The Dentist’s Diary – 539th

Wow didn’t that just make you proud to be black and white eh?

In addition to a great win and taking into consideration the draining schedule and totally unacceptable catalogue of games we have seen of late, what an effort that was from 34 players running on absolute empty. The game has a lot to answer for on the player welfare front, but that aside it was a wonderful performance and a massive effort from every one of our lads, as we fielded a team with some jabbed up, some carrying injuries, some out of position and some pretty inexperienced, but they all took the game to the Pies from minute one and produced a massive effort to secure the points.

By the end I felt like I’d played the game myself! The heat, the drama, the Wigan comeback and the absolute heroics from our lads left me completely wrung out. When you considered our depleted ranks, then I have to say that before the game I would probably have taken that result in reverse and then reflected in here on us making a good fist of it, as we faced the Champions with a squad that after the Leigh game in particular, I just couldn’t see getting anywhere near a win.

But how wrong was I proved to be, as every one of the team gave their absolute all and then some and in the end we got two precious points that got us back on track and put any chance of us finishing in the middle eight, almost beyond the pale.

That’s this season’s first target, but the heart and spirit we saw on show in that game has to stand us in good stead for the future. For me as well, it’s just so great to be able to live out the sentiments that so many readers shouted to me as I left the game and to ‘write an upbeat Diary for once!’

After the abject disappointment, concern and sulking of last week-end, I drove home to Beverley in the evening sunshine with a big smile on my face and ‘Born to Run’ at full blast in the car, as after a down beat week for this fan, the whole outlook suddenly looked a lot brighter. It’s a funny old game isn’t it and as reader Richard Hall said last night in an E Mail, “Who in their right mind would ever be a supporter?”

Sat here typing this in the afterglow of a great win, I’m so proud of our team, but my ‘match day experience’ on game day had started so differently, as with the vagaries of televised rugby and the strange workings of the RL, we faced a kick off at 5 o’clock, which although a bit of a novelty, also appeared to be a real ‘ball ache’ for many. Parking up in Selby Street it was certainly quiet and I feared that half term, the tropical weather and the lure of tea time barbeques etc. had maybe convinced a lot to watch the game on TV. AND after what had gone before, who could blame them? To be honest I was worried that there would be a flat feeling about the whole thing and my mind went back to that morgue like atmosphere last year when we played Catalans on a Saturday, in that Cup quarter-final.

I needn’t have worried however, for I was soon to witness a fine loud and proud repost from a crowd of just over 10,000, but then again, what we witnessed on Saturday, certainly warranted a big response.

What a difference the weather makes though and West Park, resplendent with kid’s games and slides to perpetuate the Family Weekend theme, was a hive of activity and it was great to see Mahe Fonua and several of the players who were missing from the team, taking part in the fun with the fans. I had my picture taken with the Challenge Cup (again) and all in all I felt pretty relaxed, simply because looking at the two respective teams, I’d not given us a hope in hell of winning.

But, as my pal Dick said to me after the game, “What the hell did we know?” and quite frankly us unbelievers were all made to look a bit daft by the end really. I’m sure there are some out there now saying they expected us to do well, but I don’t think that’s the truth really do you? Well, let’s say that as we fielded that first kick off, there weren’t many positive faces sat around me!

In the East Stand it was boiling and as we ‘steamed’ in our seats, the team news didn’t fill me with confidence either, as I noted that the Lancashire Club might have had injuries of their own, but at least they had their front rows and half backs pretty intact, while we had three of our first choice props missing and Marc Sneyd, Ellis, Fonua and Griffin all out as well. Strangely enough for me it was great in fact to start a game where I had no aspirations at all and so I sat back and clutching my bottle of water, I was pretty resigned to my fate, as I endeavoured to enjoy what I could of the next two hours.

That demeanour was soon to change however, (not just for me but for everyone present in black and white) as the players we had on duty surpassed my wildest dreams and completely played Wigan off the field in a scintillating first half.

Half time of course saw me still pretty nervous, (because having been to Warrington and Wigan this year I knew what could happen at Hull FC if we weren’t careful). In fact, at that point I just wanted to go home and I was not able to contemplate a big Wigan come back at all! I looked across to my pals Barry and Alan a few rows behind and their look said it all, as past experience, (as I always say in here), meant that the big question was now for all of us, could we hold out?

It was certainly a big ask with a team with five heroes jabbed up and some very inexperienced players on show and what was even more worrying was that we were visibly flagging in the final few minutes of that first half. All the while we also knew that Mr Wane would be burning the paint off the away dressing room wall, to ensure he got a response. There is little doubt that going 54 minutes without conceding a penalty was instrumental in our ability to keep Wigan starting their sets deep in their own half and some great defence ensured that after the next six tackles we were always in a good position to charge back to their end. It was indeed great stuff to watch.

As expected Wigan did roar back in the second period but it would have been completely impossible to contain a team of Wigan’s calibre for the full 80 minutes, however a brilliant individual kick and chase try from Shaul, which surely will be in there vying for try of the month and a great effort from Albert saw us home for what was the win no one expected! That Kelly try wasn’t so much about a great 90 meter run for the line with the Wigan defence trailing in his wake, but more about a brilliant pick up of a difficult ball around his boot laces and the way he instantly turned defence into attack. We’d certainly be in ‘stuck’ without him this season and for me his partnership with Connor is looking good so far.

Boy, as the second half started to unfold I couldn’t remember the last time that my mouth had been so dry, of course just when you want another bottle of water the refreshments have shut up shop, but then again it was only 70 degrees in the East Stand and who’d want water ten minutes into that second half anyway!! Besides just about everyone! However, dry and completely wrung out the clock crawled on and at last the final hooter went and although we had hung on a bit in that second half the lads came through to give me, under those circumstances, probably my most satisfying win of the season.

We had taken the game to Wigan from the off and what was so rewarding was the fact that once Thompson, Green and Co. had put in a massive twenty minutes at intervals we brought on Fash, Downs, Matonga and Turgot but the pace and impact in the line never flagged. What a young bench that was, yet how well they all played! They were instrumental in downing a team so long praised for the strength of their resources and their own exceptional young guns. You could see the oppositions frustration grow as our youngsters held their defensive positions and refused to be drawn out of the line. Green had as good a game as I have seen him play in a black and white shirt and really rose to the responsibility he was presented with, as our only first choice front rower on view.
Great moment as Kelly seals the game!

Fetuli Talanoa was simply amazing too. Having been out for 8 games injured I wondered how he would ease himself back into the cut and thrust of Super League, but all the frustration and infuriation of an enforced lay off came out in spectacular fashion, as he tore into the opposition time after time landing on his front in the tackle and getting up so quickly to play the ball. In the first half and despite playing at centre he seemed to carry the ball at least once in every set and his work rate was phenomenal. But on Saturday there were brave and exceptional performances across the park.

Danny Houghton was absolutely massive and in the absence of Sneyd he had obviously been given a more creative role to work in harness with Connor, as he sometimes handled the ball two and three times in some passages of play, switching the ball and disrupting with ease the Pies defensive patterns. Danny thrived on laying on the plays that saw us break their line time and again, whilst again tackled everything in sight; for 49 times in the game. Kelly too was his maverick self, making a great play and then handing the ball over with a loose pass or two but always trying to vary the play. But as has been the case so often this year, he was to prove instrumental in providing the killer blow that got us over the line.

But you have to marvel at that first half when you watch the game again, as on the day we were on our feet every few minutes and the crowd got behind the team to a level we haven’t seen for weeks. They roared the lads on and Wigan simply had no answer, as we swamped the opposition and in effect took the game away from them before half time had arrived. Our discipline was superb throughout and that makes so much difference as we conceded just 4 penalties. But everything was right on the night, even to the point when I saw Yeamo out there after we had conceded that first try, rallying the lads behind the sticks and encouraging the fight.

On the field of play it was certainly a night for the emerging and unsung hero, to come to the fore, Rawsthorne was brilliant on two occasions in the second half under the high ball when we were under the cosh and he kicked a towering killer conversion from the touch line when Connor was off the field. Fash, Downes and Turgot tackled like men possessed and Mase had his best game for the Club as the big prop looked a real handful with the ball and ran some absolutely killer lines close to the Wigan in goal area, a couple of which perhaps deserved a try.

That team spirit was certainly back in abundance!

Washy so often the unsung hero was just that again, as he thrived on the wide out second row role he was given and made a great try. He is just so effective these days wherever he plays! Manu, moving into the middle to under pin the younger forwards, was also superb throughout. Mini got many peoples vote for man of the match but whether it was breaking the line and galloping down field for yards, or just stopping up one side of the field with his tackling, he had a great game. Michaels too came right back into his role as the consummate poacher and Connor working the line so well in the absence of Sneyd, really impressed too.

I absolutely loved it and as a performance in adversity it reminded me of those great ‘backs to the wall’ games of the 70’s, that we always produced against Leeds, even when we were really depleted and struggling for form, we actually demolished a Wigan team for whom two late tries when it mattered little, flattered their final score.

A massive game!

Sport eh? You just can’t call it can you? Just when you think it’s all going ‘mammeries skyward’, it comes back to once again surprise you, as an anticipated afternoon out in the sun and a possible exercise in keeping the score down, ended up with this fan totally wrung out, elated and perhaps a bit in disbelief of what he had actually witnessed; all at the same time!!

So to the week gone by and last week I alluded to the fact that an operation on that broken foot could render Marc Sneyd out for the season and in fact a couple of readers contacted me to say that perhaps I was over reacting bit. However, that fact was confirmed this week when Lee Radford indicated that it had been decided that Marc would take to a protective boot for two months, with the hope that he will be back, for the business end of the season. In the mean time we have to ensure we stay in contention without him and that means a big role for Jake Connor and a prayer that he and Kelly stay injury free. The loss of Marc is a massive, but the sort of thing that you have to get through, however when it’s your play maker and goal kicker it’s always a big issue.

We will certainly be in a bit of a hole half-back wise at present if anyone else gets injured and I rehearsed the arguments about the detail of Jordan Abdull’s loan last week and, as I said then, we just have to get on with it really. However, survival in the top eight is now almost attained and we just have now to keep going as best we can.

Still there was some good news on another front when one of my FC favourites Mark Minichiello re-signed for another year. I told you an announcement was imminent about 3 Diaries ago, because he mentioned it to me in the gym, but it was good to get it confirmed on Friday, as it was revealed exclusively by Reece Batty, who was taking part in the Clubs Junior Takeover for the Family Day fixture against Wigan Warriors. Reece won a competition as part of the scheme where young people could apply for several ‘Jobs’ at the Club. What a moment that must have been for young Reece eh and well done Mini as at a time when things are pretty tough numbers wise at the FC, we get a bit of great news.

On signing his new contract, Minichiello said: “I’m really excited to be going around again. I’ve been happy with my form recently and there’s still plenty more I want to achieve with this club before I leave. I feel well, my body is well and mentally I’ve still got that drive to achieve more silverware with Hull FC. I’m really happy here and it was never an option to look anywhere else”.

I think that Mark is a massive player for us and one that sets the right tone both on and off the field, yes he’s 35, but quite frankly I don’t care about that, because at times he plays like someone ten years younger and is always reliable and strong when out on the field, the way he led the team last Saturday was exemplary. For me, it was a no brainer and a good bit of business!

The ‘noises off’ concerning the replacement of Fonua for 2018 continue to rumble on and it is becoming painfully apparent that its going to be a really tough job to even replace him with a player at the same state of development that Mahe was when he joined us. The best players in Australia are now totally unobtainable, unless they are right at the end of their careers, whilst the younger up and coming players haven’t played enough games to qualify for a visa. That just leaves British born and bred players and they are at such a premium because all 12 Super League Clubs are chasing the same talent and any Club who has anyone on their books that fits the bill, is signed up immediately for a pile of money by his parent Club. We are desperate to attract more people to the game but unable to offer them the best players in the world to watch in it, that for me is a real conundrum and something that will be hard to resolve in the current climate.

One guy in the pub on Friday said to me that we were in effect developing into a feeder League for the NRL which is a bit strong but you can see what he means when our best emerging talent is drawn over there for massive salaries (Mahe for example, immediately doubles his income) and those who don’t make it over there (like Jordan Turner) are immediately sent back in the other direction. So, as far as young British talent going over there is concerned its almost a situation of ‘test and try before you buy’ whilst here, if a British born and based player is really good, as is the case with Ben Jones Bishop at Wakey, then he’s either likely to switch hemispheres or his parent Club will be breaking the bank to keep him, because for them these days, that quality player will be almost impossible to replace.

The problem is that Australia is where the big money is and you really can’t blame the players who go out there to make their fortune can you. In addition, burn out is less likely. If you get to the Grand Final over there you play in 28 games, whilst over here if you get there and play at Wembley too you play 36 including two suicide weekend of two games in three days. Who the hell can blame any player wanting to go there in a short career such as professional Rugby League. That means of course that however you dress it up we will never see our absolute best players stay in this country, unless they are loyal to the point of stupidity. So, where does that leave British Rugby League and it’s emerging talent? You tell me!

There are certainly some talking points around concerning the shambles that is the RL these days and Diary reader Mike from over in Cheshire wrote to me last Monday and said, “Another example of the RFL’s inconsistency, is allowing Huddersfield to cancel their game yesterday. Hull and Rovers got no such special treatment in the past, even kicking off at the same time at a Magic Weekend when City were playing at Wembley in the FA Cup Final. Why must all the other clubs, apart from the Giants and the Saints have to play 2 games in 3 days? This is not a level playing field. No clubs should be playing two ‘Easter periods’ anyway”. As if to echo Mikes thoughts our owner chimed into the debate in his programme notes when he said, “”How can two clubs be rewarded for being knocked out of the Challenge Cup with a rest and those who have gone through be forced to play three games in eight days? All clubs were effectively coerced into supporting the second double header weekend due to the failed England camp and seemingly two have now managed to benefit from it, which is a disgrace.

None of the clubs were informed of this fixture schedule change either until it went to press, when perhaps the RFL would have been better advised to circulate an internal note highlighting their reasons for supporting the change”.

Someone else who certainly concurred with Mike and Adam’s sentiments was Warrington Coach Tony Smith. The Giants were one of three teams below them in the table, but they leapt above Smiths men yesterday as a rested Giants blew away the Wire. Similarly, St Helens went into their game against leaders Castleford refreshed by a 10-day turnaround and Tigers coach Daryl Powell also voiced his criticism of the fixture switch. Smith commented, “I don’t blame Daryl Powell, I’m furious for different reasons. For them it’s the League Leaders’ Shield that’s at stake. However, Huddersfield are breathing down our neck at the other end of the league and to give them a huge advantage is ridiculous. It almost penalises you for being successful in the Challenge Cup. We’ve copped a battering from two top teams, while the Huddersfield lads are putting their feet up in some Jacuzzi.”

What’s galling a lot of clubs is the fact that they all agreed to play a second double-header, following on from the traditional Easter schedule, to allow England coach Wayne Bennett to take his players away for a pre-season training camp. That ludicrous idea was scrapped following opposition from the Super League coaches, but the cancellation came too late to alter the fixture list and the dye was cast, only for the RL to exempt two teams from one of those hectic periods! As Tony Smith concluded, “It’s just crazy and unfair. But, that’s our competition, that’s our administration, it’s just where we’re at, at the moment. We’ve got to get on with it”. That may be true Tony but I and hundreds of other RL fans agree with you and think that it’s double standards and bloody ridiculous!

I was the other day in the company of five other fans and between us we had over 230 years of supporting Hull FC under our rather voluminous belts. After we had talked about how much it had cost us in time, money and heartache and as the ‘Doom Bar’ ale took its effect, we had a good old discussion about what actually makes us a fan and what separates us incurable fanatics, from the casual observers, who can, perhaps very luckily, take it or leave it. One guy said that you had to go to games to be a real fan, but the rest of us thought that was perhaps a bit of an outmoded perception.

Harry had said that it’s all about religiously being at games every time your team plays and having an encyclopedic knowledge of your club, but I said, for me, it really isn’t all about being there every time your beloved club plays, although invariably I am. Years ago if you didn’t go to every game and every club event you were a ‘Part time supporter’ but for me personally, you don’t have to see every game first hand, you can be in close proximity all the time or thousands of miles away, it matters little, because after around 57 years of being obsessed with Hull FC, I’m convinced being a FAN is just that, a mental obsession.

I hear from people who read this rubbish who are in prison, who are bedbound, in hospital, who live in Spain, in Brazil, Scotland and Sussex and a whole host of other places and even some who are out of work, all of whom are every bit as obsessed as I am, although for various reasons they can’t always be there. Being obsessed is simple really, for it just dictates that whether you go to games or not, you stick with your team through every season, every game, every coach and every different player good or bad, winning or losing, hated or loved. You have opinions which you share with your fellow fans but woe betide anyone who isn’t a fan who has a go at your team!!

I concluded that for me you don’t have to be there every time your heroes play, or even be in contact on radio or TV with every game, but if a test were needed as to whether your experience is ‘The real deal’ then it could be that wherever your Club is playing and whatever time it is where you are, you know immediately when they have kicked off and for the next 80 minutes you are completely preoccupied with thought; how they are doing.

Who reading this hasn’t been on a plane, or in hospital or away on business and although not able to be in touch, hasn’t been completely preoccupied in their thoughts for 80 minutes about what is happening to their team. Social media has made it much easier to keep in touch I know, but I hope you get my point. The psyche of the sports fan (Fanatic) is certainly an interesting phenomenon and you could talk all day about it, but for me, it comes down to the fact that wherever you are whatever your circumstances if you get that apprehensive (almost sickly) feeling about 3 or 4 hours before kick-off time and that nervous anxiety throughout the span of the game whether you are in touch or not, you’re hooked forever! I regularly hear of people watching social media whilst in meetings at the other side of the world and of people in Scunthorpe, Banbury, Croydon and Rochester to name but a few, pacing the carpets and shouting at the radio. For me, they are no lesser fans that us lot shuffling in our seats and wringing our hands at the KCOM or the Halliwell Jones, we are all part of the FC family however far flung and ‘disconnected’ we’ve become. Of course you’ll either disagree or agree with these sentiments but again that’s another trait of the fanatical fan, as for us lot there is often no happy medium. It’s funny what you get talking about in the pub!

So next up it’s a trip to Salford and this week in the Codgers Corner spot I thought I’d to feature a trip we made there back in the heady days of the Bunting regime, as I take you back to Sunday 12th October 1980. That season’s trip to The Willows in Salford followed the usual pattern of such sojourns back then. We all boarded the Cherry’s Coach outside ‘The Mermaid’ on Boothferry Estate in West Hull at around 9-30am, as Barry the Landlord counted us all onto the bus before we all settled down to a journey across the Pennines accompanied by a few cans of Mansfield Bitter.
Our first port of call was the Langworthy Hotel on the way into Salford. At that time it was still a hotel ‘proper’ although a decidedly seedy one, but Anton the Landlord made us very welcome with our usual access through the back door and a free ‘dollop’ of Pie and Peas, washed down with copious amounts of Chester’s Best Bitter, which prepared us perfectly for the game ahead.

Following a defeat to the New Zealand Tourists the previous week at the Boulevard, it was good for what was without doubt a difficult away game to welcome back ‘Psycho’ Paul Woods, Steve ‘Knocker’ Norton and Trevor Skerrett from injury. Although, with the arrival of the New Zealand contingent in the next 12 months, he was to become surplus to requirements, at that point in time we always seemed to play better when Paul Woods was in the team and although hard as nails, the man who at Wembley earlier that year had asked the Queen Mother for her autograph, was well liked, a character and a real hero too. The return of these three key players was fortuitous to say the least as the home team had hit a rich vein of form, racking up 70 points in their last two games and faced us following a stunning 26-10 win the previous Sunday at Naughton Park, Widnes.

A major injury crisis was still causing Arthur Bunting problems however and we were still short of players and heavily strapped second rower Sammy Lloyd had to start the game on the wing. As always when we ‘struggled’ injury wise, our Board went out and made a signing and so in the previous week we saw new recruit Barry Banks join us for £20,000 from York in time for the game. Barry was a hard running centre and a reasonable player but as I mentioned last week in the Diary his habit of running across the field, rather than down it, soon got him the rather unkind fishing related nick name of ‘The Sliding Door’ or ‘The Sidewinder’. Also in the team and again signed on in mid-week this time on a month’s loan from New Hunslet, was Bob Gaitley. We wanted to sign Bob permanently but our growing reputation for being the ‘Money bags’ team of the British game saw the Leeds Club demanding a rather ambitious £5,000 for his permanent signature, so we ‘took him on approval’ and he slotted into the half backs.

As the floodlights were already on and the thunder roared overhead from the leaden skies we took our places in the shelter of ‘The Shed’, a Stand which in those days we literally took over from the home crowd, as the regulars were displaced grudgingly to the margins and the low terracing in front of the Social Club. The game kicked off in dry conditions although the rain looked likely to arrive at any minute. In the first set of tackles Salford full-back Johns broke the Hull line and shot into open field. The rangy number 1 was however abruptly stopped in his tracks by Woods who executed a crunching standing tackle that contained more than a hint of a high elbow from the tackler. This saw the Salford man stunned and although he eventually got to his feet he was substituted shortly afterwards. Keith Boxall and Charlie Birdsall tore into the hosts and their defence was certainly ‘creaking’ when after 15 minutes it was those two forwards, working in tandem down the right, that opened up the home team’s defence for loanee Gaitley to run onto a short pass back inside from Pickerill and go on unchallenged to score a try.

That lead was soon reduced as just four minutes later Keith Boxall got a little ambitious. Instead of just driving the ball in he decided on a short kick which landed straight in Keith Latham’s arms and the host’s winger, hugging the whitewash, ran 70 yards to score in the corner with Prendiville chasing but unable to make up any ground on him. After 24 minutes Pickerill, Gaitley, Boxall, Lloyd and Skerrett combined in a mesmerising move that saw this time Wilby break the line, sending Prendiville himself flying in. Hull kept up the pressure and Paul Woods dropped a goal that sailed out of our sight above the overhang of the stand, but that was confirmed as referee Holdsworth raised his handkerchief to indicate it had been successful. Then as the rain poured down, a high tackle on Norton by Steve Nash (the darling of the Salford Fans) saw Lloyd convert the penalty and we went in at half time leading 11-3.

Although we expected an onslaught from Salford after the break it was the black and whites that increased their lead with the best try of the game. Fielding of Salford dropped the ball on our 25 yard line and it was picked up by Norton, who immediately ran 20 yards downfield and then passed onto Prendiville. The Salford cover swept across field like the cavalry in some old John Wayne film, with Richards, McGovern, Henny and Major all charging back to cut our winger off. Running in that crouching style we all loved there was no way that Paul could beat his pursuers to the corner so he stopped, cut inside, then outside, and then inside again, leaving one after another of the tacklers grasping thin air. As he straightened up to head for the line he rounded Stephenson, cut inside Fielding and having now evaded seven of the Red’s players in total, there was simply no one left to beat and Taffy completed one of the best tries of his illustrious career.

Lloyd kicked the goal and then a couple of fortuitous penalties (on brilliantly worked by Norton who claimed he couldn’t get up from a tackle) saw us back in their twenty-five where a wonderful flowing move across the field and back again, featuring Stone, Pickerill, Norton, Banks and Prendiville allowed Wilby to crash in for Lloyd to convert again. Then, at 21-3, as so often happens in games, we simply couldn’t get the ball. A couple of sloppy passes and a knock on gave away cheap possession and the home side got a bit of momentum as Richards kicked through and a tiring Paul Woods could not reach the ball before the Salford winger regained it to score a converted try. Next, Nash, at last living up to his billing of the most exciting half-back in the British game at the time, shot through our tiring defence to put Driver in. As the ‘alarm bells’ started to sound, another converted try this time by Smith saw our lead cut to 16-21 and in a game that had seemed won by three quarter time the tension in the FC crowd became almost unbearable.

However as usually happened back then when we knew how to hang onto a lead, Stone, Skerrett and Norton steadied things down and on 70 minutes we at last got the ball and roared back into the Salford half. Norton brilliantly dummied a half break and put Charlie Birdsall away on a run that saw the burly second rower approach full back Driver. By now the rain had made the pitch so slippery that side steps were almost impossible, so Charlie decided to run straight over their stand in number 1 to score under the posts. In a state joy and relief, singing and dancing, the whole contingent of Hull supporters in ‘The Shed’ fell forward as one, as the relief and hundreds of pairs of alcoholically effected legs, finally took their toll.

Then with just 5 minutes left, Gaitley weaved his way through a tiring Salford defence and almost got Birdsall in again. However, from the play the ball Pickerill fed substitute Tindall and when Salford stopped and appealed for a forward pass and referee Holdsworth waved play on, the veteran forward released the ball from a three man tackle and Prendiville crashed in for his ‘hat trick try’.

As the referee prepared to blow his whistle the Hull attack finished off the Salford team in what was becoming a time honoured fashion. Pickerill took the ball to the line ten yards out and with three tired defenders blocking his way, (for the fifth time already that season), he produced that classic reverse pass behind his back for Skerrett to score. After the whistle had gone we charged onto the pitch, slipping and sliding in the mud and chaired Paul Prendiville off the field to the chants of “Super Super, Super Taff, Super Taff, Super Taff”. It was a great day for Paul, but once again, when we reflected on the match afterwards, there is little doubt that in the end the key figure in this rejuvenated display was ‘Knocker’ Norton, whose magical ball distribution had throughout the afternoon paved the way for some great tries and a magnificent 34-16 score-line. Great days eh?

A bit over the top this week? Well why not, because I absolutely loved Saturday Evening at the KCOM! It’s a roller coaster of a ride being an FC fan though isn’t it eh? The old adage of ‘It’s never Dull at Hull’ certainly appertains all the time for the loyal FC supporter, but what a sensational display under difficult circumstances that was. The opposition, their record at the KCOM, the heat, the players we were missing and a lower than usual gate could have all transpired to work against us, but we took the game by the scruff of the neck and blew the Wigan side away in that first half. That was sufficient to win the game and one or two of the senior players will be twitching a bit about getting their places back after the showing of some of our youngsters. It really was top stuff.

At the game itself I saw loads of Diary readers and old mates and it was so great to chat before and afterwards, whilst during the game the atmosphere on the terraces was absolutely great. It’s all pretty relentless for the players at present and 6 days on we are off to Salford before the really big one a week on Sunday at the KCOM. As my pal Richard said as he left the game, (about the ludicrous pressure being put on the players with the ridiculous fixture list), “What a match, I guess that’s Hull FC one, the Rugby League nil”.

So there we are and after that sensational performance it’s back to the bread and butter stuff of trying to pick up the points where we can and getting some injured bodies back into the team for the trip to Salford. However, in the mean-time, it was a great game, thanks for reading another Diary, keep believing and ……


Faithfully Yours