The Dentist’s Diary – 546

PHEWWW!!!!!

……that was a close call wasn’t it? We just got home in a dour and at times frustrating game, but those two points were as precious as any we have grabbed this season.

On Friday night we just prevailed by the skin of our teeth, but boy we needed that victory didn’t we? It really didn’t matter how we got it, because we had to move forward to next week on a win and to, if we could, secure a top 4 spot and 4 home games in the play-offs, although in fairness the latter objective relied entirely on other teams slipping up. However, thanks to another desperately brilliant defensive showing in what was a scratchy performance against the Giants and a freak result at Leigh that saw Salford oblige us with a defeat, for now, on the journey that is 2017, its job done.

That of course hides the concerns we all still have about our current form and our perceived inability to score tries, but this game was always going to be a grind because we simply had to contain and frustrate a free scoring Giants outfit who were on a good run of results. So, on a sunny warm evening and to the calypso like accompaniment of a set of Huddersfield supporters who sounded as if they had pinched their mother’s pans and kitchen utensils and brought them along to the game, we just got home! It wasn’t pretty and at times in attack it wasn’t good either, but we still have that special togetherness that brings the will and tenacity that is needed to hang in such games. I would be a lot more worried where we throwing the ball about, losing concentration and collapsing when put under pressure.

As for the match officials, well listening to the observations’ of Chico Jackson on the way home, as he commented on how he didn’t think Mr Kendall got much wrong, then I’ll have to beg to differ on that one, because for me I’m afraid it was Leeds Rhino’s last week all over again! Mr K. had a shocker.

Still it was two points, the top four secured, no major injuries and now just the small matter of that game at Donny to concentrate on. Come on You Hull!!

Fridays was always going to be a crunch game with the Cup Semi Final a week away and a string of three defeats on the road behind us. In the last seven days at County Road the emphasis had been on maintaining the high standards of our defence and just holding onto the ball. Whilst all week amongst ‘The Faithful’ our recent form was causing a nervous uneasiness to spread like Dutch Elm disease from supporter to supporter. Ever the optimist, my pal Clive was going around telling everyone in the pub we would win easily against the Giants, but by Thursday he had less mates than the proverbial Billy. Everyone was uneasy!

We needed a solid win and a performance to engender some confidence with which we could build for next week. On both counts we just about got what we needed and to the casual observer it was, although light on flashy rugby and high levels of skill, a game that had bags of drama, in that it could have gone either way, right up until 10 seconds from the end.

But, in a game reminiscent of last seasons ‘getting back on the horse’ performance against Wakefield, (that came after that lock out and debacle at Widnes), we came through and at least had a really tough and uncompromising encounter in preparation for the big Cup game this weekend. Ellis led a set of forwards who always ensured we had good field position, but playing Sneyd and Connor together again failed to work and for me we look better with a Sneyd/Kelly or Connor/Kelly combination. So, we desperately need Albo back next week. Our attacking options were poor close to the oppositions line, where at times it appeared that we were making it up as we went along and that has to improve for us to get anything in the semi-final.

As for Leeds well who are they kidding eh? They were obviously resting a whole raft of players in their game at Wigan whilst working under the pretext of them being injured. However, we couldn’t afford to rest anyone, not just because we needed to try and get in the top four, or even because actually a few of them were off their game a bit, but more because as a team we simply haven’t been firing for weeks and this was the last chance saloon to straighten a few things out before next Saturday.

Lee had a really strong 19-man squad to pick from and as we all walked across West Park before the match, with a big gate expected, it was certainly all to play for! It all started so well! In the first 25 minutes we really took the game to a much fancied Giants outfit that from the off could visibly be seen to be full of confidence and vigour. They played the ball with speed, Broughy distributed it with some accuracy and on attack and defence there was certainly a lot of strength in their big forwards down the middle. However, we had a lot going for us in that first 25 minutes too but after two really well worked tries, a decision to not take a penalty to stretch the lead to 14-0 and Ellis leaving the field for a breather, contrived to engineer what was, looking back, a real turning point in the game.

Then, some bad choices made by our attack, a referee who once again simply lost it and two really poor ball losses by Bowden coming out of our half, gave the initiative to Huddersfield and we went in just two points up and looking decidedly wobbly. I was getting narked about the referee too. The visitors put four men into just about every tackle on our big forwards, but Mr Kendall failed to clear the ruck and time and again the opposition had two square markers and another two players hanging around beside them. Then, he allowed both sides to wander on and off side at will as if they were at times just popping for a hot dog. I contemplated the fact at half time, that if Mr Kendall had a plot at all, he had now lost it!

Then after no doubt a ‘cosy’ half time chat from our Coach and despite some calling from the terraces to throw the ball about with abandon, we just tightened things up strangled the opposition and stopped them scoring again in a second half that showed just two points scored, and they came from the boot of Sneyd. Whilst the baffling decisions continued unabaited!


Heroes past and present Mini and Razor lock horns!

Ellis’s return after ten minutes of that second half really added some steel to the defence and Huddersfield never really looked like scoring again, although our mistakes did offer a few heart stopping moment before the final hooter went! I have often told you in here that Yeamo always used to say that when Gareth leads you out onto the pitch you somehow feel a foot taller, and you could certainly feel his presence (I detect a Star Wars moment coming on here …..Luke) on the night, as he organised and sorted the line out and always led by example. It was a poor game and no mistake, but who cares? A win was absolutely imperative to keep our League season alive and we got one! Just! And so, as for the current campaign, so far it’s Job Done!


We just got home!

A pal of mine went on a right rant afterwards about how we should be playing more expansive rugby ‘Like Castleford’ and I’m sure that would be nice for all of us, but there were plenty of games like that one during last season. Games where it was about just making sure we got home with the two points on the board. Although what we saw on Friday doesn’t engender any big ideas about winning cups and grand finals it got us what we needed against a good team and a bloody awful set of officials.
So, I guess it was the best we could have hoped for really. What we needed for next Saturday was to go to Doncaster on the back of a win (any win) and with a bit of confidence and although at times it was a shocking game to watch at least last Friday we walked home back to the cars with both, although once again, it wasn’t the two teams that everyone was talking about was it?


The Leader was back and it was as if he’d never been away!!

It was a must win game and so it wasn’t pretty and we looked at times to still be somewhat ill equipped to take on the Rhino’s next week, but we secured a top four finish and when you look at the spread of the games you play home and away in 3rd or 4th compared with 5th and 6th then, although you still have to play everyone, we now go into the Super Eights well placed to do OK.

With the most average yards across the games thus far of any forward this season, whilst still not a fiery as he was last year, for me Scott Taylor was again absolutely immense whilst ‘Big Judders’ Liam Watts wasn’t far behind. With two contrasting styles those two certainly set the tone for the battle up front. Bowden had a good game yard wise but again dropped the ball twice after scoring a try which he has done before in the past and I have to say that I’m still not sure about Chris Green myself! Ellis goes without saying, he leads us magnificently and heaven help us when he retires. Miniciello was back to the sort of form we have come to expect from him too and he ran the line really well before leaving the field with a knock. However, in Manu I am seeing a player who is for me at present my Player of the season. What a year he has had thus far, as once more on Friday time and again he bent his back and demolished the tacklers that got in his way. Fash came on and played well with his usual no frills approach whilst Washy also, as usual, steadied things down when he was introduced from the bench. Up front that just leaves Danny Houghton, who is back at the top of the games tackle charts, despite being missing for 5 matches a while ago. He did well, but for me there is still a lot more to come from Danny and we need him to run the ball more from acting half next week. Of course he can only do that on the back on fast play the balls and with the Giants piling on in units of four, whenever they could, he found a quick play the ball wasn’t often forthcoming.

The half backs both tried hard, but for me as I said in the introduction they fail to have complimenting styles whilst Talanoa and Fonua fought so hard to gain the front foot against the Huddersfield big men. For me it was another bright showing from Griffin whilst Tumavive at least managed to hang onto the ball this week and he looked better for it too. Shaul at full back is so sound defensively but still seems to pick the wrong option at times when deciding which way to run the ball out of defence. As we move on, there’s still much work to do this week, but big games bring big heroes and as far as Saturday’s concerned, I can’t wait!

Talking of moving on, transfer deadline day was certainly a busy one at the Club as they decided who they needed on board until the end of the season and how they could get some of their fringe players that wouldn’t be getting a game, some much needed experience to speed up their development.
Let me say from the off I wouldn’t have loaned Jack Logan out to Rovers, but then again I wouldn’t give that lot a cold, but we, like everyone else in the game, seem desperate to get them back into Super League by hook or by crook. However, Nick Rawsthorne, who has previously played on loan at York City Knights and Leigh, has joined up with FC Assistant Coach Richard Horne at Doncaster, having, it is rumoured, not been too impressed at all with the set up and the group of players he experienced in his short stay in Lancashire. With no reserve fixtures in the future weeks, it was important that as many as possible went out to other Clubs and so we saw Nick joined at Doncaster by Brandon Westerman. He’s the cousin of Joe and you’ll remember he came to us at the start of the season on trial. He’s looked handy when playing for Horne’s reserves side and Rich must have rated him too, as he follows his mentor to Doncaster.

Hakim Miloudi, who I admit to not knowing much about at all, has been on trial with us but hadn’t signed a professional deal and he’s now gone to York until the end of the season along with promising prop Ross Osbourne who will benefit from the biff there is down in League One. As they consider their retained list our administration has also sent half back Jack Wray and centre Connor Bower to the unlikely outpost of Hemel Stags. It’s all really good business as far as the Club are concerned and for me it shows a deal of foresight because it not only guarantees much needed game time for the players concerned, but it is a move that also eases the pressure on our wage cap.

There was a big piece in the Hull Daily Mail about Dean Hadley this week, as he continues to play big minutes at Wakefield and in coveted by the West Yorkshire Club and their supporters, But, what exactly does the future hold for Hadley? Wakefield would love to keep him but the contract he signed ties him to Hull FC till 2019, still however, a lot of people in the rank and file of FC supporters are worried about the future of a player who looks to be really good prospect and whose worth is rising following some great performances in West Yorkshire. Let me here put your minds at rest and tell you that he’s going nowhere and is seen as a first team player on a regular basis for 2018. He’s ear marked by Lee for a big role next season and that’s exactly what Dean wants as well.

That was the long term plan this year when he got the number 11 squad number before he got injured and he said this week, “I want to be playing for Hull every week but it wasn’t to be this year” He added, “I’ve spoken to Rads a few times and he’s been happy with how I’ve been going. I think that was one of the reasons I’m still at Wakefield because things are going well. I just need to carry on what I’m doing. I see some of the lads now and then and I still feel part of FC.” He’ll be back in 2018, make no mistake about it and he’ll be a lot more streetwise as a player after his sabbatical at Wakey.

He only went there in the first place because of the salary mess we got ourselves into this time around, as we tried to sustain an under 23’s team within the cap that we were allocated, but although that financial allocation is to rise next year, I believe we won’t be running an Under 23’s next time around. The other three Super League clubs that run such a team will be disappointed with that decision, but it’s just not financially viable. We’ll therefore trim our squad and move forwards with our plans to use Doncaster more in future and despite I believe the jury being out on Jordan Abdull we will have Dean Hadley firmly on board in the second row for 2018.

Now, a big thank you to everyone who has bought ‘2016 The Year of the Airlie Bird’ which I can reveal has sold over 200 copies in the first two weeks. That sees over £1200 going to Danny Houghton’s Testimonial Fund already. Quite a few have read it now and seem to have enjoyed it so if you haven’t got a copy please grab one if you can, because it would be great to boost Danny’s funds even further. Contact me on peteallenhfc@gmail.com if you are having difficulty getting one and I’ll sort you a signed copy and get it to you somehow.

Thanks Everyone for your support!

So are we all off to Australia next year and if we are, the next big question is will Tony Roberts be running his usual bus there? Tony is a real hero and has run a coach to every away game since the early 70’s, so why should the little matter of a game played in the southern hemisphere be a problem? I bet he’s ringing up Acklams as we speak!

However, the news that broke last week looks as if it’s true, if sources Down Under are to be believed. They indicate that we will, along with Wigan, be playing an exhibition match prior to next season and also I think it’s likely we’ll play the Pies in a League game too and although nothing has been announced by either Club, my sources in Australia certainly believe it’s going to happen. There is of course the question of whether it will be our home game or Wigan’s, but all will no doubt be revealed or denied in the fullness of time.

However, to even be linked with such an adventure is credit to Adam Pearson and the status the Club has gained since he took over. I don’t know if it’s true but what I do know is that he does get on very well with the Wigan Chairman and James Clark is big buddies with Chris Radlinski over there in Lancashire too, so, anything is possible. But to be the first team to play a Super League game in Australia would be a great accolade and something that will put us as a Club at the pinnacle of the game in this country. So for me, if it comes off, it will be a huge feather in our cap and I’m certainly looking forward to some confirmation from the Club and hearing more about it!

Now here’s an interesting one, how many times this season do you think we have fielded the same team in consecutive games? Well, the other day one ‘local statto’ from Beverley told me that, although I know we have had a few injuries, the answer is quite amazingly, just once. He said that his theory was all about the fact that Lee Radford had become a bit of a ‘Tinkerman’ and was always messing around, all be it at times minimally, with the formation which probably my pal said, meant that the team has never ever really had time to settle or indeed gel. This guy continued by saying that centres have swopped sides regularly, as have the wingers who have also come into the centre and a whole host of variations of combinations have been tried in the pack. Could that have something to do with some of the players having looked as if they have been playing with strangers of late? Well it’s an interesting theory, if he’s got his facts right which, knowing the guy who told me, it’s likely he has!

Kirk Yeaman Book Launch last Monday at Garbutts was a great event with loads of FC fans in attendance and Feke, Washy, Fetuli, Stevie Michaels, Danny Houghton and several others from the first team squad there to support Yeamo. David Bond the co-author gave a good insight into what went into putting the book together and Yeamo described what it was like having a book produced about your life. He and his wife Lisa told me several times that they were really nervous about the book coming out, but they had no need for concern, because it’s a great read, that I would recommend to everyone.


James Clark interviews Yeamo at the Launch

I particularly like the way that David Bond has linked the stories, seasons and games, but left Yeamo to describe in his own words what is happening. That makes it come across as being really genuine and a ‘warm’ read. Kirk has few if any disparaging comments to make about anyone, which to the uninitiated looking for controversy, might be a tad disappointing, but that’s just how Kirk is, because he really is a bloke who doesn’t have a bad word for anyone. That I think comes across too, but its packed with great stories and facts I certainly didn’t know about and it’s a book that any FC fan will find captivating. I wouldn’t give anything away to spoil it and there are lots of really interesting tales in there, but as David Bond cited this story in his speech on the night, I’ll repeat it here.

In the days that Kirk was out in the wilderness at the start of the 2016 season he was sent to play at Doncaster where he was really enjoying himself playing with the pressure off. Whilst playing there Radford asked him to instead, one week, turn out for our Under 23’s at Brantingham. It was a game that I actually covered in my book when Kirk didn’t look particularly comfortable at all. Kirk says in his book that he really wanted to play for Doncaster that day, as he was really enjoying playing there but Lee insisted he play for our second string who were struggling to make up the numbers; and it’s a good job he did. That weekend Donny played West Hull in the Challenge Cup and won 54-0, but had Kirk played he would have been cup tied and unable to play at all for Hull FC in the Challenge Cup in 2016. On such turns of fate, are careers defined!!

‘Yeamo; My Career in Black and White’ is worth a look and priced at £16-99 it’s available from Waterstones and the Club shops. Top bloke is Kirk, buy his book if you can!


David Bond and Kirk Yeaman the co-authors with James Clark at the Launch.

A fan I was talking to the other day had actually written personally to RL supremo Ralph Rimmer concerning the state of refereeing in Super League, particularly after the game at Leeds. His correspondence, which he showed me, was measured, well-constructed and said a lot of things that most of us were thinking particularly about inconsistency. What it wasn’t was disrespectful or abusive, in fact it was a great letter I thought. He however did make the point that at Leeds and so many other games this season, we had seen one team being penalised quite rightly whilst the other repeatedly committed the same offences and didn’t get done for it and it was my pal said, that unpredictability that makes people so frustrated and has caused fans to actually walk away from the game.

To his credit Mr Rimmer replied straight away, but said that my pal’s analysis of what is happening in the game and how poor officiating is driving people away from it was ‘Far removed from the truth’. He then went on to overly defend referee’s whilst he also stated that the RL were the first sport to bring in an independent panel from outside the game, (who he said, have no connections with it), to assess the referees in what is called the match officials standards committee. How folks from outside the game who don’t watch it can do that is anyone’s guess, but my pal certainly got short shift from the RL and why was he not surprised eh? I can’t see much changing on that score for a long time and we’ll just, like my mate, have to get more and more frustrated.

Someone last week, Greavsie on RL fans I think it was, lamented the fact that Wilf’s Whiffs has long since disappeared from this weekly Diary but much of that is down to the fact that the Club have been a lot more transparent in what they do since James Clark took over as Chief Executive and indeed movement from and to the club has been limited of late as well. However, always happy to oblige here’s one for you! You will no doubt have read that former Super League Man of Steel Brett Hodgson will leave his role of assistant coach at Widnes at the end of the season to rejoin his old NRL club Wests Tigers.

Hodgson, 39, who made 102 appearances for the Tigers from 2004-08 and was in their 2005 Premiership-winning team, has been appointed as assistant to Wests head coach Ivan Cleary. However, Brett attended our Danny Houghton Man of Steel Dinner and afterwards a Man of Steel who is still involved in this country (but not for us) told me how he’d heard just how close Brett came to being our new Assistant Coach in place of Richard Horne, before Hodgson gave back word and decided to leave for Australia.

If that’s true and I have no reason to believe that it isn’t, then So. watch this space! On the RL rumours front my contact in Camberra tells me that Micky Paea is telling folks in the southern hemisphere that he’s coming back to the UK next year and that he has definitely signed for us. I also expect a winger to come in from the Southern Hemisphere and for Michaels to go home. How’s that for you Greavsie? The Whiffs will be back when I have some more!

I was sent a great picture the other day which at first sight was just a bunch of School children and a teacher surrounding a girl in a hull top with a very pained and upset expression on her face. What’s so special about that then I hear you ask?

Well as they often say, every picture tells a story and this one certainly does! It’s a tale of a Mum called Jemmila who was pretty fuming last Tuesday when she realised her daughter had pinched her Hull FC top before she went off to school that morning. What transpired later however was the fact that her daughter Maddison was in fact having to go on a school trip as a reward for her and the other Griffin Park Primary Schools 100% attendees. Now I’ve heard of schools, in their quest for educational enlightenment, taking the kids to some pretty unusual places as part of the educational mix, like refuse disposal depots, prisons and even abatoirs, but this trip was just too much for young Maddison and she had to take some action in protest when her school stooped to the depth of taking her to the Lightstream Stadium, as a reward for her excellent attendance! Can you believe that; no neither could the OFSTEAD inspectors when I informed then!!

Anyway, you can imagine that when Jemmila found this out, she soon forgave her daughter for pinching her FC top and instead I’m sure admired her good taste and resourcefulness when faced with such an unenviable task. In that picture above (courtesy of Hull KR’s twitter page) just look at her face, boy she wasn’t enjoying it much at all was she! But then again would you eh? 100% attendance in a school year and you get to go to Caravan Park as a reward; all of a sudden all my years of twagging school seem to have been thoroughly worthwhile.

