The Dentist’s Diary – 541st

What a blooming great game that was!!!

This week’s offering is a bit hurried and a bit emotional but on a hot and sunny Sunday afternoon we certainly showed a national TV audience just what heart, tenacity and the will to win in a sports team is all about!

The best performance since Wembley? Well for me it was, without doubt! I absolutely loved it…. well I did when it was all over, but whilst it was going on it was a tortuous affair to watch from the terraces and when the final hooter went I was physically and emotionally wrung out. Knock out rugby eh? Don’t you just love it?

The Cup favourites were in town, backed by a huge travelling army, but that trophy was ours and we certainly weren’t going to let it go without a fight!

To boss a team that has averaged 35 points a game this season and keep them to 24 on a hot and humid day like that, took a gargantuan effort by every one of the lads. We were just too physically strong for them and in the end we ran out deserving winners.

Arthur Bunting will have been looking down on that game and be remembering other such great ‘wars’ that he oversaw in the late 70’s and early 80’s; he would have been so proud of that performance. What more can you say really, because the whole afternoon oozed emotion and passion from start to finish.

I kept it together quite well at the end, and loved the adulation of the crowd as they greeted their FC heroes, whilst the Castleford fans who had been just a tad cocky thirty minutes earlier, drained away to the exits like water down a drain. In fact, I kept my emotions pretty much in check until I met my lifelong mate Barry King on the concourse and then I have to admit a tear appeared in my eye, because we’d been through a lot over the years and it had been such a drama packed and emotional afternoon for us both; no one but no one, on the field or off it, wanted to let go of that Cup!

Driving home it crossed my mind as to how good it would have been to put the car away and go and get absolutely blathered, but I had this rubbish to write and so I came straight home. However, just after we arrived Mrs R shouted “How Ironic” from the kitchen, as she’d just switched on the radio and on Radio Two Paul O’Grady was playing “Sweet Caroline”. It was it seemed the end to a perfect day and I opened a bottle of Bud to celebrate!

There is little doubt that the Club had worked so hard to get a good gate there for the game and on a hot and sunny Sunday afternoon it was certainly summer rugby in every sense of the word.

With over 11k tickets sold by Thursday, it became the biggest cup crowd at KCOM in seven years and our biggest Cup attendance since we got 15k vs Leeds in 2010 (then 3 times back to back SL champions). It was also the second biggest cup crowd at KCOM since 2003 and the largest cup gate, excluding finals, that Hull FC have been involved with home and away since 2010. Plus of course it was the biggest crowd of the competition so far this season and we had also the biggest gate in the last round vs Catalans. So well done to all concerned with that bit and the wanting and passion from both sets of fans made for a great atmosphere throughout. On afternoons like that the KCOM takes some beating!

The Cas lads turned up in great numbers and made some noise as well. If I have one complaint or indeed observation about Cas in general, then it is this. They are without doubt the best team in the League when it comes to flashy rugby and showboating with ball in hand and credit to them for that, but some of the comments I heard from their fans walking to the match before-hand, those of their coach afterwards and the body language of some of their players when they went ahead, smacked of them getting just a bit in front of themselves and perhaps even a little arrogant. They’ll have to learn that sort of thing comes before a fall and in the end they got one as we outsmarted then throughout the game. But that’s just me and perhaps you don’t feel the same and anyway let’s not spoil what was a tremendous afternoon worrying about their problems.

You know, there is nothing like walking across West Park in brilliant weather with the taste of a big game in your dry mouth and that uncertainty and doubt, borne out from years of being disappointed in such circumstances, nagging away at you. At such times the atmosphere literally crackles with anticipation and for Hull FC and Castleford this was without doubt their biggest game of the season so far. Both teams wanted it so badly and it was in the end just down to who best rose to the occasion to take the spoils. In the East Stand around us the nerves were certainly jangling! Dressed more for the Spanish Riviera I still had that lucky scarf (procured for free from a merchandise seller in the pouring rain after the Wigan Final in 2013) that had served me so well last season around my neck and I guess in shorts, vest, sunglasses and that, I looked a right Charlie. But who cares, superstition in these situations is everything and I had to do everything I could to ensure we got a result! However, I have to admit with hindsight that after all the hype and the oppositions talk of them being out for revenge, I wasn’t that optimistic.

A word next for the FC fans. The Castleford supporters turning up in such numbers and ensuring that the one minute’s silence was observed immaculately by everyone. However, I have to admit to joining in with the ‘we can see you sneaking out’ stuff before the end. In addition, I absolutely loved it when the FC fans in the East and South Stands began copying that chant of Castleford’s in the second half which actually seemed to upset the oppositions players and inspire ours! But the crowd of almost 12,000 made for a great atmosphere that was brilliant to be part of.

Tactically perfect! Lee Radford got his tactics, his interchanges and his calls spot on.

In such heat and against the top team in Super League it was without doubt a massive ask, but as I have so often said in here over the last two seasons, ‘cometh the hour cometh the heroes’ and boy had we some heroes out there yesterday! We simply showed much more character than the Cup favourites. It was a quite amazing display which left a lot of the pundits dumbfounded and no doubt a few disappointed, but I have to say in the ten minutes leading up to half time I was getting a bit worried myself.

We started giving away penalties and allowed them, for the first time in the game, to start their sets in our half, a situation that sees the Cas attack absolutely lethal and they appeared almost unstoppable in our twenty. As we trooped in at half time I guess I was praying that Lee could get them focussed again and that we had just suffered a heat induced lack of concentration and not that our energy was sapping away after a blistering start that saw us chalk up 12 early points. Once again in this situation there was really no need to worry.

We came out battling and although we went behind, we kept pegging away with penalties and then exploded with two of the best tries we have seen this season. Minichiello’s lateral run and pass to the wing for the first was superb and the second saw us playing Castleford at their own game as fast hands and great line running saw first Carlos break the line and then release Shaul for him to, almost in slow motion, fall over the line. There was still 10 minutes left but Cas needed three scores and in a game when he got his interchanges just right Lee Radford, had our tactics right too and those four converted penalties saw us home. The use of those penalties to regain our composure and re-charge our batteries was a master stroke in the end. Watching it back afterwards and after all the emotion had subsided a bit for me the score-line really flattered Castleford as well, because we actually outmuscled them throughout.

Picture by Paul Currie/ – 18/06/2017 – Rugby League – Ladbrokes Challenge Cup – Hull FC v Castleford Tigers – The KCOM Stadium, Hull, England – Jamie Shaul of Hull FC celebrates scoring the 4th try

The moment that sealed the afternoon and the victory, as Shaul celebrates his try and Connor looks aghast!

In a great insight into how our Coach himself is maturing and developing into one of the game’s best, Lee said afterwards, “The excitement is now and making sure you are spiking in those knockout games is huge. We definitely showed a spike against Castleford and that puts us in great stead moving forward. I don’t think the media had given us any sort of chance. The amount of pumping up Castleford’s tyres had been given after the draw and leading up to the game certainly lit a fuse with some of our players. They are top of the tree and Daryl Powell has done a great job with them, but knockout rugby is when you’ve got to be at your best and we were today”.

But what an afternoon it was with 17 heroes across the park and it is still, in the cold light of Monday morning, really hard to single anyone out. Jamie Shaul had suffered an injury scare at Captains Run on Saturday but came through OK to play and he had a great game being as safe as houses under the oppositions booming kicks all afternoon. The wings and centres all did a massive stint down the middle to help the forwards and as the Castleford 2 to 5 didn’t seem to do that as much, it led to a great grind down the middle that got us back up the field time and again. Just watch again how often Talanoa follows straight after Fonua in carting the ball up-field. Mahe got the TV man of the match, but I have to admit at times I still thought we’d had it but they simply didn’t want to let go of that Cup and so the work rate from the three quarters was exemplary, Michaels was so strong and Carlos probably had his best game for Hull FC yesterday. Albert Kelly worked really hard in the cover defence department as he slid towards their flanks time and again when Cas had the ball. He was certainly closely watched with ball in hand, however while they concentrated on him it allowed Connor to chip in with what was probably his best his best performance thus far as well. Jake was into everything and led the line superbly as he probed and prodded the visitors defence all afternoon. His Kicking too was first class.

He got the Club’s man of the match but for me although he was brilliant at times they all have to line up behind Liam Watts, who was someone else who had possibly his best game for the Club as he played long minutes and absolutely ran himself into the ground. When the other props were flagging he grabbed the ball at pace and ran some amazing lines right into the heart of the defence and really sapped their energy. Danny Houghton was at his buzzing best all afternoon and pulled off two really big tackles near our line. Bowden and Thompson ran hard and tackled really well and Scott Taylor was back and carting the ball forward with some purpose. In the second row Washy was a hero again, Minichiello instrumental in so many good moves and Manu a tower of strength trundling the ball up the middle. He’s an unbelievably strong guy isn’t he?

Wasn’t it great too when the bench was announced and both Turgot and Fash were in and didn’t they play well when called on to shore up the middle of the field? So it was certainly as fine a performance as you will see and if I’m a bit over the top about the game and the player performances well, I think on this occasion I’m allowed to be, because it was as fine a showing as any fan could have wished for and I absolutely loved it!!

So, alas onto other things and it’s been a busy old week at the Club, with three re-signings and a couple of departures as we build our squad for 2018 and in times when good players are hard to come by, consolidate our core group of players for the rest of this campaign and the next one. We have to hang onto as many of our key assets as we can and so, in the wake of the departure of Mahe Fonua, I was just getting a bit twitchy about retaining Fetuli Talanoa. I wondered why we weren’t hearing anything when low and behold the club announced that he was one of three players who have signed on the dotted line for next season.

For everyone at Hull FC that has to be really good news. Fetuli is a game breaker and a real match winner as well as a massive part of our plan to control the middle of the pitch by our backs pitching in with our forwards and it was great to see him re-sign.

Washbrook’s extension for an extra year was one of the City’s worst kept secrets and it was becoming a bit of a strange one, because despite the Daily Mail (Four weeks previously) and the RL papers (last weekend) announcing it was a done deal the club still seemed blooming reluctant to announce it. The same goes for Fetuli as he hinted that it was all sorted when he was interviewed after the Salford game but still nothing was announced. Thompson’s announcement was in fact the only one that we the fans had no indication of but it was just the same a welcome development. One can only presume that Lee Radford and the Club saw the combined declaration of loyalty as an ideal ingredient in the build up to the big game.

Talanoa, who has now been with us almost 4 years since arriving from his duties as a bin man in Australia, is a massive plus for the team and a great asset to have around. His performances at Salford and against Cas. showed that he still relishes the challenge and he’s signed a new one-year deal with the club to keep him with us until the end of next season. The former South Sydney Rabbitohs man is now getting close to his 100 appearances for the Black and Whites, scoring 36 tries in Super League in that time.

Washy, a thoroughly nice guy at the best of times, was obviously over joyed to be staying with his home town Club as he said, “I like to think I’ve made some big strides over the last couple of years and I’ve been really happy with how I’ve been playing, hopefully we can have some more success like we did last year. It’s a great club and I’m a Hull lad so it was an easy decision for me and we all want to carry on the success of last season”. Thompson has matured a lot this year after a few years when for me he has been a bit in and out, he’s an honest player and his background as a centre at Castleford, makes him a handy second rower particularly when running wide out or at flagging defences.

He said on signing, “It’s massive to have my future secured. I’ve been a part of the club for a few years so to know they’re still as happy as I am, is the most important thing and the club is in a good state and moving forward. I can just keep building now knowing where I stand and also it’s my family’s worries quashed, too. I’m happy with where I’m at the minute. Without the illness where I missed two games, I’ve been ever-present, which was my pre-season goal”.

Commenting on the new deals, Lee said, “It’s really pleasing to see all of them stay with the club. They’ve all had big influences in their time here and they’re all in their prime at the moment or are heading into their prime. Having tasted success last year, I’ve no doubt they will be hungry for more. Fetuli was one of my first signings and Jordan was here in my first year and I played with Danny so I know what to expect from him as well”

Before that of course there was the strange case of Richard Horne who has been appointed as Doncaster Coach whilst not actually ‘leaving’ our Club. I’m so pleased for Richard because he has served his apprenticeship well at the Club and his service record makes him ‘One of our Own’. He has soldiered on with our Under 23’s, battling against the odds as the team has been chopped and changed, seen matches cancelled at short notice and Doncaster players drafted in late to complete the line-up and yet they have produced some great results under his coaching.

The 34-year-old has agreed a two-year deal that will also see him we are told, retain some involvement with our Club. This arrangement does of course build on the links between the two clubs and we have found our duel registration agreement with the South Yorkshire Club pretty beneficial. Rich is a massive hero and always will be. He wants to retain his ties with us and his record of making 387 appearances for his hometown Club before he retired in 2014 speaks for itself doesn’t it. So we all have to wish him well as he succeeds Gary Thornton at the Keepmoat Stadium. It will be interesting to see what he has learned at County Road and how much of the strong team ethic he has been part of down there he takes with him to South Yorkshire. I’ll be following his progress with interest. Good luck Rich.

The news that broke as I went to print of Curtis Naughton’s departure is hardly surprising I guess, but I wish the lad well. He promised much, but never really matured to realise his potential. It was said at the time of him leaving on loan for Leigh that it was do or die for him and unfortunately it turned out that he couldn’t make an impression on their first team and was a bit of a disappointment there. Good luck to him too.

Now here’s a good case for the Trades Description people me thinks!

Well, I certainly won’t be looking forward to the last game of the first part of the season against Huddersfield, if it means my old hero Jordan Rankin coming back to the KCOM Club wearing another club’s colours. His signing is a big plus for the resurgent Giants and he is, if nothing else, a passionate guy and a great battler for the cause. Of course there was no way we could bring him back to Hull with our much publicised salary cap woes and the halves and outside backs we currently have at the club, but he’s a guy who did a great job for us in difficult times and I bumped into him a time or two on Prinny Ave back then and he was certainly a nice bloke too. It’s good to have him back in the competition, but he’ll be giving his all against us in July and that’s for sure!

Although a current favourite of mine at Hull FC the most surprising news this week was that the club could be discussing another year’s extension for Steve Michaels. As I say he’s a great bloke socially and a real 100% performer every time he pulls on the shirt, but I’d been told that because of that legal issue (the ‘having a party’ stuff) he was suffering from the fact that he hasn’t seen his family back home for three years and was therefore heading back Down Under with our blessing.

However, if we are to believe the media then that has all changed. That is probably because we are struggling under the new RL and immigration rules which make it almost impossible to bring in ‘a new Fonua’. Although those sort of potentially great players are still out there you can’t now bring them in unless they have a proven NRL record, which usually means that we can’t compete with the Australian Clubs for their services. So it’s a bit of a catch 22 situation really.

Might he be staying?

I have no issues with Steve staying, in fact as I say his work rate and never say die attitude appeal to me a lot, but we do need to change things around a bit and we have to get some new blood in somewhere, because every team needs that every year, if only to enthuse the fans as they buy their new season tickets. However as for re-signing Stevie, I don’t have a problem there at all.

The ‘Summer of Books’, continued with the release this week of Leon Pryce’s book ‘Pryceless’ which hit the shelves and is an honest and thought provoking publication, although I have to admit I was most interested in the Hull FC bits towards the end. Serialised in the Hull Daily Mail it is obviously written with a lot of style and I guess in some respects puts my efforts to shame, (but most books do) but you can only do your best I guess. I loved the passages that include his revelations about Wembley and about how Prycey felt left out and let down, before he shook himself out of it when he acknowledged the magnitude of what we had actually done as a team and a group of fans. He said, “I can at least look back with pride that I was involved in a group who achieved something very special – and with Radders, a Hull lad as coach, and two more in Andy Last and Richard Horne alongside him in the backroom staff, the enormity of that season and that achievement should really never be forgotten. For that, I’ll forever be proud and forever be grateful” As rugby books go it’s a pretty good read.

I haven’t read it all as yet because I have been a bit preoccupied with the excellent, ‘Will the Last One Out’ by my old pal Vince Groak. It’s a book that takes us back to a period some of us still find hard to talk about and about which we have constantly been reminded for years, before of course, we well and truly put all that to bed in emphatic style last season. This is however an enthralling read and one I would recommend to everyone because it’s a blend of facts, stories, myths, legends and first-hand accounts that really put into context what was, sporting wise, perhaps the most significant occasion the City of Hull has ever seen. To do it now, before it is too late and as there are still those first-hand accounts around, is a master stroke and despite there being a lot about the daft lads from across the river in there, it’s a worthy read that I would thoroughly recommend.

Next month two more books hit the book shelves as Yeamo’s ‘A Life on Black and White’, comes out, with a book signing on the 15th at Waterstones and that’s another a book that I can’t wait to read. One book I have already read about 5 times already (and I still can’t make head or tail of it) is the up-coming account of a great season ‘2016 The Year of The Airlie Bird’ which is on sale from 8th July. With every penny of profit going to Danny Houghtons Testimonial Fund, it’s just an honest appraisal of nine months in the life of one fan as he journeys towards the greatest moment of his life. So, with those four publications out there from early next month, it’s easy to see how there’s little doubt that no one will be short of a good read for their holidays this summer!

A few years ago I chronicled in here the year I spent raising funds, working with the Council and facilitating the provision of the Boulevard Memorial in Airlie Street and so it was great to hear that it is being used this week, as we always hoped it would be. Next Thursday it will be the focal point for the Funeral of Arthur Bunting when a short memorial event will take place down there when the great man will be remembered only yards away from the site of the old Boulevard pitch where he became a legend. Everyone will be assembling for this eulogy for a hero from 10-30 onwards, with the cortege arriving at 11-15 after which Steve Massam will introduce speakers who will remember the life of the great man, before the cortege departs for the Crematorium at 12-00 noon where there will be a service of remembrance. Arthur Bunting was a hero for the masses, an enigma and a real and genuine legend of the black and white Army. I took some time last week to explain how important he has always been to me and so I’m sure that event at the Boulevard will be a fitting tribute to the great man so get there if you can!

It was so sad to hear yesterday that the great Dick Gemmell had passed away as we lost yet another FC hero. Dick played 150 games for Hull FC and scored 36 tries. He was a great player and a tall rangy centre who was an absolute expert at getting his winger away and who was in those barren years of the 70’s a shining light in the centre of the field. He was fast and had wonderful hands as well as being a good defender too. He spent time at Leeds where he broke his leg on his debut, but he returned to Hull and will always be remembered as a classy player who played in a time when such FC hero were a bit thin on the ground. I wish his family well, as we lose another hero!

So, next up its Codgers Corner although I’m still a bit ‘bruised’ from getting my James Leuluai’s and my Dave Topliss’s mixed up last week. I certainly got some stick but never mind, this week because we will look at one of Dick Gemmell’s greatest hours and try and get it right. Time was sadly tight following his death and so I have lifted a report of a rare Cup Final on Saturday 20th September 1969 from my first book. So here goes…..

The 1969/70 season was one that holds for me some pretty great memories. With no M62, away trips were of course limited to big cup games and therefore most of what I remember features first team and A team matches at the Boulevard, but that last season of the decade was the one when the club at last managed to secure some silverware.

The Yorkshire Cup still featured as an early season competition back then and that year we had beaten York and Castleford at home in the early rounds and then beaten Leeds 20-17 in the semi-final under the lights at Headingley, which meant for the second time in three years we had got through to the Yorkshire Cup Final.

So it was that on a drizzly September morning I made my way from home in Sutton to Paragon Station to catch the 9-00 o’clock train to Leeds for our appearance in that Final, where we were to play Featherstone Rovers. Two years previously we had come up short in the same fixture against Rovers but this time with new signing Terry Kirchin on board we had high hopes of getting our first final win in the competition since 1924. It’s hard to believe that with all our success in the second half of the 1950’s this trophy that was probably (because of the competition format) the ‘easiest’ to win had alluded us and although we had been in the final eight times in recent years we had still fallen short on each occasion and lost out when it mattered most.

The train was packed with Hull FC fans starved of success and once we got off at Leeds City we all went for a few beers in the Scarborough Hotel which was just around the corner from the station where the juke box blasted out the Beatles ‘Come Together’ and ‘Sunny Afternoon’ by the Kinks. At about 1-00pm, a little the worse for wear I got some fish and chips and then boarded the bus for Headingley where we alighted right outside the Cricket Ground turnstiles in Kirkstall Lane. Once inside we took up our position in the South Stand amongst another 6000 high spirited Hull fans. Rugby League was going through a torrid time back then and that was reflected in a gate of 11,089 which was the smallest to ever watch Hull FC in a Cup Final. I suppose as we were three places above Featherstone in the League table at the time, we just started the game as favourites.

The day before the match coach Johnny Whiteley had announced that club captain Arthur Keegan would miss out through injury. There were few times in his thirteen year reign as club full back that Arthur missed a game and so it was ironic that ‘Mr Reliable’ was missing when we won the only piece of silverware we got during his entire career at the club. His place was to be taken by youngster Malcolm Owbridge who was playing in only his seventh first team game. The other big pre match worry was the fitness of Centre Dick Gemmell who had taken no part in the cup run having been out for the past eight games. He had suffered with a bad ankle injury, but with Keegan out it was decided that Hull would risk Dick with his ankle strapped up.

Gemmell in fact took over the captaincy for the day and said afterwards that the large wad of white strapping was actually on his good ankle to fool ‘would be’ tacklers in the Featherstone ranks. He had two pain killing injections in the bad ankle before the game which by the end appeared to be wearing off a bit. Just how brave Dick was that day can I think be gauged by the fact that after the game, so badly had he aggravated his injury, he couldn’t walk to the bus and because he’d aggravated his injury he was then out of the game for 12 weeks. Still cometh the hour cometh the hero and Dick led us brilliantly that day.

The game was played under the four tackles and a scrum rule that was introduced three years earlier and the number of scrums this generated (39 in all) saw us given a big advantage throughout the game by hooker Alan McGlone who won 29 of them. Sadly, at times poor handling and ‘option taking’ meant that we wasted that advantage somewhat.

We kicked off playing towards the current score board end, although back then it was on the opposite terracing which these days accommodates the new Carnegie Stand. In our first set of four plays ‘Mr Magic’ Terry Kirchin managed to release a ball from a five man tackle to the supporting John Maloney. This eventually saw a 50-yard flowing move thwarted on the line by the ‘Colliers’ full back Cyril Kellett. Next it was the turn of Alf Macklin who took a great inside ball from Dick Gemmell to again be held just short. Featherstone then threatened through Newlove and Nash but Hull’s defence with particularly Harrison and Forster repeatedly stamping on any power thrusts by the Featherstone stars Thompson and Mick Morgan stood firm. One player that was literally sparkling though was our loose forward Joe Brown, who was by far the most creative player on the field having the Featherstone defence mesmerised at times. The rest of the half was really a stop start affair with Hull taking the lead through a Joe Brown Drop Goal (two pointer then) and Kellett kicking two penalties for the opposition leaving us trailing 4-2 at half time.

The second half started with a nice little punch up when Smailes went for Gemmell and three or four FC players piled in. From the resultant tap penalty Hartley the ‘Colliers’ scrum half ‘scored’ only to be brought back for a forward pass. Then we took the lead. A flowing move started with some great slight of hand by Kirchin saw Brown carry the ball down field before releasing it to Dick Gemmell. Now I don’t know if you ever saw Dick play but if you did you would remember the way that he took the ball into the tackle and being such a tall guy he was able to somehow pass over the top of the opposition player to release the ball with a bullet like wide pass. That is just what happened that day and Sullivan gleefully took the ball and cantered in for a try which went unconverted.

At 7-4 up we had a golden opportunity to put the game to bed but we then witnessed the one piece of action that anyone who was there back in 1969 will remember to this day. Alan McGlone broke free from a tackle and fed Gemmell who was by this time limping badly. Three would be tacklers saw his distress and decided to pounce but once again out came that wonderful, powerful pass over the opponent, and Sully was away and heading for his second touchdown. We all cheered with great relief as he crossed the whitewash but stood open mouthed as he just kept going. He then sort of turned to go to a position closer to the posts but before he could get the ball to ground he slipped and shot over the dead ball line. We just could not believe what we had seen, and neither could Clive who said after the game, ‘My feet just shot from under me, I felt like crying’. So did the crowd who were momentarily reduced to a stunned silence.

Still we only had to wait a few more minutes before Joe Brown set up the winning score. Once again, vindicating Whiteley’s decision to risk his dodgy ankle, it was Gemmell making the initial break before he passed onto Joe Brown ran straight at the heart of the Featherstone forwards dummied once and then twice before slipping a wonderful inside pass to Prop Jim Macklin who ran in to score unchallenged. This time Maloney kicked the goal and despite a Steve Nash try in the dying minutes causing a few hearts flutter, the whistle went and we were home and dry, we had at last won the Yorkshire Cup.

We all ran onto the field to congratulate the lads and then we congregated around the central section of the Best Stand to watch the trophy presentation. Joe Brown got the ‘Man of the Match’ award that day but the whole team, resplendent in their white shirts with the black V, looked so pleased with the victory.

The fans went mad singing and chanting as it took Dick Gemmell all his time to crawl up the steps to lift the trophy. But for me personally it was a defining moment, because we had won a Cup, the first since I saw the light and became hooked on Hull FC and it was a brilliant feeling. A few more beers with the players and a round or two of ‘Old Faithful’ in the bar under the Stand, made for a pleasant journey home although it was a good job that the trains from Leeds terminated in Hull back then, because by the time we reached Paragon Station the guard had to wake me up as I was fast asleep clutching my programme and no doubt dreaming of more silverware.

If you’re a ‘proper’ fan there is little doubt you have suffered a lot for your team and you’ll also ‘benchmark’ your life with their exploits. Some fanatics seek assistance by keeping programmes, scrap books or press cuttings, others continuously talk about the past as if in fear that they forget it. We all have statistics and club and player records in our heads too. These days in the 21st century I can’t remember what I did last Saturday, but I can tell you exactly where I was stood on the pitch at Headingley when Dick Gemmell raised that trophy. That in the end is what it’s all about for me!

So there we are and what an amazing afternoon it was yesterday. I didn’t hold out a lot of hope before the game but once again what do I know eh? It was a great match and one I’ll remember for a long time, in fact I have to say that I’m so, so proud to be an FC fans this morning.

We’ll worry about Leeds when that game comes around, but in the mean-time there are 5 league games to go in which we have to strive to finish as far up the table as we can. We start with a really big ask on Friday when after a five day turn around we face a smarting Wakefield Trinity straight back from a bit of a drubbing at Salford in the Cup. Once again we play one of the pundits chosen teams and again its going to be so hard to get up again from yesterday. But, this is the business end of the season and that’s what it’s all about now. In any case we have all this weekend witnessed a truly amazing game and we are in the Cup semi-finals again! That’ll do for me!

Thanks to everyone who got in touch this week and to everyone who came for a chat at the KCOM, it’s been a busy week with a quite fantastic finale, This week’s offering has certainly been a rushed and at times muddled one, but I hope you found something of interest and anyway who cares, I’m still buzzing, now let’s see what next week brings!

What a great time to be an FC fan eh?

Keep Believing!

Faithfully Yours