The Dentist’s Diary – 544th

I’m still pretty depressed after Friday!

That was so disappointing wasn’t it? It was all just such sub-standard fare really with several players giving uncharacteristic below par performances. In the rain at St Helens we were simply nowhere near where we should be at this time of the campaign and in hindsight last Friday, we didn’t deserve anything more than we got!

St Helens is never an easy place to go, but you can’t dress a pretty woeful performance up as anything other than baffling, at a time when we should be starting to build towards the end of the season and that big Cup match. We all know too that you have to be right on your game, wherever and whoever you play in Super League, otherwise the opposition will have you and on Friday night there could be no excuses, we were dissapointing. In fact, in a listless disjointed performance Hull FC were pretty unrecognisable as the team we have grown to almost count on in the last 18 months. Despite that defeat at Castleford, we had all taken some heart and had even felt positive because we just needed some of the same stuff we saw in the last quarter there, to get us home at a wet Langtree Park, against what was in anybody’s book, a pretty average St Helens team.

However, instead of building on that last quarter the previous week, we went the other way and it was a worrying development at a time when as a Club we should be looking to step up in preparation for the fights ahead. Instead with 9 games left to the top 4 play offs, we took a big step backwards. Thankfully we hold our 4th place spot because Wakey lost, but as the top eight starts to tighten up, that really is scant consolation.

Over the last few weeks we appear to have drifted from being the form team of the top half of the table, to looking worryingly flat and downright inept at times. The pundits in the printed media in general still rate us, but rugby is played on grass and not on paper and after a dire three-quarters of a game against Wakey, the same at Castleford and an awful 80-minute showing on Friday (throughout the whole match), my team are really struggling to impress me much at all at present.

It was a dank and dreary night after which some folks I spoke to on Saturday didn’t get home until 1-30am, such was the state of the motorway on the way back. It was a game in which we needed to start well and our Coach had made that point a time or two during the week, but things were still pretty dire in a first quarter that saw us have to battle hard. We could so easily have conceded three tries, rather than the one we eventually did give up, but then the rain came down harder, just as we got a bit of a hold in their half and the ball became like a bar of soap. One of our readers had a theory about that and I’ll explain it later, but towards the end of that first half the game descended into a lottery as neither side could keep the ball for 6 tackles and the rest of the half was absolute chaos with neither team able to control a slippery ball.

So often in the past we have been the masters of the ‘one up’ stuff, but we simply couldn’t seem to adapt and play wet weather rugby at all. In fact, in that first half neither side seemed to have the ability to keep the ball for more than two or three tackles. For any casual observer it was pretty farcical, but Saints won’t have minded and even then they appeared to be more desperate than us for a win, however at half time they still only went in two points up when perhaps it should have been more. It was so slippery, wet and difficult for both sides, yet even then the tide of the game was flowing against us.

We simply didn’t seem to have the ability to break through their line and although the forwards tried hard, a resolute and at times desperate Saint held us out, as we struggled to get much over half way before our sets were over. Then we resorted to trying to force it wide too often without doing the hard yards first, but in that first half we got one chance and took it, they had 5 and only took one of theirs. Sneyd again looked lost and his frustration led to him producing some suicide passes in ‘suicide’ conditions, but we battled on and just held them at bay. At least our goal line defence was spot on and as the hooter went the million-dollar question on the terraces was, what would Lee do to rectify a really dysfunctional performance? As the rain came down everyone at Saints and sat at home in front of their TV sets wondered if by some miracle we could be in for a half time transformation.

However, Saints started the second half like a house on fire and forced a drop out as they pinned us down in our own half a time or two. The game was crying out for some variation or a piece of magical unorthodox play to break one of the defences down and it came when Theo Farge ran the ball on the sixth, when we as a team believed he would kick. Everything including his body language said that was what he was about to do, but he didn’t, he suckered the defence and all of a sudden they were 8 points up. I was really concerned by that time, because we just weren’t firing and they wanted it so badly. In those conditions and with our obvious short comings with ball retention and end of set kicking, we had to slog it out and wait for a chance, but under pressure and in our own twenty, all of a sudden, the most unlikeliest of candidates like Minichiello and Houghton started to make mistakes.

I know I say it every week, but when you watch it back at home afterwards some of the refereeing decisions were, for both sides, simply awful and for the second week running the commentators were openly criticising some blatantly bad decisions as being totally wrong and then just moving on, as if crap refereeing is now just an accepted part of our game.

Over the years I have often said in here that when you’re stood there behind the posts, miles from home in a hostile environment, it’s painfully apparent when the tide of the game moves against you. Then the referee, the weather and the luck of the bounce all come into play and have to be overcome, but on Friday we simply weren’t good enough to seize the game by the scruff of the neck and give ourselves a chance of sneaking a win. An injury to Albert Kelly was critical, as he would certainly have scored and then who knows, but when your honest about it all, we never really deserved to win.

Brilliant though our defence was near our line, we simply couldn’t get out of jail down there, as the home side worked hard to contain us and when we did get out, we dropped so much ball it was almost impossible to make progress up the field. At least we saw our fortunes take a turn for the better as Fonua grabbed the ball after an enormous stroke of luck and we were back in touching distance again. On such bits of outrageous fortune games are won or lost, but you have to back them up and we simply couldn’t and that’s not us at all! A miracle try at the end saw the home team finally secure the points, but in all fairness there was really only one team in it and it wasn’t us! We didn’t deserve anything on Friday and it would appear that there is much work to be done before Leeds next weekend.

Although we tackled valiantly and our goal line defence was great, in the end we were simply second bested in the arm wrestle and as FC fans we ain’t used to that scenario at all.

You know if I’m honest, and I try to be in here, I’m concerned by that performance, because on the night we simply weren’t good enough. We defended our line well, but we missed a lot of tackles as the home team came out of their own half and that’s another worry for me as well. There were few excuses really and we had a really strong team out there on Friday, but we lacked any sort of direction and gave up the ball far too easily. Last season we tackled like demons and then killed games and opponents off late on with precision attacking and by taking our chances as they tired, we haven’t been doing that of late at all though as its now us that look devoid of ideas late on.

At a time when we should be peaking and running into some form we are running out of it quickly and it’s a good job we had that bright start and mid-season run of wins, because otherwise we could have found ourselves slipping into a bottom six that saw two of the teams down there running in tries for fun this weekend. It’s a difficult time when we would really benefit from a home game to get us back on track, but instead the vagaries of the SMC’s pitch refurbishment at the KCOM, see us on our travels again at Leeds next week and I worry that will lead to another reversal unless things change massively.

The fcat is that in a season when it was always going to be hard to back up that wonderful 2016 campaign, we are probably only 4th, because we are blessed with the fact that Saints, Wigan and Warrington have all had bad times thus far and as for the up-coming Cup game, well we’ll have to be a lot better than that if we are ever going to get anyway near that Wembley Arch in 2017! It is as I say, all getting just a bit worrying for this fan.

Performance wise it’s a hard one because so many dependable players had poor games. In the forwards a few had a real go and Bowden played long minutes while Taylor, who has just come off a series of injections as he gets over his injury, tried hard, ground out the yards but is still I’m told, a week or two off his peak fitness. Watts did OK tackling wise, but was missing in attack which is unusual for him, while Danny Houghton had an uncharacteristically inept game when running from acting half, but who can blame him; he made 65 tackles!! However, he tried to lead from the front but then dropped the ball twice which isn’t like him at all. Minichiello had a real curates egg of a game where he had an awful period across the middle of the match where he also made totally uncharacteristic mistakes but he still tried really hard to get us to a position where we could actually have got something out of the game. Matongo got short minutes after being drafted in late, but he did pretty well I thought and at least he tried to push his nose through the line. Thompson however was decidedly ineffective and for me hardly made a yard forward all night, while Manu put in a big shift and was one of the only players to come out of the game with any sort of honours at all. He was the pick of a pack of forwards who simply failed to provide the necessary platform for our backs and on that score it was a night when we probably missed the steadying hand and influence of Ellis.

With a back division containing our first choice players numbered 1 to 7, we have few excuses for a performance that saw little cutting edge at all and for me the outside backs were at their least effective of the season. I know the conditions were hardly good for such players, but Fetuli and Mahe although doing their best to carry the ball forward, failed to find their usual impact and Carlos looked unable to hang onto the ball at all and had a mare of a game. For me too we would have been better off playing Connor at centre instead of Griffin because Jake can make something out of nothing at any time, while Griffin although far from dire and obviously trying hard, still doesn’t impress me much at all. At Full-Back Shaul had a go but behind a pack that failed to dominate the conditions, that and the service he didn’t get, saw him eclipsed by his St Helens counterpart.

So, it was a numbingly forgettable night all round really and a performance we will want to see condemned to history rather than becoming the norm in the future. All that and another nightmare journey home to boot! For me now it can go two ways. We can either re-group again, for the third time this season, find some form, get to Wembley and fight for the top 4 or we can slip back to an ignominious and flat end to the campaign. What’s more, how that pans out could well be down to how we perform for the whole 80 minutes at Headingley. As I say it’s all getting a bit worrying for me and no doubt a concern for Lee Radford as well. He will have left for his Stag weekend on Saturday morning with plenty to think about, although his mates will have least have raised a smile when they all turned up with T Shirts with ‘Radford OUT’ emblazoned across the front.

So onto related matters and what struck me as I watched the game and the rain poured down was the way that whenever we see a game in those conditions where it starts to rain during the match, both sides simply can’t seem to hold onto a ball that soon appears to be like the proverbial ‘bar of soap’. I mused on the fact and the way that recently, in those conditions, it spoilt the spectacle of a game completely. All those players from all those sides can’t all be crap at handling a wet ball can they?

I didn’t think too much more about it really, until I heard from Diary reader Alan who E Mailed me on Saturday evening to say, “I am well into the book now and loving it (page160) I’ve just read the Warrington game (of last season) and the comments about the errors in the wet and that reminded me why I was going to E mail you. I too was disappointed with the Saints game but my thoughts ended up focused on the ridiculous number of dropped balls for both sides. I really think it’s time the RFL re visited the Rhino ball issue, because I believe it’s not fit for purpose and is ruining the game The fans won’t want to watch too many error strewn games like that one.

Alan continued, “I hope I’m not looking back with rose coloured glasses but I’m sure we did not get the number of what Stevo used to call knock-on-athons with the Steeden ball. I was highly suspicious of the RFL when after initial complaints about the new ball they took part in a programme with the ball company to reassure fans that the ball had now been revised and given a “special coating” to make it less slippery. Even in the bad old days of Winter rugby when we played in the mud and the wind and rain and when the players hands were freezing, the handling seemed better I thought”.

Interesting and thought provoking stuff that Alan and although not everyone will agree with you, I’ll tell you who does; Danny Houghton. He raised exactly the same issues when I was talking to him yesterday, and he mentioned how much better the Steedon ball’s were in wet weather. It’s certainly food for thought and thanks for getting in touch Alan.

So to the rest of the news and as a club we continued to sell tickets last week for the semi-final to ensure that there will be a huge following from the Black and Whites making their way to South Yorkshire for the game. This year’s encounter is now certain to topple 2016’s semi-final attendance, where 10,488 went to the Keepmoat Stadium to see Hull beat Wigan. The game is within a few hundred of selling out completely now and we have sold more tickets than any of the other three semi-finalists with quite amazingly Wigan and Leeds lagging behind us and Salford in sales. It will be a great occasion if you can enjoy it. Me? I’ll probably be under the seat!

Although little is being said out loud, behind the scenes the wheeling and dealing about a new format for the League structure next term continues unabated. Most of the Clubs want change while the RL and Sky TV don’t and yet the Super 8’s system teeters on the brink of being scrapped for a more stable and traditional format that retains relegation, but which sees 13 or 14 teams in Super League.

Those I have spoken to from Red Hall talk in lowered tones about their hierarchy wanting Rovers back in the Super League fold as soon as possible. That is simply because of the crowds that they take everywhere, but it is a sad indictment of our game when instead of addressing the issues, solving them and then making the game so attractive and ‘understandable’ that it appeals to and indeed attracts new spectators, we simply look to ship in a team that already has them! But as behind the scenes Mr. Wood and his cronies no doubt try and pick clubs off to change their mind about a new format, (you can however bet they’ll suddenly be all for one should Catalan lose the million-pound game) the fans just look on and wonder. There’s a lot more to these discussions than meets the eye believe me, but what the outcome will be, what we find out of the deliberations after the call is made and what the eventual state of play will be for 2018, remains to be seen.

Unlike many of the owners our Coach is, it appears, in favour of retaining the current system with a few tweaks but even he cited what happened in 2015 when we were adrift of the top, before we even started the last 7 games as one of his major issues the current structure faced. OK, Hull were challenging for top spot last year and duly reached the semi-finals, but in the campaign before that we finished seventh after the regular 23-round season and had no chance from the off, of actually competing for a place at Old Trafford. This scenario resulted in a string of pretty lackluster hit up’s with youngsters bloodied and a bit of structural experimentation going on. It was certainly a pretty dire period to be an FC fan watching rugby, when there was so little to play for.

Asked last week by the Yorkshire Post as to whether he liked the current format, Lee said that he believes it only needs minor adaptions, not a major overhaul or complete disbandment. He commented when asked, “I do like the format. I’ve been at both ends of it as I’ve also been in the Eights with nothing to play for. That was hard and it was tough; you were trying to manufacture energy. The professional in you wants to win those games no doubt. But, if I’m being honest, anyone who needed an operation I sent for an operation as the focus was already on the next campaign, we were safe from the middle bit and couldn’t make the four either”.

As for me, well I’m still for change as I guess is our owner, simply because the current format is too much of a gimmick and too many people I speak to echo the attitude of the guy who published my book. He’s a Union man who takes an interest in League but he said to me a while ago. “I like the game but I struggle to understand what everyone is playing for with all this splitting League malarkey. I can watch a game and enjoy it, but need to really know what is at stake too. That’s the bit I don’t get!” Once again I tried, as I had several times with other people, to describe what it’s all about, but when I got about a minute in, he glazed over, as everyone else had. Perhaps I’m no good at explaining it, or perhaps it’s just too complicated in the first place! So I guess, as the Clubs and the RL argue on, we’ll just have to await developments.

Well I often say in here that I know nowt and indeed that was proved to be true again this week when the club announced that they have now sold a record 8,000 home shirts this season. The alternative take on the club’s famous black and white hoops has proven popular, making it the club’s bestselling shirt ever. I still don’t like it and it still reminds me of a bar code and also tends to look a mucky grey from a distance, but you have to give it to the Club, they got it right and the kids love it, as they do the dayglow away one, which for me still makes the players look like stewards!

But, you know by now that I’m a bit of an old stick in the mud and anyway as long as they are playing well as a team, who cares what they play in, as long as the shirts make a lot of money in sales and it keeps us afloat. With well over £1.2m a year coming into the club from retail, it is certainly a big call when you decide what design to adopt and it’s no doubt hard to find something different, let’s face it we have even had pink shirts in the past and they worked! It is just a matter of time I guess before one Club plays in a full blown pink strip! However, credit to the Club they got it right again and did it against my better judgement, but as I say what the hell do I know eh?

It was good on Tuesday to have a bit of a pre book launch with a few mates at the Dog and Duck in Beverley. Danny Houghton, Washy, Scott Taylor and Yeamo all turned up too, which was unexpected and certainly great. In the ranks of ex-players there was Keith Boxall, Barry Edwards and Keith Tindall amongst others and thanks to everyone who turned out.

A packed Dog and Duck in Beverley for the book party!

It was great to meet a load of old mates and talk old times and to sell a few books pre their launch last Saturday. Those who have read the book already, seem to have enjoyed it and it was also good to see so many fans on Saturday, when we launched at the Savile Street Store and I signed a few books.

That book signing was the best attended I have had over the years and it was great to meet several Diary readers including Ben from Driffield, Harry Patterson from Barton and Paul and Cheryl who had travelled all the way from Immingham to grab a copy. It was good too as I also met the ubiquitous ‘Touchliner’ from RL fans, who I hadn’t seen for ages. So far the book has already raised around £800 for Danny, which I expect has little to do with the quality of the book and more to do with the magnanimity of the FC fans!! Thanks so much to everyone for your support and copies are still available priced £15 in the Club shops where as always the unsung heroes of the Club the retail staff have been brilliant in helping me too.

While we are on Testimonials, the Tackle 52 Beer launch I spoke about last week was certainly a success, with all the participating pubs selling out in double quick time and the Brewery having to make more beer PDQ. Another load is coming off the production line this week on Wednesday as the popularity of it grows.

Scott Bought one last Tuesday!

Last week I mentioned the demise of the two regular groundsmen at the KCOM and the legal action they are taking against the SMC after what they claim was unfair dismissal. Well, the whole saga took another twist this week when they got support from high places as the Leader of Her Majesties Opposition waded into the dispute with this entry on twitter.

Nice of him to support the guys despite some claiming that there was a bit of political motivation behind his action’s, but Mr C. wasn’t on his own as support continues to flood in not the least from other groundsmen around the Country. Good luck to the guys I say!

Going back to books, I have talked a bit of late about Vince Groak’s new publication that features everything surrounding the 1980 final and my new tome ‘The Year of the Airlie Bird’ but it’s certainly quite amazing that next week a third book ‘Yeamo My Life in Black and White’ comes out too! So at present it appears that there are book launches and ‘get togethers’ everywhere! This Tuesday at the Tigers Lair on Anlaby Road, Vince is hosting a question and answer session at 7-30pm, where there will be a number of players present including Brian Lockwood, Allan Agar, Steve Hartley, Charlie Birdsall, Keith Tindall and Roy Holdstock – who have agreed to take part in the event, Vince has also tracked down Fred Lewis – the gentleman who claims he made the original ‘Last One Out’ sign which became so famous and he will be present as well. Admission is free and it starts at 7-30pm. Meanwhile the third book off the rank, ‘Yeamo: My Career in Black and White’, comes out this weekend as he does a signing session in Waterstone’s in Hull from 2pm on Saturday, July 15, and then he has an evening at Garbutt’s in Princes Avenue, Hull, from 7pm on Monday, July 17, which is a question-and-answer session, plus a book signing when Danny Houghton, Danny Washbrook and Jamie Shaul should all be present. I think I’ll drop in myself, so try and get there if you can.

These are certainly great times for reading about Hull FC!

So its Leeds up next and I hope it will at the very least be a tight game. There have been plenty of those between the Clubs over the years and this week in the Codgers spot I want to feature one such game that really sticks in my mind. It was back in the bad old days of March 1969. In early January that year the snow and frost descended on the Boulevard and we only played one game between 27th January and 23rd March. The game in question this week was a Sunday match and with City doing so well down the road although the official switch by the Rugby League to playing all games on a Sunday was still some five years away, this change of day for the big games was the only way our Board of Directors could attempt to entice the ‘floating’ sports fans of the City back to the Boulevard.

The whole league programme had been decimated by the freezing cold weather, but Leeds, because of that underground ‘electric blanket’ at Headingley, had kept their home games going and where, when they arrived at the Boulevard, sat at the top of the League and certainly ‘match hardened’. Of course we always played well against them but on this occasion the Boulevard was heavy and quite devoid of grass in the centre third and you had to fear for our lighter pack against the big mobile forwards of the West Yorkshire club. Sunday games back then were in contravention of the Sunday Observance act and had to be accessed by buying a rather inflated programme. There was a strong rumour after the game which inferred that so many people attended, the club ran out of programmes and in desperation sold beer mats from the supporters Club as a means of admission. However, I have to say I never met anyone who actually owned up to buying one of those costly coasters, but it’s a good story. It was a big day too for local hooker Alan McGlone who returned to the team for his first game for over a year.

It was a dank misty afternoon when the teams ran out dead on 3-00 pm however it was a full two minutes before the officials appeared as the two teams passed the ball around in an attempt to keep warm. Leeds with that famous half back combination of Seabourne and Shoebottom took command in the early exchanges, although a couple of great tackles by first the now late Dick Gemmell and then Howard Firth stopped Sid Hynes twice when he looked like crossing the line.

However, after some robust tackling the first touchdown came on the 15 minute mark and it went to the Airlie Birds. Alan McGlone found himself with the ball in midfield and then produced one of those great trade mark side steps where his floppy sandy hair went one way and he went the other. That opened up a massive gap in the Leeds defensive line. He shot into the opposition’s 25 yard area before turning the ball inside for Joe Brown to speed in under the sticks. John Maloney stepped up to stroke over the conversion and added to it with a penalty after 27 minutes, and we were 7-0 up and looking pretty good.

Leeds though was a classy outfit and it was taking all our guile and tenacity to keep them out. After that penalty Arthur Keegan tackled both Cowan and Bill Ramsey inches short of the line and it looked like we would hang on to our lead until half time when we lost concentration momentarily and the mercurial Bev Risman shot through a gap near half way. Again Keegan tackled him but the big, mobile Leeds forwards carried on the move and second rowers Ayres and Ramsey presented hooker Tony Crosbie with an easy try which Risman converted.

We were all preparing for half time, but just on the whistle we missed a great chance to stretch our lead. Chris Davidson who was having a great game keeping Seabourne quiet with his terrier like tackling hit the diminutive half back head on and as he dropped the ball, Chris fell on it to regain possession near the Leeds 25-yard line. Hancock handed onto Eric Broom who carved out a great opening before sending Jim Neale trundling towards the line. He could probably have scored himself but he turned the easiest of passes inside to the unmarked Edson who dropped the ball in front of him. The whistle went and although we only led by the slenderest of leads, we all agreed that the quality of the rugby after such a long lay-off was great to watch and more than we could have really expected.

The second half started late again, this time we were all ‘in fits of laughter’, as the referee came out with his two officials but both teams held back and to chants of ‘Why are we waiting’, from the Threepennies, they made the officials stamp their feet for two minutes before emerging from the tunnel. Coach Johnny Whiteley’s half time talk must have been on the subject of ‘What you have you keep’ because the Hull team obviously had decided to ditch some of the flamboyance of the first half and concentrate on defence and counter attack.

For the first ten minutes we held Leeds at bay but lacked field position and found ourselves constantly pinned back in our own 25 by the probing runs of the big Leeds pack. When we finally got out of our territory on the end of a great run by Edson, we were awarded a penalty for off side and despite a following wind, an audacious 40 yard attempt from just in front of the Threepennies saw Maloney’s kick hit the left hand post and bounce dead.

We scrapped our way back up field again and this time Davidson tried a massive 48 yard drop goal which hit the right post and bounced back in play and into the arms of a startled but relieved Bev Risman. In the stands the opinion was that we were not having too much luck at this point. Then Joe Brown picked up a loose Cowan pass and wrong footing the attacking Loiners set off down the pitch. Risman came across to attempt a ‘ball and all’ tackle and in doing so smacked our loose forward across the face. Maloney made no mistake with the penalty this time, and stretched our lead to 9-5.

Only three minutes later Leeds struck again. This time it was their stand out forward Mick Clarke who got the ball wide out and headed towards the corner. As the Hull cover hesitated expecting him to pass to winger Smith he dummied, then kept going and as our cover realised too late to do anything, he was over in the corner. Risman narrowly missed the goal but our lead was reduced to just one point and it was ‘panic stations’ both on and off the field. As we all looked on nervously, Leeds threw the ball about and Hynes went close before Risman shot through to the line only to drop the ball as he crossed the whitewash.

We were certainly hanging on, but once again it was man of the match Chris Davidson who came to the rescue, as he dummied out of the line from a scrum, breezed past Shoebottom and made about 40 precious yards down field before Cowan caught him from behind. From the play the ball McGlone brilliantly delayed his pass and then switched play to the open side and almost as soon as he had received the ball, Joe Brown dropped an amazing (two point) goal on the run. He ran forward stepped around a Leeds tackler stopped dead in his tracks, looked up and dropped a 30 yarder from slightly to the left of the posts. With just 10 minutes to go and a three point lead we scented victory and our tackling really stiffened up, causing the Leeds forwards to get a little upset and concede penalties when they were in good positions.

Then after Keegan had fielded a deep kick from Risman on our line, Harrison passed onto Maloney who would have been better driving in and ‘dying’ with the ball in the tackle. However, in the heat of the moment our centre dropped the low pass and with just 5 minutes to go Sid Hynes picked up and touched down in the corner. To everyone’s relief Risman missed again and although it was 3 tries to 1 in Leeds favour the scores were tied 11-11. Still the excitement had not finished. Stung into attacking action, the Hull side finally came out of their shells and twice brought Howard Firth into the game down the wing. The first time he ‘Scored’ only to be brought back for a forward pass and the second time, the last play before the final whistle went, he was forced into touch just 5 yards short.

Hull had looked unlikely winners until that late try, and despite only drawing the game no one left the ground before the final whistle, after which the reception the home lads got would have led anyone entering the ground at that moment to believe Hull had actually won. In the end it was all down to goal kicking, Maloney got 3 from 5 whilst Risman only got 1 from 6. However, after such a great performance it would have been a total injustice had either side lost. Everyone had a fantastic time that afternoon, a fact that was emphasised by the ‘gallery’ of empty beer bottles left on the ledges at the back of the Threepenny Stand as everyone departed. I felt truly elated again, so much so that I could only dwell on the game and relive the experience all the way home.

So that’s it for another Diary, it has been great to see so many folks this week and thanks for your support for the book. Yesterday I had a great afternoon at the First big Danny Houghton event the Man of Steel Dinner at the KCOM and again it was great to see so many friends.

The Men of Steel join Danny on the Stage

It was a fabulous afternoon which should start the ball rolling with a five figure injection of funds to the Testimonial campaign. Thanks so much for all your correspondence, good wishes and indeed feedback from the book and hopefully next week this Diary will settle down again and get back to its old format because I’m conscious at present it is all about ‘literature’ really. However, this week we move on to Headingley and another team hitting their straps as they approach the Super Eights. It’s a hard one as to how much of your hand you show this week just two weeks before we meet in the Semi Final, but we’ll see how Radders approaches it. Thanks for sticking with another Diary after what was a harrowing old game at St Helens. Still, let’s hope we can find some form and start to put things right. As I said earlier for me, a lot of this season hinges not so much on how we play on Friday, but more on how we actually ‘perform’.

Try to Keep Believing! Thanks for all your support,

Faithfully Yours