Wow what a relief it was in the end, but I didn’t see that revival coming did you?
Five days on from a quite amazing performance in that Cup Quarter Final, for 50 odd minutes on Friday night we produced a real after the ‘Lord Mayors Show’ effort and trailing by 8 points in the second half, I was resigned to the fact that perhaps it had all been a bit much for those heroes of the previous weekend. Deep down I’d accepted that fact at half-time and although disappointed I consoled myself with the thought that I knew which of the two games I would have rather won if we couldn’t have them both showing a W in the games played column!
The thing is of course I don’t care who you are, as a team you can’t play like we did in that Cup game last week, every week!! It just doesn’t happen like that and whether it is down to complacency, injuries, fatigue or mental exhaustion, experience of years of watching rugby in general and Hull FC in particular, only goes to prove that every game is different. The thing is, in adversity, you have to try and find a way to win and to somehow get those two precious points particularly when you’re at home.
On Friday for long periods we were decidedly off it and it wasn’t just physical fatigue either because there were a few mental lapses in there too, particularly when we dropped the ball and forced passes near our line, so we were without doubt psychologically drained as well. From the kick off our overall demeanour was suspect and a couple of years ago that would have spelt disaster, but this team of 2017 is proving to be a bit better than that. At the end my pal Kathy jokingly exclaimed, “Never in doubt” although I freely admit as I said, that I had resigned myself to a defeat to a good and very sharp Wakefield outfit before that amazing last quarter. In many ways I guess we got out of jail. But in the end as I always say, who the hell cares!
Rugby League is a game of fine, fine margins and many in the aftermath of the victory attribute our come-back to Connors fortuitous intercept, which is a great example of those very same blurred boundaries that separate disaster and success. We get it and score and then roll on to win, but miss it and they go the length of the field and it’s ‘Goodnight Vienna’.
Yet On such twists of fate are matches and indeed seasons decided! It’s a funny old game isn’t it?
Struggling with hay fever it was a long old 5 days between games for this fan, although I expect it flew by and was nothing like long enough for the bashed up and ‘broken’ players of Hull FC. I still felt pretty out of sorts when I arrived at the KCOM and I wasn’t on my own either because the team was certainly suffering the same fate too, but like the players, I’d certainly perked up a bit by the end.
The Castleford game had to be our best performance of the season, anything less and we would have lost, but we didn’t because we reached those heights and did it just at the right time, but whether we could back that up against a rested and confident Wakefield outfit was completely another matter.
We had hardly trained all week and there was always going to be a real issue concerning our physical and mental tenacity, especially in the wake of such an energy sapping performance. If last season proved one thing, then it is that you have to rise to the big occasion and play your best rugby in those big games. Seasons past had seen us play brilliantly in the bread and butter fixtures, but fail in the important ‘one off’ encounters. Against Castleford it showed that we continued to learn from all that stuff because we rose to the occasion again and played brilliantly, but if we failed last year in one department it was getting the points in games straight after those efforts. Look for example at our losses to Huddersfield and Leeds after the quarter-final against Catalans, Cas after the semi-final against Wigan and our form after Wembley.
That needed to be addressed this year if we were to challenge on all fronts and so far, despite some fortuitous outcomes and a few scares, we have just about done that. But Friday came close to a disaster and no mistake!
However now, I think everyone is a season older, there’s a bit of belief in our ranks and there is little doubt that when it comes to making adjustments during the game, we now have some clever players out there, who have seen most things before. Last week I attributed our success against Cas to our ability to be a bit more ‘streetwise’ in big games and in somewhat different circumstances that came to the fore again on Friday….just in time to save us!
The Connors, Manu’s, Sneyds, Washbrooks, Houghtons and Watts of this world are maturing fast and appear to have the confidence to change things around a bit and with Shaul, Kelly, Carlos, Fetuli and Mahe we have predatory guys who can recognise that and kill teams off in the blink of an eye. In the end on Friday, we all sat a tad bemused by it all as we went from a floundering mess of missed tackles and brain farts to being victorious with almost a deal of ease.
Wakey had it won and to see their players visibly shaking their heads behind the posts after the Shaul try, showed that they had been found out, just when they believed that they had it in the bag. They, rather like me, totally underestimated Hull FC’s ability to change it around a bit, they took their eye off the ball for one second with a loose and un-necessary pass near their own line and ‘Bang’ the game was gone. Look back for a moment at the final league match of 2016 at home to Warrington and I think we might all agree that we have come on a bit since then when, try as we may, even when the Wire made mistakes, we couldn’t reverse the tide that was flowing against us. On Friday we only needed a sniff of a chance and that was it!
