The Dentist’s Diary – 549th

“It was the ugliest, prettiest result I’ve had in an awful long time”.

Lee Radford is, for anyone who writes about Hull FC, an absolute dream at times. I’ve already written a book on the back of a season of his most exceptional, intuitive and downright quirky quotes and here he is once again, doing what the man does best, because you don’t get much quirkier than that one! But as always, in his own inimitable fashion, how true he was about Friday.

A massive if enforced selection gamble by Lee, a master pocket picking exercise by the team and a great win based on an exceptional spirit, all gained against the much fancied Saints in their own back yard. Top stuff indeed!

That’ll do!!

OK, I agree with you, it was a shocking game to watch, but whilst on occasions a great win is signified by brilliant rugby and a scintillating performance, on many others it is symbolised by the significance of the victory in the context of the season, the team you have out there, who you are playing and even perhaps the weather. Although certainly not scintillating by any means this latest win embraced all of the other four indicators on what was a quite extraordinary night. The referee added to the woes with a stop/start performance that took away completely what bit of flow there was left in the game, however, let’s not forget either that this was St Helens, the pundit’s present favourites and the current darlings of Sky TV. Therefore, all of a sudden, it was as big a game as we will contest in the Super 8’s. Now, with all the top four spots taken by Yorkshire clubs and the Lancashire boys dropping off the pace a bit, no wonder Phil Clarke isn’t happy.

Well done to every FC player involved and to the coaching staff and the owner, for in such games it really doesn’t matter how you win, but rather that you win …..whatever the cost. On Friday, because of all the late withdrawals and with a game plan that was cobbled together on the bus, it was always going to be tough.

Good teams find a way to get over the line and whether they do it as we did at Donny in the semi with sparkling rugby, or in shocking conditions and a war of attrition littered with mistakes, like on Friday, in the end it matters little. This team is special it hasn’t won anything yet and it may not do, but believe me it’s special! That was a showing of great resilience and passion against what were considerable odds and it was a massive tick in the box for building gradually and peaking at the right time.

A win next week will present us with all we need to go forward with momentum into the last four Super 8 games and, who knows, perhaps even a top two finish. So let’s not dwell too long on a hat full of handling errors and mistakes that were mostly down to the conditions. Instead let’s just focus on the points we gained as we move on to a battle against a dangerous Huddersfield team who visit the KCOM on Friday with nothing to lose but their last chance of glory in 2017. There, with a big gate, a send-off to the final and a chance to all but secure our place in the top four, it’s all to play for, but for now at least history would dictate that it still isn’t wise to talk too loudly about Wembley at all, is it?

So, all that said it was without doubt a massive two points gained. In the end after a big, big effort, victory was ours and if we win our remaining three home games, we will be in the top four, if not in the top two!!! Fridays game was a ‘season proving’ one in some ways, because now we all know that when Lee Radford’s says that he is convinced that we have the depth to overcome whatever is thrown at us, he’s probably right. We needed to keep the Saints close whatever happened because a big reversal would have not only knocked our top 4 aspirations, but also our Wembley confidence as well.

As the Lancashire Skies ‘opened’ and many of the Hull fans lamented the weather, Lee Radford was no doubt rubbing his hands in glee. Our Coach would know that with a depleted team, a makeshift wing partnership, a second rower in the centre and a guy playing at full back who hasn’t played there all season, the wet conditions and the Rhino Rugby ball would make for great levellers. In the end I think that the weather and our ability to play in it helped us a lot on the night.

However, the pre-game adversity could have spelt disaster as the travelling supporters arrived at Langtree Park to find Shaul, Talanoa and Fonua missing, something that would, a few years ago, have probably seen them throwing in the towel from the terraces. However, as fans we have to have some faith these days and indeed we got over the line in the end in surprising style. But in saying it was a shocking game no one should ever underestimate what a great win it was as well. Saints, the team who so convincingly beat Cas last week, had pinned their hopes on the energy they showed at the Jungle to get them the home wins they needed to get into the top 4. To actually see their owner out on the pitch at the end berating their players, said it all about the magnitude of that result for them as well. Hull FC had arrived as a depleted outfit, muscled up, rode the conditions and their luck and eventually picked the pockets of ‘The Fancied Ones’ to travel back along the M62 with a massive two points.

It had been a shocking lead up to the game with Mrs. Fonua in labour, Talanoa ill, and Jamie Shaul pulling up in the Captains run with a slight hamstring strain. With an arm injury, Kelly had been out of training all week as a precaution, but he put his hand up to play (his good hand) and with us expecting Jake Connor to shift at short notice to yet another position, the indicators were that we were about to struggle big style. Thompson, once a back but now a definite second rower in both stature and weight had to go to centre as Griffin moved out to the wing and Michaels came in on the other flank. It was all ‘musical chairs’ stuff really. Jordan in the centre was a real worry (when you consider the Saints preference for an expansive game) but he certainly came up trumps as a much changed team full of adversity, grew into the game and eventually came through with as significant a league win as we have had all year!

The ball was again an issue as in wet conditions it resembled a bar of soap and boy was it wet in those first 40 minutes. The error count of 23 was significant for both sides in the first half but at least it improved for us in the second, although as I say you have to question that ball again, as both sides seemed to drop it at will, even following the easiest of passes.

Lee must have wondered a little just what would happen but the players came good and that never say die defence and brilliant team spirit that saw us home so many times last season, came to the fore again and as we compressed our defence leaving the wings completely unmarked at times, we squeezed Saints out of the game in that last quarter. The conditions made it an absolute lottery but at this time of the season there is only one aim and that is to secure the W against the fixture whatever the circumstances. It was bloody tough going, but somehow we got home in the end.

Tough going all round!

So what of the game itself? Well, on Friday as the rain came down in stair rods, the conditions were always going to favour the team that kept it simple, yet both Hull and Saints tried their darndest to ignore the conditions from the off and threw the ball around with almost reckless abandon often with disastrous effects. Behind to an early try that followed a great shift to the left that would have sunk less spirited FC outfits in the past, it was heroic stuff, but the conditions were a good leveller after both teams learned early on that expansive rugby was never going to be acceptable and as the rain ran down the gullies around the pitch in torrents, we simply battled and battled.

That first half was shocking mistake wise, as both sides struggled to handle the conditions and the ball. However, Sneyd’s try just before half time was the product of some inventive wet weather rugby and featured some brilliant footwork, although he was guilty of almost over-elaborating too much!

Those conditions are ‘egg and milk’ for a player that can produce a good step and Sneyd certainly supplied just that. First one way then the other, he seemed to beat himself and was almost held up, before he somehow got the ball down. Despite loads of errors and mistakes it was a great repost from Hull. However, a miss under the high ball (Connors only mistake) almost cost us before we played that first half out and at 6-6 with that under strength three quarter line starting to find their feet a bit (although not literally) it was job done so far. However, I have to admit to dreading a bit what the Saints would throw at us after the interval. At half time the fans reflected on a poor game in which both teams had made some huge errors.

Played through the pain barrier

We had a long debate about the fact that as Friday’s results saw three close mistake ridden games in a rain sodden Lancashire, would we be better reverting to the old Steeden ball that always seemed to ‘stick’ even in the wettest of conditions? However, we mused, we were playing the form team in the competition and drawing, so it couldn’t all be bad. Both teams had defended their line really well, but two top 4 Clubs? Well on that showing any casual observer would have to question that one a bit!

Still the second half brought hope as everyone in the away end at Langtree Park and all those listening at home, wondered what Lee would say to the lads at half time. Still, in pouring rain at the start of the half, we saw two ‘safety first’ type FC sets when no one made an error so perhaps he had said something about being more conservative in our play. We still tried to push the ball too much at times though and an ambitious pass from Sneyd caught Michaels and Carlos out, before Kelly hung on when he really should have passed and a chance was lost.

Then Albo made up for that mistake with a great try saving tackle, which as a mini turning point seemed to actually lift our spirits further. But, we kept giving away penalties and we really didn’t need that, because it put us under pressure and so our line was soon under siege once more. You can’t just go on like that, yet somehow we did and when we were put under pressure we manged to hold out. The difference was now that we had tidied up our game and Saints still hadn’t! Saints half time tactically talk looked to have featured an instruction for Walmsley to target Brad Fash on consecutive drives, but the youngster, who has grown in stature week on week, did really well to hold him. Much I have to say, to Walmsley’s obvious irritation, but it was all still very tense.

We were trying to play no risk rugby now but Saints started to become impatient and it was their undoing on several occasions. We still frustratingly gave them the ball away in our half and then our rear-guard defence had to be superb. However when a respite presented itself with a penalty, Kelly piled on the agony further, as he missed touch and the Saints powered back towards us.

It was hard going between two teams who, due to the conditions and the pedantic and regular interventions of the official, were quite frankly not firing much in attack at all; Hull out of choice, Saints through constant mistakes. Washbrook was massive in that spell and tackled everything that came anywhere near him and he was also denied a try a little earlier for a dubious forward pass as he led by example. Connor seemed to have something to say to every Saints player he came in contact with and was doing a good job at winding them up both on the ground and in their faces. But then as Saints got more and more frustrated Sneyd got us in front from half way with what was a massive penalty. Houghton looked across to Sneyd with his hands out as if to say, “Well?” Marc nodded back and two points went onto the board, as the Hull fans sucked in for all their worth and the ball just crept over the cross bar in front of them. Saints battled back again but all of a sudden they started to panic and to over-elaborate even more. That gave us the glimmer of hope we needed and our players held their nerve to grab it with both hands.

Sneyd scores and then all we had to concentrate on was continuing to stop Saints scoring at all for 70 odd minutes.

We held the ball, surged downfield and as we then amazingly started to turn the screw ourselves, Houghton almost got over from a Sneyd grubber but in so doing, also managed to force a drop out. From then on in it was all backs to the wall stuff as we continued to squeeze the play into the middle of the field to play the game down the centre channel. Not allowing Saints any chance to be expansive we retained possession, finished some sets and made the hosts come out of their own end from deep positions, whilst all the time very successfully winding down the clock. Thompson saved us at the death, just as probably the weather conditions had saved us all night, and as the hooter went we were home with two of the most precious points, that gave us one of the most significant victories of the 2017 Super League Campaign. We had as a team fought so hard and with so much spirit to secure them too.

The relief on and off the field was immense.

It was an ugly, ugly win in which Kelly was a real hero! Spotted last week at the gym with his arm in a sling it was back in that same sling as he left the game on Friday, he shouldn’t have played at all, but he volunteered his services on Thursday afternoon when we were stuck and although he might miss out this weekend, he is the sort of player who will be there at Wembley whatever.

Watching the game back it certainly isn’t one that I will be keeping in my archive and yet the significance of that win could resonate for Hull FC and indeed Super League right to the end of the season. There were some great performances none more than that of Taylor who drove at the home team’s defence time and again and Ellis, who did big minutes as well, whilst all the while keeping it together when the going was tough. But as everyone was a hero and everyone played their part, there were few real stars in a massive team performance. So all in all a good night, a great two points and now the only undefeated team in the Super Eights moves on to a home tie with Huddersfield this weekend. It’s a game in which we maybe should consider resting a couple of important players, but it’s also a game we really do have to win to at least ensure that our massive effort in the wet at Saints was not in vain! However last Friday it was certainly job done and well done to everyone involved!

Well, once I was over all the excitement I had an enjoyable afternoon on Saturday when I was invited to join the Hull FC Ex-Players Association as they descended on the Dog and Duck in Beverley for a social event that featured a few songs from Sammy Lloyd and his Ukulele, a good buffet and loads of great stories. It was a superb afternoon in the company of some real heroes when everyone added their tales (be they tall or otherwise) of past playing days and it was great to be in the company of Keith Tindall, Don Robson, Tony Duke, Mick Sutton, Sammy Lloyd, Jon Edson, Tommy Ball, Stan Pickering, Karl Sanderson and Shaun Patrick to name but a few! Here they all are in the Dog and Duck giving Old Faithful the Sammy Lloyd treatment!

Thanks guys and how good it was to spend almost 6 hours sharing great memories and some superb stories from the last 6 decades of Hull FC, (that I will no doubt be featuring in here in the future). I made a lot of friends and got a load of great yarns for the Diary as well as ended up with a hell of a headache on Sunday Morning!

So onto other things and in a quiet week at Hull FC it was good to see how much Micky Paea was looking forward to getting back to the KCOM and being cheered on by the FC fans. There is certainly something about all the hype that surrounds the crowd reaction in this country compared with what players receive in the NRL and as the debate over there goes on about falling gates and how to re-engage the public, a lot of players who have already played over here yearn to return to the chanting and cheering of the British game. Its quite an anomaly really when you consider that the NRL are considering raising their salary cap again to getting on for £4m and yet though they are the best paid players in the game, the lads in the NRL have to play in front of quite unanimated crowds which often include families having a picnic!

On the prospect of returning and the difference in the crowds Micky said, “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the Hull fans, they’re such a vocal crowd and playing in Australia it sometimes takes a lot for a crowd to come to life. Whereas with the Hull fans, they’re always very vocal and passionate about their footy. Seeing games on TV makes me miss them and I cannot wait to get back to running hard in front of the Old Faithful again wearing those famous black and white colours.”

Bureta Faraimo is of course less well known to us all and its always unwise to get all excited about someone who hasn’t hit the heights in Australia, despite being in his late twenties. Bureta is pretty unknown although Lee Radford has been chasing him for literally years. Lee was taken by the dominant hard running and tackling winger when the 27-year-old caught the eye in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup playing for the United States. Although never really breaking through into the senior league in Australia he still seems to have some big ambitions for his move to the Airlie Birds and is obviously enthused by our recent successes. He said in last week’s programme, “The club is around the top four at the moment and had the recent success of the Challenge Cup and that’s what I want to do when I come over – I want to win. I’d probably describe myself as a bit of a powerhouse player. I like to think I compete in everything I do and I don’t like to lose. I’m really looking forward to getting over there to start pre-season and I’m ready to start a new journey in my career with my family.” The video I enclosed last week caused a few of you to comment how good he looks and I’m just hoping that he lives up to Lee’s expectations and that we don’t miss Mahe too much next season. Big shoes to fill but none the less I think he is an exciting acquisition.

So to the demise of the once great Bradford Bulls who were officially relegated last week. You know I guess when crowd wise you see the pulling power of around 80% of the teams in the current 3 Division structure, it’s a blow for Rugby League to see Bradford relegated to League One. For it to come about in such ignominious circumstances as well is also a reminder to us all that as far as wealth is concerned the game is not in a healthy position at all. Of course the Bulls had points deducted, but if you spend money when you don’t have it, it’s quite right that our game has the mechanisms in place to ensure you’ll pay the price. That should be the deterrent, but in this case unscrupulous owners and dodgy deals ensured that it never was. Although tough on the current owners who have really tried to make a fist of it, successive previous administrations who have perpetrated a catalogue of financial indiscretions, have left the club in a really bad situation and that’s so, so tough for the fans.

Its certainly hard to believe that it’s only 11 years since the Bradford Bulls was World Champions, but they have now slipped from the top of the tree to becoming a League One side for the first time, in the 2018 season. It’s a salutary tale for all of us really! I can remember them going bust and dropping out of the league for a season in the sixties and since then they have always been the club that epitomised best, the boom and bust face of our professional sport. We went there a time or two in the early part of this century, when there were 20,000 fans in what was even back then a dump of a stadium, but now their fall from grace under a succession of inadequate owners, often with totally the wrong motives, is complete, as they find themselves at the point of oblivion once again.

I have often said in here that instead of trying to wangle the best supported Clubs back into Super League the RL should stop being so lazy and instead address the issues (structure, officials, disciplinary panels, salary cap fiddling etc. etc.) that disenchant the fans so much, for these are the things that invariably drive some away from the game forever. From the noises reported to be coming out of Redhall, we all know that the RL, driven by the trend of dropping gates often fuelled by these disenchanted fans packing their scarves and pom-pom hats and walking, are desperate to get Rovers back into Super League and I guess if they could have one other team up their out of choice attendance wise (which is without doubt the games administrators main motive) then it would have been the Bulls. But surely that ain’t gonna happen now.

Any talk of fast tracking such a team back into a bigger Super League must now not only be unethical, but also darn near impossible, particularly when you see how far the club have sunk both with regard to playing strength and financial resources. The 12-point deduction the Bulls started the season with clearly put them at a distinct disadvantage, but if you work it out even without the deduction, the club would be in the bottom two anyway and in any case therefore poised for relegation. However I guess without that penalty it may have perhaps delayed the inevitable a little longer.

There aren’t too many clubs in our game who can rival the type of support a successful Bradford team could once attract, in fact history proves that these days perhaps no one can. In the old days the disgruntled fan could walk away from their Club in disgust, but there was little else to do on a Sunday afternoon and when things improved they’d invariably begrudgingly go back. Now however there are so many other distractions and things to do with their leisure time that sadly a lot who have walked from the game will never ever return to it.

When it came to attracting fans old and new to the sport Bradford were once the best! I never liked the Bulls much at all and a gimmick ridden trip to Odsal (ball delivered on a radio controlled car, try music for each separate player, Flag parades around the pitch, motor bikes racing around the outer track, Sponge Fingers and hats with horns on them etc. etc) was never my away game of choice, but I did get the way it attracted new audiences and I also appreciate that at one time, not so long ago, ‘Bullmania’ was the thing as far as Rugby League was concerned.

Based on the success of Keighley’s short lived era of ‘Cougarmania’ in the nineties, it helped us cross the bridge from a marginal northern sport to see us capture the imagination of the national press again, even when for years they had largely ignored the game. In fact around the turn of the century it wasn’t just ‘the red top’ national newspapers that had Rugby League Correspondents! However, that all passed and it’s to be hoped that Bradford don’t now find themselves in the doldrums for as long as the ill-fated fans of Keighley have.

For me, the Bulls demise can be traced right back to the thousands of cheap and free Children’s tickets they issued in those halcyon days when the Club were top of the tree. I was offered them plenty of times as I approached the turnstiles, with “Our lad gets ‘em from School” often being the precursor to me being offered a cut price admission on the car park, by some parent who had no intention of attending himself at all. However, in general all that razzamatazz attracted the sponge finger brigade both young and old, particularly if it was free. However, once hooked those kids and their parents took badly to paying for admissions and so I believe the slide began.

However, if there was one trait that seems endemic in Bradford then it is that the good people of the oft crowned ‘Curry Capital of Britain’ really do like a bargain! With Bradford City, their local football team now offering ridiculously cheap passes and subsequently boasting better five figure gates than many Championship teams, it will be interesting to see if their excursion into bargain basement sport see them go the same way as the Bulls won’t it? However, most sports fans in the City are certainly now gravitating to the Football Club and obviously doing it at the expense of the City’s rugby league team. Thus, with a floundering club and a dump of a stadium that needs millions of pounds of investment, it’s a bleak outlook for the Bulls and their diehard fans in particular, isn’t it?

Despite the fact that the RL have done everything they can to sustain the Bulls, including at one point buying their ground off them, I wonder now if that once great Club will go under again and it’s a sad old time for all the home fans, some of whom will already have abandoned their beloved club in abject disappointment and no doubt a deal of disgust, perhaps never to return again. It’s a salutary tale as to how the top team in the competition can in 11 years sink to the foot of the tree and perhaps even be on the point of disappearing forever. We should all be wary and thankful that there but for fortune goes our Club! It could well be another traumatic closed season for the Bradford Bulls and no mistake.
So to Codgers Corner and I was stopped by a couple in Marks and Spencers Café last Friday who were keen to talk in great detail about the time that we played and almost beat the touring ‘Aussie Invincibles’ at the Boulevard in 1982. That night we came the closest anyone came to beating the Kangaroo’s in the whole tour and that conversation then over lapped into the Ex-players gathering on Saturday, that I mentioned earlier. There we discussed the merits of playing visiting touring teams at Club level and how the supporters and players used to really relish the challenge. That got me talking about what was the first such game I had seen, (other than the Hull and Rovers combined teams that pitted their wits against the Aussies and New Zealanders in the 50’s) and I remembered it was on Saturday 9th October 1965, when I was just 15. It was a game that held fond memories for a few there on Saturday too.

It was a time when we had, in John Maloney, just signed someone who was to become a massive figure in the FC team of the 60’s and probably one of the best goal kickers I have ever seen. He came over from Dewsbury to take over the kicking duties from the great Eric Broom, who continued on in the FC pack for several years to come.

The match in question was the second game that John played for Hull FC and it was a big one indeed, because it was against those visiting New Zealand Tourists. It came 11 games into a season where we had lost 6 and won 5, so as was usual back then things were nothing if not ‘average’. The game against the Kiwi’s took place on Hull Fair Saturday 9th October and I remember that it was a misty dank day and typical ‘Hull Fair Weather’. Attendances were still dropping and the fact that Hull City were starting to put a good team together down the road at Boothferry Park did little to help our cause either.

Of course as usual with visiting touring teams, we were definite underdogs and the fact that NZ put out 10 of the side that had just won the First Test against Great Britain at Station Road Swinton did nothing to raise any hopes we might have had of an upset. I watched the game from the well of the Best Stand with my pals and I remember that it was quite busy in there that afternoon, so that the game kicked off with a reasonably good attendance to cheer on the Black and Whites. The opening exchanges saw some dour stuff with a lot of ‘Incident’ and niggling in the tackle as our lads fancied their chances against the ‘International Boys’. Both teams dropped the ball at regular intervals and a slippery pitch was doing nothing to encourage open rugby. However, then the tourists flashed the ball along the line straight from a scrum and winger Reidy took a smart pass from loose forward Hammond before he scorched down the wing with Sullivan in his wake. Just as Clive caught him about ten yards out, he swung a great inside ball to Bailey who scored a spectacular try, that the partisan but knowledgeable home crowd, roundly applauded.

Then we went onto the offensive as firstly Sykes made an opening for Foulkes who knocked on and then Alan McGlone carved out a gap in the Kiwi’s defence for Sykes to exploit, but again the ball was dropped. Finally, McGlone who was having what was to turn out to be a bit of a career defining game (he signed a new contract afterwards), put Club Captain Arthur Keegan clear only for the popular full-back to be held up in a two man tackle just inches short of the line.

If we were not that good at most things back then, we were now improving vastly as far as goal kicking was concerned and John Maloney made sure with two difficult long penalties that gave us an unlikely 4-3 lead. In fact just on half time Maloney was at it again converting a great 50 yard effort from the half way line, to send us into the changing rooms with an unlikely 6-3 lead. The second half opened with Hull playing their best rugby for two years and only a great last ditch tackle by the Tourist’s full back Tait avoided another score that could have seen us take control of the game. Then Terry Devonshire who was playing in the off half berth, shot through a couple of poor tackles and drawing two defenders passed to Arthur Keegan. He drew the last man to put Sullivan clear only for our usually reliable winger to juggle the ball and drop it as he crossed the line.

If the rugby was getting hot the exchanges in the tackle were getting to boiling point, as half way through the half, a massive fist fight ensued. Let’s face it, if you went down the Boulevard back in the 60’s you wanted your money back if you didn’t see a good scrap, and no one was disappointed that day. Broom and (as usual) Jim Neale waded in and were pulled out and lectured by the referee who awarded the opposition a penalty in our 25. They pressed and pressed but we somehow held out mainly due to a great ‘ball and all’ tackle by David Doyle-Davidson, which effectively stopped a two man over-lap on the left. The Tourists were then awarded a penalty for some sloppy high tackling on Hull’s part and full back Tait converted the penalty to put the Kiwi’s just one point behind.

Then from the kick off (with that old failing in such situations that we have all seen time and again) Kenny Foulkes kicked off and the ball went sailing straight into touch. Tait again opted to kick at goal this time from the centre spot and as the ball literally crept over the posts we were a point behind. On we battled, with Pearson our prop going close and Terry Stocks (who streaked down the wing running with his knees almost to his chin) just failing to squeeze in by the corner flag at the Gordon Street end of the Threepennies.

However, that was it and despite a big pull possession wise in the last ten minutes the fitter and more polished NZ defence kept us in our own half and a late penalty to the visitors left the score at 8-11. As had so often been the case back then we created some great opportunities to score, but could just not convert them and after playing their best rugby for the last two seasons Hull FC came up just short. No doubt that night having read again about the game in the Sports Mail, I would be, as usual, off to the Fair to work as a spare hand and money collector on Doubtfire’s Jets, where I was now a regular employee.

Clive Sullivan who continued to play well throughout the season scored 23 tries that year. No one was paid that well in the game in those days, something that was borne out by our balance sheet that year that showed players wages amounted to a total of just £8,147. But, the A team, packed with young local hopefuls from the cities junior clubs won the Yorkshire Senior Competition Challenge Cup and we were there to watch them accept the Trophy, and then drop it, before an A team game at the Boulevard later in the season. Great times eh?

So there we are and that was without doubt a massive two points last Friday wasn’t it? Next weekend’s game is so significant too, because if there was ever a win, win situation it is the one the fixtures have thrown up particularly at Leeds where the Rhino’s play Saints the same evening. If Leeds win and we do, then we put 5 points on the Saints and if we win and the Saints do we go second, going into the Wembley Final. As ‘The Miracle of Wembley’ starts to take hold, players will be making miraculous recoveries and with Bowden, Talanoa, Fonua and perhaps Shaul back we will be a strong proposition again come Friday. Time to rest a couple too; we’ll see!

Before I finish I just want to give a massive shout out to my pal Tony, who is going in for an operation next Tuesday and will likely now miss Wembley. A lot of you will probably know Tony anyway, but he is a top guy and he deserves all the luck in the world although I guess he won’t think it’s ever down to luck at all.

None the less good luck mate!

Thanks so much for all your input after Friday and for all the feedback you sent me after what was I guess a quiet week Hull FC wise. I really appreciate you once more supporting this blog again, as we approach Wembley and what’s more, as far as this diatribe is concerned, a massive milestone with the 550 edition of the Dentist Diary coming up next week. That’s almost 12 years of writing this rubbish every week and I guess sooner or later it has to come to an end, still at least next week I have the opportunity to produce a 4th ‘Wembley Special’ edition, which I am really looking forward to writing in the coming week.

So no doubt I will see you all at the KCOM on Friday after which ….Wembley beckons again!
Keep Believing!
Faithfully Yours


And Finally…..
While I was looking through my notes for that NZ game I found this gem of a photograph from the early 90’s in those late summer days at the end of the season. Boy there’s some fashion gurus here and no doubt the idea of children sized shirts hadn’t yet arrived in the game back then!

That lad needn’t have bothered with shorts and I don’t think the lady behind him had!!