The Dentist’s Diary – 557th

PRIDE; (mass noun). A feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of one’s close associates, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired by you and your kindred spirits.

So says the Oxford Dictionary and boy, despite the disappointment, once I’d ‘boxed off’ the frustrations and wiped away the tears I was very proud on Friday night and I’m so, so pleased that I’ve been honoured to witness another quite amazing season. How my Mum and Dad and thousands and thousands of FC fans that have passed on, (some of whom you’ll remember well), would have enjoyed these last two campaigns. Yeh, I know we have had some hard to take defeats and a few disappointments, but boy have I had my £185 worth of ‘season ticket’ over the roller coaster that was the last 8 or 9 months.

Playing there with the very best, right at the top of the British Super League for most of the season, before in the end falling just two points short of glory, saw us destined to not live out the dream next week at Old Trafford. Nonetheless, we have the Challenge Cup and wow, what a season and again what an effort it was to get that far! I was gutted after Friday, of course I was, but in the afterglow of that defeat I realised that it was simply a case of tons of spirit, tons of endeavour, but not quite playing as well as we know we can for the full 80 minutes on the night. In the end fatigue took its toll and come the final hooter as is often the case at Headingley, it was ‘Close but no cigar!’ But all the same, what an effort eh?

Of course in addition, it was the end of a star spangled playing career for this man.

‘Captain Fantastic’ who will be forever remembered as the leader of ‘The Immortals of 2016’

Because on Friday we also bid farewell to an enigma who has been without doubt the on-field catalyst to an amazing renaissance at our Club. After the game and right from the heart he said, “It’s disappointing, it’s what I was dreaming of all year, to make that journey to Old Trafford but it just wasn’t to be”. A typical statement from Gareth Ellis who is an iconic character and one that will live long in the memories of those who saw him play for Hull FC. He has given his all for us every time he entered the field and in turn we are all lucky to have taken the journey with him.

As it is, you won’t find much criticism of Hull FC in here this week, because we’ve had a wonderful season, we’ve won a trophy and it’s that famous old Cup that had I to choose, would have always been the one for me. We’re a good team and possess a great bunch of players with a great team ethic, but now 2017 is finished and we have, despite the departures, to sustain what we have, hold the line and move on to next season. Make no mistake about it as well, this team has put us on the cusp of an era of great times, as for the second year running we have proved ourselves one of the best in the British game. OK we lost, but as fans now we have to commit to the cause, buy our season tickets and get behind the Club, because let’s be honest, it could all be a lot, lot worse; we could be Salford or Leigh supporters couldn’t we??? Poor buggers!

You know, it’s easy to say after any defeat “I’m proud of them” for it is an often used ‘get out’ cliché for all sports fans that have seen their heroes fall or fail. It’s invariably used as a sop to reality when your disappointed, but for us lot this year such an exaltation is not wasted nor is it understated. It had to end sometime and it did, at Headingley …as usual, but this time we came so close and in the cold light of another day there was nothing to be anything but proud about. You can cry all day over the ‘spilt milk’ of dropped balls, missed tackles and slow starts, but we can’t change that now, for we have seen some great stuff and some fine games this season and there were still some real heroics on show at Leeds too.

On Friday, as around 4000 fans made their way to Headingley, for most it was in a state of hope and expectation which in itself was a massive reversal for the FC Faithful. Two years ago such a journey would have been taken in a state of denial and expected disaster. That I guess in the end is perhaps the litmus paper on which our development and emergence can best be judged. For we all find strength and heart in these players, so much so that for us mere mortals it hard to dwell on exactly where we are and instead we still crave for where we could be. This success is not a flash in the pan and it will come, I’m beginning to believe that, but unfortunately we have to be patient because it’s not going to come this year.

It all started ‘as per usual’ with accidents on the roads and the traffic on the M621 best described as ‘a mess’. The blight of 7-45pm Kick-Offs that suit Sky TV but ‘penalise’ the ordinary, loyal and long suffering travelling fans (who have to work for a living), came early, as we witnessed what will be the status quo for next season. Hundreds were struck in crawling lines of traffic on the roads into Leeds as some fans and indeed it transpired the team, struggled to get there for Kick-off. Where we as a players still on the bus in that first 20 minutes? Well we looked out of sorts and indeed we never got into their twenty at all, but we hung in there, with that tenacity, wanting and spirit that has become the trademark of Radford’s team.

However, we have to admit too that we appeared ill at ease and, as I looked on after they had taken a twelve-point lead, I was heartened when Connor made two tackles and one drive that far outweighed his stature and all of a sudden we were hitting back. Those actions reflected across the team and epitomised us getting a bit of a foothold in the game again, before a great line and dummy run from Scott Taylor just gave Gareth Ellis the gap he needed to crash in.

