The Dentist’s Diary – 455th

When you’re an FC fan, it’s bloody heartbreaking at times, it really is!

You know I’ve said it on so many occasions before, but in the end in our position as fans, out there on the terraces desperately willing Hull FC to win, it’s without doubt the hope that bloody kills you.

I went with a deal of hope on Friday, we’d had two weeks off and so, fresh legs, new beginnings and a bit of expectation were the feelings that I and a lot of other supporters harboured and there was no doubting the effort our boys put in, because they had a real dig! We burst out of the blocks and blew Cas away in the first quarter of an hour, just like Wigan did to us in our last home game, the difference being the Pies kept going and built on it and we didn’t!

Although we could have and should have won, all the way through and even when we were 12-0 and 8 points up I somehow knew what the outcome would be and not surprisingly everyone around me seemed to know that too!!

You know, I have come to the conclusion that however good our recruitment is there is little doubt until we get someone in the Club who can sort this lots heads out and get them playing as if their very lives depended on it, things will simply never change.

So once again in a game featuring our beloved Hull FC, it wasn’t so much a case of the opposition pressuring us, but more the fact that we put all the pressure on ourselves!! Now we look forward with trepidation to 6 more very tough rounds before there’s any sort of relief for the long suffering ‘Faithful’.

“We know we’ve got it in us to beat these big teams because we’ve already shown that this season, we just need to turn up on the day and play the way we know we can”. Those were the words of Mark Minichiello last week, as we approached the first leg of our 7 game sojourn into the Super 8’s, and as fans we all turned up on Friday in numbers and hoped he was right!!! But, in the end, the team played the way we knew they would….and that’s the conundrum isn’t it? We are good enough, we have the passion and even the skill, but once again we were beset with not being able to finish our own sets in an acceptable way or deal with the end of the oppositions. As minds wandered off the plot and ‘brain farts’ appeared across the line the mistakes began to flow and once again we simply didn’t have the presence of mind or mental strength to get over those lapses or indeed eradicate then in the first place.

That plus some soft tries conceded, particularly the first 3 which were from kicks that we couldn’t deal with, and a right edge defence that has been described as ‘pathetic’, did for us; that last bit with Sa and Lineham inept at times, was occasionally almost embarrassing to watch. The media called it an entertaining contest, but for us lot who have seen it so, so many times before, it was just the same old issues, the same old failings and in the end the same old heartbreak. You could see all that etched so obviously on the faces of the FC fans, as they filed out into the dark West Yorkshire night to once again head home, without the points.

Three hours earlier when we had arrived we were greeted with a very big security presence in the alley behind the ‘long’ stand, which was different to say the least and then surprise, surprise we were all frisked before we went in, (in my case twice), which was a first for me for ages at a Rugby Ground. After they had shown a deal of interest in the glasses box in my trouser pocket we got in and once inside adopted the ‘usual Castleford procedures!! That is of course the Wheldon Road ‘toilet drill’. Mrs R goes straight away before either, the queue is too long, the lights have all gone out, the water in the taps dries up or the cisterns in the three closets are not working. Then I went, having ensured that, as I usually go at half time too, I had my water proof shoes on!

Not that I’m complaining because I’m certainly not, that’s all part and parcel of watching rugby at one of the greatest little grounds there is in the game, isn’t it? Ok it’s falling to bits, but I love going to Castleford, the atmosphere, the home supporters, the excellent chips, the walk up Wheldon Road, the coal trains rumbling by during the game and you know what, when their new ground arrives, I’ll really miss all that! Even the procedure of the Cas Coach and his entourage walking through the FC fans before the game to access the gantry is great to see. I shouted to Powell as he went by, “Do you want a job” to which he stopped, smiled and winked; he’s a nice bloke and from what we saw on Friday one who can weld a varied assortment of players into a really useful outfit that is certainly exciting to watch, when, that is, you’re not playing against them.

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The Jungle probably the only ground where the teams can’t walk out together as per Super league regulations; the tunnel’s too narrow!!

Yet, once the romance had subsided and the game had kicked off, it was just another example of all that is wrong with our team at present. In the first place there is little doubt that we have some good and talented players some of whom obviously really care and want to win for us lot the loyal and long suffering fans, in fact we have a lot of players who really do ‘get it’.

However all that said, week in week out they simply don’t deliver for the full 80 minutes and that has to be down to their mental preparation and a lack of focus. At 12-0 up and with an 8 point lead in the second half we suddenly looked uncomfortable and ill at ease with our position, as has been the case on a lot of occasions this term. As I said earlier, unless they play as if their lives depended on it every week, wherever we play, the fans are just going to continue to gradually become addled with frustration and despair! None of us can continue to take so much hoping, whilst persistently getting so little in return.

For me as a team we still continue to flatter to deceive and one can only presume we don’t have the ability off the field to send them out there in the right frame of mind. Our game management was woeful at Castleford as we again pushed the self destruct button at the end of sets, but that, for the big FC following on the terraces, was I guess pretty much business as usual.

One old guy said to me on the way out, “If we had appointed Brain Smith when he joined Wakey, we would have won that, because he was always a ‘head’ man and he would have got into their psyche by now and if he couldn’t then they would be out!” I ain’t saying that’s right, it was only that guys opinion and I told him I’d include it here, so I have, but I certainly ain’t getting into any Coach bashing, so I’ll not dwell on it, but it certainly made for some food for thought on the journey home.

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This Michaels try, preceded by as good a long range behind your back pass from Sneyd as you will ever see, kept us in front at half time.

Look, if you weren’t there let me say that there were some superb efforts with Michaels, Whiting, Westerman, Paea, Thompson and Watts who all put in massive shifts, in fact they all produced almost as big an effort as Danny Houghton who was simply streets ahead of anyone on the pitch for work, effort and a will to win. He set up lots of field position with his runs from acting half, he tackled everything in sight and his field kicking wasn’t too shabby either! It was a real captains knock for me and it’s easy to see why Leeds were rumoured to be ‘sniffing round’ and waving some cash in our direction to try and tempt Danny away. I’m told by the Club that won’t happen, he won’t go and in any case we won’t let him leave. Anyway, now it appears that the Rhino’s are to sign Shaun Lunt for next season. Danny gets some bad press from some quarters, usually around his passing game and the protagonists have a point there I guess, but for me he is a top performer and after all that effort this season for so little reward, it would be easy to see a weaker character departing, but I think that Danny’s made of stronger stuff than that.

There is little doubt though that when you study the crowd as I try to do, people get ‘the script’ now and as soon as we scored our second try and were 12-0 up everyone was saying ‘We need another score here and quickly’ but even if it had come, the away game at Wakey proved that it might not have been enough. This time instead of us scoring, it all became a game of nip and tuck which could have gone either way, if that is, we weren’t talking about Hull FC. But we simply ain’t getting the poise and mental stuff right and I know I keep banging on about it, but it’s so bloody apparent when our kicking game is so wayward and our game management so poor.

The tragedy was most of our tries came from good moves and smart plays while most of Castleford’s came from our mistakes.

A good example was when we went 8 up at the start of the second half, we got a penalty, found touch, set up an attacking position and then threw a forward pass, they took over from the scrum, marched downfield and scored. Either they don’t listen, are badly prepared or simply are unable to focus for 80 minutes. We keep bringing in players that are made of ‘the right stuff’ commitment wise, to try and alleviate that problem, while other Clubs with other Coaching regimes promote young players and then instil that toughness!! We on the other hand, seem to have a knack of making previously brilliant players soon seem pretty average.

I thought that the majority of the team did well but were let down at times by some shocking individual errors, which often occurred when we were under no pressure and there was certainly some really poor defence out wide at times. Whilst I’m on about that I have to say that for me, after I had extolled his virtues last week, Jordan Rankin had a much less effective game and was probably responsible for two of their tries, he has great feet with ball in hand, but as a last line of defence he is certainly found wanting at times.

You know that I don’t like singling out players for criticism, but on Friday Sentimata Sa had a poor game and showed a lack of energy and wanting in defence and when dealing with kicks. For me I have to say if I’m honest, he’s been our worst player in the second half on the season. However on the plus side Michaels has certainly settled in well and I’m pleased that he’s got another year. He’s a no frills type player who does the simple things right has a rare turn of speed and can finish in devastating fashion when given the chance. Unlike Lineham he ain’t no ‘showboater’ but just a hard working 80 minute man who will always score tries.

Up front Watts is having a wow of a season and showed again just what he can do, while Paea ground out some great yards and I admired a lot that ‘old man’ Whiting did as he at times showed the way by running some good lines particularly off ‘young man’ Abdull. In fact as usual we had no problem getting downfield and we even executed a little better near the line, but constant mistakes, errors of judgement and lapses in defence (all around our inability to concentrate) did for us. The season is all but over now and yet we have somehow to find some form and a couple of results to keep the Faithful interested. But where they are coming from is hard to see because, as I said earlier, there was no shortage of effort or wanting, but many a lapse when it came to concentration and poise? So I guess what I’m saying in my usual rambling verbose style is that for me it was simply business as usual.

The Club believe I think that we have improved this season and it’s as usual a matter of conjecture and opinion. However here’s an interesting statistic which encapsulates for this fan the fact that although we made the 8 to great acclaim from the Club, we’re not really progressing that much at all. At the start of the year our coach set himself and the Club the targets for this season which feature primarily a need to win more of those close games which had for years gone against us, but on that one, by and large, I have to say we have failed again. I don’t like to quote stats too much in here as I guess, like me, you also feel that all they do is make you glaze over after a while and in any case I’ve always believed that you can make them say what you want them to.

However, if you want a mark of whether we have progressed this year or otherwise then you should perhaps consider this. Of the 10 games we have played so far this season where it finished with a score difference of 7 or less we have won 3 (30%). Last year of the 13 games that ended by the same margin, we won 6 (46%)! So for me as far as that objective is concerned, so far this term we’ve failed to improve and in fact we have gone backwards. And that, after we got rid of a lot of deadwood last year, paid players off, got ‘savvy’ players in and by and large carried out better recruitment (including two class half backs) for this season. Our recruitment for next season is looking great, but unless this issue is addressed and our mental tenacity improved then the quality of players we bring in will make little difference. As I said earlier, we do seem to have an amazing ability to make class players look ordinary.

Loosing Ellis and Pryce to injury is a big blow because of the steadying hand they bring to proceedings, but injuries are part and parcel of the game and it’s still about other players stepping up to the mark with game management skills that last for 80 minutes and get us home. As I said earlier, for me the effort is there and the skill is there but it’s all about playing for 80 minutes in every game as if your life depends on it! The Coach said in his post match comments on the Club site, “It’s why we are an inconsistent side at the moment. We have to eradicate those inconsistent players.” I think that might have been a misprint and was meant to say ‘plays’ however it’ll do for me and perhaps it was more of a Freudian slip really as a few might perhaps need gently eradicating after yet another error strewn display.

So to the week gone by and I was pretty flippant last week about Liam Watt’s charge of biting in the local Derby. My stance certainly didn’t suit everyone but what I didn’t say then was that I knew what some players had told me and felt that he wouldn’t deny something so vehemently, if there was any chance that he would have been found guilty. Quite why the Rovers player complained to the referee and whether he actually thought he had been bitten or whether it was just sour grapes after a big hit, was hard for me to comprehend, but in the end it appears due process was followed, individual interviews were conducted, the video was scrutinised and found to be ‘inconclusive’ and so we move on. Call me suspicious, but it all smacked a bit of sour grapes to me, but who knows what really happened? We probably never will!!

What do you make of the situation surrounding Curtis Naughton and his refusal to sign an extended deal that has been offered by the Club? It’s a strange one for a bloke who was brought back from Australia pledging to do “Everything he could to win a Contract” and smacks a bit for me of him being frustrated by not getting a place of late; even after his brilliant showing at the KC in the Cup against Castleford. The Club tell me they don’t feel he’s a winger, but against Cas in the Cup he scored three tries from that position!! I think he is a player that could make the grade, but that he has suffered, as have some other youngsters, with the need to be cautious about blooding youth, until we get into the top 8.

The news last week that we are to change our recruitment emphasis and for some reason look at another second rower was interesting wasn’t it? Was Ellis not going to play again, had we missed out on the top Aussie outside back we were targeting and what was all this about the second row, where we seem to already have a glut of players? Then we hear that Yeamo is to extend his playing time at the Club through transferring from centre to the second row and thus no doubt gain another deal (although unconfirmed rumour has it he signed a contract extension months ago) and that we are after Australian born English International Chris Heighington as our next signing, another second rower who certainly promoted some rumours amongst the fans. Personally at 33 I think that with Ellis, Tony The Tank and potential second rower Kirk on our books we don’t need another player in his twilight years, but rather someone in his mid to late twenties with a few more ‘Years on the Clock’, but that’s just me.

HOWEVER I think all this conjecture may well have been wrong and the change of plan was because all of a sudden we got the chance of a top class second rower who was too good to miss out on. So, don’t despair too much folks because on the whiffs front I wouldn’t be surprised if the second rower we are to announce isn’t Heighington at all, that he’s just a ‘decoy’ and in fact we have secured the services of Sika Manu. He’s wanted by three NRL Clubs and one Super league Club (which is I think us) but I believe he is at the time of writing, very close to signing. Until the ink is dry on a contract nothing is certain in these things, but if it comes off he will be a great addition to the squad and another massive coupe for the Club, so let’s hope it all falls into place.

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Sika Manu; Eddie Waring would have said, “EEEEE!! He’s a big lad but his mother loves him!!”

I think that situation should be a lot clearer come later this week, but Sike apart, if I were to hazard a guess on what we also need at present at the Club, it would have to be some cover for Danny Houghton. Currently two hundred tackles in front of anyone else in Super League Mr H is something of a Superman, but suffering I guess, with the old adage of being a prophet in his own land with the Hull fans. As I said earlier his passing can be a bit wayward, but wouldn’t yours be after 40 odd tackles? He is however when you stand back from it all a pretty good player who makes few real mistakes. But Danny simply can’t go on and on playing 80 minutes and although both he and the Coach insist it is when playing the full amount of minutes that he is at his best, for me we need as a club to devise a way of spelling him with someone with a different style of play. Also in the whiffs department the rumour that Tom Lineham changed his mind about going to Warrington and tried to ask the club to reconsider, grew very strongly last week, but whether it is right or wrong it’s academic in any case, because apparently the answer was or would be a definite No!!

So a hooker who could maybe play a bit of half back would be my choice for our next recruit but what do I know, perhaps teams with one hooker little cover in the backs and a dozen second rowers will be the next big thing! While we are on our targets and potential signings, a pal of mine Billy Pratt spotted Danny Washbrook last week in Humber Street at the ‘Sesh’ and asked him if he was returning to the fold next season. To which he receive a wry smile and the comment of ‘Nothing is sorted yet’; so he’s deffo coming!!

I see our landlords at the KC the Allams are staying away from City games on a permanent basis, which is a little strange to say the least. They have closed the Chairman’s Lounge and had his private seats covered over with black sheets. Steve Bruce insinuated that people had been throwing stones at their houses during the closed season and they had decided not to attend, but I think myself that has to be a bit farfetched, it might have happened, we are always beset in sort with idiots, but an owner and MD staying away???? Ben Smith at the BBC tweeted a much more likely reason for their actions when he said, “I understand that Hull City owner Assam Allam does not plan to attend any of the club’s matches this season, Allam has closed the chairman’s suite at KC stadium having seen his bid to change Hull’s name to Tigers thrown out by the FA for a 2nd time” They are really strange guys aint they? Old Mr A has also threatened to withdraw funding from the Labour party if Jeremy Corbyn is elected leader, stating that he “never backs a dead horse” and that from a guy who purports to be a socialist, while financially backed his local Tory candidate at the last election. Fruits and loops spring to mind on that one! Incidentally I hear that at the Leeds game we will see that the new segregation fences between the away and home fans in the East Stand will have gone up!

Now, the new academy is certainly taking shape as the merged project, although still apparently shrouded in secrecy, moves ahead at some pace. Contacts in the amateur game tell me that there is certainly no chance of it being scrapped and indeed we must all look forward to the prospect of only having one team that is purely Hull FC next season, with all the talent in the City below that shared with Rovers. I’m hearing from the same sources that the new merged project will be entitled The City of Hull Academy and that letters of invitation have been sent out by the RL to the Under 14’s across the City who have been selected to take part.

I am told that number includes at least 13 that Hull FC had earmarked from our old set up through their ball boy scheme. Several sources indicate that the whole thing will be headed up by ex FC employee Danny Wilson, with Rovers coach Rob Nickolay as his right hand man. I also hear that Rovers Academy supremo Pete Grayburn, who is generally considered to be a really good coach, is not staying and now moving on to, pastures new. The RL seem very keen on pushing the project in Hull whilst other Clubs across the game have ‘surprisingly’ yet to be encouraged to do the same. All, as I say, just what I have been told by the amateur Clubs and we’ll have to see if its right but I’ll keep you posted with anything else I hear.

While we are on that merger, just a quick mention for this month’s Up the Cream fanzine, which I purchased before the game at Cas. I have enjoyed the publications since it first came out at the turn of the year but this month’s is brilliant and I really recommend you get a copy. From that Chomley Club Eric bloke, a silly old bugger who reminds me of my Dad and a brilliant monthly piece called ‘The Round up’ by Caroline Greene which really tells it as it is, through to some great laughs in the Rumour Mill section, it’s a real good two quid’s worth. Simpson’s fans should also note that this month there is even a short piece by the brilliant Lyle Lanley of ‘Monorail’ fame! You know that I have also always believed that every Club should have a fanzine as the voice of the terraces, so well done to the team who put it together and I can recommend that you should get one if you can. It’s available from Advantage Sports in Saville Street, The Royal Standard in Beverley and Garbutts Bar on Prinny Ave.

So to the Codgers Spot and you know after the last week, and all the goading we are getting from the Wembley bound darkside dumbo’s, it’s quite nice to go back in time and revisit those days when players had a few beers, often just before the game, the half time hamburgers were served by a lady with decidedly black fingernails, referee’s were seen and not heard and the Threepenny Stand was home! This week I want to take you all back to January 1982 and the Festive period’s annual Local Derby, which on this occasion took place just 19 days before we met and beat the Dobbins at Headingley in the famous ‘Ronnie Wileman’ John Player Trophy final.

This was the first game back for both teams after a lengthy lay off for bad weather that had seen no games during the full month of December. Getting the upper hand before we met at Headingley was not the only incentive either, because both teams were near the top of the League and vying for the Championship. There was still snow on the Speedway track around the ground as we took our places early, on the ‘Threepenny’s’ and it was a good job we got there in good time too, as 17,229 packed into the Stadium that Sunday. It was going to be all about who got into their rhythm the fastest after the lay-off, but any sort of cohesion was not helped by the continuous rain that poured down throughout the game.

The match kicked off with a Rovers scarf still smouldering in the heights of the Stand and it soon became apparent that Hull were trying to open play out and manufacture quick play the balls whilst Rovers seemed content to adopt a more cautious approach. However we were tackling so well with Stone, Crane, Norton and Skerrett stopping every move that Rovers tried. Rovers were surprisingly first to show as Hall chased a high Kick by Paul Harkin and ended up tackling Kemble behind his own line, other than that scare, for the first 20 minutes we had Rovers bottled up in their own 40. When we had the ball Wileman, Kevin Harkin and Terry Day opened up the Robins wide out on four separate occasions, with only lost ball and some good tackling ensuring that these moves came to nought. Then on the 23rd minute as Rovers got into our 25 yard area for only the second time George Fairburn dropped a neat goal and the visitors took an unlikely 1-0 lead.

Back came the Airliebirds, roared on by a big following and twice we almost scored. First Norton sent Kemble careering through a hole in the Dobbins line, he passed onto Leuluai who raced into the clear and only a great last ditch tackle by Peter Muscroft saved a certain try. Then Muscroft raced across to the other side of the field this time to tackle Dane O’Hara into touch, just beside the corner flag. With just two minutes to go to half time though we finally cracked Rover’s stern and uncompromising defence. Kemble threw out a speculative pass that hit the ground, but Mick Crane running at full speed somehow managed to pick it up to send Leuluai through a gap to score a brilliant try. The terrible conditions and pouring rain meant that kicking was virtually impossible and so we went in at half time leading 3-1.

Once again, as the second half started Rovers ploughed down the middle but got little joy whilst out wide the likes of Hubbard, Muscroft and Smith were seeing little of the ball. Then on the 55th minute Hull started what was to be a brilliant 10 minute spell that turned the tide. Norton seemed to be held on the halfway line, but superbly shook off Millington and Casey before running free and releasing Leuluai on his left shoulder. The centre brilliantly wrong footed Smith before sending out a fantastic 15 yard pass to Paul Prendiville waiting on the wing. Despite the slippery conditions ‘Taffy’ was straight into his stride and he handed off Hubbard near the corner flag to dive in for an unconverted try. On came Lloyd and Crooks for Skerrett and the limping Wileman and straight from the kick off a couple of superb drives from Crooks and Stone got us back into the Rovers half. Then straight from acting half Kevin Harkin sidestepped Hartley, leaving him face down in the mud as he scooted away and passed onto Sammy Lloyd who ghosted into a gap and his fresh legs sent him over wide out with both Hubbard and Proctor trailing in his wake. This time Lloyd took over the kicking duties and once he had got his breathe back he slotted over an inch perfect goal to make the score 11-1.

What was behind such a purple patch in such treacherous conditions? Well Mick Crane had a lot to do with it, as the player who usually occupied either a second row or loose forward position stepped into Wileman’s place as hooker and won the next five scrums on the trot against Rovers International hooker Watkinson. What a larker he was!! Funnily enough after that we saw little of the ball and we had to defend for the last 10 minute, although there was only one scare when Phil Lowe broke into the loose and looked to be heading for the line until across came Kevin Harkin to fell the giant forward and force him to drop the ball.

That was just about it really and as the tannoy announcer appealed for the crowd not to invade the pitch, referee Fred Lindop blew the final whistle and we had beaten the old enemy 11-1. It was a fine performance which feature a couple of great tries and a resolute defence from Hull that frustrated the Dobbins and saw them squander a lot of ball and kick early in the tackle count! It rained for two whole days after that and then the skies cleared and it dropped to minus 6 in West Hull which meant that the following weekend our scheduled game against York was postponed again. Still a great victory in abysmal conditions, against the team that it’s always good to beat.

Now anyone recognise this?

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Yep you got it it’s the old Hilton Park ground at Leigh which has stood as a derelict site for the past 7 years since the Club moved to their new ground at the Leigh Sporting Village. Well, it was announced this week that specialist housing developer Mulbury Homes have unveiled the £17m plans to build a mix of bungalows and apartments on the vacant site which was once home to both Leigh Centurions and Leigh RMI who were later Genesis Football Club. I just thought that some of you who like me made the trek to Leigh on a regular basis for years and years and remember what a homely and traditional ‘dump’ it was, would find this bit of news from the local Lancashire Newspapers and indeed the fate of the old place, interesting!

Now for a bit of soul searching and introspective stuff because if I’m honest despite Hull FC being a Club that has for years pretty much occupied my thoughts for most of the time and however I try, I’m really flagging a bit of late. It’s strange really, but whether it is too many heartbreaks, too many false dawns or just the current situation with the Stadium Management and the merger that has worn me down I don’t know, but as I talk to fans around the place at least it’s good to know I’m not on my own.

Perhaps it’s the disappointing fact that probably on the field at least the only thing that we will have to remember our 150th year by, will be the fact that the Dobbins got to Wembley or heaven forbid, even worse. I was criticised the other day by a Rovers supporter who should know better, but who, riding on a wave of euphoria, accused me of being ‘small minded’ in my feelings of total dislike for the Dobbins and my not being ‘pleased’ for their appearance at the national stadium and the beneficial effect it would have on the City! Bollocks to that, it just doesn’t work like that at all for this fan. But forget Rovers, because at this time I worry most about my feelings towards my Club and really, really don’t want to be so ambivalent towards them. I really do want it all to be just like it I used to be, but I can’t shake my feelings of resignation and increasing reticence.

I mention that here, simply because it crossed my mind this week that perhaps I won’t bother going to the Wigan game in September simply because it’s on the TV. I know I can watch all the games on the computer anyway, but the fact that one is actually televised by Sky in the main game slot, was all the excuse I needed to renege. Excuses not to go??? That’s blooming worrying isn’t it? That’s not like me at all and I’d better give myself a good talking to I think!

However more seriously someone said to me the other day that had Adam turned round and said of the Academy stuff, as Wigan did, “Bugger that’ we are merging with no one, we are really struggling financially, but at times like this we all have to pull together, get behind the Club and battle through’, then at least we would have had a ‘banner’ to march behind, we would all feel that the Club wasn’t giving in and rolling over and we’d all have something to fight for. Whether we like it or not (and I certainly don’t) the strength of teams like Castleford, Wakefield and even the Dobbins, over their years in the wilderness, has always been their ability to ‘Rally Round’ when times were tough, they thrive on being the under-dog when many of us lot can’t even contemplate our club being anywhere near that position.

That’s why I think, quite naturally, the first things Hudgell said after their semi final win were all about it being ‘….a great victory for the Rovers Family’, because whether we like it or not that’s what these Clubs are from the Chairman through to the casual fan, you could feel it at Castleford, they thrive on the little Club status and being an underdog, for it breeds a strength and camaraderie on the terraces that we have lost of late. You see for me it’s a painful truth that we seem to have been top dogs and a ‘Big’ club for so long that all this ‘second best in the City’ stuff over Wembley and yet another disappointingly inconsistent season in Super League is now a step too far for many FC fans. However there is still some cause for a bit of optimism because if the revulsion towards the merger has proved one thing then it is that we still have some fight in us and some pride in our Club. That said though in general everyone is feeling completely resigned to another season dwindling away and petering out and what we saw at Cas. On Friday did little to disprove that theory.

Still we have to stick with the Club, we have to persist with our support and do what we can to keep going, Hull FC is our life and the Club needs us all to stick in there and battle on. But boy, as was the case walking up Wheldon Road at 10-00 on Friday, its hard at times isn’t it!!

Thanks for sticking with the Diary, my match thoughts as always are jotted down straight after the game and still raw from the hurt, elation and pain that I feel as an ordinary fan. That’s better I think than waiting till Sunday to hear what everyone else has to say, but sometimes the account of the match ends up a bit muddled and confused too, but then again that’s how I often feel after a game! I guess I should also apologise if this method of getting my thoughts down when they are fresh after the game does on occasions lead to a depressing old read. But, let’s hope it’s an upbeat Diary next week, as I set off on Friday on the long trek to St Helens and do it as usual, more in hope than expectation!! It’s a massive ask but we’ll see how it goes and Hope…because sometimes as fans that’s all we have left really!

Thanks for all your e mails, comments, contributions and correspondence, as always your support is greatly appreciated and thanks for sticking to the end of another Diary!

Try to Keep Believing!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf!