The Dentist’s Diary – 484th

‘Never in my reign have we given in like we did tonight – it’s categorically the worst performance since I’ve been here as a player or coach!” so said a beleaguered Lee Radford after the game, as even his own players couldn’t speak about it in front of him. But, who could argue with his assertion because…….

…it was certainly a bit of a shambles.

Perhaps before I go any further, I guess I should apologise in advance, because this week’s offering wasn’t written on Sunday or early on Monday like some are, but was mostly put together in ‘real time’ after I got home in the early hours of Friday morning; and I wasn’t very happy!  I get criticised for being negative at times, but after that performance I make no excuses at all for putting in here just what I think as I sit here at home at 3-00am bashing out my thoughts on my lap top and trying to capture my mood after arriving home from Widnes. All I can do in these circumstances is just try to reflect the ‘tone’ of the moment!

As performances go, that one was totally devoid of any sort of fight, in fact I agree with Lee, because I have seen few of our games in recent years that could be classed as worse. It wasn’t just a run of the mill defeat, but more a real game changer for the fans aspirations! Sure we’re only 5 games in, but the way we capitulated was quite unprecedented and made for one of the worst performances I can remember. For me it was reminiscent in many way of that Play-off defeat at Huddersfield a few years ago when we got pasted and the players looked as if they just couldn’t be arsed.

In Codgers Corner later in the Diary I have taken the opportunity to feature a game that should remind us all as to what those long lost qualities of dying for the badge, playing for the fans and valuing the shirt are all about, because after Thursday many FC fans could be forgiven, had they forgotten!!

I bet after that performance Adam was apoplectic, James Webster was quietly smiling to himself, James Rule was laughing his hat off and Lee Radford was looking for a locksmith!!

Widnes, playing in front of just 4000 home fans, taught us a real lesson and showed their top 4 credentials. They may not be a team of super stars but they play to their strengths and have proper pivots that run and organise the game. In contrast to that our team proceeded to wring ever last ounce of optimism and enthusiasm out of the 700 plus heroes that made a difficult journey over the Pennines.

I just can’t explain how despondent I felt as I walked back to the car. It was a game where we were ‘second bested’ in every single department by a team that out enthused, out played and out smarted us! If it was bad watching at home on the TV at least you could switch it off, but believe me, if you were there it was nothing short of soul destroying and I make no excuse for describing it as such.

Widnes. Widnes Vikings v Hull FC in the First Utility Super League Round 5 clash at the Select Security Stadium, Widnes on Thursday 10th March 2016. Hull FC players during the Widnes Vikings v Hull FC First Utility Super League Round 5 clash. MANDATORY CREDIT: RLPIX.COM For editorial use only. Copyright remains property of rlpix.com

Some glum faces!

Quite how much longer Adam Pearson (who was reported by some on social media to have left early) can hold the line and sticks with us must have been a thought that crossed many minds amongst the fans sat there suffering in the away end. But from what I’ve seen I think we’ll find he’s made of sterner stuff than that!

This season we have progressively played well, great, good, worse and shocking through our 5 games. Whether we initially flattered to deceive or the players have started to believe their own publicity and Lee is incapable of doing anything about it, I really don’t know.

However most distressing of all for me was the fact that we simply lacked any semblance of having any fight in us and that’s pretty unforgiveable under any circumstances; we were, at least from around the twenty minute mark, completely devoid of spirit. As one pal of mine said so succinctly in the cold light of Friday morning, “We started so well, had 3 tries disallowed, (one that shouldn’t have been) we throw out a reckless pass that was intercepted and BOOM! Our heads had gone!”

So we are back, it would appear, to losing our focus once a bit of adversity comes along. But surly that’s what all these leaders all over the field were all about? Where the hell were they then? We were out thought and out coached by a guy who let’s face it isn’t considered in most informed quarters as one of the games top Coaches at present, but his plans were first class and his team carried them out to the letter. Well done to Widnes for that!

