WOO HOO…..SUPER HULL ….IN THE SUPER EIGHTS!!!
What a night and what an effort!
I’m still living in the afterglow of an extraordinary evening and just so proud with the way that, despite so much adversity, we went about the task of getting a win at any cost. Massive congratulations to Lee Radford, the rest of the coaching team, the support staff and the players for achieving our first (and what has seemed at times an often unlikely) objective of the season; a place in the top 8 and thus the guarantee of Super League rugby next season. Whatever else some would say you got wrong Lee, you got us through and the team spirit of Friday was unquestionable!!
To beat Rovers, even a poor Rovers, at their own home in front of that red and white rabble is always pretty OK, to keep ‘the entertainers’ scoreless in the second half is pretty good, to get bragging rights for the closed season is heartening indeed, to win the regular rounds 2-1 is very good, to beat Rovers to secure a top eight place and Super League survival next term is great and to secure a win that leaves them on the brink of the group of death is brilliant.
However to do all that with our two most senior players carried from the field in the first half, is bloody awesome!!!
In fact, despite all the despair and frustration, the disappointment, ensuing ‘Coach bashing’ and dissatisfaction that went before, as FC fans we could not really have wished for more of a ‘fairytale’ ending to the initial rounds of Super League.
Walking round Beverley on Saturday afternoon I haven’t seen so many smiling faces from folks proudly wearing their colours and patting their badges to everyone that was similarly dressed. The thing is as well, 48 hours later, I still feel just as ‘pumped’ as I did then!
Forget about the odd mistake (we made just 6) or the understandable lack of some shape at times, because those are the things we criticise when we lose, but that display on such a stage under so much duress and with so much at stake, was simply everything we want to see and something that elevated our players into our heroes, in just 80 minutes. It was without doubt all we can ever ask for as fans and a great, great victory at the home of our noisy and apparently, we are often told, superior neighbours. You really couldn’t have made it up could you? OK neither team looked like they would ever go on and win the Grand Final, but you play what’s in front of you and we did what we had to, battled like hell for the cause and guaranteed ourselves a 16th consecutive season in Super League. But, more than that, we now face another 8 reasonably stress free games, without the fear of relegation. We still have to play at the same intensity and with the same passion and set achievable goals going forward, but let’s not now worry about forcing the odd ball, blooding a youngster if we need to or trying something different and as in the title of the second Mick Ronson Album, let’s ‘Play Don’t Worry!’ No one expects us to do much at all now, so let’s surprise a few of those ‘big time Charley’s’ and at the very least ensure we all enjoy the ride.
If a picture paints a thousand words; it just meant so much didn’t it?
For Rovers however the picture is completely different. They face a 70 point ‘point’s difference’ and baring a miracle next week, some really tough ‘cup final’ matches in the middle eight. Those games will be played with the shadow of relegation looming over their future; a scenario that up to this game I feared was destined to haunt us in the coming weeks. There will be plenty of the anticipated ‘every second counts’ jeopardy there then; and they can keep it! It could so easily have been the FC in that position, but our heart and tenacity over the last three games got us home; but then it was always going to wasn’t it because we are such an ‘arrogant’ Club aren’t we Mr Hudgell? For me on Friday the Dobbins got all they deserved on what was a great night for Hull FC.
For us lot it was an awesome victory and like it or not and I still don’t, when it comes to the new format it certainly saw a big ending to the regular season. For me, it was a great, great victory for tenacity, steely determination and fortitude. I watched at home through my fingers and from ‘behind the settee’ (and even had to go out for a short walk half way through the second half when I Thought I ‘just knew what would happen next’) however when it was finally over I was so, so proud of our lads.
With injuries to probably our two most influential players and the fact that we faced a baying, bleating and almost feral, red and white partisan crowd, wasn’t it great to smash their hopes in such an emphatic manner. It was all too much for many as they streamed out before the end and as someone said afterwards, how good is it to play at the KC Light stream(ing out) Stadium. Well done FC and well done to all of you who went and came out victorious and in one piece!
You know, Derby week in Hull used to be the equivalent of one of those festivals you sometimes come upon by surprise on the continent with the fans in a real party mood, banter flying back and forth and everyone full of expectation and excitement. In the old days the media was stuffed with Derby information and build up, as both Clubs held taster events and the tension grew as the anticipation was cranked up to fever pitch. The fact is of course, that has dissipated somewhat these days, simply because there are so many derbies’ now, which seem to come around like buses. However because of the amazing significance of last Fridays game, once again the old excitement and dread was back and although I doubted we could actually pull it off, there was little doubt that it was certainly the ‘stage’ and the occasion to produce a special display.
Perhaps for younger fans the eternal round of derby matches has still got that appeal whenever we play them and perhaps it’s just me, but at least this time I felt that once again the game was of major significance and the critical point in our season, if not, with the possibility of the ‘group of death’ and relegation pending, our history. To be down there battling relegation in our 150th year was a scenario that I simply couldn’t contemplate.
Because it’s Hull FC we’re talking about and we have been there so many times before, I guess it was to be expected that once again I thought that I had a pretty good idea of what would happen, but for the second week running our battered and perhaps under rated troops proved me wrong. If you’ve supported Hull FC, even just from August 2005 to August 2015, you’ll have sat there helplessly and watched the team you love go from world beaters to egg beaters and will know only too well how often these occasions have just been too much for us.
However, I got my predictions wrong and unlike so many occasions in similar circumstances over the past few years, for the third week running we fought and fought and this time got home from the Buzz Lightyear Stadium with two of the most precious points imaginable. And we did it in a performance epitomised by stoic and intrepid displays across park which ranged from the enthusiasm and raw talent of young Jordan Abdull, right through to the reliable dependable and steadying hand of ‘old head’ Richard Whiting. Everyone on and off the field did their bit on Friday and as dawn broke and I drove through West Hull next day, the Hull Shirts were out in force and you could almost taste the feeling of pride tinged with relief.
For me it was a mammoth effort and one that would simply not have been seen earlier in the season, however for an Hull FC team to play like that with that sort of passion in a do or die game and come out winners, is certainly the stuff that this fan’s pride is made of. As I said earlier too often over the years we have seen what we saw at the KC against Leeds in the Cup a few weeks ago, where we talk a good game, flatter to deceive but can’t deliver in the big one. As seasons go there have been few bigger games than this one but we won and did it pretty decisively in the end. This time in fact, when we needed it most we delivered and that’s probably the single biggest plus of all for me!
It’s quite ironic really that at a time when we are told that we are not able to produce enough home grow players, 8 were instrumental in the win against Castleford while on Friday I made it that there were 5 in the fray and in Abdull and Logan we had two real stars on the night and for the future! Abdull, probably the most unlikely looking half back in the game, was great, took on the responsibility vacated by Pryce’s injury and will be a fixture at our Club for many years to come; I’m sure of that. He’s such a handful when he runs with the ball near the line and on Friday his kicking went up a notch too, as he showed how proud he is to be a Hull FC lad that’s played through the ranks and is now able to live out his dream of being there and instrumental in delivering on such an auspicious occasion.
Logan too was so important to the effort and he has now for me to keep his place because at times he shows a maturity beyond his years and is forming a fine partnership with Michaels. While we are on local lads from our ‘failing’ academy, I should mention both Green and Bowden as well. So often criticised in here as not looking as if they were up to making the next level, they have really stood up recently and in an energy sapping game they both played almost error free rugby with ball in hand and got through tons of work in a game where we had to hang onto the ball and keep possession, especially in our own half. Of course all four of those players and Danny Houghton ‘get it’ when it comes to Derby games and that fact sees them raise their game often above that of some of their imported colleagues.
I also think Jordon Thompson deserves some mention for the way he constantly stuck his nose through the line and ran with real commitment, he is so enthusiastic and a real workhorse and again I thought that Westerman made sure he was always right there in the middle of everything.
The loss of Pryce on his 500th career appearance, in the second set of the game put massive pressure on Mark Sneyd but he took on the mantle of General and was superb. He kicked well and that was the most influential bit of what we needed to do in the second half. Shorthanded and low on petrol, it was imperative we avoided long periods of defending on our own line and instead played as much of the game as possible in Rovers 40. In the first half it became surprisingly apparent that Rovers had little to offer from far out as both their tries came from opportunist situations close to our line. That was also a reason that we had to keep them a long way away from our 20 for as long as possible and that long kicking game and a great kick chase won the match for us; in the second half it kept the opposition pinned back in their own half and pointless. As I said last week in the context of Danny Brough, I honestly believe that one day Sneyd could be a truly great player at our Club. Despite not having two of our most influential players on the park, with the exception of one incident when I thought we should have taken the two points to stretch the margin to 12 points, our game management in that second period when we were short handed, was brilliant. And how good it is to say that!
Watts had a fine game again but we have come to expect that of late, from a player fast heading towards the ‘player of the year’ mantle and it was also going to be the sort of game in which ‘Jack in a Box’ Jordan Rankin needed to put himself about a bit. He certainly didn’t disappoint at all and went on to prove to be a real handful throughout, as well as providing a great cut out pass to put Lineham in for his first try.
I would consider moving him up to half back and bringing Shaul in at the back, at least until we see how long Pryce will be out. But Jordan was a real star in a performance of stars. On the wings I’m starting to realise what a clanger we have dropped letting Tom Lineham leave, because when he is as focussed as that, he’s blooming lethal, while on the other side Michaels again shone and scored an amazing try from that Sneyd kick. Mini had a big match and made loads of telling tackles while Danny Houghton was again our top tackler with 54, the 20th time he has led the team in tackles in Hull’s 22 league games thus far. Sometimes criticised for his distribution from acting half, Danny not only led the team, but he was the leading tackler from both teams and ran himself to an absolute stand-still.
Finally it was good to hear the coach mentioning the attitude of the players who missed out on selection like Hadley, Turgot and Shaul and how much, during the week, they had contributed toward the win, with their attitude and selfless application.
So a fine performance a massive night for not just us lot the fans but also for the team and the owner, because now at last we are all guaranteed Super league football next year as we finish in the top eight. It’s always good to beat Rovers but that display was a bit special and I was so proud when the final hooter went and we were home with the two points. What a night and what an occasion!
Some of those sad Rovers fans who read this every week will no doubt say ‘Come on Wilf you make it sound like it was a Cup Final’ but when you consider the importance of the game in the context of what was possibly at stake, and what could happen in the final 7 games if you’re not up there in the 8, then for me I guess it was! I was simply such a proud, proud FC fan on Friday night!!
However safe to say that as usual the build up to the game was shrouded in the mandatory controversy and as usual it was our new merger partner in the ‘special relationship’ Neil Hudgell, who once again managed to endear himself to us all on game day, as he said in the Yorkshire Post, “Hull do have a big club mentality without the results to support that; there is an arrogance about them”.
There were once upon a time perhaps a few scraps of logic in what he was saying I guess, well there was when you’re taking them in the context of where both Clubs were when Rovers came up, but now we have precious little to be arrogant about really and anyway with that merger hanging over us all, at a sensitive time like this you simply don’t say it, do you? He was just doing what he’s been doing throughout his tenure as cheer leader of the dark side and winding us lot up.
But then again he can’t help himself can he, he’ll never change and sensitive certainly won’t come easy to our new best buddy Neil! As for arrogance I guess it takes one to recognise one but after his latest outburst, if you’re talking partners that we can trust and who will treat our club in an honourable way…..you’ll not be surprised that Neil doesn’t feature anywhere in my list of potential candidates. Still on this occasion ‘arrogant old us lot’ had the last laugh and we’ll be laughing for a few weeks yet Neill!
So to the week passed and the sentence dished out to Mickey Paea seemed to have really upset our Club, although for me his appeal last Tuesday went as planned. Call me suspicious but, the minute the Club indicated that we were to question the second game in the two match ban I thought straight away that the comments of Lee Radford about Seb Blatter the previous week would come back to haunt us. Everyone who has read this rubbish for any period of time knows that I have grave reservations anyway about the consistency and quality of the disciplinary system at the RL as in the past they have at times appeared to be nothing if not a tad arrogant when ‘their cage is rattled’.
Despite to optimism coming out of the Club I expected nothing else than the ban to be upheld and that’s what happened! For me the whole disciplinary system in the game is flawed and need reviewing and it’s about time in such a media savvy world, that the whole process was opened out and the media are present at hearings.
At the very least the Chairman of each hearing should make a recorded TV statement at the end of each set of hearings to explain the decisions so that someone is accountable to the Clubs and the fans for those rulings. That would maybe at least bring some consistency into the whole thing. To do something like that would, for me, make the process less of a mystery and one that is more transparent to the paymasters of the game; the fans. Mickey is back this week, he’s been one of my stars of the season thus far and I hope he explodes back into the front row again on Thursday.
Recently we have all been told in no uncertain terms that there are simply not enough kids playing the game in Hull, however this week we heard in an article on the RL’s website, (that wasn’t carried by the Club at all), of the brilliant work being done by Hull FC’s Foundation which is being held up as an example of good practise by the governing body. The piece published on Tuesday indicated how well OUR foundation was doing by getting thousands of young people involved in playing rugby locally. It’s all part of the Sky Try programme, which has in its first year seen over 4000 young people engaging in Rugby League activity in schools across Hull and the East Riding. Sky Try is a bi-product of the last TV deal for broadcasting rights and its aim is to engage with children at grass roots with an objective of increasing participation in Rugby League within clubs and schools.
The foundation also has a strategic aim of engaging young participants in further Rugby League activity, by forging school club links on behalf of the community clubs in the region. Our community ambassador Feka Palea’aesina is heavily involved, as are first team players and Under 19 players who regularly delivered on the programme as they attend schools for player picnics and community events. The programme looks at supporting traditional schools, but also includes a Touch Rugby League and a nines competition. Hailing the scheme an unmitigated success Head of the FC Community Foundation, Dan Scott said: “We are in a very fortunate position where we have a strong team of passionate individuals that want to see the game grow across the region and see Hull become a ‘Hotbed of Rugby League’ once more. Going into year 2 of the programme, the whole team are striving to further engage young people in actively playing Rugby League” Well done to Hull FC Foundation and it’s a tribute to the work that ex Director Richard Munson put in to build the funding base, before he left for Widnes.
Well its happened and several forward thinking Clubs have decided that enough is enough and gone it alone as news broke that Wigan and Warrington are among several Super League clubs in the process of arranging their own reserve games next season, for all the reasons I’ve banged on about in here for weeks. The dual registration scheme is struggling to say the least and a host of players across the game just can’t get a chance to play against mature players etc etc, you all know the rest and quite frankly what the game needs is definitely a return to A team Rugby. All Super League clubs currently only have an under-19s side below first-team level, but no means by which they can give those over 21 who are out of the squad some meaningful hit ups.
Currently any player over 19 either has to be sent to a partner club in the lower leagues or face not playing at all if they are not selected for the first team, that’s even worse than the previous regime when clubs could play some over-age players in an under-21 league. The continuation of that would probably have been the best solution but instead the current situation has led to some devising their own plans for extra fixtures in 2016 on top of the under-19s competition.
As you would expect the forward thinking Clubs including Wigan and Warrington are leading the way and Wigan coach, Shaun Wane, revealed last week that plans are well advanced behind the scenes. “I’m sure (the RFL) will fix it; I know meetings are going on and it’s high on the agenda, but I don’t want a player sat here not playing; they’re born to play and we pay them a wage to play. We’re putting things in place to make sure we’re getting people games no matter what. We’re way down the line with plans about our own games. We speak to clubs about that a lot, about fixing our own games up for next year. Whatever happens we’re covered and we’re going to be in control and getting players games within our own system.”
Will we be taking take part? Well we should be, because for this fan the game has never really been the same since we lost A team fixtures. However come next season, although we’ll still have the same problem with over age players not getting a game, there will not be the Under19’s to make up the numbers, they’ll all be in the new merged academy. If duel registration disappears it’s almost essential that some sort of system that allows some open age players a game has to be introduced. So what’ll be the next move, a merged open age team with senior players who can’t get in the first team from both Clubs taking part? Perish the thought!
Well done to Wigan and Warrington for taking on the ‘powers that be’ and trying to get something going to address a really worrying issue in the modern game, the fact that some players can’t get a game unless they go out on the flawed duel registration scheme. This may not be a regular league or anything like that, but it could well be a start to getting back something like the old A team games going again! As someone pointed out to me on line, it looks like, “Saints & Leeds will be part of it so potentially we see a bigger gap between them and the rest of SL as all their fringe players and returnee’s from injury will get meaningful game time before a 1st team return / call up” Some food for thought there I think, don’t you?
Last Saturday while I was in Princes Quay I was stopped by a guy and I’m sorry I still don’t know his name, but he obviously read the Diary and I thank him for his kind comments which he expounded as we a great chat about the state of the game and ‘That’ merger, but his parting comments concerned the importance of this week’s game against Wigan and a request to include my favourite game against the pies over the years. Well I featured the famous 1985 final last year, and the wonder ending against the Lancashire Club at the Boulevard with that last minute length of the field try last February so, although I included this game 8 years and 4 years ago, here is my greatest memory of a win at Central Park and what a game it was. It was under the short but hugely successful reign of Brian Smith and played on a wintery 12th January 1989. Back then the Cherry and Whites, were the team to beat and the ‘Big time Charlie’s of the British game. I went with the East Yorkshire coach from the club for this game, and for most of the way we were all debating exactly how we would keep the score down, because although we had done well under Brian Smith, since we lost our first four league games, we still knew that trips to Lancashire rarely reaped rewards. We parked in that car park next to the river Douglas (which flowed right behind the ground), and made our way to the covered end known to the locals as the Spion Kop.
Central Park was a grand sight back in those days, a ground smack in the middle of Wigan, with massive terracing on three sides and a low seated stand that was painted in red and white stripes down the other. Under the floodlights it was a shining example of a traditional ground. As you approached the place glowed in the darkness and depicted a shrine to the game and in turn a very hard place to come away with anything but a drubbing. Although there were only around 12,000 braving the elements that night, it was a great atmosphere and the roar that greeted the Wigan team as they ran out led by Andy Gregory, struck fear into the hearts of the 1500 or so FC fans that had made the trip that night. We had every right to be fearful too, because Wigan were on a run of 6 straight wins, the last of which had been a victory in the John Player Trophy final the week before. Their team read like a ‘who’s who’ of Rugby League and although we had actually won our last five games, it was still a daunting prospect as we watched as Andy Gregory rolled his sleeves up to his shoulders, took a divot out with his heal, and placed the ball on the centre spot to kick off.
The first half turned out to be a tight affair, with both defences in great form. Wigan looked the stronger, so it was ironic that we eventually took the lead with Garry Pearce landing a great penalty goal after Kevin Iro had upended Moon 30 yards out. To return the compliment, Wilby then tripped Bell as he ran through a gap in our defence, and Gregory tied the scores up with a dipping penalty kick. Then a sweeping move down the left hand side saw Ellery Hanley dance between Price and O’Hara to a set the host’s winger Preston flying down the touchline. When Hanley broke through he was a wonderful sight to see, providing that is, you weren’t playing against him. As our full back came across Preston passed back inside and there was Bell to scoop up the ball and fly in 10 yards from the corner flag. Gregory missed the goal but at 6-2 we feared the worst.
Then almost straight from the restart, Moon, playing at centre that night, suddenly broke away, outstripped the defence to streak downfield and touched down near the corner flag, too wide out though for Pearce, who failed with the conversion. Back came Wigan through a Preston try two minutes later, when he seemed to juggle with the ball for ages before touching down, and with a Pearce penalty for a trip by Betts on Wilby just before half time, we went in trailing by just two points.
I remember to this day how at half time I was thinking that in that last ten minutes of the first half something strange seemed to have happened and we looked to have shrugged off the traditional inferiority complex so many clubs suffered from at Wigan; could we actually be in with a chance? If the first half had been tense and nervy, then the second was a revelation what our Coach had said at half time no one knew but it was then to be a a half that would be remembered forever by anyone who was there that night. Craig Colman, Smithy’s first major import signing and the genius working behind our pack, started the second period in fine style as he proceeded to give GB number 7, Andy Gregory, the run around. The game however took a truly dramatic turn after Pearce had kicked a superb angled penalty from the 40 yard line to level the scores. ’Porky’ then took the ball on the third tackle and without a player near him, struck a massive drop goal from way out, to edge us ahead. However what followed that can only in truth, be described as 20 minutes of some of the most remarkable rugby I have ever seen.
On 53 minutes Wigan’s Shelford dropped the ball and from the ensuing scrum Pearce broke magnificently, stepping first to the right then to the left, leaving Hanley and Edwards for dead. Colman shot through behind him, took his inside pass and floated a fantastic looping ball to Divorty out on the right. As the defence funneled back and caught him, he stood tall in the tackle and popped a perfect pass out to Colman to score under the posts. Pearce converted and it was 10-17.
The home side were visibly rocked, and dropped the ball almost straight after the kick off, and worse was to follow, as Pearce shot through the line and this time using a fantastic dummy which left the cover grasping thin air, passed onto Colman again. Craig handed on to Price who went in untouched to score again. A Pearce conversion saw us 23-10 in the lead and running away with it, and whilst a hush spread through the ranks of the Cherry and White supporters we were dancing on the terraces to the chants of ‘Brian Smiths Black and White Army’.
In the next five minutes the referee, Mr. Tennant, had to speak to Goodway, Betts and Hampson, as the Wigan tackling got higher and higher, but we just pressed further down on the gas and started to blow them away. Next it was Colman again, this time drawing Byrne and Shelford before slipping out a peach of a one handed pass to Divorty, who hung the ball in the air long enough for Fletcher to come charging through to score his first try of the season. A Pearce goal meant that after just 61 minutes we were 10-29 up and scoring at a point a minute. We were coasting. Coasting though was a problem, because we missed several tackles and Hanley who was always a danger, strode in to restore some of the home sides pride. The locals sniffed a comeback.
However any hope they had was short lived because nine minutes later once again it was Craig Colman who roared away from the defence. This time he fed Tim Wilby, who hit the pass, full pelt and careered down the field. As the defence scrambled back he flicked the ball out of Gildard’s tackle, it went to ground, but Pearce fly hacked on and Jon Sharp touched down to end the rout. A late Betts try and Gregory goal added some respectability to the score line but Wigan were well beaten and, following what was, back then, a rare example of the ’Wigan Walk’, the terraces emptied well before the final whistle, however the old corrugated iron roof over the Kop echoed to the strains of ‘Old Faithful‘, whilst Brian Smith, as was his wont, came out onto the pitch after the game to applaud the crowd, and we all went home happy.
The wizardry of Coleman and Pearce swept us into 4th place that cold night at Central Park, and after two years in the doldrums Brian Smith and the Hull lads had posted the ‘Watch out we’re back’ signs across the rugby league world. What a night, what a performance and what a memory. If you were there you’ll remember it well, if you weren’t you missed a treat!
Now here’s a great one sent to me by my pal Steve who tells a tale of a guy he knows who lives near Malaga in Spain and is a builder. He was doing some work on a house that he discovered was owned by a big Leeds Rhino’s fan, so Steve’s pal immediately offered to ‘top it out’ with an FC flag. The Leeds fan said “you wouldn’t dare”, so here’s what happened….he not only put it up there he actually cemented it in ………………and left it!!!!
Incidentally, do you remember how there was no end to the inventiveness and humour of the rival FC and Rovers fans back in the good old days, as both sets of supporters would constantly play practical jokes on each other. On the morning of the Yorkshire Cup Final at Boothferry Park on 29th October 1984 the ground staff arriving to prepare for the game certainly got a surprise from a stunt that actually made the national newspapers next morning.
Overnight someone had climbed into the ground and left 13 perfectly painted garden gnomes resplendent in their Hull FC kits and pointed irregular hooped hats on the centre spot. These had been perfectly arranged in a circle around one Hull KR gnome, who was broken in half. Why do I mention it again now …well the intrepid ‘Malaga Flag Bearer above’ is in fact amazingly the self same guy! Hull fans eh and after all those years, they never change do they? But don’t you just love em?
Those comments of Neil Hudgell last weekend (as he probably saw what was coming) where he indicated that he preferred to be in the middle eight rather than suffering a ‘slow death’ in the Super Eights were strange indeed. Well Neil, from my point of view I’m just so pleased that we’re not down there. For me the Super 8’s is a chance to experience the top teams again and it provides an exercise in real pressure rugby. It also means that we are definitely in Super League next year and have to play a game less without that awful fixture pile up we had surrounding the Wakefield games this season. Most of all though what I feared the most from the middle eight was that these games are what the seasons at Bradford, Featherstone, Leigh and Halifax have been leading up to, it’s their big chance and some of those Clubs have waited for it for years. The latter three have been excluded from the elite League for several years now and really do resent that fact; that makes them very ‘dangerous animals’ indeed.
Look at our end of seasons and those of Rovers over the past few years and its evident that both Hull clubs definitely ‘run out of petrol’ in late July and August, fatigue catches up with us and injuries kick in. In the old Super League the top 4 or 5 Clubs seem to always get stronger and stronger while both the city’s Clubs have tailed off considerably and struggled to find a win. That would have been a real worry had we not prevailed, but although we should look to do the best we can, we now we face 8 games of ‘no pressure’ rugby when we can field a few of our younger players if we need to and they can go out and express themselves with no expectations or stress to hinder them. Most of all, us lot on the terraces can enjoy the games again. Getting in the eight already, has the bonus of the added certainty of knowing exactly where you’ll be when the 2016 season starts and therefore being able to plan season ticket schemes, bring in new signings and build for that year. Most of all of course, the signings you are after also have the security of knowing exactly where they will be playing as all the uncertainty has now been removed.
So regardless of the great, great feeling of beating the Dobbins 2-1 over the season, getting the bragging rights and enjoying our neighbor’s distress, there are so many more plusses for the fans and the Club. I just wish this merger stuff would go away; but it won’t and nor can I just ignore it either, we have to suffer it and all make our minds up what we are to do about it. However this week at least, let’s just enjoy a few days of making sure we are ‘bumping into certain people’ instead of avoiding them and wearing our colors a bit more around town as well.
No doubt some of you will also be having some really interesting exchanges in the workplace this morning too!! Thanks for sticking with the Diary; with well over 2300 readers most weeks, your support is consistent and brilliant as always. Thanks to for all the feedback after the game as well, there were some happy souls out there on Friday night! And you know what…….it’s still a great feeling three days on isn’t it, enjoy the victory and see you all at the game on Thursday and in Super League 2016!!