The Dentist’s Diary – 485th

Well it wasn’t pretty was it? But I guess last Friday was all about the result and we got two precious points and….. that’s about it really.

However, whichever way you look at it a win’s a win and after three defeats including that disaster at Widnes, at least we had the resilience and determination to succeed, something that manifest itself in some excellent goal line defence against what can only be called an adequate but hard working Wakefield outfit. We were in fact pinned on our own line for three sets of six on two separate occurrences in the second half, as the circus like antics of ‘the ringmaster’ Mr Child bewildered us all.

There was evidence of a distinct lack of confidence, infused with a whiff of nervous tension, as we went back in our shells and it was a case of safety first and many sets that were just five drives and a kick. It all made for poor fare for the spectator and any fleeting attempts at the expansive play we saw a few weeks ago were invariably pretty disorganised and disjointed.

But, we were desperate for a couple of points and in our defence we never really looked like we’d fail to get them. However I honestly think that a Wakefield side that looks doomed to the middle eight already, was hardly a big test. I have also to say that in my opinion, on the night; most other Super League Clubs would possibly have beaten us. But we beat Wakefield, we did enough and at least we move onto the Derby with a win and a bit of confidence, although we’ll have to be a lot better next Friday!

I hadn’t looked forward to the game much at all and I’d certainly not relished the encounter as I did the Salford, Castleford and Wigan matches. Lately a feeling of déjà vu has taken hold and that old ‘here we go again’ demeanour seems to be back in town. Wakefield had to be beaten because nothing but two points would suffice to confirm to this fan that we were not once again in ‘calamity’ mode after the strange happenings at Widnes. I guess in the end we got there, but although we never really looked like surrendering an 18 point lead, we rarely looked like extending it either and when you add to that a poor Wakey team that never really threatened much at all, it ensured that for most of the game it was pretty moribund and boring fare for the fans.

 

I guess we should be magnanimous in victory and say well done to Wakey, because they made it a real arm wrestle and good old ‘Milky’ Miller showed a bit of class at times as he tried to get them moving. They were depleted by injury and suspension but put up a really good fight, so well done to them. Their approach to the game was however a ‘traditional one’. We have watched the Wildcats over the year’s battle and fight for every point and so often the plan has been for them to weather the first twenty minutes and then come back at us, whilst, all the while, slowing the game down and laying on in the tackle. Something they did so successfully in the away game last year.

 

It was little different on Friday, but this time a combination of our resolute defence and their depleted ranks ensured that at least we stood firm and repelled their efforts. The whole object of the exercise was to get two more points and so it was job done, but it wasn’t pretty and we certainly lacked a lot of ‘cutting edge’ going forward. We’re still a long way from the flowing attacking flair of the Catalan game, but at least we are back on the horse.

 

However our game management was poor again and despite all the ‘leaders’ we are supposed to have, there were some really strange options taken at times. If kicking the ball backwards 10 yards instead of tapping it on a penalty kick had us all scratching our heads a bit, that was eclipsed by the decision to go for a tap with five seconds to go in the first half when a kick for goal gave us the chance to make it a three-score game. That for me was a great example of how no one ever seems to know what option to take on set piece plays. As a team we have for years looked clueless in those situations, as no one seems to know what the hell to do; can it be that on Friday not one of the senior players in our ranks looked at the clock, because the 9000 people in the Stadium all did!!

I think it’s fair to say that as we’d have been practising defence all week, at least it was job done in that department. There is little doubt that we set our stall out to defend and to keep any Super League side to just one try is certainly good. The inclusion of Yeamo shored up the left and they never looked like scoring down there this time around, but I’m sure Rovers will be watching the tapes on Logan’s side because once again he got caught out of the line a couple of times, one of which led to their solitary try.

So, it was a boring old game really which at times never got above a canter. Watching so much NRL during the week certainly emphasises just how slow and ‘stop start’ our game is around the ruck. During the warm up Wakey could be seen practising the wrestle and getting three men into the tackle and that set the trend for the game, as they consistently slowed things down right under the official’s noses, but of course nothing was done about it.

Our referee for the evening, Mr Childs, was shocking and for many fans how he continues to referee is one of the endless enigmas of the modern game. There is just no fathoming his decisions at times and once again he appeared to have swallowed his whistle; so often did he blow it. He simply loses control and the frustration on and off the field just grows and grows. In his defence on one occasion he did change his decision, but only after Danny Houghton had pleaded with him to consult the back line judge. However it was only Danny’s show of belligerence against Child’s initial judgement that got him to even consider consulting his official.

On another occasion in the second half, in the north east corner, three Wakey players took out Shaul in back play, while Childs just waived play on. At least he was bad for both sides because the Wildcats got some shocking calls too and could be excused for being a tad aggrieved when one if not two of our first half tries were allowed to stand.

Performance wise Shaul was solid at the back and made a couple of typical breaks which his colleagues simply couldn’t capitalise on, but his metres gained (161) was the best on the night. Naughton and Michaels both tried hard out wide and certainly improved our defensive attributes to good effect. In the centres Yeamo did a fine job defensively and was always looking for work, making a creditable116 meters in attack, while Logan showed some good touches with the ball, but jumped the line again a couple of times in defence. What bit of ‘stand your ground and wait’ doesn’t he get? At half back Sneyd looked a lot better in the second half when he stopped trying to pass or run laterally on every occasion and ran at and through the line, while Tumavive looked a bit raw but certainly showed some great touches and a lot of potential and had a hand in 3 tries. Up front Mini was massive and our stand out forward, Bowden was our best prop, closely followed by Taylor, who did really long minutes and was blowing at the end after gaining over 100m with the ball.

Houghton worked really hard, but perhaps how our dynamic as a team has changed in 6 games from an exciting attacking outfit to a withdrawn defensive one, is best indicated by the fact that he was back to making 46 tackles. Ellis tried to lead from the front, but for me I thought that Frank looked disinterested at times, while Washy again did well from the bench and ran a great line to create Carlos’s second half try.  Manu is a bit of a disappointment at present and he only carried the ball 8 times in the whole game, which for a second row forward is poor.

Someone on RL fans summed it all up quite succinctly as ‘A poor game, played by two poor teams, refereed but an idiot’ and although a bit harsh overall, I feel sure that many who were there will agree with him. It was all pretty dour and lack lustre and in just 6 games as fans, we have gone from being upbeat and exuberant to once again sitting there and just ‘wondering’. Why is that? Well we’ve gone from watching an energetic and happy group of players who radiated a glow that spread through the terraces, to a team with a more familiar ponderous, dour and stilted approach. In addition the player’s body language is nothing like the happy go lucky, ‘play don’t worry’ demeanour we saw against Catalan. You don’t agree? Well look at Pritchard, in those first 3 games he played with a smile on his face and even a bit of swagger, so where’s all that gone then? All we hear in the media is how ‘tight’ and happy everyone is, yet they certainly don’t look that happy to me, do they to you?

Back at the start of the season it was great to be part of it all and we all had smiles on our faces and hope in our hearts, but it’s all getting a tad familiar now I’m afraid! It’s nothing of course that a good Derby win won’t put right, but they had better buck their ideas up, because I don’t think next Friday is going to be anywhere near as easy as some think it will be and for me another massive banana skin looms.

So to the past seven days and it’s been an interesting week for me. The Wakey game had loomed large in my thoughts throughout, there was a funeral to attend, an outing to see the Flying Scotsman steaming through the moors near Goathland and on Thursday a trip to Featherstone with my pals Ian and Sarah  to watch the second game of our new Under 23’s 2016 campaign.

That night, playing their first game in the competition, a young Featherstone side were, in the end, well beaten by a strong FC 17, but the hosts never gave in and worked extremely hard at the Goodfellow’s Stadium, in what was a really entertaining match. On a cold and misty evening it’s probably the first time since the days of Hull A in the 70’s that I have been charged just £1 to watch a professional rugby game, in fact probably the first time it has cost me more to park my car (£2) than it did to get in!!

Still it was great to go to a famous old ground, to see the West Yorkshire Clubs efforts to improve the facilities and to join a group of home supporters as biased, outspoken and loud as any old Threepenny Stand crowd of the 70’s. They at times made the night, on which, as I turned the car down Post Office Road, the memories came flooding back; the bucket collections during the miner’s strike as the whole FC contingent sung ‘Feed the Miners’, the strippers on the pool table in the Club house before games, the people sat out on their dormer extensions in deck chairs watching the game over the end terracing and the night Kathy Kirk and her mates left the Club house to find that someone had stolen their Coach! It’s certainly an iconic venue and without doubt one that is steeped in history. In fact as I drove home the experience also made me reflect that, with all the hype, pressure and ‘soap opera’ of Super League, being in the Championship can’t be ALL bad!

The game itself was for me a personal triumph for Callum Lancaster who you will remember I wasn’t too impressed with at Brantingham last Month. I found out later that his confidence had been knocked somewhat after two bad injuries last season but ‘fair do’s’ to him because to me he looked to have put that behind him and was yards faster and very sharp last Thursday. Playing, in the first half, down the significant slope, he flew down the far wing to score 2 great tries. In fact we commented that he displayed that age old talent inherent in the very fabric of our Club, in that he had no trouble in ‘going downhill fast’!! We’re good at that!! In the second half he scored three more up the hill, two of which were real ‘Linehamesque’ acrobatic efforts one of which saw him, whilst still in the air, well over the side line in goal and yet still getting the ball down.

As always in these circumstances such fixtures just attract the real ‘diehard’ home fans and there were some knowledgeable folks in the stand that night. There was plenty of advice too for the referee from the crowd, but the partisan Rovers fans around us were all enquiring to us about the impressive Massa Matongo, who gained yards every time he had the ball and showed some great feet going forward. As a player that came to the game relatively late in life, he’s certainly a great prospect and with Fash and an impressive Osbourne, we really bossed the middle throughout.

However, it was our speed of hand across the line that really impressed and Harry Tyson Wilson who grabbed a brace himself was instrumental in all our best stuff as he carved big holes in the Featherstone defence for his colleague’s to exploit. At full back Reece Dean showed up well and was on great form as he missed just two conversions despite the fact that several, thanks to Lancaster’s heroics in the corners, were wide out. Matt Cooke from Doncaster also impressed me at centre and Hadley certainly put down a marker for Radford as to what he is missing.

Once again I was taken with the ability of Litten at hooker who was sharp around acting half, showing both fast feet and consistently a very accurate pass, as he launched attack after attack. He was again performing at a level of competence that belied his years. I was also quite amazed by Jack Sanderson on the wing, mainly because he made fielding several spiralling ‘up and unders’ that he received under intense pressure, look relatively easy. He’s a prospect too I think! So, a great night on which we never really looked like losing and although it’s easy to say when you’re so dominant in any game, it was a good performance. For me looking back the over arching memory will be the intensity and power with which our ‘middle’ played and the speed and exciting talent we saw out wide. Great fun and no traffic jams on the way home either!!!!

My view that there are a lot of buffoons at Redhall is something that won’t have escaped regular readers of this weekly rubbish, but even I was surprised when I discovered their latest stroke. The fact that Bradley Parker’s tribute was removed from the shirts of the FC players on Friday night is an interesting one instigated as it was by the RL, who ordered the Club to remove them, citing complaints they had received about it. Who complained about it and who at the RL agreed with them I don’t know, but it just ‘buggers’ belief really! What blooming harm did it do?

‘A prophet in your own land’ is an often used expression and one that has dogged, Lee Jackson, Paul King, Richard Horne and many, many other home grown FC stars over the years. The Big imports and star players come in, steal all the headlines and capture the imagination of the fans, while when you step back we have actually had some real ‘stars’ right there under our own noses all the time. I guess familiarity just breeds contempt and a player’s loyalty to one Club counts for nought in the modern pressure cooker that is Super League. One such player is Kirk Yeaman and it was good at the weekend to see him recalled to the team for his first appearance of the campaign. It’s certainly a lot of years since a fit Yeamo hasn’t featured in the first 5 matches of any season, but things move on and such is the competition for centre spots and in the second row, that Kirk has had to sit it out as, is often the case with backs, age appeared to be catching up a bit with his agility.

I know Kirk quite well and he’s been undeterred by any of that. Instead he’s got his head down, kept focussed through a personal tragedy at home and worked really hard in training, as he’s strived to maintain maximum fitness, whilst, all the while, acting as a mentor for many of the young lads on our books. He probably knew deep down that he might well be a bit part player this season, but he’s battled on and done lots of ‘extra’s’ outside normal training and indeed not had a beer for weeks.

So, Kirk has done everything he could to get back into the team he undoubtedly loves and that patience and dedication was finally rewarded with a start against Wakefield on Friday. He did well I thought and whether he keeps his place there or not, his attitude has to be commended. I say that, not because I feel he has a right to a place, because I know that perhaps on paper for some fans he doesn’t, but because that commitment and loyalty often goes un-noticed in the cut and thrust of the season and all the hype that’s always seems to surround the ‘big’ stars.

Lee Radford bore out my thoughts when last Friday he said of Yeaman’s recall, “He is one of those who when he retires we will still talk about him in 20 years, We’ll all reminisce about the phenomenal player he was, but at present, he doesn’t get the credit. He’s still got a lot to offer this club and he still wants to add to the tries he’s scored throughout his career”.

For me, Kirk certainly didn’t let us down on Friday and although it may not be noticed that often, players like Yeamo and indeed Rich Whiting and the evergreen Feke Paleaaesina still have an important part to play in any squad because all good teams need such experience and depth. These players, in the twilight of great careers ain’t as high profile, or as temperamental, or indeed as ‘up and down’ in form as some of the ‘Big time Charley’s’ but instead they just wait their turn and give their all consistently when called to do so. Unsung heroes? I think so!

It was interesting to read this week just how careful everyone is being with any players who get a bang on the head. Last week it was Yeamo that was out for a week after his head injury at Donny and then Talanoa was dropped from this week’s selection after spending a night in hospital in Widnes.

For fans its hard one to understand at times, especially some of us old hands who can remember players with bad head injuries playing on Good Friday and then on Easter Sunday, as I remember Trevor Skerrett once doing, (in fact one Christmas I remember Chris Davidson, with his head bandaged, playing the day after he had been knocked out cold 24 hours earlier). Smelling salts and the magic sponge were all that were needed back then!! However thankfully times have changed, the condition is more understood and high profile now, so caution is the watch word these days.

Lee Radford, when alluding to Talanoa, said that medical staff were also conscious of possible legal action being taken against them if they release a player too early, which is again a sign of the times, so that’s a big consideration as well. We should of course all be pleased that these precautions are taken and however much we need player’s back, their health is always the first and foremost priority. But it’s interesting just how things have changed, isn’t it?

Those of you who read this regularly will know that one of the things that have kept me going all these years is my ongoing interest and perhaps even fascination with the group dynamics that exist within the inner circle of the Club. When I was at the Council all those years ago, motivation and indeed what makes people tick in working environments always fascinated me. That I guess is why I have always placed a lot of my theories as a fan on how the mental state of the players effects how they perform on match day. For me, it’s always been interesting to correlate how they relate and interact with their peers and coaching staff with the final outcome which is what we the supporter and customer see out there on the pitch. On that score and as a backdrop to a truly appalling performance, it was certainly a pretty fascinating night at Widnes wasn’t it?

It was an evening that was very significant I felt not for what we saw (or didn’t see) on the pitch, but rather for those happenings billed by the media as ‘Dressing-room Gate’ and one that triggered a procession of events throughout the following week.

It’s worth I think a closer look because as fans in the aftermath of a shocking performance we moaned, we groaned, we scratched our heads and hypothesised as we waited to hear ‘what next’. Yet, for 4 whole days from Friday to Monday, nothing was forthcoming from the club at all. In fact the players were given two days off, as with the exception of an injury update on Pryce and Fornua, silence fell with a thud!!

Adam, James Clark, Radford and even the ‘lock in crew’ were all silent!! Perhaps it’s a good tactic, but silence always smacks to the fans of intrigue or of the clubs personnel simply hiding away from the flack!! You’d have expected some hope, some inspiration or at least some sort of apology and an indication of what we had to do in the future, but we got….silence.  Meanwhile in the ‘beehive’ that is social media the fans were certainly ‘buzzing’ and, with no news out there, simply making it up as they went along! I heard that Adam went down to the review meeting at County Road the day after the game and read the riot act, which was nominally sprinkled, I’m told, with a few home truths.

A massive number of hits last Monday for this rubbish did I think prove that everyone wanted to hear something, even if it was the usual rhetoric, despondency and conspiracy theorising you get in here. At least on Tuesday night there was a piece in the local Mail which showed that things were looking up in camp and Lee Radford said that the lock in at Widnes had in fact actually benefited the team when it came to reviewing the game the next day and identifying what needed ‘fixing up’. I could have told them what needed fixing up couldn’t you? It was simple; everything!!

On the same day Gareth Ellis said, “It was disappointing. We knew that we had to come in on Monday bouncing, ready to go and ready to work hard to get ourselves ready for Friday. We’ve had a good week so far. All the players have taken it upon themselves to be positive and enthusiastic. It’s easier to sulk than to get back at it, put things to one side and push forward but everyone wants to get that feel-good factor back at the club by winning games again”

On that one I think that Gareth has become a real captain this season and although he was in the same situation last season, the introduction of some big personalities this year has I believe seen him grow in stature. He is now much more high profile and up front and we needed that badly!

That was all then followed on Wednesday by the best incite of all on the happenings again in the Mail. I have never been a big fan of Paul Cooke in fact at times I have doubted he had ‘both oars in the water’ but you have to give him some credit on a succinct appraisal of things. It indicated that some of the more junior players who had not shown up would have been getting it in the neck and that, those that were dropped for Friday would be an indication of who the protagonists were. In the initial 19 Abdull went, while Talanoa was very sensibly held back due to his concussion and then Thompson failed to make the 17. So make of that what you will, but who really knows what happened? I don’t and I doubt very much we ever will!

But, we were well and truly immersed in the ‘Soap Opera’ of modern Rugby League and the dressing room stuff provided a major  talking point across the whole game, long after the players trudged off the field and we were all camped out on the M62. We might have all needed to move on, but is some ways we weren’t allowed to because the player-only meeting after the debacle was still a huge talking point in the media and still pertinent at Hull FC’s pre-match press conference 5 days later. More hacks than usual, from a wider array of outlets, turned up at County Road and the intrigue and news-worthy elements of the players ‘locking the coach out of the changing room’ was a ‘scoop’ that even attracted a couple of nationals.

Lee bore out exactly what I said in here last week when he announced after that, “I shouldn’t have said to the press what I did in the way I did to be honest. It was a schoolboy error on my part. I’d love to say I did it on purpose and say I manipulated the press because there are cameras outside everywhere. I’d love to say I did a Jose Mourinho and manipulated everyone.” But of course he didn’t and instead simple let his frustration, emotion and no doubt distress at the situation get to him. However I guess in the end for us diehard fans ‘fine words butter no parsnips’ and so all eyes were fixed on a response against Wakey last Friday, we got two points, but I’m still not convinced we got much more!

In Codgers Corner this week I want to answer another reader’s plea and include for Harry Spiggs from Sigglesthorne a game that features that doyen of ‘slightly’ overweight geniuses Gary ‘Porky’ Pearce; and how we loved him!! It was also a game which highlighted the great ability of master tactician Brian Smith who we have heard plenty about of late following his departure from Wakefield. It was that great first season that Smithy was here, and a period in our history from which I can remember just about every game.

When Director Mick Stanley went over to Aus. to persuade the young manager of the previous seasons Australian Schoolboys side, to become our coach, it was a brave and no doubt expensive move for the club. After the first 4 league games which we lost we were all thinking deep down that it just might have been the wrong decision as well. We had all experienced his ‘new’ thinking with the first ever fans forum taking place and a pre season open trials day when RU players, with their collars turned up, and hats pulled down, came from across the country to have a go at Rugby League.

Those early season worries however were unfounded as a brilliant run saw us rise from bottom of the League in October to fourth in the table at the end of the normal season. Of course I have covered some of those games in previous Diaries so special was the season to me, and no doubt you’ll remember those home wins against Saints and Leeds and that fantastic night at Central Park Wigan when Pearce blew the home team away and probably instigated the first ever ‘Wigan walk’. The other surprise package of the year in 88/89 was ‘Little’ Featherstone who finished 7th in the League. Under Peter Fox they had made great strides forward and were in fact, as the season ended, the only club to have done the double over us. So we moved into the play offs which were a top 8 competition in those days, (with none of the present day wild and wonderful formula’s to worry about) we faced and beat Castleford who finished 5th easily 32-6, and that set up quite nicely a clash against our arch nemesis Featherstone in the semi final at the Boulevard, on Sunday 7th May 1989.

It was our first chance at a major final appearance for two years and that in a competition that we had failed to win in three consecutive finals between 1981-1983. The scene was set for a close game against a team that coach Peter Fox said had in Derek Fox and Graeme Steadman, ‘The best half back combination in the domestic game’. Why do I particularly remember this game? Well, in addition to a wonderful performance on the field it was the first time that I had heard Garry Pearce called ‘Porky’ a nick name that has stuck for me, to this day.

Earlier in the week Brian Smith had hinted that Pearce our ‘talisman’ off half could be dropped, as he was probably ‘not as fit as he could be’ something that prompted all us supporters to think that perhaps that was code for the fact that Garry had been on the pies a bit of late. In truth Pearce never even looked like a rugby player, and had a physique more in keeping with the traditional image of say a used car salesman or a door to door insurance broker. That threat from Smith was however just the challenge ‘Porky’ needed and he answered his boss and the protagonists amongst the fans, in the best way possible.

Over 11,000 fans packed the Boulevard that day as Smithy’s brand of never say die, uncompromising and at times flamboyant rugby was wooing the supporters and bringing them back in their droves. It was to be a magical performance by the lads as the first 20 minutes set the pattern for the game. With Smithy watching from up in the stand in his new ‘Crow’s Nest’ we kicked off on a sunny afternoon in front of a shirt sleeved crowd. The first few exchanges were tough as first Karl Harrison and then Jeff Grayson tried to gain ground for the visitors, but they were both repelled by a swarming FC defence led by Andy Dannett.  In the12th minute Pearce converted a penalty after Welham had been tripped by Burton, the Colliers second rower, and we were on the board.

Then 6 minutes later we scored a wonderful try. Initially we seemed to be going nowhere as first Jackson and then Steve Crooks drove the ball in but turned back straight into the waiting defenders. However from a quick play the ball Lee Jackson dummied one way and then moved play the other to Price who darted forward and as the Featherstone defence stood mesmerised Pearce took a short pass and crashed over about five yards in from the corner flag. After the game Brian Smith said laughingly in his post match interview, ‘It was great play by Price who completely suckered their defence, and all ‘Porky’ had to do was ‘roll’ over in the corner’ and so a legend was born. Pearce kicked the goal and then after 27 minutes on the third tackle he dropped a fine field goal from 20 yards out, to further turn the screw.

Two minutes later Featherstone had their one and only real chance of the half when Bibb brilliantly side stepped away from our defence and raced down field only for winger Ian Smales to drop the ball with an open run to the line. Finally on 40 minutes it was Pearce again with another penalty this time for off side that made the half time score ‘Porky’ eleven Featherstone nil. In between times Windley, Sharp and Divorty had completely snuffed out ‘the best half back combination in the League’ and a dominant pack enabled Phil Windley at 7 to provide a link to the backs where full back Paul Fletcher was brilliant coming forward on a string of sizzling runs from deep positions.

The second half was business as usual really and after two sets apiece, during which Andy Dannett was in mean and destructive mood, we got the ball from a scrum on half way. Three tackles into the set Windley passed to Pearce who was, (no doubt following a wigging at half time for the visitors from Fox), receiving ‘close attention’ from several players. The star of the show answered that action by stepping right into their line and then threaded a pass laterally over about four defenders to find Rob Nolan on the run. He raced onto the ball to score the easiest of tries and as Pearce added the goal again, we were all getting ready for a trip to Old Trafford the following weekend.

Poor old Featherstone and their 1000 supporters just did not know what had hit them as Hull drove on to victory. In that second half Dannett, on no less than 5 occasions loosened the ball with ferocious tackles, whilst Wilby and Steve Crooks pulled off massive hits on Bastian and Clarke. A great run from Fletcher saw Paul Eastwood almost in at the corner, whilst Brian Blacker was unlucky as he juggled the ball but lost it over the line. Still it really was all over in the final few minutes when Jon Sharp broke 60 yards out from their line and fed a peach of a pass to full back Fletcher who took it at full pelt. He ran downfield and then in an arc around the Colliers full back Chris Bibb to score the try of the game which, (need I say it anymore) Pearce, who by then had been announced as man of the match, converted.

As referee Haigh blew the final whistle, and the appeals for fans to stay behind the fences rang out around the ground, Smithy and the lads did a lap of honour with not a soul leaving the place until they had paid homage to a remarkable win and a remarkable season. Of course on this occasion we lost the following week to a disputed O’Hara try against Widnes in the final, but this was just the shape of things to come, as the Brian Smith bandwagon gained momentum and we enjoyed a great three seasons culminating with us winning that prize of the premiership trophy against the same Widnes club two years later.

Great stuff Eh, but now we have to come back down to earth as we look forward to a Derby away at the Vomitarium against a team who have quite frankly nothing to lose. This is a game that three weeks ago I would have had us down to win, but that Wakey display, following a drubbing at Widnes, really did make me wonder a bit. The attitude and endeavour was there last Friday, but it’s simply not fun anymore and boy is this Easter going to be tough? We have to get something at Caravan Park because I can’t see us getting anything against Warrington on Easter Monday can you? I won’t be going way out East, as you know I never do and it will be the back of the settee or even hiding in the shed for me!!! They have got their confidence back with their first Super League win in 9 months but quite frankly I’m not sure we’ve got ours back at all! So the script is written and we should all be a little afraid!! To those going I won’t be saying enjoy the game, because as Sunderland Manager Sam Allardyce said at the weekend, “The only way you can enjoy a Derby is by winning it, if you don’t win it, you don’t enjoy it!”

Good luck to all you brave souls who do go. I hope you’ve had your injections!!

Finally thanks to everyone who has been in touch and to everyone who came to say hello on Friday. It was a tough week after Widnes and as I said earlier, if I’m honest, we had to get that win last week to get back on track. We’re now fifth in the league and up with my pre season target of getting a point a game. However Friday smacked a bit of the sort of defensive, introverted and ‘Lets hang on’ performances that were the norm last term. I want to see the smiles back on our player’s faces and that great vibe that existed in February and early March back on the terraces. However I suspect I might just have to wait a while.

Keep Believing

And

COME ON YOU HULLLLLAAAARRRRR!!!!!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf

PLEASE NOTE: As there are two games next weekend, next week’s diary will be out sometime on the Tuesday/Wednesday after Easter.