The Dentist’s Diary – 550th


It was always going to happen but it was still a sad day when it did!

When the excitement should have been growing, it’s been a sad old week really! That breaking news on Gareth Ellis made for a miserable day for the fans, because with everything else that is happening it’s still a really big deal for everyone on and off the field. For me it’s been an absolute privilege to watch him play in that world famous irregular hooped jersey. He is an icon, a leader of men and a real winner and perhaps it will be a few years before we can all look back and eventually appreciate just how good he actually was!!

Then of course we were subjected on Friday to possibly the worst performance from Hull FC we have seen in two years and that on the eve of a Wembley Final which made for an even more down beat and worrying end to the week for us all. In here I’ve never ever been afraid to tell it as I see it and despite at times the protestations of the Club, I have to say what I’m feeling because usually its pretty much in line with what your all thinking anyway. For me Friday was so bad that quite frankly I just sat there for an hour and then just wanted to go home. I stayed to the end but many around me didn’t and from around 20 minutes before the hooter went, there was a steady procession of folks heading for the exits. Who can blame them for on Friday our attitude was sadly pretty appalling!

What’s more, this week I reached another milestone with the 550th edition of this weekly diatribe and since it began that’s around 3.5m words (with some actually in the right order and spelt properly) which equates to the equivalent of writing around 29 books!!! Thanks for all your support over what is now almost 12 years of the Dentists Diary and I’m always so grateful to Joe Bennett from blackandwhites for his continued patience and perseverance, he’s certainly become a big mate over the years! Oh and before I go any further can I just say, you’ll read very little in here about Wembley because as had become tradition (and you know my feelings on that before a final) The Dentists Diary 2017 Wembley Special is coming out on this site on Tuesday morning!

That was as abject a performance as you will see from a Lee Radford team and it came just at the wrong time. I saw the word ‘hammering’ used in the media and that certainly isn’t too strong a headline to utilise on this occasion, because that was as gutless and lacking in energy as we have seen from an FC side for a long, long time. At times out attitude was appalling and if the plan was to lull Wigan into a false sense of security then we executed it perfectly, in what was for me a pretty depressing performance all round.

I don’t know why, but I’d been a bit non-plussed all week about the Hudderfield game. However, having seen Wakey creamed at Cas on Thursday, all of a sudden it gained some importance if only to try and put a deal of ‘light’ between us and the pack chasing 4th. I guess if I’m honest, on a personal note, despite me trying my best to put it to the back of my mind, other things still a week away, have loomed large in my sub conscious for a while now. Was it that anticipation about Wembley or latterly the news about Gareth that had side tracked me? Or, was it just the fact that I seem this season to be able to take it all in my stride and then enjoy the drama of the moment at the game, rather than suffering all that worry in the week prior to it that has affected me so much in the past. That has for me this year at least brought a lot less pressure and stressing than I have experienced in previous campaigns? I knew, Iooking at the way that the fixtures had fallen, that it was a really important game, but I wondered if the players would be as pre-occupied as I maybe was, with all things Wembley. Albert Kelly has talked for ages about how much he enjoyed the week before the Final when he was at Rovers and how much he was looking forward to this one, we’ve all been there now and at last tasted victory and the players will be no different to us lot on the terraces, will they?

Or was it that, conversely, they were now getting used to being at the final and were taking things for granted a bit. That game on Friday was always going to be an important one for our top four aspirations and yet for Huddersfield there was no pressure at all, because everyone (except themselves) already had the Giants pencilled in for the ‘also ran’ bottom 4 places of the Super 8’s. That, as far as getting us up for the game was concerned, wasn’t a good starting point at all really.

The team selection was going to be interesting too and it was always going to be a big game for Jake Connors. There is little doubt that his place at Wembley was on the line as was denoted by the fact that Lee Radford said on Thursday, “There are still one or two spots that could change. If you ask me again next week it could be a different side or a different bench, but we’ll need some versatile options on that bench in the final”.

Jake for me is a real box of tricks and with Washy is the ideal ‘versatile option’ what’s more he can turn a game in an instant and he has to be in there somewhere, but exactly where is the conundrum facing our Coach. If everyone is fit who between Connor and Griffin starts at centre and who goes on to the bench. We also knew that despite what Lee said before the game, players who had knocks wouldn’t be risked and I wasn’t that surprised to see Kelly, Taylor and Shaul all missing. I believe all three could have played, but you can’t blame Lee for being cautious can you?

Once in my seat I noticed immediately that a lot of folks were already preoccupied with taking about next week, rather than taking part in the usual pre match chatter about the opposition and the team we had out and it soon became apparent as the game unfolded that the players had pretty much the same attitude too. We started with a great try to Ellis which was all part I guess of the script for the night, but after that, what followed was a poor showing for a team that had talked all week about getting a big result to launch them towards the top four positions and their defence of the Challenge Cup.

We fell flat on our faces but Wigan did what we should had done against Salford and had their best performance of the season, whilst we looked really inept right across the park. Our big strength this year has been our goal line defence yet that was the biggest worry on Friday, because quite frankly it was paper thin and every time they went to the line, we seemed to capitulate.

Gareth Ellis, possibly the most influential FC player, but played sparingly this week with one eye on next weekend.

Big wins in big games and finals are built on defence, but there was hardly a time in the whole game when we got the better of the Huddersfield pack and in the second half, after I accepted that defeat was inevitable, I amused myself by counting how many tackles went by before we actually put a Hudderfield player on his back. On the two occasions I did this, I got to 14 and 17 which is totally unacceptable if you are to have any chance of slowing the play the ball down. Whether it was the big forwards or the lightweight outside backs they all landed on their knees and got up quickly to play the ball.

If we hadn’t been to Doncaster and witnessed that performance against Leeds in the semi and seen what we are capable of, we would undoubtedly be a lot more worried about next week than most of us probably are right now. But we have still to be a bit concerned because it was a performance that is best summed up as being in the realms of pretty dire.

The Giants just did what we have done so well in the past when we have played to our strengths. They simply bust us up the middle where Taai or Ikahihifo shone and as soon as they realised that spreading the ball quickly was going to find vulnerabilities across our back line as well, we were stuffed. For me as I walked back to the car it was a strange one really because although I should have been really concerned about next week, (where such a performance would render us completely humiliated on a world stage), all I could think of was the fact that it was such a shame that in Gaz’s first game after publicly announcing his retirement and in his 450th match, his team mates really did let him down by failing to get anywhere near the level of enthusiasm that epitomises their captain every week. So it was that his send-off started with a whimper rather than a bang! I won’t be featuring player performances this week because with the exception of possibly Ellis, Talanoa, Connor, Houghton, Watts and Griffin few did anything except embarrass themselves on Friday. I’m sorry to be so negative, but if you weren’t there I’m afraid that’s how poor it really was.

We seem to talk a lot about our strength in depth and yet it was proved again that since Abdull left, if we have more than one absentee in the backs it spells trouble. Carlos has done well at centre but he is no half back and can only really play one way across the field. In addition, since he announced his departure back to Aus. and his intentions of doubling his effort before he went, Fonua has gone backwards and he had probably his worst game for the Club on Friday.

However, the reality is that although we did have a chance at one point to get back into the match, (when a Turgot pass to put Connor in went to ground), we were never going to, because we were outplayed in most aspects of the game. All things considered it was perhaps, as they say, just a bad day at the office and Lee summed it up by commenting that Huddersfield had more bite than us, however from where I was sat we seemed to be struggle to even manage a nasty suck never mind any sort of bite.

Most worrying of all was the lazy and ‘soft’ nature of our defence, which has to improve big style and quickly. Lee afterwards would not be drawn on injuries and I don’t know about you but his rather flippant, off the cuff attitude on the radio afterwards, as we were all pretty much driving home in silence, grated a bit with me! A few pints in the Tiger up to closing time however made things a lot clearer really and I concluded that in the end we were simply crap.

Rather the worse for wear I arose on Saturday morning to the realisation that it had all just been a bad dream, as I switched on Viking Radio and they announced that we had won 14-10. But, that relief didn’t last long and as reality bit back I reflected on the fact that its Wembley this week and we all that Lee can get ‘em up again, can’t he????? We’re a big game team the pundits tell us and we just have to hope that their faith in us is manifest next week.

That everlasting hope as always ‘springs eternal’ and that’s never lost on Hull fans, some of whom make writing this rubbish each week so worthwhile. That fact was never more pertinent than when amidst all the doom and gloom merchants sending me shroud waiving texts and E mails on Saturday morning, reader Dave Cooper text and wrote, “Any more displays like that one and I can heartily recommend the fish and chip shop down Londesborough Street about twenty minutes before the end of the game, the patties are delicious!!” And on that piece of gastronomic advice I think we’ll put Friday to bed don’t you?

So to the week gone by and as the kids say, O.M. (triple) G, Gareth Ellis is retiring. The news that broke on Thursday that he is to retire came to me as a massive blow. I’ve sort of come to love the guy and he’s become part of the furniture now and I guess that I thought that would continue forever. That I know after 450 games was just blooming ridiculous, but his announcement did come a bit out of the blue and it was for me at least a real shock in the short term.

A picture of concentration and tenacity the great man as I’ll remember him.

Yet, the writing was on the wall, as I said three weeks ago, with the signing of Mickey Paea, which perhaps indicated that changes were afoot and I guess Mickey has been ear marked for the leadership role at present occupied by Gareth. That and the fact that Dean Hadley has been told that he has a big part to play next season all pointed to the news and yet it was still pretty unexpected when it broke. Paea will find it hard with some big boots to fill, but he’s also an inspiring player to have around the place as far as team morale is concerned. But for me Gareth’s retirement is a massive loss of a player who was a quite inspirational signing.

I have always admired him because despite us being in the age of team rugby, hours of classroom tactics and squad rotation he could still raise a team just by leading them out onto the field. Joining the club in the reign of Peter Gentle he was always the first name on the team sheet when fit and he has certainly shown time and again what an asset he is, as he has never ceases to do everything he can to inspire and support his team mates. A consummate professional I have always found him to be a thoroughly nice bloke, humble and always available to help out and travel over from the West Riding for charity events and Testimonial gatherings.

On the field his presence in imperious and he is without doubt one of the best forwards we have ever had and looking back across the years, that’s again a case of having some big boots to fill. There are few in the history of the Club who can inspire a group of players like Gareth can. I look back at Johnny Whiteley, perhaps Knocker, Richard Swain and a couple of others but then you start to struggle a bit, because people who could not only turn a game by their play, but also inspire a whole group of players just by their presence on the field are without doubt few and far between.

James Smailes at The Hull Daily Mail said of the news and his influence on the rationale of the club, “Ellis was critical to that cultural change at the Club but he won’t take any credit for that, such is his nature. And it’s not all down to him, with Radford and his staff obviously key. But no player has had a bigger influence in shaping the ethos of a team at Hull for the last 30 years. Quite simply when Ellis plays the rest of the team not just feel but look a foot taller such is the measure of the man. It’s not hyperbole, the results and performances indicate as such”. As usual with the eloquent Mr Smailes, I couldn’t really argue with any of that.

Our Captain and his successor?

That’s exactly what Yeamo once said to me about the feeling he got when he was led out by Gareth and you know in the modern game such great leaders are just so hard to find. He is the archetypical captain and a real hero both with the ball and in the collision, in both attack and defence. At least his coming retirement in either 5 or hopefully 7 games time will inspire him to greater things and who in such an auspicious week will forget how he ran himself to an absolute standstill in the first half last year at Wembley. Expect more of the same and then some, this coming weekend!

Gareth joined up after a video conference in which Adam, Tony Sutton and Peter Gentle convinced him to return to these shores to join the FC and on several occasions Gareth has said the deciding factor had been Adams burning ambition and vision for the Club. Even though he was pretty naive rugby wise back then, Adam knew he was the man they wanted and Gareth has rewarded the belief he showed in him all those years ago, by being the most complete player we have seen in at the Club for years. In return Adam has fulfilled his promises to Gareth and we now sit in the top three or four Clubs in the British game.

That’s some transformation, much of which is down to Adam, Lee and of course Gareth. What will we do without him in the second row? Who will lead from the front when the going gets tough? and who will captain the team going forward? These are all questions still to be answered, but one things for sure Gareth will still be around in his new role and he won’t be far from the briefing room if the going gets tough! But boy I’ll miss him out there in the battle. However, his announcement in one way spells danger for Wigan at the weekend and woe betides anyone who gets in his way before the end of the season!

Of course that news soon brought out the ‘Lets sign someone else’ brigade who always appear out of the woodwork in such circumstances, but quite frankly I can’t see that myself. The Club have obviously known about this for a while and although Gareth’s news may offer them some wriggle room with regard to junior recruitment and upgrading, they have already said that they ‘we’re done’ and with Hadley and Abdull returning and players like Mini and Albo getting upgraded deals, it’s hard to see how we would have accommodated Gareth anyway. That as I say makes me think that it’s been an accepted position for a while. Time of course will tell, I’d still like some more hooking cover but otherwise I think that personnel wise we are fine, but how we replace Gareth’s presence on the field is a different matter all-together.

Gareth Ellis perhaps our most influential signing in the Super League era? I think so myself and I wonder if he will yet give me something that will eclipse all the great memories I already have of him?

Now, the discussions about the restructuring of the game continued unabated this week both at the monthly RL meeting on Thursday and behind the scenes. What the outcome will be is still up in the air, but Adam seemed to be preparing us for changes when he said in this week’s programme notes, “Away from club matters, we were due to attend the latest Super League meeting of club owners and chief executives prior to tonight’s game, scheduled to discuss, primarily, the future of the competition structure. It has been well discussed both internally and in the press where it seems that there are potential avenues to explore and a number of factors to consider with regard to how the competition should be structured, across the various divisions – some of which we are only now managing to gain clarity on. Whatever the outcome, if any, we must ensure overall that we maintain the integrity of the clubs and the competition and value in the sport for the supporters”. With Catalans recent demise which must be leading to a bit of squeaky bum time at Redhall, watch this space!

Now do you remember that picture last week with the gang in the Well at the Boulevard in the sunshine and their ABI Caravan shirts in the early 1990’s?

Well, amongst a bumper bundle of correspondence I received this week, I got a quick repost from reader Richard Watson who informed me that it featured on the far left Neil Langton, and his elder brother Andy is in the middle at the back. The lad with bare chest is Alan Barley and the young lad (who has the massive shirt on and who I gently took the mickey out of last week) is his son Stuart, who is now a Sergeant in the British Army and here he is ……

Clothes fit better now Stuart ….honest!!

Now from the same era does anyone remember this guy? He looks a bit animated and I have some sympathy with him too because it always used to get me like that as well!

You can almost see his breakfast!

I see that Rovers gates are slightly up this year which is rewarding I guess. That whole strange situation was explained to me as being a case of; Hull KR working with Humberside Police to keep crime off the streets of East Hull on a Sunday!’

Talking of Rovers someone stopped me at the game on Friday and asked me if I thought that Hadley and Abdull would be back next year. I said that Hadley had told me he was coming back and that was a no brainer, but I said, I wasn’t so sure about Abdull and perhaps he wouldn’t return and instead sign for Rovers. However once again it’s a case of what the hell do I know as in an article about how we would replace Gareth Ellis Lee Radford said, “I think the emergence of Masimbaashe Matongo, Brad Fash and Jansin Turgut and with Dean Hadley and Jordan Abdull coming back next year, the squad is evolving all the time and there is depth there”. So both are coming back and I’m sure had he been here now and fit Jordan would have certainly got a game on Friday night!

Now for some serious reading and a brilliant piece of blogging I found on the independent Queens Park Rangers blog this weekend. Under the title of “Hull still weighed down by Allams Millstone” I know it sounds unlikely to interest you, but believe me it will. It’s in the public domain and goes on a bit, but stick with it because it concerns Hull FC and mentions us a lot and it gives a great insight into how people view us, the Allam’s and football and rugby in the City of Hull. Give it a go its certainly worth it!

Well now for just a quick book update (I know, I know your all fed up with it by now) but I do it to pass on the brilliant news that thanks to your amazing support, (and it really has been amazing) we have now sold over 300 copies of ‘2016’ in just five weeks and that means that your efforts and support have seen Danny Houghton’s Testimonial benefiting to the tune of well over £1700. I spoke to Danny this week and he asked me to say, “I am so pleased with the response to ‘2016 The Year of the Airlie Bird’ it’s a great idea and I would really like to thanks everyone who has supported it and through the book my Testimonial. Your support so far has blown us all away!”

I hope that you’ll all continue to spread the word (and don’t loan it out as I’m trying to help Danny and not starting a lending library!). Many people who have read it already have been in touch and thanks for so many good and positive comments, especially the detailed ones that came from Ian Middleton, Alan Smalley, Adrian Durham of Talk Sport, Brian Chapman, Richard Kirk, Jim Waring, plus all those who have stopped me to comment on it. The negative ones have yet to arrive, but no doubt they will (ha ha). What is most interesting however is that different bits resonate with different people. We need to raise as much as we can for Danny so, please encourage fans to buy a copy because every penny of profit goes to his Testimonial.

Talking of Danny’s Testimonial, you will no doubt be confronted from time to time at events, games and out and about at all things Hull FC wise, by members of the Committee trying to sell you the Danny Houghton Super Draw Tickets which have prizes ranging from a trip to Aus. to watch state of origin in 2018 to a weekend in London for Wembley next year plus loads of equally amazing prizes. At £20 a ticket the rewards are massive if you win and here’s a video to explain it all.

Well, several readers seemed to find the piece I did on the sad decline of Bradford last week interesting and as was the case with Alice in Wonderland, the tale of Bradford in Blunderland, just got curiouser and curiouser, especially with more behind the scenes revelations coming out of the Press Association last week. The story indicated that Bradford Bulls chairman Andrew Chalmers is looking to sell half of his stake in the club and apparently Chalmers had asked Salford Red Devils supremo Marwan Koukash for £750,000 to run the Bulls as part of a shared ownership but the former New Zealand Rugby League chairman had his offer rejected. You’ll no doubt remember that Koukash, and his wife Mandy, placed a bid for the club in 2014 and also in December 2016 but on both occasions, weren’t the preferred bidders. Press Assocation Sport have also revealed that Mandy Koukash is still interested in buying Bradford, but not as part of any joint venture, like the one offered by Chalmers. As I said ‘Curiouser and curiouser’.

Meanwhile still on Bradford and the same Andrew Chalmers recently said at a fans forum that he believes the licensing format will return by 2021 at the latest whilst giving a hint that the Club might just be thrown a life line. He’s pretty well connected at The RL and as I have been saying for a while licensing is the way that things are going again. The former New Zealand Rugby League chairman said, “We clearly have to plan for League 1, anything that changes, well that is completely outside of our control. That would mean if nothing changes that the earliest possible return for Bradford Bulls to Super League would be 2020. And we believe that by 2021 at the latest, there will be a new Super League licensing format in place anyway”. Again interesting stuff eh?

I was visiting my old mate Mick Pearce the other day in his local in Beverley when we got talking about the final and about games we had played over the years against Wigan. He’s read a lot of my stuff over the last 550 episodes of this guff so when he said why don’t you feature the one about Smithy, the Aussie spies and the two nuns eating burgers, I knew exactly the game he meant. So for Mick and indeed myself, because it makes me smile when I think about it here is that game from back in the early 1990’s.

The date was Sunday 7th October 1990 and once again it was time for Hull Fair and as I was running the whole thing for the Council, the one day I got off from the incessant grind of injured kids, moaning parents, drunken fracas and grumbling Showmen was the Sunday, and thankfully, that year, we were at home to Wigan. The visitors had a team of stars but had started the season slowly, having won just two of their first five games. The invigorated and confident Hull FC on the other hand, hadn’t lost and were top of the League.
The Boulevard had certainly been upgraded that summer and the influence of Brian Smith’s off the field was manifest in the newly refurbished ‘League’s Club’ at the Airlie Street end of the Ground and of course that new Tetley’s Threepenny Stand. However some things, like the catering, didn’t change and the only two choices of confectionary you had were still Mars Bars and the ubiquitous marshmallow biscuits known as Wagon Wheels, the latter along with gangrenous burgers being the staple diet at most, if not all RL grounds back then.

We all got there early that day to secure the ‘Lucky Step’ on the Airlie Street end terracing where the catering was still dispensed from an ancient caravan adjacent to the Division Road gate. It was a sunny afternoon and at least for once I wouldn’t have to take shelter in the Gents under the new Stand during half time. I remember being amazed that despite the newness of the Stand and this almost palatial sanitary provision, these toilets managed to perpetuate the same acrid aroma that the back of the old stand used to embrace. Who knows, perhaps it was the ‘lingering spirits’ of thousands of phantom ‘urinators’ still relieving themselves in the ghostly portals of that famous old edifice?

That afternoon we welcomed, with the usual trepidation, the reigning title holders, and the team that had dominated domestic rugby for the last five years. The game had been ‘hyped up’ in the media all week but the over-riding memory for me that day, came as we were joined on the terraces by two nuns wearing habits and wimples, who nodded and smiled to us before leaning on an adjacent crush barrier to watch the game. That was, for me, in a life time of watching, Rugby League a really surreal moment. I have seen plenty of men dressed as nuns at games, but these two were definitely the real deal. The animosity on the field began before the game had even kicked off when the Hull team came out to warm up behind the try line at the Airlie Street end. You could see that our players were certainly focused on the task ahead but minutes later, out came Wigan to do their warm up and they purposely ran to the same end.

This was obviously seen as a way of intimidating the Hull players, and, as both sides refused to move, the warm up session descended into chaos as players from both sides collided with each other. As the Hull team started back to the changing rooms and much to the amusement of the fans, a couple of our players (John Sharp and Noel Cleal) could clearly be seen to walk straight into two Wigan players, knocking them both sideways. It was great fun for the spectators and as I stood eating a Wagon Wheel, on my ‘Lucky Step’ with my pals all around me, there was nowhere in the world I would rather have been.

As referee Kevin Allett blew the whistle and we kicked off, Wigan came under an unyielding battery of crushing tackles and high speed collisions from a Hull pack that had obviously used the pre-match happenings as motivation. On attack too, we were ‘all aggression’ and within minutes both Karl Harrison and Andy Dannett had flattened Lucas and Dermott in blistering line breaking runs. The crowd of 10,900 was captivated as they roared every tackle and applauded every break.

After just 4 minutes Paul Eastwood converted a penalty when Myers tripped Rob Nolan, and then within minutes of the re-start Lee Jackson broke from acting half and found Patrick Entat on his shoulder. The little Frenchman scooted through the defence to face the Wigan full back Joe Lydon who felled the scrum half with a high tackle straight across his head. In piled Dannett and Harrison to shouts of ‘OFF, OFF, OFF’ from the ‘New’ Threepennies, and in the melee that followed Lydon was shown the Red Card. He tramped off, still protesting, to chants of ‘tatty bye, tatty bye, tatty bye’ and on reaching the tunnel the crowd struck up an impromptu rendition of the French National Anthem, as Entat staggered around in a daze. “You’re a F*cking disgrace Lydon” shouted a guy behind me, prompting everyone to turn as one to look at the nuns. They were both fine, and heartily laughing at this outburst, as if it were the audience participation that’s heard at the pantomime when the crowd boo and hiss the villain.

Andy Gregory was trying his best to get Wigan moving but a crunching tackle by Ian Marlow saw him limp from the field with a leg injury, to be replaced by Phil Clarke. In the 22nd minute Eastwood converted his third penalty and the atmosphere was tense as we pressed and pressed the Wigan line. On 28 minutes the Lancastrians defence finally cracked, when Ian Marlow scored his debut try for the Club. 10 minutes later Eastwood converted another penalty awarded for obstruction and then with five minutes left to half time we went in for the kill.

With just 2 minutes to go, a half completely dominated by the Airlie Birds ended with another great try. Wigan’s Shaun Edwards took his eye off a pass from Betts and dropped the ball. Nolan snapped it up and ran at the defence before placing a measured kick towards the corner. Eastwood and the Wigan centre Dean Bell hared down field, shoulder to shoulder but both, in their desperation to get there first, over ran the ball, and Greg Mackey following up, touched it down. Eastwood converted from the touchline to make the half time score a quite unbelievable 18-0.

As the nuns devoured the remains of their burgers with some gusto, Wigan restarted the game and were certainly fired up, as four forwards immediately laid out Russ Walker in a gang tackle. The ‘Pies’ hearts must have sank though when who should come trotting from the bench to take his place but Noel Cleal. ‘Crusher’s’ first tackle laid Kevin ‘The Beast’’ Iro out cold, and the game had to be stopped whilst he was resuscitated with smelling salts. Eastwood then slotted over another penalty as Wigan got more and more frustrated. Next to suffer in the Wigan ranks was Dean Bell, who ran straight at one of his own players and was carried off unconscious. Back on came substitute Phil Clarke to last just 10 minutes before another Cleal special saw him helped from the field with a shoulder injury. During all this action Eastwood stroked over another penalty, and then there followed one of the best tries I had ever seen at the Boulevard.

The move started with a break in our own twenty by Nolan who passed onto young Steve McNamara who wriggled between two would be tacklers. Somehow Steve managed to pass onto Richard Gay, who had ghosted up on his outside and he spun out of no less than 4 tackles, before Cleal took the ball, stopping only to swat off the ‘would be’ tackle of a chasing Lucas, before ‘feeding’ the onrushing Neil Turner who scored in the corner. It was breath-taking stuff, which saw the remaining Wigan players collapse to their knees behind the posts. The game had been won by power and determination and although Wigan did get a consolation when Skerrett rolled over for a late try, as the hooter went the scoreboard at the Airlie Street end showed Hull 24 Wigan 4.

Brian Smith had the players wound up into a state of near frenzy that day and Wigan were never really allowed to get into the game. What we didn’t know at the time was that as Brian and the boys celebrated with us on the pitch afterwards, spies from Australia Club St George were in tip up seats in the old best stand laying their plans to meet up with ‘Smithy’ afterwards to try and entice him back to his home land. Perhaps it was best that we the fans didn’t know really because they‘d have got lynched!! But, boy they were great days!

You’ll remember last week that I mentioned my pal Tony C. who many of you already know. He was having a big operation last Tuesday and thankfully he came through it OK and was up and about again on the ward on Thursday. I got a text from him on Wednesday which said, “Op Yesterday sitting next to my bed reading your book” let’s hope that experience doesn’t set him back again!!! He added “Got a text from Gaz Ellis today apparently I’m in the painful Sternum Club now as well. Good luck Tony and as I said at length earlier, top bloke is Gareth!

I was grateful before the game on Friday to receive this T shirt transfer for a reader who had made them! Thanks for that mate, and quite an original idea?

So that’s it for today but tomorrow morning as has been traditional for the last three visits to Wembley, I’ll be posting Dentists Diary 551 The Wembley Special. You know 550 episodes of the continuing soap opera that is Hull FC has seen me make a load of friends and acquaintances that without the blog I would never have even known. I often feel like packing it all in and getting a life but then I hear so much interesting and funny stuff from you guys that I just have to keep it all going. Thanks to everyone for all your brilliant support, which I really appreciate as I steam on towards number 600. I’ll speak to you again tomorrow with a bit of a different angle on Wembley this time around!

Thanks again everyone!

Try to Keep Believing!

Faithfully Yours