Now a few years ago in here I ran an occasional series of tongue in cheek features which explored the ‘careful’ habits of some FC fans when it came to the ingenious ways they would adopt when attempting to get into games on the cheap which was entitled, ‘Are FC fans really that Tight?’ I was reminded of it this week when two instances made me smile. Kirk Yeaman told me a great one about his book signing at Waterstones and a guy who came up to him enthusiastically to look at his book. He said, “Wow that’s great Kirk, your new book, let’s have a look then”, Kirk passed it to him and prepared his pen for another signing. The guy thumbed through it, gave out a few exiting exclamations and asked if he could have a selfie with Kirk and the book. Yeamo willingly obliged and smiled, after which the guy checked his selfie picture, gave Kirk the book back and promptly walked out of the store!!

The second instance happened on the night of Kirks book Launch at Garbutt’s in Princes Avenue when I saw a good pal of mine there with his wife. “Hi There”, I said to his wife, “I haven’t seen you with him at the KCOM much of late”, to which my pal immediately retorted “No you won’t have, she hasn’t been for ages because we haven’t had any friends for a fiver deals of late!” I ask you again, Are FC fans really Tight?

Well as it’s Semi-Final time again this week in Codgers Corner I’ll look at one of the best there ever was. It took place on Saturday 30th July 2005 and it is still one of the best Hull FC performances I have ever seen.

Back then on our way to that wonderful final at Cardiff it was certainly a big task against Super League’s most successful team, the Competition favourites and a Club that was undefeated in their last 10 League and Cup games. Amazingly in addition to that, Hull hadn’t beaten St Helens in a Challenge Cup tie for 70 years and that in Round One way back in 1936. Who was going to back us against those odds?

We arrived to totally different scenes to those that greeted us in Huddersfield five years early, before that fateful Semi-final against Leeds when the posts came down, because this time the pubs and Clubs were thronging with happy and pretty charitable Hull and Saints fans. This time there was no menace around at all and everyone had a great time as the opposition felt confident that the game was a foregone conclusion and the ‘FC Faithful’ were just intent on having a good day out.

In the Stadium as the Hull fans raised the roof and the teams ran out into bright sunshine, the script may have been written but our players hadn’t read it and immediately the Hull pack tore into the St. Helens forwards. The season had seen highs and lows, but all the while Kear had stressed the importance of peaking at the right time and had declared beforehand that this was it. Hull’s defence was superb as they ‘crawled all over’ the favourites and Richard Whiting gave a brilliant display as he completely snuffed out the threat of Gardner, Talau and Wellens. However, using three pivots, it was the kicking of Danny Brough, Richard Horne and Loose Forward Paul Cooke that won the day as the Airlie Birds pinned Saints back in their own half, forcing a total of five goal line drop outs.

On the rare occasions that their defensive wall was breached Hull re-grouped valiantly, no more so than when Richie Barnett (Jnr) scrambled back to pull off a brilliant tackle on Gardner just before the break when Hull held a slender 8-2 lead. It was in fact quite amazing that Saints rarely threatened our line and their only try came from a mix up between Gareth Raynor and Shaun Briscoe over a kick when Jamie Lyon latched onto a Sean Long kick to go on and touch-down for an easy try.

Hull had started the game brilliantly as Cooke carved out an opening for McMenemy to charge in, before we exchanged penalties and went in at half time in the lead. However, after a half time break when we fretted and worried about a St Helens backlash, the crunch came on 54 minutes after Whiting had brilliantly chased a kick to force a fourth drop out. Horne provided quick service for acting half back Cooke, McMenemy worked a run-around that Dave Topliss would have been proud of and Cooke backed himself to stretch out and score. At 16-8 for the first time we were two scores ahead and 4 minutes later we were in again when McMenemy dropped on a loose ball that Richard Horne had dribbled through the favourites defence.

Saints had often been dubbed the comeback kings and as ‘Old Faithful’ rang around the Stadium no-one could relax. With 6 minutes to go Whiting made a stunning break out of our own half and set up a position from where Motu Tony, who had come on for the injured Barnett, crashed in to score and as we stood in disbelief with tears in our eyes Stephen Kearney brilliantly opened up the tiring St Helens defence to send in Richard Horne and a remarkable victory was complete. Richard Swain, Kearney, Cooke, Brough and Horne had masterminded a sensational win and as “We’re the famous Hull FC and were off to Wembley” rang around the ground the players celebrated, John Kear ran around punching the air, and I sat and cried.

Leaving the ground we were met by one of the most unusual sights that I have ever seen in 58 years of watching the game of Rugby League as hundreds of Saints fans lined the pavements and even got off their buses to stand and applaud us! That was so unexpected and a lot less predictable than the cavalcade of cars, with fans hanging out of the windows, that tooted their horns all the way back along the M62 to Hull. It was without doubt the most complete and best performance I have ever seen, and believe me the one that followed it at Cardiff was pretty good!

So the season defining day is almost upon us! I said last week that after Wembley everything is a tad calmer for me this time around, as I prepare myself for what-ever the vagaries of supporting Hull FC can throw at me, but I’m still pretty nervous already. That’s probably because I got to thinking about just how well prepared or otherwise we are to face a Leeds team that has several players in the last chance saloon as far as glory with the Rhino’s is concerned. This’ll be a tough one and no mistake, because this is Leeds and they seem to have a real Indian sign over us at present, rather like the one we had over them for decades in the past. They hated playing us back then and now we hate playing them!

If we need any sort of motivational pointers then every member of our 19 man squad should take a long hard look at that wonderful Trophy, remember what it meant to all us lot when we won it and then go out and bust a gut to try and give ourselves a chance of retaining it. The prize for them if they do prevail is the prospect of another day in the sun at Wembley where we now know, anything can happen. After the season thus far, I’m not confident, but as you know at such times I never am, in fact if I’m honest I’m already panicking a bit.

However, there is always hope. Particularly, if you consider that we have managed to win just about every ‘Big’ game we have had thus far in the last couple of years, including last Fridays when our top four future was at stake. We have also looked pretty special in the Cup, particularly against the games golden boys of Castleford. In Lee Radford I still think that we have a coach who looks and sounds confident and he’s certainly proving to be a great motivator who is finally pretty comfortable with his own ability and ideas. So although nothing is guaranteed, and some of our form of late has been pretty shoddy, we are at least giving ourselves the best possible shot at it!!

As usual in such situations between now and Saturday for this aging fanatic the game is the only thing! It will be there with me through everything I do and it will be hard not to think about it all the time. Now it’s not a question of thinking about it every few minutes, because I’ll never stop thinking about it. I’ll be preparing myself for the worst too, because despite that glorious day last August, years of setbacks and false dawns while supporting the FC have made me pretty inadequate when it comes to optimism. So, although nothing for me will ever be the same as last season’s Cup run, I’m following my own advice for once and I’ll just Keep Believing!

To all of you great souls out there reading this (the loyal, long suffering and much valued weekly subscribers to this drivel) I would offer a big thank you for your continued support and add that for every one of us, our passion, hope and unfailing loyalty is all about games such as this one. This is OUR moment, this is OUR time and an occasion when we should all strain every sinew and shout ourselves hoarse, to will our team to the biggest prize there is; a trip to Wembley.

As I say nothing can ever take the place of last season but having won the bloody thing, I guess we now have to move on and try like hell to win it again. On Saturday it’s not just down to the players, because at Doncaster we will be the ones singing, we will be the ones chanting and the ones endeavouring to will the ‘Famous Hull FC’ over the line and we’ll be doing it as only the FC Army can. Leeds may boast 16000 fans for most home games but they can’t travel the 32 miles down the A638 in the numbers that we can travel the 36 miles from Hull, and we’ll have almost 2000 more there on Saturday than the Rhino’s.

There will be almost 9000 of us at the Keepmoat, even more than at the same game last year and we have to make our presence felt. So now all that’s left is for me to wish you good luck and suggest like me that you hold the line and believe! Let’s go there play our part, sing our hearts out and squirm and fidget our way through the game as best we can, because….

We’re the Cup holders and in the Semi Final again,
We are the famous Hull FC….. and
We’re going to Donny to win!

Keep Believing and

Comeonyouhullllllaaaarrrrr!!!!!!!!!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf