The Dentist’s Diary – 477th

PLAYING WITH A SMILE ON YOUR FACE!!!!!

Frank Pritchard is ‘Box Office’ The smiling started with him, spread to the rest of the Polynesian brotherhood and by three quarter time it was everywhere across the terraces except of course at the north end. 60-20, what can you say really???

Well, I guess you can start with, “It was only a friendly!!” but then again I have to say, in fear of getting shot down straight away, something special did happen between about 2-10 and 3-30 yesterday. Ok, we started a bit ‘ring-rusty’ as Rovers game time last week showed through and we finished somewhat in disarray through too many substitutions and players playing out of position, but in between it was just a great show of power rugby. There were some marvellous performances and all that with Talanoa and Ellis still to come back!!

I am its fair to say, very pleased that one is out of the way without any major injuries and we can now look and work towards the first game of the 2016 Super League season in just 11 days time. We can as well, do it safe in the knowledge that although we won’t win every game, there’s a very good chance that for the first time in ages, were going to be bloody entertained. The whole game yesterday was played in a carnival atmosphere that started on the field and spread throughout the stadium.

The Hull Daily Mail headline on Friday read, ‘Scott Taylor: There’s something special bubbling at Hull FC’ and after that showing, any of you who were there yesterday will find that hard to argue with!

However as far as first thoughts after the game go, it’s hard not to focus on Frank because when so many ‘Big name’ signings have arrived in the past to great trumpeting by the club and the media, they have immediately dropped their first pass, got injured before they even started or missed a few tackles and so at Hull the bubble is pricked very quickly! Not so ‘Man of the Match’ Frank the Tank. We knew he was hard and boy he is, but I don’t know what impressed me more, his wonderfully soft hands for a man of such stature or the way, as the Rovers fans chanted “You fat Bastard”, he just kept on smiling walked over to them and kissed the badge!! At that point a legend was born. Like all the ‘brotherhood’ at the Club it’s not so much how good they are and believe me if you didn’t go they are good, but more the characters they are and the happy, playing and enjoying it persona, they all portrayed.

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It all started so well for me, because having parked in Selby Street I paused to look longingly from the railway bridge towards the old Boulevard, before I followed a guy on his way to the game who had in his bag, the staple diet of the old place…….a packet of wagon wheels. A good omen I thought, well perhaps, but in reality how good it was to be, I simply couldn’t imagine.

Walking across West Park there were a few Rovers fans about, fans that were by 4-00pm destined to say, “It meant nothing it was just a friendly” but who were there with their flags and banners and painted faces looking a lot like hopefuls at an audition for Billy Smarts circus!! Another pre match point was that it was good, when we got in, to see that all the letters and meetings that FC Voices have exchanged with the SMC had perhaps at last borne fruit as those ridiculous Tigers and Tigeress signs on the East Stand toilets have disappeared and been replaced with Gents and Ladies. Some progress at last it would appear.

So now onto the game and yes, I know it was only a pre season ‘friendly’ but I have to report it as I saw it and on arriving home I was still buzzing. Putting 60 points on the Dobbins at tiddly-winks would get me excited, so this was for me something really special!


Manu and Fonua real talents!!

We started a bit scratchy and rusty and Rovers who had a game last week came at us all guns blazing and determined to make up for a poor performance against Huddersfield. If that performance last week was poor, this one was destined to be abysmal! From the off the amount of talking and back patting etc. that was going on in our ranks was a revelation after what has gone before and led by some astute play by Pryce our new core of senior players really ripped into the Dobbins down the middle.

After 15 minutes and us drawing level, we had them on the back foot and thereafter our go forward was awesome, which allowed the half backs to dictate play. Both Sneyd and Pryce looked really good, with a platform built on the back of our forward dominance creating a bit of space to play in. Both appeared to thrive in an attack that was more potent and more structured than we have seen for ages. The second rowers and half backs created space for the outside backs and in Carlos Tuimavave and Logan we had at last two centres that could step when necessary and put their wingers away almost at will. Throughout the team the support for the man in possession or on the break was at times phenomenal, with often a breaking player having four or five options to pass to. This completely mesmerised Rovers particularly on the left, where Carlos showed great feet and anticipation on the break.