In the end, as all good teams do, we came home with a wet sail, we scored some great tries and eased to what looked to the casual observer as a comfortable win, although for us lot fidgeting in our seats it was anything but that! Lee Radford said afterwards that he read the riot act at half time and dropped a few ‘F bombs’ into things as he showed the team some of their defensive howlers on video and added that without that fortuitous intercept we would not have won and Wakefield would have seen it out. However, although I don’t usually disagree with the coach on such things, I’m not so sure he’s right there, because I felt that we had started to roll forward before then.
For me the big change came prior to that Connor try when a master stroke from our Coach saw him inject some real power up front with a rare triple substitution aimed at having one last go at bashing the opposition into submission down the middle. With the arrival of Bowden, Manu and Watts followed by Manu’s inspirational earth shattering hit on Grix, (which shook the Stadium), we suddenly stepped up the pressure and the opposition simply couldn’t handle it.
Once we had crossed for that fortuitous interception by Connor, a superb running and stepping effort from Marc Sneyd who had a pretty good night and a wonder try by Shaul from acting half, which started way back in his own 40, rocked the visitors on their heels, before Fonua and Turgot got us home with a satisfactory if not a tad flattering score-line. Our wingers were superb all night and Talanoa, Fonua and Michaels just took the battle to them and never gave in. To see Fonua flying along the touchline for his try ‘like a Fast Coal train on the up main line’, beard and chin stuck out and legs pumping in the air, was spectacular and a bit scary too. That perception was authenticated by the fact that the two trailing chasers from Wakefield obviously had no intention at all of trying to tackle him and for me that said it all about just how devastating he is when he isolates defenders. The man is an absolute beast and all three of our senior wingers are such great assets both out on the flanks and when ploughing down the middle to help out the forwards.
However, in general, as I say, I’d given up on the two points and was after around 15 minutes of the second half furiously searching my phone to see how the other games were going on! We won’t always get the rub of the green as perhaps we did this week, but you need bit of that sort of luck at times and thankfully we got it on Friday. In the circumstances surrounding the game we were obviously still mentally fatigued and energy wise a bit down on ‘petrol’ as well. That said, I was happy to get anything from it and in the end I went home with a big smile on my face.
There were some great performances and for me, missed by the pundits and media, Washbrook had another great game and much of the good stuff we did was unseen but so effective. Shaul at Full Back had his best game for ages and as I say his try in the second half was in the ‘Wonder Stuff’ category! He bust more tackles than anyone and after a slow start this season he’s flying now. Both Wingers and centres again did a lot of the hard yards in the middle to help out the forwards and although we all know by now what Fonua and Talanoa can do Michaels, although he dropped the ball twice, again chewed up the yards in the impact, while Tuimavave is becoming a great, great asset. He is such an elegant player who possess both sweet feet and a great step, plays with elegant style and a deal of panache, whilst in the tackle, he hits hard too. A word too for Griffin who I talk a bit about later and who I have also had a bit of a go at of late. He came off the bench and really impressed me as he brought energy and a deal of excitement to the line. He was only on the pitch for a while but managed to gain a very respectable 100 meters.
Sneyd was back and he just brings so much more structure to the line. Out of sorts at times after his three games absence he still managed to look really smooth in phases of the game. However, if he has a failing it has been in the past that he passes too far in front of the line for me. He is obviously trying to address that and he tried a run or two in the first half before that majestic piece of galloping and stepping in the second brought the try that broke the Wildcats hearts. When it comes to great signings then Connor must be up there with the best. I’m so impressed with him as he is the cheeky Charlie type of half back always having a word in the oppositions ear usually on the floor and generally causing a nuisance in the line as he disrupts the defenders as they try to cover the play. He has a great creative brain too and I think he’s doing really well.
Up front Watts was my Man of the Match. I said that against Castleford too and a few readers contacted me to disagree, but again the work rate, the yardage and the effort he put in was simply phenomenal. He was carrying a couple of injuries too but invariably when he is down getting treatment he’s soon limping back to the line, before getting the ball and crashing up-field for 20 yards. He’s having his best season with us. I thought Taylor was very effective but still subdued compared with what we saw last season and earlier this. Bowden however was brutal as we gained a foothold in the game in the second half and Thompson started slowly but like a lot of them came on strong in that last quarter. Houghton who has been as straight back at it after his injury lay off, continued in the same vein as he ran from dummy half time and again and grabbed yards. Minichiello is always a big miss but credit to Washy, who I have already covered and Manu who had a massive game again as the destroyer on the yardage front. Lastly there’s Brad Fash who was his usual clinical self, no breaks, no passed no fuss. Just solid effort and no mistakes.
So on Friday I guess we saw an hour of inept listless, and at time pretty turgid rugby but once the spark was back, all that was pretty much forgotten as we got out of jail and in the end easily beat the Wildcats. It was a hard game to watch at times and a tough game for the players to face after what had gone before, but we prevailed, we fought it out and it was job done and we are back, for one week at least, sat second in Super League.
One of my pals said as we left the game, “We beat Cas, Cas beat Leeds and we play Leeds in the semi-final….simple really!” I know, I know, it never works like that, and I told him so, but as he replied, it “Certainly feels good at present doesn’t it”
In many ways Round 19 was a funny old carry on anyway, with four of the six fixtures featuring teams that were right next to each other in the league table, some close matches and in general it saw results going our way …in the end! Then this week in the lead up to our game there was the curious case of Dean Hadley, who I’m told has no chance whatsoever of leaving Hull FC, although he has been on an extended loan at Wakey for months now. He wanted to play against us as apparently he was keen to show Lee Radford his quality and improvement first-hand. However, he was quite rightly denied the chance as we did everything we could to gain the upper hand on a team that had a three-day advantage, preparation wise, on us.
Chris Chester his Coach at the Wildcats said on Friday, “Dean is ineligible as part of the agreement and Hull don’t want him to play, although he texted Radders and asked to play but he said ‘no chance!’ For me, as a fan, that was absolutely the right attitude to take because you have to give yourself every possible chance to win every possible game.
So to the week gone by and a few days when the natives were certainly restless. There was quite a furore about the stadium that has been chosen for the Cup game and indeed the ticket allocation and it’s dispensing to the fans for the semi-final. I couldn’t queue on Saturday, so I got two East side tickets on line on Wednesday morning, but apparently those were first put on sale by Ticketmaster before the advertised time and then soon sold out and of course with such a small stadium, it was a worry that maybe it would sell out without everyone getting a ticket. Panic broke out immediately! The choice of stadium does limit the number of tickets available, but the RFL have proven that it has been a popular choice in the past and no doubt that’s why they went for it again. Our management on the other hand were confident that there would be enough tickets for everyone who wanted to go but some fans panicked and queuing was the order of the day!
Would it be a real mess when supply outstripped demand? Well only time was to tell but, ticket sales for the 2016 semi-final at Doncaster were 10,488, whilst similarly, in 2013 when we played Warrington in the semi-final at Huddersfield, the crowd was only 10,621. The choice of stadium was no surprise either because the RFL have used the South Yorkshire venue in the past and the Keepmoat Stadium has a capacity of 15,231 that has proved sufficient thus far and you know that lot, they are resistance to change personified!
Some folks grumbled about not using Huddersfield’s ground, which would have perhaps been best, however, because of a Premier League enforced pitch renovation, that was not possible and the only other available alternative for the RFL this summer was said by them to be quite bizarrely Headingley, which would have offered more available seating, but would have of course offered an unfair home advantage for Leeds Rhinos. If that had ever been an option (and of course it wasn’t) then as we were first out of the hat we should have played the game at the KCOM. But that’s just a red herring because it was never going to happen, so why they mentioned it at all to our administration beggars’ belief! No one mentioned either of the Sheffield grounds however, and so Doncaster it was and we had to live with it.
The ticket allocation and sales bit is more difficult to sort out and after Hull FC had announced what they intended to do and to release all our allocation on Saturday on a first come first served basis for members, some people became really frustrated. Of course when you step back from it all, if we sold out all our tickets over the counter, we would have then had complaints from members who couldn’t make it in person, as we did, but if we didn’t sell it out that way, then holding tickets back for telephone and on line sales, could have seen people at the back of the queue disappointed. So it is a difficult situation where it is impossible to appease every single supporter.
The Club made their decision and stuck to it and as stories of people queuing all night and trouble in the queues started to pervade social media, I did start to worry a bit. However, at 3-00pm on Saturday my pal Glenn Riddick who reads this rubbish every week, told me he had left work at Smith and Nephew at 2-00pm and went to the KCOM hoping to get a ticket. To his amazement (after the shroud waiving he’d read on social media) he walked straight up to the counter and was home on Priory Road by 2-45pm he said the staff told him there were some left as well. Another E mail reached me on Saturday night from a Wedding guest that had better remain nameless who told me the groom had complained straight to James Clark at the Club because they were getting married on Saturday and couldn’t get to the KCOM to get a ticket. They managed to get some somehow, but were amazed to find that on arrival at the Wedding Reception there was a parcel from the Club that contained a signed shirt. You see, they are then human after all folks!! So in the end it all worked out OK I guess and the Club were sort of vindicated in their decision. A lot of talk on social media set up a fire storm that saw many people concerned that they would miss out and so all the consternation. But, I’m afraid there was probably little need in the end for overnight queuing like that, tickets are left to sell today and perhaps in future we had all better calm down a bit….be we won’t!!
Arthur Buntings Eulogy which took place at the Boulevard Memorial last Thursday, was a sombre occasion attended by around three hundred fans, a plethora of ex-players and all the current squad. Conducted by Steve Massam, it saw Keith Tindle, the Chairman of the ex-players give a great appraisal of Arthurs life and I have to say that Garry Schofield also did really well talking about Arthur as a Coach and man manager. There were around a couple of dozen of his old charges there including, Chris Davidson, Kevin Harkin, Steve Evans, Knocker Norton, Paul Prendiville and Chico Jackson. It was a touching memorial to a great man and we all finished gathered around the Boulevard Memorial singing Old Faithful. You know what my involvement was in the memorial stones inclusion down there on the site of the old Stadium in the first place and that was just what it was put there for. It was on Thursday a fitting farewell to probably the best Coach we ever had.
Even in times of great tragedy the FC Faithful can always raise a smile and so it was beforehand. As the Ex-Players motor coach pulled up outside the Boulevard completely blocking the way of a dustcart that followed it down Airlie Street, I said “Here come the ex-players” before a wag next to me immediately commented, “Yeh and they are followed by the Rovers contingent!” Priceless eh?
Well back to our squad and I have to be honest and say that I haven’t been that impressed with Josh Griffin thus far this season. His performances for Salford last year and indeed his showing in the Million Pound game at the end of last season made me pretty excited about his signing, but somehow for a big bloke, who has obviously got a turn of speed, he has come up short. There were as well some rumours about his attitude coming as he did into a tight group of players, However, it appears he has shown a real change in that demeanour (if it was true in the first place) and our Coach was quick to praise him for his attitude this week when he said, “Everything you want to hear from your players I got from Josh. He asked to play for the reserves, he wanted to play in the back row so he could get more repetition at what we spoke about. Not only did he do that but he backed it up by playing really well. It was fantastic for me as a coach to see that.”
When a player is in the position Josh found himself in its not only important that they react to being dropped but also that the Coaching staff recognise any positive reaction and respond to it so that the player understands that his efforts are appreciated. That’s usually done within the group, but to do it as he did in the media shows just how happy Lee was with Griffins reaction to a situation that could have gone either way. Our three-quarters were simply imperious against Castleford with all four real heroes that actually made the difference in the Cup but Griffin got his head down and put his hand up to say that he’s still in there in contention as he showed with a great performance as he returned to the first team off the bench on Friday.
That sort of strength in depth with Logan fit again is as Paul Cooke said this week ‘The envy of a lot of Clubs’ and sees us getting to a position where we have depth across the team. That brings with it the issue of keeping everyone happy and thus the reaction of Lee this week. So far our Coach has shown a real talent for managing the varying personalities in his team, however with the rumoured demise of the Under23’s team next season, how he will keep them all match hardened and ready for action in the future remains to be seen.
Griffin has started just 13 games for Hull so far this season, scoring two tries in the process and his attitude and application over the past week and on the field on Friday has I feel to be commended! Well done to him!
In next week’s Diary I will indulge myself a bit and feature an extract from the new book which is out on 8th July in aid of Danny Houghton’s Testimonial Appeal. Danny’s year got off to a great start last Saturday with a rugby golf tournament at Sutton Golf Course. On Wednesday the official beer of the year ‘Tackle 52’ will be launched at several pubs across the City and Danny and I will be at the Tiger in Beverley at 6-00pm, the Albert on Anlaby Road at 7-10pm, The Hop and Vine in Albion Street at 7-50pm, The Dram Shop at 8-30pm and the Minerva on the Pier at 9-20pm so get down to join us and try a pint if you can. Then the book goes on sale, before the next big event takes place in the form of the ‘Man of Steel Dinner’ on 9th July at which 14 past and the present Men of Steel will be brought together for an event that has already sold out! It will be a great year and a great chance to honour a real local hero and I’ll be keeping you posted as to how it’s all going as the year unfolds.
Well, bits of news about the proposed restructuring of the League were dribbling out last week and I got a bit of Information from Red Hall myself by a roundabout route. One Club Chairman who had probably better remain nameless, proposed that the league increase to 13 next season and we get rid of the fixture chaos that the long and strenuous 30 game season with the middle eights etc. has caused. The players are buggered and Coaches are worried about their welfare and, if your successful and get to the Challenge Cup Final and thus get no weekends off there are real concerns about what might happen. Around three-quarters of clubs were understood to have expressed interest in the proposal which will now be assessed for financial viability before the clubs meet again next month to discuss it further.
Of course there is little surprise that while clubs were interested in the idea, they are keen to seek assurances that should any extra teams come into the top league, existing funding levels would not be cut as a result of an increased Super League.
The proposal which several clubs are now championing includes plans to potentially raise the number of teams in Super League to even higher, with a 14th team coming in for 2019 or 2020, if the plans are given the green light by both the RFL and the clubs. One fly in the ointment is the RL telling Clubs that the Sky contract is dependent on us keeping the middle eights competition until it runs out in 2020, which is a clause the Clubs had not been informed about and one that was negotiated between the RL and the TV company in the initial pre agreement discussions without the consent of the Clubs. Apparently a few were not that happy about that!
Personally I would welcome a league of 13 or 14 if that would mean 27 Rounds with a simple formula for the end of season run to the Grand Final and one up one down relegation and promotion from the Championship. But for me you can’t make omelettes without breaking a few eggs and although an odd number of teams in the league will give everyone a week off during the season for me the big sticking point with that is what exactly do you do about the Magic Weekend.
Scrap it I say!! But of course that won’t happen and the concept is almost certain to remain in the calendar in 2018, and will likely remain as a bonus round. Yet with a 13-team competition that would create a disparity in points, with one team unable to play the same number of fixtures as everyone else. Now there’s a conundrum. As I already stated the RL have been sent away to cost the proposals out and report back to next month’s meeting. I can also reveal that at that Haydock meeting the RFL proposed keeping the current structure. Their main change was simply to award the League Leaders shield after 23 rounds so that the Super 8 qualifiers would ‘start again’ on zero points. Not surprisingly, this was rejected by most clubs as well.
An official decision on changes to the structure are not expected to be revealed until the end of the season, but other tweaks to the current format discussed last week include awarding the League Leaders’ Shield before the start of the Super 8s, but keeping the points already accrued, which for me is eminently sensible and also we are told introducing an earlier kick-off time for the Thursday evening time slot to ensure youngsters who have school next day can attend. The latter is fine for the kids, but what about travelling supporters and the fact the RL still persist on making us travel all the way to say Widnes on a Thursday evening. Still some work to do there for me then and I’ll be following all these moves with interest, but one things for certain, we can’t have another season like this one if we are to major on player welfare as we say we will.
So its Castleford up again this week and a really hard game. Over the years we have had some stinging and brutal encounters against the ‘Classy’ lot and the Cup semi-final in 1985 was little different! This week I’ll at that game which had to be played over two legs because of a draw in the first one.
On Saturday 6th April we played Castleford full of expectation, and believing that it was a formality with Sterling at the helm and that later that afternoon we would all be preparing for another trip to Wembley. However, no one told Castleford all this and in a dour encounter we ended up drawing the game 10-10, with Peter Sterling who was truly outstanding for us at scrum half, scoring a brilliant late try. Two Cup Final appearances in the Yorkshire Cup and John Player Final that season were starting to take their toll and we were in the middle of a really tough fixture ‘pile up’, and so we had to play Barrow in between the two semi-finals where, despite sending a full ‘A’ team, we still managed to draw 12-12.
So, the ‘Mermaid’ bus was back on the road again the following Wednesday and I was back on it, having decided because of the abject fear and concern I had for the outcome, to break from my now customary car travel and partake of ‘pre drinks’. By 4.00pm we were back in the ‘Three Horseshoes’ on Otley Road, before taking our places on the East Terracing at Headingley in a crowd of over 20,000. There must have been at least 12,000 spectators from Hull, most of whom had learned their lessons from the traffic chaos before the Elland Road Final replay a couple of years previously and set off early. It was certainly turning out to be a season of replays after our heroics against Widnes in the previous round. Castleford had obviously noted the important role that the wonderful Peter Stirling played in the first game and targeted him from the off.
owever it was Ian Orum, the Cas’ scrum half, and recent convert from Rugby Union, that literally drew the first blood. Whilst we had started slowly, Castleford had scored an early try, but then Orum took Gary Kemble really late with ‘a coat hanger’ of a ‘stiff arm’ tackle which left the New Zealand International Full-Back severally concussed. The game was stopped for about 4 minutes whilst Gary was carried from the pitch to play no further part in the proceedings, or the next four games. With the referee taking no action from the terraces we were ‘baying for blood’ and were not disappointed as, in the very next play, John Muggleton laid out their centre Hyde. It was then the Castleford fans’ turn to go ballistic!
Then began to unfold one of the most intense and brutal halves of rugby I have ever seen. The Hull players were clearly enraged by the earlier foul by Orum (for which he got four games when it was reviewed by the Rugby League afterwards) and tore into Castleford. Sterling started to dictate the play as Lee Crooks broke their line and passed to Dane O’Hara who raced in just below us for Crooks to convert from the touchline. Four minutes later, with Castleford concentrating on retribution; we were ahead from a great Peter Sterling try. This prompted Castleford to bring on their secret weapon, Mal Reilly, their veteran Player/Coach. This was only his second game of the season and although he could hardly raise a trot, at the very next scrum he ‘stiff armed’ ‘Sterlo’ as he broke away; the hit was of such force that you could clearly hear the impact echo around the Stadium. The Aussie’s feet left the ground and he was out cold on his back. Smelling salts brought him round before Timpson repeated the treatment a minute later and Sterling was carried off in a daze.
Back roared Castleford to equalize through David Rookley who shot through from Full Back to plant the ball between the posts. The conversion was successful and the game was ‘all square’. Miraculously Sterling returned to the fray ten minutes later as Crooks broke through and sent Muggleton away, he passed to Kevin James who scorched into the corner to score. Next, ‘Man of the Match’ Crooks broke again this time sending Leuluei through, to ‘shimmy’ round the full back and in for another great try, which increased our lead to 22-12.
It was almost half time, but the ‘action’ wasn’t over yet because after the hooter had sounded the linesman down on the touchline near us spotted a Castleford infringement and walked out with his flag held high. Hull took the penalty which Crooks dispatched into touch. He fell onto the ball after he tapped the restart and was immediately penalised for the very rare offence of a ‘voluntary tackle’ and all hell broke loose. Reilly hoisted a ‘bomb’ which Sterling caught behind the posts and six Castleford players piled in. There followed a massive fight behind the Hull try line which lasted well over two minutes and involved everyone, with the majority of the players openly brawling. Gary Schofield was pinned against the perimeter wall as two Castleford players pummelled him, whilst young Lee Crooks picked on probably the hardest man on the field Malcolm Reilly. The referee stood his ground to separate the teams and he was just happy to get the players off the pitch.
In comparison the second half was a ‘tepid’ affair as Hull’s fine defence restricted Castleford to a couple of breakaways and it ended as the first had begun with a solitary Castleford try leaving the final score 22-16. So, singing “we’re the famous Hull FC and were off to Wembley, Wembleeeeeey Wemberleeeeeey ” at the top of our voices, we all tramped back to the buses, having witnessed one of the most brutal games most of us had ever attended but looking forward to Wembley and Wigan. It had been a dour but sweet victory with a fracas the scale of which made for a lasting memory.
So to the question “What has a postage stamp and Castleford’s ground got in common” and it’s a pertinent one as we set off this weekend to play the form team of the 2017 campaign on what is arguably the most difficult pitch in the competition, for visiting teams to legislate for. Having already put one over them twice this year once with 12 men and on the other occasion knocking them out of a Cup competition they had set their sights on winning, it’s going to be a real grudge match as far as the West Yorkshiremen are concerned. It’s probably the ‘biggest ask’ of the season so far and we could come unstuck, but who knows? We are a good team and we won’t be laying down to let them role over us, so anything can I guess happen. In the end as this season has proved the odd defeat isn’t the end of the world as we build towards the Super Eights but you have to have some confidence in this current squad’s ability to over-come some pretty big hurdles and it’s a good turn-around time wise as well. Thanks to everyone for getting in touch this week I’m getting myself a bit nervous about the new book being launched and indeed about Cas at the weekend but as my old Mum always used to say, “It will come and it will go”. I really appreciate everyone’s continued support of this weekly diatribe and thanks for all your support. I’ll see you at the Jungle (best chips in the League)