The Dentist’s Diary – 514

We thought it was all over ……it is now!!!
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No games to watch, no trophies to win and because my Mum always said that you shouldn’t mock the afflicted, no Dobbins to bait either!!

But how are you feeling? Well, there is little doubt that after what was the season that none of us expected or could hardly dare dream of, the roller coaster has ground to a halt a bit. There is certainly little doubt that inertia has become the staple diet for most fans while we await the players returning from a well-earned break on the beach, to start pre-season training on 14th November. Some readers contacted me this week to say that the withdrawal symptoms have kicked in straight after our last game, while personally I guess I feel pretty deflated too. But, although designed specifically for such times, I’m also finding it hard to get enthusiastic about the manufactured nature of our International end of season tournaments and there’s more of that one later.

However, all that said, the City’s only Super League Club still had a few interesting stories to impart this week, as the Player of the Year Awards took place, the details of season tickets for 2016 were released, some speculation about future signings continued, that England squad was announced and the media was stuffed with post season appraisals, reflections on the campaign past and some hopes for 2017.

Nevertheless, all that said it’s still a fact that the closed season seems now to have arrived with a bang!

What is always billed as the most glittering event at the Club, The Player of the Year Awards came and went last Wednesday as most of us sat at home watching our computers for twitter and Facebook updates as the results were revealed. The Volunteer of the Year Alan James, announced early in the piece was a good result, I know Alan well and he does loads of unsung work for the Club and spends hours of his time helping James Clark at events and on match days. I also thought that Paul Hatton was really deserving of getting the clubs, Man of the Year award because without some of the miraculous stuff he did in the conditioning and fitness department and behind the scenes, we wouldn’t have done what we did this season. I’m so pleased the club found a way to recognise his efforts as well.

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Danny Houghton Players Player of the Year!

Of the rest, well, Danny Houghton got two awards which were much deserved and as ‘Fans Player of the Year’ he certainly got the lion share of the votes from the terraces. I’m also pleased that Mahe Fonua was awarded the Young Player’s prize because he has been an absolute revelation this year and one of the most exciting talents in the whole competition. That said, I don’t know how young you have to be to be ‘young’, but his winning try from the Wakey game away was pretty special too and was a worthy winner of the ‘Try of the Season’ accolade.

However, I guess it was the top award of Player of the Year that was the biggest surprise and a decision that many of the ‘sages’ on social media didn’t agree with at all. Of course I’d expected it to have gone to Danny Houghton or Gareth Ellis and so it came as a surprise to me as well, but I wasn’t complaining and I’ll tell you why. The fact is that the top award is decided by the Coach. He’s the bloke who sees all the players for 10 months of the year 24/7. He gets the phone calls at 10-00 at night, he hears what they have to say before games, watches how they interact with the junior players, helps them find their boots when they have lost them, watches how they take criticism and defeat, as well as seeing how they play out there on the field. He’s also the one who observes just how they function as part of a group of professional sportsmen; thus Mark Minniciello’s success last year. At past awards evenings that I’ve been to Radders’ has made it very clear that the POTY is for a lot more than just a player’s ability on the park.

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A Surprise yes, but well done Marc just the same!

As an ordinary fan I just see how Marc plays out there on the field every week but even then I have to admit that was it not for his immaculate kicking in a lot of close games in 2016, we would have lost more than we won including a Cup semi-final and that final. Those pressure penalty’s and conversions in tight games proved crucial and he never once lost his goal kicking nerve in a long, long season. Of course we’ll always remember those three ‘in play’ kicks and two conversions at Wembley, which were one of the main contributory factors to the difference between us winning or losing the Challenge Cup. Picking the POTY is certainly not an easy task for our Coach, but he’s a ‘big lad’ and can take the flak whether it comes from within the Club or from outside it. So for me it’s got to be up to Radford and so, well done Marc!

But then again, I doubt Lee will have got any criticism from the other players about the result because the final choice will have been a difficult, but well thought out decision and they see what Sneyd does. So well done to our Coach and commiserations to Gareth, Danny and perhaps even Mini, who would have been in the running for many of the arm chair pundits out there like me.

However, with his current deal running out at the end of next season, for me the big priority now is getting Marc signed up on a contract extension beyond 2017 and perhaps too, finding him a ‘playing mate’. Still that’s for another day and for now, well, the ceremonials are put to bed for another year and for this fan as I say it now as if the memorable 2016 season is over and done with.

The ‘end of term’ review ‘question and answer’ piece with Lee Radford which came in the form of an extensive interview in the Mail on Friday, was perhaps the best bit of editorial this week. Well done to Paul Clark for a good insight into the mind of our coach with regard to how he feels things had gone from (if you like) the inside. It was great to read Lee’s thoughts on the different stages of the season and was, as always with our coach, pretty honest stuff. He said, for instance, that he learned a lot from that Widnes defeat away from home early on in the campaign and that it was the last time he will ever lay into individual players at half time because that day he learned just how counter-productive it could be. Plus, throughout the interview there was another good indication of how strong the team spirit was in the camp throughout the entire season. For me though what he had to say about us lot the fans, who spent a memorable season cheering and singing (and indeed fretting and worrying) out on the terraces, was the most interesting bit.

When challenged as to what the Club had to do to keep the dream going next year he said, “We have to try and keep ourselves in that bubble, but it’s difficult to do. Dealing with the home matches against the lesser teams will be important moving forward. It’s just human nature that the fans are not bouncing when things are not going great or there’s only 9,000 in a 25,000-seat stadium. You can’t manufacture that and it’s down to circumstances. Yet, you go to Headingley and put the same number of fans in their ground and it’s still got a carnival atmosphere to it and the drums are still going off. You’re bouncing too when you’re playing the game and you don’t hear every pin drop or every groan and moan. That’s one of the advantages that Leeds and Catalans have”.

You know I’d agree with most of that, but the guys who sit around me in the East Stand can rest easy because I won’t be rushing out to buy a drum any time soon!! However seriously speaking, although occasionally I’m embarrassed by our more fickle and negative fans, I guess in defense of the FC supporters as a whole, I would have to say that we did our bit last year. Indeed, in the article Lee is first to admit that it was us lot driving the team on that in the end got us home in the Cup semi-final at Doncaster. But, perhaps he also has to understand that at times (like in the aftermath of that Widnes defeat when we all felt we were ‘back to square one’), it’s tough for the fans who believe that they have seen it all before and know what’s coming next. He described the atmosphere at the following Wakefield home game as ‘Acidic’ and I have to admit, having just written about it again for another project, after three defeats on the trot the faithful few were certainly very tense and therefore a bit quiet that night. But, we have all invested both our faith and our money in years of disappointment, broken promises and disenchantment and that leaves its scars. That’s a tough mind set to try and keep the faith in, particularly when things ain’t going your way and even when we got to Wembley the belief, because of what had gone before, was still pretty fragile.

There is little I guess that the fans can do to change things if the tide of a match is not going their way, yet after what we have seen of the home fans at Catalan and indeed particularly Leeds you can understand what Lee means, because even when they are behind and the game is going against them, the drums are going and the fans are still singing. I guess whether that’s real belief or just a case of blind faith and visionless optimism (or just the fact that they are all pretty crazy) depends on, in the end, which side of the ground your stood on.

The thing is Lee, I’m afraid that when the wheel appears to be starting to come off (not just from game to game but sometimes even from try to try) the mindset of ‘here we go again’ seems to be entrenched in the DNA of many FC fans, me included and what’s more, I’m not sure how we shake that off really. Although I can assure our coach that we are all trying to believe, whatever is thrown at us and for me it all boils down to a pressure thing! Ideally the KC should be bouncing all the time, even when we’re losing, but the advent of that mind set, when balanced with the reality of the deep rooted psyche of a lot of supporters, is still some way off at Hull FC, even after such an amazing season.

However, maybe the Dobbins being relegated will help us with this, because from that direction at least the pressure is off and although we don’t like to admit it we do spend a lot of our time looking over our shoulders to the East, don’t we? That’s what living in the pressure cooker of the incessant day to day rivalry that exists in the City is all about. Adam and the Hudge might like the income and lament the loss of the Derby games, but the collateral damage when we lose those matches is manifest on the terraces and ingrained in the hearts and minds of quite a few of the fans for the rest of the campaign.

Despite the fact that some fans might not like it, the sad truth is that the mindset of a proportion of our supporters is still dictated by how many times we beat the Dobbins every year and whether we are above or below them in the league. You’re not that bad I’m sure, but I bet you know some folks who are. Whether the absence of rovers this year will detract from the impact of the season or enhance the fans enjoyment of it, remains to be seen, but those for whom dominating Rovers is everything should rest assured on one point;

They will ALWAYS be below us in the league tables in 2017.

Perhaps, after thanking them for giving us such a good laugh, we have to try to forget about them now, because we are a Super League Club and they ain’t, so with the exception of the ‘plastic’ derby and a possible cup match, we won’t be seeing much of the losers from Poorhouse Lane this season. I guess then that I’m glad the Derby’s have gone, for now at least! One day I might lament their passing but, on a personal note at present, I’m not that bothered at all.

Meanwhile as fans of Hull FC perhaps we should strive to have a bit more faith in what the players and coach are trying to do; whilst all the while they should maybe have a bit more faith in us lot too. The need for the crowd to be upbeat whatever they are watching out on the field is a tough one to deliver. You see, I don’t know how you rid thousands of people of a mindset that after years of disappointment, skepticism and disenchantment has been planted in their subconscious to return if not at the drop of a hat, then perhaps at the dropping of a few points.

Wembley will have helped, of course it will and we have more hope for the future now than we have had for decades but, I guess we all have to just work on the need to keep the faith whatever is happening. However, all that said, it was certainly a great article and as always from Lee, interesting to hear some hard facts on how much the demeanor of the watching public effects what happens on the field and perhaps as fans, it is something that we should try to take note of and bear in mind.

Well in a busy week for news next up it’s the new season ticket scheme which was announced early last week and went on sale last Saturday. I’ll be getting ours, of course I will, and I see too that to do that, I’ll be paying £10 more for a seat in the East Stand, which is the biggest rise I can remember in recent years. However, I have to say that at £260 and £180 (Codgers Rates) ours are still great value for money, particularly if we are to witness again the sheer drama and excitement that we were subjected to last year, and do it from what are some of the best seats in the house, sat there on row P in block E7. You try getting the best seats at a Theatre for £17!!!! Make no mistake about it as these things go this is a good scheme.

I’ve had a really close look at it all and here, this week, I’ll try and give my take on exactly what’s behind this new ticket initiative, what the Club are trying to achieve and how I think in the long run it will benefit us the loyal and long suffering fans of Hull FC. The Club Hull stuff is still blooming good value and has increased in breadth too but that’s not a massive change and its only when you pick the new scheme apart that the overarching philosophy of it all becomes more apparent.

After reading the brochure my initial thought is that the club appear to be latching onto a trend that is becoming evident across all senior sports and that is the practise of broadening the banding across the pricing structure, to make sport more inclusive for everyone. Professional Clubs realise that as is the case across the rest of the entertainment industry you have to put bums on seats, but the better those seats are then the better the experience and therefore the more the customer should expect to pay. I guess the analogy to help understand that whole principle is that were you to go to a West End Theatre, you’d expect to pay more to sit in the Royal Box than you would to be in the back row of the stalls and indeed you’d also assume that the price difference would be commensurate with the view. However, both theatres and sports clubs then have to temper that with the fact that the more exclusive ‘top end’ charges shouldn’t be at the cost of accessibility to the product for those who can’t afford to pay ‘top dollar’.

This year our Club has to ensure they keep income up, particularly with the demise of the money spinning derby games, so they have raised the top price tickets above the normal increase and tried to make the bottom end cheaper, to thus retain the current supporters, but also get more new comers, buoyed by the achievements of last season, through the turnstiles. I also honestly think that this year’s scheme really does project a wish to make watching Hull FC more inclusive whilst at the same time it aims to improve the atmosphere in the stadium every week as well.

In the past few years it’s always been a case of holding what we have and retaining current customers. But this year, after last season, retention of current supporters shouldn’t be that much of a problem, should it? Now though, as the only Super League Club in the City (I like that bit) we have to move on from there and seize the opportunity so that, through that exclusivity and the fact that we are at last being hailed as a top Club, we capitalise on that advantage and use it to grow the supporter base beyond its current size.

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Let’s pack the place!

And, what better time to do that and launch such a scheme, because who wouldn’t pay an extra tenner a season to watch what we witnessed last year, all over again?

In the past at Hull FC and many sports Clubs, the temptation has been to narrow the gap between the cheapest tickets and the most expensive ones, to make it look more inclusive and in turn to not put off the top price customers when they are deciding whether to renew. That can’t go on of course, but you need the opportunity to change it and I believe our latest and quite wonderful season has presented Hull FC with just such a moment. In successful times the demand for the best seats in any stadium is always high and so we now see the top prices rising more than usual, but at the bottom end tickets are becoming cheaper for certain classes to increase their opportunity to attend. Something that’s aimed at those who might just consider signing up for the first time but are still finding it tough financially to make the commitment.

The pricing structure is therefore trying to align itself with demand, which should increase next year. The rest of the changes are again heavily weighted towards benefiting the majority of fans. Firstly, with regards to the changes in the South Stand, where 3 blocks in the centre have now been made reserved, it looks like they are catering for the season ticket holders that come every week.

At some games, as ticket holders, they still have to get there really early to get good seats in the middle, because they are vying with occasional attenders with individual game tickets to get the best seats at the big games. The new set up I think promises someone who invests long term in the Club a good seat, by guaranteeing it is reserved for their exclusive use. Turning up a few times a season and expecting good seats in any stand is a luxury that poorly supported and underachieving Clubs can offer, but one that perhaps our club can’t deliver any more. So, they have somehow to convert those occasional attenders by pointing out the advantages of subscribing for a season, i.e. you’re guaranteed a seats in the middle of the South Stand if you want one.

There are other sensible changes too. The family ticket is one of the best and most popular initiative that the club has introduced over recent years. But, the blocks that it currently occupies at the SW corner would be popular with ordinary fans because the seats are adjacent to the rather vociferous terracing at the South End. However, the areas at the north west end of the West stand are less atmospheric, pretty hard to fill and quite unpopular with supporters, being as they are adjacent to the wide open spaces of the empty North Stand. So, why not swop the two areas around and put the families in there. The kids make their own atmosphere and the club has thrown in a new family lounge accessible from the terracing just for good measure. Then there’s the changes to tickets for young adults and again that’s all eminently sensible stuff as it increases even further inclusivity, at an age when money is tight.

So in conclusion I guess that the final Warrington Super 8’s game made the Club aware that the core support is still out there and that they have to do everything they can to convert those additional ‘intenders’ into regular ‘attenders’. As the product has improved considerably over the past 12 months, they now need to get those supporters on the fringes attending on a weekly basis. In basic economic terms you only have to market a seat for a whole season once, but if it’s not taken up as a season ticket then you have to market it perhaps 15 times. That for me is what this year’s subscription scheme is aimed at achieving and I think that it has been well thought out and targeted perfectly to assist everyone who wants to attend getting a seat, whilst at the same time increasing the income of the Club and as I said earlier, the atmosphere at games.

OK a few will have gripes, because when changes are made like this there are always ‘casualties’. Some will have to re-adjust things to make sure they sit with their pals in the newly reserved areas in the South Stand while those of us sat in the best seats may have to pay a bit more. But, as long as the product is right (again) and this initiative improves our gates, then that’ll do for me! You know me I’ll always have a go in here if I think the fans are being screwed in any way. You just have to look at my crusade last week’s about the way that the ordinary supporter was treated over tickets for the player of the year awards, to have that confirmed.

But here, for once it all makes eminent sense, because we have to seize the day and make hay while the proverbial sun shines, so I’d encourage you all to get your season tickets if you can. At present we have around 6500 subscribers and after the gargantuan effort of the team and all the excitement that generated last season I’ll be very disappointed if that doesn’t go up this year. Let’s hope this ticket scheme see the gates improve next season; they should do, because the future certainly looks bright for us at present.

How great it was to see Tony Sutton who used to be Hull FC Chief Operating Officer heading for a top job at the RL. It’s about time they got some new blood in there and judging from what I saw of the bloke when he was at Hull he’s a smart guy who understands sporting finance and is pretty worldly as well. When I was writing my books and looking for the Club to sell them for me he really helped me out, I got to know him quite well over the years and I’m sure he’ll do a top job at Redhall where he will all of a sudden be seen as a poacher come gamekeeper, as he controls the finances and the cap allocations of the clubs. I know he reads this on occasions so good luck Tony!

You know, as an FC Fan I have to say that I have over the years become selfish, especially when it comes to balancing our needs as a Super League outfit against the requirements of the International game. If I’m honest I’m pretty none plussed when it comes to following my country over my club, but then again international rugby league has never really ‘lit my fire’. I like the World Cup, because it’s a proper competition, but as for the rest, it’s come down for this fan to seeing what the RL can dream up next! For me, expecting players to go on for 4 more games in the name of a meaningless international tournament, after they have just played 35 weeks on the trot, is just a bridge too far. Yes, we all like it when we have a few players picked for the International teams, but for me after a hectic season and with another that is to be even more congested, just around the corner, they can keep their International kudos, because what all the players I care about need is a bloody good rest.

Their obvious fatigue became apparent in the last few games of the season and with a 4 nations Competition that is to go on well after the rest our lads are back in training for 2017, the disruption of 4 or 5 call ups could I think have been difficult to cope with.

I guess if you look at it all, outside of the cocoon of the vested interests of the RL then it’s pretty apparent that the NRL Clubs ain’t that impressed either, but we seem to like a bit of international hokum at the end of the season don’t we? So as a devoted FC fan I have to say that although Danny Houghton has been unlucky in not being picked for England, perhaps his exclusion is for the best. However, having won that coveted domestic accolade the Man of Steel Award you might have thought that international call-up was inevitable?

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Due a bit of a rest!

Unfortunately for Danny he finds himself in the company of some good players who are all vying for his position. Bennett obviously likes to rotate his hookers for had he wanted to field just one to play the whole game then it was a no brainer that Danny would have got the nod. Josh Hodgson and Daryl Clark are both brilliant players but they can’t play 80 minutes to the standard that Mint consistently does? However perhaps the England Coach wants to be able to change it around a bit if required. So I guess Danny’s omission is a simple case of horses for courses really and with the quality of the hookers around at present it’s easily conceivable that Houghton may have to wait a while to represent England at elite level.

What is important is that the club support him and have empathy towards a scenario that sees him unfortunate in his missed selection. Danny said to James Smailes at the Awards the other night that he was absolutely devastated at not ‘getting the call’ to play for England, so it has obviously got to him a bit! He’s a brilliant hooker for Hull FC as well as a hero and a terrific club man. We have, as an organization, looked after him contractuallyand, after Wembley we immediately signed him up long-term as we look to ensure that he is the pivot of the team in years to come. I think we also did that with an eye to him taking over as Captain too. So although it’s apparent that Danny Houghton was really disappointed, he should take heart in the fact that he is Man of Steel and a whole Club are at present looking to build their future around him.
I guess however if you like International rugby then there is a bit of good news as Scott Taylor deservedly made the cut in the England squad and I have no doubts that he will do well. He’s been one of the signings of the year and has turned in some massive performances throughout the campaign. It obviously means a lot to him but it was also great this week to hear him say, “When I got the call it was brilliant and I’m really happy and proud. Obviously I’m absolutely buzzing. I had an email saying I was in contention for selection so I had to wait until Sunday before I found out. A few of the FC boys are unlucky not to be in there and I’m the only one involved. I’ll be representing Hull FC and everything we stand for.”

So, in a season when anytime anyone has been singled out for any sort of accolade we have usually been in there, on this occasion do many FC fans really care that we’ve been largely overlooked? Ok we might be a bit self-centered and perhaps even be construed to be selfish, but the possibility of injuries and the reality of players coming back to pre-season training after Christmas would have been a real worry had it involved several of our top players. Scott is a consummate professional and an excellent trainer and if anyone can catch up its him! However, for the rest it’s time to get their ‘cozies’ out, hit the beach and get away for a really good rest because their missing out on international duty can only really be a good thing for Hull FC in the long run. But that’s just the view of a selfish old bugger who always puts his club before his country and what do I know anyway.

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Proud to be picked!

Talking of International ‘call up’s’ it appears that Mini won’t be playing for Italy this closed season either as he has to fly home on family business. However, despite his absence, Minichiello remains committed to the Italian cause. Last week he said, “I spoke with the Italian Rugby League and their president, and unfortunately I wasn’t available for the games. It’s due to family commitments – I’ve got a wedding back home in Australia. It’s my brother-in-law’s wedding, and, for me, family has to come first” Nevertheless Minichiello remains confident that the Azzurri, for whom Hull Kr players Josh Mantellato and Terry Campese have been selected, will qualify for the 2017 World Cup adding, “The guys behind the scenes are doing some amazing things for Italian rugby league and I’ll be back playing for them if they get there,”

This week in Codgers Corner and by request I want to look at a Hull team that was undoubtedly on the very top of their game, playing ‘total rugby’ that was absolutely overpowering, amazingly and exciting and as near perfect for the full 80 minutes as perhaps it ever could be. It comes as I say, following a request from Geoff Tinsley who stopped me the other day to talk about it.

October 1982 was little different to this October in Kingston upon Hull. It was Hull Fair, drizzly and wet and the club must have been pleased to get a crowd of 13,057 down to the Boulevard for a top of the table clash on a cold Wednesday evening. As we all struggled through the Hull Fair traffic to get parked around the ground there was an air of expectation as we prepared to watch our heroes take on Leeds the club that was undefeated in 8 League games and who stood five points clear at the top of Division One.

The Loiners were a great team but then again so were we and the strength in depth that we had at the club was reflected by the fact that the previous weekend I had gone to watch our A team beat Wakefield A with a team that included Ronnie Wileman, Steve Portz, Mick Sutton, Tony Dean, Steve Dennison, Wayne Proctor and Shaun Patrick. No surprise then that the club were even muting the possibility of launching a new team called Hull White Star to play in the Second Division.

That night the Threepenny Stand was rocking and packed to the rafters as the floodlights shone out on a glistening pitch and the ‘glow’ of Hull Fair shone in the sky over the Airlie Street end. As the teams ran out folks were still streaming into the ground and as for the match day programmes, well they’d run out well before then. Lee Crooks our 20 year old Great Britain Colts international second row forward kicked off into what was a light breeze. From the first tackle it was obvious Hull were up for it, and Crooksey then produced a massive hit that left international loose forward Heron in a heap on the floor and literally gasping for breath.

After 4 minutes we worked the ball to the half way line where Trevor Skerrett blasted his way through a tackle by Rayne and Pitchford and passed onto ‘Knocker’ Norton. Our international loose forward shot down the centre channel in front of the Threepennies and threw out a low pass that Dane O’Hara picked off his boot laces. The winger stumbled, looked up and then set off for the corner as Dyl and Ward came across to tackle him into touch. As they closed in Dane showed his strength and skill to squeeze in at the corner. Lee Crooks missed the touchline conversion but thereafter, although Kevin Dick reduced our lead with a well taken penalty, it became the Lee Crooks show.

On 13 minutes our young GB Colts international got his first try. Harkin, Topliss, Kemble and Evans engineered a breath-taking move from our own 10 yard line to set up a position 30 yards out from the Leeds whitewash. Bridges, who throughout the evening worked the acting half back position superbly, flighted a long hanging pass to Norton who released the perfect drop off for Crooks to crash in with, Leeds full back Hague on his back. He converted his own try and then got another penalty after 16 minutes and already despite Leeds’s big reputation we were 10-2 in front.

Crooks tackled everything and was on hand to cart the ball up along with the workhorses that were Paul Rose, Trevor Skerrett and Charlie Stone. We were playing on a different plane to the league leaders and the crowd loved the level of skill anticipation and tenacity they were watching. After 20 minutes a ‘set of six drives ended with Crooks finding himself with the ball and everyone expecting him to kick it deep towards the Leeds line. However, this was Lee’s night and as he spotted a gap he shot through it and kicked a little lobbed effort over Hague’s head. Running around the full back he caught the ball and to a massive cheer from all around the ground he flew over to touch down. The rest of the half was all Hull but although Evans and Kemble went close we did not increase our led.

We all started to believe that we were seeing something special that night though, and the crowd was buzzing through the half time break. It certainly did’nt take long for our suspicion’s to be confirmed either as the second half was barely a minute old when Crooks was at it again to complete a brilliant 32 minute hat trick, with his third try without doubt being his best. He broke from 60 yards out, kicked past the full back again and this time dribbled the ball for fully 40 yards to touch down near the posts. His conversion made the score 20-2 and you could see by the faces of the Leeds team that already the game was up. Everyone was playing their part in a complete annihilation of the Leeds outfit, the centres Evans and Leuluai looked yards faster than Massa and Dyl. In fact, Evans went close on about 5 occasions that night, his best chance coming from a great passing movement that saw him cross the line in the 45th minute, only for referee Whitfield to pull him back for a forward pass.

On the 46th minute mark though it was Topliss who shot in for Crooks to goal and I guess by then it was starting to look like a rout. However, Leeds were now seeing a bit more of the ball but a couple of brilliant catches of ‘Bombs’ and a superb tackle on Conway saw Kemble at full back an absolute ‘stone wall’ in defence, through which Leeds could just not pass. It was simply magnificent rugby and I think the only mistake we saw from a Hull player was in the 53rd minute when Harkin dropped a pass from Rose straight into the path of winger Andrew Smith who went in for Leeds only try of the night wide out, but Dick could not convert and at 25-5 Hull were cruising.

It was then Leuluai’s turn to score as he caught the next pass from Paul Rose and set off on an arching run for 45 yards to score near the posts. Then Rose himself finished the scoring with five minutes to go and with Crooks again adding the conversion, we had won a most memorable game 35-5. At the end no one really wanted to go home it had been such a wonderful experience that had us rubbing our eyes with amazement at times. The performance of several players down the middle like Steve Norton, Lee Crook, Skerrett and Stone were just unbelievable as Hull tore Leeds’s confidence to shreds. This was not so much a victory as a humiliation of a side that sat proudly at the top of the table. If you were there you will know exactly what I mean and no written word can fully describe just how brilliant Hull FC and young Lee Crooks were that night. Brilliant memories of a brilliant era that we should be looking to replicate in the coming seasons at the KC; well we can hope!

So there we are I apologising for a bit of navel gazing about the demeanour of the fans and season tickets but I guess we’ve all had a bit of time to think since the Super league semi-final defeat. Thanks so much as well to the massive number of people who got in touch this week and for sticking with the Diary once again.

Keep Believing

Faithfully Yours

Wilf