There is little doubt for me that the actual mechanics of the game plan worked so much better without Westerman and the halves provided thrust from Pryce and guile from Sneyd, who hardly put a foot wrong and never seemed to take a bad option. Without Westy it was so much tidier in the middle. It was good as well to see Marc has ditched his truncated kicking method and gone back to the round the houses, minute and a half style that served him so well at Cas, he never missed a conversion and most of them were from the wing!!

Bigger than both Rovers starting props, Fornua on the flank is going to be massive in more ways than one, he simply runs over people but also has a great pass back inside and a deft touch with the ball. His dive into the corner carrying the ball one handed for his try certainly saw the memory of Tom Lineham fast disappearing over the horizon. On the other flank Naughton did well too and then in the second half Lancaster showed what pace he has, as he broke almost at will at times.

So to the forwards and first up it has to be Scott Taylor, who had a dream debut back at his spiritual home in front of his adoring family. He’s such a great competitor and when he and Watts are on the field our front row looks as good as any in the game. It wasn’t all about them either, because when they went off, Green, Feke and particularly Bowden did so much hard work to ensure the intensity never wavered. Danny Houghton thrived on some amazingly quick play the balls too and had a good game running wild at times from acting half. Washbrooke too looked good when he came on for Danny and he’ll be a handy acquisition. As will Smith, if he signs, because he played in around 5 different positions but was never found wanting in holding his structure in attack and defence.

dlphotos.co.uk copyright picture;Dave Lofthouse 07886650735 Scott Taylor celebrates

dlphotos.co.uk
copyright picture;Dave Lofthouse 07886650735
Scott Taylor celebrates

Scott Taylor; What a debut, superb go forward, crunching tackles and a try under the sticks in front of the Rovers fans!!

In the second row Manu is destined to be a bit of an unsung hero. Without the ‘flash’ of Frank he got through a mountain of work and created a lot of the space wide out by targeting three or four would be tacklers and going straight for them, before following that with a really fast play the ball. Mini was again his usual tower of strength and looked great rubbing shoulders with our new pack members, while Abdull tried hard but still has some way to go with Sneyd and Pryce in such sparkling form. Michaels backed up well and finally a word for Jordan Thompson. He’ll be used from the bench in Super League spelling the second row, but he started this one at loose forward and I think in the former role he’ll really thrive once the engine room have softened the opposition up, he looked good too!

Two things struck me in the first half above all others, one was Franks impersonation of ‘the smiling assassin’ and the other was those two tackles when Rovers went from being almost 20 yards out from their line to having to drop out. The two Rovers ball carries were hit by what looked like a pair of runaway trains, firstly by Frank and then, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Manu and Taylor added to a real gang tackle that pushed the second ball carrier back over his own line. Yeh, by the end we were in a certain state of disarray and they got a couple of scores, but in any normal game we would have maintained a more settled line up and both Watts and Taylor would have been back on to see the match out, although that said there is little doubt that it was still nothing short of a rout.

I guess the only downside was the fact that a ponderous and knackered Rovers attack did at times fail to test our defence sufficiently but you can’t have everything and all in all I don’t think I’ve seen so many leaving the KC smiling, while down on the field after the rest of the team had gone off, Manu, Tumavavi, Frank, Feke and Fornua stood at the barrier waving and chatting to the fans. Pre-season Friendly, yes, nothing to go by, yes, poor opposition, decidedly, but a great afternoon out and if you’re undecided about going to the Salford game….you shouldn’t be anymore!

Bill Dalton Club historian wrote to me last night, “What a pity that Friendlies don’t count towards Records because again we raised the bar on a highest score. However we did beat them 54-12 in a Pre-Season in 2005 and then went on to win the Cup! I’ m not one for omens, but am prepared to let it happen again. A thoroughly good performance built around complete demoralisation of the Dobbins”

Wagon wheels and 2005… let’s just say, we’ll see!

I know a lot of you weren’t there and its only one game and a friendly at that, but I hope that my enthusiasm sat here at home three hours after the game finished, at least in part helps you appreciate the great feeling there was around the place today, things might change of course but for now its job done and bring on Salford.

And finally, as we walked back to the car in Selby Street we accompanied a couple who I’d not met before and who I’m sure won’t mind me saying fall into the same veteran category as I do. They both told me that they felt that they had witnessed something very special at the KC and just like Frank they were also smiling from ear to ear!! They would be though because on top of all that they had also won the £500 half time draw! How great is that!! So well done Terence and Jill you’ll remember that game for more than one reason I bet!!!

Travelling home poor old Gwilym was trying to find some excuses which mostly centred around waiting for Campese and Lunt to part the leaden skies of East Hull and descend to save the Dobbins and that as usual made for pretty excruciating listening. However once we had turned him off in disgust and moved onto Johnny Walker on Radio 2, we motored back to Beverley singing along to Mott the Hoople’s ‘Saturday Gigs’ at the top of our voices, thus bringing to an end a perfect day!! Yeh it was only a friendly and yeh it was the worst Rovers side I’ve seen in years but it was a fabulous afternoon out! Now, however, the real business begins!!!

This fixture is a strange one because if you win it there is a lot of satisfaction and a few hollow bragging rights, if you lose it’s a useful hit up, but in the end for both Clubs it’s just part of the process and for me despite that great win you have to wonder whether it’s an unnecessary part of it as well. The Club are looking to ditch this annual fiasco in future and quite frankly that can’t come quickly enough for me. It’s certainly gone downhill attendance wise since the Richard Horne Testimonial game and, win or lose, its past it’s sell by date now and should, for me, be scrapped.

In the end for both Clubs it’s a worry, yeh they want the money but the added intensity can lead to injuries you don’t want and a loss to the old enemy is more deflating than say a loss against Cas or Wakey would be at this point of your build up. Pre-season should be about preparation without the concerns of having to win. It’s great when you do as yesterday proved, but it’s just really part of the process and the real stuff starts a week on Friday!

From a monetary point of view I believe it’s unfair on Hull FC as well. This week I turned up what our owner said when he announced the first pre season Derby of his reign. Just consider what Adam said then, “…. the deal is that once all the various and inflated costs are paid to the SMC the income remaining from ticket sales will then split 50/50 between both clubs”. Now if that’s still the deal and we have 8900 there of which I’m told 1,700 were from Rovers and we as a Club do all the work as well, how can a 50/50 split be fair? Hudgell and Co are once again just taking the p*ss and it’s time for a change I think!

Now to the week gone by and you know I think Callum Lancaster might just make it! If the obviously talented winger had two facets to his game that had worried me, they were his ability to carry the ball up the middle as most good wingers do these days and his attitude. At Donny he showed a real willingness to get involved down the middle as he did yesterday and after a period when he was ‘umming and ahhing’ about whether to sign for us, (with veiled threats that he might go to the Dobbins), he has now settled down and is a much more rounded and mature individual. He even said last week that he was happy to go out on loan if it would improve his chances. Lancaster is already showing a much improved approach to his career and at 19 he has come back well from a tough time injury wise that culminated in him suffering a badly broken wrist which ended his season.

Last week at the Keep Moat he crossed for an impressive hat-trick, with his second score one of the highlights, as he adopted a Lineham like dive, in ‘an anything you can do I can do better’ moment. I think this season he might just be one to watch develop further.

However one player expecting to leave at the end of the season, as a glittering career comes to an end, appears to be Leon Pryce, who turns 35 the day after next year’s Grand Final. With over 400 games under his belt he remains the youngest Grand Finalist in history, having celebrated his 18th birthday on the night of the 1999 showpiece when home-city Bradford Bulls lost out to St Helens, one of the clubs he would later play for. He’s desperate to do something this year and although he feels he still has a couple of years left in him he hinted last week in the Yorkshire Post that he will maybe even end his career at Bradford in 2017 whether they are in Super League or not.

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Big season needed from Leon!

The form of Pryce and Sneyd is for me critical with regard to how we go next season and we really need to keep both players fit and out on the field if we are to fire the expectations of everyone at the Club. So it’s certainly a big year for Leon who has made a really good start and he is obviously working hard on his partnership with Sneyd.

Now the other day I was hearing that Lee Radford led an interesting session with the full squad in the classroom after lunch last Thursday. Apparently he tried to make them understand what Hull FC is really all about! He did an analysis of attendances, ticket sales and gates over the past years, pointed out that he and 21 other staff, at all levels, are out of contract this year and added that because of our declining gates and the shortfall in season ticket sales this year, it was make or break for him and indeed the rest of those players if they didn’t perform.

I was told he had certainly done his home work on a lot of the issues around the fans attitude towards the player’s, Hull KR and indeed himself. It at least shows that they are getting the importance of ‘doing it for the terraces’ now. Whatever anyone else says about him, Lee is a fan and has always ‘got it’, so I just hope the players took on board what he said because this really is a critical season when we, the paying public, need to be impressed and inspired again.

So it appears that the time has come to decide whether we should sign Lee Smith? On balance I guess with him we know what we are getting and that he can perform a bit too. He brings great experience, an ability to play throughout the backs (and at hooker if pressed) and a calm head, plus he is a Grand Final Winner, a Grand Final try scorer and a Harry Sunderland winner for man of the match there too. Then again its said he could stop some of the younger players coming through, but what do I know and in the end, as he told the players, our Coach will this season sink or swim (career wise) by his calls on such things. I enquired as to the views of Harry Tucker and Billy Outhwaite two of my old mates from Wakefield and both said they would really have liked to keep Lee and indeed Washy, who they said both had good seasons at the Wildcats last year.

The thing is of course, if he stays, will someone or even a couple of players have to be shipped out to keep us under the cap? Well, Radford says not and anyway perhaps we have at last decided to do what everyone else seems to do and flaunt the salary cap a little. It’s never good to cheat, of course it’s not, but when several top clubs appear to be doing it, is it right that some toe the line and forego an obvious advantage, while other apparently don’t? In fact in a week when Salford claim that they still have enough ‘space’ to ‘Splash the Cash’ on another signing and rumours circulated in France that Catalan players allegedly get one pay cheque from the Club and one from the French TV channel that broadcasts games, it seems wholly appropriate that others follow suit. However we’ll see I guess, although it will be sad to lose anyone.

With such an important campaign upon us we have to get the best possible squad we can and hard decisions have to be made even if they concern old favourites or young pretenders. Scott Taylor, interviewed on Humberside Sport on Wednesday, certainly believes that Smith is a good bet and that we should keep him and if we don’t, he said, someone else will grab him, so something may have to give!

There is a deal of room for sentiment in sport, but if you are to succeed then there is no room at all for sentimentality and if Lee Smith is going to improve us over the season then perhaps we have to let those in a position to judge that fact first hand make the decision and then we’ll judge them on their actions as the season progresses!!

Back in edition 475 I said, “Talking of the Dobbins I was hearing from Caravan Park last week that their star half back Campese will miss the first 4 weeks of the season”. Boy did I get some stick when two days later Chester came out and said there was nothing in the rumour, he was fighting fit and would be back for the first game if not for the phoney Derby. There were certainly a few of the saddo Dobbins fans who read this having a good laugh at me ….but they aren’t laughing now!!

I hinted last week that the Club were about to do something to thank season ticket holders and help swell the gate against Salford and so it was that last Friday they announced a deal that offered two tickets to every season ticket holder for £5. A few started the old tirade of ‘I bought a season ticket and don’t expect tickets to be given away’, but they simply didn’t get it. This was a thank you for investing and what’s even more important, a chance to get a few who might be wobbling a bit, back for the first game of the season. I went and got 4 for £10 with our two tickets, I don’t know who to give them to, but I’ll find somebody!!!

With only two days to get them, the first of which it poured down a lot more chuntered about that, but although the Club won’t be saying anything and I shouldn’t because I’ll get into trouble …..I’ll will, all the same, tell you why that happened. It’s all by and large, surprise, surprise down to the SMC. ……. The whole idea was supposed to be launched a week earlier with individual ticket prices following on from it. The offer and two day time slot only coincided with ticket prices being announced because the reconstruction of the operation (from the days of the old Stadium ticket office) took so long and was so fraught with hold ups and problems that everything had to be rushed out at once. It doesn’t take too much stretching of the imagination to also work out why the Club have been forced to make on the day ticket prices so high either; could someone outside the Club be trying to follow the football Club and drastically cut down on walk ups at games altogether!!!!

Now remember just two editions ago when I mentioned the idea that Lee Jenkinson and Tony Sutton had regarding us ‘twinning’ with Canadian Rugby League? Well now someone else has taken up the ‘baton’, as this week the South Wales Scorpions and Canada Rugby League have announced a partnership which will see the two organisations working together in a number of ways over the coming years. The Scorpions Under-20s will travel to Canada in October 2016 to play two games in Toronto and the Canadians look likely to make the return journey in 2017. The partnership will also see individual players from both sides of the Atlantic being given the opportunity to play abroad and experience different cultures and lifestyles. A missed opportunity that one I think, but times are hard and at least someone’s having a go!!

Talking of Lee Jenkinson I told you of his success at the Rhino’s, but now I hear he’s moving on again having been made an offer he simply couldn’t refuse. Lee has taken up the position of Chief Executive of Xblades a British kit manufacturer who are certainly going places. He is now a Director of the company and I wish him all the best. Leeds will certainly miss him.

Who are Ya, Who are Ya??? Goes the chant towards many visiting fans with an apparent identity crisis, but judging by this receipt for a Derby ticket bought from the Rovers shop in Savile Street it apparently proves one thing!!!!! They have absolutely no idea at all, who the hell they are!!!

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Well I got a lot of feedback again from readers after my recollections of grounds ‘gone by’ last week and so once again in the Codgers spot it’s probably worth a look round a few more old Stadiums that are no more. These are again just some miscellaneous memories I’ve jotted down and this time let’s start at Wildespool Warrington perhaps the hardest ground in the game to visit. In its heyday it was the haunt of Liverpool and Man United fans that were looking for a bit of sport with themselves and the visiting fans on a Sunday when in those days there was no football. Wildespool was known to most people in Rugby League back in the late 80’s and early 90’s as ‘The Zoo’.

The Board at the Lancashire Club perpetuated this title because they believed it referred to their big, rough, ‘animal’ like forwards, but most visiting supporters believed it was actually extremely descriptive of a section of their fans. It was a threatening place at the best of times and I didn’t like it at all, probably because it was there, in the Gents toilets at the Railway End, that I was punched in the face and lost a tooth back in the early 80’s. In those days the ‘Wire’ fans, were renowned for their abuse and at times thuggish behavior which was the last thing that most of us wanted as we arrived at the ground sedated by copious amounts of Greenall Whitney’s Bitter. The actual Brewery was just at the end of the street you walked down to the ground and in happier days we used to always meet the home fans in the ‘Royal Oak Branch’ pub next door.

It was a strange place because in an effort to raise money the Club had sold one side of the ground and a sports centre was built at that side which offered nothing but a stark, black brick wall along the complete touchline.

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The sports centre side!!

We used to frequent the Railway Stand at one end and it was in there that Shane Richardson joined us all and was famously pictured on Sky, after the debacle at Huddersfield in the Cup semi final of 2000. There was also a very smart best stand. I say smart because it seemed to have a habit of being burnt down on a regular basis. It was a tough old place was Wildespool!

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Sid Domic scores the last ever try at Wildespool

Most of us who have been around Hull FC for over 30 years have a memory of Tatters Field Doncaster. Just off Bentley Road even the car park was an assault course if it had been raining. In fact the most important piece of luggage on those trips was a spare pair of shoes. Although only dating back to the early 50’s at times in its history it was probably the worst ground we attended, but it was always a good trip. I remember in the 78/79 season that we stood on the terrace opposite the ‘best stand’ but the only bar was right across the other side of the ground in the club house. I will always remember the sight of one FC supporter obviously fed up of walking all the way round the dilapidated terraces in his rather inebriated condition, taking advantage of our incessant pressure on the Doncaster line and walking across our twenty five with a tray of drinks as the game continued up the other end.

Dressed in Flared trousers and suede safari Jacket he captured entirely the ‘Bodie and Doyle’ look from the popular TV series ‘The Professionals’ and his waiters act was accompanied by loud cheers for the Hull fans who watched in amazement as he continued on his way back to us in the Stand. It’s a priceless memory, in a year when there were so many. The legend that was Tony Banham played that day for Donny …remember him?

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The ‘Best Stand’ at Donny!!

Unlike Tatters Field which was as compact as a ground could be Station Road Swinton was a massive edifice of a stadium which was THE venue for rugby in Manchester for many years and hosted dozens of representative games throughout the 20th century. My fondest memory is of that famous Cup semi final in 1980 when we beat Widnes to go on to play Rovers in the Wembley final. However the demise of the Swinton club as a force in rugby league and difficult financial times for the game itself, meant that it was even then a real mess and the crumbling terraces and antiquated turnstiles that met us that day were a sad, if not accurate, reflection on the state of the game in most parts of the North, away that was from Humberside.

The place had several areas of terracing that could not be used and there were makeshift scaffolding fences everywhere. With almost 19,000 in attendance that day the rest of the ground was packed, with several brave Hull fans even climbing the flood light pylons to gain a better view of the game. As the chants of ‘Station Road is falling down’ rang out from the Hull fans, we positioned ourselves at one end on the open terracing towards the corner. The terraces were made from wooden baton fronts and black ash, behind as you can see from this picture of the place in the 60’s and more affluent times.

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That was when the ground was in its heyday but when it closed it was a shadow of its former self as the picture below shows. Before that game my only other visit there was in the mid sixties when on a misty day all I remember was the game, on several occasions, being completely obscured from our view by smoke when steam trains passed on the nearby railway line.

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This is Station Road just before it closed.

That brings back a memory that on several Manchester trips to Station Road and the Willows at Salford (and although it was out of the way) and even when en route to Wigan or Saints, we used to stop off for a pint on the way at the George and Dragon on Manchester Road in Stockport. It was a bit of a detour but a great pub and provided some smashing food and a great pint of Harts traditional bitter, however in the 80’s the only drawback was the bar maid Edna who was formidable at best and a real battleaxe at worst. She was of the stuff that legends are made of and used to greet us with “Bloody hell not the ‘Cod ‘eds’ from Hull again, wipe your bloody feet!” But, what sticks in my mind most of all from the days when the Half Way bus stopped off there, was the way that by about 2-00pm when bravado’s had been inflated somewhat by the alcohol, several of the lads used to go up to the bar and say, “Hello Edna where’s George!!” We laughed………she didn’t!!

It’s funny what you remember!!

Now, I only went to the Athletics Ground at Rochdale twice and it was something between a traditional stadium and a real dump. Our fixture lists, particularly when there was only one division, rarely included the East Manchester Club, and over the years our paths haven’t crossed that much either. The first time I went was in the dour days of the 70’s when a bus trip was organised from the Hull supporters Club on 14th March 1976 when we lost a dour encounter 6-5 and it poured down. The opening of the M62 east of Goole was still some 3 months off, but I remember once over Boothferry Bridge we joined the newly opened motorway which cut around 2 hours off the old journey to that part of the world.

At the Athletics ground there was an inaptly named Popular Stand which when I went it was full of the Rochdale fans, however the bar behind was great and in the days before free flow pumps you had to queue for a great pint of hand pulled Thwaites Bitter, something that led to a deal of ‘doubling up’ We stood that day in the rather dilapidated Railway Stand opposite, which had large lumps of corrugated iron missing, rain pouring in and more wooden fronted terracing with black ash within it. I can still picture it now in my mind’s eye and on a sentimental journey the last time we played at the Willows, (before Salford moved out), I went earlier in the day and hunted the old Rochdale ground out; sadly it’s a Morrison’s now!

Finally while we are on Rochdale, I thought you might find it interesting for me to include the most notorious thing in the history of the home of the Hornets with this tragic shot of the great Rochdale Athletics Ground Tragedy of 1939.

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This was when hundreds of people climbed on the roof of the Railway Stand to see the game when Salford were playing Wigan in the Northern Union Cup semi-final held at the Stadium. The place was packed to capacity and despite warnings from the police people continued to climb up onto the stand roof until it gave way under their weight. 2 people died that day and 17 more were seriously injured when trapped and trampled as the crowd stampeded onto the pitch fearing a further collapse.

So there we are and a few more long gone grounds that I remember, with as usual, when I read back over my musings, more beer than rugby, but I hope at least you found something interesting in these random recollections. There are still plenty I haven’t covered including Parkside, The Elland Road Greyhound Stadium, Crown Flatt, The Willows, Central Park and Fartown all of which have a story or two and perhaps later in the year, I’ll pull my memories of those together as well.

Talking history and our great heritage I was talking to our Club’s resident Statto Bill Dalton, who I mentioned earlier, the other day. He is as I have said before a real unsung hero of the Club. Bill is well on the way to completing his exhaustive history of Hull FC which when published will, I’m sure, become the definitive guide to ‘The Cream’. I’m sure knowing how meticulous Bill is, that it will become THE reference book (much like his other publication Old Faithful that is now out of print) which is the go to ‘text’ book on Hull FC. I’ll keep you posted on the progress of what is a real labour of love and I could also have news of another book concerning Hull FC in the not too distant future.

Well last week I got a bit of stick from a couple of readers about my plea for fans that haven’t got a season pass to turn up for the Salford game, simply because I believe that we all have to pull together at the start of a critical season. Firstly apparently I used the word deserters when describing some who had not subscribed, which was perhaps not the best choice of words and for that I apologise. However, I guess in reply to the others, for whom now the prospect of Salford on the 5th is an altogether different kettle of fish, all I would say is that supporting your team is a bit like a religion really. Whatever blows and disappointments you receive in life for fans it’s still an over arching mythology which is always there. We just turn up week in week out and believe it’s all going to be fine, without any sort of concrete evidence that it will be and although days like yesterday don’t come that often, you just hope, don’t you? I guess that is called having a bit of faith really, although like many secular religions, faith and hope seem to have been flagging values at Hull FC of late as we seem to have be haemorrhaging believers!

To the masses on the terraces winning is still a secondary element when compared to the belief that we are back on an upward arc and that everyone out there wants it as much as we do. It’s that passion and wanting, team spirit and heart that we saw yesterday that is this morning the resonating factor in many of our minds. It could just be a flash in the pan but a marker was certainly put down by the players, as to what they can do. Now we all must do everything we can to get a good gate for the Salford game.

However, one swallow and all that, and the same old rules still apply in that if by Easter we haven’t at the very least got some real tenable hope, then many of us, me included, will be calling for some sort of reaction and what’s more we’ll all have every bloody right to do it!! The initial signs are good, in fact very good, so let’s get behind the Club because in our current finance state, we have to do our bit if we can.

So, the phoney derby is out of the way with a famous victory and as I’m contemplating not going to the Magic Weekend because I’m away and don’t go to Caravan Park anyway, I won’t have to watch that shower live until 14th July and quite frankly that’ll do for me!! Thanks to everyone who once again sent me stuff, picked me up on my inaccuracies or just showed some interest after last week’s diatribe and thanks to you all for sticking with this rather long and overtly over the top one. We only now have one blank weekend before at last the season will be under way and as the pressure builds and the excitement gains some pace, I just hope that we can do the business against Salford!!

It’s a long time since I’ve been up into the early hours writing this rubbish but boy wasn’t it good yesterday? See you next week, spread the word and keep believing…I’m off to bed!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf