beverley at around 2-55pm and hit the M62 at North Cave about twenty minutes later. I had covered less than a mile before about 400 meters in front of me I suddenly saw a lorry veer across the road, hit the centre reservation concrete wall and skid along it, sending soil from the spinning wheels’ contact on the centre reservation, cascading across the road in front of me. At times like that everything goes into slow motion and we all slowed down, put our hazard lights on and bowled past the scene before accelerating away again as if nothing had happened. I then glanced in my mirror to see cars pulling up all over the road, little knowing what mayhem this was to cause in the next few hours.

The traffic was heavy near Leeds and then we slowed right down at the Bradford junction so that everyone could ‘rubberneck’ at a jack-knifed lorry on the eastbound carriageway which had literally just happened, sending a car backwards into the oncoming flow. Then as we descended from the fog and the snowy hills of the Pennines into Lancashire we ground to a halt again, this time to crawl for about 45 minutes until we passed a mashed up Focus being hauled onto a recovery truck near Oldham. In total it took me three and a half hours to get there and I’d set off early!!! I was a nightmare. All this I thought, ‘for a stuffing!’ Of course in the end it wasn’t a stuffing, but in some respects it might as well have been.

It was amazing to see so many fans delayed on the way and at 7-30pm there were less than 40 in the seats and even less on the concourse. The DW Stadium is certainly an intimidating place isn’t it? It’s not so bad when you’re huddled together under the stand meeting mates and drinking tea, but then, when you emerge into the arena to take your seat and you’re so high up above the ground, you realise your back, its Wigan again and it’s a really antagonising place for any away fan. By kick-off there was a great showing from the FC Faithful as we all wondered which FC and indeed which Wigan would turn up!

The Pies were certainly the worst team we have played thus far this term and for me looked a shadow of their former selves. They were certainly there for the taking. My pal Ian commented that although we tackled valiantly at times, he would best described what he was seeing in the first 30 minutes of the second half as a team ‘plodding their way towards defeat’; that for me summed it all up. Yet with just 15 seconds left we were camped on the Wigan line with one play left! Three options remained; wide right with players to spare, a drop goal was also definitely on to get a point or then there was a blindside move into the mass of the Wigan defenders who had been pulled over there and were too knackered to get out. Guess which we chose?

That’s how close it was but, with players to the right baying for the ball and our line strung out across the field, confusion reigned and fatigue and a lack of leadership saw the ludicrous situation develop where Houghton went ‘blind’ and somehow Watts, instead of a half back, was allowed to get into the action. He threw out an impossible pass way over Talanoa’s head into touch and the game was lost. We just don’t have the mental strength in those situations do we? In one play our demise throughout the night and indeed the last 18 months was summed up perfectly, fans around me screamed their disbelief at the players because they couldn’t see what was so obvious to us! However as usual, there, right in front of us, we simply couldn’t finish them off. In fact throughout, with ball in hand near their line it was pretty shambolic.

You know, it’s a fact that I probably only watch around 15/20% of my rugby from behind the posts, I’m an East Stand pass-holder and so usually watch from the side as the action unfolds. However when you watch a game from behind you see things differently, you’re able to identify the gaps and the missed running opportunities, whilst also being able to study the structure and the formations of a team in both attack and defence. Wigan definitely had a structure and kept trying to stick to it, while we seemed devoid of one and looked to rely on ‘ad hock’, off the cuff plays which most team members seemed oblivious to.

Some of our tackling and chasing was top notch!

Lets me now just put things in prospective; Wigan are a poor outfit at present. Wane knows it, the media are reporting it and by the long periods of silence from what looks like a dwindling supporter base, they knew it too. Two Wigan fans commented on the way out, “Thank Goodness you were rubbish too” which just summed it all up really. Wigan are in fact for me as poor as they have been since Noble left, they dropped ball, had poor set ending options and ran down plenty of blind alleys, but they had a structure and a plan and you could see from behind what they were trying to do, even if in most instances they failed to do it. We must have had a plan but it was for me totally indiscernible at times. Every time they tried a spread play they had us stretched and it was only some valiant, desperate, last ditch defence and their inability to hang onto the ball that saw their tally remain within reach.

They forced errors from us on a regular basis, while all their errors by and large came from unforced situations brought on by themselves. To our credit we battled on and kept trying, but we dropped kicks under pressure and when we got the ball our own kicking game was woeful at times invariably finding the receiver downfield often without him even having to move his feet.

Ellis worked hard but still looked injured to me.

We tried hard and certainly expended every last ounce of energy, there was no faulting the effort at all and despite Wanes threats and posturing throughout the week we really wanted it and matched the home team for all of that! However in possession we looked lost at times, the line stuttered and broke, the ball was turned back inside and once again close to the line, when we couldn’t bust through with sheer strength, there was simply no plan B. Even with effectively 6 props on show we still failed to dominate up front and they made 150 yards more in the game, meaning that the half- back’s were often on the back foot and ineffective anyway. I keep harking back to it but if you don’t concentrate fully on what you are trying to do and have been told to do all the time, whatever is happening around you and however tired you are, then you end up playing dumb rugby.

Pryce tried hard, but the lack of a structured approach meant that there were often few if any dummy or supporting runners. There was no one bollocking ‘em and precious little organisation and with the exception of Rankin and Lancaster, who got few running chances anyway, we had no one who looked likely to have the pace to outstrip a resolute Wigan defence. Most worrying of all however is the fact that the team spirit seems to be waning a bit because there was a deal of arguing and bickering going on out there.

Big raps however go to Feke who had his best game so far and my man of the Match Talanoa who carted the ball out of defence time and again. Pryce was good, Ellis worked his socks off but still looks injured and Thompson looked good again, without getting enough ball. For me too Sneyd needs to stop trying so hard and to relax a bit, he brilliantly put Hadley through before he was called back for a forward pass, that was it appeared afterwards flat at best, and then he tried harder and harder and got worse and worse. However to miss a penalty kick to touch with 10 minutes to go is simply inexcusable and again shows a mind wandering of the plan.

Oh bugger it I’ve had enough of that and the record shows another loss by another painfully small margin, we should have won, and better organisation, mental strength and focus would have seen us victorious. The real ‘heroes’ were the fans who travelled over there to support the team and they deserved so much better, but we returned home with no points as now, once again, Fridays encounter against the Catalans takes on massive proportions!

So to the week past and it ‘never rains’ does it? The announcement last week that Mickey Paea was to miss a game through suspension came on the back of the Sa injury news, although I expect our prop wasn’t that surprised really. He was warned earlier in the season for illegal use of the knees and should have learned his lesson, so to get just one game of a possible two was certainly a bonus, but it was a blow just the same. He’s a top bloke a real ‘gentle giant’ who always has a smile for everyone when he’s in the gym. He’s no bother in camp and our best prop this year. Out of contract at the end of this season and with the May ‘free for all’ transfer deadline looming, he needs to be signed up ASAP because if we are to progress, then for a team which is light in the front row, he’s a must sign for me! He wants to stay, he’s said that and so we just have to get a deal over the line really. A couple of players have I believe re-signed, but for some reason ain’t being announced, but I don’t think for now at least, he is one of them.

A big miss at Wigan, get him signed up!

So onto Mickey’s mate Mr Sa who’s having a rough time of it at present. From the moment at the start of the season when Adam Pearson told the disabled supporters group that, “We will have to wrap him in cotton wool this year” it was apparent that he had issues with his fitness which back then seemed to surround the condition of his knees. He was pretty spectacular at Huddersfield, but has looked in trouble with niggling issues ever since and now with a broken bone in his back, that could I’m told, keep him out for up to 6 months, we are thin on the ground in the centres for the foreseeable future. Yeamo will be solid and won’t let us down and then I guess it’s down to Logan and Michaels to fill in alongside him. For me Michaels went missing a lot in Friday’s game, so it’s a blow to lose Sa. He is certainly a great player when he’s fit, however it seems ‘when’ is the operative word at present. Good luck to him for a swift recovery.

Good old James Smailes still managed to get some news out there for the fans at a time when, by and large, we seem to have gone into hiding on that score. The piece about Jordan Rankin that broke on Friday morning was great and having taken the time to get the lad talking about his contract issues with the Club, we all now know exactly where we are on that one; which in the current climate is very refreshing. Jordan just says what every fan wants to hear from an emerging star, particularly when times are tough. He commented, “I will not rule out staying here because I love the place, I love the club and I love the boys here. I really think this team can go places if we put our mind to it,” he went on to say, “I would kick myself if I were to stay here too long and not take an opportunity to go home and live what has always been my dream. As much as I love this club and being here, the NRL has always been my dream. But, I hold this club in the highest regard possible and love the fans here. Even if I do go back home I’d love to come back and play for Hull FC again, that’s how much I love this place.”

Jordan is developing into the ‘darling’ of many of the fans and we can’t ask more than that statement really, he’s an honest guy, who appreciates our support, and his contract is left on the table for him to consider, so we’ll just have to be patient!

Well I haven’t had so many sympathetic comments as I got last week, after a Diary that was, even when I read it back, a bit overtly depressing but it was how I felt. One solitary reader contacted me to say that I had over reacted, but literally dozens felt I mirrored their feelings at 10-00pm that damp Friday night! When we discovered that those 43 Points in the second half were the highest-ever against us in a second half and it was only actually bettered in ANY half by Huddersfield’s in that infamous 2013 Play-Off, then after they had been confirmed in the cold light of day by the statisticians, I think the thoughts of all of us as we trudged away from the KC, were justified don’t you? For this fan Thursday night rugby is OK when you’re sat at home with a beer, but for the game it’s a bit of a ‘made for TV fabricated farce’ and certainly a disaster for the Clubs. So there is little surprise that the gate of just 10,887 was lowest ever for Hull v Leeds at KC; it was a pretty dismal night all round really!

This week we had some interesting headlines, ranging from ‘City boss signs new three year deal’, to ‘Rovers sign Lunt’ and completed by ‘Erection-inducing deadly spiders found by shocked wife in Tesco bananas’ (no more fruit and veg. shopping at Morrissons; its TESCO’s for Wilf!!) However at Hull FC we endured another week of the siege mentality and no news much at all. There was of course lots of Ticket’s, Mothers Day twaddle, Ellis’s Testimonial stuff, the excellent Bill Daltons ‘This Week’ spot, plus lottery, ticket and hospitality clap trap but little else. All the while good old Smailsey as always made a valiant effort to find something of interest with player interviews, Steve McNamara’s views on Joe Westerman and news of Sentimata Sa, Jordan Rankins contract and an interview with Lee Radford. However he’s obviously scratching around a bit for any news too. Have you noticed that when we hit a bad patch we seem to go into our shells news wise? It’s a situation too which sadly seems to see all the fans at best making the news up and at worst reduced to arguing amongst themselves.

That lack of news makes little difference to this fan because for me there’s always something to worry about and it usually concerns the state of my Club.

So it is that at present there are other things away from our playing record that concern me. There’s the Allam’s and their constant pressure on our Club, the insecurity of tenure of not having our own stadium and the state of the game and how that impacts on Hull FC. But of late, a new concern has grown in my mind concerning a growing exodus of backroom staff from the Club. Firstly, let me say that Adam is a top bloke he’s desperate for success and committed to getting it! I still have no doubts about that at all. However I do think too that our owner has committed so much money to paying off players contracts and a hefty transfer fee (in Sneyd’s case) and then re-locating to Ideal Standard, that I think perhaps with falling gates, the SMC squeezing us and diminishing income in general, we are struggling at present to keep going.

It’s just a gut feeling and I have no proof at all, except for what I can see myself, so this is all just a theory for now but it does add up when you consider the facts. Why do I say that, well let me give you my angle on things off the field at present?

As a Club I honestly believe that the paying off of all those players on bum contracts, in the wake of the departure of Shaun McCrae, has hurt us big style and that perhaps means that we have to be prudent. It maybe that the business model in which we operate has, because of all the pay-offs, over spent on this year’s predicted outlays, or even that Adam sees a need to be just a little bit ‘careful’. But whatever is the case it’s a fact that although Adam is still totally committed to the club and to producing the winning team we all crave, away from the playing side the organisation is losing staff at regular intervals.

What started me thinking was the news this week that our much celebrated Community Director Richard Munson is leaving the Club to join Widnes. There’s nothing sinister in his departure, he’s looking for a new challenge and is nearer his roots at that side of the Pennines, but it’s still a big loss. The Club has under his guidance expanded the Foundation team and its funding so that now it supports 17 full time staff (when he came it was just 3!!) Richard hasn’t been a Director that long, but he’s proved the catalyst that has reinvigorated and reinvented the Community arm of the Club. So another top guy leaves and does it to join up with James Rule at Widnes. I really do wish him luck but added to that is the fact that I hear a rumour that Community stalwart Rachel Gay is also leaving for a full time position at Sirius. People move on, of course they do, but for me the indication of the state of a company is best marked by whether the boss sees the replacement of a key member of staff as a good opportunity or a potential to make savings.

Look back to 8 months ago when Lee Jenkinson our retail manager left for Leeds Rhino’s. He has never been replaced by a Director solely focused on retail. He is an absolute top bloke at his job and we are still living on his designs and his 150th ideas. Richard absorbed his job and has some great stuff coming out in the coming months himself, but Lee in essence was never really replaced. Jenks’s departure was followed by that of Tony Sutton our Chief Executive who left after years and years in a senior position at the Club. He was a great bloke, a financial wizard, the go to guy of the organisation and a real steadying hand for Adam. He left to join Hull College, but has only been replaced as far as I can see by a part time finance based replacement. Matt Adams of our marketing team, another good bloke, is off too and although he didn’t have a job when he handed his resignation in, it is now expected that he will join ‘Jenks’ at Leeds. So we have lost some great people, which has to either be an opportunity, or a cause for concern.

What is critical for our progress is the ability and technical quality of the staff that we bring in to supersede those who have left and indeed the way they are or aren’t replaced. Of those left Clarky, manages the media and marketing and does it well under difficult circumstances, expending hours and hours over his allotted working times every week. He’s expected to be Marketing Director, communications guru, commentator, Club spokesman (at times), resident compere and a whole host of other things that would be hard if not impossible to replace in one person should he ever go as well. Commercial Director Sarah McAllister does a great job in the face of the competition for corporate support that comes from sharing a City with another RL team and a Premiership football Club and should be commended for her efforts too.

Perhaps I worry un-necessarily and the new streamlined management organisation which follows will out-perform the old one and anyway what do I know, I’m just a fan looking in from the outside, but some of the recent changes do occupy my mind a bit. However we can at least rest easy in our beds on one score because off the field, as long as Mr Pearson is at the helm we’re fine and he has done nothing so far to colour my judgement on that one.

However perhaps the excess pressure that has been placed on our monetary resources with all the ‘un-necessary’ outlay we have seen of late is squeezing us a bit financially. That is nothing that the continued support from the fans and a surge in interest and thus income, will not overcome, but although the former is almost guaranteed, the latter is hard to see coming any time soon is it! All we can do is commit as much to our Club as we can, both in passion and finance and then just stick behind the owner…. and hope the players do the same!

Now a brief aside and last week I mentioned that at half time in the Leeds game a guy called Alec Smith who I only really knew to nod to, handed me a video which I thought was probably just another trip down memory lane. Writing the Codgers Piece every week I get lots and they always make great viewing. However, when I got home totally fed up and in no mood to start writing the Diary I put it on and what a surprise I got. It was actually an Australian TV programme in 6 half hour parts called South Side Story which covers the resurgence of the Rabbitohs team in Australia.

Branded the peoples team the main part of the documentary follows a club being taken out of public ownership and being bought by Russell Crowe. It documents the resistance there was at first to his takeover and the hard road and learning curve he and the players had to tread. It goes on to plot the journey from a team that won 2 games in the last season before the takeover, to one that is now a major power in the Australian game again and that won the Grand Final. It is all about how to re-build a club from scratch, to build a passion and a winning mentality into the place and to instil a never say die attitude in both the players and indeed the fans.

The series follows the new owner’s efforts to refocus the whole organisation on one thing…winning. Last year I recommended Marvellous to you all as my video of the year, this time around I would recommend this one, well I would if you could get it anywhere, but sadly it seems to be hard to get hold of. However it’s a brilliant 3 hours, because it shows that you can build a Club and create a winning mentality and so in our current situation it’s pretty inspirational. It’s a brilliant blueprint and if I’m honest, it shows such an amazing renaissance that I would recommend it to a few at our Club as well!!

I know I go on about it and some no doubt believe I’m obsessed, but isn’t it time that the RL stopped pouring money into the game in London and decided to cut their losses. Both London Clubs were at home last weekend when a game against Workington attracted a gate of 583 to the Bronco’s match and the Skolars drew a gate of just 165 for a match against Swinton. Quite frankly that’s just embarrassing!!

Our current demise makes you look back to better times and that got me thinking of that historic 82/83 season when of course after the final game against Barrow, in front of 17,000 adoring fans, we were presented with the League title for the first time in 25 years. It was probably the best season I have seen us play as Hull FC. There is little doubt that the story of that year could fill a book on its own, but this week I want to focus on a great game that set us up for that title, and one of the most memorable Derby’s I can remember.

That Good Friday I drove down to the Boulevard from our house in Garden Village but despite the fact that it was still an hour before kick-off I found it impossible to get parked in my usual quiet spot in Selby Street and ended up way down Woodcock Street. The new departure of playing the traditional fixture at night certainly seemed to be working! By the time I got to the Boulevard the queues at the Division Road end of the ground came snaking across the little car park and out into the street. Luckily having a pass I got through quite easily and into the ground which was already buzzing with supporters.

The Division Road terraces had been taken over by a sea of Red and White as the other side of the City had their annual ‘holiday’ and as the Threepennies were already overflowing, I made my way through the well of the Best stand and took up a position on Bunkers Hill at the Airlie Street end of the ground. The pre match atmosphere was fantastic, several red and white scarves were burned in the Threepenny Stand to great adulation and there was an even bigger response when Rovers tried to do the same with a black and white one on the open terracing at the other end and almost set fire to the crowd!! By the teams ran out an amazing 20,569 fans were in the ground, which was I believe was the only 20,000 plus gate we had in the 80’s!

The Dobbins fancied their chances as they arrived on a five match winning streak particularly as we had lost a rearranged game the previous Monday at Castleford which ended a 9 game unbeaten sequence for the FC. Rovers were still a few points behind us in the League whilst we were at the top with Wigan with just this game and three others to go. Lee Crooks was injured at Castleford and so we had to reshuffle our pack moving Trevor Skerrett to the second row and bringing in Phil Edmonds to the propping role, whilst Barry Banks came onto the bench.

Referee Mr Thompson must have felt the tension as he ran out to a chorus of ‘Oh Oh Oh Oh what a referee’ (complete with the usual final string of expletives), and he promptly called both captains to the centre spot to give them a lecture before we had even started. Kevin Harkin kicked off and after an early scare when Terry Day dropped a ball near the corner flag which Laws the Rovers winger could not pick up cleanly, the game settled into a pattern where Rovers camped in our half and pressed our line. This went on until the 11th minute when it looked as if finally our resolute defence would crack, but O’Hara intercepted a pass and hared off down field with George Fairburn chasing him. As Fairburn closed in on an angled run to cut him off Dane kicked forward for Leuluai to just lose the race to touch down as Fairburn desperately kicked dead.

From the drop out the ball was fielded by Bridges who drew a perfectly positioned Rovers line, before passing to Norton. The Dobbin’s defence was arranged ‘man on man’ but they had forgotten to cover Garry Kemble who stormed up from full back onto a beautiful Norton pass to score wide out. Prendeville, who had been handed Lee Crooks’s kicking duties, missed with the conversion but we were in the lead. The next ten minutes were all Hull, as first Terry Day and then Paul Rose were held up short of the line by some brilliant tackling by Fairburn and Robinson. Then, as Garry Prohm broke for the opposition, stand in prop Edmonds grabbed him from behind in a great tackle but stayed down rolling in agony as the ball ran loose and Kemble collected it to relieve the danger.

On the 29th minute we saw a dazzling try. Back on our own fourty yard line Dave Topliss got through the first two defenders with ease and as the cover came across passed to a rampaging Paul Rose. The ex Robins hero swatted a couple of tackles away before moving the ball to Harkin who immediately put Leuluai away. The NZ international then drew the defence before passing onto the unmarked Prendeville who squeezed in at the corner. He converted his own try but whilst he was taking the conversion, Edmonds was helped from the field to be replaced by Mick Crane. The rest of the half was typical cut and thrust Derby fare, but as the whistle went for half time a fight broke out between Hogan and Charlie Stone which the referee broke up and we went in 10-0 up.

This was Mick Cranes sort of game because the unlikely hero who loved fish and chips and a smoke and hated training, revelled on the big stage of such occasions. The second half was only three minutes old when ‘Craney’ ran into acting half as Bridges was tackled fifteen yards out from the try line. Quick as a flash Mick dummied to the blind side and shot through the rovers defence on the open side to touch down in a matter of fact sort of way, with no opposition players near him. Then it was Bridges and Crane again, as this time the pair linked superbly for Harkin to finish off with a magnificent looping pass to put Dane O’Hara in at the corner.

Although ‘Taffy’ Prendeville missed both goals he made the next try for James Leuluai. The try was perhaps the only one of the night which had an element of luck in it as Prendeville came inside looking for the ball and got a short pass from Steve Norton. He looked up and seeing four Rovers defenders bearing down on him he kicked a mighty up and under that caught in the wind and rebounded off the upright straight into the NZ centres hands. Prendeville tagged on the points and Rovers looked a dejected team as they trudged back to the centre spot to kick off. After those first ten minutes Rovers had toiled and become more and more desperate to get into scoring positions, but could find no gaps, until with just 4 minutes to go Kelly flung out a speculative pass which Hall caught and crashed in to score. Shortly after that referee Thompson blew for the final time and we had won a massive game against the old enemy and were on the threshold of the title.

The sight of a bedraggled George Fairburn being carried off the field by two of the Rovers staff said it all that night. Rovers had no excuses to offer because there were none to give as the red and whites had been completely out gunned and out thought by the FC team. Crane, Topliss, Harkin and Norton together on the same side meant two play makers at each side of the ruck and formed an attack that was as clinical as it was unpredictable. What stays in my memory the most was the all round strength of the Hull side. The man of the match award went to Norton and Rose jointly but for me that night it should have gone to Kevin Harkin, who had probably his best ever game for Hull FC.

Great times eh and far removed from these days although some things are at least consistent from week to week and the way that the Allams seem to have a way of rubbing factions of the sporting community and the local residents up the wrong way is one of them. The way that a whole host of Community groups have been pitched out of the Arena in West Park is another example of them doing what they want and ‘bugger everyone else’. A friend of mine, Alan, took his 3 year old to her trampolining class last week; apparently the session was interrupted while the instructor was called into the office. Ten minutes later she returned in flood of tears with the news that the Club would be evicted from the premises in April so a 3G pitch could be laid for Hull City’s use. No ‘Sorry’, no alternative arrangements and no suggested new venue.

Wheelchair and able bodied basket and netball Clubs, roller skaters, trampoliners and several other community groups are also to be pitched out of the place too. All the while the Council seem to idly stand by and watch the Allam’s do as they please with a Community Arena that was specifically built to compliment professional sport in the Stadium by providing a community input to the complex. It’s just same old really, isn’t it? What a sign it is that the owners of Hull City are naive, as to think that they can re-locate those community Clubs based in West Hull to Haltemprice Sports Centre. Still, it’s not a rugby issue so I’ll leave it there. The Mail has reported it but once again with the exception of Angus Young they appear as usual to be smoothing things over. Man of the people? My Arse!

Well a big thank you for a bumper bundle of comments and support after last week’s ‘downbeat’ offering because it was great to hear from everyone. Friday is now a massive game, in which in many ways we are on a hiding to nothing; the Dobbins saw to that one! I just hope that as many of you as possible will get down to the KC and sing the lads to a victory, because I know our owner, like all of us, is feeling decidedly frustrated and so by heavens we all need one! Thanks for sticking with another edition and

KEEP BELIEVING….if you can!

Faithfully Yours

And Finally……….

Bottom of the League, so what next eh?