The Dentist’s Diary – 451st

Woo Hoo!!! That was a great win and how we needed it!

Yesterdays was a victory that not only got us two precious points but one that, as my pal Kathy said, made our hearts race in that last few minutes. It wasn’t brilliant and decidedly nervy at times too, but it had the excitement and passion that you want from your rugby, as a scratchy first half was eventually forgotten and it became a good afternoon all round. We all sat there in the sun, watching helicopters and tracking Rovers progress on our mobiles, as on the field Hull FC just hung on!!! That’s what true cross city rivalry is all about I guess; we win they lose, I’m happy!!!

Castleford showed in the first half that they are a well coached and well drilled team, they work hard for each other, but most of all they control the ruck. In the first 40 minutes we allowed them to play the ball far too quickly and so I guess they deserved their first half lead. However much like those resolute under 19’s the day before at YPI, we roared back in the second half and indeed in the end points wise, we probably deserved a greater victory. I think we crossed the line 8 times only to have 4 ‘tries’ either ruled out for offences or because our player was held up.

Looking beyond that great win against an in form Castleford, it has however for this fan at least been another tough week off the field. For me the ‘shadow of merger’ still hangs heavily and despite the two Clubs protestations, and the odd vociferous supporter on social media it’s something that for this fan at least, just won’t go away.

Watching those Under 19’s at YPI on Saturday didn’t help either, it was pretty heartbreaking as the countdown to my last academy game gains pace and the prospect of no more derby clashes after this season at that level, kicked in. A brilliant fight back by a depleted FC Academy did nothing at all to change my mind and judging by the bumper bundle of mail I got this week, I don’t appear to be on my own with that one. Don’t go thinking everyone at the Clubs think it’s a good idea either because they certainly don’t. Several cited to me the fact that it took Wigan and Leeds seven or eight years to get where they are now, while we’ve only given it two in our new set up at Bishop Burton. In turn Wigan Coach Shaun Wane said this week, “Although it’s a good idea for some of the other Clubs, we won’t be amalgamating with anyone” Then Adam said in his programme notes that as both Clubs have only had a limited number of callers on the subject “….it would suggest that a good majority of people support and understand the idea”, well perhaps that’s the case, but I don’t!! Yesterday 8 of the lads on show in our team came through our ‘failing academy’ and I can only conclude that perhaps at last it’s starting to really bear fruit, but now I guess we’ll never really know!

Looking back it’s hard to say how I approached the Castleford game really, I wasn’t that excited and if I’m honest I guess my mind wasn’t on it and I really did find it hard to even get up for what was in essence a season defining encounter. I knew how much we needed a win and yet it seemed a big, big ask against a Cas team in a fine seam of form and (judging by the amount of fans the opposition brought to the KC) one that certainly smelt blood. However it was with guts, determination and a large amount of tenacity that we got in front and low and behold somehow, we hung onto the lead. We tried hard to blow it in the last two minutes and even almost succumbed to a ball steal with 4 seconds to go, but that’s watching Hull FC isn’t it; it’s never easy and we never make it easy either. However we got home in a tight game against a really good team as for the second time this season at the KC we ensured that ‘Sweet Caroline’ turned decidedly sour!!

The marvellously named Gadwin Springer is well watched by the FC defence.

With us at last six points up and with time running out, we all thought we knew what would happen next, but not for the first time this season we were wrong, as low and behold up stepped Mark Sneyd and with a flapping drop goal, the margin was suddenly two scores. His magical left boot had made it ‘sort of’ safe (or as safe as it ever is with Hull FC) with his sixth drop goal of the season, a feat (as it was pointed out later), that has only been managed by the whole of the FC squad both current and former in the last 6 seasons!! Sneyd is improving and although scratchy in the first half, in the second he dished out a lesson in game management and last tackle kicking which eclipsed the first half efforts of Castleford. That, along with some fine kicks from Danny Houghton guaranteed that most of the second half was played at the Castleford end of the field. Our bench, depleted on the day, was in the end very effective as we kept the pressure on an excellent Cas pack throughout and to our credit we sapped their energy big style in the first 30 minutes of that second half, before they got some back and we hung on. Abdull’s try was a turning point as a brilliant piece of line running that sucked player after player in, saw him go crashing through a gap to score.

After the recriminations post game at Wakey, it was good to see him back and also great when Brad Fash slotted in for his debut so seamlessly too. Missing Mickey, Ellis, Mini and Feke upfront our bench as I said had to be good and Green and Thompson had great games, while Fash looked the part and Abdull’s contrasting style is certainly best in that ‘interchange middle’ role with Westy. Although it still appears that a few less burgers wouldn’t go a miss with young Mr A!

There were some shortcomings and for me at least, Tom Lineham seems listless and still doesn’t look at home at all, although he took his two tries really, really well. Jordan Rankin started badly with a couple of mistakes, the second of which saw him drop a ball close to our line under no pressure; an action which directly led to a try. However he didn’t let that phase him and he went on to play a big role in the win, with a brilliant burst from a standing start supplying a difficult outside ball for Lineham to score his second try. Houghton drove the team forward well and made loads of yards from his characteristic scoots and on the left the partnership of Logan and Williams is blossoming with the latter developing from an also ran in the early stages of the season to a really sharp and dangerous back. Whiting too did well as he slotted into Ellis’s role and ran some terrific lines.



The Brilliant first try for Tom!

The atmosphere was flat at first but a big turn out from Castleford soon whipped up the FC fans and the second half was accompanied by a real buzz around the Stadium as the lads responded to some good support from the terraces with a tough and nuggety performance. It’s a pity more Clubs don’t bring that many to the KC and Cas are to be commended for their travelling army of fans who helped ensure that the tension and passion was crank up a notch or two, when compared with previous weeks.

So all in all a good performance, a great win and a few heart flutters along the way, before we brought the two points home. I really enjoyed it in the end, although at half time it did appear a bit as if it was going to be same rubbish…different week! Still whatever the Coach said at half time did the trick and we came home with a whet sail and with two absolutely invaluable points. After two poor performances against Leeds and Wakefield and a scraped win last weekend that second half showing was a million miles from what we had seen previously and although it seems impossible to contemplate, we now just need one more win at either Rovers or against Wigan and we’re in the eight; so that’s easy then! But credit where credits due, yesterday was a good afternoon all round!

So to the week past and I see that the interest we were reporting to have shown in James Webster, for the position of Assistant Coach, appears to have cooled for now, with Webbo stating that he will now make a decision on his future plans in late July/early August. I think he would have been a great addition to the staff and liked him when he was coaching here before. However we do seem to be a bit strapped for cash at present and in a state of flux regarding where we go next, if anywhere, coaching wise so perhaps that deadline set by James, is tailored to coincide with the end of the regular rounds, when movements in the game could well be afoot. However I guess as always, as fans, we’ll just have to wait and see.

There was an interesting article in the Yorkshire Post on Friday when our Coach stated that the club have an “exciting” signing in the pipeline to replace Tom Lineham. Lineham will move to Cheshire next season for what we say is a £125,000 fee, though Warrington are still insisting in the press over there that it’s nearer £140,000. The YP saw it as a real blow to our hopes for next season, but Lee Radford insisted: “Our recruitment and retention work is ongoing and we are in advance discussions with a number of parties, which is very exciting for us. We’re looking at players of significant quality that we feel will improve our side in key areas.” They will have to be good too, because on closer scrutiny it’s worrying to see that Tom at just 22 has scored 46 tries in 60 appearances for us since he joined in 2011 from York City Knights. That’s not a bad strike rate at all really and he proved again yesterday what a try ‘poacher’ he is. He is certainly something of an enigma as was revealed by Radford after the game when he said, “There’s always a deal of drama surrounding Tom on AND off the field” However in the Mail on Friday it was stated that nothing was sorted for his replacement yet and they were still talking to those ‘potential’ targets who I think might just be waiting to see where we finish in the league.

I expect Lee Radford will be in hot water again with the authorities after his outburst about the Mickey Paea ban, which he seemed to feel was particularly harsh and one that the Club will appeal on Tuesday. Lee said on Thursday “The two-match ban for Mickey Paea is a massive disappointment. I believe Sepp Blatter gets made redundant in about five or six weeks and he should walk into a job with these (the review) men.” I’m please our coach is tough enough (and flush enough) to take them on and say what we have all been thinking for ages, but the mention of said Mr B did make me smile, if only because it’s not the first time he has been mentioned in here. I remember a great quote from good old Gwilym Lloyd who was reported to have said of him in the 9th December edition back in 2010, “Slab Batter the chief of FIFA”

Well, I had better mention it again I guess because it’s still been the most prominent thing on my mind this week and I’m afraid 7 days doesn’t make me feel any different about the merger with Rovers. I’m no longer livid, but now just resigned to it all and pretty disheartened to boot. After last week’s diary I’ve had a little disagreement and I have to say in one instance some downright nastiness from a couple of fans, but by and large everyone seems to be despairing at the prospect. I have also considered my future investment in the Club both emotionally and monetarily as I am sure have many more. I’m not on my own either, as a couple of sponsors have also indicated to me that they are disappointed with it all too and our owner’s piece about it in the Mail last Tuesday and ‘Radio Hudgell’ on Humberside last night, rather than pouring oil on troubled waters made me realise that I’ll probably never get used to the idea. I think on reflection perhaps it’s just my age!!!

Is the fact that the merged team will maybe be playing in Championship One supposed to plicate us and make us feel better? For me it does completely the opposite as all it succeeds in doing is to ensure for the first time in the history of the game there will be a merged Hull and Rovers team playing in the upper echelons of the competition. A combined team, be it playing in East Park or against York or Doncaster, doesn’t make much difference to me; I still can’t stomach the prospect really.

I think a lot of the smaller Clubs struggling in Championship One will maybe see it as devaluing their league too and it’s Hull White Star of the 1980’s all over again being as it is equivalent to having say a combined Man. City/Man.U. Reserves team playing in the Championship. At present our Club shows all the signs of struggling income wise and they have tried their best to embrace falling gates by rationalising their office staff. This move although lauded as a big thing for youth development, also, for me, appears to have an element of cost cutting involved in it too. A senior member of the staff said to me only last week that it has to be the way forward, we couldn’t afford an academy anymore because in his mind at least, the days of 12,000 gates have ‘gone forever’. I said that for me showed a lack of ambition and was a bit of a cart before the horse argument, because I thought that success on the field and a good team playing exciting rugby would still bring the latent fans back. But what do I know eh?

I just sat at YPI on Saturday and watched our Under 19’s who apparently ain’t up to it take Wigan, the best team in the competition, to the width of a post before failing to get a draw. We have some great young players and the system is working, that’s the shame of it all really.

Poor old Callum Lancaster cops one at YPI

The dozens of fans who got in touch with me last week were upset too and although one or two readers were strongly for the merger, the rest were pretty much in support of this average fans view. What those contrasting responses to the news shows is that at the margins there are one or two folks who feel that getting into bed with Rovers is a great idea, while many others are so infuriated it’s an absolute deal breaker. Then in the middle are vast swathes of FC fans who don’t like it, but despite being stakeholders in the Club, feel helpless to do anything about it; some out there shouting their mouths off should remember to listen to ‘even the dull and ignorant for they too have their story’ and remember too that everyone is entitled to their opinions.

For me as I said last week it’s still unthinkable and as ‘Graham Richards’ said on RL fans this week, “To think that Wigan want to spread their wings into London as they recognise the talent that is within the M25 and we are pulling up the draw bridge and raising the white flag. It’s too sad to really contemplate”. I’m with him but then again I’m so blinkered in my aversion to Rovers that where they playing Iraq in the final, I’d be looking for a shop that sold Iraqi flags! As I say it must be an age thing!

Last week I made my point and my view hasn’t changed. I listened to Mr Hudgell on Humberside and no doubt like many other fans who have wintered and summered his snide remarks and taunting over the years, I asked the question, “Could I honestly trust that man to do anything with Hull FC in an honourable fashion?” Because you see although ‘at the other side of the fence’, he’s not a lot unlike me and loves to see the other side of the City floundering.

I still feel it’s ‘a shabby little deal’ and I remain aggrieved at what Rovers are getting out of it compared with what we are. For this fan my decision as to what I will do come the end of the season is my business and will remain so. I think Mr H and Co. are taking us for a ride, and I guess that the fact that their fans seem to be taking it laying down, indicates they agree and are loving it!

As for my ‘blinkered’ view well, as Les Dawson once said of total dedication, “Being totally dedicated to something sometimes finds you in the loneliest place in the world, sometimes you simply have to laugh at adversity, otherwise it will overtake you!” I’m not laughing that much at present though and all this upheaval is making me feel completely ambivalent to the current campaign as last week I was fast losing interest in what happens next; so a good win yesterday must have done me some good. I simply don’t like Rovers, but is that just me, am I on my own and am I losing it completely?

Whilst rooting in a cupboard I found this the other day. I remembered the hope and expectation there was about back then.

Well it’s certainly been a tough two years for our Coach Lee Radford who I noted as far back as 24th March 2014 said, “If I don’t get performances I walk, it’s the business, and I understand that completely”. Coaching is a blooming hard life when your winning but when you’re not, it must be soul destroying and Lee must have had some torrid times over the last 24 months. At times, it must have seemed that friends were few and far between and the whole world was against him….. including most of us lot on the terraces. In all professional sport these days, when you’re the ‘gaffer’ you can teach them all the tactical stuff you like and then some more, but if the players ‘heads’ ain’t right, it’s a battle to get anything but a string of infuriating defeats. Then the pressure builds, it’s down to the mental strength of the players as to how you cope with it. Mental toughness and an unwavering focus are paramount in any top team. Look at Alex Ferguson, he was rarely seen on the training field but was there in the dressing room and his persona and pre game briefings ensured everyone got it and their mental state was focussed in the right direction.

As for Lee, well it seems that he is in a constant battle to get some wayward minds on track and it appears at times that it’s a tough task. The story goes that he spent all the 5 day turn around between the Leeds game and the Wakey away match trying to get some of the players (and not just the junior players either) to focus and to get them shut of the mindset that it would be a gimme. I guess 16 points up in the first 14 minutes of that game did nothing except to confirm their thoughts and that could explain a lot of what happened thereafter and some actions that must have borne out our coaches severe pre match concerns.

Why do I mention it? Well this week Lee was making a lot of reference to the fact that we had to approach the last three massive games in a relaxed fashion, as he identified what he believes is the other side of a frail psychological situation within the squad when he said, “When we let expectation and pressure build-up internally, we are not a great football team. We spoke about taking the shackles off during the week before the home game against Wakefield and we did that. When we make an error or concede a try there should be no dramas, it happens but we are a good team” Is it working? Well who knows, we looked relaxed yesterday but perhaps with, players being shipped out, year in year out, because their focus isn’t there, nothing much seems to be changing. It’s a culture running through the Club and through the seasons and it’s a pretty difficult one to solve. But, it’s never easy being a Coach is it!

Like most of you reading this I watch rugby week in week out, with the FC and with Sky on TV whenever I can. Doing that and particularly when watching ‘neutral’ games, I guess the most disappointing thing in a sport that I will always love, is without doubt the demise of those players that used to inhabit the game and thrill us every week with their sheer brilliance, skill and arrogance. The ‘Cheeky Charlie’ game changers that have I guess been coached out of a modern game that although full of momentum, completion rates and percentage plays, discourages individuals taking risks. Even if we had the personnel to do it! Players like Steve Norton, Roger Millward, Peter Sterling, Alan Hardisty, Dave Topliss, Keith Hepworth etc from the halcyon eras of the game spring immediately to mind, but back in those days of yore every team had one. Even in more recent times you can find one or two, Jason Smith was perhaps one, as was Kieron Cunningham but they are certainly disappearing fast. So for this fan it’s great, just occasionally, to hear a modern day player discussing delivering “off-the-cuff” football and “playing what you see”.

That in fact is what I read last week in a great article in the Yorkshire Post and I guess it should be no surprise, either, that the player being discussed is Huddersfield Giants’ stylish stand-off Danny Brough. His maverick talents excited us in the days when he played for the FC and although he was ‘hard to handle’ off the field, it’s interesting to hear the great John Kear say on several occasions that the fact we let him leave was one of the main factors that started that steady but relentless decline we have seen since the 2005 pinnacle in our Clubs fortunes.
Still a bit of a looker that Danny Brough!

Love him or hate him Man of Steel 2013 Broughy is a genius. Often the protagonist, when you’re supporting your Club against Huddersfield Giants, Broughy is, when you step back from it all, a maverick, a magician at times and sadly at the end of a line of a real ‘dying breed’. On occasions, as Hull KR found out last week and Saints almost found out on Friday, he can produce moments of sheer brilliance that do in themselves turn games. Few can do that these days it a dying art and no mistake.

What I read in the ‘Post’ was an article prompted by him scoring his 100th career try against the Dobbins and it noted the fact that it’s taken him a long time to get there, which in such a glittering career, is testament to the fact that he is the consummate provider rather than the ‘flashy’ finisher. In that role and the one of steering his team around the pitch it is perhaps for his vast kicking skills that he has become most renowned. During that game against Rovers he produced two 40/20s – both that looked effortless – before the game had even reached the 35th minute, whilst against saints he produced another that pushed the catching player out at the point of contact with the ball. With 7 of those great pieces of skill already this term, he is again on course to be Super League’s leading exponent of that difficult art…….for the fifth successive season.

Chris Chester, before he was ‘consumed by the darkside’ was a real hero himself in that great FC team built by McCrae and Kear in the run up to Cardiff and he described Danny as the best kicking half in the competition “by a mile”. That after he had, as so many of us had over the years, looked on as Brough destroyed his side with a succession of varied attacking kicks and deft game turning handling skills.

Asked about his display against Rovers by the Yorkshire Post Danny said, “It’s a bit different. You come up against different teams each week that have different pendulums at the back. So, if I see space I’m going to kick it if it’s tackle two or tackle five. It’s pretty much playing what you see. If they (opposition back three) are not in position and I get a pretty good bounce it’s a 40/20. Or, if I see the Hull KR full-back over-chasing I do a reverse kick and things like that. So, it is just playing off-the-cuff and as you see it. And it made my afternoon pretty good”

Danny Brough is a prodigious talent and one of the only exponents left of what is a disappearing craft of what the NFL boys call the gadget play; that one, off the cuff act, when nothing looks on or when his team is ‘caught in the headlights’ that can turn a game. On the Hull FC front John Kear will also tell you if you ask him that Danny and several others of that 2005 team should have been retained by us to create the core and perhaps even the dynasty that would have taken us forward to being the top Club in the game. But, we and several other Clubs couldn’t manage him, so he moved on, however that’s often the bi-product you get with such talented yet ‘random’ players.

The current England Coach couldn’t handle him and so sadly he was exiled to Scotland, however after a few false starts Huddersfield somehow got it right and harnessed his wayward ways to devastating effect. When he finally retires I hope he doesn’t take the title of ‘maverick’ with him forever and perhaps if there is a lesson to learn it is that sometimes when a player doesn’t quite fit the strict structures and conformities there are in the play books of the modern game, we should persist with their talents, unfettered by modern day conformity. Many, many modern half backs and hookers don’t have that genius but a few might develop it, if it isn’t trained out of them by ‘scared’ coaches. Mark Sneyd can perhaps in my opinion be included in that number. Before you say I’ve lost it I’m only suggesting that he has the tools and the raw materials that one day might see him getting somewhere near to where Brough is today. Mark isn’t anything like as good as Broughy now and probably won’t ever be, for Danny is an enigma really, but he perhaps has the vision and off the cuff ability to one day be something like what we see in Danny now. Let’s hope that spark isn’t extinguished by ‘coaching’ and that unlike so many good players of late we can hang onto him, have a bit of patience and just see what emerges, I think he has that spark, but for now it’s a long way from ever really catching fire.

I often wondered a bit about Andy Hay, because he was spoken of very highly when he was our Assistant Coach and that, by many respected people in the game. However suddenly he was gone and it seems that the same thing has happened at Featherstone where just 5 days after a sensational win away at Bradford, (the Bulls first reversal on their own ground this season); he’s again out of a job. This followed last Sundays 32-30 home defeat to mid-table Dewsbury Rams, when Rovers squandered a 20-8 interval lead and it was a defeat that saw them slip out of the top four. His departure saw the Featherstone Club quickly appointing Jon Sharp and stating, “Featherstone Rovers RLFC can announce that head coach Andy Hay has parted company with the club, chairman Mark Campbell and Andy Hay have been unable to agree on circumstances surrounding the club’s recent form, which has led to these new developments”. Andy appears by the results he got both at the KC as assistant Coach and at ‘The Goodfellows Stadium’ as head coach, to be a very good tactician but then again someone with a question mark against his ability to get on with people. It remains to be seen where he will eventually ends up next and who can harness what appears to the outsider to be a ‘difficult’ personality.

Bill Mathers rang me the other day to make some comments about the merger and we then went on to discuss his point of view, which I completely agreed with, about the Leeds Cup game a couple of weeks ago. Bill observed that we should have changed our game plan as Leeds did when it started to rain. Anyway Bill, a long time Diary reader asked me if I remembered a comment Adam made at a fans forum back in 2012 when he said (of what he was intending to do in his tenure at the Club) that “It would be nice to sometimes beat Leeds…..and Leeds and Leeds and Leeds!!!”

Bill asked me to find a game in my archives that showed that at one time in our history at least, we could beat Leeds and so for Bill and in tribute to Adams comments back then, I want this week in Codgers Corner to take you back to a time when we beat them regularly and their home gates were less than 8,500, even when 3000 Hull fans made the trek to Headingley from the Boulevard. Something that, to a simple soul like me, begs the question to all those thousands of morons taunting us from the South Stand these days of “Where were you, when you were crap”.

On Sunday 9th October 1983 we all travelled over to the home of Yorkshire Cricket on the coach from the Mermaid pub on Boothferry Estate, for a game that was to be the warm up for our defence of the Yorkshire Cup in the final at the same ground the following week. We had drawn one and won 6 of our first 7 games that term before we suffered a heartbreaking defeat at Craven Cottage London against Fulham and a then a big reversal at home to Rovers. That left us with just one game to get back in the groove before the final and that a difficult looking tie at Leeds.

The home club had won 3 of their last 4 games and they were undefeated at home and so a few beers in the ‘Three Horse Shoes’ in Otley Road was needed for us all to calm our nerves and provide a bit of ‘Dutch courage’. I watched the game from the South Stand as we took over half of it regularly back then and the game kicked off on a sunny day which belied the fact that it was in fact Hull Fair week back home. Gary Kemble had a leg injury and so James Leuluai had a rare trip out in the number 1 shirt, whilst West Yorkshire wonder kid Garry Schofield made his first start for the senior team at number 4.

It took us just three minutes to get on the score board as a great break by Wileman saw Proctor in support to pass onto Crooks. From nowhere Schofield cruised into the line and drew Leeds Full Back Healey before feeding Dane O’Hara who scorched into the corner just below us. Crooks missed with the conversion but it only took another 4 minutes before we were on the scoreboard again. We looked to be bogged down in our own 25 yard area and running out of tackles when Tony Dean, in the team for the first time that season, got out of dummy half and broke the tackle of Mitchell before losing the ball. Garry Moorby pounced on it and threw out a ‘scoring pass’ to Mitchell who was lurking on the whitewash of the touchline. As we all felt a score was imminent, from nowhere up popped Garry Schofield and as he was to do so many times in his career at Hull, he stretched above his head to intercept the pass and without changing pace, the youngster glided away from the Leeds defence. With Hesslewood and Creasser tailing in his wake we cheered every stride as he ran 70 yards for a brilliant interception try which Crooks converted.

Two penalties conceded by a Leeds defence that was becoming decidedly rattled were dispatched by Crooks and after just 16 minutes we were leading 14-0. The home Club rallied and Creasser landed a penalty when Crane tripped Dickenson, but with just a minute to go to half time and after Edmonds, Proctor and Skerrett had smashed the Leeds front row on a downfield drive, we scored again. This time Topliss fed Fred Ah Kuoi and despite the New Zealander appearing to be held by three Leeds forwards he brilliantly released the ball to Schofield. Garry simply took the ball dummied towards his winger Dane O’Hara and shot off for another touchdown this time from 40 yards out, Crooks converted and at half time the score was a very unlikely 20-2. Adam Pearson would have loved it!

Leeds had obviously got a roasting in the changing rooms and came out fired up as they camped in our twenty five for the first seven minutes. A penalty to touch from Crooks relieved the pressure before from the ensuing scrum Dean made twenty yards with a mazy run. Topliss then passed onto Skerrett who striding forward executed a brilliant and surprising reverse pass straight back into the path of ‘Toppo’ who shot through the Leeds defence to score just to the left of the posts. Crooks converted again and as the scoreboard moved onto 26-2 we were starting to dominate the game much to the annoyance of the home fans.

Schofield was belying his tender years and ripping the home defence to bit, whilst Proctor, Wileman and Edmonds scrapped the initiative away from a big Leeds pack and Topliss, Dean and Crane marshalled the Hull team brilliantly. As we piled on the pressure Schofield followed Topliss down the field as he broke away from a Kevin Dick tackle and although Hull’s Captain could have scored himself he passed the ball onto the debutant who completed a hat trick, in his first full game for the Black and Whites and at just 17 years of age. Then just when we should have gone on to score 50 or 60 points we started to make a few mistakes as we over elaborated and I remember too that referee Whitfield, who had been pretty anonymous thus far, suddenly started awarding penalties and became a bit ‘whistle happy’. This disturbed our rhythm which allowed Leeds to score two scrappy tries from Martin and Mitchell.

Back we came though and a flowing move this time started by Dean and Leuluai saw Patrick Solal get another 4 points in the corner and a Crooks conversion and a Divorty penalty finished off the Hull scoring to leave the final score Hull 40 Leeds 12. It had been a fine performance and just what we needed to prepare us for retaining the Yorkshire Cup the following week. Our pack had been a revelations and our half backs supreme. But on the day the real hero was 17 year old BARLA tourist Garry Schofield who simply mesmerised the Leeds defence. Whatever we have thought of him since, the one thing you remembered about Garry back then, was that he didn’t run, or ‘motor’ or gallop, he simply glided away from would be tacklers with amazing ease. Great memories!

Well as I said earlier I’ve had loads of correspondence this week all on pretty much the same subject, but I ain’t saying anymore on mergers and instead will leave the consensus to be summed up by an E mail from a fan called Alan who summed up most readers views when he said, “…..the fans anger will be ignored, many people will leave the club and the decline will continue, I know how bad the situation is because for the first time in my life even I am contemplating giving it up, and I’m no “casual” supporter, but I can’t support even the smallest degree of fraternising with the enemy. I want a strong independent FC with its own clear identity, and proud history, not some mongrel alliance playing in Leeds colours, how sad is it that all this crap should happen in our 150th year, at a time that we should be celebrating and enjoying”.

This week’s quote of the week comes from Adam Pearson who might still know what day of the week it is, but seems to be unsure what the time is, as he started this week’s programme notes with the headline, “Good evening and welcome to this afternoon’s game at the KC Stadium!”

Thanks so much for sticking with the Diary my protagonists will be pleased to know that it won’t be all mergers in the forthcoming Diaries but will add that perhaps they should be careful what they wish for. It was a great win yesterday though and one to saver for a couple of days at least. Now for me it’s Rovers from ‘behind the settee’ next Friday. I won’t be going but then again I never do and as I said earlier ‘I think it’s my age!’ As I see it if we don’t win, then Rovers need to beat Saints as well, while we lose to Wigan, unless something unthinkable happens to our +56 points difference. How nice it would be to get a win and get into the eight with a game to spare to render all that academic, but hey this is Hull FC and I sort of think that scenario is extremely unlikely because for us lot it’s never that easy is it?


Keep Believing!

Faithfully Yours

P.S. #notothemerger !!!!