The Dentist’s Diary – 512th

That’s it, it’s over, the season has finished and Old Trafford remains nothing but a fading dream, as a hugely successful campaign which has been a brilliant ride, fizzled out just as many of us sort of expected it would.

However, who was prepared for the drama that was to follow and oh boy, it made me smile a bit. That said I have some sympathy for any true fans, the Dobbins players, their families and those employed by the Club, however come on, they are our bitterest rivals and have rejoiced long and hard in the past at our downfalls. They’d be dancing on the terraces were it us lot in that position!! And, as for Josh Griffin, well has there ever been such an FC legend before he even pulled on a shirt?

But enough of the championship newcomers, (for now) let’s concentrate on Friday and that superb second half come-back which followed what was a torrid old first 40 minutes and yet saw us fall short at the end.

Regrets? Well not really, except to say that perhaps I let myself get a bit too carried away with it all after Wembley, but sadly the team’s performances didn’t quite match my optimism and in the end it wasn’t so much a disappointing end to the campaign as a flat one! I’d expected it, of course I had, but sport is a strange thing and I certainly hadn’t in my wildest dreams expected what happened next and I have to admit to having perked up a bit by Saturday tea time.

If I had one misgiving about the year of 2016 then it would be that for me Hull FC produced one of the greatest season’s since the early 80’s, without ever actually performing to our maximum capabilities for a full 80 minutes. In the end, perhaps it was that fact and an inability to reach the intensity that the Leeds, Wigan and Warrington’s of this world know you have to attain at this end of the competition, that I think eventually did for us. We won’t be walking out at Old Trafford on Saturday and so the season ends, but…as the old guy said to me last week, “Don’t worry son, that Challenge Cup is still there in the cupboard!”

I’m not a massive fan of the Super 8’s but I have to admit that this weekends’ semi-finals and that game on Saturday when Rovers were crowned ‘Championship newcomers 2017’ have all been real nail-biting affairs, full of excitement, biff, tension and of course the mandatory controversy. But, they have certainly been a real spectacle for the armchair supporters.

However, for us lot that first half on Friday was difficult to watch wasn’t it. We were short of the ‘smart’ sort of plays that relieve the pressure when your away from home and we certainly struggled to keep the ball whilst our luck was out too, as the referee again took a hand at times. However, what followed was all we have come to expect this year, as we came back from the brink to give the fans something to cheer about and provided a few heart stopping moments along the way. Was it ever so this year?

Earlier in the campaign I’m sure had we been 18-16 up, we would have seen the game out for a famous victory. But they came again and we had no answer, the energy to repel them was gone after that first half battering, but boy we’d given those Pies and their fans a scare or two hadn’t we?

After last week I wondered how we would manage and at half time I even mused that perhaps it was already all over. There is for me little doubt that fortune favoured the home team in that first 40 minutes and that charged down drop goal and fortuitous try for Bateman just before half time would have done for most teams; but not this lot and after the break we fought back and got three great tries.

I honestly thought that the amount of deliberation taken by the video referee for Michaels try, (over five minutes) gave Wigan a real breather when they were really under the cosh and although we got the 6 points from that, from then on it was all the home team, as they seemed to take energy from that break in play. But what an effort it was to get back into the lead and what a great, great season stuffed full of such gargantuan efforts we have seen.

Mini doesn’t look too happy!

I’m so proud of those lads and proud to be an FC fan, but a lack of creativity since Wembley has done for us I’m afraid and although the effort and energy was back up again in a second half in which Carlos added some much needed inspiration and at last took the line on, we just couldn’t sustain it to the end. Once again early on we struggled to create anything much at all and our only hope in that situation seems to be heaped on the shoulders of Marc Sneyd! Carlos came good in that second half but I still think we need another half back for next season myself.

If I’m honest after a pretty listless week of waiting, I really didn’t expect that much and so I approached the game with hope, but little else. My heart said we would progress to the final but my head kept telling me that it was a bridge too far. The loss of Ellis beforehand with a broken thumb was a badly kept secret but the effect of not having our talismanic leader on the field in those opening exchanges certainly told, as we looked a bit disorganised and struggled to get any sort of cohesion in the line. In that period, we had our backs to the wall, as we defended for all our worth.

In fact, that first 40 minutes must have taken so much out of us, but we came out in the second and really took the game to the Pies and had them rocking. Again I have to say I thought the refereeing, for both sides, was pretty appalling at times, however as I say later on in here, that is becoming just what we all expect these days because it’s fast becoming an occupational hazard of watching and playing professional rugby league in this country.

Mint and Yeamo, brothers in arms no more!!!

Wigan were just a bit more creative and it took us a deal of time to get going, however in the second period the way Carlos carved out a hole back inside for Washbrook (who I thought had a great game) to exploit and set up the Bowden try was one of the best plays of the match. But, I believe that there is little doubt that when we look back on the season in a few weeks’ time, the over-riding trend that emerges will be our inability to get out of the blocks fast. We have been notoriously slow starters and much of the drama of a brilliant season has circulated around the exhilaration created when we clawed back those early set-backs, to see out games.

But since Wembley and that massive effort we put in, we have become more tired and fatigued and so such come backs have proved to be not quite so easy as they were. On Friday we needed to start strong but we didn’t and that massive effort in the third quarter to get us in front, saw us unable to maintain the level of intensity needed to keep them out so in effect we eventually trailed off badly energy wise at the end.

For me, as for performances Shaul had a big game but just failed to make the telling break, Michaels was fantastic again and his work rate for a winger was immense, while Fonua took time to settle but looked good in the second half. About to be awarded the mantle of an FC legend, Kirk tried really hard but looked tired and made a couple of uncharacteristic errors. For me however I think that Carlos has a lot of work to do if he is to become a fixture at 6 while Sneyd was just off his game and his kicking wasn’t as telling as it was at Wembley or indeed in the league game against Wigan at home three weeks ago. Up front Taylor tried and tried and tackled everything but was running out of petrol, while in Watts we had a top performer who score a try off a brilliant line run and tackled hard all night. He had a great game!

Danny Houghton tackled himself to a standstill again and once we started getting quick Play the Balls, he came into his own with those darting runs, but in fairness he looked tired as well, while in Minniciello we had the second best player in our ranks. He had a superb game grabbing yard after yard in the impact whilst defending heroically. I say second best player because my man of the match was undoubtedly Danny Washbrook. He had a massive game and became creator a time or two as well. He never stopped trying and redeemed some difficult situations with line saving tackles too.

Frank on the other hand looks tired and at season end, is the least effective of all out 2016 signings. We’ll have to be thinking about his role in the side before next year! On the bench Bowden had a big game and took his try well, Green tried hard with limited game time, Thompson disappointed me again I’m afraid, while Abdull made a big difference when he came on. He got things moving a bit and with an extra play-maker on the field in the second half we pulled Wigan about to great effect. However why he was taken off near the end when we needed his guile to get out of our end I have no idea at all really!

But, it’s gone now and we were ‘close but no cigar’, it was a great effort but we have nothing to show for it but some tired and battered bodies. However, as I keep saying to anyone who cares to listen, at least we have won a trophy this year and that’ll do for me!!

Friday was of course a sad night for Kirk Yeaman, as he bowed out as a hero on the field and entered the ranks of an FC Legend off it. I said my piece on Kirk last week and won’t go over old ground, but I spoke to him early on Saturday morning and he simply said that although he was really going to miss playing for his beloved Hull FC, he wasn’t going to miss feeling how he had felt that morning as he got out of bed. He’s played bashed, and needled up this year and done it for the cause, he’s a top bloke and we’ll really miss him! Thank goodness too that he realised his lifelong ambition in his last season too.

After that disappointing night against Warrington at the KC at least there was some good news early last week! Although in the last 9 years we have only had a total of 4 players chosen to be in the team of the season, all of a sudden this year we have 6 players in the same Dream Team. It’s a great accolade and all of them were almost unanimous picks (except that is for Mini who apparently just scraped past John Bateman) and I was so proud of them all weren’t you?

They are the ones who get the accolades and the praise but there is little doubt that without the ‘foot soldiers’ of the team, the guys who come in off the bench and stand in when injuries hit, they wouldn’t be now hailed as the cream of the crop. This season has been a real team effort and that’s something else that shines through this latest honour for the club.

All hail the Super 6!!!

Just remember, we have won the best Challenge Cup final in years, and at long, long last finally lifted that special trophy at Wembley for the first time ever. These lads were instrumental in all that and their efforts have now been recognized! The Monkey is off our backs and the Dobbins inept and moronic one line ‘bastardisation’ of the greatest Rugby anthem in the world is no more; gone forever along with the last vestige of any sort of claim to superiority in the City of Hull. So yes, for that alone, those lads deserve a few accolades and prizes!!!

However, it must be tremendous for those 6 lads to get such recognition, particularly after a season when we have all become emotionally ‘intoxicated’ as the good news just kept on coming. Even now with an unprecedented 6 in the dream team its easy just to take it without realizing the significance of such honors being bestowed on our club. It’s great for the players, but in the bigger scheme of things it’s also a real reflection on just how good Hull FC have been this year.

Then just as we had digested that news, along comes another honor for our captain and vice-captain respectively, when Danny Houghton and Gareth Ellis were declared as joint winners of the Rugby League Writers and Broadcasters’ Association Player of the Year award! Ellis and Houghton who scored an absolute dead heat of votes are only the second pair to share it since the award started in 1996. Once again as we all lamented a less impressive end to the season the writers and broadcasters of the land recognized the tremendous effort that went before and how proud once again the two players must be! What a bloody season eh for us as a team and rugby league as a whole? However, there would always be some negatives and one I believe, is now staring us all in the face!!

You see, I tuned in on Thursday night to watch the first semi-final and relishing a close game against two teams who could play a bit. What a disappointment it was however, because although there was plenty of skill and tons of grunt and intensity on show, once again as so often has happened of late the game was spoilt by some abject bad refereeing that at best was inept and at worst could almost have been construed as being ‘bent!’ St Helens were literally robbed of the game. That’s a strong thing to say, I know, but if you’re a Saints fan I bet that was your view at the end of the match.

The most worrying bit is however that now that sort of thing is so prevalent that the commentators, pundits and journalists just accept it as a part of the game, they just gloss over it and move on and it’s almost a given that who wins is now no longer in the gift of the players and their ability, but rather in the hands of the officials. That’s an absolute abomination really isn’t it?

That Lineham ‘try’, followed by the disallowed touch down for Saints provided a potential12 point turn around and for me could well have robbed the Saints of a victory. But why should I care eh, I haven’t got much time for either team really so why get worried about it?

Well for me it’s not so much a concern for Saints, but more for the game in general which is descending into a sport that is preoccupied with supporters and spectators talking about referees after each game, rather than them discussing the ‘daring do’ of the players who have performed in it! So whilst the commentators increasingly dismiss it as part and parcel of the sport, the fans are getting more and more frustrated and more importantly disenchanted with it all. Thanks to our officials the difference between a top quality sport and a circus, is becoming a finer and finer line these days!

Look, for instance, at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Friday a capacity of 15,200 and despite winning the plate the week before, the biggest home game of the season and something of a Derby, only just over 12,000 could be arsed to go to it!

Whether the RL like it or not, it’s currently the major blight of a great sport because the officials are simply killing the game and driving people away from it. Any newcomer switching on that game would instantly have been bemused because they would not be able to understand why one try was given and another wasn’t and why after such a thrilling game full of hard yards, toil and skill the commentators spent 20 minutes afterwards discussing nothing else but the refereeing. I said in here just two weeks ago, we should get rid of this nominating a decision business, it’s just confusing the issue. The referee should be saying to the video referee, “I have no idea really, over to you!” and if the video official can’t make his mind up either, then the referee should become the final arbiter and if he’s stuck then it should be advantage to the attacking team.

The problem is however that as fans we are becoming sanitized to it all and we either find ourselves shrugging our shoulders and accepting it, or more likely criticizing the refereeing whatever; even if he gets it right!!!! The refereeing is shocking and if the game is not to implode under the pressure of diminishing gates and an inability to attract new followers, then that is an issue that must be sorted out and quick.

So while we are on the state of the game what do you think of the finale to the season then? I’ve never been a fan of the Super 8’s, however, after the drama of the ‘Plate final’ and two stonking semi-finals this week, plus the spectacle of the Danny Brough drop goal game last week and the amazing happenings at the Lightstream Stadium this weekend in the Middle 8’s then, as far as drama, tension and sensation is concerned, for the ordinary fan or casual observer of the game, who has no emotional attachments to the teams involved, it’s all been pretty sensational stuff.

Of course, we laugh when its Rovers who are relegated, that’s what rival fans do, but for the club going down, it’s a real meltdown scenario because the financial aspect of it all mean that you not only lose your best players, but if you’re unlucky you could also go under too. I have little sympathy for the actual clubs concerned, but it’s tough on the staff and all us fans who love their club knows that with the vagaries of sport, one day it could be them who are down there or even going bust! However, with just 5,600 home fans there for the biggest game in Rovers recent history, perhaps some already saw the writing on the wall.

I don’t know who I’d least like to kiss really!

For all the decent Rovers fans it’s a real blow, I know that, but for you guys who have over the years threatened an old bloke just trying to write a blog about the team he loves, can I just say that I quite enjoyed that afternoon’s viewing from the Lightstream Stadium! Some reading this may feel a tad sorry for Rovers, lament the lack of Derby games and wonder why some are enjoying the moment so much. Well the fact is they probably remember the almost annual taunting’s of the current Rovers Chairman and one or two might also have a long memory, as this extract from a recent book will prove.

……There is little doubt that we were caught in a political battle between the Super League and the Northern Ford Clubs and some of the latter saw an opportunity to make an example of the Sharks by excluding us. Barry Lilley the Chairman of Hull KR made a curt statement about the situation in the Hull Daily Mail after the meeting and in the late edition on 27th October 1999, he said, “There is no way that they (Hull FC) will be allowed to take a place in the Premiership and Hull KR will be the only Club in Hull with their own identity”. That went down really well in the West of the City and is something that many remember to this day.

What goes round eh?

Neutrals were certainly happy with the absolute drama of the Million Pound Game and the amazing last minute spectacle that ensued, but although I think that ‘FC fan’ Lee Radford would have thought of the players first and had concern for them, he would then have had a bit of an ironic smile like many of us!! However, make no mistake about it whatsoever; Adam Pearson, James Clark and Co won’t have been laughing. They will have had their fingers crossed and will have been secretly favouring Rovers last weekend, because they believe, I know, that it will be economically harder for our Club now that the Dobbins have gone down.

Every opportunity has now to be explored to raise finance because, despite that big Wembley pay day, we are still struggling. According to sources in the West Riding we are already planning a cash raising Boxing Day game this year against Castleford at the Jungle, but even with that, Rovers had indicated this week that they intend to go ahead with the usual pre-season Derby as well. So we had 4 or 5 Derby’s already on the agenda again for next year. Until that is, the smallest bloke on the pitch dropped a 55 yard drop goal last Saturday.

However, although lucrative for the owners of both Clubs, there is little doubt too that, although we don’t agree on much, both groups of supporters would accept that we have all been completely ‘saturated’ with the concept and we are both sick and fed up with ‘Derby’ games. For most, like me, the games that used to be played just twice a year and anticipated with great relish have these days incrementally been reduced to being just an ‘onerous’ distraction and in effect a boring ‘occupational hazard’ of being in Super League. Now there will be none in the regular season and perhaps for a season or two that might just be a good thing.

Although Adam is this morning in the Mail lamenting the loss of Rovers and the derby’s finance wise, perhaps them being relegated and Hull FC having to get on with it will be good for both clubs, because we’ll both have to learn to live without Derby games. In the end as fans, however badly we feel about it, we’re a long way down the decision making process when it comes to making money, there would always have been Derby games at every possible opportunity but now, thanks to the ineptitude of Hull KR, that is now out of Hull FC’s hands. Their demise, Derby wise, may be fortuitous for the fans and an issue for the owners but it’s certainly not our fault, we’re still in Super League!

It’s going to be a difficult task and a very fine balance needs to be struck, as after some hard times when the fans have been kept on board purely by their loyalty to the Club, they have then to be kept involved when times have picked up and that success has to also ensure that other sources of income are identified and maximised. If that means taking sponsors etc that have favoured the East Hull Club but want to be involved with top flight rugby being taken on board, so be it. So, I guess it will be interesting next up to see just how the Club handle season tickets and their pricing for next year won’t it? If it’s going to be hard this coming season without Rover’s, then it is up to us to rally round, buy season tickets and get behind the Club like never before but for their part the Club have to make sure that the deal is right too.

I found this last week on Facebook, someone keeping a lasting reminder of the greatest day we have experienced as FC fans. It looks brilliant!

So as the leaves come down and the days get colder in Codgers Corner this week I thought it would be worth a look at the hardest winter the game has seen since 1947. So here we take up the story late in 1962….

‘………a loss at St Helens on 22nd December was to be the last game we played until 7th March the following year. During that time, I would watch through the frosted back windows of number 23 Aylesford street across the Club car park, as tractor and trailer loads of hay were ferried into the ground in a vain fortnightly attempt to warm the pitch up, we all, as local kids, went into the stadium when we were not at school to help the ground staff spread it. That was great fun. There were no £85 sold out sponsors dinners in those days and back then Clubs depended solely on gate income for their survival, and it was imperative that everything that could be done to ensure games took place, was done.

Early in February one hundred and fifty braziers were deployed on the pitch the week before a scheduled game against St. Helens, but a blizzard and freezing conditions on the Thursday and Friday prior to the proposed fixture saw that game become just another cancellation in the ever growing backlog of games. The only club that was able to play in that period, besides Leeds, who had an electric under soils heating system, were Widnes. These two teams featured on alternate weeks on the TV throughout the big freeze. Widnes, managed to play their home games by living up to their nick name of the ‘Chemins’, which was attributed to their being situated in an area on the banks of the Mersey which was festooned with Chemical plants and refineries.

The boffins at one of these plants came up with a secret substance that, when spread on the Naughton Park pitch, thawed the surface and left, they claimed, the grass intact, thus allowing them to play their home fixtures when all others were called off. The actual details of this substance was top secret, however as us rugby starved fans watched the games on the TV and the weeks went by, we all noticed that the magic potion, although de frosting the ground, was also slowly but surely removing every blade of grass from it. By early March there was not a bit of green, or even brown, grass to be seen at Naughton Park and whilst other clubs were getting back into their season, and playing on pitches that had benefited from the winter rest, Widnes played it out on a pitch of rolled sand!!

Whilst almost the whole of the national sports programme was abandoned during the first two months of the year the Challenge Cup draw went ahead as usual. With regional TV not starting till 1968 and no local radio it was not until we got the Daily Mail next day that we realised we had been drawn against the form team of the season Wigan, at home in early February. That game was of course postponed, with three more aborted attempts to complete the fixture soon following in its wake as despite the best efforts of dozens of volunteers, hundreds of Braziers and lorry loads of straw it was just not possible to stage the lucrative fixture.

We were all totally starved of live rugby when finally the game was scheduled for Thursday 7th March with a 3-30 kick off. Thursday was early closing day in Hull, and with no floodlights it must have seemed a good afternoon to stage the fixture. That, of course, suited my Dad, (the Butcher) down to the ground, it was his afternoon off, but no one it would appear told Bill Pattison our head master at Kelvin Hall about early closing day!!! As the hay was spread on the Boulevard in the week preceding the game, Steve and I, plotted just how we were going to ‘twag off’ to see the match without our school or parents knowing about it!

The game kicked off at 2-30 that Thursday so we left school after afternoon registration and walked the three miles from Bricknell Avenue to the Boulevard arriving at about 2-15. We thought things would be relatively quiet, but the queues were amazing, snaking as they did across the car park and out onto Airlie Street. It seemed, like us lads, everyone was starved of the game we all loved, and it was no surprise when the final attendance was declared as being 10,329 (paying £1,355).

The kick off was delayed by five minutes, and when we finally got in the teams were already out. The remains of the straw that had been cleared to form massive piles around the touch line was strewn all over the pitch, but who cared? We were about to witness our first game of rugby for months. Sadly, our mercurial winger Clive Sullivan could not get the time off from the army to play, and Bill Drake our captain who had pulled up at training on the beach at Bridlington the previous Tuesday, was out too with an injured knee. Otherwise we were at full strength against a Wigan side that read like a ‘who’s who’ of rugby league!

Referee Lawrenson blew the whistle and we attacked the Gordon Street end that was furthest away from our vantage point on Bunkers Hill at the ‘Best Stand’ corner. A quick check of a programme over the shoulder of a short guy in front of me indicated that Wilf Rosenberg was playing, so that was really all that mattered to me. Whether it was the fact that we hadn’t played for a while, I don’t know, but I remember feeling really disappointed when Arthur Keegan who was usually so dependable with the boot, missed three penalties in the first ten minutes. The first half though was all Hull as we poured attack after attack into their twenty-five. Both Matthews and Jim Macklin fell to desperate last ditch tackles by the Wigan full back Bolton as we pressed and pressed. Then Dick Gemmell got the ball and quickly side stepped Davies to send out a peach of a pass to Rosenberg who shot down the wing towards the advancing full back. As he approached Bolton, Wilf kicked ahead and it was ‘try on’ as the ball stopped dead over the try line but he was blatantly obstructed by the Wiganer, who stuck out a leg in his direction, and brought him crashing down. The resultant penalty was again missed by Keegan.

Tommy Finn and a very young Terry Devonshire on the wing then linked on the other side with only an ankle tap on the youngster by Billy Boston saving the day for the visitors. Pitchford, McTigue and Collier in the Wigan pack were really fiery and charging into our lads but they were well matched by Mick Scott, Hockley and Sykes in the hull engine room. At half time Wigan led by a solitary Ashton goal which he added too straight after the break, after a foul by Walters on Wigan’s Pitchford. But we were still in it and without doubt the best team, and with Ralph Walters at hooker winning the scrums 16-11 there was plenty of ball for our backs to play with. Two great breaks by Finn and Matthews just needed backing up, and then Rosenberg was just tackled into touch in front of the Threepennies as he was about to launch his dive for the line.

Then with just ten minutes to go it looked like we had scored. Keegan joined the attack and shot towards the line, he beat their full back and was about to cross the whitewash when from nowhere winger Carlton hammered him to the ground and he dropped the ball. With two minutes to go, with the game evenly poised and all the accolades going to the brilliant Hull defence (that had held out an attack that had put 34 unanswered points on us earlier that year at the Boulevard), the inevitable happened. The visitors got the final try, as a break by Lyon saw his wayward pass fall into the arms of Boston who charged down the touchline and right over Devonshire and Keegan to score in the corner, Ashton missed the goal, but shortly afterwards the whistle went and we were out of the cup.

In the end, the much fancied Wigan outfit in keeping with their ‘Favourites’ tag had scrapped home 7-0, but we had really put up a great fight! The whole day was an adventure which not only included a great game but also the first and only time I twagged off school. The occasion came to something of an ignominious end however when on the way out of the Airlie Street gates, I bumped into my Dad, who was not too impressed at all with the missing school idea, something that I seem to remember resulted in a few nights grounded at home! Still what a memorable occasion and if you’re going to skip school, there is hardly likely to be a better reason to do it!

Now, you get everything in here and so it’s time now for this week’s shopping tip which is, “Don’t buy a five-year plan from Jamie Peacock!”

However that’s it, it’s season over and, as far as Rovers are concerned, Super League’s over too! If your sat there reading this rubbish and facing a long winter of wondering whether it will be more of the same next season or us ‘doing a Leeds’ and even perhaps considering about whether we should be grumbling about finishing third; just let the last few weeks wash over you a bit and sit back and focus on Wembley. Time machines are alas still figments of the science fiction writer’s imaginations, but what would you give to live that day again eh? To just be there stood in the sunshine at the end of Wembley way at twelve o’clock about to meet your destiny all over again. Consider how you cried, how you couldn’t believe it and how in years to come you will still be telling your children, your grandchildren and indeed everyone who wants to listen that you were there, you saw that moment and you felt that feeling. History was made that sunny August afternoon in North London and what’s more you were part of it!!

For me it was the best moment of my life and I’ll always cherish that game when it was down to that brilliant 52nd tackle of Danny Houghton’s, which just had enough of that element of luck to indicate once and for all that on that afternoon, the fates were with us. On 27th August 2016 history was made, it was our Club that did it and we are so lucky that it was in our life-times and before ‘our very eyes’ that it happened! Generations had dreamed of it and yet not seen it come to pass but we did!! Our lives have changed forever and however often we win it in the future at Wembley, it will never ever be quite the same again will it?

Adam Pearson, Lee Radford, the players and the coaching staff have without any doubt given us something incredible this season. It’s something that should be locked up in your hearts, tucked at the back of your minds and emblazoned in your memories until the day you die. For it is something that when the going gets tough in life and perhaps you think that the world is against you, you ‘take out’, relive and marvel at all over again.

When we look back at the season that was 2016, we’ll all realize it surpassed our wildest dreams by miles. OK we won at Wembley for the first time, but we also finished top after 23 rounds, whitewashed the Dobbins in all 4 fixtures, got to a point that would have seen us win the League Leaders’ Shield with one win and were only 18 minutes away from the Grand Final and of course …..the Dobbins went down! Would we have settled for that back in January….you bet we would!

So, thanks for all your support in reading the Diary again and take heart, be of good cheer, for it’s been a great ride and a truly wonderful season, full of twists and turn and with loads of drama too. Fear not either, for we have the greatest of all prizes to keep for a year and aren’t we lucky eh?

Bring on next season!!! No worries, no limits, no Rovers!!!!

Keep Believing

Faithfully Yours