The Dentist’s Diary 448th

Well the Wembley hotel is definitely on hold!!

Look guys if you weren’t there, our 500th game in Super League was disappointing, but in the end it really wasn’t that bad! We should have won, but perhaps again when under the cosh a better coached and drilled team beat us to the ‘finer points’, in another real arm wrestle where we were in with a chance and the majority in the crowd of around 16,000 couldn’t breathe easily until the last minute.

If I’m honest I have to say that you shouldn’t despair too much either, because watching that Leeds side yesterday and the way we played against them, we will never have a better chance of beating them than we have this coming Friday. However the injury to Mini was massive and as was the case at Catalan, once again we fell just short as we created and then blew gilt edged chances that could and should have won us the game.

So in the end it was ‘same old’ because we couldn’t put the opposition away and with the line open a dropped ball by Sa near the end summed up our afternoon, as another massive following of ‘Faithful’ fans trudged out of Headingley to once again ponder on what could have been. That though is just how close we came, before a last second try for the home side made it look a more resounding win than it actually was. As for our lot, well we were far from convincing but I have to say that Leeds weren’t that convincing either.

That said and however close we came, we’re back to not being able to get over the line in these close encounters and it’s sad to say that after our performances in the last two games our top eight prospects, (that should have been well sorted by now) hang in the balance. For me, with just 5 games left, the ‘League of Death’ is beckoning and the message for us and three other Super League Clubs is now becoming; in future you should be careful what you vote for!!!

Well I’m back and after a short break the Diary’s returns for another year of this rubbish. I’ve had a great holiday and come back refreshed and ready for another 50 or so editions that is of course, if you my long suffering compatriots still want to read it!

I’ve been in a ‘strange place’ for a few months now and a break gave me the chance to have a long think about all aspects of my feelings towards the Club I love; but more of that later. However it’s certainly been a holiday not short of some real highlights. The most surreal occurrence however saw me thousands of miles away standing on the top deck of a Ferry with my phone in the air listening to Clarky commentating from Widnes!! The things you do when you’re in love eh!! Despite a longer than usual break and thanks to some stoic forward planning with the fixtures, that match was in fact the only game I missed watching. So it was that after two great results and an encounter that we really should have won at ‘Fortress Catalan’ I travelled to West Yorkshire with some hope but also I have to admit an eye on next Friday as well.

So now things are back to normal and I’m sat here again, lap-top on knee, as Mrs R negotiates the M62 on the way home from another ‘nearly’ game where once again we came up short. I really should be used to it by now, but it’s still bitterly disappointing to follow a team that are far from crap and yet who still can’t get the result in close games and who infuriatingly seem to do it week in week out!

“Hull FC winning Leeds Rhinos league match is MORE important than cup clash – Craig Murdock”, read the Mail headline last Tuesday and not for the first time I wondered a bit at Craig’s thinking. He is for me a great bloke, but for a team desperately trying to salvage something from a massive celebratory year the Cup would always take president despite a crazy year where 4 teams could go down from the twelve. Therefore I make no bones about the fact that for this fan Friday is now absolutely MASSIVE!

Before this Super 8’s fiasco we now find ourselves in, Sunday wouldn’t usually have mattered THAT much, and even now, there are still 5 more League games to go the three wins we will need for us to get into the top 8, but Friday now takes on mega proportions and ultimately for our season, it’s sudden death! For this supporter the upcoming game is everything, a one off and possibly the defining moment of our 150th season. We ain’t going to the Grand Final, so when you stand back from it all this is our last chance of glory this year. We desperately need something to remember the celebrations by, so for me this Friday at the KC offers us that moment of truth, our waterloo if you like and the chance of a semi final place, where as we know from the past, anything can happen!!!

At Headingley once again the fans certainly entered into the spirit of it all!!

Yesterday Leeds came out from the off in a frame of mind to steam roller us into submission and an early try looked as if it might be the harbinger of doom. However slowly but surely we got ourselves back into it and although we spent the whole game chasing the home team, they certainly had a few scares as we wouldn’t lie down and despite losing Pryce, Sneyd and Minichiello in varying circumstances in the second half, we still should have won. But as usual we made mistake after mistake and subsequently again blew our chance to snare two precious points.

We wrestled ourselves back into the game on several occasions and despite Sneyd ignoring Michaels in the first half when a pass would have seen him in, we still had them rocking at times and after Watts brilliantly off loaded and Houghton backed up to score under the posts in the last quarter, they reverted to taking two point penalties to stretch their lead as the home fans started to get twitchy.

However before I say anymore can I just add that for me a marvellous tackle by Shaul over the line in the first half that held-up Ablett when a try looked nailed on and a brilliant piece of play by Abdull on the sixth tackle to put Talanoa over in the second, are highlights that I will remember for a long time. To balance all that however a dropped ball by Sneyd, Watts’ awful attempt at catching a kick off that went over his head and bounced dead, Whiting’s misdirected pass with the line beckoning and that Sa fumble near the end are all best forgotten.

A loss at Leeds by 12 points (including a late, late try) is not in itself that bad, but it once again featured a catalogue of missed opportunities to win the game, which is a trait that has done for us throughout this campaign and the last one; yesterday it was once more a case of again we should have won, but again we didn’t!!

The forwards, lead by the majestic Watts and Ellis, were great with Feke, Mini, Houghton and Thompson all chiming in with big performances, but too often our attempts to attack floundered on the rocks of indecision, poor passing and misread calls. In fairness the longer Abdull played the better he looked but when you compare us with say Cas last Thursday, then the coaching simply isn’t ensuring we know what we have to do in any circumstance and so unlike the well drilled Tigers there is still too much indecision, flat cross field running and forced passes. Our coaching and preparation has to be to blame for that because players appear to be clueless as to what to do once plan A has failed or they are isolated due to broken play. They panic, flounder about and push passes when we’ve simply got to be more clinical; that’s for me is frustrating bit. We’re really having a dig but we’ve got to value possession more and be prepared to on occasions die with the ball, so as to live to fight on again at the next play.

Missing the latest ‘internet baddy’ Westerman (who is reported to be in all sorts of trouble…again), Yeaman and Lineham and with Rankin left out, we had excuses for not winning, but in the end we should have got the two points as another victory went begging. The final four minutes were typical really. First Abdull engineers a brilliant try for Talanoa and kicks the touch line conversion, we are just a try behind, Leeds are wobbling and we are due to get the ball back from the long kick–off! COME ON YOU HULLLARRR roared the crowd as we anticipated a late flourish and the two points.

Well, we should have got the ball back and would have, had Watts not totally misjudged the kick-off which went over his head and bounced dead. Then commendably we tried a short drop out which we only just failed to catch over the ten yard line, before, from the ensuing penalty, they go 6 points up and the game is lost. Still we come back from a short kick off, as brilliant play again by Abdull sees the ball shifted right to the unmarked Sa just 20 yards out… and he drops it! That’s the story of watching Hull FC, it always has been and it seems despite Mr Radford’s protestations it always will be, as once again we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and we come home down the M62 empty handed. We simply cannot seem to cut out the mistakes and the bad calls can we?

All that said however we are fighting hard as a unit and I really do believe we can win on Friday and re-ignite our season, they are beatable and not the team they were when they annihilated us in the second half earlier in the season. They will get a couple of players back but so should we and as fans we should all get there because it has the makings of a massive game. Of course this is Hull FC we are talking about here and so we could easily blow it in spectacular fashion too, but I think we might just do it and if we cut out the mistakes we will have a real chance, (how often do I say that in here eh and still we never learn do we?). This team has some real resolve, tenacity and togetherness, there is no doubting that at all, but you can’t hand the opposition the ball back time after time and not get punished! It’s so bloody frustrating and depressing at times isn’t it?

So to past happenings and although I don’t get much right, at least credit me with indicating that the big forward we have for weeks been targeting for next season was Frank ‘The Tank’ Pritchard, as I highlighted him as far back as the first week in April! Make no mistake he is as big a signing as you can get. He might be late in years but you only have to watch him this season to see just how influential he is.


He a real wrecking ball of a player, not unlike Manu in his style but more explosive and certainly more potent in defence than Willie was. Much credit should go to the Club for snaring their man and doing a deal which they got over the line despite him being pursued by at least 3 other Super league Clubs who I’m told offered him more money. At least what happened with Inu, (where the Mail and other media outlets leaked our interest and Catalan sneaked in on the blind side to grab his signature for this season and now perhaps next) didn’t repeat itself, Frank stayed loyal to his word to Motu Tony and he is now our man. What an inspiring signing he is and a real ‘box office player’; we just now have to ensure we stay in Super League to capitalise on him!

On the minus side of things the announcement, while the Diary was away, of the departure of Tom Lineham was regrettable I guess, but it was hardly a surprising one for me. The rumours had abounded for weeks that he was off, but it wasn’t just that, but rather the reports I had heard from within the Club that made it seem that a parting of the ways with young Mr L. was inevitable. A fee of £125,000 is economically good sense, well it is if you’re financially minded, but teams with real ambition simply don’t sell their top try scorers and particularly ones that lie second in the Super league scoring charts. With Paea already leaving, to lose one star is careless; to lose two is a bloody disaster! Despite all the Club talk of the money involved making it ‘good business’ there has to be some mitigating circumstances if the fans are to understand and accept these sorts of decisions, however in this case I have to say I do feel there may be a few sound reasons behind the Clubs action.

I can only tell you what I’ve heard and perhaps its maybe all wrong but I’ve been told for a long time by several people that Tom’s ‘Jack the Lad’, joke a minute persona was wearing thin with a few senior players and the Coach, and that there had been friction, including a couple of real bust up’s. I’m told it was all really childish stuff and a failure to concentrate on what he was doing while he was play acting about that seemed to be the bug bear.

Then there was the case before the Cas game away when we spent hours working on Tom’s technique on tackling Carney, always wondering whether he was paying attention, only for then on the one time he was one on one with the Cas winger, he proved that he hadn’t been listening at all and the score cost us the game. Plus, there is the ongoing socks issue which is rumoured to be a real bone of contention with the Coaching staff where despite Radford insisting that simply to show some professionalism and a lack of tardiness they all play/train in official Club wear with their socks pulled up, he insists in pulling his down and wearing ‘fancy dress’, simply, some insist, to wind up the coach. That’s just my snippets of rumoured back ground information, but it’s certainly food for thought isn’t it! Look I understand that in our game often the best players are the most difficult to handle and that’s what good coaches can do. But I’m just saying, after the rumours I’ve heard, I’m hardly surprised he’s off.

In the end he missed the game in France for ‘personal reasons’ and didn’t re-appear on Sunday and far be it for me to cast dispersions on that, if he has had some trouble at home and lost his focus then it’s a good decision. I can’t see that situation being helped by having to argue the toss about leaving the Club with the inebriated fans in the Castle Bar, can you! But think on this, because here I only speak as I find and the day after Mickey Paea announced his departure (and although I only knew him to nod to), he walked straight up to me in the Gym (I had an FC training vest on) shook my hand and said “Sorry but I had to make a difficult decision”. I will be eternally in admiration of that bloke, will bear him no malice whatsoever and will follow his career with interest. Let’s hope Mr Lineham know how to conduct himself in what is now a bit of a sensitive situation too eh?

On a brighter note it was great for this fan to see young Curtis Naughton kept on for the option year he had on his contract because quite frankly he has a load of potential and appears, despite coming with a few question marks against his attitude, to be focussed and dedicated to the task. He is here for next season and that buys the Club some time to decide on an enhanced contract to take his career forward should he continue to impress which provides a ‘safety net’ for the Club and an incentive for the player, so everyone must be happy.

Now did anyone watch the Cas v Saints game last Thursday? What a game and it just went to prove that Cas are a fighting, battling, outfit although in the end not a GREAT team, but they are certainly one that is blooming well coached!!

On the Whiffs front it was interesting to see Kristian Inu has signing for the rest of this season for Catalan Dragons, which doesn’t necessarily mean he is off our radar, although I do believe that some knee jerk reaction in the media linking us with the centre did alert Catalan to his availability. However let me say, as I said in the last Diary, that I had heard his name mentioned back in May, but never believed that he was top of the list of our targets for the centre role next season anyway. The sensible money within the game is now on him returning to Australia next season! I would still be looking at the possibility of Hodges, who I mentioned ages ago too, but I wouldn’t be surprised with Lineham now leaving, to see two new high profile backs being targeted. Hodges was mentioned last week in Dave Parker’s column in the RL press, but I take no credence from what he says; I’m still waiting for the ‘nailed on’ Brian Noble’ to arrive as Football manager aren’t you??? I am also hearing from an excellent source that two signing we have lined up could well be Mahe Fonua of Melbourne and Daniel Vidot currently at Brisbane. The latter is 6 ft 2 and 105kg and is a big lad who has scored 52 try’s in the NRL and will be a great foil for Marks Sneyds kicks to the corner. Only of course rumours as such at present!

There was also the mention of the return of Danny Washbrooke a week or so ago, which for me would be a good move. He ain’t being targeted as the next big thing to pull on the famous black and white shirt, nor is he going to command mega bucks, but a glance at his stats indicated a ‘bit part’ player who is a lot more effective than some we currently have in the squad. I’ve seen him a lot on his days off at the gym, he is still ultra fit, a fervent FC fan and I feel some of the stick the mention of his name has brought from some quarters of the fan base is uncalled for myself! He’s by no means certain to arrive, so we’ll just have to wait and see on that one.

Holidays come and they go, but some things don’t change at all and so it was that on the message boards and the social media stuff, with those doom and gloom merchants who seem to like nothing more than to put the Club and selected players down. This time it was the return to this Country of Ben Crooks and the fact that he wouldn’t be rejoining us that was firing up their complaints against everyone at the Club. For me the lad has a lot of talent or at least appeared to have in that brilliant first year he had at the KC, but after that in fairness he wasn’t that good, in fact his defence was pretty abysmal, however sadly instead of buckling down and working on his quite substantial deficiencies it appeared that he suffered from the age old issue for so many of these up and coming kids; he believed his own publicity.

So, when he wasn’t picked he said, ‘Sod you lot I’ll show you’ and went off to play in Australia, starting in the third grade and intent on working his way through to the NRL. If there’s one thing that Australia does for young kids with high hopes and perhaps not the skill to match; it finds them out!! So, Ben is still where he started and now destined to return to this country with another Club. For me I hope he does well, but I saw nothing in his second year with us or in his lack of progress in Australia to make me think we should all be taking a trip to the Wailing Wall simply because he’s off somewhere else. However that’s only my opinion and anyway why should a bit of logic get in the way of a blooming good moan?

The latest addition to the wall at the Drum and Monkey, ‘Knockers’ signed shirt from the Boothferry Park Test against the ‘Invincibles’ in 1982.

Now you know I don’t agree with the contrived format of the event but credit once again to the wonderful fans of our great game after the Magic Weekend when figures released since the record-breaking showpiece show that it generated millions of pounds for the City of Newcastle. An estimated £4.2m was made for the north eastern City, with restaurants and bars experiencing between 40-50% increases in trade over the two-day event. Hotels in the city have also reported a record weekend for occupancy, with rates up between 25-30% across the board, while city centre footfall increased by 37%, which was considerably higher than when Newcastle hosted the Olympic football during London 2012. So Rugby League proves a massive generator of finance again, not for the game, or the fans but more sadly for a City that can’t even support their own Gateshead team. It’s all very ironic really!

I don’t know these two ladies but they managed to get themselves all over the Newcastle Chronicles as the ‘Geordie’ City benefitted from the Magic Weekend and Hull FC fans in particular, who were once again the biggest attenders there.

Now for a bit of personal stuff which I need to get off my chest. I apologise for it in advance and if you don’t want to endure a few paragraphs of navel gazing then please move on!

Firstly, I guess that some of you will maybe have heard that after 8 years of service I have resigned from the position of Chairman on FC Voices. The group does some sterling work behind the scenes on behalf of the fans, much of which it doesn’t get credit for and will continue to do that in the future, that’s for sure. However I decided to stands down simply because the position got me too close to the Club and the personalities involved in it and although that was fine for a long time, my feelings have changed a bit of late and I longed to go back to being out there on the terraces as just a loyal supporter; although that said, I have to admit it was a hard decision to make.

But that feeling is all part, I guess, of a bigger issue for me and perhaps for a few other fans in the great family that is Hull FC. Those of you who have read this over the last couple of months will have realised that I haven’t been all that ‘into it’ of late, I’ve been disenchanted and even when things were looking up, I found myself searching for that feeling of belonging to my Club, that I have harboured for over 50 years of dedicated and unflinching support! In fact when I talk to long standing fans in general, it’s that feeling of becoming divorced a bit from it all that we have all seen gradually developed over the past few years. What’s the background to this? Well, firstly let’s separate the ‘tired and weary’ amongst us from the moaners.

When you stood back in May after the Saints defeat, no one really expected us to get anything from France and Headingley and would have settled for thumping the Dobbins and getting a win in Cheshire. We did that and did it well and yet RL fans and the social media was full of hand wringing about Danny Washbrook possibly arriving, Yeamo’s apparent short comings, Tom Lineham leaving and about our rumoured recruitment, which incidentally, I think is sounding OK. It seems to me that there will always be those folks who like to moan, like to grumble and will never be happy. They seem to actually ‘get off’ on it and quite frankly it’s about time they grew up or found something else to vent their obsessive quest for bad news on; supporting a sports team is never ever going to be all you personally think it will be! At least 80% of being a fan is just down to hope!

However, there are others like me who although appreciating an upturn in or playing form and a brighter outlook for the FC, still feel uneasy and for the first time a bit divorced from it all. But, why do I feel like that, why don’t I feel as involved and close to it all as I did back in the much darker days of the late 80’s and 90’s? Why aren’t I as passionate and dedicated to the cause as I was in the tough times of Len Casey, Tony Gordon and David Lloyd? Why, (although still a dedicated and committed supporter, who will defend his Club to the ‘death’), don’t I have that depth of ‘Belief’ anymore, even when we are doing reasonably well?

It’s almost impossible for me to describe what I’m trying to get at here but holidays are a time for a bit of navel gazing and as I say I came to the conclusion that I’m simply not into it all as much as I was, despite the fact that I want to desperately be that way! The conclusion I came to is simple; as a fan I feel disenfranchised. It’s simple to say I guess, but a lot harder to explain!

I have also came to the conclusion that perhaps it’s not just the changing face of the game, but also the changing circumstances of our own Club, that have attributed to this strange and if I’m honest unwanted demeanour.

While I was away I was chewing all this over in my mind and trying to find some answers when out of the blue I heard from an exiled fan who now lives in the West Riding. He’s a bloke that I respect greatly and who genuinely loves the Club. He wrote me a long E Mail about how he had just read the books I wrote about my association with Hull FC and added that although he wasn’t born in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s he longed to be in that great fellowship that there was on the terraces on the ‘muddy days’, when we all had in bad times and occasionally good ones, was an unswerving love of the Club we followed, and a close association with all its players. He admitted that like me and I think many others, he had over the last few months gradually lost his ‘soul’ as far as the Club is concerned. The arrival of that E mail was spooky, but it was also something that resonated with me and perhaps with a few of you reading this. It’s all, I guess, just down to that #Iwanttobelieve stuff I’ve banged on about of late and because what that dedicated fan said was something I could really equate to, it made me wonder and indeed helped me crystallise my thoughts as to why it is all happening this way.

You I really do want to believe but somehow I simply don’t feel the same, it’s no longer as it was back in the bad old days or indeed back in the days when under Arthur Bunting and Brian Smith it was ‘so good’ as well! We still go and will to the day we die and that’s why we still have the best fans in the game. We don’t just make hollow claims about that because it’s something that is articulated ad infinitum and most recently by the highest sales for the Magic Weekend and the most supporters travelling to Catalan in 2015. However there is little doubt that for me this feeling I have is, in part at least, directly linked to the question as to why are people in general walking away from the game?

Supporting the team- somehow not quite the same anymore?

I remember many years ago in the days of HISA when the then Chairman Karl Hutchinson said to Peter Levy on Look North that the Club and the game in general were treating the fans as ‘Cash Cows’ (and boy did he get some stick for that), but now perhaps he was more of a visionary than many of us believed at the time. That scenario is perhaps now becoming more of a reality and the answer to a general malaise across Rugby league, is probably because the games about money and just not the same ‘sport’ anymore.

Over the years we have seen the transformation to a ‘gimmick ridden’ competition. There are golden points, Marque signings, Super 8’s, Magic weekends with contrived fixture lists, Catalan’s ridiculous home advantage and resident video referee, Big bashes, semi finalists being allowed to pick their opposition, Thursday night games that kill crowds, crap commentators who simply take ‘the mick’, the demise of traditional Sunday rugby that has gradually eroded travelling away support and the continued refusal by the game to re-introduce proper A teams…. and so it goes on…..and on!

Perhaps all those of us who just crave a top quality game, which is, as it always was, played, supported and indeed run by genuine people have been slowly worn down. Loyalty is all about continuity and Rugby League has been really good at that in the past. In the 50’s the game moved forward but still looked very like it did in the 40’s and the game in the 80’s improved but its fundamental structure stayed as it was in the 70’s. However our sport at the top end of the game in the first years of this century bears no resemblance to what it did in the later decades of the last! Change has to come, but not all change is good and although important, change for change sake, when repeated ad nauseam, is often just counter-productive and simply pisses the loyal people off. It wouldn’t be so bad were thousands of young people flocking to watch the ‘changed’ game, but gates etc are still little different, if not in many cases going backwards!

Locally, at the Club we all love, things have changed immeasurably too, with the effect I think that we have been severed from our heritage and when I ponder on that fact, for me at least, much of that stems from the move from The Boulevard. The KC was the great new dawn and the move that would take us onward to being a really ‘Big’ Club and I admit initially it was just that! However the fact we don’t own or have any control over our Stadium and the way we are being screwed at every opportunity by our landlords has reduced us all to feeling like second class citizens and just makeweights in the whole deal. We don’t in fact have a place that feels like a real home anymore do we? The Boulevard with all its shortcomings and drawbacks certainly did for me!

In addition to that we have no ‘proper’ Board at the top anymore, no corporate group of businessmen who have long term affiliation as followers and fans of the Club and who therefore ‘get it’. Unlike Rovers who seem to have ex employees coming out of their ears, we have few ex players (with the exception of Motu and Johnny Whiteley) directly involved day to day and if, as the song says, our children are our future, then in professional sport our ex heroes and their exploits are our Heritage.

We should at this time all be rejoicing in one after another of a catalogue of events that make us proud to be 150 years old, but instead we seem to be paying lip service to our anniversary, there will be no celebratory game and so a massive opportunity to re-engage the fans slips by; simply because in the modern super charged gimmick ridden era, the past just doesn’t really matter anymore!

Perhaps this massive year in the Clubs history is proving to be a missed opportunity which should have been used to remind us fans of where we came from. It should now be engendering the pride again and indeed if all we and the game in general are interested in is financial viability then at least the opportunity presented by our 150th year should have been used to build and consolidate the stock of season ticket holders for the future. Can you honestly see us getting the same response to season tickets next year, even if we finish this campaign with a flourish?

So for me it seems that having spent almost three weeks deliberating on this conundrum, we have as a group of fans been steadily but incrementally severed from our roots and worn down and gradually disenfranchised by a Rugby League administration that has little idea of what they are doing to the game and its long suffering supporters. However I sincerely don’t think that our Club mean to do any such thing, with regard to our heritage, in fact I’m sure they don’t, but it has happened, well it has for this fan at least!

I also know full well that you can’t live in the past, but the past has a part to play in any sports fans continued affiliation to the cause and our, if you like, love affair with the game and the Club we follow; it always did when times were hard back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s didn’t it? That belonging and contact with the past and your memories of it are part of the glue that keeps you engaged to YOUR Club, when in the case of it being anything else in life like a boring and unsatisfying job or even a failing marriage you’d just say enough is enough and walk away. That belonging is, I think, something that we have, as a game in general and a Club in particular slowly jettisoned, as we the fans become more and more disenfranchised by the sports move to a ‘Super’ League and a gimmicky format which, when allied to our own lack of a conduit to our past, has gradually, since our move to the KC, seen many of us lose our feeling of belonging.

Well at least that’s the conclusions I came to. They won’t affect my own personal love affair with my Club and you won’t agree with all of it, or perhaps any of it, for we are all different. However, I include it above simply in the hope that I’m not on my own and that some bits of it might just strike a chord in a fan base in the game and our Club that is slowly but surely being worn away! I’ll still be going until the day I die (and probably after that), but will I get that old feeling of belonging back, I bloody hope so, I really do!

Here’s a place I found on Holiday that certainly reminded me of a certain commentator who had I guess better remain nameless!

So that’s all been a bit serious this week, but at least I have got my thoughts out of my system a bit!! Thanks so much for rejoining the Diary and for sticking with it through my meanderings which I hope in part at least, you understood.

Now for a sad bit and my thought and those of all the FC fans at the Drum and Monkey go out to Sammo, Tina and all the friends, family and colleagues of Paul Ashbridge who sadly left us all this week as he concluded the journey home from an extended Catalan Trip with his pals. My thoughts and I’m sure those of everyone reading this are with you all at this sad time. RIP Paul Ashbridge.

So to Friday night and the biggest game of the season! You know for me the only reason that we are in the mire in the League is because with just 3 League wins we’ve been rubbish at home so far this year and we simply have to start performing consistently at the KC. That’s why I think that we as loyal supporters have to drive the Club onto regaining that siege mentality we should be generating at home. If we ain’t up for Friday, on and off the field, then we might as well all go home!! With the Club and the RL transpiring to ensure we have no big commemorative game to celebrate the year, the Cup is our only hope of glory and for the fans to remember this massive anniversary in the years to come, with any sort of lasting recall.

Whatever the pundits and the Club say, there is little doubt that for the team, the owner and particularly us lot the fans, this week is bloody mega and perhaps, as I said earlier the moment of truth!

Just for a moment consider this fact, in 10 years time will we be saying “Remember our 150th year when we got to the semi’s?” or even better???? Or, will it be “Remember our 150th year?” with the reply, “No what happened” or even worse, “Yeh bloody right I do, Rovers got to Wembley!” That’s why FRIDAY IS MASSIVE; simple as!! We have to get there and get behind the team to create the sort of atmosphere that the Threepennies created back in the 70’s when, although absolutely crap, we always seemed to manage to drive the team on to beat Leeds! It’s the moment of truth!! FC are our team and so we have get there in numbers on Friday, back the boys and ensure that if things do go wrong then it won’t be on the terraces that we are found wanting!! In the mean time for perhaps one last time, let’s all try and Believe again!!

Faithfully Yours