Predictable, expected and what always happens after a Cup Final win? Well I guess so!!
However for me, last Friday’s exploits didn’t tarnish what had gone before one bit and it was in the end a game that brought a really big effort from some of our fringe players and if you’re one of those fans who won’t be satisfied unless we win all three trophies, then for you, despite Warrington’s heroics in the sun, our fate is still very much in our own hands.
OK we lost 31-10, but despite the score for 60 minutes it was a great performance from a scratch team in the week after Wembley, when the winners always lose. No doubt it looked to all the neutral supporters picking up their papers next morning as an easy win for the Saints, but we fought hard for long periods and just lacked the grunt going forward and the sleight of hand in attack to control the middle of the field. It was I guess as well just an indication of what might have been, had we been cursed with a bigger injury list this season.
There were mistakes a plenty but we also got some shocking calls and were really unlucky at times, particularly in the way we were treated by a referee that I feel missed a lot. The difference for me between the referee at Wembley and the two pedantry officials we saw on TV on Thursday and Friday was immense, but more of that later.
I’m pretty sure that had we fielded a full team and not had to play a rested Saints outfit in the week that followed the biggest game in our Clubs history, then we would have won. However I take nothing away from the lads who played, because with Pryce and Feke in the side we were obviously down to the ‘bones’ of our squad. Everyone had a real go and the big worry for me, Washy at acting half, never really materialised because he gave a non-stop performance and with Watts and Manu really ran his socks off.
At Saints, there were always going to be more missing than we thought and with 7 of our Wembley team on the sidelines, it was always a big ask. While Saints, with a week off and a massive task in front of them as far as the top 4 was concerned, simply had to win. So, in the first instance it looked to me as if, with the team we were fielding, we would be at least 4 or 5 scores down by half time. However this team and indeed the backup players we have, adopted the never say die attitude and spirit we have come to expect from any 17 who pull on the FC shirt this season and in that first half they surprised us all.
There was fatigue in the defensive ‘thinking department’ for both the Saints first half tries, but somehow we hung in there and went in just 4 points down. Could it last? Well we all wondered just how long a makeshift FC side could hang on and in the end we faded in that last quarter and were pretty well beaten. However when the chips were down you need the rub of the green and in my book we received some really tough calls, particularly Washy’s ridiculous ‘obstruction’ and yet we still hung in and tried to tough it out. The lack of an Ellis, Taylor, Minichiello type of rotating go forward certainly caused me to worry and we suffered from it as our forwards were forced sideways too often, whilst a fresh and healthy Saints pack stopped our charge time and again. But we never ever gave up and we’ll take some positives from that performance and no mistake.
Of course I wanted us to come out victorious, but I was left very proud of the lads efforts and as I’ve already said, if we don’t win another game this season, (which I very much doubt) then it will still have been an amazing year, and indeed one I will never ever forget. That sentiment was reflected throughout by the response from the travelling supporters in the away end. We’ve all had a great 10 days or so and it showed. The players will have been no different to us lot either, because it’s not just the fans who have been ‘partying hard’ and rightly so, for of late we have all witnessed (and in their cases played through) some amazing times.
We were not disgraced at Saints and more importantly we again didn’t suffer any major injuries, whilst a 21 points spread didn’t affect our points difference over Wigan too much either. Our standing in the league was also helped no end by Wigan’s arrogant attitude against Widnes on Thursday, when they twice refused to go for two points to draw the game against a shorthanded Widnes. That missed point in the league table could be potentially crucial to where the Lancashire Club and indeed Hull FC eventually finish and they should have realised that.
That 21 point deficit made little difference to our points supremacy over Wigan and was, once it was obvious we were to be defeated, the important bit for me!! I never expected us to win, but until the last twenty minutes I thought that we were in with a chance. In the end I was right in the first place and yet I strangely took a lot of heart from that performance. Feke, bless him, out of the side for months and a weekly fixture on the bench at Doncaster, had a massive game and although carrying a bit of timber these days some of his defence was outstanding. I also thought that Pryce tried really hard and led the team from the front, however although the brain is still fine the body and the legs unfortunately can’t always now capitalise on the thinking anymore.
For me however Abdull gets better and better on an incremental basis every time he gets some more game time and he went well. He needs to get a contract, but I’m afraid if I’m honest I found Curtis Naughton really wanting a time or two and wonder about him, particularly when I consider that we are losing Michaels who again was so brave on the other wing. When you are really under the cosh and have just conceded, you play safe and certainly don’t put the kick off out on the full into touch! However if Curtis was guilty of trying a bit too hard at times, Hadley was superb again in the back row and continued to develop as a real prospect, however I was a bit baffled as to the short amount of time Downs got on the field.
The lapses in defence wide out made me realise as well just how strong our defence is out there when Yeamo plays. It reminded me of the first few games this year when Logan was there and I just hope that Josh Griffin can tackle because if Kirk retires he will be a big loss in that department. However all that said I do think that both Watts and Manu were outstanding, indeed I think Manu has been the unsung hero of the season myself, whilst Watts also stepped up to the plate and put in a massive stint considering, as Lee Radford said, some of those players were ‘Falling out of the pub on Tuesday!’
Talanoa tried hard but looked jaded and if we learned one thing then it was that he is most potent on the flank and is not a centre, but he no doubt put his hand up when a rest might just have done him some good, as I think it would have Fonua, who none the less tried his best too. Shaul put in a shift as well and was substituted near the end when he to be running on empty, while Bowden and Green contributed big stints considering the effort they both put in at Wembley.
When you looked at the amount of players sat in the seats it was clear to see just what we were missing. Wembley heroes Danny Houghton, Marc Sneyd, Carlos Tuimavave, Gareth Ellis, Mark Minichiello, Scott Taylor and Kirk Yeaman were all rested, some with slight injuries and some just through fatigued and as a result we were always going to struggle to sustain any early promise.
The team will now know that they have to somehow put this game down to experience and move on. Our success this season hasn’t been built around wonder rugby that flows down the field but rather on getting the ‘one per-center’ elements right and on the effort, the passion and the will to win. Any team, whoever they are would undoubtedly have found it hard to match the intensity we showed at Wembley just 6 days later.
Last year Leeds lost their first three games after the big match and they had a really easy ride in the Cup final! The fact that our game wasn’t easy at all and that 17 guy’s made history on ‘the day that we all cried’ will have really taken a lot out of the players both physically and emotionally. The treble is still on, if not for me a bit unlikely and with one trophy on the shelf already, across the game everybody will be watching closely as to how we approach attempting to win the other two. However this fan is just going to keep grinning and enjoy the ride from now on!
Of course I want to get more trophy’s but I can’t be ‘greedy’ either, because if I’m honest I would have taken a top four finish and winning the Challenge Cup before the season started and I’m still smirking constantly about that win last weekend!! Anything else now will be fairyland stuff but I’m still over the moon and will remain so whatever happens. There will be no wringing of hands and doom and gloom stuff in here for the rest of this campaign either, although I don’t guarantee that will go for the message board ‘doom mongers’ and those keyboard warriors who are not happy unless we are winning everything, every week and all the time.
However, whilst we are on about the players being emotionally drained, let me tell you I felt pretty strange mid week last week myself. In the last diary I described my state after the game at Wembley as ‘comfortably numb’ because I was then existing on a mixture of comfortable satisfaction, permeating from a glowing feeling of having a life-long issue sorted in the most spectacular of circumstances and yet I was numb, because it all seemed as if it was still a dream and if I’m honest it’s still not real now. I had never prepared myself for winning the Cup at Wembley because I never thought it would happen, so it really was a new experience all round. However by mid week I felt drained and pretty fatigued. I was still certainly suffering a feeling of lingering disbelief, but it was mixed with a sort of edgy exhaustion and I guess even, if I’m honest, a touch of melancholy too!! I don’t know what that was all about but I know that I was bloody tired and completely drained and I hadn’t even played!!
The nearest feeling to it that I’ve had would I guess be jet lag and this sort of cold turkey moment left me feeling a bit disorientated, tired and still beset a bit by incredulity. Was it all really over, had we at last done it, was it all real and if it was, why the hell didn’t the whole thing last longer!!! That’s all worn off now and I’m just basking in the reflected glory of a wonderful achievement, however last Thursday I bumped into a 80 old year lady, Doris Hartley, who had been a fan for years and had to watch the game on TV. She’d got the same sort of feelings and described it as being what her mother had told her she felt like a week or so after the war had finished. Mrs Hartley senior had then found herself (like me) in the gap between the disbelief that it was all over and the reality of the magnitude of what had actually happened and indeed how that was going to change things. Strange eh? And although it’s probably just me I do know one thing, and that is that I’ll never ever forget being there and being part of what became the greatest day of my life and a historic moment for our Club. In was pleased to see that even the NRL pundits who usually don’t comment on the Brutish game have been raving about the tense stand-off all week with Paul Kent and Greg Alexander on Fox Sports’ NRL 360 joining the list of admirers on Wednesday night.
Everyone I meet is coping with the glory and the relief in different ways, however my pal Kathy Kirk wanted to do something to commemorate the great day and so she went down to the Boulevard memorial in Airlie Street to ‘tell everyone who had ever been there or played there just how good it was’ and leave a few flowers. She sat on her own on the memorial seat and reflected on the magnitude of what we had all witnessed and how some of our pals, now long gone, would have loved it. Top stuff that Kathy!!
Well done as well to Brooksy and the guys who were instrumental in that fly past at Caravan Park on Saturday, the home fans needed something exciting to watch and I’m sure they all got the message. Some Rovers fans on social media said that it was ‘un-necessary and taking the p*ss’ Isn’t that bloody ironic from a group of fans who have been taking it for years!! Don’t worry guys now you’ve been confronted with the irrefutable fact that Hull FC are ‘Wembley Challenge Cup winners 2016’ we’ll be reminding you for at least the next 36 years. What goes round eh?
While we are on the Cup too well done to James Clark of the club for taking the challenge cup to my pal Jed Rust in hospital last Thursday and good luck for a swift recovery Jed!
Well the worst kept secret in Rugby League was blown wide open on Wednesday, when it was finally announced that Leon Pryce would leave the Club and join Bradford Bulls for one last season before he retires. I wondered a bit when he came in two years ago, signed, it was said by Lee Radford, ‘For his experience’ but in the difficult 2015 campaign he had a good season and led us round the field pretty well. I never really thought that he fitted perfectly at half back with Sneyd but that I guess is a matter of opinion.
As I’ve said for ages, it came as no surprise to me that he would leave to join Bradford for one last campaign and it wasn’t a surprise to anyone in the Club either because we have already spent the money he has been paid this year, as we sign and retain players to mould our squad for next season. Leon has worked a lot with Jez Litten and Jordan Abdull in training and has been good pals with the ‘Brothers’ ever since they arrived in this country, in fact he helped settle them in when they landed in a cold and pretty bleak Hull. So he has certainly done his bit and handled being out of the team this year pretty well too.
I wish Leon well and will remember him for some classy displays last season and for being there when we needed him this year, like when he came on at Castleford, made a try and helped hold the line for us to see out a close victory! He’s off, but life goes on, although I don’t think that we should be dreaming of anyone coming in to replace him, because I feel with our current cap situation, that’s pretty unlikely at present.
However he has proved a great professional and he showed a deal of class when talking about being recalled to the first team last Friday, when he said, “It’s been difficult to come to terms with not playing a part of it all but it’s important to remember the team has had tremendous success and I’ve just been honoured to be involved with the group throughout that time, whether I was playing or not. I missed out on a Grand Final with St Helens in 2011 but I was injured for most of the year, so that was kind of expected. This is the first big game where I’ve had to sit on like this and watch. In a selfish way I was disappointed not to be involved, but I was delighted for the boys who’ve never won at Wembley. Before Bradford I’ve got business to finish off at Hull. The fans have been incredible with me and I can assure them I’ll be giving my all for them between now and the last time I pull that shirt on. I’ve not been playing recently and for the rest of this season my aim is to try to help the squad achieve something special however I can. If that’s as a first-team starter than great, but if it’s as a squad player then so be it.” Well said Leon!
What a sad night it was on Saturday as the old Drum and Monkey finally closed its doors forever. With Kathy and Graham, Ian and Sarah and all the gang we had a great night and to be invited by text on Sunday to a ‘drink what’s left it the pumps for free’ tea time beer or six was sad and proved a bit headachy too!
Now back to more of the fall-out from the final and it was interesting to hear the comments of fans from both sides and the media after the game on the performance of the match officials. I have this week continued to talk about the game to anyone who would listen. However in all the conversations I’ve had with fans, strangely enough, no one spoke about the referee and wouldn’t it be great if it was always like that!!
After the game however I spoke to the press and several were a bit scathing about his performance and were generally of the opinion that he made some strange if not wrong calls; but they seemed to be the only ones who did. Mr Hewer might well have dropped a clanger or two but I believe if he did it was in an effort to keep the game flowing as a spectacle for the crowd that attended. I’ve watched the game back numerous times and it struck me that it was like watching a game in the 80’s, as the players did their bit to keep it flowing and the referee was there, but in allowing the game to flow, was generally seen but not heard.
Watching it back Gareth Hewer, a part time referee and during the week a team leader at the Sellafield nuclear plant, refereed it as he saw it and how refreshing I found that to be.
I was tense, as tense as I have ever been in my life, but I never once got sidetracked into dwelling on the referee as I so often do at the KC. He perhaps got a few things wrong, but they levelled themselves out and in general he did OK for me. When you watch a Sky game in which you have no ‘vested’ interest, like say last Thursdays at Wigan, you soon realise that our great game is now beset with officiating procedures, with referees who want to star in the game and with technology relied upon in a way that is consistent, tedious to watch and almost mechanical.
I guess if I stand back from all the controversy that I and others perpetuate about the current state of refereeing, I like my officiating to be like it was years ago, flawed but all about feel and instinct and I certainly don’t want it to be about how a moment can be ruined by unnecessarily consulting the video referee. At Wembley he just pointed to the spot when tries were scored and only went to the video referee Ben Thaler when Steve Michaels could have touched down. Although Hewer didn’t have a clear view, he followed his gut feeling and that of the touch judge and sent it upstairs as “no try”, a decision that was proven to be absolutely correct.
In my opinion as well there would not be a single referee on Sky who would make a decision on the spot in the last minute of the Grand Final regarding a possible try. Certainly not with the side who could have claimed the try being down by two points. That tackle by Danny Houghton would have gone upstairs with a ‘just check it isn’t reefed out’ call. Hewer ruled knock-on immediately and indeed correctly (thank goodness) and didn’t even seem to consider consulting Thaler up in the video box. So, only when he felt he needed to use the technology at his disposal to help him did the referee go upstairs and in general he made the right decisions! He even used his touch judge earlier in the game to reverse his decision on a knock on.
What I liked was the fact that as a part time bloke he didn’t worry about being judged by his full time colleagues on Monday morning, as they sit around drinking coffee and watching videos whilst they pull each other’s decisions apart, because he would anyway be back at work in the isotope factory! No doubt in time he’ll be tainted by the rest of them and fall in line and we’ll all be shouting at him as we do with all the others. Had we lost I might, I guess, have felt differently about the referee, but if I’m honest I’m actually not sure I would have, because I think that Nuclear Gareth did OK myself!
Well as the dust settles a bit in respect to that wonderful Cup Final it at least seems to have inspired the media and indeed a lot of supporters to talk about the quality and drama of the occasion, which seems to have led to an overarching hope that it can kick start the popularity of a competition that over recent years has faltered badly. The Challenge Cup has been sidelined now for some time, as the saturation coverage of the bread and butter elements of Super League by Sky and the way that the RL suck up to an organisation whose coverage particularly from a commentating point of view is woeful, has seen the world’s top RL competition sink into the background. For me, Sky TV’s attitude that Super League and the Grand Final is the only thing that matters has engineered in part a big decline in the popularity of the cup, particularly in the earlier rounds.
However now and quite by chance, it would appear that the whole game has received a massive boost from what was a blooming exciting Final whichever ‘angle’ you viewed it from. In recent years the Challenge Cup has failed to produce that magic that has for decades been its hallmark. In the past the games showpiece in the capital has, without doubt, produced moments that will live long in all our memories, especially for those of us who for many years religiously went year in year out, whoever was playing.
Unfortunately of late that hasn’t been the case and there hasn’t been a final that could be deemed a ‘classic’ for many years. However, thankfully according to all the pundits, that’s all changed now after Warrington faced off against us lot last weekend. The last classic final is considered by the media to be the 2011 one between Wigan and Leeds but for me we have to go back to our 2005 win over Leeds for the best final of the 21st century before that is of course, last weekend. The fact that since 2011 all five finals have gone with the favourites means that they have certainly not produced the drama that is needed on the massive worldwide stage of the games showcase match.
People love upsets and will always pay to embrace an underdog as long as they think that history dictates they have a chance! Last season’s final, featuring a 50-0 drubbing of a very poor team, was a showing up and special only really because of Lizzie Jones’ rendition of Abide with Me in the pre-match, after which it was downhill all the way and that certainly didn’t assist with reversing the trend that has seen the competition dropping in popularity year on year.
But, when we step back from the drama of this year’s Final and our vested passion in it all, then what is it that has seemed to reverse that decline and what exactly did make this year’s game a genuine classic? Well firstly, I thought that the pre-match build-up was pretty good and that some thought had gone into it, much as it had the previous year. It had that special feeling that usual brings a gradual but focussed build up for what is meant to be an iconic occasion and a massive spectacle. Secondly, both teams were fairly evenly matched. It was first against second, with both sides on form and even the bookmakers unable to call it, unlike the last four or five years where it was obvious who was the side in form, which was then reflected in the result and at times the poor nature of the contest.
Thirdly, it had that special comeback by our FC boys, who don’t know how to lose in the big games and that I believe is an ingredient every neutral craves and something we haven’t really seen since our heroics in Cardiff in 2005! This year, (in a game that was good but shaping up to just fall short of the classic everyone had hoped for), to most pundits in the neutral corner, Hull FC were done for with twenty minutes to go, however we proved what a great side we are in 2016 by staging that historic and almighty fight-back from 10-0 down.
In truth I guess most people would say that Warrington were the better side overall but the FC showed a spirit that you rarely see, even in sudden death Challenge Cup rugby. And finally, it had that one special moment to completely cap off the final, as arguably everyone’s Man of the Match Danny Houghton produced that game saving tackle on Ben Currie inches from the try-line with one minute and 30 seconds to go; you couldn’t write a script like that as Danny produced a truly superhuman effort to cap off what most experts seem to agree was a special afternoon from both sides.
I guess now for the rugby league marketers the questions is; how does the game build on that classic final to ensure that we don’t go back to the norm next year and how do we then use this momentum to help the overall status of a competition that is still held up by the purists as the greatest, or at least the most charismatic in the world? In my opinion we firstly need all fans, clubs and media outlets in the game to buy into what is without doubt a great competition and that includes Sky TV who just because they don’t have the broadcasting rights, generally ignore it. The great number of empty seats at last weekend’s game was an indicator that many neutrals had lost faith in the competition’s ability to produce on the big stage and also I’m afraid of how many Warrington fans just couldn’t be arsed. The Challenge Cup final is what the marketers would deem a unique selling point (USP) of our game and we don’t have many of those!!! But, it simply isn’t celebrated by Redhall as such or indeed marketed properly and the RL have to be taken to task for that!
Hull FC and Warrington have given the competition and the RL a life line and they have now to make up for lost time. I believe that they have to move swiftly, to use the momentum the heroics of the two teams and Danny Houghton created to rekindle the magic. In addition perhaps we should return to the old format for the earlier rounds and bring in the ‘bigger clubs’ a round earlier to increase not only the potential for shocks that the cup structure needs more of, but also to increased income for those sides in the lower diversions; that would in one move create a two pronged attack on two major issues within the game.
Some say the magic of the cup has never been lost, but the empty seats, lack of quality finals and lack of upsets during the cup run is damaging the profile and reputation of what is a wonderful competition with a great history. I’m just hoping that this year’s final will rekindle some of the old magic I remember experiencing back in the 80’s. These days it isn’t often that the favourites don’t win but maybe the overall memory of that final can be carried on through some great marketing that puts the competition back where it belongs, at the top of the game. Our come back at Wembley is something we will cherish as FC fans forever, but it is also something the whole game should be proud of and, in future, use as a catalyst that builds towards us getting back to those full houses at Wembley that we got used to in the ‘good old days’. Hull FC and Warrington Wolves have done their bit now so it’s over to you lot at the RL. Just my thoughts of course and in the end anyway, we can only hope I guess!
After Wembley in the hotel bar we were all talking about how good our forwards had been this season and how it was probably the best in the game at present. We talked then about other front-rower’s we have had over the years and came to the conclusion that it was a position in which we have been blessed as a Club. Drake, Harrison, Skerrett, Stone, Dannett, we’ve never seem to be short of them over the years have we? This week in Codgers Corner I want to look at a player who was highlighted by all the old timers in the bar that night and one who was probably one of the best forwards the Club has ever had. He’s a player I personally saw play about a dozen times in the early 60’s, and who I remember most for the aura that seemed to surround him as far as the FC fans were concerned, whenever this then aging hero took the field.
I covered him seven years back in here but have had a second look at him because Mick Scott is second in Hull FC’s all time list of appearance makers with an amazing 459 games to his name, having scored 43 tries and 3 goals. This record started with just one game in 48/49 and finished with 13 in the 62/63 season. He was, a year before I was born, the first of that amazing pack of the 50’s to join the club, when as an 18 year old second rower he made his debut. Mick though will always be remembered as a mighty front rower in that great ‘Panzer’ pack of the Golden Fifties and for his partnership with Tommy Harris and the Drake brothers.
I guess when you talk to folks who saw him play through out that decade, they will always remember the period he captained the team in the mid 50’s, and more particularly one crucial decision he made on a blustery afternoon at Maine Road Manchester. It was just 2 minutes from the end of a pulsating Championship final in 1956 when Halifax were leading 9-8. We were awarded a penalty for interference at the play the ball, about 25 yards out near the touch line. Back then of course you had unlimited possession with no 6 tackle rule and of course everyone thought that we would tap the ball and drive at the Fax defence in an attempt to try and get over the line. Everyone that was, except our captain Mick Scott!
Centre Watkinson tossed the ball to Tommy Finn our scrum half to tap start the game when in ran our captain to snatch the ball and hand it to Colin Hutton to go for goal. The ball was heavy and wet and the kick set 25 yards out and about 3 yards from Touch. The crowd of over 36,000 was stunned into shocked silence until Hutton sent the ball flying between the posts and the mighty FC had won a memorable Cup final. Was it the most memorable goal in Hull’s history? Well many who lived and supported through that era would say that it was!!!
Mick Scott our captain had shown great faith in his goal kicker and Hutton justified that faith and won us the game. It was a big decision, in fact one of the most crucial ‘on field’ decisions a Hull captain has ever made, but boy did it pay off!!
Mick handed the captaincy over to Johnny Whiteley in 1958, but he was still a masterful player out on the park and the hero of many great victories. In that same year it was his long looping cut out pass that put in winger Brian Cooper in at the corner for the first try on our way to beating Workington in the Championship final, and true to type Mick also used that deft side step that belayed his hefty physique to score the final try in a 20-3 win. Mick played in all 10 finals we got to in that great 1950’s era.
Funnily enough, despite like me, being brought up close to the Boulevard, Mick never played rugby as a school boy and in fact was a handy centre half for Mersey Street school football team. His pals were all having trials with our nursery side, Boulevard Juniors, so Mick went along and soon signed for the club in 1948. He played 8 A team games before being selected to play for England Under 21’s and captained them for the next match. All this before he made his debut for the first team at the Boulevard. It was quite an amazing rise to prominence for a player who had come into the game so late.
Scott was a real class forward but he also had that quality that separated the good from the great, in that he was as hard as nails. Whenever a scrum erupted into a fight as they did in most games back then, Scott was the prime candidate for starting the fracas. In the 1955 Yorkshire Cup Final against Halifax twice the scrum erupted into fights and twice he emerged with different Halifax forwards sporting facial injuries. He was a real hero and folks who watched him in his heyday will tell you just how good he was in open play too! Strangely for all his games played Scott, who was generally accepted across the game as one of the country’s top props, made few international appearances. In fact, following his debut for England at 19, he had just two more call ups and had none for Great Britain although he did make one GB trial game.
He was the corner stone of our pack though and continued to be so even when I got my first pass in 1960, although then his appearances had started to become more sporadic and in 1962 he asked for a transfer. It took a full year before the club could agree a fee with anyone though, but in July 1963 he left for Rochdale where he played one season and 32 games before retiring. Most tragic of all of course was the fact that Mick was sadly killed in an accident on the Docks in 1968 when he was only 37. The funeral was a real black and white affair with the pavements lined with folks sporting their scarves and hats! A fitting tribute to a massive FC hero who met an early and tragic end!! What a bloke Mick Scott was!
So we got the Saints game out of the way and came out pretty unscathed and we didn’t dent our points difference over Wigan too much either. For me thats all we could have wished for and although I say that as long as that Challenge Cup is in the trophy cupboard, I don’t care if we don’t win again, if we are to get in that top two by the end of the play-offs it’s still all to play for next Friday against Wigan. Last Friday also went to prove that when you are without your best players and the ones that play in the key positions like scrum half and hooker, then you’ll always struggle and it shows I think both how well we have recruited and how lucky we are that those recruits and our key players have stayed fit.
OK Saints came away with it comfortably at the end, but it was a good showing by the team we had out there and I certainly wasn’t downhearted. We now have to really try to get back on the horse for Friday, when we play a Wigan team that are eminently beatable and if we do get over them then the top two is almost assured and we move onto getting that league leaders shield. But let’s not get in front of ourselves because if we don’t do it on Friday then the semi final is still on, but a win at the weekend will make things so much easier. The time that defines whether this is a really good history making team, or a truly great team is upon us. Which of those two we turn out to be I honestly don’t really care at this juncture because all I can still see is that super human effort last weekend and that glittering trophy that is ours for 2016!!
This week’s edition has certainly been a lot easier to write than the last two diaries but I wouldn’t have missed doing them for the world and indeed on a personal note what we now do in the remaining games will dictate whether I start to feel another book coming on, for these are still truly extraordinary times!!! Thanks for all your support and the record breaking number of hits this rubbish received last week and let’s just enjoy the rest of the season eh? See you all at the KC on Friday!