The Dentist’s Diary – 501st

So the moment of truth is upon us!

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There it is, scary innit!!!

A great win at Salford marked five years since Adam Pearson bought Hull FC and well done to him, for he stuck at it with Lee when some of us doubted he should have done so and now no one would begrudge him a little gloat about the position the club finds itself in. For our owner it’s been 5 years of shelling out, heartbreak and at times disillusionment, but it all came good in the end! Thanks for everything Adam, and here’s to the next five years!

So, that dedication and financial support from our owner sees our beloved Hull FC going into the Super 8’s top of the league and well done to Adam, Lee and everyone concerned. However for now this Friday’s match is the only thing on all our minds!

It’s a massive moment in our season but at least the boys have ‘risen to it’ on every big occasion thus far; away and at home (twice) to Catalan, at Wigan, Warrington and Saints (twice) whilst we’ve also scalped the Dobbins on 4 occasions too, but this is different, this is the season defining game! It’s a massive match and a real ‘nerve-shredder’ for yours truly, as in 80 minutes on Friday our heroes mustn’t freeze or indeed hesitate to grab their chance and seize the day. In many ways it is the moment of truth when all the team spirit, zeal and enthusiasm is right on the line and our destiny is firmly in our own hands!

At Salford once again our passion and wanting was superb and we showed no sign of letting up on the pressure game we have made our own. Unfortunately we made mistakes and conceded penalties and of course when you’re top, everyone wants to beat you. However when we went behind we did what Leeds, Wigan and Saints have done so often in the past and kept our composure, waited our chance and struck back in devastating fashion. Then, just as Salford sniffed another comeback, Fornua finished ‘em off and with two minutes to go, the Red Devils couldn’t regroup, it was game over and job done, as the FC family sung the boys home and the team once more found a way to win!

That’s what good teams do and in the cold light of Saturday morning it all sounds so easy, but if you were at Salford it was a nervy, tense and at times frustrating watch, but as always it was great to be sharing those emotions with the FC Army. We now move on to the big one, but well done to the lads and thanks for another memorable evening and another smiling drive home across the Pennines!!

Trips to Salford now follow a bit of a set pattern for me. I left home at around 3-10pm and had a good trip over with only two queues of traffic all the way. I arrived at around 5-00pm and headed for Tesco’s in Irlam to see if anything had changed at the most inhospitable and unwelcoming Super Market Cafe in England. It hadn’t and the 70 odd seater restaurant was populated with one lady, her little girl and me!! The sign that said, ‘Try our extensive range of meals and snacks’ manifest itself in the shape of the last, curly ‘toast it yourself’ cheese sandwich and although the coffee cups were nice, I was told at the till, by a lady in curlers and a hairnet, that “We don’t do saucers!!” Still it’s all part of the ritual I guess! At the ground I parked on the car park at the City Airport which is great for getting away quickly from the Stadium and thanks to the unusual high pressure, I was able to sit there and listen to the whole of the Radio Humberside’s Hull City in Crisis Sports Talk and took a deal of satisfaction from the fact that all those people who told me I was wrong about the Allam’s intentions would now I believe be back in Hull trying to digest large slices of humble pie.

There was a massive turn out of FC fans in West Manchester, many of whom had shelled out already for tickets and coaches for next week but still they came and everyone was in good spirits and great voice. Before hand in the bar the crowd was buzzing with conversations ranging from the Cup game and Wigan’s hold over the RL on disciplinary matters to how one fan had to pay the Club shop £25 to have ‘Scotty Taylor he’s one of our own’ printed on the back of his shirt!!

As for the Salford fans, well what a sorry state they are in, as ten minutes before kick- off there were less than 1000 in the home stands and all that was missing was a few clumps of tumble-weed blowing across the pitch! Still ‘rent a crowd’ from East Yorkshire made it a great occasion and new recruit Josh Griffin found it impossible not to wave back at the chanting FC fans, despite being behind the posts after his current employers had just conceding a try!!

Salford. Salford Red Devils v Hull FC in the First Utility Super League round 23 clash at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday 22nd July 2016. Gareth O`Brien of Salford Red Devils is tackled by Scott Taylor of Hull FC during the Salford Red Devils v Hull FC First Utility Super League round 23 clash. MANDATORY CREDIT: Ste Jones / RLPIX.COM For editorial use only. Copyright remains property of rlpix.com

Scott Taylor brilliant again!

We always had to lay down a marker as to our intention to not let the pressure get to us before next week, but it was going to be tough, because now we are the team they all want to beat. From the 30th minute mark we started to wear their forwards down big style, but kept presenting them with the ball through conceding penalty’s or risking the pass that wasn’t on. That’s the thing you see, we are oozing confidence, but when we force the ball or drop a ‘miracle’ pass because we think we can do anything, some of us on the terraces wish perhaps we weren’t quite so self assured. However the mistakes are a bi-product of us being so convinced of our ability and so we have to put up with them and anyway our goal line defence usually, somehow, sees us through and gets us out of jail. But if that’s what’s happening now, compared with say the home game against Wakefield (when after 3 defeats, we were ultra cautious, played one man rugby and grinding out a win to get back on the horse), I’ll take it!!

That game back on 18th March was like watching paint dry whilst what we are seeing now is thankfully not in that league at all. Observing the game from low down behind the sticks it was like pulling teeth at times in the second half as we went down the other end and regularly lost the ball. Everyone’s hearts were in their mouths at times, because when we went behind with just 11 minutes to go there is little doubt that last season we would have certainly folded under the Salford onslaught. But, a great down field run by Naughton set up a chance and Sneyd somehow got over with as fine a solo try as you will see! Of course, whatever is happening as the game ebbs and flows, the togetherness and spirit of this lot is never in question and how many times is it that I have said in here this season that ‘We never give up and we never give in!’

Was the forthcoming semi final playing on the lads minds a wee bit? Well it might have been a little although few showed it. My pal Ian and I were discussing that as we watched and we concluded that perhaps at times the odd forward ran sideways a bit too much and players like Frank were turning in the tackle on impact when usually they wouldn’t do that. However those players with a point to prove like Naughton and Green were outstanding and energised, so perhaps there was a bit of a mental issue for some, although others like Manu, Houghton, Yeamo and Taylor just did what they do every week and tackled everything that moved. Once again, the spirit and wanting never wavered and we got over the line to ensure that the table shows two more points and most importantly Hull FC out in front at the top.

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Great scenes at the end and the steward featured here (centre) was smiling and joining in our chants all night, even singing ‘You’re going down with the Rovers’ to his own employers!

Who starred? Well for me the guys wanting to make a point in Green and Naughton were both superb. Naughton must honestly be pressing Shaul because he was brilliant throughout and displayed a level of energy carrying the ball that no one could better. Safe under the high ball, great as the last line of defence and brilliant running the ball out, he was a joy to watch. One mazy 60 yard run out of defence late in the second half, just when we needed it, was a brilliant piece of anticipation and that cut out spinning pass for our first try was as good as you will ever see; drafted in for Shaul, Noggers took his chance brilliantly. On the other hand Green just drove in and showed brilliant anticipation and a marvellous step when scoring his try and after Wattsy got a knock, he stepped up to show what he could do if he is called upon to stand in for Liam. Michaels had another good game as did Yeamo who I again thought excelled. He shot out of the line twice to spectacularly ‘crunch’ their centre and although he did miss one in the lead up to their second try he was otherwise faultless and a tower of strength when the chips were down.

‘Mr Marmite’ Fetuli Fornua was simply massive and got the all important heartbreaking (for Salford) last try. He is just so strong and can pass a bit too. At half back I thought Abdull did well again and his defence was assured as he completed 24 tackles in fine style, whist Sneyd was simply superb. After going 20-18 behind with time ticking away someone had to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and produce a bit of magic and he was the man!! He took a fine off load from Fonua, stretched the line right, drawing players, before dancing round Dobson for the crucial, confidence boosting score. What a guy he is, mind you he’ll have to improve his goal kicking, as after the last try he missed his second goal in 8 games!

Upfront Watts did well until he was injured and Taylor was again massive. He is so strong going forward and has so much energy. At hooker Houghton was instrumental in most of our good stuff, he made a superb break to feed ‘The Tank’ in the first half and indeed tackled like a demon, as he went through the 1000 tackles for a season barrier, just after half time!! He’s just a machine! Minniciello however spent a long time off the field and seemed to be nursing an injury, in my opinion he should have been rested for perhaps Hadley, but Ellis produced the second best pass of the game (after Naughton’s) for the final try with a deft outside flip and got a good stint in, whilst Frank came on to produce a big display and scored with his first touch. Thompson emerged from the bench and worked really hard and Washy as always was sound and dependable and did the hard stuff really well. Finally, a big up for Sika Manu who I have criticised in here at times in the past, for he had a fine game on Friday. Sometimes a bit of a penalty machine, he is like all good south sea islanders and coming into his own as the season wares on.

In a fine display he ran wider and further than usual and came up with countless telling tackles and therefore a big well done goes to him as well!! So there you have it, another day at the office but a hard game that could, had it not been for our spirit and composure, have gone sour for us at the end. Top of the league 8 points clear of 5th with 3 wins needed in 7 games to get into the play offs and with 34 points from 23 games thus far….it’s all pretty unbelievable isn’t it!!!!

The away end was certainly a great place to be on Friday and it was hard to comprehend at times just how loud we were! In fact many amazed at an immaculately performed, word perfect, version of Wonderwall which was quite emotional really; “… and after all he’s our Jamie Shaul”. Stevie Michaels was ‘having a party again’, with as usual, one or two of the older fans around me still not sure who ‘Charlie’ is!!!

I was also quite taken too with the singing steward and indeed the 12 coaches lined up on the car park as we arrived. The fans were fantastic and the chants of ‘Come on you Hull’ as the players stood under the sticks after going behind, made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end;18th man it certainly was! On a personal note it was quite humbling to have so many people make a point of coming to say hello and comment on the 500 Diary’s which, despite being a bit self examining, I hope everyone understood! Finally it was a bit of a carnival too and to see my pal ‘Dan’s Dad’, who was getting married next day attending the game suitably attired; was perhaps not to be missed (but judge for yourself)

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Well done, life-long fan, itinerant fanzine seller and ‘Dan’s Dad’ Ian Tomlinson, I hope you enjoyed your Wedding (and got changed!!); however on a personal note you did seem to be enjoying that dress a bit too much for my liking!

Perhaps the most surreal occurrence of the night was the guy (Pete I later found out) stood next to me who kept asking me for score updates from Wigan and who was almost in tears when we went behind. I know I take all this stuff much too seriously and was also struggling big style at that point, but what was all that about? I asked him if he was OK and he just grunted, but when we took the lead and then went on to win, as the hooter went, full of smiles, he shoved a betting slip into my hand that simply read, ‘Hull FC to finish top after 23 rounds of Super League, £50 at 33/1’. Well done Pete, I bet your still piss*d!

Salford. Salford Red Devils v Hull FC in the First Utility Super League round 23 clash at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday 22nd July 2016. Frank Pritchard of Hull FC is congratulated on his try during the Salford Red Devils v Hull FC First Utility Super League round 23 clash. MANDATORY CREDIT: Ste Jones / RLPIX.COM For editorial use only. Copyright remains property of rlpix.com

Big Try from Big Frank who really enjoyed the celebrations but it was brilliantly created by Houghton!

So, another win and another great night away with the lads, but what else has been happening? Well the quote of the week has to go to Shaun Wane who said after Tutai got a reduced sentence on appeal last Thursday, “I’m just disappointed with people trying to influence the panel” WHAT!!!!!!! You couldn’t make it up could you, talk about kettles and pans, there will be plenty of pathetically, transparent attempts at mind games designed to put us off, coming from him this week! I don’t know who he thinks he is; bloody Jose Mourinho?

Well it seems that at last Jake Connor has everything sorted and can’t wait to get here, but what a great idea it was to bring him and our other two signings over for the Derby. Apparently I’m told they couldn’t believe the cauldron of the KC and the FC crowd. I think myself that Jake will be groomed as a half back, while also shadowing Shaul (and Naughton) at full-back. We need another half, because I believe that it’s becoming blatantly apparent that Harry Tyson-Wilson and Reece Dean will not be retained!! Some won’t like that and I didn’t at first but for me when you step back from it, perhaps it is a logical move, because neither is pushing Abdull, Carlos or Sneyd for a position in the halves, in fact if you they must both be ‘miles off’. If they were close, then they would have been in the running with Abdull to play against Rovers. However there was no mention of either being considered at all.

I did a bit of digging and the issue is the fact that they were a both on inflated wages and the club therefore made them an offer in line with other players at their stage of development (both are as I say, a long way away from the first team at present) and so I believe Dean is to go to Canada to join the new ‘Joke’ Club there, while Harry may well seek employment elsewhere. If that is the case it’s a massive shame and indeed it will be a difficult one for the Club too, because both lads are very popular in camp.

However we have a strict wage banding which was set after McCrae had already given them both ‘too much money’ and as with all players, adjustments are being made as and when contracts are up for re-negotiation. So for half back cover, I think we will be looking to Abdull and Connor next term.

While I’m on my theories as to who will stay and who will go at the end of the season, comparing interviews in the Mail and on the Club site this week, I think that it’s stacking up that another player may be playing his last few games for the Club. In a Mail interview on Friday Talanoa talked at length about how his good form this season is built on the support and inside defence he gets from Kirk Yeaman. Fetuli said, “If you have a good defensive centre like Kirk it makes your job a lot easier and your defensive reads simpler. There are games when I don’t even need to make a tackle so I’m fresh. I’m not complaining and that allows me to focus my efforts on the running aspect of the game and taking the ball out of the backfield.”

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Brothers in arms, but for how much longer!

That’s a massive ‘big up’ for a player who has for me ‘rolled back the years’ and had a great season at centre. However the same player interview was featured on the FC site but it concentrated on Fetuli’s ambitions for the Super 8’s without a mention of Kirk. In the last week three Diary readers have also commented to me on the fact that they had heard that Kirk was to call it a day at the end of the season. Yeamo is saying nothing, heaven knows I’ve tried to find something out, but I think that comparison of interviews, plus a few rumours circulating in East Hull, those readers views and the fact that we have heard nothing else about his ‘new’ contract, (which was all over the papers three months ago), means for me that we might be seeing Yeamo’s last few games at the FC. I for one certainly hope not! Finally in the Whiffs section did Leon Pryce really sign a contract with Bradford that wasn’t to be ratified until Monday once they had got into the top 4 and was it torn up when they lost at Featherstone; on that one we’ll probably never know!

Well as I said on RL fans if we thought that in the past we had problems as a Club its nothing compared with Hull City at present. No buyer, a ridiculous season ticket scheme that has alienated both young and old alike, issues with the Premier League and the FA about that membership scheme, an injury crisis and now the best coach in their history walking with just 3 weeks to go to the season opener. The American consortiums who were offering big bucks apparently dropped out last week because the Allam’s are reported to have decided, last minute, that they didn’t want to include the SMC in the deal, unless the buyers coughed up another £6m.

Reading between the lines it appears to me that David Burns and one or two others felt that was probably because the ‘new owners’ had got some sort of agreement with the City Council about developing the Stadium, but the vendors didn’t like that and decided to hang on! What a disaster that is for us lot at the FC, but why should we not be surprised eh? What a mess and so the big question is ‘what have a ghost train and Hull City got in common’, answer; they both have a skeleton staff!

I said last week that I had ‘Grown to Love him’ and that, although I worried a bit at times in his first two seasons, in my opinion Lee Radford gets it as a fan as well as a Coach. That was certainly borne out in an interview about Jake Connor, when he said, “Nick Rawsthorne, Josh Griffin and Jake came over for the game which is important. Planting that seed of the FC and KR hatred really early on is good” He gets it alright!!!

Now, a reader took me to task this week stopping me at Salford and saying, “If you still don’t like the Super 8’s structure we have adopted then what would you do? He was referring to my belief, much vaunted in here, that I think it’s too tight a league, that 4 from 12 as potential relegation candidates is too many and anyway it’s still too hard for a Championship Club to get promoted. I said that of course it was great fun that Rovers were down there, but if you step back what other game would have such a set up where a third of the teams were likely to be relegated. I told him that I had thought it through and would probably go for a bit more security and stability rather than a whole third of Super league teams being in limbo until September, not knowing their fate and thus unable to get anyone to sign for them. I then suggested something like this to him; we could have a Super league of 14 teams and automatic promotion from the Championship for the top team, with the bottom SL team relegated. Then I would make the Championship teams in 2nd to 5th position play off with the winner playing the £1m game against the second bottom SL side.

Incidentally, as I was by now on a role I added that I would replace the Magic Weekend with a 7s or 9s tournament featuring all the Super League clubs plus the top 2 from the championship at that time. That would still give a potential for there to be two up two down and reduce the frustration of us playing 3 or 4 Derby’s a season when no one else does. As an idea I quite like it, because it combines a bit of the traditional one up one down format, whilst also retaining a bit of the new fangled Super 8’s middle 8’s play off shemozzle. But what do I know? Still at least I had an answer for him!

That brilliant try that Danny Houghton scored against Rovers looked so easy didn’t it and yet as I said last week it probably took weeks of practise between the two of them to get to that situation, and I guess looking at it and the others the two have delivered this season we have to ask the question of whether it is a play that is unstoppable. It’s one thing knowing what an opposing team likes to do, but stopping it is something else altogether.

Sneyd and Houghton combined in such a way for tries in three consecutive weeks in April when the hooker touched down kicks in the 17-16 win at St Helens, the 37-20 victory over Huddersfield and the 20-18 loss at Leeds. Even though opposing teams will have been aware of the play and watched it all week on videos, it hasn’t stopped the duo continuing to pull it off in the 30-10 victory over Widnes the 24-22 triumph at Castleford and then in the derby success over Rovers last week. In fact if you remember on two occasions Houghton has actually touched down after Sneyd’s grubber kick has hit the post, which shows outstanding skill from the kicker and brilliant anticipation from Danny.

The thing is of course at the end of the day Houghton’s hasn’t been the best at scoring tries in the past and he only got one last season yet so far this year he has 9. An article I read recently also commented that supporting such kicks is not something you readily expect from a hooker. It stated very correctly that as a hooker is usually stood at acting half his starting position on the majority of attacking plays is ahead of 11 of his other team-mates; in fact he’s offside for every kick except his own. So, when Houghton does drop out of dummy-half to give way to say Washy and awaits one of Sneyd’s kicks, the execution needs to be spot on from Sneyd for Houghton to collect and dive over.

They certainly don’t therefore get much chance to actually play in tandem together and as I say it’s not like Sneyd combining with any other player on the field where a kick through is always on because the chaser should always be onside. So I guess it’s a tremendous credit to both of them that when the kick is on, they so often get into position to pull it off.

Now, here’s a good one my pal Richard sent me!! If you ever wondered what they know about football in Australia here is an extract from the ‘Meet the teams’ section of the Optus communications ( a satellite channel down under) brochure for their ‘Optus Premier League subscription plan ’ this coming season!

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Well at least we won’t have to play bloody Rovers next season because by the looks of this we’re now in the Premier League.

The ITV Website was next up next day with this headline;

Peter Odemwingie on trial with Hull FC!!

That is I guess what happens when you try to drop the ‘Hull’ from your teams title, you can see what that Assam Allam gadger means when he says he needs to change Hull City’s name because it appears that everyone thinks they are us lot, the VERY FAMOUS Hull FC.

I got to thinking the other day about how Lee Radford had progressed and moved onto musing on coaches like David Doyle Davidson, Brian Smith and Arthur Bunting, who all put that little bit extra into the club and went that extra mile. They were coaches who went beyond the call of duty for the team I love. Of course, as far as going that bit further is concerned they are all eclipsed by one man who I remember seeing in Hull City Centre around 17 years ago. It was the summer of 1992 and I was still working at the Council.

The night in question we had concert on at the City Hall and as it was a warm sunny evening. This led some of the staff and I to go outside to enjoy the last of the summer sunshine. Suddenly round the corner of the Town Docks Museum came a group of around 6 people jogging across Victoria Square. It was of course Royce Simmons and his entourage, as our then coach ran the 4th of his 5 marathons to raise the cash to bring Des Hasler to this country to play for the FC. That was certainly a feat over and above the call of duty, however Royce completed his 5 runs and Des was signed.

It was a great gesture and one I will long remember, because there was no doubt Hasler made a big difference to our team back then. We were just coming off the back of a season when after winning the Premiership, we had sold our best players, finished 3rd from the bottom of the table and sacked our coach, Noel ‘Crusher’ Cleal. Hasler was a great signing, although at the club the rot continued, as Greg Mackey left for Warrington and Lee Jackson for Sheffield. Even the pace and silky skills of Hasler could not stop us from finishing in mid table that first season but it was at least as far as the fans go, an improvement!

The game I best remember Des Hasler playing in was not the famous occasion when he and most of us in the Threepenny Stand almost got hypothermia, but a game in the following season when we played against Widnes at the Boulevard, on Hull Fair Sunday! Although tipped as leading contenders for the Premiership again, Widnes had not had a great start to their season, having won just two games up to that point. However with the return of Bobby Goulding, John Devereux and Adrian Hadley they were hot favourites to beat us, as they usually did, at the Boulevard. The Hull team lacked Mike Dixon and young Jez Cassidy took over the hooking duties, whilst Paul Eastwood returned after injury to form a left side partnership with new recruit from Australia Jeff Doyle.

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The great Des Hasler!

I watched the game with some old pals, this time from the seats at the Gordon Street end of the Best Stand. We had hardly had time to settle in our seats before Widnes got the first points of the afternoon. Steve McNamara tried to take Emosi Koloto’s head off with a high tackle. Spruce kicked the easiest of goals from under the sticks and we were 2-0 down. It took Hasler just three minutes to respond as he went over the line after a curving run through the Widnes defence that saw not a single tackler get a hand on him! He touched down near the corner flag. It was a fantastic score that I can still see in my mind’s eye to this day. Four minutes later we were back again, with Doyle and Richard Gay combining to send Eastwood into the other corner, but again the winger failed with the conversion. Widnes had a massive, but mobile pack out that day, and with Howe, Ireland, Faimalo and Koloto in great form they started to turn the screw.

When Mark Jones was penalised, they got a goal back and then a fantastic piece of football by Goulding, where he chipped over the defence, drew Gay and sent Ruane in, saw the opposition take the lead with the following Spruce conversion. We stuck at it though, and just failed on two occasions to get the lead back when Stirling’s pass to his overlapping centre James Grant, saw him step in touch, and then Hasler went on a 35 yard weaving run, going to ground inches short. It was developing into a great game of rugby and we went in just two points down at the interval, in a match that, in fairness, we deserved to be leading.

The second half saw Widnes quickly increase their lead after Daniel Divet was sent to the sin bin for being off side at the play the ball. Paul Stirling missed Goulding’s kick and quick hands saw Myers score near the posts and Spruce amazingly miss the conversion. The game seemed, to all the supporters in the stands, to be running away from the FC, although the deficit was still only 6 points. Then the great Des Hasler again took a hand. In a flash, he scooped up a loose ball ran ten yards and passed onto Richard Gay. He drew two players and released Grant who ran 50 yards along the touchline to score in the corner. However the usually reliable Eastwood missed again, but we were now just 2 points adrift!! Then Rob Danby, playing at 6 that day, side stepped out of a tackle and set off on a 50 yard sprint which saw him feed Eastwood who crashed in at the corner. We were all out of our seats dancing for joy until referee Steel said that he had not grounded the ball properly and brought the play back.

There then came as memorable a 3-minute period of a game as I can remember. After 68 minutes Stewart Spruce who was having a great game for the Chemics, stupidly stamped on Jon Sharp and was sin binned for ten minutes. Eastwood levelled the scores from the ensuing penalty before Faimolo duplicated Spruces offence and Paul kicked us back in front. By now against 12 men we had our tails up, and after great play by Rob Nolan, Divet took four tacklers over the line with him for the winning try. There was little time left for Widnes to stage a rear guard action and so as the hooter went we all celebrated a great win that was only our second in 7 games. Above all though for me it was 80 minutes of fantastic play by a great little Australian half back, Des Hasler. All our coaches effort in the marathon’s that he had run were certainly worthwhile. Hasler only stayed two seasons but for me personally his craft and mastery around the scrum and at first man will remain forever a great memory. He was a great player.

So the big day is nigh, I’m nervous already and that got me to thinking about just how well prepared we are for it? I concluded that looking back at other semi finals that we have been in over the past twenty odd years we are probably as well prepared as we can be. Of course this is Wigan and they are a tremendous Cup fighting team, but I believe that we have given ourselves the best possible chance of pulling it off, or at least of giving it a bloody good go!

I’m not confident I never am, in fact I’m already panicking a bit, but if you consider that we have managed to win just about every ‘Big’ game we have had thus far this year and we have looked pretty special in the Cup. We also have a couple of players that will not be with us next term and they are in the last chance saloon Challenge Cup wise. We then have a couple who have been there before, several big name Aussie players who have contested these sorts of games at the highest level on several occasions and we have managed our injuries this term pretty well, while in Lee Radford we have a coach who currently looks and sounds confident and who is finally pretty comfortable with his own ability and ideas. Plus of course we’ll probably have getting on for three times as many fans there as they’ll have! So although nothing is guaranteed we are at least giving ourselves the best possible shot at it!!

Between now and Friday for this aging fanatic the game is the only thing! It will be there when I wake up, when I go to bed and when I’m asleep. In fact I’ll no doubt wake up in the early hours a time or two for a good old worry! Now it’s not a question of thinking about it every few minutes, because I’ll never stop thinking about it. I’ll be preparing myself for the worst too, because years of setbacks and false dawns while supporting the FC has made me pretty inadequate when it comes to optimism and yet for once, this time against all the odds, there is for me a strange and nagging glimmer of hope!!

So we just have to all Keep Believing!!!!

To all of you out there reading this (the loyal, long suffering and much valued weekly subscribers to this rubbish) I would offer a big thank you for your continued support and add that for every one of us, our passion, hope and unfailing loyalty is all about games such as this one. This is OUR moment, this is OUR time and an occasion when we should all strain every sinew and shout ourselves hoarse to will our team to the biggest prize there is; a day out at Wembley and the chance for retribution. You see it’s not just down to the players, because on Friday we will be the ones singing, we will be the ones chanting and the ones endeavouring to will the ‘Famous Hull FC’ over the line. AND we’ll be doing it as only the FC Army can!

There will be over 7000 of us there and if you can get to the game I would do so, because it’s not one for watching on TV from behind the settee; well it’s not if you can actually be part of the drama. So get to the Keepmoat, get behind the boys, sing your hearts out and enjoy every second of Fridays encounter. Whatever else it might bring it will still be a great, great occasion and I’ll look forward to seeing you all there! In the mean time just remember…..

We’re in the Semi Final,
We’re the famous Hull FC….. and
We’re going to Donny to win!

So let’s gets to Wembley!!!
AND…….

COMEONYOUHULLLLLLAAAARRRR!!!!!

SPORT AND NEWS 30/8/08 61602H96 Carnegie Challenge Cup Final 2008 between Hull FC and St. Helens, at Wembley Stadium, Saturday 30th August 2008. Hull's fans in the second half. PICTURES: Rob Stebbing. PICTURE TAKEN AT 16.00

Faithfully Yours

Wilf