The one thing that we have been assure of in Lee Radford’s tenure has been our resilience and ‘die at the barricades’, ‘every man for each other’ defence that has repelled the best teams in the competition and that last season kept us in the close games; even if we finally failed to win them. This season has seen that tenacity wane and Thursday’s debacle saw little short of an absolute surrender. Look, Widnes were good we had some unlucky breaks in the first quarter with disallowed tries and everything stuck for the hosts in the same period, but that’s when so often in the past we have failed to weather the storm and imploded but we should be better than that now. However little, it appears, has changed on that score!!

What a state to be in, when our coach correctly admitted post-match that we showed ‘no fight’ in that final hour. You can drop all the ball you like guys, but appearing to be ‘not trying’ at times, even if you are, is unforgiveable!

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Sika Manu was left on too long in my opinion and was targeted by the Widnes defence!

Our half backs, even when you consider the poor platform they were given by the forwards, were pathetic at times. Abdull looked unsure of himself throughout, particularly in that last quarter when he just ‘huffed and puffed’ and was little more than an additional forward. He doesn’t look fit to me, but at least he had some excuses because it was his first game back, something that can’t be said of Marc Sneyd who probably had his worst game since he joined.

Poor old Marc was given a rather generous 3 in the Hull Daily Mail ratings, as the scrum-half got into some right muddles. In his defence he did get himself into some good positions throughout the match, but was totally unable to produce the decisive ball or to push anyone through the line. So much of what we are attempting to do is down to him and so when he’s off the pace everything on attack looks shambolic and totally out of sync. It wasn’t all his fault, because on one occasion in the second half he broke right to find no support at all because the winger and centre were so far back I thought for a minute they’d both gone to buy a hot dog! In actuality they had been running the ball in and doing the work of the forwards in the two previous plays and were then ‘too knackered’ to catch up!

Too often at Widnes I saw backs trying to be forwards and forwards trying to be backs and as I left I felt that Ellis was the only one to come out with any credit at all! However the way that Frank Pritchard ran over Chris Bridge on around the five minute mark will be a lasting memory, but that was about it for me as once Plan A (the big bash theory) had failed there was no plan B and we were totally devoid of ideas.

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Tried his heart out!

When the forwards did get involved near the line all we saw was that plan A which is their attempts to be human battering rams as they tried to blast their way over. My pal Adam made a great point about the lack of leadership, in that three times in the second quarter, on the 3rd or 4th tackle in their 20, we crashed forward under the posts with ‘look at me drives’, which Widnes anticipated and negated. However the subsequent play the ball then doesn’t give you a strung out or loaded open side to which you can shift the ball in the next play. In fact instead it aids the defence by providing compressed and balanced lines at both sides of the play the ball.

What I do know is that it’s too early to be considering Coaches heads rolling, so that has to stop, but if we don’t win two of our next three we will have crossed the Easter ‘line in the sand’ we all set way back when. Then, at a third of the way through the season, the stark reality of another ineffective campaign will be staring us all in the face. If however, on the positive side, you look at the table now then a win on Friday and 2 points over Easter will see us well placed again, but it’s when you look at a string of away games in June that you start to worry a bit. Still we’ll see, but for me the Wakey game this week really is a must win. Anything else and who knows what will happen!

Last Thursday, in the end, the fans were the only ones to come out with any credit at all as they turned up in numbers once again, while a team, that had promised so much and fired our enthusiasm just three games previously, didn’t turn up at all! You have to wonder after that showing how long the ‘Faithful’ will continue to do that, we don’t go expecting to win every game, away fans usually expect the opposite, but this season we just hoped that we would at least see some effort, some graft and some form of on field leadership. Many trudged out of the Halton Stadium on Thursday shaking their heads with their spirits completely broken.

So for this fan it was as big a disappointment as you get and one after which it was hard to even hold your head up as you walked through the Widnes fans and back to the car. That says it all for me and although I’ll be back next week our frail and flimsy ‘new beginning’ was severely dented, if not totally buried by this one!

Perhaps for the sport at large, the biggest issue about the match wasn’t an appalling performance by us, or a dynamic one from Widnes, but rather the ‘Soap Opera’ that occurred in the aftermath, as the Hull players were reported to have staged their own version of “It’s a Lock-out”. If you know Lee Radford at all, then you’ll appreciate that he’d have been as upset as we were because whatever else he is or isn’t in your eyes, I know he’s a fan and as such, he’d have been gutted. At times in those circumstances, passion takes over, he’s his own worst enemy and that manifests itself in him being too bloody honest!

Some of his post match comments in the past have in the drama and desperation of defeats been viewed as inarticulate and ill founded, but in fact they are usually based on his own personal disappointment and frustration. In those situations he’s seen by some as irresponsible; when you’re Head Coach you’re not allowed to care as far as the media and some of our fans are concerned!! In those circumstances he’s duty bound to face the media when all he probably wants to do is crawl away and greave like the rest of the ‘fans’. We have every right to criticise him as we all do if we think he’s got it wrong, but we should also try and understand that he gets frustrated and irritated as well.

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Queen and David Bowie (Ft. Lee Radford); Under Pressure!!!

For him to freely admit out of the blue that the coaching staff was “kicked out of the changing room by the players” was media suicide, but probably borne out of the fact that he was so upset about it. Reporters in the post match press conference knew nothing about what had happened and when Lee added that he had “no idea” why those players asked them to leave it only added fuel to the fire. No doubt it smacked to the casual reporter, scribbling away, of a man who had lost control of his squad, especially when the story gets twisted by sub editors looking for a ‘cheap’ headline.

Gareth Ellis and Scott Taylor made their motives very clear afterwards and said that certainly wasn’t the case, but even after they had clarified the situation it didn’t stop the headline makers at Hull Daily Mail wringing the last drops of controversy out of it by declaring, “Scott Taylor ends ‘dressing-room gate’ with strong response’.

Dressing-room gate???? What the hell’s all that about!

What did occur in the changing rooms afterwards was probably staged in an effort to protect Lee and allow some home truths to come out about how they were letting him down! As for the media’s take on it, well why should trying to understand what a beleaguered and under pressure coach was trying to say get in the way of a good headline?

Of course what made things even worse was that Radford’s revelations allowed reporters to instantly ask Widnes coach Denis Betts, who was next up at the press conference, his views on the whole matter. He shouldn’t have commented but did and therefore is on record as saying “If you can’t take them saying it in front of you, then you’re not the right person for the job.” That was unnecessary and shows his inability to handle off the wall questions from the media too. He should have known better, but he gave the media the oxygen of controversy they craved.

Conversely, I think that the only collateral damage that we have suffered is perhaps what Ellis and Co. think about the whole thing being blow out of all proportions after Lee’s choice of words. Gareth can’t have expected his head coach to tell the press he had been “kicked out” of that changing room. That comes down to interpretation too, but then again Radford’s choice of words and terminology was the sort of ‘gift’ most journalist’s dream of!

How the fallout from that unfolds we will just have to wait and see and although I might decry Lee for what he said, I can’t criticise him for being so gutted and depressed about the situation which probably prompted his comments. However there is little doubt that in the aftermath of the battle he at times says too much or, at least, says things he really shouldn’t simply because some of the stupid questions he is asked on air. He simply allows his emotions to take over and there is probably a lesson there for him as well.

If I were you I would worry a lot more about the ‘hand waiving dismissal’ of Lee as he left the dressing room early at half time. If you get the chance, as I did, just wind the recording backwards and forwards and look at the reactions of Pritchard and Ellis. It’s certainly food for though and looks to me as if, ‘in the heat of the battle’, something was not quite right. Some would say that the strange player’s meeting afterwards bears that out too, but then again we’ll probably never know anyway.

So, if by his own admission we witnessed the worst performance in the tenure of our current Coach, then my personal despair was compounded by what was certainly the worst journey home I have experienced since that night after the Grand Final, all those years ago, when we were so memorably diverted off the M62 through Castleford! Refusing, out of principle to leave before the end, I left my car parking spot near McDonalds in Widnes at around 10-00pm but it was after 2-00pm before I finally arrived back home in Beverley.

With the M62 going from 4 to 1 lane twice in advance of us even getting past Manchester (and again near Huddersfield), it was chaos, before between Junctions 19 and 20 it was closed altogether, which saw me sat for 30 minutes in which I moved around a quarter of a mile, another reduction of lanes and a trip through Oldham. Then, when I reached the M18 junction the other side of Goole, thick freezing fog descended and from there I ‘crawled’ all the way to Beverley following the set of dim tail lights in front. By I got home I was left wondering why the hell we bother; a sentiment borne out, no doubt, by the occupants of the 8 coaches and 4 mini buses that I walked past as I returned to my car after the game.

The journey there was eventful too. Mrs R was at work so I left early at around 1-30pm and I took the opportunity to go into Manchester on the way. I went there to hunt in Pendlebury for the site of the old Station Road Ground, which closed in 1992. It was the world famous home of the Swinton club, had a capacity at one time of 60,000 and possessed, I found out, the tallest rugby posts (67ft) in the game. When I arrived I discovered nothing at all but a quiet leafy housing development bordered by Pendlebury Road, Lynton Avenue and the Railway line that always ran behind the West Stand. No commemorative plaque was apparent although I did discover that it was just a few dozen yards from where L.S. Lowry lived at 117 Station Road, which as a house is in a bad state, but none the less displays a red heritage plaque.

As for the posts, well an old bearded guy sat in a dilapidated arm chair outside the Salvation Army hostel nearby told me that they had been saved at the time of demolition in 1992 by local amateur Club, Eccles and Salford Juniors. He went on to tell me that originally they towered at over 80 ft but had sunk down 14 feet into the Station Road ground before they were removed and subsequently had to be cut off at the base before they could be transported to Eccles. The ‘Amateurs’ continued to use them and they stood, as a local landmark, just off the M60 motorway, until one night about 8 years ago when vandals chopped them down with axes ‘for firewood’ and they were left unusable! He was a great guy and one of several people I spoke to about the old ground. It was certainly another interesting quest (like my trip last year to find the site of the old Rochdale Athletics ground last season) and one that I will, no doubt, tell you more about in a future edition of Codgers Corner.

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Isn’t science marvellous!

I don’t know about you but I still keep hearing it is, not Steve McNamara, who Hull KR are after as coach for 2017. Former player David Furner, who starred for Wigan and Leeds as a forward, is I keep getting told their top candidate for the permanent role.

11 months ago in here I warned that the new structure for the game with a potential for 4 Clubs to go down was going to be a real worry, simply because of the pressure it would put on clubs and because it was sure to develop a culture where winning and getting points is the only issue. That, I said, would lead to heads rolling and swift action by any board who were faced with the possibility of the bottom 4 and thus the middle 8. It would also I though lead to all the available money set aside for youth development and community participation being slowly siphoned off in the name of survival. Last season it was all a bit ‘suck it and see’ as we saw Wakey just edge the ridiculously named million pound game to stay up, but since then we have also seen the Championship salary cap changing to now be half a clubs turnover and teams like Leigh building a very impressive roster indeed.

Now six weeks into the new campaign Smithy has gone, because it seems the pressure of not succeeding thus far had made the atmosphere between the coach and the owner, which was already strained, untenable. And so before the season is even a quarter over we have seen two of the twelve clubs part company with their coaches. It’s a sign of the times and probably to be expected but whose next? Anderson at Huddersfield, Lee Radford at Hull or the lad I can’t spell at Catalan? All unlikely you’ll say, but who knows where any of these three will be in 4 or 5 weeks time? It’s going to be ‘dog eat dog’ from now on with all the cash directed towards keeping teams up there in Super League whatever the cost in funds or personnel. The days of spending on youth development and building clubs from within have gone now and I guess that brings me to my next point.

You’ll remember that us sceptics who doubted the validity of the new merged academy were told how independent it would all be, how professional it would be and how they would utilise the pooled money to appoint a top Class coach to head it up. And, so they did with James Webster an excellent appointment that even cynical old me couldn’t disagree with it. Then he’s taken by Rovers (as if he was just left there on the ‘Academy shelf’ in case they needed him) and low and behold we are now left with 2 blokes who were already on the pay roll in different capacities, neither of whom have any real coaching pedigree at all. I’m sure one of them is really good, while you know my opinion of the other, but it’s hardly what we were promised is it?

Rumours abound that former Centurions coach Paul Rowley, who was reported to be interesting Rovers, will take charge of the Canadian team expected to play in League 1 next year and that’s the reason, according to their owner, that he left Leigh. I’ve been told that the Toronto side will have Brian Noble as its director of rugby, with Rowley working for him as head coach. The Canadian outfit that have big money backers, will be based in the North West in pre-season and will have the schedule of playing four games away and then four games at home. Also on the need to know front Brian Smith wasn’t the only ex FC man to quit Wakefield Trinity Wildcats last week because I’m told that Chief Executive Jon Flatman, ex of FC too, has walked as well. While Wakey will appoint a new coach this week with Willie Poching and Glen Morrisson as favourites.

Now, since the feature film, ‘This Sporting Life’ hit the screens of the Langham, Carlton and Monica back in the early 60’s, I’ve always been interested in any celluloid depiction of our game, however few and far between they’ve been.

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Richard Harris (r) with a health conscious trainer!

That original offering featured Richard Harris and was filmed in Wakefield’s brilliant old Belle Vue Stadium in glorious black and white and since then ‘Another Bloody Sunday’ and ‘South Side Story’ are just two of my big favourites, in what has hardly been a procession of releases. I was therefore really pleased to hear this week that Super League is to throw its weight behind a new Australian film depicting the trials and tribulations of a big-name rugby league player whose personal life spirals out of control.

Writer-director Heath Davis, a passionate rugby league fan whose own playing career was halted by a broken leg at the age of 18, is keen to highlight a growing blight on the game after becoming concerned over gambling and alcohol addiction in the NRL. The result is this, his first feature film entitled “Broke” and is the story of a disgraced rugby league star and gambling addict who is shown the road to redemption by one of his biggest fans. It was given its UK premier at the Manchester Film Festival this weekend. Look out for it if it comes to the region!

So to Codgers Corner and a game I was asked to relate by a reader at the Wigan game. I’m sorry I don’t know your name mate but he stopped me and asked if I would feature this particular game from 1983 because it was one of his favourite performances ever and indeed it’s certainly one of my top 10 games of all time. I have featured over 290 games in here over the years, but the top few are very special, as is my memories of this one! It is also quite ironically a game that is as far removed from what we saw at Widnes last week as it is possible to be and one that should remind us what passion in the shirt ‘dying’ for the badge and doing it for the fans is all about.

After the game I feature this week the national papers hailed it as ‘Simply fantastic’, with the Daily Mirror stating that, ‘It could have been from a comic book but this was real life and possibly one of the ‘great’ displays of all time!’ Big words indeed, but those who were there will agree that it was all that and more, particularly if you were an FC fan in Wheldon Road at around 5-00-pm on Sunday 6th November 1983. It would certainly show our current stars just what can be achieved when fans and players unite behind the badge!!

It was coach Arthur Bunting’s ‘way’ back then, when we were playing away in the West Riding to always hold a light training session when the team met up at Rothwell which was followed by an even lighter lunch in the local pub. On that fateful day though that was where the trouble started, our charismatic loose forward, and ‘King of the FC pack’ Knocker Norton pulled up injured and had to be withdrawn from the starting line up, leaving Bunting to ask local hero and character both on and off the field, Mick Crane, who had gone along for the ride, to lead the team. It was to be an inspired choice.

Castleford were going really well that year and had forged together a really good team, so when we came out of the hat to play them away in the first round of the John Player Trophy that year it was with some trepidation that we looked forward to a close game at that famous West Yorkshire ground. Wheldon Road was packed with the FC army that afternoon and we made up around two thirds of an 8000 gate. So full in fact was the West Stand, that I watched a game that is burned on my memory forever, stood with my pals from the Mermaid Pub on the south terrace next to the railway line.

If the first 31 minutes were exciting the last 49 had to be seen to be believed. The first half hour was tight as both sides cancelled each other out and although Schofield made one 70 yard break only to be caught by Marchant, who had tracked back across to cut him off, both teams had their chances. Just after that break Kemble saved the day for us when he crash tackled Bob Beardmore just as he reached out to touch down and after Fred Ah Kuoi was kicked in the head by Gary Connell the Castleford player should have walked, but all he got was a telling off. However from that offence, in the 16th minute, Crooks opened our account with a penalty, and then Beardmore cancelled it out after Leuluai fell on a loose ball and was deemed to be off side. Then in the 28th minute Paul Rose was stiff armed by Hyde, which saw a skirmish break out between both sets of forwards and as the referee stood back and let it develop it was obvious what was to happen next. Ronnie Wileman got a blow to the skull in the melee and came away shaking his head and looking for revenge.

Castleford moved the ball along the line whilst Wileman stepped out of ours, and hit Horton with his forearm off the ball. The Castleford player fell to the ground and although the referee let play go on for almost a minute, he blew up when Cas had got into our twenty, and sent our hooker off for the offence. It has to be said Ronnie deserved his dismissal but we and the FC players, were still reeling from what had happened when our prop Trevor Skerrett followed him down the tunnel as the referee lost control.

This was however a completely uncalled for dismissal, as Trevor lined up one of his famous big hits on winger Steve Gill. He seemed to have timed it perfectly hitting the winger across the shoulders but the referee sent him straight off. After the game Skerrett protested that he ‘took him by the shoulders’ something that was borne out by the fact that after the game Gill was rushed straight to hospital with a dislocated collar bone.

So we were down to 11 men against a team that was known as ‘Classy Cas’ because of their reputation for throwing the ball around and playing fast expansive rugby. Once the commotion had died down Beardmore coolly stroked over the penalty and we were 4-2 behind. But Hulls magnificent 11 were not going to give in. Within five minutes of the sending off, as the adrenalin pumped and the self belief grew, Hull looked like a team of 13 men as they tackled everything and formed an impenetrable line across the field. The Hull fans were probably as loud that day as I have ever heard them, and the lads responded brilliantly. Kemble pulled off a massive ball and all tackle on David Rookley when Beardmore and Ward had carved out an opening and Rookley looked to be heading for a simple score.

As we tackled and tackled, half time, and a rest grew nearer and nearer. But we could not have had a better boost three minutes into added time when another big break by Schofield from 60 yards out saw him tackled 30 yards from the Cas line. At the play the ball Steve Evans pushed Harkin away and scooped the ball up himself, he then dodge to the left and grubbered through, chased his own kick and touched down wide out just before the ball trickled over the dead ball line. Crooks missed the conversion but we led 6-4 at half time. The half time break was a relief if not a short respite for all the Hull fans, whilst the Castleford fans sipped their Bovrill and looked forward to a landslide of points in the second half.

Hull came out in the second half determined to hold that lead and give nothing away. At scrums we just packed down four players, as you could back then, although there were in essence no forwards or back’s just 11 determined heroes. On numerous occasions close to our in goal area O’Hara, Leuluai and Ah Kuoi took on the role of driving forwards to clear our lines. Castleford started to get frustrated and just when we looked to be buckling, Hardy was dispatched to the sin bin for a blatant trip on Schofield that was a far worse offence than the one Skerrett was sent off for earlier. Coolly Crooks got us another two points, and the lead was stretched to 8-4. From then on it was all Castleford attacking, all Hull defending and all the FC Army singing. I doubt that I have ever heard the FC fans in better voice, the place shook to ‘Come on you Hull’’ as we repelled attack after attack from Cas.

Props Crooks and Rose battled and tackled themselves to a near standstill with Crooks carrying a first half leg injury but not shirking a single tackle. In that last quarter Schofield pulled off 4 tackles that were top draw, whilst Kemble dealt with three towering up and under’s from Beardmore, and drove the ball back up field like an additional forward. At the helm of this terrific effort was Mick Crane who tackled, ran and ‘generalled’ the play as if his life depended on it. He was ‘Captain Fantastic’ as time after time he drove the ball at the Cas defence always making ground, stepping and ducking into the tackle.

Our forwards, such as they were, drove the ball down field again and again, which led to a lot of the game being played out in the hosts half, and despite a big scare in the last minute when Hyde scythed through only for Proctor, Harkin and Kemble to nail him standing over the line and push him back out to safety, our line held and we were home. When the referee finally blew the whistle Castleford heard the biggest cheer it had ever experienced from any group of visiting supporters, as our players fell to their knees and the FC fans went berserk.

Castleford’s players were clearly upset about their performance and Hull’s victory, as many refused to shake hands with our players and after the game in the tunnel, Connell was sent off for swearing at the referee. Even after a great journey home and a few pints back in the Mermaid there was a last surprise to come from the weekends heroics, because next day the Mail carried a story about how our disillusioned and injured ‘super hero’ Steve Norton had announced his retirement. However he changed his mind later that week, but Knocker was a volatile if not loveable character and it was destined to not be the only time he retired before changing his mind and returning. Still it’s that wonderful Hull performance against all odds that leaves that game at Castleford up there in my personal top 10 FC match’s of all time, if you were there, you’ll never forget it; it was simply amazing! How we can learn from it today!!!

Now if you look ahead our next ‘proper’ away game is St. Helens, on April Fool’s Day (I’ll let you make your own jokes about that one) and if you should need a bus to the game, in blooming good company, get in touch with the legend that is Tony Roberts, the promoter of the longest surviving bus trip at Hull FC on 01652 636109 or 07917 033949.

So, last Thursday is I guess best forgotten if you can somehow find a way to put it to the back of your mind. For me personally it was just heartbreaking and still is. At times like these how I envy those for whom ‘following’ something they are passionate about involves sitting down at home to watch Emmerdale!!! You know, I know fans like my pal Dave, who say that they get over these things quickly, but I can’t and I was still smarting on Sunday. It’s bloody soul destroying and seems to get worse as I get older.

We just seem to get built up, time and again, only for the team we love to send us all crashing back down. I tell myself not to get too involved, just sit back and watch what unfolds, stay on the margins, don’t get to close anymore and just let it flow over you. Yet after the rovers, Salford and Catalan showings who in their right mind can’t have become a little bit excited again?

But, this Friday we welcome a depleted and crisis torn Wakey to ‘Fortress’ KC. They are a Club against whom, (if the ‘script’ is true to form) to save everyone’s bacon, we’ll ‘get a hat full’, before we probably come crashing down again at Caravan Park. That’s not a prediction but just the way it’s been for years and despite all the different players we have had on our books and all the early hype and hope many seasons have brought us, that’s how it seems to go with us lot! Quite frankly, if I was our coach I’d get Yeamo back in to show a few out wide what tackling is all about and shore up as leaky a ‘wide-out’ defence as I have seen for years!!

However for now thanks for sticking with another depressing old Diary I’m certainly playing into the hands of those critics who say I’m too ‘up and down’ in these weekly diatribes, but if you’re really, really involved with your Club and that Club is Hull FC then boy it’s a roller coaster of emotions as unpredictable and as volatile as the bloody weather! I’ve had some good chats with a lot of fans since Thursday and particularly include Derek at the Dog and Duck, Kathy, Dave Cooper, Martin, Bill H, Kathy and Steve Gibbo amongst them. Everyone has a theory but we all agreed that you never quite know what will happen next and so you end up fearing the worst, because that’s the safest thing to do…… as well as being what invariably seems to happen.

I can’t help writing it as I feel it and I know how I felt when stuck for half an hour in stationary traffic at 11-45 on the M62 near Manchester, when it was a case of, “What am I doing here” and “Why the hell do we bloody bother”. A pal of mine who has been going as long as me walked out a minute before the end and said, “That’s it I’m finished with them, I’ve had enough I’m never going again” I didn’t get a chance to discuss it with him but it doesn’t matter because I’ll see him next week when he’ll be back at the KC. Because fools that we are, that’s what we do!

No one likes losing but it’s a necessary evil of being a sports fan. However after watching it back on TV, Thursday was simply embarrassing but we have to brush ourselves off and get on with it, so let’s just see what next week brings eh? It was a one off, I’m pretty sure of that and it was also completely out of character for that group of players and what they have produced thus far this season. However what you have read in this week’s Diary is simply the thoughts of someone who was last Friday morning, for want of a better word just….. shell shocked!!

Even Keep Believing seems a bit hollow for this fan after that!

Get to the game if you can, let’s do our bit and try to keep your chin up!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf