The Dentist’s Diary – 493rd

SeasonXX-WiganAway
There were a lot of unhappy looking Pies around on Friday!!

Oh my word, what IS going on? At present I’m getting to the point of being ‘Gobsmacked’ by it all!!!

It’s not a word I use, but it’s the only one left in the thesaurus under ‘amazing’ that I haven’t already utilised this season! Why do words fail me? Well, probably because I simply can’t believe just what is happening at present, can you??

I’m sat here trying to write this in the early hours of Saturday morning simply because although it’s been over 4 hours since the final hooter sounded, I’m still wide awake and still so excited! I’m literally buzzing after what was another utterly, utterly fabulous display! I know there will be set backs and that it’s not always going to be like this, but you have to saver the moment, you really do!!

4 month ago even the most optimistic fan would have rubbed their eyes in disbelief had they been confronted with the possibility of these last two wins, (with back then, even one out of the two being pretty unlikely!) Where all this belief and confidence has come from heaven knows, but it is there in abundance and it’s certainly heartened us all and indeed filled us with at least a modicum of optimism!! That’s a rare commodity indeed amongst us FC fans! Wigan was the only Super League side Lee Radford hadn’t beaten as a coach: and now he has that feather in his cap too!

If the Saints game was a massive win in the context of the Cup, then this was a signature victory in the 2016 Super League campaign and so, after this latest round of games, everyone in the game is talking about just two things, Leeds Rhino’s and Hull FC ……and they are doing it for two totally different reasons!

I said way back in January that 20 points should get us into the top eight and despite all the euphoria that is about the place concerning where we will eventually finish up, we are there now, so it’s almost certain that ‘target one’ is accomplished! That means I think that we can concentrate on more gradual improvement and simply aim to finish as high as we can up the ladder.

I sort of knew we were doing OK and that it was a case of so far so good, but I always worried about one day coming up against a class team at a time when we were mentally and/or physically drained. Early in the second half Wigan came back at us and it looked as if ‘the petrol’ had finally all but run out, however somehow from somewhere, once again, we found an inner strength to come again. Last year in those circumstances we’d have simply folded, finding it, I think, impossible to wrestle back the momentum; but this is no ordinary Hull FC outfit is it?

Of course beforehand so much pointed to this game being the end of the run! After that magnificent victory at Saints this was destined to be ‘the game too far’, especially after some of our players had lost pounds in the heat of Langtree Park just 5 days earlier, while Wigan had a ‘day out’ in the sun at Dewsbury. It must have simply been a week for getting over the bruises and pain before we somehow tried to prepare ourselves for a real test of our tenacity and fortitude. On Friday, as the FC faithful travelled over the Pennines, the odds were definitely stacked against us and our great record of wins was on the line.

So I think you can understand that in the approach to this game I was not at all confident! Experience proves, even with the best teams we have had over the years, that it’s very hard to produce back to back performances especially within five days of each other. As someone said on RL fans beforehand, this game was a ‘free hit’, because the next three games are winnable and we had to lose sometime. Fatigue and the elation after the Saints game would no doubt take its toll, it always has in the past and so it was with a certain sense of accepting the inevitable that I approached what is always a massive task at Wigan.

The fact is I guess that when you stand back from what is happening and what has changed, we now have game breakers and willing hands in equal parts across the team and we have them even when the times are hard and the blood sweat and tears is not paying off! For the second game running our performance was played down by the opposition coach who cited, as Cunningham had done 5 days previously, his own team playing well below par, rather than the opposition playing well against them. But why do they think that is? I would hazard a guess that it’s because in the end they were both completely out-enthused by Hull FC.

There are leaders a plenty making this happen too, none more so than Pryce, Miniciello and Taylor, while did anyone else notice how we upped our spirit and tenacity the moment ‘leader in chief’ Gareth Ellis returned to the fray. These days we simply never say die in any circumstances. Game breaker Shaul undoubtedly did so, so, well but the turn of the tide came from that brilliant call from Liam Watts.

If all the talk at Saints was about Taylor, this time it was all about Liam Watts. Coming away from our line on the third tackle, he spotted the short blind side opportunity and shouted at Danny Houghton for a ball on a slant play behind him as he stood at acting half. He then ran straight at their half back, got over him, released the ball about a foot from the ground and there on his shoulder was Shaul racing away to score a fine try.

SeasonXX-WiganAway1
Marc (with his beard) which he shaved off before the game to afterwards text #luckybeardmyarse

Mind you, not to be outdone, where the hell did Scotty Taylor come from for that third try? Running out wide he appeared on Fornua’s shoulder in the second row/centre channel, where he took the pass and galloped away for 40m to score his fourth try in three games. Those two instances show what can happen when talented props are allowed to ‘play it as they see it’ rather than as they should. One day that could just be our undoing, but for now it’s really paying off and is great to watch.

However in that second half the way we held our nerve, got through some adversity and then killed them off is quite simply the stuff that dreams are made of for any long suffering FC fan. For the second time in five days, in front of the Sky cameras and 16,000 fans, we showed the game that this is no ordinary FC team. Our tactics and never say die, ‘do it for your colleagues’ attitude, will certainly get us a long way this time around. If I’m honest too this week I was pretty emotional at the end because I was so proud of each and every one of them.

SeasonXX-WiganAway2
On our way as Sneydy gets the opening try!

It was going to take a massive effort and yet in reality, although we wobbled a bit as Wigan stormed back in the second half, we got over the line with two tries that featured more heroics by Watts, Shaul, Pryce and Talanoa. The forwards were again magnificent and my pal Richard said, “Not since the days of Jackson, Harrison and Dannett have we seen a front row operating like that” and it’s hard to argue with that.

Behind the posts the FC Faithful, who had battled over the Pennines again on a Friday to simply be there to see what happened, were amazing and what a treat it was to see them augmented by the presence of Big Frank, when he gave up the chance to sit with his team mates on halfway to join the Faithful in the away end!! What a bloke eh? He’s not been here long but boy does he get it and so incidentally do his family as well, as they have travelled to the last two away games on the Club supporter coaches.

SeasonXX-WiganAway3
Super, Super, Super Frank, Super Frankie Pritchard!

‘The Tank’, sitting there in the midst of the FC Army, will have seen first-hand just how much it means to us all, as now the heart so apparent in the fans on the terraces is matched by that of this team of ours. Our lads stood up to Wigan and their tactics and never took a backward step. We mastered Wigan down the middle, overcame brilliantly their infamous ‘laying on game’ and were just so resilient throughout! We could easily have folded when ‘The Pies’ got to within two points of us, but this season we never give in and we never give up, particularly it seems, when we find ourselves under the cosh.

In addition to all that battling and fighting for each other, we are also playing some brilliant rugby and there has to be a special mention for Mark Miniciello who once again was absolutely immense and is at times just impossible to bring down. He’s an expert at getting in their faces and then pulling their line apart and it’s having such big characters which allows us to execute the type of pressure game we are playing this year.

So let’s take a look at those two winning tries in a bit more detail. When two off-loads went to ground we would last season have given up on it, stopped that sort of stuff and gone for risk free one up rugby…..and lost! But when Watts (who had probably cost us the home fixture against Wigan with an ill advised off load) refused to be fettered, persisted to do what comes naturally to him and released a peach of an off load to Shaul, our fullbacks amazing effort to get over the line ensured that was effectively that!! He who dares wins? Well, perhaps, but full marks to Lee Radford for insisting that the players play it as they see it!

However then we had to put an unlikely victory to bed and again our new found attacking ability shone through. Yeamo ran a great slanting line back towards the posts and got a quick play the ball. Then Sneyd switched play back to the blind side before the ‘maverick’ that is Leon Pryce went on another cross-field run, which completely bamboozled the tiring Wigan defence. He ran across the centre, which drew the winger inside, before he shot a pass out to Talanoa who acrobatically got the ball down in the corner for a carbon copy of last Sundays final act at Saints. At that point of the game, as time ticked down and we led by 8, it took a lot of composure and ‘balls’ to take that blind side last tackle option, particularly when most Clubs would have kicked to the line to try and force a drop out. However Sneyd switched the play back on itself, Pryce was up to the challenge and boy, what a match winner the Binman is becoming!!!

SeasonXX-WiganAway4

Earlier in that half we’d looked a bit under the pump but we just kept playing our natural game even if, energy wise, we were ‘flying on fumes’. When you watch it back on Sky that ‘Dick’ Stevo is going on about us releasing the ball twice in that period and losing possession on both occasions. But, as I said earlier, had we then retired back ‘into our shells’ we’d have lost the game. He wasn’t complaining when Watts released that ball to Shaul was he? It would have been easier for Liam to die with the ball, but he didn’t because he continued to play it as he saw it and the result eventually took care of itself.

In that spell when everyone besides the 13 FC players out on the field saw a Wigan victory as inevitable, the decidedly biased Phil Clarke went all philosophical about things, but as Ellis brilliantly ‘milked’ that penalty in front of the posts, from which we stretched our lead to an unassailable 14 points, Clarke said, “That’s cheating and cheatings not clever play!” How’s that for sour grapes by an obvious Wigan fan, if anyone knows anything about cheating Mr Clarke, then Wigan do!!!

SeasonXX-WiganAway5

I won’t be analysing every player and their performances this week simply because if it’s hard to find an out and out star, it’s even harder to find anyone who didn’t have anything but an exceptional game. Basking in the afterglow of the heroics of Minichiello, Sneyd, Pryce, Taylor, Ellis, Shaul, Talanoa and Houghton, the unsung heroes like Washy, Yeamo, Michaels, Green, Manu, Bowden and Thompson all made massive contributions too, without which, we simply wouldn’t have won. It was a great effort made all the more amazing after what happened just 5 days earlier. Our game management was again superb and our pack just steam-rollered over the much vaunted Wigan six. There’s little doubt that more of the same will see the pundits having us firmly in the frame for winning things this year, but for now, once more against top opposition, Hull FC have proved that they are, at least, genuine contenders.

SeasonXX-WiganAway6
Jamie Shaul was absolutely superb and along with his quite amazing try, an inspirational take of a spiralling bomb under pressure in the second half was another real defining moment.

So, there we are and in a game that we wouldn’t have won under Lee Radford in either of his previous two seasons we got home again and in pretty spectacular fashion. For me, it’s all pretty unbelievable stuff really and long may it continue!!

SeasonXX-WiganAway7

SeasonXX-WiganAway8
Finally have you ever wondered what Mahe Fornua has written on that wristband? Well wonder no more!

So to the week gone by and after we came out of the hat first on Sunday tea time and were therefore drawn at home, the venue for the next round of the Cup was certainly a strong talking point. The date is set to clash at the KC with the pitch being renovated as the game takes place less than two weeks after it is dug up following a Rod Stewart concert on 14th June. However, despite concerns the game would have to be moved, the SMC have issued a statement to confirm they have spoken with our management and they will do ‘everything that is necessary to ensure the pitch is in a suitable condition to host the fixture’.

I can however reveal that isn’t what the Club expected before the Saints game, because they believed that should we win and get through, then any home draw would mean the game having to be played at another ground. They had ruled out Caravan Park and many thought that Doncaster was the most likely venue. It would therefore appear that the SMC have continued in their more conciliatory mood and worked with us to make sure the game will be played at our home ground. Quite how the pitch will be playable and little more than a dust bowl is hard to envisage and what is revealed in the future weeks surrounding the pitch will be interesting. Of course at the end of the day we are co-tenants and the new management at the SMC insist that both tenants get the same treatment. That’s great and so it should be as well, because in the end the whole issue of the possible unavailability of the KC for the Catalans game is down entirely to that same SMC.

The fact is that after our game against Widnes on 3rd June we are not at home until 8th July. That gives over a month to get the pitch contravated and the grass well established. However whoever made the decision to incorporate a concert by Rod Stewart and a ‘Dare Devil Thrills show’ smack in the middle of that period appeared to have little regard whatsoever for the possibility of us being drawn at home in the Cup. None the less the concert is, we all have to admit, a massive coupe for the City and it’s great that we can bring such an icon to Hull this year. I think Rod is great and I’ll be there, taking Mrs R to watch someone who she has always wanted to see live (I saw him in the Faces in 1972 when he was really a performer, often p*ssed and on the occasion when I went to Sheffield, falling over while singing Ooh La La!!)

SeasonXX-WiganAway9
‘Plenty of Vodka plenty of Charlie’ When Rod and the Faces were THE live act!

However, great though the concert is for the region and the Stadium it does appear to me, as an FC fan, that little regard has been made by the Stadium bosses to our possible needs in the Challenge Cup. We have sovereignty over everyone who uses the Stadium with the exception of Hull City who have equal user rights to us. So, the game had better be played at the Stadium because were it not to be and we lose, then big questions would have to be asked! Still the SMC has placed on record that it will take place, so here’s hoping all is well and we play and beat the Dragons.

Well Frank pleaded guilty to the charge against him when he appeared at the RL on Tuesday when the penalty was either warning sufficient or one game and surprise, surprise he received the latter. James Smailes put it pretty succinctly on twitter when he said, “Lee Radford did what’s best for the international game and all credit to him, but FC shown no favours as Pritchard is banned”

Personally, I think he has a point and I certainly don’t agree that we as a Club should take the brunt for Frank Pritchard’s international misdemeanours. I also believe that the International game fudged the issue by passing judgement on the grade of the offence, but then passing sentencing, because ‘he was a super league player’, onto the British domestic independent tribunal. It was an international offence and yet the International game washes its hands of any sort of sentencing!! It’s the domestic game in this country and Hull FC in particular that therefore had to take the impact of the penalty for an offence that wasn’t perpetrated in that competition, in this country or while playing for that Club. Bloody typical I would say wouldn’t you? Oh well Franks back for the Magic game which should prove an interesting platform for the return of ‘The Tank’.

Now you’ll remember that back in March I said in here that Frank Pritchard, Seke Manu etc were proving to be real box office but in my opinion the real signing of the season was Scott Taylor. There was little response to that back then, but now it seems everyone is coming round to that way of thinking with the fans, his colleagues and the media all hailing him a revelation since he signed for us. He knew what he wanted to do in the game and where he wanted to be doing it and said last week, “As soon as I was available to speak to teams, no matter the other offers on the table, once Hull came in and I talked to Adam Pearson and Lee Radford, I wanted to sign within 30 seconds.” And as a fan who loves loyalty and passion for my Club that’ll do for me!

Taylor’s love for FC is there for all to see the minute he runs out on the field or even opens his mouth to give an interview. ‘He’s one of our own’ chant the fans and he obviously is and he loves it and all he now wants is real success for the team and the fans! He said in the Mail before Friday’s game, “It’s an unbelievable feeling to score for Hull. It’s a dream come true because I had a season pass when I was younger, to play for FC and to score, as I did last weekend, in a Cup match at Saints in the sun, It is what dreams are made of and you play rugby league for those moments”

St.Helens v Hull FC
‘He’s one of our own’

His verve and enthusiasm is also I believe rubbing off on his colleagues with the rest of the forwards getting in on the scoring at an unprecedented level for front rows in the British game. Scott has four for the year already, as does Josh Bowden, Gareth Ellis three, and Liam Watts and Chris Green one each. It’s certainly a personal culture change for ‘ball handler’ Scott who it was revealed only passed the ball ‘pre-line’ four times while at Salford in 2015!! Taylor puts the change in the front rows fortunes firmly down to the coaching of Lee Radford, which he stated gives him Bowden and Watts a free role and an ability to read defences and not play what he calls ‘structured robotic rugby’ like many other teams do.

Now, I was told this week that although Jordan Abdull has been shifted off to Featherstone on loan to put some game-time under his belt, some at the Club are talking about him leaving us at the end of this season. But I’m also informed the young stand-off is determined to fight for his place at the KC Stadium and is telling everyone who wants to listen to him, that he doesn’t want to leave at all. He sees himself as an FC player and wants to stay just that. For me, if I’m honest, these are fine words but he needs to show by his actions with regard to his ‘fitness’ that he means this! Whatever happens with Jordan it looks as if, despite the chances of any major end of the season squad disruption being unlikely, a shake-up in the half backs is on the cards, with Leon Pryce tipped for a Bradford return in 2017 and a new half coming in, so watch this space.

My pal Mike sent me an interesting E Mail this week after he had read last week’s Diary and my piece about releasing players for international games, he said, with tongue very much in cheek, “I noticed this week that Samoa have been given a match against Fiji – their first match on home soil, but I hope we won’t be releasing big Frank again, as the date is October 8th, the same day as we’ll be playing in the Grand Final!” Ha, it’s a good point, but I don’t think we’ll worry too much about that one for now Mike!

Well Eorl Crabtree has put the cat firmly amongst the pigeons this week with his comments about him getting totally disenchanted with the game because of the way the player’s welfare is affected by the amount and the frequency of the matches they have to play. This year many pundits believe that rather than the salary cap ensuring that the quality across the teams in Super League is levelling out, the standard and quality of games has taken a hit because of the unprecedented number of players on the injury list.

Everyone agrees that there are plenty of exciting games and close score-lines and lots of shock results, but that, some maintain, doesn’t mean the standard is going up. If anything some say the quality is worse and with a lot of Clubs missing several key players, I guess that doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Crabtree spoke out deliberately to get the problem out in the open, in the hope, I guess, that changes could be initiated to benefit the players. But it’s difficult to see how that’s going to happen any time soon. All the RL can see at present is the new fixture structure, every minute counting and a week in week out procession of games without any let up at all. The cite unexpected results and outcomes as good for the game, but these are mainly based around the amount of injuries and fatigue that is around, rather than a levelling off of ability across the teams of Super League.

Even coaches can’t agree on what should be done, despite all acknowledging that player welfare is of paramount importance. Saints coach Keiron Cunningham, in recognising that we will struggle to compete with the Aussies at international level because of this fatigue, admits he hopes the momentum is slowly changing, saying: “I understand where Eorl is coming from, Michael Ennis has just been rewarded with his 250th NRL jersey and he’s played for a million years in Australia. My captain has ridiculously more than that in games played and Paul Wellens played just short of 500, as I did, in a similar type of career to Ennis’s.”

However Wigan coach Shaun Wane (nice bloke I’m sure, but he does come across as a bit of a bully) shows little sympathy for the players at all when he says, “It’s a fantastic lifestyle they lead. They’re not mixing concrete in the rain are they?” He is looking for more games to be played, but then again it ain’t his body that is being bashed about is it?

SeasonXX-WiganAway11
He always looks like he’s chewing a wasp, but this week he’s not mixing much concrete!

Rather than finding a way to include fewer fixtures he concluded, “I like the pressure. Bringing the number of games down is not for me, let’s get bigger squads and more matches” We’ll just have to see what transpires from all this debate I guess! In the mean time the players just continue to get bashed up!

Now for probably the saddest picture of the week!

SeasonXX-WiganAway12
The Drum and Monkey up for sale and seriously under threat! The regulars are considering staging a drink in!!!!!

I received a great E Mail from one of our younger readers (yeh we have one or two under 50!!!) Harry Springfield, who told me his Dad, now sadly deceased, was latterly confined to his home and unable to watch his beloved Hull FC live and had instead to settle for SKY. He was apparently always going on about the vagaries of the Sky presenters and likening them to being ‘Little better than that bloody Eddie Waring”. Harry asked me for more details about the ‘trilby-headed sage’ of the 60’s so for a change, in this week’s Codgers Corner, I will look back on an unpopular guy who none the less probably did the most over three bleak decades to publicise our great game to the wider nation.

Although I went to the Boulevard for every home game in the early 60’s when we were away I was privileged to witness live Rugby League every other Saturday, presented to me in my front room in Airlie Street the BBC way! The presentation was amateurish and the camera work, compared with these days, pretty basic. However that didn’t matter because although we were treated to seeing the second half of a top game at a sodden Wildespool or a mist shrouded Watersheddings the main event for many perhaps not so committed fans, was the one and only, often imitated never duplicated, Eddie Waring.

For some thirty years his commentaries on the ups and down of the game saw him designated ‘Mr Rugby League’ and so distinctive was his voice and mannerisms that no impersonator in the country was worth his salt if he couldn’t “do an Eddie Waring”. Mike Yarwood made a career out of him while in later years Eddie Large did a great one as well! Waring introduced to the English language some new phrases that became everyday parlance such as “It’s an Up and Under”, “He’s going for an early bath” and “He’s a big lad but his mother loves him”. His unique presentation skills popularised the game across the country particularly in the south and an amazing 6 million viewers regularly tuned in to these games most of whom, after the match was over, switched to ITV for that other highly cultural pursuit of the age; Wrestling with Kent Walton.

The purists, of course, didn’t like it a bit and Eddie was often the butt of some rather caustic comments amongst the ‘old timers’ who joined my Dad in the Hull Supporters club on a Saturday night. Many said he gave the game a comedy image, but what the hell, Redhall would, I am sure, do anything for an audience of 6 million for televised games these days and he couldn’t be any worse than Stevo!!! Incidentally Eddie and Stevo both hail from Dewsbury; it must be something in the water over there I think!

When you look a little deeper though, Eddie had a reputation for being a bit of a strange character, living, it was said, for years in a hotel, and only venturing out once a week to commentate on games. These rumours were fuelled by the fan’s belief that he was scared to face the purists, because of his flippant way of reporting the game they loved. The truth is somewhat different however. It appears that Eddie was so put out by the reaction of the traditional supporters to his knockabout style of commentating that was encouraged by the BBC, that he adopted the Queens Hotel in Leeds as his accommodation and postal address, whilst actually living in secret 30 miles away in Sowerby Bridge. This paranoia was further borne out by the times my dad pointed Eddie out to me as, collar turned up and trilby pulled down, he attempted to sneak undetected into the Boulevard before games.

In his early life during the war years Eddie was a very successful manager at the Dewsbury club. He was a canny operator, signing up all the players that were stationed nearby doing their war time service, which led to the team from Crown Flatt winning several wartime trophies. After the war he was one of the first to recognise the potential of televised sport and encouraged the BBC to consider Rugby League for broadcasting. He commentated on the first ever televised match the channel tried and was a fixture thereafter.

The unrest amongst traditional supporters grew when the world of more family oriented TV recognised his quirky appeal and snapped Eddie up. When Katie Boyle (sensible girl) walking out of “It’s a Knockout” Eddie was appointed as one of the co-presenters. His style became more and more outlandish as he continued in both jobs, in fact things all became so surreal that for many it was often hard to define between his rugby and his “It’s a Knockout” commentaries. He soon gained cult status particularly with students and Nottingham University even had an Eddie Waring Appreciation Society.

The BBC soon received a 10,000-name petition from outraged diehard fans who were complaining about him bringing the game into disrepute, but, at the height of his popularity, the canny Eddie had negotiated himself a contract which tied him to the BBC until he wished to retire. His celebrity status continued unabated and he even appeared on the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show in their ‘There is nothing like a Dame’ sketch, although it was hard to tell by this time whether people were laughing with poor old Eddy, or at him.

Eddie finally decided to retire in 1981 aged 71 to be replaced by Ray French. The day he made his mind up was Good Friday 1981 when the infamous ‘Riot’ entitled ‘The battle of the Boulevard’ took place at the annual local Derby. That was one of the blackest days in the Club history and in fact it was Ray French who was Eddie’s summariser up on the top of the Threepenny Stand that afternoon. That terrible day as usual at the end of the game the pair climbed down the ladder from the rickety scaffolding gantry, accompanied by the usual hoots of derision and goading from the fans still altering on the wooden edifice below. Once back on ‘terra firma’ Waring turned to French and said, “Well that’s the last time, you’ll get me up there Ray” and sure enough the Challenge Cup Final a few weeks later was Eddie’s last game for the BBC. He had one of the most recognisable voices on TV and it was then that he passed into folk-lore.

Eddie was a character that was loved by some and hated by others, although he certainly possessed some memorable defining characteristics. He will always be remembered for his vocal and distinctive rapport, his appetite for copious amounts of grapes to keep the vocal chords clear, that famous trilby hats (an impersonators dream), his numerous catch phrases, that camel coat and his constant and proud grooming of a full head of wavy hair. In fact I guess looking back the game owes him a lot for the popularity he brought to it in what were difficult times.

For me though he will always be remember as a commentator who said whatever came into his head, which, in hindsight, was really quiet refreshing when compared with these days of sanitised pre rehearsed commentaries. One of his most celebrated and typical comments came at the end of the 1968 cup final when Don Fox missed that conversion under the post that would have won the game for Wakefield. Waring just paused for a second whilst the crowd went mad, and then said “Eeee… poor lad!”

For all his failings I think the important part he played in the development of our game in the 50’s 60’s and 70’s should be remembered, in some way. If I were to make a suggestion it would be that perhaps to immortalise this great character, the Queens Hotel in Leeds should have a plaque next to the front door bearing the simple statement “Eddie Waring Never Lived Here”.

This was my favourite tweet of the week; pretty resourceful bloke that Frank the Tank guy!

SeasonXX-WiganAway13.jpg

So to the magic weekend and I won’t be there!! These days I don’t go to something that is in essence for me just a manufactured bun fight designed to stroke the egos of both the RL and Sky TV. However if you’re going good luck, as we play in the final Sunday slot (AKA the graveyard shift) against the old enemy in front of no doubt a partisan and beer fuelled crowd. This game is in many ways a new challenge because for the last three weeks, against Catalan, Saints and Wigan, motivation has not been an issue, however now we play our six fingered basement dwelling cousins, in a game that will be no doubt their ‘Cup Final’. Let’s face it there is little chance of them getting anywhere near a proper one!!!

However for us it’s another potential banana skin that we need to overcome and a game that before the extraordinary happenings of last Friday was one that I expected to be billing as a chance to, ‘Get back on the horse’. However with that superb win still resonating around the RL, this is now a very different challenge and one that sees us as fans wary of our team getting a bit in front of ‘themselves’. Sitting so far up the table that we are in danger of getting a nose bleed and already on 20 points this is just the sort of game that we would in the past have approached in an over confident manner which in local derby’s is always a really dangerous place to be.

The return of an ‘aggrieved’ Frank and the local pride of Houghton, Yeaman, Watts and Taylor should see us through but these games are always a worry. The problem with runs like our current one is that the further you go the more the pressure builds because you become a team that others want a tilt at, particularly if they are our noisy neighbours. Derby’s have always been a day for the under dogs!! In these games experience proves that sometimes the wounded animal has the biggest bite! It’s a massive test of our mind set, poise and demeanour and in the end any sort of win will do, as we then run into two winnable home games. Let’s just hope we can get two more points next Sunday eh?

A massive thank you to everyone who wrote, rang or text and E mailed this last week, it seems everyone is really enjoying a ride that is long overdue for the long suffering FC fan who has had to put up with a lot more than the average RL fan has over the last few years. Many of you contacted me late into the night on Friday citing the fact that it would be ‘Another easy Diary to write’, but that isn’t really the case anymore because it’s probably the first time since 2006 that a string of unlikely and indeed unprecedented victory’s is making it harder and harder to do justice to what is actually happening.

Back when we had lost three on the bounce and then scored a scratchy listless win at home to Wakey, it was easy, but now the magnitude of these recent victories, in the context of such earlier games, makes trying to report on them almost a surreal experience. However as I approach what will be a seminal 500th edition of this rubbish, for the first time I’m actually running out of superlatives to describe what I’m seeing and as seems to be the phrase on everyone’s lips at the Club this week; ‘Long may it continue’

Now we have a nice nine day break to let the euphoria and excitement settle down and for both the players and the fans it’s a time to reflect, regroup and prepare to go again, because as things stand at present it’s a bit too much like a dream isn’t it? But come on, it about time we were allowed to dream and shouldn’t those years and years of just hoping be rewarded? It’s a long, long time since we have been joint top after 14 rounds isn’t it eh?

Thanks as always for taking the time to read another Diary full of elation and disbelief;

Good luck if you’re going to Newcastle and……

Come on You Hullllaaarrr!!!!!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf