The Dentist’s Diary – 478th

AND SO IT BEGINS!!!!

AND, cometh the hour, cometh the fans? Last week’s stuffing of the Dobbins was great, but now let’s pack out the KC on Friday!

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The Clubs single biggest asset as we enter the 2016 campaign.

After 19 weeks and 17 editions of this twaddle at last the wait is over!! Super League 21 is here and we’ve six new signings on board, a massive annihilation of the old enemy behind us and now a home starter to a 2016 campaign, which is really important to us as fans and perhaps even more critical to Adam our owner! Excited isn’t a word I’ve used much in here for ages, but boy after last week, (although I’m desperately trying to suppress it for fear of the ‘same old’ outcomes manifesting themselves again), excited is genuinely how I feel!!

All I would add is; yes in the Derby you could almost taste the enthusiasm and belonging out there on the field, but there should be some credit for us lot who were there too, as the whole thing was cranked up several notches because of the bond some of the players immediately made with the terraces and vice versa. That was a new experience altogether and in that context Friday is bloody massive and you just have to get there if you can, but here’s a warning; if you don’t like hyped up rallying calls, bags of hope and a bit of oversized expectation, I’d stop reading this right now!!

First up, as we approach next weekend’s first round and to get it out of the way, I guess I can no longer escape getting involved in the ‘wishing’ and ‘prediction’ bit. Wish wise, if I could have anything, then it would be to win the majority of our home games, to make the KC a ‘bouncing’ intimidating place again and to stay in the cup until the latter stages of the competition. We have certainly strengthened our ranks for 2016 but so have Warrington and Catalans and although Sunday was a great feeling and a really great afternoon out, it’s going to be a hard season and we all have to get behind the team and support them even when times are tough. Prediction wise, well after the first 23 rounds, I’d be happy with 6th and still being well in touch with second, which I honestly think is attainable. For me that’s not over hyping it, or indeed doom mongering, but simply, I think, being realistic.

With the Challenge Cup the luck of the draw is everything but there are several ‘older citizens’ in our ranks like Frank, Mini, Manu and Gareth Ellis and their wanting to win something before they retire could just help our cause no end. It’s going to be tough but it’s as exciting a time as I can remember for years and I can’t wait to get going. No doubt, if I’m spared, this Diary will survive another season and no doubt too it will be up one week and down the next, because I’m just an ordinary fan and that’s our lot as supporters isn’t it? This year though the portents may, at present at least, be pointing towards a few more ups than downs and wouldn’t that be great! We all have a big part to play though and in the end the difference between success and failure may just be down to the passion and vociferousness of us lot the fans on the terraces. But more of that later!!

Adam has never made any secret of the significance of this campaign as far as the future of the Club is concerned and we have now as fans to get behind him and stick with the team in good and perhaps even not so good times!! For his part he has put his money where his mouth is and although it’s very early days, he’s made what look to be some quite phenomenal signings. If we can repeat on a regular basis the undoubted magic that was out there on the pitch for around an hour last week, we are in for a treat and I just can’t wait.

This last week I’ve become fed up of people saying how they wished they’d been there for the Derby and I have to say I have thought at times that it would have been great had all those that have ‘drifted a bit’ been there to see some scintillating rugby but more importantly to experience the team spirit that was on show. Several of the players have said since, that the passion on display was no surprise really, because that’s the sort of stuff that’s been around in camp all year.

But if that was such a rare experience for us all, just why is it so rare? And why is genuine team spirit and belonging between fans and players becoming harder and harder to identify in professional sport? In fact, what price that team spirit and unity and how important is it really? Don Shula the most famous Miami Dolphins Coach ever, once said, “Good team spirit and a bunch of boys that will man the barricades and die for each other and the crowd if it’s necessary, is worth a touchdown in each half in anyone’s book!”

At Hull FC at present it’s not just what happened on the field last week either, because the news that Mark Minnichiello was after and obtained very quickly, another contract, just perpetuated for me that Shula quote and what I was thinking this week about the fact that there appears to be tremendous character and determination in the Club and everyone wants to be part of it. That’s good for us all and good news is indeed everywhere at present, something that was perpetuated when Mark said that he wanted to stay simply because he loves it here and wants to win things before he retires.

It’s just about the great camaraderie that is within the squad at present and that’s something that seems to have radiated from ‘the Polynesian brotherhood’. Again, if proof is needed, you only had to look at what Lee Smith had to say about the Club in the RL press last weekend. Despite the fact that his future was anything but certain, there was no bitterness at all as he stated, “I am privileged to be here and thankful for them giving me this opportunity to train with this group of players. I have really enjoyed my time here and the lads have all been very welcoming”

But besides the new imports what exactly has brought all this about? Well it was interested to read Scott Taylor, Mini and Gareth Ellis in three separate interviews last week, all alluded to Lee Radford having “Got rid of some players”. They all mentioned that almost in the same breath as commenting how good the team spirit is in camp right now and perhaps that’s more than just a co-incidence. However whatever we read into that, there is little doubt that the departures and indeed arrivals we have seen this closed season have certainly changed the group dynamic and even perhaps improved our chances. If you went last week to the Derby you’ll have felt it radiating from the field and across the terraces and you will, no doubt, know exactly what I mean.

We have the leaders now and we just have to keep everyone happy. For me, having watched rugby for ‘donkey’s’ years, you come to realise that in every team there is a core group that sets the tone for everyone else. If the tone is positive, you have half the battle won. If it is negative, you are often stuffed before you ever walk out onto the field.

With leaders ‘coming out of our ears’ keeping everyone happy in the rank and file of the Club is the biggest test for Lee and he has probably encountered his first challenge on that score as he wants to keep Lee Smith, but to do so someone has to be shifted out and that from a group ethos so strong, that no one wants to leave!

In the end of course success is so important for us lot out on the terraces and it seems that these senior players perhaps at last actually get that and understand too, that some will be less than complimentary at times about a performance or the way one of them has played. It’s a supporters right to an opinion and I really hope they get that bit too! Scott Taylor for instance knows from experience at home what it’s all about and understands too that talk, in this city, is cheap. He even recalls his Mum, a massive FC fan, criticising the club after failed past promises. He said last week, “It always is ‘nearly’ for Hull, but this year I do think we can do something and it’s about performing every week. It does feel like something is bubbling. Obviously every year you hear that they have failed to deliver on their undertakings. My mum always says FC fail to deliver on promises. Deep down I’ve always thought the same, but now I’m here things are different. With the other signings we can push on. Lee Radford’s got rid of players and he’s got a good culture.”

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That sort of player also realises I think, that we as fans want the KC to be back to its buzzing best and a really intimidating place for opposition teams to visit! The chairman NEEDS to have a successful season and so for the first game we have to attempt to give him a gate and a big one. Then, even accepting that people have already voted with their feet pass wise, we can still make the difference and provide those on the field a ‘push’ to continue the good work from the Derby game and in turn give us something to continue the buzz; in fact the message has to be that working together we could just maybe have a season to remember.

Of course it’s easy to have good team spirit when your winning but the acid test of the strength of character of that ‘core group’ is when you aint! However that’s going to be a match by match thing at first and it isn’t all about week in week out success but rather about showing some passion and wanting to perpetuate the hope that will keep us fans topped up too! Friday is perhaps as big a game as the Club has seen for ages and it’s not just about winning, because for me it’s as much about building on the belief on and off the field.

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It doesn’t look like there’s much wrong with team spirit!!

On the playing side, well I was still buzzing in mid week and that after what was billed by many in the East as a ‘meaningless’ friendly. Neil Hudgell’s face after the game indicated that it was anything but meaningless! It was a fine team performance but one or two players really did put down a marker as to what they can do and it was great to compliment the prowess of Frank, Fornua, Manu and Taylor with some unexpected successes as well. Looking back, Thompson looked to be in great shape and really determined, ‘Trialist’ Smith was so versatile and Sneyd was superb too, while the importance of Pryce staying fit and focussed on how he applies himself, is already looking paramount.

Last week he was amazing in the first half as he took the Rovers line on, ran at them dummying and stepping and rolling back the years in great fashion. If I’m honest, last year he looked moody and restless to me, but he obviously gets on really well with the new lads and they seem to have sparked his enthusiasm again. Leon’s had a massive pre season along with Sneyd and he is certainly a big piece in this year’s ‘jig-saw’ for me!

Frank of course continues to grab the headlines, as last weekend we saw the newspapers announcing, “The Tank is a big hit for rampant FC”, “Pritchard leads Hull in Derby Blitz” and later in the week “Frank Pritchard is Hull FC’s ‘box-office’ man says Lee Radford” and isn’t it great to have a player that the whole of British Rugby League is talking about? Before Christmas when he appeared at the event to distribute Season Passes in the new Away Supporters Bar at the KC, he was obviously taken back by the reception he got as he was pressing the flesh, ‘carrying’ babies and taking time to talk to everyone.

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He was I thought quite amazed by all the attention and as we left the terraces at the end of the Doncaster game and he appeared from a box at the back of the stand, the shouts of “Frank, Frank” from waiving fans, shows a player that has already been catapulted to ‘celebrity’ status is West Hull.

He certainly seems to be a very level headed family guy and gets on well with all the players. His influence on training has been immense and once again on Thursday it was Frank and not as I would have expected Captain elect Gareth Ellis that was sent to Manchester as the Club’s representative at the launch of the Super League season.

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Frank the Tank did the Super League launch stuff last week and was the most ‘in demand’ player there as far as the media were concerned.

We’ve seen it all before of course, although it’s a long time since we did and before he played last week I was just hoping against hope that Frank would turn out to be more of a ‘Peter Sterling’ than a ‘Mark Jones’, in that he would be as big on the field, as his hype was off it. Before the Rovers match I worried about that, but although it’s only one game and a friendly at that, I saw enough to dispel those fears, in fact the effect was quite the opposite and I was as excited as anyone else at the end. However it’s all down to how he handles it long term really as it’s still early days and how he beds in and settles down will be the big test, as will his attitude when things go wrong as they invariably will at times. Plus there is also his response to the fans reaction to the players when that happens. All those remain question marks as to his character long term. In his defence Frank said this week “All I can do is put my head down, work hard and do my best because the club is building towards something very special, and it’s only a matter of time in my opinion.”

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Working hard!

No one will ever be bigger than the Club and thankfully Frank shows no signs of ever believing he will be, he’s a real gentle giant and a thoroughly nice guy to talk to, but it’s still just the ‘honeymoon period’ and early days. Surrounded by his countrymen and kindred spirits the biggest thing that Frank seems to have in his favour is the ability to keep his feet well and truly on the ground and keep smiling and long may that continue! He’s an Icon, a great player, a larger than life character and, as now the world of British Rugby League turns the spotlight on him, a bit of a media ‘godsend’ too. As I said last week Frank’s real ‘Box Office’ and nothing but a good thing for our Club and long may that situation continue.

Franks said last weekend in the Guardian, “Something big can happen at Hull FC, I’ve got three years here so if I don’t win something within the time I’m here then I truly believe I’ll have failed”. Mind you don’t get too carried away with that folks, because before the Rovers game I saw him buying a half time draw ticket!!

Still, if Frank is doing really well he’s not on his own, because as I said earlier, the good news is all around at present and I think that it’s great that Mark Minnichiello has re-signed for an extra year to stay until the end of 2017. He is the model professional in everything he does on and off the field and our Coach holds him up as an example for all the young players as to how you should conduct yourself as a professional rugby player. He’s just as respected too by our new Aussie recruits, such is the magnitude of this bloke’s dedication to the cause. His pre and post game rituals are well know at the Club for he leaves no stone unturned to ensure he is in the best place to give his all. Mark’s getting on a bit, but he’s so fit and so sensible in his conduct and in that preparation, that you’d hardly know. Great news for me and good to see him staying around the place, he gave his all for us last season and almost ran himself to a standstill in the end. This time around he might just get spelled a bit!

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Top bloke!

Almost as soon as we heard from Mini in chimed our continuing Club Captain Gareth Ellis to say that he was after a new contract once his current deal expires this year. There is little doubt that Gareth is still a great leader and massive player for us when he is fit, although for me the last bit is the issue. In his three years at the Club he has been plagued by injuries and I guess as fans the question is whether that is down to bad luck or the wear and tear placed on a body that has for many years been put on the line every time he goes out on the field. I think he’s still a great player and someone I’d love to keep. However although we have a lot of players off contract at the end of the campaign I would still just wait and see how he goes and adjust a new contract as appropriate, if he’s deemed to be a big risk, gets injured again or indeed breaks down, then we simply can’t gamble with that amount of salary cap. So on that one, its wait and see for me I think.

This week we welcome the ubiquitous ‘Marvellous Marwen Koukash to the KC and he’s certainly a character who has bemused the Salford fans with his revolving door approach to players, while he continues to goad and upset the authorities which is always guaranteed to give ‘good mileage’ to the media. They love a quote or two from Marwan don’t they? Regular readers know I used to enjoy hearing from the flamboyant entrepreneur too, but once he brought in a mascot modelled on himself I started to worry a bit and I went completely off him with the rumours of him flaunting the salary cap rules and thumbing his nose to the authorities, the rest of the Clubs and the game in general.

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Marwan’s the one on the left (I think)

The compulsive tweeter was at it again last Thursday when he said, “RL players should be allowed to earn money from outside the sport and there is nothing wrong with Clubs assisting them to do so”. Yes that’s right mate, but there are regulations specifically designed to stop them earning money from a second source, when that source is found to be a company associated with a Clubs owner. But still the RL drag their feet on this and indeed the instances such as the one I quoted last week, where an industrial tribunal decreed that a company allied to Koukash actually owed an ex Salford player money.

A day earlier, according to The Rugby Leaguer paper, he tweeted, “The ‘rats for life’ (RFL) has been in touch again asking for donations!!!! They can p*ss off” Many fans retorted almost immediately on twitter, with one saying “What a professional response to a Sports Governing body, you’re a classless egomaniac mate” and I guess a lot will find that hard to disagree with! So, when you dumb it all down I guess when Salford run out on Friday we have to accept that PERHAPS some of their players are benefitting from illegal payments. Where their wages come from is nothing to do with them and this parlous situation is not their fault at all, but as we then go to Catalan where rumours circulated a few months ago that the players get two pay packets one from the Club and another from the French TV company, it makes you think that whether it’s true or not it’s about time the RL ‘grew some’ and ensured that everything salary cap wise is completely transparent, then there wouldn’t be any rumours for us to fret about would there?

Now what I guess is something of an appeal because if you would like to do more for the Club you support and its fans, then here’s your chance, because FC Voices are looking for new members. Much maligned in some quarters this group of fans work away in the background helping sort stuff out, running forums, and working directly with the Club, the SMC, local authorities and the Police etc to further their aims which are to do everything they can to make being a fan of Hull FC as fulfilling a past-time as possible. They are currently looking for new members and if you are interested in working as part of that team and can give up a couple of hours on a Saturday morning once a month to attend meetings then why not put you name forward by contacting FCVoices@hullfc.com Just leave your name and contact details and they’ll get back to you!

This week in Codgers Corner I thought I would look through the 5 or 6 Salford games I have covered in the past and find one that I could expand on a bit and one that is appropriate in the build up to the big game on Friday. So where better to go than back to the early 80’s when we had a team of heroes and more passion than any other Club could muster out on the terraces too.

On Sunday 12th October 1980 our trip to The Willows followed the usual pattern of such sojourns back then. We all boarded the Cherry’s Coach outside the Half Way Hotel on Hessle Road at around 9-30am before we all settled down to a journey across the Pennines accompanied by a few cans of Mansfield Bitter. It was a damp dreary day in fact ‘typical Hull Fair Weather’!!

Our first port of call was the Langworthy on Langworthy Road on the way into Salford. The old place is no more now but at that time it was still a hotel ‘proper’ if not a decidedly seedy one, but the Landlord made us very welcome with our usual access through the back door before opening time and a free dollop of Pie and Peas on arrival. That was all washed down with copious amounts of Whitbreads Tankard Best Bitter which prepared us for the game ahead. It was a great pub that has since sadly been bulldozed for a housing development.

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We had started the season that year in a mediocre fashion having lost our last two games, away at Craven Park and at home to the New Zealand Touring team. Salford on the other hand had hit a rich vein of form racking up 70 points in their previous two matches and faced us on the back of a stunning 26-10 win at Naughton Park, Widnes. In fairness we had faced the tourists with a depleted side and welcomed, ‘Psycho’ Paul Woods, Steve ‘Knocker’ Norton and Trevor Skerrett back, for this difficult looking game in Manchester.

We were still short of players though, as injuries had wrecked our plans over the previous few weeks, so much so that second rower Sammy Lloyd actually started on the wing that day. As always when we started to ‘rock’ a bit back then, our Board, backed by Roy Waudby had gone out and made a signing, this time it was in the form of big centre Barry Banks who had joined us for £20,000 from York the previous Thursday. Also in the team, in an effort to solve a few problems at half back, was Bob Gaitley on loan from Hunslet, who wanted a rather ambitious £5000 for his permanent signature.

As the thunder roared over-head we took up our places in the shelter of the Shed stand which in those days we literally took over from the home crowd with the Salford regulars being removed grudgingly to the ends and the well in front of what is now the ‘Away Stand’. To our left was the famous old social Club end which also housed some offices whilst directly in front stood the peculiar looking Main Stand, which resembled a Jenga tower. Split into three sections and with a commentary box on top it looked, as it did until the last game I attended, like a building that had been constructed without much thought at all.

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A great place to watch rugby!

The game kicked off in dry conditions although the clouds overhead were leaden and threatening rain at any time. In the first set of six Salford worked the ball down field only for full back Johns to be stopped in a ball and all ‘cruncher’ from Paul Woods that saw the Salford man hobble off in a daze to be substituted by Driver shortly afterwards. In the first few exchanges second rowers Keith Boxall and Charlie Birdsall tore into Salford out on the fringes, whilst Skerrett and Stone hit them hard up the middle. Matt Crowther darted and ducked his way from acting half whilst in the centre Tim Wilby made two superb breaks but lacked any support. The Salford defence was certainly ‘creaking’ when after 15 minutes it was Birdsall and Boxall working in tandem down the right that opened up the home team’s defence for loanee Gaitley to shoot onto a short pass and run in to score a try that Sammy Lloyd converted.

That slender lead was soon reduced to two points as just four minutes later Boxall got a little ambitious, and his short kick over the top landed straight in Keith Latham’s arms and the hosts winger ran 70 yards to score under the posts. That was the sign for us to step it up a gear, and after 24 minutes Pickerill, Gaitley, Boxall Lloyd and Skerrett combined in a mesmerising move that saw Wilby break the line again and this time send Paul Prendiville flying in at the corner. Hull kept on the pressure and as we built up momentum in the visitors half Paul Woods dropped a goal as the ball sailed out of our sight above the overhang of the stand, and referee Holdsworth raised his handkerchief to indicate one point. Then a high tackle on Norton by an increasingly frustrated Steve Nash (the darling of the Salford Fans) saw Lloyd kick the goal and at half time the score stood at 11-3 to the Airlie Birds.

It’s always hard to best guess how the home team will respond at the start of the second half in this sort of circumstance and although we expected an onslaught from them it was Hull that kicked on with the best try of the game. Fielding of Salford dropped the ball on our 25 yard line and it was picked up by ‘Knocker’ who immediately ran 20 yards downfield and then passed on to Paul Prendiville. The Salford cover swept across field like the cavalry in some old John Wayne film with Richards, McGovern, Henny and Major all racing to cut him off. There was no way that ‘taffy’ could beat them to the corner because the ‘angles’ were all wrong, so he stopped, cut inside then outside, and then inside again leaving one after another of the would be tacklers grasping thin air. As he straightened up to head for the line across came two more but he rounded Stephenson and cut inside Fielding and having beaten seven of the Reds players, there was simply no one left to tackle him as he completed one of the best tries of that season and his illustrious career.

Sammy kicked the goal and soon we were at it again. As Charlie Stone tried to get into the act he was stopped by a brilliant last ditch tackle by Fielding. However a couple of fortuitous penalties saw us back in their twenty five and a wonderful flowing move across the field and back again, featuring Stone, Pickerill, Norton, Banks and Prendiville saw Wilby crash in for Lloyd to convert again. In fact Norton was having an amazing game and featured in most of our best moves.

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Man of the match…..again!

Then at 21-3 as often happens we simply couldn’t get the ball and a couple of sloppy passes and a knock on gave the home side a bit of momentum. Firstly Richards kicked through and a flagging Woods could not reach the ball before Richards regained it to score a converted try. Next Nash at last lived up to his billing of the most exciting half in the League and shot through our tiring defence to put Driver in. Then as the alarm bells started to sound, another converted try this time by Smith saw the score at 16-21 and we as fans started to fear the worst.

However back in those days the likes of Stone, Skerrett and Norton were made of sterner stuff than that and on 70 minutes at last we got some ball as we roared back into the Salford half. Norton brilliantly dummied a half break and put Charlie Birdsall away on a run that saw our marauding forward run straight over stand in full back Driver to score under the posts. The whole FC crowd in ‘The Shed’ fell forward as this try unfolded, as the relief, and hundreds of pairs of unsteady ‘beer effected’ legs, finally took its toll. Four minutes later Gaitley weaved his way through the Salford defence which by now was tiring and almost got Birdsall in again. From the play the ball Pickerill fed substitute Tindall and when Salford stopped and appealed for a forward pass, referee Holdsworth waived play on and Prendiville crashed in for his hat trick try.

As the referee prepared to blow his whistle our attack looked to finish off the Salford team in what was becoming a time honoured set piece move. Pickerill took the ball to the line ten yards out and for the fifth time that season, produced a classic reverse pass behind his back, for Skerrett to score. As the whistle went we all clambered onto the field to congratulate our hero’s after a 34-16 victory and we chaired Paul Prendiville off the field to the chants of ‘Super Super, Super Taff, Super Taff, Super Taff’ It was a great victory and a personal red letter day for Prendiville, but as usual when we all got on our way home and on the bus reflected on the game there was little doubt that in the end the key figure in this rejuvenated display was Steve ‘Knocker’ Norton whose almost magical ball distribution had paved the way for some great tries. Great memories eh?

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The FC Fans drain away from the Willows after one of our last game there before it closed.

I won’t bore you too much with the next bit but I have to tell you that I had a smashing day out on Saturday when I accompanied my great pals Ian and Sarah to my first game at the new ground of FC United of Manchester. Rising from the objections to the Glazer’s take over at Man. United, Broadhurst Park is a brand new Stadium ‘built’ by the supporters of a fans owned Club, it’s also a real credit to the ethos of a community driven sports organization. I didn’t go because I liked football, because in general it bores me rigid, but what I do love there is the sprit and principles that radiate from everyone from the Chief Executive and the players through to the volunteers who staff the bars and the turnstiles and the ‘owners’ who stand on and indeed afterwards sweep, the terraces. I really get that bit!

With a gate of 3,400 (where everyone else in that league gets about 400), for a Club that is in the 6th tier of the game it was easy to see that everyone who is a member (and most of those who attend are) feel that it’s their Club and that they have a say in the decision making that goes on at all levels. As for the match (which was played at times in driving snow) after just 21 minutes it was 3-0 to Harrogate Town; but totally undeterred the United fans were still singing! Then the unbelievable happened as tremendous endeavour and a visible wanting on the pitch that matched the vociferous encouragement that came from the terraces, finally manifest itself in a 4-3 win to FC United! How good is that eh, as on Saturday this old sport romantic witnessed a great game at a Stadium where the fans really do come back, win or lose, week in week out, simply because it’s THEIR Club!! A lesson there, I think, for all of us!

Back at Hull FC, the big day’s almost here and the 2016 campaign that is so critical for our Club and everyone who is involved in it, kicks off on Friday! Excitement reign’s everywhere, the tension is mounting and expectations, both result and crowd wise, are reaching a fever pitch of unprecedented and impractical levels. The cautious ‘seen it all before’ Wilf says, “Come on guys don’t let’s get too carried away eh?” But…… bugger that, because isn’t it great to be up again and actually looking forward to a game and indeed a new campaign?

Last season many of us almost went to games out of habit or a sense of duty, but now we have an appetite for the fight again and a new found allegiance to the cause. We grumbled and groaned, whined and swore, but in the end we all just wanted something to believe in again didn’t we? Perhaps, just perhaps, we saw a glimmer of that last week.

Thanks so much to everyone who got in touch this week from across the globe (literally) and thanks in particular to ‘Uppo’ who sent me some thought provoking stuff which was extremely helpful. I also got an impassioned note after last week’s game from Mrs. K who reads this rubbish regularly and who, reflected I think, what a lot of us older fans thought last weekend when she said, “I never get carried away because we have seen so much and our lives have been built on disappointment, it’s what we are! But could this be our last place in the sun? Us who have stuck with it! After that one game I love these guys already” Great stuff eh?

Most of all of course I have to thank you all for sticking with the Diary again and reading last week’s offering in such amazing numbers. The arrival of our new signings, their larger than life personality’s, a fine and merciless demolition of a poor Rovers side, players desperate to re-sign and some new hope for 2016 have set things up very nicely for the battles ahead.

Please don’t put too much emphasis on the result this weekend either, because win or lose it’s a long, long season, although the imperative is to see, out on the field, the continuation and growth of that great spirit and real wanting that we all saw last week!! We need to believe that they are playing for us, that they care and that fingers are being wagged in dressing rooms, as older and wiser heads remind the younger players who they are playing for and what the main prize is; that’s all we really want isn’t it?

Of course, it would be nice to get off to a good start, the team itself need a win, in what at least looks to be an easier than usual (if there is such a thing?) first few games. However, even the out and out doom merchants are being gracious enough to give our Coach until Easter, so perhaps we should all do the same and give our passionate undying and positive support at least until then to the team too; whatever is thrown at us! It’s a new start, a new beginning and indeed a clean sheet and Friday gives both the team and the fans a chance to start as we all mean to go on. So, in the spirit of what I saw in Manchester on Saturday and pinching the ethos that fledgling fans owned football Club adopted as they set out, if you’re still struggling to get ‘on board’ again, here are a few memories to perhaps crystallize your thoughts.

Remember the old buzz on the way to the ground? Remember the days when there was a real connection between the fans and the players? Remember singing all the more when we were losing? In fact, remember singing? Remember when you really felt you were a part of what was going on, instead of just sitting there and observing it and remember bonding with everyone around you, though they were a strange mix of characters. But in the end and most of all, remember when you believed anything was possible?

Fine words? Well the players have to deliver before any of that can return but we have to be there to get involved and on board again as well. At Hull FC in this moment in time, as we stand on the threshold of a massive season, with the Clubs help, the personality of some of our new recruits and the willingness of the greatest fans in the game to give it a go, those halcyon days could just perhaps return again soon.

First up for the FC Army has got to be producing a big gate for our opener against Salford so that we can sing and cheer the lad’s home. Anything over 11,000 as we start from a lower than usual base will be great, because there won’t be many visiting supporters on Friday! Salford look a good team and will fancy an upset, however for our part it will be great to show the Club, the SMC, the Allams, the Dobbins fans and indeed the whole Rugby League world, that whilst the jury is still out as to whether the ‘FC are back’, the best supporters in Rugby League certainly are!!

Do whatever you can to get down to the KC and encourage everyone you know to do the same and let’s have a great atmosphere for our first hit up of 2016. Then, back the players, sing your hearts out for the lads, and start to enjoy the experience of belonging again!!

See you there on Friday and KEEP BELIEVING!!!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf

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