Wow I’m glad that’s over, as all week I had worried about what could happen at Newcastle and by heavens, it almost did!!!!
By 5-00pm on Sunday evening the results thus far had all gone for us and it was with the knowledge that we would still be joint top whatever happened, that I sat down to watch a game in which I could see us ending up with egg on our faces. Pessimism in these situations is my sole coping mechanism really, but I’m allowed to be concerned, because experience proves that we all know what can happen in derby games don’t we? I watched as usual from behind the settee and even from there it doesn’t get any easier. But, we turned a poor performance and a potential local catastrophe into another win, which by ‘close of play’ saw us top of the league!!
It was, for the most part, a poor showing from the FC and although no one has a right to a win, in the end somehow, even as the favourites, we did! As all really good teams do when under the cosh, after conceding 16 unanswered points we found the means to claw our way back and win it and what a brilliant last quarter we produced. Three quick fire tries and then ten minutes of slowing it down, grinding out the yards and breaking the Dobbins hearts. That’ll always do for me!!!!!
As for the rest of the game, well I felt that we controlled the first 20 minutes, but then Rovers slowly but surely came back into it and we lost our composure and indeed our way. By half time we had probably witnessed the worse 15/20 minutes that we have produced as a team in the last 9 or 10 games and after the break it got worse. But somehow from somewhere we wrestled back the initiative and won.
Someone said this week that when everything points to one team winning in a Derby, then you should put your money on the other one and hasn’t that invariably over the years been the case? Of course that’s nothing to do with ability, but more, in all sport, to do with the under-dog tag bringing out the best in even the most down and out of teams. It’s often not about the dog in the fight, but rather the fight in the dog! The Dobbins had so much at stake pride wise, for they are a laughing stock as far as the West of the City is concerned and it was again their ‘Cup Final’, while at the FC we were cruising along from big game to big game, playing well, getting the breaks and the points and heading up the table. They had everything to gain, while we had everything to lose. Rovers undoubtedly gave their all and in the end an under par FC had to produce as professional a last 20 minutes as you’ll ever see in such circumstances.
The Dobbins never looked like coming back once we were back in front and of course sport is littered with teams that have been successful through one thing; getting the wins however they come. They do it by not always playing well, at times riding their luck and on occasions just getting over the line. But a win is a win and who would have ever thought that 15 games into the season we would be top of the pile with 22 points.
I hate Rovers so it matters little for me as to how we do it, as long as we beat ‘em! However, after they had thought, half way through the second half that they were on their way to a win, then after the 100 or so derby’s that I have personally witnessed the sight of those miserable, drawn little faces tramping out of the stadium at the end, is still worth its weight in gold!!
However Rovers, with their bald ‘talisman’ back in the halves had nothing to lose and that mind set saw them almost got one over on us. Webster is a blooming good coach, I’m sure of that and I’m also sure that their orders were to get amongst the FC players, niggle a bit, start a scrap or two and “See if you can knock them off their pedestal”. Rovers tried to make the game scrappy and slow it down where possible and we fell into their trap at times by giving away too many penalties.
It almost worked as well, because we let ‘the handbags’ that went on in that first half get to us and it certainly unsettled us. Half time came bringing with it a chance, you would have thought, to sort everything out. But no, in fact quite the opposite, because instead of us settling down and playing our sets out, we gave away three penalties in our own half in the first 6 minutes of that second period. However commeth the crisis, commeth the saviour and there is little doubt when you watch it back that the return of Gareth Ellis was inspirational in the ‘steadying down department’ while the introduction of Carlos and re-introduction of Mini was quite amazing. Back from 6 weeks out Tumavive’s been great at training and could have played at Wigan, but we held him back gave him a week to sharpen up and how it paid off! When I saw that both Carlos and Washy were down as substitutes I was concerned about us not playing the ‘power bench’ we have of late. OK we lost some momentum at times, however credit to Lee Radford for taking the risk and getting it right!
In the end that triple substitution on the hour mark that saw, Carlos, Mini and Ellis return was the defining moment and although it wasn’t pretty, a wins a win, but against that lot it’s so much more isn’t it? One or two in the media feel sorry for Rovers but if there is any pity from me then it will be accompanied by background music played on the smallest violin in the world!
Performance wise I felt that Shaul was well watched, but worked brilliantly under the high ball and was there on hand to score the game breaking try, while on the wings Talanoa got few chances but worked really hard, while Naughton took his try really well and was, like Shaul, secure under the high ball, fielding everything that was thrown at him. In the centres Fornua was a bit of a villain giving away penalties, but a real hero in both defence and attack. He’s not the fastest three-quarter in the world but he’s not slow either, however he is so strong and a real handful to mark as well. He scored the comeback try just as he had done against Rovers at Caravan Park as we charged back into the Easter game.
If Fornua was a real star larker then for me so was Kirk Yeaman! Often maligned in some quarters he doesn’t let us down and at Caravan Park it was his pass to Shaul that started the comeback. This time with a great pass to Mini he helped set up another Shaul game-breaking try. In addition he saved a certain score with a great tackle on Horne in the first half which in the context of the game was critical; so well done Yeamo!!
Sneyd, who almost missed out with a leg injury, was again in the thick of things, but maybe not at his potent best, although his kick for the first FC try was superb. In the latter stages when control was needed he masterminded our efforts and was unlucky with his second drop goal attempt. Pryce for me had a quiet game and judging by the way his replacement Tumavive grabbed his chance, changes at half back might be afoot.
Up front Watts worked really hard after being upended in a shocking tackle, while Taylor tried his heart out against a Rovers pack that played way above its potential. Houghton again tackled everything although the Dobbins had done their homework on him and he was less successful around the ruck but he still managed to put in a great performance. Frank had a quiet game before going off with a dead leg but Manu worked hard and flies under the radar at times as he does loads of un-noticed stuff. For me the star combination was the partnership of Miniciello and Ellis and what a stint those two put in. Ellis lay on the turf with his knee extended under him and we all thought that was that, but he returned and played a magnificent captain’s roll to marshal the troops and lead us home. Mini made a try for Shaul and scored one himself but that was only part of the story as he was into everything and looked a real game breaker when put into a hole with room to run. He was probably my man of the match!
Off the bench Washy worked really hard and shored up the defence when we were under the pump, Tumavive was as I have already said quite amazing and Bowden although not as effective as he has been, still drove in hard and tackled well.
Trying to get something out Diary wise by Monday morning after such an emotional and ‘late’ game, allows me little time to crystalise my thoughts really, however looking back I guess we ground it out, hung in there and were in the end just too good for them; although our ‘good’ was well below par for what we had seen against Wigan and Saints. Still a wins a win and it sees Hull FC sat two points clear at the top of the league. That can’t be bad, although the emotion of it all will no doubt weigh heavily on our preparations for Saturdays next ‘Big’ game against a wounded Saints. Again it’s a big test for Lee, his staff, the hypobaric chamber and the guys that are selected to play, but for now, although we might have been a bit under cooked, we still ‘did’ the Dobbins and that for everyone reading this, is all that really matters!!!
Well done to everyone who made the journey to Newcastle for what must have been a long day; I trust you all had a great time and it looked like the camaraderie and unity was superb on the terraces. To witness a win against that lot in any circumstances is certainly worth the effort!! However you know, this last week has offered me the opportunity for a deal of navel gazing and I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t care much for this manufactured Tournament at all.
I always try to be honest to my own feelings in here, even when on occasions it causes some readers to get upset, because if I don’t say it as I see it, then there is little point of writing what is only in the end a blog about the opinions of one average fan. Yeh, there were unexpected scores a plenty, under-dog action, great heroics and a good attendance, but for me in its current format the Magic weekend stinks!
I begrudgingly got it all early on, when it first started, but now, along with having to make long journey’s to Widnes on a Thursday night when a fixture could have been arranged at say Castleford, Leeds or Wakey, for me it’s just another baseless exercise that panders solely to the whims of Sky TV. What’s more, it’s one that this year has been revealed to be what it is; an exercise that reduces the two Hull Clubs to nothing more than cash cows! We take part in the only Derby now played and it’s at 5-30 on a Sunday afternoon!!!!! They’re having a laugh at us lot!!!
However when I consider the bigger picture as it surrounds the whole 6 game tournament, as I said earlier, for me it’s just really another bloody gimmick. In fact because it’s become so manufactured it’s safe to say on a personal note that I’ve grown to dismiss the Magic Weekend as just a necessary evil. I kept up with the scores but certainly didn’t sit in front of the TV all day, in fact with the exception of our game which I felt duty bound to watch, I followed little of it at all. However that said this week I at least had a close think about exactly why I felt that way.
You see, with me as an ordinary fan the concept was on a hiding to nothing from the off, because when it started I didn’t like the contrived nature of it all, but none the less I begrudgingly went along with it hoping that I had got it wrong. When it moved onto everyone playing Derby games, with Leeds playing Bradford, Wigan v Saints, Wakey v Cas and us v the Dobbins, I sort of got that as well, even though I didn’t like it because it was simply a concocted format made for the Sky TV cameras, which in Hull devalued once again, the greatest two games in the competition. In addition it just went to further over hype the antagonism across the City. However across the game at least we were all in the same boat.
Since then clubs have slowly, one by one, wheedled out of the pressure of having to play their old enemies an extra time at this tournament, (Leeds were first to duck out when Bradford were relegated and they were quickly followed by Saints and Wigan; why am I not surprised!). So now, low and behold we, the Hull teams are the only two Clubs still playing a Derby game? I went on at length about the injustice of it all before Christmas, but it took up until last Thursday for the media prompted by Lee Radford to get involved with crying foul about, not just us being the only derby, but being scheduled as the last bloody game. They know how much Hull fans love their rugby and they simply play on it! Lee Radford was upset about it in the Mail and now that this is the case, for many fans, although we won again, Pearson and Hudgell have to object and do it big style before the next Magic event next season, either it’s all Derby’s or none at all!
It’s an absolute farce and although later in this Diary I’ll look rather critically at Mr Koukash’s latest tirade about our governing body, the Rugby League are for me, really at fault on this one. This year ourselves and Rovers have been penalised by being the ONLY two teams forced to play the most pressure packed match in a season, an extra time at Newcastle! That’s not fair and for me it completely devalues the whole thing and smacks simply of ‘mugs wanted’, we really do need a seeding system or even a ‘draw it out of a hat’ procedure in future. If they want exciting, competitive games then look at last year’s finishing table and get one to play two, three to play four etc. etc. however instead of leaving it to the Coaches to object, it’s about time the two Club Chairmen grew some and told the RFL what the fans think!
Now, I’ve resisted any speculation about signings thus far this season because let’s face it there have been other things to think about of late, but this week the Mail announced something that most of us heard about three weeks ago, in that we had spoken to former Hull KR stand-off Blake Green, in an attempt to make the 29-year-old our big and possibly only, signing for next season. However, the Mail said, that it could reveal “the ex-Robin is just one of four half-backs the Black and Whites have spoken with as they begin to finalise their recruitment plans for 2017”, with Thomas Leuluai another potential candidate and apparently I’m told Corey Norman and Benji Marshall the another two.
However it transpires that we have only actually spoken to one of that list at present and on that score my money would be on Green. I’m convinced that the brief is to get a half back, but if possible one that is ‘box-office’, because the Club has seen the way that the arrival of ‘The Tank’ has grabbed the imagination of the FC fans thus far this year. With the future of current stand-off Leon Pryce at the club still not resolved, I’m told we will continue the search and look at both sides of the world to get a replacement, although our management like what they see at present at the Club and are in no hurry. Apparently too I’m told, even if Pryce stays, we still want a half back on board. Interesting times eh?
A massive well done to Danny Houghton who played his 250th game for the Club this weekend! Three times the RL end of season ‘Hitman’ there is no doubting his toughness and his loyalty and indeed his love of Hull FC. He has never ever given anything less than 100% every time he pulls the shirt on and with no doubt a Testimonial looming, he deserves everything he gets. Well done Mint here’s to the next 250!!
Now, here’s a thing you might be interested in and I’m indebted to reader Dick Ollett for sending me some information which poses the question; could we be losing Frank and Seke again before the end of the Super Eights? Well this flyer which Dick sent me indicates we might be;
In Rugby League this week you couldn’t avoid Mr Koukash could you? The flamboyant owner of Salford has at last put his head over the parapet and said a few things about the RL that many a fan has been thinking for ages. He claims that the future of the sport rests in the hands of the 12 Chairmen of Super League adding that he believed this because if the RFL can’t even properly monitor and police a salary cap, then in his opinion, they are not fit for purpose. He also said that at present he has a lot of support and so he believes the time to move is now, saying, Elvis Presley like that “It’s now or never”. He wants his own way of course, rich people often do and that must never be allowed to happen, however I know a few Clubs have for a long time been fed up by the way that around 3 or 4 of their fellow members seem to get preferential treatment and correlate that with the fact that Leeds, Catalan and Saints are always 100% in support of the governing body, however wrong they appear to be in their direction and leadership of the game. Koukash however added, “I think it will happen, but I have no intention of being the leader, I’m probably the most inexperienced chairman and I’d like to have more in-depth discussions with my senior colleagues.” So, in effect, he wants to make the bullets but doesn’t necessarily want to fire them!!
Nevertheless, in the same press conference ‘Marvellous Marwan’ did question something that has worried me for some time; the RFL’s decision to allow Toulouse and Toronto into the British competition at a time when some of the current grass roots teams are increasingly struggling. However Mr K’s really got it in for the Catalan Dragons, whom he claimed were “the RFL’s baby”. He insinuated that the Perpignan club have been permitted to exceed the overseas quota and cap, (well, with stories around about players being paid by the French TV company as well as the Club, we all wonder about that one Marv!). He also believes that they are regularly treated more leniently by the judiciary (not so sure on that one!) and Koukash then claimed that the French Club are costing each Super League club around £100,000 a year (from their TV allocation) through deducted subsidies for travel costs.
He said of the impact that our fans bring to the economy of the South of France, “I am all for growing the sport but we contribute at least £10million to their local economy and they don’t bring any fans with them when they come here” (Again, although the fans enjoy their day in the sun, few can argue with that logic either) So all in all what we saw last Wednesday was a real rage against the machine that is the RL.
You see for me, whether I like him or not, (and I’m not sure I do) sadly, I have to agree with some of what he says but his tirade against the centre of the organisations sees these good points lost in the ‘noise’ of it all and as for the way he is going about it, then I’m not happy about that bit at all and he’ll be judged, no doubt, by the eventual outcome. He’ll probably find himself at worst severely marginalised and at best left high and dry as several Clubs chicken out when push comes to shove. Mr K said at the press conference that he already has a lot of support amongst the other Super league Clubs, however how much actual ‘up front’ backing from the other Chairman Mr K will get has yet to be seen!
I have been at the diary most of the night and so don’t really have the benefit of hearing what the Clubs have to say about it but if you take for instance raising the salary cap, there is no way on this earth that Adam and Hudge will vote for that! I mean to say we are having a wow of a season in West Hull but we are still like Rovers and on the bones of our arse as far as finance is concerned. Marvin will get support on that one from Warrington but from few other Clubs. There are however a lot of things wrong with our game and if Koukash’s ranting brings everyone around the table to discuss what’s bugging the owners and us lot the paying fans, then that would be a decent outcome.
As you know I have little sympathy for the RL!! History dictates they are an incestuous crowd, I means look at the Chairman Neil Wood, he has more hats than Marks and Spencer and anyway for me experience proves that that they’ve always been very resistant to change, favour the ‘yes men’ and, when anyone comes into their organisation with a refreshing attitude (Like Blake Solley for instance), they are soon marginalised and invariably leave or are pushed out the door. However they are all we have and at present there doesn’t appear to be too much appetite for a fight across the game.
There are big issues out there. The game desperately needs national exposure on a grand scale but the RL just fiddle about and seem unable to provide it. We expand to RU entrenched areas like Gloucester and Oxford and encourage another French ‘adventure’ in Toulouse and now we are even moving to bloody Canada. All this must have a real cost to a game where heartland teams like Rochdale, Oldham and the Cumbrian Clubs are always on the ‘breadline’ and principle northern Cities with an already interested core support like, Manchester and Liverpool have no major representation at all. We’ll see what happens with Mr K, but on a personal note I have to say that a review of the current state of the games judiciary, the sponsorship and marketing dept’s, the under playing of the Challenge Cup, the policing of the salary cap, the Magic schedule I mentioned earlier, the operation of the quota systems and many other festering issues, is long over-due. We have a fabulous game that fails to reach anything like its potential, gates are dropping and we are down to the ‘faithful’ fans simply because by and large a fantastic game is being grossly undersold!! However on the other hand, as I said earlier, although we need change, I don’t think that Mr K is the right man to lead the charge either.
So for me, this particular revolution is destined to fail, leaving us all to ponder what happens next! Will it encourage the centre of the organisation to look at themselves, change and involve on the back of it, or will the RL, just as has been the case in the past, become more entrenched in its views, harden their attitudes and draw their friends even closer? I know what I think the answer to that one is!
I was talking to a guy last Monday in the cafe at Marks and Spencer in Beverley who, as often happens, knew me, while I had no idea at all who he was!!! He introduced himself as Mike and he was a guy who had been supporting the FC since his first season in 1957, he had some great memories and although I was 8 then, I could still remembered a bit about it too. We both had three coffees in the end and remembered that 1957 was a year when the famous ‘Gentleman’ Johnny Whiteley, a player who is probably in the top three greatest to ever play for our club, became club captain. We had another successful season that year, in a run of them and finishing 4th in the League and easily won the Championship play-off final against Workington 20-3 at Odsal. We also scored a mammoth 987 points and played 42 games. Whiteley also toured with Tommy Harris in the Great Britain team, and played in the World Cup. We signed Brian Hambling and Eddie Wanklyn (a name that caused constant amusement every time it was mentioned, to this 8 year old living on the Boulevard). It was also in that great season that the ‘A’ team again won the Yorkshire Senior Competition Challenge Cup which was becoming a fixture in the Boulevard trophy cabinet.
However I was saying to this guy that it was also around this time one of the Cities most unusual and unique marching bands came to prominence. They operated under the title of Versatile Bob and his Boulevard Ragtime Band. Now information about this outfit is sketchy to say the least, however I once saw a great photograph of the ensemble, featuring Bob at the front with an enormous black and white bow tie. There are about 20 other guys marching behind him, ranging in age from 16 to 70. They are all dressed up in black and white hats and mortar boards, some playing bugle like horns, (no doubt the forerunner of the dreaded kazoo) whilst others waved black and white walking sticks. They were seen, on the occasion in question, leading the Hull Supporters Club’s Danby’s coach down Division Road before setting off for that 1957 final at Odsal. If anyone has any more information about this band please let me know, I am fascinated!!!
This week in Codgers Corner I want to look at a memorable game that Mike also remembered with great affection that took place early in a season that led up to us winning the Premiership Trophy at Old Trafford. Brian Smith was still our coach as on Sunday 7th October 1991 we faced one of our first big tests of the season as we welcomed Wigan to the Boulevard.
They were, as they had been for years, a side stuffed full of stars, who had started the season slowly losing their first two outings before coming into some form winning two and drawing one of the following 3 games. Hull FC on the other hand had won 5 from 5 and were top of the League, although it was generally accepted that as fans we were under no misapprehensions that this was the first big test of our Championship credentials.
On this particular occasion we welcomed, with the usual trepidation, the reigning title holders and the team that had dominated domestic rugby for the last five years. The game had been hyped up all week in the media, and the stand out memory for me came before the game had even kicked off. The Hull team came out to warm up around the try line at the Airlie Street end, and you could see in their eyes that the lads were well up for this one. Minutes later out came Wigan to warm up and they purposely ran to the same end. This was obviously seen as a way of intimidating the FC players, and as both sides refused to move, the warm up session descended into a ‘hotch potch’ of mingling players from both sides.
As Hull started back to the changing rooms a couple of our players (John Sharp and Noel Cleal) could be visibly seen to walk straight into Wigan players knocking them sideways. We in the crowd of course lapped all this up and eagerly awaited the first exchanges to take place.
We were certainly not disappointed. As referee Kevin Allett blew the whistle and we kicked off, Wigan came under an unyielding battery of crushing tackles and barnstorming breaks from a Hull pack that had obviously used the pre match happenings as motivation. Smithy had them all well switched on and within minutes both Karl Harrison and Andy Dannett had flattened Lucas and Dermott in blistering line breaking runs. The crowd of 10,900 was as usual playing its part, and we roared every tackle and applauded every break. Wigan were visibly shaken by the ferocity of the FC forwards and this psychological edge certainly disrupted the visitors.
After just 4 minutes Paul Eastwood converted a penalty when Myers tripped Rob Nolan as he broke, and then within minutes of the re-start Lee Jackson broke from acting half and passed to Patrick Entat on his shoulder. He used is low centre of gravity to kick away and through the defence, to face the Wigan full back Joe Lydon who felled the little French man with a real ‘coat hanger’ of a stiff arm tackle. In piled Dannett and Co. To chants of ‘OFF, OFF, OFF’ from the Threepennies, their full back was immediately shown a Red card, and he tramped off to chants of ‘tatty bye, tatty bye, tatty bye’ to take no further part in the game. Eastwood stuck over the two points and we were already 4 point up.
Andy Gregory was trying his best to get the Wigan backs running out wide and clear of the dominant FC pack, however one such move saw him cross the field, to be met by a crunching tackle by Ian Marlow, after which he was limping off with a leg injury to be replaced by Phil Clarke. In the 22nd minute Eastwood converted his third penalty when Wigan were caught off side, and that 6 point lead against the 12 man Champions, was to prove an ideal springboard for the FC to turn the screw and move further forward. We pressed and pressed the Wigan line and in the 28th minute they at last cracked, when Ian Marlow scored his debut try, after joining the club in the closed season from Beverley RU. The move started with a brilliant side step and break by Jon Sharp. He quickly played the ball to Entat who sprang the defence and despite still showing the effects of that earlier high tackle, he fed onto Marlow who charged in brushing would be tacklers off, to score near the corner flag.
In the 35th minute Eastwood got an easy chance after a penalty for obstruction was conceded by Wigan under their own posts, and as he slotted over the two points and the Wigan players, who had been given the run around all afternoon were visibly shattered. Unlike many of our teams between then and the present day, Brian Smith’s sides did not let teams off the hook, and with five minutes left on the clock in the first half we went in for the kill. From the kick off Webb broke the line, but dropped the ball when it looked easier to score, and Dean Bell got ten minutes in the sin bin following a late tackle on Eastwood as the oppositions desperation grew.
Then, in the 38th minute, (as Wigan desperately tried to hang on) a half of completely dominated by the Airlie Birds ended with another great try. Edwards who was now getting rattled, took his eye off a pass from Betts and dropped the ball. Rob Nolan snapped it up and ran at the defence before placing a shrewd kick towards the corner. Eastwood and the ‘Pies’ centre Dean Bell hared back shoulder to shoulder but both, in their desperation to get there first, over ran the ball, and Greg Mackey, following up, touched it down. Eastwood converted from the touchline to send us in at half time leading 18-0. The crowd could simply not believe what had happened in a half that probably had me and my pals choking on our Wagon Wheels!
Wigan came out fired up and immediately laid out Russ Walker in a gang tackle and after treatment he had to be helped from the field. The ‘Pies’ hearts must have sank though when they saw trotting from the bench to take his place, none other than the giant frame of Noel Cleal. Crushers first tackle laid Kevin ‘The Beast’’ ( but not that day) Iro out cold, and the game was stopped whilst he was brought round with smelling salts. Eastwood then slotted over another penalty before we were subjected to 15 minutes of pressure, the first real concerted effort we had seen form the Champions. We just managed to withstand this though, as Wigan got more and more frustrated. Next up in their tale of woes was Dean Bell, who looking like a headless chicken, ran straight at one of his own player and was carried off after he collided with Dennis Betts. On came substitute Phil Clarke who lasted just 10 minutes before another Cleal special saw him helped from the field by two physio’s.
During all this action Eastwood popped over another penalty, and then there followed one of the best tries I saw in 45 years at the Boulevard.
The move started with a break in our own twenty by Nolan who passed onto Steve McNamara, he wriggled through two would be tacklers who seemed to have stopped him short of half way. Somehow he managed to pass onto Richard Gay who had ghosted up on his outside, our full back then spun out of no less than 4 tackles, before Cleal took the ball, stopped to swap off the would be tackle of a chasing Lucas before feeding the on rushing Neil Turner who stormed in at the corner. It was breath taking stuff, which saw the battered and broken Wigan players collapse behind their own posts whilst Eastwood failed with the conversion. The game was won, although Wigan did get a consolation when Skerrett rolled over for a late try. But as the hooter went the scoreboard at the Airlie Street end showed an emphatic score line of Hull 24 Wigan 4.
Brian Smith had the players motivated and hyped to a state of near frenzy and Wigan never ever got a look in. What we didn’t know at the time was that spies from Australia were at the Boulevard that day, and already laying their plans to meet with Smithy afterwards and entice him back to his home land, perhaps it was best that we didn’t know really: they‘d have got lynched. The result and more importantly the manner of our win shook the RL world, which was something that we were to do on a few more occasions that year, none more so than in the final game at Old Trafford. Great memories eh?
So as you probably realise by now, I don’t like the Magic stuff much and hate blooming local Derby’s so I’m always glad when one or both are out of the way, although in another 8 weeks we’ll all be at it again!! This coming Saturday however brings new challenges in a game constructed around the memory of the great Steve Prescott. We will compete for his trophy against a Saints team that will be stinging from two defeats to the mighty black and whites in recent times at their place, both of which will have left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth’s at Langtree Park (as no doubt a shocking showing in Newcastle will have too). There will never have been a more motivated St Helens team to visit the KC and we have to be absolutely on top of our game if we are to get anything out of it and keep pressure on them at the top of the table. It’s just another massive game, but with two home matches before a raft of away fixtures coming up, one that we have to win.
Thanks to everyone who contacted me and for the deluge of texts and E mails I got after yesterday’s game. I’ve had to throw the Diary together over night so apologises for that, however to be out in front at the head of the table is pretty unbelievable isn’t it. But, with this team we should be getting used to the idea that whether we play well or not, the will to win burns bright!!
One player stated this week that in the lead up to the Derby they had trained as if it was a cup final. So, let’s get down to the KC on Saturday and do our bit to make the difference in what will be a very difficult game as we attempt to back up our performance in Newcastle. This is a massive game for our top 4 aspirations because if we win we move 6 points clear of Saints in 5th with just 7 games to go to the split. However with the most points scored at this point in the season since 2004 and 10 win’s from 11 games, how good that table looks this morning, with us at the top and guess who at the bottom!!!
Marching on together?????? Not very far at present I’m affraid!!