The Dentist’s Diary – 526th

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“Garry Schofield …He’s a Banker, he’s a Banker!!”

(Well, I think that’s what the FC fans were chanting at Huddersfield last Thursday!)

It was great that after hearing the thoughts of Mr Schofield in his unprecedented outburst earlier in the week, Marc Sneyd was able to keep his council and let it all wash over him, in fact he even declined to be interviewed directly after the game. Instead our number 7, simply let his actions do the talking. There, in the cold of a pretty bleak Huddersfield night, he gave the most emphatic and succinct reply to the banal taunting of the washed up pundit and did it in the best way possible. Being accused of not being able to pass, run or tackle in a radio interview, Marc answered all those criticisms ‘and then some’, and in addition by the end of the game, Schofield’s ‘bandwagoning’ questioning of the validity of his partnership with ‘Albo’ Kelly, was beginning to look ridiculous too.

It was a good win but that victory wasn’t as easy as many are now making out either. Three years ago under those circumstances, with a wet ball, a poor crowd and a depleted Huddersfield team, complacency could have led us to at best a struggling win and at worse an unexpected defeat. But, this Hull FC squad is a bit different and rather like at Widnes last year, when in the Super 8’s we put them to the sword, our new found mental tenacity came through and we were able to put a wounded team away in clinical fashion.

This victory was of course earlier in the season than that nilling in Cheshire in 2016 and so there were mistakes a plenty, nevertheless it was job done in some style. However, as the dust settles and some are already looking forward to Saints on Friday, it’s always great when a plan comes together and I just want to take some time out to say a big well done to Marc Sneyd, as ‘Laid back Lenny’ made sure that last Thursday his decisive actions, spoke louder than Schofield’s hollow taunts.

Starting with 7 first teamers missing, the hosts were obviously depleted and when I saw the Huddersfield team sheet I feared the worst. I worried that our traditional complacency could well creep in and I knew as well that whatever we did and however well we played, the weakened opposition would see us on a hiding to nothing with some pundits and even some of our own fans. Had we won by 100 points some would have found something to criticise, simply because they could.

So if we were to answer that, we would need a pretty special performance and by and large I think that we got just that. Huddersfield were short-handed in the backs, but up front they still had a formidable pack on show and any complacency in our Forwards could have made it a pretty difficult night all round. Our priorities were therefore to allay the fears of the fans after that opposition line up had been announced and by so doing to hopefully silence that one particular portly protagonist. In the end I don’t honestly think that we could have done either more emphatically.

Let’s go back a bit though and look at what caused all that ‘hoo ha’ from Garry Schofield earlier last week. The ex GB international has without doubt positioning himself as the games self- styled ‘Mr Devil’s Advocate’ and on that particular soap box he has developed over the years into a pretty pitiful pundit, who these days is only really known for being controversial. He thinks it clever to verbally assassinate Players, Clubs, Owners, Administrators and Coaches and quite frankly the sensationalism and ‘shock Jock’ nature of it all is probably the only reason that he continues to be employed in the role at all, because as far as words of real wisdom are concerned for me Schofield has few.

Leaving my Club in the lurch and actively seeking a position at Leeds as he chased the money back in the 80’s, he was branded ‘Judas’ by the fans and that is certainly something that he has never really escaped from completely as far as us lot on the terraces are concerned and with behaviour like we saw last week who can blame us? After the half-back’s indifferent display in the defeat to Catalans Dragons last week, lesser players than Sneyd would have crumbled under a tirade of abuse and rubbish, as ‘Judas’ slammed our scrum half on Yorkshire Radio last Monday. Schofield said, “He doesn’t organise, he doesn’t create, he doesn’t tackle, he doesn’t pass and when he does its rubbish” and that’s just a short segment of his negative diatribe.

For years Mr. S has hidden behind ‘the skirts’ of the media, popping out to spout vitriol and misguided bitterness about all sorts of people involved in the game, before ducking back out of sight again, knowing that the organisations, coaches and players he had harangued could not or would not respond. However, after years of this media bullying, at last someone has taken him on and if I’m honest I loved it! Lee Radford promptly responded at his pre-match press conference last week as he offered a staunch repost in defence of his Lance Todd Trophy-winning player.

In his own personal Donald Trump meets Mrs. Brown moment, Radford started quite succinctly as he said, “Garry is more than welcome to come down and I’ll put numerous amount of drills together and he can have a passing competition with Marc, publicly and we can get the Sky cameras down for that,” Then he really opened up and in language everyone including Mr Schofield could understand, he continued, “I honestly don’t think Sneydy is that ar*** to be honest. Pundits are like ar*******, they’ve all got one and the majority of them are full of s***. In Garry’s case, he has a lot of diarrhoea throughout the year and he must take a lot of laxatives” A bit basic, but not much inaccuracy there I thought!

Don’t be having a go at me for calling him names in here either, because if he can call Sneyd ‘Rubbish’ then all he is getting from me is a bit of his own medicine back and anyway as a curmudgeonly old git I don’t like him much at all and so it makes me feel better!

Of course opinions were mixed and indeed you could hear one or two FC fans having a go at our coach for rising to what was obviously Schofield’s ‘bait’, but someone had to one day put our chubby friend in his place and last week ‘Radders’ did it in pretty spectacular fashion.

I received a couple of texts from aggrieved fans who thought Lee had over reacted, but in general I got what can only be described as several impassioned messages from long term, ‘hardened’ fans of our great Club who were fed up with his antics. One eminent female fan commented, “I’ve never loved Radders more than I do at this moment”, which I think said it all for many die hard supporters who were sick and fed up of the rantings of Schofield and remembered him for what he was! Radford of course no doubt also used the opportunity that this criticism offered to show a lot of his players who have been really loyal to him in the past 12 months, that when push comes to shove, he’ll stand up for them too.

On the field last Thursday Marc answered everything wonderfully and Schofield would have been better just keeping stum and moving on, but no, instead the 51-year-old couldn’t leave it alone and tweeted during the course of the match: “If any other Super League club wants someone to motivate their players, you know where I am”. Words fail me really, what a Dick!

To many players that tirade would have seen them downhearted and even doubting their own ability, but Sneyd just did what he does so well and played the game as he saw it. OK, I think perhaps with that run away 70-yard effort, ordinarily he might have looked to pass on to his winger, but instead he pinned back his ears and went for it, to maybe just emphasize a point on the ‘he can’t run’ stuff, but otherwise he just took the game in his stride and lets his actions speak for him.

So now, not to spend any longer in here fuelling undeserving egos, I’ll move on to the game and on a cold West Riding night, in front of what can only be called a pathetic crowd, a big contingent of FC fans witnessed what was without doubt a great performance against what none of us would dispute was a weakened Huddersfield side. The fact, as I have already said, that they were weakened, was certainly a potential banana skin, but this team has a bit more about it these days and as was the case so often last season, we stuck to the task, didn’t force things and gradually built an unassailable lead which led to an emphatic win.

Watching it back afterwards it certainly wasn’t the best of starts, as Shaul dropped a bomb after which Huddersfield should have scored. At that point you could imagine that with a few youngsters out there The Giants would have taken great store from that, as it would no doubt have offered them a deal of encouragement to gain some confidence and hunt an unlikely win. However, we didn’t panic and looked to stick to our game plan and building our game on a tremendous goal line defence, it was the host that started to make the mistakes. Firstly, we produced a great repost to that early woe and it came from Talanoa as Sneyd, pulling all the strings to show the pundits and the fans just what he could do, put the winger in at the corner. Shortly afterwards that great downfield gallop by Marc himself put us 12-0 up and we were on our way.

Shaul suffered under the high ball coming out of the high floodlights all night and if I’m honest I think he’d struggled a bit under restarts against Catalans too. I noted in here last week that against the Frenchmen we were having a deal of trouble across our back three under the high ball and on Thursday it looked as if Broughy had spotted that and those shortcomings continued unabated throughout the game at Huddersfield.

We seemed to persist in letting the ball bounce or if we did try to field it on the full, invariably we dropped it. On the other-hand Shaul was good at full-back as far as tackling and running the ball was concerned, but he was certainly nervous under the towering punts that Brough was putting up. Quite what that’s all about I’m not too sure but for now, not to worry, because we certainly overcame the woes of the previous two games when it came to creating chances. Houghton ran the middle of the field, (50 tackles in 66 minutes) and produced a great short ball for Kelly’s second try, Sneyd with that 28-point haul was superb, as was Kelly and all night we appeared to have a lot of points in us, as with ball in hand, our pivots looked magical at times. A lot has been made since by some fans concerning the number of mistakes we made, but its early days and your younger players and even some of the more experienced ones, struggle to keep the intensity when their team is 20, 30 and then 40 points up. So I’m not going to worry too much about that one at present.

At least a convincing win and a sound performance gave us lot, the long suffering FC fans, an opportunity to take stock as to where a few of our players are at present.

Talanoa had his best game of the season as he continues to grow into the campaign and he took a brilliant Sneyd pass to score our first while as I have already said, Kelly’s ability to seemingly just ‘blink in one direction’ for the line to open up, is a joy to behold and a talent indeed. After the game ‘Albo’ said, “I said to Sneydy during the week, ‘I bet you go out there and get a hat-trick and kick all your goals’ (after the criticism). It was good to watch him do that and I’m happy to get off the mark as well. I was just helping the team out. As a half back pairing we just share and scare! But Marc’s a different type of footballer to what I am. He organises more than I do and is the total opposite to me in many senses. Sometimes that works and we were really in sync at Huddersfield. We need to continue that”.

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Scaring and sharing, what a talent!

Then there was Carlos! If you read this regularly you’ll know that along with a number of other fans I’ve continually been a bit concerned about exactly where Tuimavave’s would feature for us in future seasons, because last year in the half backs he was for me, pretty uninspiring at times. He came to the club as a centre but soon had to play in the half’s when Pryce fell below the standard we expected of him. However, having watched him closely in all his games this year he appears to me to have had a much better time of it so far this season. He looks so fit and ready to go and he has obviously worked hard to keep his shape through the closed season. He is running well in the loose and tackling really well out wide and for me at present, that centre spot is his to lose.

Another player I haven’t had a close look at much this season occupies the other centre berth where ‘the Million Pound Man’ Josh Griffin is plying his trade. After hours of rain, it was heavy going under foot at Huddersfield and when you consider that he is still recovering from a pre-season groin strain, his showing last Thursday was a big step forward. Of course we ain’t seeing him at his best yet, but he is now working well with Talanoa and he’s starting to look dangerous in open field too. On Thursday there was a time or two when he reminded us all how difficult he is to tackle when he is in full flight. He plays at times like a second rower, but when released he has a big hand off and a, rare turn of pace for a big bloke as well.


A very together performance.

A mention too for Chris Green, who came off the bench and again did well, he grinds out the yards and keeps the errors down and is having a better season, while Washbrook again added something from the bench when he came on. So, all round it was a good showing from just about everyone.

However, as I say in the end it was job done and as a team we seemed to take Lee Radford’s pre match pleas about ‘being patient’ to heart, in what was a display that showed a lot of maturity. OK, it’s only two points and they were depleted somewhat through injuries, but we had our own issues as we built up for the game and in the end that win in West Yorkshire did offer a great way to build our confidence, as we prepare for a much more testing encounter coming up against Saints at the KCOM on Friday. All the same there was some good stuff at the Giants I thought!

On Saturday I listened back, as I usually do, to the post-match stuff from Radio Humberside and despite the fact that I have over the years lamented him long and hard in here, I have to admit that Paul Cooke does talk a lot of sense. I’m certainly not his biggest fan and never have been but his observations indicate a guy who understands the game and who is a genuine thinker about the way our sport is played. I even found his analysis of the match quite enlightening at times as well. I was also surprised about how close he is to Lee Radford and indeed how much time he spends on the phone with our coach each week, talking about Hull and Leigh’s up-coming opponents.

You do have to wonder where all this might end up one day don’t you? But, listening to what he had to say it was, without doubt, an interesting insight from another club’s coach of what actually goes on in the ‘small world’ of British Rugby League and I guess whether we as fans like it or not, Cooke is certainly involved with our club again.

Well, I predicted in last week’s Diary that both Liam Watts and Scott Taylor could well be in trouble for some over exuberant tackles against the Catalans Dragons and so it was that on Monday we heard that they had both been charged.

With a Grade D offence raised against him it was always going to be hard for Wattsy but it appeared that the Club were confident that Scott would be exonerated, so much so that he was named on Tuesday afternoon in the 19-man squad for Huddersfield. In the end Liam Watts received a four-match ban and a £300 fine after pleading guilty to a Grade D dangerous throw charge. One of our two best props would therefore have to sit out the Black and Whites’ following four matches and in addition pay a £300 fine.

Watts is a top forward, there is little doubt of that and if you play up there in the engine room of the front row from time to time you’re bound to find yourself in the occasional bit of bother. Personally after I had watched the incident again, I thought that the sentence was a bit on the harsh side of things, but it was still a bad tackle, but like Wattsy says in his tweet below we will now all await with interest to see the disciplinary panels reaction after the next such throw is shown on TV. Call me biased but I still think in all these cases there’s a bit of an issue about who the perpetrator is and who he plays for. Wattsy certainly showed his feelings about it all straight after he had been to the hearing and did it for all to read on twitter, where he said:

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Well said to Liam and for me, I just hope that he gets himself fit and then comes back with a bang!

Well the move of Dean Hadley to Wakey on a Month loan was a bit of a surprise, but when you think about it, the deal certainly makes eminent sense, particularly if he gets some game time there because chances look limited for him at the FC don’t they? Dean has a ton of potential, good vision and is a robust tackler but with the players we have in the second row at present, his chances have been limited. He was given the 11 shirt ahead of the season but an injury has restricted his opportunities and so some rehab and game time at Wakefield is a great idea. However, I asked about his potential future at the Club and was told categorically from the very top that he will be back after the loan spell and the young second rower is certainly central to our plans going forward.

So, now I have to say a big thank you to Bill who wrote to me by ‘Snail Mail’ this week about the Diary and included an idea for this week’s trip back into Hull FC’s past time. So, as always I’m happy to oblige and this time around in Codgers Corner we are to look forward to Friday, as I feature perhaps the greatest ever display we have seen from an FC team against St Helens. Last season’s showing away in the Cup was certainly very special, but not as special as this one!!

Saturday 30th July 2005 – Hull FC 34-St Helens 8
In the draw for the quarter finals at last lady luck was on our side, as another home draw against another Super League team, saw us playing ‘basement’ Club the Leigh Centurions. It was a game that we won easily 46-14 and so we were into the semi- final and drawn to play the Cup favourites St Helens, at the Galpharm Stadium on 30th July. Although we had climbed to the dizzy heights of 2nd in Super League with several good wins in June, no one gave us ‘a hope in hell’ of winning this one.

It was certainly a big task against Super League’s most successful team, the Competition favourites and a Club that was undefeated in their last 10 League and Cup games. Amazingly in addition to that, Hull hadn’t beaten St Helens in a Challenge Cup tie for 70 years and that in Round One way back in 1936. Who in their right mind was going to back us against those odds?

We arrived to totally different scenes to those that greeted us in Huddersfield five years early, before that fateful Semi-final against Leeds when fighting was breaking out and a shameful day ensued. Just the same that afternoon the pubs and Clubs were thronging with Hull and Saints fans. But everyone was friendly and had a great time, as the opposition felt confident that the game was a foregone conclusion and the ‘FC Faithful’ were intent on first and foremost having a good day out.

In the Stadium as the Hull fans raised the roof and the teams ran out into bright sunshine, the script may have been written by the position and previous Cup success of the opposition, but our players hadn’t read it and immediately the game started the Hull pack tore into the St. Helens forwards. Our season had seen highs and lows, but all the while Kear had stressed the importance of peaking at the right time and this was it. Hull’s defence was superb as they shot out of the line and ‘crawled all over’ the favourites and Richard Whiting gave a brilliant display and helped our forwards snuff out the threat of Gardner, Talau and Wellens. However, it was the kicking of Danny Brough, Richard Horne and Loose Forward Paul Cooke that won the day as time and again the Airlie Birds pinned Saints back in their own half, forcing a total of five goal line drop outs.

On the rare occasions that their defensive wall was breached Hull re-grouped valiantly, no more so than when Richie Barnett (Jnr) scrambled back to pull off a brilliant tackle on Gardner just before the break when Hull held a slender 8-2 lead. It was in fact quite amazing that Saints rarely threatened our line and their only try came from a mix up between Gareth Raynor and Shaun Briscoe when Jamie Lyon latched onto a Sean Long kick to go on and touch-down for an easy try early in the second half.

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Backed himself to score Paul Cooke a real hero that day!

Hull had started the game brilliantly as Cooke carved out an opening for McMenemy to charge in, before we exchanged penalties and went in at half time in the lead. However, after a half time break when we fretted and worried about a St Helens backlash, the crunch came on 54 minutes after Whiting had brilliantly chased a kick to force a fourth drop out. Horne provided quick service for acting half back Cooke, McMenemy worked a run-around that Dave Topliss would have appreciated years earlier in the 80’s and Cooke backed himself to stretch out and score. At 16-8 for the first time we were two scores ahead and 4 minutes later we were in again when McMenemy dropped on a loose ball that Richard Horne had dribbled, football style, through the favourites defence.

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Saints had often been dubbed the comeback kings and as ‘Old Faithful’ rang around the Stadium no-one could relax. With 6 minutes to go Whiting ran a perfect line to make a stunning break out of his own half and set up a position from where Motu Tony, who had come on for the injured Barnett, crashed in to score. We all just stood in disbelief, with tears in our eyes, before Stephen Kearney brilliantly opened up the tiring St Helens defence to send in Richard Horne and a remarkable victory was complete. Richard Swain, Kearney, Cooke, Brough and Horne had masterminded a sensational win and as “We’re the famous Hull FC and were off to Wembley” rang around the ground the players celebrated like they’d already won the final, John Kear ran around punching the air, and I sat and cried.

Leaving the ground we were met by one of the most unusual sights that I have ever seen in 57 years of watching the game of Rugby League, as hundreds of the Saints fans lined the pavements and even got off their buses to stand and applaud us! That was so unexpected and a lot less predictable than the cavalcade of cars, with fans hanging out of the windows, that tooted their horns all the way back along the M62 to Hull. It was without doubt the most complete and best performance I have probably ever seen, before last August and believe me the one that followed it at Cardiff was pretty good! If we play a quarter as well as that on Friday, we’ll murder Saints! Thanks then to Bill for the memories and for his letter, what an afternoon that was eh?

I guess when we started out on the adventure that is to be the new 2017 season we would have accepted 4 points from the first three games and so we have made a steady start on what will be a grueling and hard fought journey. This season is going to be a killer and no mistake and there is little doubt that the intensity of it all will see some Clubs fall by the wayside, we just have to ensure that we are not one of them. This time of year is all about accruing points where you can and moving on to the next battle and our next ‘hit up’ is a hard one indeed. On Friday we have to start winning at home to create a fortress at the KCOM.

Its easily said, but we tend to forget that for the opposition coming to such an atmospheric place often gives heart and lifts the visitors as well. Saints will be smarting from what was a listless and disjointed performance in defeat against Wakey last Friday and they certainly won’t play as badly again. They know, from years of battling it out, that seasons ain’t won in the first few games and their aim will be the same as our, as they try to put some points on the board and secure, first of all, their top 8 place.

On Friday we have to be patient and wait our chance, we have to defend as we have done thus far but we must stop inviting the opposition into the game by our inability to deal with high kicks and restarts and by conceding needless penalties. At Huddersfield the latter was sorted to a greater extent, but the former was still a big issue. We have to retain possession and if we do and the half’s show anything like the form they showed last Thursday then we are well capable of winning. It should be a great game so please get there if you can.

Thanks as always for your great support and for again sticking with the Diary after a week that was dominated by a big win, disciplinary issues and a ‘rubbish spouting pundit’! After almost 12 years of doing this weekly diatribe that outburst proved just one thing; you never quite know what the next week will bring! Thank you for another mass of E Mails, Texts and comments (and a letter), your interest and suggestions are really appreciated. Try and get to the KCOM on Friday if you can and ………….

‘Comeonyouhullllaaaarrrrr!!!!!’

Faithfully Yours

Wilf

P.S. Following last week’s announcements of events for the Feka Testimonial below please find details of the latest to be released…

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