The Dentist’s Diary – 489th

(The Superman has left the Building edition!!)

Lordy, we certainly live in crazy times!!

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The man himself and just how I’ll always remember him, because Whiting WAS Superman; but all we have now are memories!!

What a difference a week makes eh? In just 7 days, Richard has gone and on Friday our unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of last season’s triple trophy winners! That defeat of course pales into relative insignificance compared with poor old red faced James Webster, who on Saturday, “Suffered his biggest career embarrassment”…(well, the biggest since he signed for Rover in the first place). You can, as you might expect, read a bit more about all three of these occurrences later on in here.

However our primary focus was Friday when you couldn’t fault the effort or the wanting and we all left Headingley feeling the lads had given their all, but as so often happens in sport, on this occasion, it was not to be. It was simply not our night. We battled and battled, we never gave up and after going 8 points down (when last season we would have folded and conceded another try in the next set), we went straight back down the field and conjured up a great score of our own, which made for a tense finish. This team is certainly competing every week and in a league where anyone can beat anyone (unless it’s Oldham), it was a loss but not, by any means, a catastrophic one. But boy did it rain!

I’m just about dried out now and although I wish we’d won, I’m certainly not down-heartened because I feel that the elements, which were a big leveller, plus the lack of some running support for the ball carrier from Shaul was, in the end, our downfall. It was another game that went right down to the wire and could have gone either way, even after the final hooter had gone. A tenacious and battling Leeds team got the bounce of the ball, a couple of lucky breaks and perhaps just about deserved their win, but for us so much has changed for the good of late and much of that was still on show at Headingley.

Back in September 2007 the headline to this rubbish read, “The Night it Rained Beer”, as I described another drenching on the terraces after a brilliant victory at Headingley by 17-6. That was our last win there and featured two tries from Gareth Raynor and one by ‘Wagga’ Godwin that were topped by a great drop goal from Matty Head. Yeh, Matty Head, that’s how long ago it was!!!! Kingy was at prop, Whiting and Yeamo were in the centres, Lee Radford was in the second row and Washy was at loose forward. It’s certainly been a long time since we were victorious there and since then trips to the Leeds ground have invariably led to defeats, disappointments and at times humiliations.

On Friday little changed in some ways, because we lost again and as usual it rained; and how it rained!!! Our form thus far this campaign had given us all hope, but we fell just short, just as we all knew we inevitably would one day. However the effort, wanting and endeavour was still there and that’s all we as fans can really ask for isn’t it?

The drive over was a tough one. We left Beverley a bit later than expected and by we got past the M18 the rain started and became, within a couple of miles, torrential. The rigours of Friday night meant that folks were flying by us in the outside lane and there was spray everywhere! Once we got down the M1 and the M621, at Elland Road everything ground to a halt as the rain bucketed down to render large swathes of the road under water and with ‘Little Mix’ at the new Leeds Arena, it was gridlock! It took 35 minutes from there to our usual parking place in Victoria Road and then we had to ‘run’ to the ground.

The away end saw around 1500/1600 of the FC Army stood out in the open, as the rain continued to hammer down. I looked around when I got there and noted immediately two young girls clutching floppy glasses of obviously chilled beer, their hair plastered wetly against their heads, as they both shivered almost uncontrollably. Summer Rugby eh, you can’t beat it can you?

As the teams walked out, I mused on the fact that now we are allowed back in the shed end at Wakefield, Headingley, for all it’s ‘Glory, Glory’ ‘Drum pounding’, ‘Marching on Together’ stuff, is the only Super League Stadium where visiting supporters are left out in the open exposed to the elements and generally unable to see the big screen or indeed even a time clock. At £20 a throw, to stand on run down terraces, in pouring rain, without the benefit of the play backs or any idea of how the game is progressing time wise is a bit much really isn’t it?

Still stand there we all did, as by the end the rain was just about running out of our shoes and well done to everyone who made the journey to be rewarded by a dour and ‘elements effected’ encounter which, in the end, could have gone either way. It all really came down to a lucky try for Leeds (that came about after a speculative grubber had pinged about near our line like it was on a pin ball table), and two or three big breaks that we made that weren’t backed up.

The scenes on the pitch at the final hooter proved that every one of the players on show gave everything as both sides showed tons of effort, but although we probably made more line breaks, in the end an astute decision by acting captain Rob Burrows to take the two points just before half time, (to give the home team a 8-6 lead), proved crucial. Another 5 minutes and we might have won and we almost did, with the last kick of the game, but the spoils were lost before that, when we failed to capitalise on our chances.

If it was a hard game weather wise to watch, then it was really tough out there on the pitch too and Yeamo told me afterwards that he was so cold at the start of the second half it reminded him of that classic deluge ridden game at Caravan Park in 2008 when we lost t a drop goal. Mahe Fornua bore that out too when he tweeted afterward’s, “Great Effort From the Brothers Tonight. Don’t Think I’ve Ever Played In Weather So Cold. Thanks To All The Fans Who Made The Trip” (he likes his capital letters does Mahe!)

As the game ebbed and flowed up and down the field the weather certainly took its toll, as no team could wrestle the advantage. In fact any progress was dictated by who got the penalties and in such games the outcome always turns on isolated incidents.

One was that fortuitous ‘pin ball’ Leeds try I mentioned earlier, while another was when Sneyd put up a great hanging kick which Goulding fielded over his own line. As the Leeds player looked up, there was Mark brilliantly chasing down his own kick and causing the Leeds player to slip as he tried to get out of the in goal area. Sneyd needed help, but a poor chase by his colleagues saw him fail to nail the Leeds player and he got out and back into the field of play. Later in that same set when we were in control defensively in the Leeds 20, we gave away a stupid penalty for laying on and they march downfield and scored! On such passages of play are such tight games won and lost.

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As I left the ground a Leeds fan was saying that it was their most intense and hard working showing so far this season, but that was scant consolation and as I trudged away and back to the car the rain continued to pour down to create an atmosphere that matched my personal depression. Once I’d got my head round it all however I realised that it was ‘just one of those nights when you just fall short’, however had we been blown away, it would have been easier to take in some ways.

However we weren’t and I suppose deep down I’d sort of got used to winning these tight games and thought that we always would find a way to get a late winner. Of course in the cold light of day you realise that will never ever be the case, because you can’t win em all!! This outcome was a bit like so many such occasions last season, but that’s where the similarity ended because a close defeat was the exception rather than the rule this time around and there was much hope and much to be proud of in our performance. Leeds seemed to bash away at our line for set after set but in general our defence held firm, we showed great character in coming out of our half and everyone had a real dig.

It’s hard to pick anyone out for playing with anything but tons of endeavour and effort as everyone had a real go and were obviously devastated at the end to come up empty handed. I did think we handled the use of Feke off the bench badly and perhaps a younger forward that could play more minutes would have been a better option in those conditions. I also thought that perhaps our field kicking had dipped a bit from the high standard Sneyd and Houghton set in previous weeks. However, otherwise our tactics were spot on and the Coach, particularly for his game plan and honesty afterwards, came out of it pretty well too. We simply fell down in the backing up department!

There were some massive performances even in defeat and in no particular order firstly I’ll look this week at that pair of ‘Prophets in their own land’ ‘Yeaman and Houghton’. Kirk, struggling to overcome a dead leg all week, then sustained a bang on the shoulder, but soldiered on and had another good game. He made one massive (and again unsupported) break downfield in the first half and also brilliantly timed his run for his try, while once again he tackled everything in sight. Leeds fought to keep him in check but he still made 127 yards!

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Did well again!

Houghton too excelled and just gets better and better. His 57 tackles is I guess something we almost take for granted these days, but it was still a phenomenal feat, however his ability to add more and more to the attack this year has been a revelation, his passing has improved and he’s getting onto the end of those astute Sneyd grubbers on a regular basis too. He looks so much more potent playing as he is on the back of the much improved ruck speed we are generating and when he gets a fast play the ball, he revels in those situations.

Frank Pritchard was immense in attack again (180 meters from 15 carries) and we simply must work on getting support around him when Shaul isn’t playing, but ‘The Tank’ had his best game thus far in the black and white, he was devastating at times and probably my man of the match. He is living up every bit to the hard tackling, tackle busting, yards making machine, reputation he came with and long may that continue. We thought he was gone for a few matches when he left the field in the second half clutching his leg, as an injury he has been carrying for a while saw his knee give way, but what looked like ‘a bad one’ was soon shaken off and he returned to bash the Leeds defence some more. ‘Frank the Tank’ is now the second highest yardage maker in the competition, just behind ‘The Coal train’ Dave Taylor and he’ll certainly enjoy a rest this weekend and no mistake.

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The Tank on the Charge! He had a massive game!

Next up has to be ‘Noggers’ Naughton who had a superb game standing in for Shaul at full-back. On just one occasion he was caught in two minds when fielding a low grubber on the full and knocked on, but that was a small blip in an imperious performance that saw him show great courage under pressure from some massive bombs that swirled around in the dampest of conditions. On several occasions he was either taken out in the air or just on ‘touch-down’ and he never flinched at all. OK, he’s no Shaul when it comes to linking in open play but he really did well in the conditions on what was certainly not an ideal night for a young player to take over at full back. However he acquitted himself pretty well in the end. He’s going to be a big, big talent is Noggers!

Of the others Michaels had another good game and Fornua just gets better and better in the centre. He really hurt a few in the tackle and is getting some rhyme back into his game. Talanoa got through a ton of work helping out the forwards in the heavy conditions down the middle, while Washbrook made a welcome return and we are a better team when he’s in there. He just does the simple things right and knows and reads the game brilliantly. He’s not a half back, but he still brought a lot on the night. As for Sneyd well some say that he had a less effective game, but it was an horrendous evening for a stepping/kicking half back and he did brilliantly well to set up both Yeamo’s and Houghton’s tries with superb grubbers into the end zone. He did OK!

In the engine room Watts and particularly Taylor were simply massive and never stopped working, Watts was very direct while Taylor using that characteristic step gained yard after yard down the middle. Manu had his best game for a while and at Loose forward Bowden was again a major threat in the ‘mud and bullets’ down the middle, I just wish he’d run a bit more directly sometimes, but I think he was instructed to run, James Graham like, across the line rather than at it. Hadley worked really hard again and Thompson and Green made yards and yards in attack. So in the end it was a case of ‘close but no cigar’, but let’s not get disheartened because so often in here I have said all we want to see is maximum effort throughout a game and we got that in bucketful’s on Friday!!

It sounds from my appraisal, I guess, that we won the game doesn’t it, but I’m just trying to be honest and although we lost we had a real dig and on a better night weather wise and with Shauly and perhaps Ellis in the team, we’d have won it!! But you can’t win ‘em all, nor will we in future!!

So to the rest of the week and on Friday Gareth Ellis said: “Whiting IS Superman! He’s a legend at Hull, a tremendous servant over 12 years and he‘ll be missed by us all. We wish him and his family well.” AND who of us would argue with that!

The departure of Richard last Thursday (on loan and then a contract for 2017) to Leigh after 257 games in the irregular hoops came as no surprise really and yet his leaving brought with it a real feeling of both sadness and disappointment that spanned the ranks of the FC Army. As I always say there’s no room for sentiment in sport, but there is always time for a bit of sentimentality and Rich with the almost iconic status he so richly deserved, is certainly worthy of some of that!

I told you back in a December edition of the Diary that Rich and the Club had been approached by Leigh and when he eventually left to go on loan, I spoke to him at length. He then explained how strange it all would be, but that at this time in his career he desperately needed to play some first team rugby, but could see no sign of it on a regular basis at the FC; even then the writing was on the wall. But why did everyone love so much an affable, rather angular guy who looked to have few of the attributes of a stereotypical RL player? Well that’s simple for me to answer, because he never ever let us down, he never questioned the multitude of roles he was asked to play, he was not a scrap of bother off the field and he always went about his business in an unassuming yet totally focused manner. In addition, he did all that with us lot in mind and was 100% Hull FC, all the time. With attributes like that, who wouldn’t be a hero?

He was part of the fixtures and fittings really and we all thought, a little like an old comfy pair of slippers, that he would always be around the place and there when we needed him most. Of course in sport that doesn’t happen, our favourites ain’t around as long as we all are, but Rich, who always had time for everyone, was always committed to everything in and also around Hull FC. When there was an issue or a gap in the team, Whiting was the ‘sticking plaster’ we applied to sort it out.

On Thursday I exchanged texts with him and he said, “I’m definitely going to miss being at the FC and the support of the Faithful. I won’t lie to you, I’m gutted to be leaving as Hull FC has been my life for the last 12 years, but I’m equally excited about the challenges ahead” That says it all for the man who I was privileged to help in his Testimonial Year, and who I have since got to know quite well. Off the field he is as honest and decent bloke as you could ever wish to meet and I’ll really miss him.

I have so many memories of a guy who was always onto any loose ball that fell within 7 or 8 yards of him and who was always the go to man when times were tough and he was on the field. If there was two minutes on the clock and the opposition chose a short restart, it was always Whiting, who was in there to catch it and defuse the situation. He was ‘Superman’ to all the fans and I guess always will be, but a little bit of my Hull FC went out of the door with him when he left! Good Luck ‘Stilts’ we’ll all miss you!”

Well I know you all take an interest in how I’m doing, so onto a more serious note concerning the state of my health, which in fact meant we almost didn’t have a Diary this week!! I’ve not been well at all since Saturday tea time and I’ve had to be really careful because since then my sides have been in serious danger of splitting!

It’s been said for ages by the TV pundits that there’s not enough comedy about on a Saturday, but thankfully that changed this week!! I don’t mean with Michael McIntyre’s new show either, because he was certainly upstaged this week by the new comedy super group, ‘Smoke ‘em out’ Neil and his ‘dishonest people!’

How things change eh? With apologies to the faint hearted, does anyone remember this being plastered all over social media…….

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Well. eight short months later, he’s back on social media again……..

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Oldham, the men from the land of the tubular bandage, (25/1 outsiders) train for two hours, three nights a week and have not one full time professional on their books, yet they trounced our noisy neighbours and the whole of West Hull and indeed the Rugby League sat up, took notice ……and fell about laughing!!!! Mind you, take nothing away from the opposition, because Oldham, recently promoted from Championship 1, are a good team, last time we played them in the Cup in 2011 we could only manage to beat them 82-0!! And who kicked 11 goals and scored two tries in that game, yep you got it, the ubiquitous Richard Whiting!

On Saturday goals were certainly in short supply for the red and whites, with last year’s finalists missing more conversions than John the Baptist on his day off!!

You only reap what you sow and remember all the side swipes, snide comments and derogatory remarks that have over the years come our way from that Club at board level, how they laughed and poked fun while we fumed as our management kept their council and took it all? Well they ain’t laughing now are they? Andy Bell, Mike Smith, Gwilym Lloyd, James Webster, John Prescott, Neil Hudgell, Tony Christie, Gareth Westmorland….. Your boys took a hell of a beating, a hell of a beating!

The Dobbins, whose very season hinged on a good run in the Challenge Cup, are out of it, before the first round ‘proper’ has even been sorted. We needn’t worry about drawing them this year…as after a blip last season, normal service is resumed and we have already gone further than them in the competition, this time without even having to play a game!

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Hull KR, Pride of East Hull; still packing them in and staying to the end to clap the lads!!

They say that two swallows don’t make a summer; well apparently one Peacock doesn’t make a rugby team either! Oh the irony!

Moving on from that debacle and Paul Cooke was interesting this week in the Mail on Wednesday when he expounded the strengths of our new ‘Mr Fix it’ Dean Hadley who has this term flown a bit under the radar. His heroics against Huddersfield bore that out when he took over from Tumavave at very short notice and yet we never looked to miss a specialist No.6.

Cooke said, “It certainly doesn’t stand out that the team are missing something because Hadley is in that position. He goes about his business with no fuss, gets the job done and moves onto the next week. Dean trains hard, works hard on the smallest details in the game and that means he is heavily relied upon within the squad. Dean didn’t try and play like a half, he knows he cannot do that. He didn’t try and kick the ball or create try-scoring passes. He understood from limited instructions from the coach and team within the five minutes they had to address the situation and set about completing his role within his abilities”. It seems that although different in their styles of play, Hadley and Washbrook are now charged with taking over the ‘play anywhere’ mantle that was so long held by Sir Richard Whiting.

Another player that is fast emerging as a real force is Callum Lancaster who scored a hat trick for the ‘phony’ academy last week. I told you how well he had played for our Under 23’s at Featherstone and he continues to get back into form as the weeks go by. His strike rate of 58 tries in 37 games at all levels over the past two and a half seasons, which includes nine tries in seven Super League matches, is phenomenal and he certainly knows his way to the line. He has been a bit hesitant while he got his confidence back after two serious injuries but now he’s flying again and is a potent and exciting try scorer.

His emergence poses two questions for me; firstly I wonder if we realise how important it is to keep him in the fold, assist his development and not let Neil Hudgell and his mates get their sticky ‘mits’ anywhere near him! You know, with our need to strengthen in the half backs and with the continued evolution of both Callum and Noggers as quality wingers, I can see us releasing Michaels next year! Secondly, when will people start to realise that that the emergence of Callum, Dean Hadley, Jordan Abdull, Jack Logan, Jamie Shaul, Chris Green and Josh Bowden in the last 12/24 months is just down to one thing, the success of the now defunct Hull FC academy. What Richard Horne was doing at Bishop Burton has proved to have been little short of outstanding, but still we succumbed to a merger. It is fast becoming apparent to me at least, that there is little wonder as to why Rovers were so keen to amalgamate their failing operation with ours!

When we lost at Widnes I came home, as you know, completely dejected and have to admit to even considering, when stuck in that traffic jam, whether a change of Coach was something that should perhaps be on the agenda. By 60 minutes of the Rovers game had gone by, I was thinking that I was indeed right, but that’s the prerogative of every paying fan, we invest in the Club and have a right to an opinion and poor Lee was not top of the popularity stakes with many FC fans at that point in the proceedings was he?

However last week in the League Express we heard Adam state that Lee was never in trouble. In an interesting article our owner stated that. “Coach Lee Radford was not under pressure during the club’s three-game losing streak despite the debacle of the players meeting after the game in Cheshire” Since then of course we have gone on to enjoy a run of five straight league wins and now Adam states that the duo (Lee and Him) are making a point of not overacting to what they call momentum shifts, be they positive and negative, this year. In fact it seems it’s all our fault again, because he then went on to say, “Lee and I decided to attack things a slightly different way. We decided to be a lot more balanced and calm about things, as there is such a huge expectancy from the crowd”.

He then went on to say to the weekly RL paper, “If we win one of two then great, but if we lose a few it isn’t a crisis. Lee and the coaching staff are the hardest working group I’ve known in 25 years of doing this” For me that’s a wise approach, but I know how I feel when things are obviously going wrong on the field and I defend my right to feel that way as well. If my expectations are too high then so be it, but I would say that most of us, who have been around the Club a lot of years, have learned to scale down our expectations over time…..let’s face it we’ve had to! So, I’ll try Adams new approach myself and as long as we are trying and looking to be moving forward (both of which we were not doing at Widnes) then that’s fine by me! Thus this week at Leeds I tried to see the positives of the performance rather than the negatives of the result.

Well I was talking to Sam Burgess (no not that one) before the game at Headingley. He used to live near me as a kid in Aylesford Street and he asked me to reiterate my first ever trip to Wembley which he went on too, so here it is my first Challenge Cup Final warts and all!! However long ago they took place, trips to these games are always memorable occasions but one of the most unforgettable for this fan was my first ever Wembley trip when I travelled to London with my Mum to watch Hull get absolutely thumped by Wakefield at Wembley in 1960.

The previous year was 1959, and although I had “grown up a bit” (by stopping playing Cowboys and Indians on the hills behind the terracing at the Boulevard) and actually started to watch the games, I was still deemed too young to attend. That game was against Wigan and Mum and I watched the match on our old Pye twelve-inch TV in our little house in Aylesford Street! We were beaten that year by Wigan, and by a record score, and just to rub it in Grandstand, the BBC’s regular Saturday afternoon sports programme, featured our only try in the game by Tommy Finn in its weekly opening credits, for years afterwards!

My first trip to the national stadium the following year was to end in a second successive record defeat for the club. That was however a long way off as Mum and I headed off in a taxi at about 5-15am for the 6-00 am “Train number 3” that Saturday morning. It was all a great adventure for a ten-year-old and I was just amazed by the sight that met us at the Station when we arrived. Everyone was of course in Black and White, this included all the attendants, the tea ladies in the Kiosk, the guard of our train and even the people who had just finished cleaning the coaches out! Four trains were waiting our arrival, each with about 12 coaches, and three, including ours were positioned in the old excursion platforms at the South side of the station behind the Tower cinema.

There were trolleys and carts of beer everywhere. Crates of Hull Brewery Amber and Nut Brown were stacked in the aisles as we mounted our carriage and pushed our way to our seats. I can still clearly remember the strains of ‘Old Faithful’ ringing out up and down the corridors of the train even before we had left Paragon Station. We were sat with a friend of my Mums Mrs Burgess and her son, my pal, Sammy and Mrs Rogers who had the biggest knitted Rossette I had ever seen on her jacket. She had also knitted herself an irregular hooped scarf that had “Up the Cream” embroidered on it!

In those days it was a case of do it yourself rather than any sort of merchandising operation. However everyone including me seemed to have a rattle. Mine was bought about 3 weeks earlier from Boyes and was no doubt a remnant from the Air Raid wardens of the last War! I had painted it in the clubs colours and stuck names of the team, cut out of the Daily Mail, all over it!

The trip down was fantastic with singing and laughing (and no doubt drinking) going on everywhere. When the train stopped for a while at a signal just outside Doncaster folks even climbed out onto the track to relieve themselves, it was mayhem, but good natured Mayhem. I was really into train spotting then, so despite all that was going on around me I spent most of the journey nose pressed to window pane.

For a young lad from Chiltern Street School whose idea of a day out was a trip to Hornsea on the train, Wembley was simply the biggest thing I had ever seen. It was massive! We found our seats (which were on planking, divided by white paint lines with a number on each) and enjoyed the community Hymn singing before the game got under way. However as far as Hull FC was concerned, things were just the same all those years ago. We were beset by injuries!

We went into the game without several first team regulars including half our mighty pack and so bad was our demise that we even gave a first team debut to Mike Smith, who became the first player to ever make his club debut at Wembley. The game had only been going for a few minutes when we experienced even more injuries and it appeared Hull had no chance against a Wakefield team bristling with Internationals.

Our pre match injury crisis was not helped when a week earlier in a Championship play-off game our star full back Peter Bateson was the victim of a stiff arm tackle from Derek “Rocky” Turner and was ruled out of the game with a neck injury. Turner got away with it and played at Wembley, whilst we had to use centre Jack Kershaw at Full Back.

Neil Fox kicked an early penalty goal and that was followed by a try by Rollin and our worst fears seemed to be realised. But our depleted team battled on and nine minutes later Stan Cowen swerved and side stepped his way to a great try behind the sticks, Sammy Evans added the goal and at half time we went in with a respectable, if not surprising, score line, trailing 7-5.

The second half saw Harris soon badly injured and hobbling, whilst Cowan suffered a cracked rib. Both battled on, as there were no substitutes in those days, but the Trinity blew us away as they scored a number of long distance tries none better than Alan Skene’s 60-yard dash for the line. Hull tried really hard but 5 tries in the last 20 minutes left another record score line of 38-5.

However, whereas the post match reports the previous year had been embarrassing, this time they were full of praise for our battling qualities and never say die attitude. The score line did not do justice to our efforts and we left the field to a hero’s reception at the end of the game. Tommy Harris’s performance won him the Lance Todd Trophy and was generally hailed as the bravest performance ever seen at the stadium; he was floored by several tackles that left him rolling about the pitch in agony but still broke their line time and again. He eventually left the field, with 10 minutes to go, with severe concussion. In our ranks that day were some real names from the past like, Kershaw, Cowan, Nan Halifihi, Broadhurst, Finn and of course Johnny Whiteley.

Some of the above detail, of course, I have since learnt from reading about that great occasion and I don’t remember much of the journey back to Hull either, although mum told me years later that it was about 4-00am before we finally got home to bed after over 24 hours of excitement and I guess heartbreak for a young ten year old. That exertion, she also told me, saw me sleep right through the next day and the following night and it was Tuesday before I had fully recovered and went to school!!!

Years later I came across a famous quote about Tommy Harris from the Queen, who was attended her first ever Rugby League game that day. She is reported to have said to RL Council member Bill Cunningham, “It is amazing that such a small man can be at the bottom of a scrum and then be so active a short time later”. Great memories eh?

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Another good idea of what to do with those brilliant Boulevard signs from Mrs K in Beverley!

So, in a week when the man who was up on the roof for two days in Chomley Street throwing slates at Police officers and demanding a helicopter and a packet of Digestive biscuits, was spared jail because, “there was a prospect of work for him at a Hull tiling company!!!”, we lost our first game in 6. However it wasn’t a disaster and Mrs R. can at least wash my ‘lucky’ shirt again now; every cloud as they say!

The game did of course mark the half way point of the season and to have 14 points will do for me!! We have ended round eleven sitting fourth, two points clear of fifth-placed side Widnes Vikings and two points off the top of the table. That’ll do for me as well!!

To double that points tally in the next 12 games would be amazing and see us easily in the top 4, while 5 wins would get us into a competitive position in the top 8 and just 4 would probably ensure us a place in that eight! So, it’s easy to see that we just have to keep playing well and picking up the wins here and there to make sure we are in the right position when the real drama starts in the Super Eights. The first half of the season has been a victory for our new formation and Frank and the new guys we brought in, have improved things no end. Our tactics have been right and Widnes apart, we have grown together as a team.

Adversity has seen us lose some leaders like Ellis, Pryce and Mini at the same time, which would hurt any team, however the emergence of some perhaps previously under-stated talent in the shape of Naughton, Shaul, Bowden, Green, Hadley and even Michaels, who have all stepped it up, has been a big plus too. Add to that the re-emergence of Yeaman as a must on the team sheet again and the improvement shown by both Watts and particularly Houghton and it should give us all great hope for the future. The only real downside is the injury to Carlos and the loss of form of Logan. As for our coach well the return of 7 wins from 11 and the highest meters made by any team in the competition, certainly justifies his current standing with the fans. He’s also a lot more streetwise as far as the media are concerned and having been understandably a bit ropey at first, he evolved through his bringing an element of humour into the proceedings, to now being just ultra truthful and honest. That’s certainly a real plus, I believe, as far as the fans are concerned

Perhaps we should, as supporters, take a leaf out of Pearson’s book and look a bit more long term and not ‘buck’ too much at the odd defeat or poor performance, because in the general run of things, we are a lot better team this season than we have been for years. I just hope we can keep going picking a win up here and there, although the next two games do appear to be rather daunting tasks. As Washy said this weekend “We mustn’t make a habit of losing” but Wakey are the form and confidence team of the competition at present, whilst Catalan look pretty awesome too! However we move on and look to the weekend and a trip to one of the most traditional grounds in the game. It’s certainly come a long way since the halcyon days of the 60’s, depicted in this painting!

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However Mr Chester will have a point to prove and have them all fired up, while Craig Hall and ‘Milky’ Miller will certainly be on their metal on what will be another difficult afternoon all round. Still we should take a good contingent of FC fans and there will no doubt be a great atmosphere.

So, it’s been an interesting old week and thanks to everyone who contributed, commented or simply just read the Diary. I guess now the only question is which of the two Hull Rugby League teams will be featuring on Radio 4 at 8-30 on Thursday morning with 7 million listeners tuning in as John Humphrey makes the draw, or more to the point, which one won’t?? See you all at Wakey!

The week in a nut shell!
Losing at Leeds ….disappointing!
Rich Whiting leaving ……saddening!
Neil Hudgell’s face at 4-00pm on Saturday…..Priceless!

Keep Believing (and laughing)!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf