The Dentist’s Diary – 481st

“We have a really good blend of personalities. We are quite a crazy bunch, but it’s good fun. At this time we are not overly confident and we certainly don’t think because a couple of games have gone well that everything is perfect”

So said Leon Pryce of the team and that’s good advice for all of us!!!

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That quote is part of an interview printed on Saturday when our ‘veteran’ half back was asked what had changed at Hull FC this time around and there is certainly no doubt that team spirit and togetherness throughout the squad is a strong element of our good start. The camaraderie jumps out at you when you watch them play together or see them out and about in Hull, but we have to now approach Thursday’s game against Castleford with confidence but with care and focus too, because the Tigers are a team that will do you if you take your eye off them for a moment.

As Leon says, both players and fans mustn’t get carried away and with no game last weekend, this match is a real test of our ability to keep focused and not get in front of ourselves. Rovers was ‘Win it for the fans’, Salford was the big bang start of the season and Catalan the ‘no one wins there’ scenario, so we have had no issues with motivation thus far, but we’ve got to keep resolute in the bread and butter games too! I think we’ll win, we should have too much for them down the middle, but they’ll really fancy their chances of flying under the radar and we’ll be able to gauge a lot about our character as a team and our chances for the season ahead, from how we approach this one!

Well according to reports in last week’s League Weekly, we have been linked with what they claim could be our next big signing and it’s none other than Benji Marshall, who we are supposed to be chasing for the 2017 season in what would be another huge coup for the Club. I know it was only Dave ‘Nosey’ Parker who hinted at it and as we all know, he doesn’t come with the best of pedigrees on these things. Look what happened when he linked us with Carney and Inu last season and had Lee Smith already signed a few weeks ago……absolutely nothing! He almost seems to major on the principle that sooner or later he’ll get one right!

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However according to him we have ‘a great chance to make Marshall a marquee signing for next season’. That in itself is interesting because at the last fans forum Adam Pearson said that Frank Pritchard was our marquee signing, one of only two (with Sam Tompkins) in the league at present and I thought each Club could only have one such acquisition. I think therefore that perhaps Mr Parker over elaborates a bit at times too, don’t you.

Nonetheless Benji Marshall is a great player who at 30 still has ‘some miles on the clock’ and as a former team-mate of Gareth Ellis, it is thought, Parker said, that those connections would sway heavily in Hull’s favour for capturing the 2010 Golden Boot winner. He’s also a big mate of Motu Tony’s, however Parker did add that, “At least another six Super League clubs are looking to sign the half-back on a two-year deal”

Of course there is little doubt that Marshall bases his reputation as an iconic play maker on his speed off the mark and that’s something that does, with age, wane a bit. By the end of this campaign he will be just that bit slower, but would, with his style of play (and as a foil for Sneyd) be a good replacement for Pryce, who I expect will go back to Bradford for one last season before he retires at the end of next year. We shouldn’t however be holding our breath on this one! You see I think it’s probably at present all about a bit of ‘fishing’ by an agent, because if any New Zealand /South Sea Islander is looking to move on at all, then, because of our recent exploits in that market, Hull FC’s name is thrown into the pot to spice things up a bit. However it’s nice to be linked with the best players in the world isn’t it?

With no game this week and most of our players having a few days off, there has been little news about really, but I have to admit that it was with a heavy heart that I read that Richard Whiting was leaving for a two month loan deal at Leigh! I told you just after Christmas in here that Leigh were after him on a permanent basis well before the festivities and added that the travelling as well as the great camaraderie there is in our FC camp at present, put him off that move then. Although I have to say I think perhaps the Club would have agreed to his departure at that time, had Richard wanted to go!! That’s what concerns me because perhaps this could signal the fact that a popular character and a great servant could well be on his way out!

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Top bloke!

Out of contract at the end of the year, Rich can have no scruples’ about not getting a starting place at present because he simply wouldn’t be in any fans starting 17 if everyone in our current roster is fit. As fans we would all, I’m sure, admit that! So now, a guy who is a thoroughly honest individual no doubt feels that he has come to a point in his career and indeed an age, when he has to get as much game time as possible while he still can. Let’s face it, there is only so much training you can do without an actual competitive hit up!! He is certainly being made welcome at Leigh, who are fast becoming the latest Club to appear to have something of an elasticised salary cap!!

Leigh coach Neil Jukes said: “Everyone I have spoken to about him says he is a great professional and low maintenance and the more people like that we have around the club the better” Well you’re not wrong there Neil and when I sent Rich a ‘Good Luck’ text on Thursday after I heard the news, I said as much to him, because my time with both Richard and indeed Yeamo, (when I worked on both their testimonial committees) told me, if nothing else, that they are both thoroughly good guys, honest individuals and loyal to a fault, to the Club and fans of the FC!

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Scoring against Donny this year!

It’s fair to say as well that even though he hasn’t played of late, somehow Hull FC won’t be the same place without Richard around it, in fact here in Beverley, Mrs R is in mourning. Yet, that’s sport and we have to accept Richard’s and our administrations decisions as being, we would hope, in the best interest of the player and indeed the Club we love. As for us lot well, we have to move on and as I said a few weeks ago there’s no room for sentiment in sport but as fans, in cases like these, there will always be a deal of sentimentality about just the same.

Can I see the logic in it? Of course I can, but it’s still a bit of a wrench when folks like Rich who seem to have been around so long and who have been a hero ever since that great, great day in August 2005, depart, even when only on loan. Big signings come and go, but players like Rich just go on and on, filling in, turning up, being selected all over the shop and playing their hearts out and never letting us down. For that we should be ever grateful. However if I’m honest I can only see this temporary move being part of what is probably the beginning of the end for a great servant and a wonderfully perceptive player who is already being hailed by the Leigh fans, after engineering the last and winning try in their game yesterday.

I think off the field he certainly has a future with us and that it would be nice to find some way to keep Richard after he has finally retired, if only so that he can pass on his admirable ethics and professionalism to our next generation of young players. Club men with his qualities and dedication don’t come along very often. However the squad has moved on and so must we. But, for the next 8 weeks at least we won’t be hearing the chants of ‘Whiting is Superman’ ringing round the grounds of Super League. I just hope I’m wrong about this move being the harbinger of his departure and good luck to Richard whose progress I will follow with interest. In the mean time I’ll certainly look forward to his return at the end of April.

I thought that the whole idea of the Under 23’s League was to keep all these players fresh and up to speed in case they were needed when injuries bite and so I think we can take the moving out of both Rich and youngster Connor Bower who has officially joined York City Knights on a season-long loan too, as simply part of our cost cutting exercises and I guess from that point of view at least, it makes eminent sense.

Talking of the under 23’s they played their first game on Saturday at a wet and dreary Belle Vue and it was, by all accounts, an exciting match. With Jordan Tansey and Craig Hall out to prove a point, the Wildcats put up a stern fight and although we were well in front at one point, a victory by just two points 22-24 was a fair outcome. I’m told there were some good performances, Naughton, organised us well from full back and was good under the high ball, while throughout the match, our end of set kicking and game management was pretty good too. Supplemented with a sprinkling of Doncaster players, it certainly gave Naughton, Green, Hadley, Lancaster, Dean, Matongo, Turgut, Downs, Litten, Fash, and Osborne a good run out and with Yeamo, Abdull (who scored 2 tries) and Feke getting a game for Doncaster yesterday at least everyone has had a hit up either last weekend or this. I’m really looking forward to the Under 23’s first home game though!

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Ha, ha well done Smithy!! Says it all really!

Now, I got a couple of messages of complaint this week, both concerning me being too upbeat in my recent Diary’s. They indicated that two games mean nothing and that we hadn’t won anything yet, nor had we really achieved anything. In reply I would say that I realise as much as anyone that being an FC fan should of at least have taught us to never ever get carried away. I also know as well, that we have won our first two games before and still ended up with pretty mediocre seasons and understand as well that as quickly as things seem to be turning for the better, invariably at Hull FC they can just as swiftly turn bad again!!

However in here and indeed in my day to day life I’m living for today and enjoying the moment and I defend absolutely my right to be as upbeat as I like after showings like the ones I saw against Rovers, Salford and Catalan. I’m fed up of wringing my hands and worrying, so as an individual, after 2 great wins in Super League, I’m happy and looking forward to our next game with some relish, and that’s a feeling I’ve not had for a while. I know just as well as you all do, that by this time next week we could be back to square one, but, win or lose, I honestly don’t think that will be the case with the staff we currently have out on the field.

In the mean time why can’t folks just savour the moment, relish a bit of success and enjoy the ride. I’ve done enough chuntering as I’ve written this over the months, hurting as I was as I tried to make some sense of it all, but it’s a new season, a new beginning and after 2 games it still feels like that, which after past experience is a rare emotion indeed. We need around 20/22 points to get in the top 8 with 4 already in the bag. That’s 8 or 9 more wins to attain our first target, so let’s just all support the team and enjoy what we’ve achieved so far; without getting too carried away!!

It seems however that a few do get carried away a bit and a little early success in the style of our last two performances brings all the latent celebrity fans out of the ‘closet’ too. This week the Daily Mail received an article, quite out of the blue, from none other than Talk Sports Adrian Durham who produced a piece entitled; Is Mark Sneyd Hull FC’s new Paul Cooke? In this he showed a great knowledge of the FC for whom in fairness he has never, on the air, made any secret of his support, but Paul Cooke??? Adrian does of course make the point that since the days of 2005/6 we have had plenty of staid, structured and talented play makers but the ‘off the cuff, play it as you see it’ style of Cooke had perhaps been absent.

Durham said, “I don’t think it’s quite the time to put him in the same bracket yet as some of those players from the modern era with special talents – Cooke, Lee Briers and Tommy Martyn are the best examples I can give you. But Sneyd is on the brink. However I hope that Sneyd doesn’t follow in their footsteps in one way: They were all criminally overlooked for top international honours at a time when GB were struggling to create anything against the Australians” We’ll see on all counts I guess, but for me Marc’s a bit of a way off any of those play makers just yet, however credit to Adrian because it’s an interesting angle and great to see him joining the positivity!!

It seemed to me that following that piece, more would come forward and they did! It appears all you need is a couple of good wins for the pundits to be tipping us for big things although the season is only actually two weeks old. Garry Schofield said his piece about us being top four candidates yesterday, while one quite unexpected accolade came from Nick Fozzard. ‘Lead with your forearm’ Nick said, “I had a lot of good memories from my time at St Helens so I obviously want them to do well, but I think Hull FC have got something special going on this season. They’ve had a great start to the year. Leon Pryce, who’s a good mate of mine, is playing well and I really like Hull FC as a club. Hull FC look a really good side this year. They’ve signed players like Frank Pritchard – I absolutely love watching him play – and they’ve got a lot of good, young talent in their squad too. With Leon and ‘Frank the Tank’ I’m definitely backing them to do well in the Challenge Cup this year.”

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Nick Fozzard eh! Still a bit of a looker!!! I’ve always thought he has a lot in common with Blackpool in that he’s much better when the lights aren’t on!!

On another issue, I’ve said it so often, but now it really is time that Stevo walked from the Sky team because his latest outburst was pretty disgraceful really. It appears after the Wigan defeat he said that Super League players should be more professional and shouldn’t go out on the booze so much and he tarred everyone with the same brush. Gaz Ellis replied on twitter, “Sky Sports RL please inform Stevo that Hull FC are training today so couldn’t go out on the town tonight #Insult” what a dick Stevo is!

Now for a bit of a rant! I haven’t had one for a while but something I read this week really got my dander up! It’s a personal point of view which most won’t agree with but in the spirit of this weekly rubbish l will as usual tell you about it!! The whole thing began with an article by Craig Murdoch where he was telling us FC fans what’s good for us! That of course is something that’s sure to get my hacklers up immediately.

It all stemmed from the fact that less than 200 turned up to watch the new merged academy’s first hit up against the Rhino’s youngsters and even then, some of those were from Leeds. But that just prompted me to say ‘What does he expect?’ The thing is ‘Craig’, I simply couldn’t go, because I can’t get behind a merged Hull and Rovers team, even if they are printing ten pound notes and giving them away on the try line! You’re not initially from Hull, so perhaps that’s why you don’t get that bit, but the actual merger and perhaps more the way it was foisted on me as a lifelong FC fan, was for this supporter just too much to bare.

I have always said in here that there is only one Hull Club really benefitting from this merger and it ain’t us, but some said I was over reacting and so I’ve let it go and I left ‘em to it. However in his Tuesday spot in the Mail, Murdoch, trying to defend the new set up, quite inadvertently and unintentionally hit the nail right on the head when he said, “Last year Hull had an exceptional crop of youngsters with five or six signed up to the first-team squad. Rovers only took one which is why we need more to come through”. No mate that’s why ROVERS need more to come through’ because through your own admission, we were doing very nicely thank you without any such merger and there was only one Club who stood to really benefit from the arrangement!!

Murdoch went on to say, “The new look team have to be competitive because a lot has been made of the merger of both academies. The decision has been made and we have to accept it and move forward”. Do we, do we really? You might Craig, but as for a merger between Hull and Rovers this old ‘stick in the mud’ won’t be accepting it any time soon because he can’t!

I’ll be there at Brantingham at all of our Under 23 home games, because I love reserve and junior rugby and as I said earlier I’m really looking forward to it, but although I feel for all the kids who have no option but to play in the new team and indeed I respect James Webster who is a great guy, as for watching a merged Hull and Rovers team ….you can forget that because for me at 66 years old it’s too much. I simply can’t stand on the touchline in my Hull scarf with a load of Dobbins fans and cheer on the same team. But, that’s bigoted old me of course and you’ll probably not agree, however for now, from me; Rant over!

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Ex FC Starlet and son of a FC great Ross Divorty yesterday made his 100th appearance for Halifax. He’s a nice guy and good to see him doing well!

Now for the bigger picture and if there is already a pattern forming across the game then it has to be that although most Clubs have only played two games, injuries are already starting to bite. McGuire and Shenton are two notable additions to an ever growing list after the first round and the whingers and whiners at Rovers declaring another four in the last two weeks as well. Then we heard the sad news that Luke Robinson had been advised to retire at 31 while at Hull FC, Fornua has had an operation after the Salford game as his injury and a scare for Manu left us short in the last 20 minutes of that encounter. Plus now we hear that McIlorum could be out for 6 months. So injuries are once again to be a major issue in the game and could for every team make the difference between success and failure in the future rounds. It’s the same for everyone, but it is without doubt becoming a major concern too.

Although Clubs like ours put a lot of emphasis on preparations and toning to avoid these setbacks, injuries seem to be the norm again this year and despite all the conditioning, warming up, advanced training and re-hab regimes, they will, in a game so brutal and fast always be an issue. Some Clubs must be concerned though, because they have very small squads this time around, while at Hull we have a massive one and perhaps those who doubted the value and economic sense of running an under 23’s squad will be proved wrong and although at present its hard to keep everyone at Hull FC happy, game wise, the real value of depth in a squad will perhaps not really come to the fore until injuries start to bite us.

Here are, out of interest, the current official Squad sizes in the Competition (according to the SL website):
Cas: 29
Catalans: 28
Huddersfield: 29
Hull: 34 (two now out on loan)
Leeds: 26
Salford: 33
Saints: 34
Wakefield: 31
Warrington: 33
Widnes: 34
Wigan: 30
Rovers: 27

The average size of squad in Super League 2016 is therefore almost 31 and it will be interesting to see what turns out to be the optimum level for squad members as the season unfolds.

Having no game this week does give me the opportunity to spread the net a bit and try and find interesting stuff that I wouldn’t usually have time to cover. In Running Rugby this week I spotted an article that indicated that perhaps we shouldn’t be too concerned about the financial state of our game, particularly when you compare it with Rugby Union. The monthly periodical cited the fact that Premiership champions Saracens are now reportedly £45.1m in debt, according that is, to their accounts for the year to June 2015.

The north London club have just announced that they made a loss of £3.98m last season on a turnover of £15.3m, which although an improvement on the £5.17m deficit the previous year (on £13.5m income) is hardly anything to write home about. It’s the sheer size of the amounts that concerned me though because the club’s accounts showed total salaries rising to £9.81m, (In Super League the top Clubs usually pay around £2.5m) but at least a 13% increase in turnover led to a reduced annual loss. The losses at Saracens will be funded by parent company Premier Team Holdings Limited, although the report said that their written intention to do so is not legally binding. PTH Ltd ownership is largely split between Charles Wray their Chairman (around 30%) and Venfin Investments (approx 60%), a South African investment firm.

The overall debt of the Allianz Park outfit therefore increased by over £4m from £41.6m in the last year and surely that can’t go on forever!! It just goes to show I guess, that although we think of Union as, in general, attracting lower gates than RL for Club games, the sport still appears to be living way above its means and is in a real mess and that after they already rely heavily on the Sky TV income. That income is of course much greater than what Rugby League gets from the broadcaster, despite the fact that our viewing figures for televised games are better than theirs! It’s a strange old world isn’t it, but how long will it be before a top Rugby Union Club implodes? With a salary cap now over three times higher than ours, it’s hard to see how some of them keep going isn’t it?

Well, with the Cas match on Thursday already developing into a massive game, could what is likely to be a close game eventually be decided by the vagaries of the officials? Stranger things have happened and I found myself musing on a game this week against the same opponents that proved that perhaps it could. It was a long time ago but it sticks in my mind for all the wrong reasons, so I decided to feature it here in this week’s Codgers Corner.

This week I want to take you all the way back to the 1977/78 season when we had a pretty none descript campaign in the First Division under firstly David Doyle-Davidson and then Arthur Bunting. It was a year when in the end despite the signing of Norton and Farrar our poor results from the first half of the season saw DDD getting sacked and us ending up getting relegated straight back down to the Second Division. However, a vivid memory of that year surrounded not so much the rugby but the weather and I remember setting out from my home in Sutton at around 5-30pm one damp and misty Tuesday night to watch Hull play Castleford in the BBC 2 Floodlit Trophy.

It was 19th October and the drive to Holderness Road was pretty uneventful until I got down Witham and near the River Hull. Then all of a sudden a thick and clinging fog reduced the speed of my old Mark 2 Cortina to just 10 miles an hour and with the windscreen wipers going full pelt and the fog lights on, by the time I got to Carr Lane in the City Centre, I couldn’t see more than five yards in front of me.

When I got to ‘Boulevard end’ however conditions were much better, although once I had parked the car in Malm Street and got myself into the ground, I’d hardly had time to get a cup of that beefy hot water that passed for Bovril, (and no doubt burnt my tongue on it as usual), before the fog caught up with me again. As the flickering floodlights worsened the situation as only they could, the referee appeared out of the gloom, had a quick walk round and despite the pleas for a further delay by the BBC crews who were there to televise the game, he called the game off with half an hour to go to the kick off.

We were all told that we could either get our money back or keep our tickets for the re-arranged game. I returned to East Hull in a crawling line of traffic until, that is, I got to North Bridge where the pall lifted again and by I was back home it was as ‘clear as a bell’. The fog actually came and went for three nights and days after that and as the city shivered under a shroud of mist and smog, it became the local TV news’s favourite subject along with the national bread shortage caused by a national bakers strike. As an aside I also remember that the BBC replaced the planned broadcast of the game that night on BBC 2 with two repeated editions of Hancock’s Half Hour.

The match was re arranged for 30th October 1977 on what was thankfully a cold but clear night. As we kicked off and played into the breeze on a heavy pitch, we started strongly, pushing the Castleford pack back to set up several attacks from inside their half of the field. The story of the first half was however all about scrum possession and with Maskell winning the first three for us, Crampton, Salmon and Lynn all went close, but the resolute Cas defence just held us out and it took two massive touch kicks in open play from Stephens to eventually relieve the pressure on the visitors line. However, then Castleford won 10 of the next 12 scrums, which put us on the back foot throughout the rest of the half and we seemed to be defending continuously throughout without much respite. 15 scrums in one half give you an idea about how mistake ridden the game was turning out to be!!

Referee Vince Moss of Manchester was getting tons of stick from the Threepennies as most of these scrums had to be reformed at least 3 times as they were collapsed or appeared to be ‘fed’, but Castleford used this advantage and threaten our line consistently.

After ten minutes they put together a brilliant move as Stephens passed onto Burton who put Wraithe away and his long accurate pass sent Johnson scurrying over the line for the first try of the game, Sammy Lloyd kicked the goal and we were 5-0 behind. Back we came and although Cas second rower Burton was just held up in a last ditch tackle by full back Hunter, after 17 minutes Salmon was stopped short by the visitors winger Fenton who five minutes later managed to just ankle tap Marshall with Alf Macklin free and screaming for the ball on the wing. We were doing well without much possession at all.

Next both Terry Lynn and Brian Hancock went close but were just tackled short, before after 22 minutes it was Castleford’s turn again to attack and using the massive pull that they had in the scrums Reilly almost burst over but was forced back by the combined tackles of Sutton, Clarke and Boxall. Eight minutes later Hull at last opened their account when Joyner was penalise for holding Hancock down in the tackle and Marshall made no mistake with the penalty kick. The half finished with more Hull pressure, as Salmon ran away downfield but had no support and Crane looked destined to score until he slipped as he caught the ball and the chance was lost. At half time we trailed 5-2.

The second half was again dogged by poor refereeing, the scrums were still untidy, but more worrying still was the official’s persistent refusal to acknowledge that the visitors were offside at every play the ball. In attack too, time and again Castleford used the ploy of missing a man out and passing behind as he ran through to take out a ‘would be’ tackler or worse still, to cross the path of the marker to obstruct his chance of completing a tackle. The crowd went berserk at this, especially because after 3 diabolical home performances Hull FC were looking much better and just needed a bit of justice to push on and win.

Then against all the odds we went ahead in the 64th minute and it was a piece of typical Mick Crane magic that did it. Our loose forward had been ‘missing’ for several minutes when he popped up to pick up a dropped pass by Castleford’s Bob Spurr. Crane set off down field, chip kicked over full back Wraithes head and then won the race to the line to touch down and with Marshall converting that score we at last led 7-5.

It was a piece of typical brilliant from Crane and set Hull off into a phase of the game where all of a sudden we were playing with some style and it was Mick and Jimmy Crampton, just back from injury, who were starting to run the show. Then disaster struck as John Joyner, the visitors centre, broke a tackle by Wardell and set off on a run that took the ball into the Hull twenty five yard area. The chaos at the scrums continued as the referee gave three consecutive penalties to the visitors for us feeding. However with their backs to the wall our defence valiantly hung on until after 18 tackles on our own line, we eventually cracked and Reilly ploughed over for Lloyd to convert again. In the last ten minutes as we trailed 10-7 Terry Lynn our scrum half was penalised twice, again for feeding the scrum, which was so ironic really because in the end in his frustration Lynn was throwing the ball at the Castleford hooker.

Then we really were robbed by the referee! That year was the first season that the timing of the game had been taken out of the referee’s hands and put in those of the official time keeper and just as Mick Crane broke into the open and released Alf Macklin with a clear run to the corner the new ‘Buzzer’ went for full time and a bemused referee Moss, instead of letting play run on until the next tackle, as was the instruction, inexplicably blew the whistle immediately and as Alf planted the ball down over the try line, his celebrations were cut short as Mr Moss waived his hands to indicate that the game had already finished. Everyone in the crowd of 4000 all of whom had stayed to the very end booed the officials and the mandatory police escort was needed as they left the field. We had though sadly lost; well in fact we’d been robbed by the referee.

The performance after what had gone before was a huge improvement and Hull’s effort particularly in the pack deserved more reward. We certainly felt we had been fiddled and our backing up, passing and handling that night were so much better than anything we had seen for weeks, while our defence, in the face of ‘a referee induced lack of possession’ was excellent. Still we were out of the Floodlit Trophy and back into a League campaign that was to get harder and harder as the weeks went by. Let’s hope for some better officiating on Thursday eh?

You know, sometimes when I look back at past Diary’s and past Codgers Corners I think that perhaps we sound a lot like old soldiers talking about battles past, great victories, sad defeats old friends and lost comrades and once again this week we lost another ‘old soldier’ and stalwart of the Boulevard and the KC. I was told on Saturday of the death of Gerry Browning who I mentioned a while ago in the Diary as being seriously ill. Gerry was a fanatical fan all his life but sadly he died on the 19th of February aged 83 and my thoughts and commiserations go to his family and friends. RIP Gerry Browning.

So we move on to Thursday night and the first real ‘banana skin’ of the season for me! Some laugh at me when I say that Castleford is a bit of a worry, but I guess I’ve seen so many games over the last couple of years where we have been ill prepared mentally for such encounters. They looked good last week but with our pack firing on all cylinders we should be able to steam roller them down the middle, but we have to get our heads right. The Tigers are the perennial, ‘small Club’; under the cap, under achievers before the season starts, but they invariably set off well, which should see us on our guard against any complacency.

That’s the way that their administration positions themselves before the campaign kicks off and it works too, because with their brilliant coach getting the psychology right, they end up flying under the radar, with Clubs and fans thinking, “Castleford this week; we should win that one”. The Tigers then use that philosophy to ensure that they are soon found to be winning a lot more than they lose because there is little doubt at all that they are a very good team. You can’t take your foot off the gas mentally though, because that’s what Saints did at Salford last week and it’s how Cas were able to beat Leeds at Headingley twice last season! If you’re not prepared and not really up for it particularly at this end of the season, they’ll bite you!! So for me this is the first big test of our new found leadership group and the team’s spirit and focus and of course, of us lots the fans!!!

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No Mugs at all!

Don’t get me wrong I’m loving the moment and the feeling around the place and I think we can win again on Thursday. In fact we have to pack the place out with fans again in the hope that we can do our bit to raise the atmosphere, but I just think it will be interesting to see how we approach this one.

At present it’s great to be an FC fan and long may that continue. Thanks to everyone who has got in touch and big raps in particular to readers Peter and Ken in Australia for the package of Parramatta training gear that arrived at ‘Rosenberg Towers’ earlier this week. My appreciation also goes to Sammo, Harry Winston, Eric H, Derek Beilby and especially Harry ‘O’ in Pittsburgh, who will be home for the Warrington game and can’t wait!

It was also great to meet with Dave and a couple of other fans to talk about the Diary on Thursday and for all the other readers who sent me comments, story’s and indeed complaints after last week, well done, you certainly all make it worthwhile. But, most of all thanks to everyone for sticking with another offering in a game-less and pretty quiet 7 days. From now on it’s the week in week out grind of games and because of the vagaries of Sky TV, Thursday night is game night this time around and I’m hoping again that we will all ensure that the atmosphere is electric.

I guess it’s easy for some to stop at home and watch the game in comfort but it’s not the same is it? I think it’s so important that we do our bit to be ‘loud and proud’ in backing the boys, so please again, get there if you can. I really believe you can see, that this new team and some of the big ‘characters’ we have on board absolutely ‘feed’ off the terraces and so we can all really make the difference in what should be another great night under the lights at the KC! There is little doubt around the country folks will be tuning in to see what this Hull FC ‘revival’ stuff is all about, so let’s not disappoint them.

We have to get there, do all we can to make that difference, create an atmosphere that intimidates Cas and really get behind the boys…then it’s up to them!!

See you there and in the mean time have a good week and…

Come on You Hulllaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf