The Dentist’s Diary – 543rd

You can’t win ‘em all. You want to, but you can’t and on Friday night we didn’t, but in the end we went so close!! We handed Cas all their points, didn’t fire at all for 60 minutes and yet came within a whisker of winning the game. Disappointed? A bit! Downhearted, no way!

Saints will be a big ask on Friday but it’s doable and while I’m on about the weekend, perhaps you’ve already realised that there just might be a new book out this Saturday in the Club shops and here, EXCLUSIVELY for Dentists Diary readers, is a preview of the cover!

I’ll be in the Town Centre Shop in Savile Street between 10-12 on Saturday if you’d like a copy signing! But More of that later!

What price going to Castleford and recording the absolute same score as the corresponding fixture we played in the West Riding last year, just the other way around? As always last Friday and as was the case in the game there last year, we never gave up and we never gave in and in the end we took Castleford as close as anyone has this year at the Jungle, we stopped them touching down at all in the second half (which is no mean feat) and went on to score more tries than them as well. Furthermore, if you put any weight on such things, then but for a couple of poor refereeing decisions we could have witnessed a famous victory. But, we were there or there abouts and in the end it was Castleford who were hanging on for dear life, in a game that we can take a lot from.

Danny Houghton said to me this week that he always used to beat himself up when we lost, but of late he just tries to move on, because there is no point in using excessive mental energy and fretting over something that you can do nothing at all about, he just tries to progress to the next game and that’s good advice I guess…. for all of us!

I never like losing but in circumstances like that, where there is still a distinct whiff of optimism I the air, I’m not that bothered either. I was really proud of the lads on Friday when we simply just ran out of time, but boy what a scare we gave to the present ‘Goodtime Charlies’ of the media and although they can take the plaudits from a win and claim ‘a famous victory’ (Their Assistant Coaches words not mine) we are still in a good place in the league and of course we are in the Cup and they ain’t!

All the rhetoric beforehand was about Castleford and the way that they were out for revenge and intent on blowing us away on a pitch on which they haven’t lost this season. On the other hand, for us lot we would have loved to win, but in the bigger picture and the long game it would have been nice, but it wasn’t season defining. One thing’s for sure, we won’t win every game before the end of the campaign and we have to ride a few losses, even if they are, as was the case on Friday, in valiant circumstances. In fact, if they are in such situations then that’s pretty acceptable. It was a fine showing in the latter stages and a bit error strewn for the rest of the game, but it was certainly a great exercise at hanging in a game even when your 18 points down. Remember too that the Tigers put 66 points on Leeds 52 on Huddersfield and 56 on Wigan, earlier in the season!

When you watched in back again on TV afterwards, you realise that it’s impossible to sustain any sort of constant pressure in the league week in week out and last season proved Hull FC certainly couldn’t do it all season, but then again I don’t think anyone can! Its ‘win a few lose a few’ at this time of the year and yet listening to the Sky team at half time it was an ‘outstanding performance’ by Cas and we’d had it, yet in that first half, their three tries came from our mistakes.

Not good for us, I know, but not that ‘Spectacular’ (Phil Clarke) from them either. I thought Sneyd struggled to control things in the first 40 minutes, but came good in the second, but early on I have to admit to wondering, as you always do in hindsight, whether we would have been better with Connor there, however then again in that first session, Kelly did little in attack either, as he was well watched by the home team. So what do I know and indeed who’d be a coach eh? 40 minutes passed as the home team grabbed the chances we presented them with, whilst we struggled to take any of ours!

The tide of the game as they say, was certainly against us and we had little luck against a team for whom this was their time for some retribution and revenge. Sweeping all before them (except us lot) they were bound to be up for it and although I’m sure we were too, it was simply not enough! However, as the FC Faithful walked away from the ground and back up Wheldon Road, few were disheartened, indeed many were quite positive; once home to watch a couple of refereeing decisions in that second half they were probably fuming too.

Took some holding

But at the Jungle you have to play the crowd the pitch and on this occasion perhaps the officials at times as well, yet we battled and battled and in the end almost got home. It was a great second half display which had it been matched in the first 40 minutes would have seen us win it…. easily! We just controlled things so much better in the second half and then took our chances out there on the flanks, where the Tigers are supposed to be so good. Three games and yet ‘Mr Wonderful’ Greg Eden, hasn’t scored once against us and on Friday he looked decidedly ordinary once more. We came up against a team determined to take us on up the middle and it was a real war in that area. I guess we managed to match them there and with Watts, Bowden, Manu and Mini banging them as much as they got at us, we looked OK, but as we finally gained the ascendancy we just failed to get the rub of the green at the critical moments and ran out of time.

By and large the referee was OK, (but only OK) but two or three calls were down right wrong and as for the disallowed try, well the sooner we get away from that ‘referee’s call’ rubbish and leave it just up to the video ref as we used to, the better. We scored four tries to three and it was just their goal kicks that got them home, so all in all we came close, but just fell short of a sensational win! And when you watched it back at home we simply never gave up, but have to be just a bit smarter particularly near their line! Don’t forget as well that according to a couple of pundits last week, Castleford are the team that has re-invented rugby league!

Bollocks to that rubbish, I certainly don’t fear them in the play-off or any other game we meet them in, because although we lost by the slenderest of margins, if they had played the whole game as they did in the first half when they grabbed tries on the back of our mistakes and we’d played all the game as we did in the second when we dominated them, then there would have been only one result. That has to be the aim; to get that sort of focussed constancy throughout the 80 minutes. A win would have been nice, but it’s not a disaster by any means. As for Leeds in the semi-final, well, I’ve been watching them and have yet to see anything much there to worry about, particularly if we play as we did in the last fifteen minutes against Wakey and in that second half at Cas.

An early try but hard times ahead!

There were some good and some patchy performances on Friday with perhaps consistency over the whole game a big issue for several players. At Full-back Jamie Shaul was a classic example as he fielded big kick after big kick all night in wet and drizzly conditions and yet he lacked direction at times with the ball. Our wingers suffered from the cramped pitch and didn’t get the chances they crave but still showed that they know where the line is, with two good Fonua tries and a couple of acrobatic touch downs for Talanoa.

It was hard though for them both to get involved as much as they would have liked. The loss of the ever improving Carlos Tumavive was a late blow to Radford’s plans, but Griffin stood in well and had a go, but again started poorly and had to grow into the game, while Connor slotted into the centre well, but the switch from half back meant that the young star didn’t see enough ball to ensure that he could really shine. He is however, as a player, getting better and better and his first half try assist was amazing.

It was certainly obvious with regard to the issues of consistency over 80 minutes that perhaps it was in the half backs where we were undone and conversely, indeed, where we almost won the game. Kelly was well watched by the opposition but tried really hard without escaping that close attention until the final quarter, while Sneyd started poorly, but finished brilliantly and it was the changing fortunes of those two halves that saw us chase Cas down and almost pull off a famous win. There is little doubt in the cold light of Saturday morning as I write this, that watching it back, we scored some great tries, had one very harshly disallowed whilst they scored some fortuitous ones, failed to get near a touch-down in the second half and just hung on.

The Forwards dominated the middle in the second half too whilst they struggled to control that area in the first. The tactics had been all week to spread the ball more and to get away from the very effective one up rugby, that has served us so well this year on bigger pitches. In the second half we did that but in the first too often it was the one up stuff that Castleford were expecting that was our undoing. Watts had another massive game but is too much of a loose cannon and can’t seem to control his aggression at times, while Bowden did really well in an unfussy and workmanlike way. He had a big game and drove the ball up well. Taylor still isn’t on his top form but banged it in time and again and Jordan Thompson did alright and never stopped trying. Danny Houghton on the other hand was tireless once again and kept things moving well, particularly as we rolled on in the second half. He made the his much vaunted opposite number look very average indeed; Paul McShane, England material? You’re having a laugh!’

The return of Mini, who it is reported was very upset when rested for the Wakefield game because he always wants to play, was a massive plus, although he left the field a tad concussed near the end, but his work rate was exemplary and he was always looking to do something different. Seke Manu was again a massive player for us going forward and seems to have stepped his game up considerably of late. He is brutal at times in the tackle and carries the ball well, whilst Jansin Turgot is looking better and better as his impact from the bench improves and he is becoming a fixture in the pack. Brad Fash was solid as ever and gave another ‘what you see is what you get’ performance, whilst lastly ‘big up’s’ once again for Danny Washbrook who, for me, shone in the second row and when playing at loose forward. In his 300th game in Super League he again proved his worth and never stopped trying. So all in all, a good showing in the end and one that the pundits generally agreed featured the best two teams in Super League at present.

I don’t think any of us should be too down hearted because it was a fine come back, but more consistency would have seen us pull off a famous win. For me, I’d rather give up those two points now and take the pressure off ourselves a bit when we play them next time around. You can’t win them all, but on this occasion we almost snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. We re-group, we move on and hopefully we learn a lesson or two about consistency over 80 minutes!

You’ll remember in here twelve months ago I had a real go at the Club after they had sold the Player of the Year event out to sponsors and patrons without offering any tickets to the rank and file of the fans. It was a poor show but it’s great to see that the Club has listened to us lot and now announced that this year’s prestigious event will be held at the City’s biggest venue, Hull City Hall, on Wednesday 6th September, with the night getting underway at 7pm. Tickets go on sale from today and are priced at £75 Tickets are priced at £75 per person and can be booked by calling 01482 358443 or by e-mailing from 9am on Monday morning. £75 is a bit steep, cash wise I guess, but at least its accessible to the fans this year!

There were a lot of rumours flying around late last week about the fact that as Hull City had switched their pre-season game later in July to Caravan Park, which posed the question, would the KCOM pitch be ready for the FC game the following Friday against Huddersfield. It’s certainly a worry when the Stadium Management will persist on staging rock concerts in late June when everyone else operating a Stadium does them in late May? The Stadium’s ability to have the pitch ready won’t be helped by them sacking their two top groundsmen who are now scheduled to take them to an industrial tribunal. Who’s now looking after the pitch is anyone’s guess, but I do know that those two guys worked 18 hour days last year before the Catalan Cup game, to ensure it could be played. I jokingly muted the fact that we might even have to play the game at Caravan Park like City, but some old time FC fans won’t be attending that! AS my pal Dick Ollett commented this week, “I won’t be going! The last time I went there, Tevita Viakona scored a hat trick!!!”

So far, as always, I have majored on that game on Friday and the week past, but I’m also pre-occupied at present with my new book that comes out this Saturday 8th July, aimed at raising funds for the Danny Houghton Testimonial Appeal. This new tome is the story of that quite amazing 2016 season as it was seen through the eyes of an ordinary fan and those of the larger ‘rank and file’ of the FC Army.

To write about just 9 months of rugby in just one season is a challenge and could well see an aspiring author ending up with a catalogue of games back to back and little else, but this book explores what goes on across the supporter base and particularly in the heads of the fans between those games, before they’d kicked off and after the final hooter had sounded. It was as I sat in the hotel in London after the Final last August, that I realised the fact that 17 blokes had that afternoon, changed thousands of people’s lives forever and that I had to at least attempt to record it.

It also made me realise that perhaps I had witnessed the most significant thing to happen to my team in years, if not decades and that had to be retained somewhere. I wanted to do that so that if times are tough in the future either on a personal or a rugby front a fan could take it down, dust it off and relive a quite extraordinary year when we were the generation that saw the dream became the reality.

I’m no author, I’m just a fan who wants to record what it was like being there. My latest offering catalogues the journey from the flooded training pitches of January 2016 to the pubs of London on the eve of Wembley and beyond to the best moment of my life and then relives what it was like when for thousands of FC fans’, it was at last ‘job done’. It was a hard subject to tackle and indeed to do justice to for such a discerning audience. However, it does gives me and anyone who purchases it a chance to help the Danny Houghton Testimonial year, as every penny of profit (around £5/6 from each copy) going to Danny. I’ve had to lay a considerable amount of money out myself, but if sales follow the pattern of my last two book’s then that could mean around £9,000 going to the ‘52nd tackle master’ by the end of his year.

I wrote the book because I needed something to remind me of last season and I hope I have at least had a stab at doing the whole phenomena of ‘Old Faithful we went and won at Wembley’ justice. Whatever I make won’t be a donation from me, but rather a gift to Danny from every fan who buys the book! I therefore make no excuses for saying that I will be revisiting the launch of 2016 The Year of the Airlie Bird with a short extract from the book later in the Diary.

Last Wednesday, as he set out on his big year, I actually chauffeured Danny around several pubs in Beverley and Hull starting at the Tiger Inn and finishing at the Minerva. The idea wasn’t to get our celebrated hooker steaming, but rather to launch his new beer that has been brewed to coincide with the start of his Testimonial Year. Entitled ‘Tackle 52’, the project, which was the idea of Allen Slinger the Landlord of the Tiger Inn in Beverley, sees a pale ale being produced by Lindsey Simpson of local brewers the Gene Pool Brewery. Everyone who tried a pint loved it and as it spreads across the City from this weekend, I hope you have a go at it and encourage your local to get hold of the Brewery and stock some, because a donation from every keg sold goes to Danny’s Year.

On the ‘Beer trail at The Albert, Anlaby Road. Great player, great mural, shame about the nose!

You’ll remember that way back last season, after I had been to see Hull FC Under 23’s against Halifax, I raved about a young winger that the visitors had in their ranks and how he had turned us inside out and score two great tries. Subsequently Nick Rawsthorne signed for us and although initially his progress was slow as he morphed from a part time, pretty unfit player with the Championship outfit, to a full time professional player in our squad, but he’s certainly impressed me in his first team appearances this year. The former Leeds Rhinos academy man, had already represented England Under-18s in Rugby Union, before he came to us and made his debut for the Airlie Birds against Leigh Centurions, the club he’s currently on loan at, back in May.

The versatile outside back went on to make two further appearances for Hull, scoring twice against Catalans Dragons and kicking two goals in the victory over Super League champions Wigan Warriors. The 21-year-old has spent a lot of time playing for the Reserves this year and has also had a spell on loan in League 1 at York City Knights and with Doncaster on dual registration, before he went out on loan to Leigh.

On signing his new deal with Hull, he said: “I’m really happy, it’s what I’ve worked for ever since I signed and it’s big for me to get the new deal. I’ve been wanting to prove myself to Radders and I’ve been happy with how it’s gone”. He’s certainly a nice bloke and a level headed guy who could just make the grade. Experience proves that the next few months will be crucial in his development and I think myself he has a bright future, but with salary cap restrictions, I can’t see him returning from Leigh before the end of the season.

The need to balance the cap is a massive issue at the Club at present and the need to manage it has seen Nick, Jack Logan, Jordan Abdull and Dean Hadley currently all out on loan and its hard to know how we rectify that for next season. The cap, it is rumored, will rise next season by around £200,000, amidst worries that we are hemorrhaging talent to the Southern Hemisphere and we need to retain players, but we still need big squads and so that requirement may gobble up any increase pretty quickly. In addition, never forget that cap rises are fine, but Clubs have to generate more income to pay for them. That’s why in tandem with that cap increase we still need to look closely at the amount of games we play, the income that those extra games generate and how we replace it all in the context of trying to alleviate the pressure we put on players in such a busy schedule.

The majority of Clubs still want a change back to 14 teams and one up, one down, with a 27 game main season preceding a simplified play-off format. but the shroud waivers seem to be majoring on the mantra of ‘As a game if we are to maintain any sort of credibility then we can’t keep changing our fixture format’ and they are also right. I don’t know why we don’t sort it out as the majority of the teams want and then say that’s it for the next say, 6 years, so that we at least get some stability.

The unsettling chaos that ensued when the Club announced their plans about the way they were going to sell tickets for the Semi Final was in the end all a load of unnecessary stress emanating no doubt from social media and some worried fans. At no time that I can see, did the Club say that tickets would be in short supply, however, by the power of social media and the ‘shroud waiving’ we saw hundreds queuing all night in case they couldn’t get any tickets. Yet, come last Thursday, 6 days on, we were still selling tickets to none members and the RL were offering us more blocks, because Leeds just weren’t selling theirs. There were still tickets left if we needed them and as I said last week, perhaps next time we should all calm down a bit. There are some lessons to learn for the Club and the fans coming out of all this I guess.

Now here’s one I wasn’t expecting when this week it came out that the Rugby Football League has confirmed it is in discussions with a number of leading Super League players about becoming centrally contracted with the sport’s governing body. Leading members of the RFL’s hierarchy, including the former Leeds and England captain, Kevin Sinfield, have identified a number of players to become the first in the sport to be awarded central contracts, after St Helens confirmed on Monday that their full-back, Jonny Lomax, would be among those to benefit from the deals, created as part of the radical proposals approved this year to try to retain the competition’s best talent in this country.

St Helens announced a new two-year contract for Lomax as well as the news of his central contract, with the RFL saying that they will only reveal the full details of the process and length of contracts when it is ready to announce the deals.

I revealed in here back in February the RFL was introducing so-called “ambassadorial contracts”, which essentially meant a wage top-up for top players from the sport’s governing body in return for promotional and marketing work several days a year. And it is understood players such as the England internationals George Williams, Mike McMeeken and Kallum Watkins are all in talks, but whether any Hull players are it remains to be seen. I guess Scott Taylor might be favourite as far as we are concerned, but what will be interesting will be to see if this move means just a top up on their current wages or as is rumoured in some quarters their salaries are to be eventually taken over by the RL. It will certainly be interesting to watch how this infolds and how developing an ‘elite’ group of players will affect the game going forward.

Danny Houghton under the pump!

So as I said earlier, the new book is out this weekend and on sale from Saturday in both Club shops. In an attempt to let you see what it’s about, instead of the usual Codgers spot here’s an extract from the third chapter which under the title of ‘Oh What a Night’ relates our visit to St Helens and the game that for this fan started all the hope and anticipation. Of course, the most evocative and detailed bits of the book circulate around the Cup games, semi-final and Final and the intrigue and untold stories that emanated from what went on away from the games and behind the scenes. However, to feature any of that will spoil it for anyone who buys the book, so these are just a couple of run of the mill extracts from 1st April 2016 to hopefully give you a feel of what it’s all about …….

With just four days to prepare for the next game, a tough looking encounter at St Helens, once again the players used the ‘freezer’ chamber to get over the bumps and bruises sustained in that amazing win against Warrington on Easter Monday. It was another Friday and another game in Lancashire and so, as usual, I set off early to see what the M62 could throw at me on a drizzly, dank afternoon.

The trek over to Lancashire was anything but easy. It was rammed on the motorway around Leeds and stop, start all the way from Bradford to the M60 junction east of Manchester. I left at 2-00pm but didn’t arrive in St Helens until around 5-30pm and sat there in the traffic for long periods, it was at times pretty obvious to me who the ‘April Fools’ were that afternoon!

I’d intended to break my journey by going into Oldham to look for the site of the old Watersheddings Ground where I had experienced some wonderfully dour games in the 70’s and 80’s. However, if the truth is known, as the traffic ground to a stop near the Oldham junction, I daren’t come off the M62 for fear of not being able to get back on it again! So, I pressed on and despite a poor weather forecast before I set off and having encountered drizzle and low cloud most of the way there, it was thankfully dry as I arrived in my usual car park in the centre of St Helens.

I then grabbed a bit of tea in the local Weatherspoons where I spoke to several Saints fans who were happy to chat, but decidedly ‘non-plussed’ with their club’s progress thus far that season. Their attitude reminded me of many Hull fans and their feelings towards Hull KR, because it appeared to me that unless they were above Wigan in the League, they would never be satisfied. One guy said that they all fancied Warrington to beat the Warriors in the televised game that night, so everyone was looking for a massive effort from the Saints lads as they attempted to catch ‘The Pies’ in the table and save some face.

One guy added that the players and the club had made it perfectly clear in their local paper that the visit of Hull FC was a ‘must win’ game and nothing but a big victory would suffice.

This declaration of intent had rendered the Saints stalwarts very optimistic and I left to walk to the ground hoping that we could raise our game again, but also in my heart of hearts fearing that the worst was a distinct possibility. Years of disappointments had rendered me impervious to optimism at such places as St Helens.

As I walked towards the impressive new Stadium, surrounded by what seemed to be hundreds of Saints fans, I ruminated on what an impressive layout of walkways and bridges there were leading from the town centre to Langtree Park and indeed how the Tesco’s Superstore that you pass on the way is probably the biggest that Mr Tesco has built.

By kick off time, the away end was bouncing with over 1200 FC supporters creating a brilliant atmosphere. Then to add to all that about 200 rather ‘juiced up’ fans took up position at the back of the stand to lead the singing. Even before we started their chanting drowned out any efforts the home fans could muster and some of the stuff was at times pretty inventive too. I was up there on the standing terracing just in front of the ‘glee club’ and loving every minute of it. However, after two pretty incredible Easter victories I was still nervous about the possibility of a repeat of what we saw after our last ‘purple patch’ which you’ll remember followed the Catalan game away, when firstly Castleford and Wigan and then Widnes really found us out!

That night, I was joined by my pal Richard Kirk who had just driven all the way up the M6 from South London to be there in West Lancashire. That made my chuntering about the M62 seem all a bit pathetic really and as we stood waiting for the teams I remember that I hoped against hope that we could at least put on a show for Richard, so that his journey wouldn’t have been in vain.

However, things didn’t start too well at all, as the home side opened their account after only three minutes when Fages dabbed a grubber in-behind the Hull defence and second-rower Joe Greenwood got to the ball before Stevie Michaels, to score. Luke Walsh converted to put Saints 6-0 ahead. But, we plugged away and eventually retaliated when….”

And then from the end of the game,

“Then as the tension was cranked up another notch and we squirmed and fidgeted on the terraces, with just eight minutes remaining Scott Taylor pulled off a heroic last-ditch tackle on Fages. Saints next looked to nudge themselves ahead with a drop-goal but another fantastic effort from Houghton to block the kick made Fages slice his effort wide with just 6 minutes to go. Then, in a move that for all of us behind the posts at the away end seemed to go into slow motion, from 45 yards Sneyd aimed to drop a goal and as the ball hung and hung in the air it finally went over and we all went banana’s. As the ball eventually found its way between the posts it was as if the visiting supporters in holding their breath, had somehow sucked it over the bar. That effort gave Hull FC the lead for the first time in the game and took Sneyd’s drop-goal total to eight for the Club, which was two more than any other Hull player in the Super League era. Despite a couple of late scares, we hung on again and the hooter sounded for the celebrations to begin.

The relief was palpable and after a real party on both the field and the terraces the team eventually started to leave and head towards the tunnel, before a chorus of ‘Old Faithful’ from the 1200 FC fans who had all stayed to the very end, brought them back. Then, stood in a line in front of us all, they, to a man, sang along with the supporters who had throughout the game completely out sung the home crowd. Houghton led the singing, Shaul gave his boots to an amazed 10-year-old lad called Finley Cheesman in the crowd, while ‘Big Frank’ Pritchard doing a good impersonation of John Barbirolli on the Last Night of the Proms, conducted the masses in front of him. It had been a great night, a great win and a great and memorable occasion for us all. And even now when I look back, laudy they were crazy times!!

Those FC players deserved all the accolades they got that night. They must have been drained after the previous two games but it’s in matches such as those that you really have to respect the absolute bravery and commitment of the loyal, professional rugby league players, who generally in the annals of the national sporting media rarely get the headlines they deserve. However, that weekend no one could deny Ellis a headline or two and Paul Clarke of the Hull Daily Mail said next day, “At present he’s playing more like a superhero than a regular human being” and few who were there in Lancashire that Friday could argue with that.

If reports we heard after the game are to be believed, whoever Lee Radford sent out of the dressing rooms to Tesco’s, to fill a couple of supermarket trolley’s with beer for the player’s coach ride home, did a good job and believe me the lads deserved every mouthful of it!! From -135 degrees in a Cryotherapy chamber to getting bashed up for 80 minutes at St Helens and then to a few beers and a sing-song on the bus home; the lot of the Rugby League player is a certainly a strange if not varied one.

For me although there was certainly no beer to be had, the journey home was for once pretty incident free and I was back in Beverley by midnight, but that was all pretty academic because it was one of those rare occasions when it wouldn’t have mattered if it had been dawn before I got home; so buoyed and elated was I after that win”.

I hope with that extract from the less controversial and revealing stuff and a bit of an idea of how I cover the games, gives you a feel of what the book is all about and the angle that I’m coming from.

As I said earlier it’s just a season from a fans point of view and is written from that angle without all the hype and procrastination that often muddies the actual reality of it all for the average supporter. OK, it’s not all happy clappy and at times it discusses some of the perceived shortcomings of our Administration, Coaches and players as the season unfolds, (well it does if that was how we all felt at the time), but we pay’s our money and we have our say and that’s what I’ve tried to animate throughout. It’s certainly not written from the angle of the media or indeed the Rugby League propaganda bods, who all come in for some close scrutiny at times too! However, in the end it’s a celebration of a pretty extra-ordinary campaign seen through and lived out by the ordinary and long suffering Supporter on the terraces.

Full of the disappointment, anxiety, joy and passion that is the supporters lot, I hope in the end it’s just a book by a fan, for the fans about the fans. Plus, in addition all the proceeds go to Danny Houghton!! On sale on Saturday from both Hull Shops priced £15, I hope you will support it if you can.

Sorry about that outrageous plug and Advert Over!!!

So after that complete over indulgence on my part we move on to a big game this weekend at the Totally Wicked Stadium (who the hell thought that one up, it all gets dafter doesn’t it?) against St Helens. It is a game that is eminently winnable but a tough one just the same. It’s probably the home teams last chance to stay in contention for the top four and we’ll have to be on our guard and start a darn sight better than we did in that first half at Cas. I think we might well do it though, because I leave the Castleford game behind with regrets but with a strange sort of post defeat optimistic glow, which is an unusual felling even for me. If we do prevail at Saints, it sets up an interesting encounter over at Leeds just 14 days before the Cup semi-final. Thanks as always for reading the Diary and for all your correspondence and for those two great stories I received this week from Karl in North Dalton, ‘to include in my new book’, I’m afraid it’s a bit late now Karl!! But thanks just the same.

As I say, I apologise for the elongated book advert this week, but unlike the others I have written, this one is for a very special cause, so I hope you’ll indulge me just this once and as I said earlier if you want a signed copy, I’ll be in the town centre shop on Saturday between 10am and 12 noon. See you all at Saints and……

Keep Believing!

Faithfully Yours