So, despite all the pressure we had faced and tackling we had to do, we went in just six points down. At that time after all the energy Leeds had used up defending in packs to keep us in our own half for long periods, they only led by one converted try and the home Coaching team must then have wondered a bit as we came back strongly towards the end of the half. But they had been playing much more with ball in hand, while we were having to tackle almost incessantly for long periods and that was to prove the big ‘energy sapper’ that I think finally did for us.

Afterwards in an atmosphere of utter disappointment mingled with frustration and pride, I mused on the fact that what we had witnessed was a game that had taken the same path as our defeat at Wigan last season in that 28-18 reversal in Lancashire. Although this year we had come a lot closer to getting to the big game, we again began the match slowly and subsequently fell behind to early scores from the home team. Furthermore, Leeds, (like Wigan, had 12 months earlier) came out all guns blazing and hit us hard as they gang tackled Fonua, Watts and Scott Taylor every time they tried to get onto the front foot. They got at us and unsteadied our usual focussed and hard hitting style and in fact, although we did really well to only be trailing by 6 at half time, the effect of all the tackling we had done in the first quarter and the loss of Talanoa, which limited our rotations from the bench, saw us in the end run out of energy as Leeds just got home. Even though we led in the final 30 minutes there were signs of weariness everywhere and once Leeds grabbed the lead back we were done for.

Errors and penalties at the wrong moments harmed us at times, with Wattsy and Mahe the main miscreants. Fonua was very strong as always but he also made five errors, whilst Liam spilled the ball a couple of times too, but more worryingly he also gave two penalties away which piled on the pressure. In fairness to them both, a lot of that was down to the way the Rhinos didn’t allow these players to settle at all thus denying us the usual steady, increasing dominance we have shown in such big games over the last two years.

In that second half we came out fighting and two great tries looked to have won it for us, but in the end it was not to be, as the energy oozed away with our hopes, but boy did we give it a go! The effort was exemplary and as the season came to a close we ensured that it concluded with a situation that saw every player leave everything out there on the field, something that Lee Radford was quick to praise afterwards. He was as disappointed as we all were and epitomised that whole season finale in one sentence when he said, “We had to chase the game, but we just didn’t go about it in a smart way”. However, no FC fan can have any doubts that the players gave their all for the cause and at the end they were out on their feet. For, as I say, we can have no real complaints at all!

There were some great performances worthy of mention and firstly in a ‘mini’ Diary exclusive well done to Jamie Shaul, who in the best kept secret of the week, had been sent home from training last Monday with ‘The runs’. All the same he never stopped trying although he was, like one or two others, well watched. Then I have to give a mention to Jake Connor who I repeat again should be signed up for 5 years!! He is a massive talent and improving all the time. This week once again he stood up when needed and provided two massive contributions as he had a critical hand in the tries for Fonua and Sika Manu. The first was an outstanding offload that you can watch over and over again and the second was a superbly controlled tap back after Marc Sneyd’s cross-field kick. He also continued with his non-stop commentary on the game, usually directed straight into the Leeds player’s ears! However, that aside, I think he has a massive future myself. Sneyd tried really hard to get us around the park but tired and Kelly also did his very best but was again well watched by the Leeds defence.

I had a joint man of the match this week, because in Gareth Ellis we had the usual Captain Fantastic who was just about the best player on the field, but in Mark Minichiello we had another who belied his years and did everything asked of him and tons more. Those two showed what it was all about and Gareth’s try was a fitting end to a fabulous career. We are indeed blessed to have watch Mini and Gareth over these last few seasons. They were both massive on Friday night. Elsewhere, everyone else did there bit and if I have one regret then it is that I have seen the last game that will feature Mahe Fonua, because for all his mistakes and silly off loads, he has been a fabulous and exciting player to watch and a great character on and off the field. He’ll certainly live long in my memory.

So there we are and for me, I have watched my second best season (which followed my best) since at least 1983, Leeds were worthy winners on the night, we couldn’t just muster the energy needed to kill them off but they were still panicking a bit at the end. Ellis who I think played for most of the game has been a pleasure to watch and he now retires safe in the knowledge that he led that team of Immortals last season and has been one of the best Captains we have seen in the famous black and white shirt. As someone said on Friday night its simply amazing to see how far we have come since we finished 11th under Richard Agar. We and Gareth, should all take great satisfaction from that.

So after that disappointment back to the week gone by and although he might not win it, (in fact I’m sure he won’t) it was great to see Albert Kelly nominated as one of the three short listed candidates for Man of Steel. We all know his history and yet with Albo there is a certain resonating honesty that shines through what he says. Take for instance his response to being selected last week when he said, “The main thing Radders has said to me is to play with a smile on my face and work hard. The boys are immense as well and we have a few characters like any team. Everyone enjoys each other’s company and these awards for me and Mahe are down to that team.” That’ll do for me, although next seasons the test or so the Dobbins say (or hope!!!!! Ha ha)

Dream Teamer Albert Kelly!

There has, over the past few weeks, been a lot of talk going around in the East about how Jordan Abdull didn’t want to come back to Hull FC and how he was going to be the next big thing over there in the Land of Make Believe. He was of course in a difficult situation playing as he was for the enemy and it must have been tough watching the ‘Kings of the City’ as they marched onwards to Wembley, won it again and then got so far in the race for Old Trafford.

However apparently, we are now told, he was always coming back, (as I have told you a time or two in here) and that was confirmed when last week it was revealed by Hull FC that we had paid for an end of season operation for him and that he would be fit to start pre-season at Country Road in November. On Friday Lee Radford said, “For the start of the season, Jordan will be good to go”, as he welcomed him back to the care of our back room staff at the training ground. “The operation was always due to happen and with Hull KR getting the job done early, it provided us an opportunity to get it done as early as possible to give him as much time to recover. Jordan wasn’t rushed back or anything like that”. That last reference was I think because it appeared he played two late games for the Dobbins with the pins still in that broken foot, but he now faces a 6-week convalescence after having them removed. It seems that Lee has a place ear marked for both Jordan and the returning Hadley and with Connor, Albo and Sneyd in such good form, I wonder if that will see Jordan used as a loose forward next term?

How good it was last week to see mild mannered, quiet man Mark Minichiello get some recognition as he was named in the first tranche of players shortlisted for the Italian Squad for the World Cup. The Italians have named a strong train-on squad, which will be reduced to 24 before they participate in their second World Cup after making their debut in the tournament in 2013. Personally I would prefer Mark, who I have to admit to being one of my favourite players, to have a winter off and to be firing for what might well be his last season in the game next year. However, I’m pleased for him and at least we can look forward to at least one more season from someone who is such a consummate professional.

In 2013, he made three appearances for Italy and scored one try in the opening game of their maiden World Cup, against Wales. Mark will be reunited with his brother, the Coach and legendary Anthony, who has visited our lads a time or two at County Road. Good Luck Mark, it must be a great honour but, I I’d have still loved you to have taken a few weeks out!

I’m going to be a bit controversial here and have a bit of a rant, but I need to get something off my chest because as the Million Pound game came and went on Saturday, I asked myself, just what has all that nonsense proved eh? The team that went down last year have come up again and the team that came up have gone down, so the yo-yoing begins! Two generous and committed benefactors will ensure that both Clubs survive and that any impact is minimal, but how can it be fair that the team that finished bottom of the pile in the week in week out grind of the regular rounds escaped before the million-pound game and it was contested between the teams that finished two off the bottom and next to bottom in the ‘proper’ ‘everyone plays everyone else twice’ League.

Stop pandering to the TV companies Rugby League, let’s do away with the contrived stuff and get back to relegation and promotion after the proper rounds. Of late the quality of middle eights rugby has ranged from poor, to down-right abysmal and I think myself that we are just manufacturing jeopardy for the sake of TV. This weekend has proved that the best play off rugby is at the top of the table and that for me is where it should stay. If you finish bottom you go down; all be it with some sort of Parachute payment to protect all the good work that the relegated Club has done to build the team and indeed the game in their time in the top echelon. So for me, although it produced the best laugh in decades for the fans of Hull FC last year, the Million Pound game is just another gimmick which has been, as I say, manufactured to pander to the media.

However, after the defeat of Leigh had postponed the demise of Catalan to no doubt the great relief of the RL, we were left with a few things to ponder. Had the Frenchmen failed, reports in France said that was it for the Dragons and they would either fold or join the up-coming new French League. Rumour is that the Coaches job was firmly on the line as well. But rugby League over there is struggling a bit at present anyway. If you speak to those supporters across the game who have visited Perpignan in recent seasons many say that they have noticed a drop-off in standards around the place with advertisement Boards around the ground both inside and outside still showing images from as far back as 2015. In fact, in some cases the entrances are still advertising 2015 Super League prices, and hand in hand with that, crowds have declined noticeably. The latter of course is nothing new across the majority of Clubs involved in the game, for whilst the powers that be pontificate about small and inconsequential issues, all around us the greatest game in the world is in decline.

At the Dragons we see a Club that has gone from being the proud tough French protagonists, who we feared and who despite struggling a bit in their travels, were pretty invincible at home, to a faded force. Once they portrayed a rationale that saw them always fighting for their Club and indeed in the context of Super League their county. However, over the last two seasons they have completely lost their identity. An English coach and a team made up of predominantly English and Australian players isn’t representative at all of what is a passionate area of the French Rugby League heartlands. Poor old Steve McNamara was on a hiding to nothing when he went there and it was always going to be tough, thankfully for him he got out of jail ….just!

The Gallic flair, and tough uncompromising often open rugby that they became renowned for, has been lost in favour of what one local referred to on ‘Canal Plus’ two weeks ago, as “Boring one-up rugby”. Another local interviewed even praised Widnes for their style of rugby in that final eliminator game, but we all know that as far as exciting rugby is concerned, it’s certainly hasn’t been pretty from the Vikings this season either. But what is even more important I think, is the fact that they are the flagship French team and the only reason we used the ridiculous ‘monica’ of ‘Super League Europe’. I think myself that major questions have to be asked as to how so many French players have been allowed to depart Catalans and why?

The situation with Tony Gigot has been unfortunate, but as for Morgan Escare, a player that came close to being Super League Young Player of the Year a few years ago, well, the Dragons loss has certainly been Wigan’s gain. We were told ad infinitum when the then RL Board were trying to justify their decision to involve the French outfit in Super League in the first place, that the purpose of the Dragons was to predominantly grow the French player pool, to improve standards in France and ultimately have a positive impact on the France national team and domestic competition. Of course it was another gimmick, for the French national team has gone backwards since then and anyway let’s face it, can you see the Premier League in football admitting a French team? What next in Super League? A team from across the Atlantic? Well maybe!

At present a big influx of journeymen Aussies and British players has squeezed out any sort of development of the game in that part of the world and it’s pretty much in crisis in Catalonia because a lot of the hard core support have lamented the loss of that Gallic connection and walked. Add to all that the fact that some players will, when pressed, speak openly about the draw of the lifestyle and party atmosphere that surrounds the French Club and will tell you that it is that and not the chance to play rugby for the Dragons, that is maybe the attraction to some.

Some of you will have read my views over the years about the French Club and said, “Wilf would say that” and I admit I was not that enthused by their inclusion from the off, but I have over those years in here admitted that I might have been wrong, because the French team did bring a bit of interest to a flagging competition. Indeed, if nothing else, they did at least provide a great weekend away for a lot of fans and a chance to visit an area that many would not otherwise have considered visiting, however now much of that has dissipated and The Dragons stand shoulder to shoulder with so many of the other ‘promotional stunts’ our game has introduced over the years.

You know, as I say, the rugby played in that middle eights competition has been turgid at times and in stark contrast to the quality of the Super Eights and the two play-off games we have seen this week. That Castleford v Saints game captivated the whole sporting world and our game at Leeds wasn’t too far behind either. For me the whole thing does need looking at again and perhaps we should be considering 14 teams playing each other once and then having, say a top 8 play off and, if they still want some jeopardy for the TV boys, a bottom Team/Championship leaders play off, for relegation and promotion.

Just of course my thoughts, but have you honestly been captivated by the quality of the middle eights rugby of late? Why do I care and why do I go on about it? Well I love our game, but it is in decline, in fact did you know that this year, whatever the powers that be try to tell you, in reality there was only one Club in the regular rounds of Super League that experienced increased gates? Guess who that was?

Now, as tickets for Danny Houghton’s Xmas factor go on sale tomorrow at the City Council Booking Office, (see last weeks Diary) it was good to meet so many readers at another great event the Race night last Tuesday at the Lambwath Hotel. It was a super event that was well attended and brilliantly organised by Dick Ollett whose hard work ensured that Danny received well over £1200 for his Testimonial. It was good fun and pretty humbling as well, as I talked to several readers about the Diary and indeed heard how much a lot of folks actually enjoy this rubbish every week.

Owner of the first winning Horse Steve Wray is congratulated by Danny!

At times producing this diatribe is like writing in a bubble and you do wonder a bit how folks take it. I always get a bit of criticism which is fine, because as an ordinary fan I at times go over the top and so expect it, and I also get a bit of abuse which probably isn’t fine, but I get it just the same! However it would appear that the enjoyment that this rubbish seems to bring to a lot of ordinary fans every week, far outweighs all that.

Thanks so much for all your support which makes the hours of writing worthwhile and more importantly to all those who were there last Tuesday for spending generously, buying a few books and helping the Danny Houghton Testimonial effort no end. One thing that being on the Testimonial Committee has taught me is that Danny Houghton is a bloody nice bloke, a good sport who is so loyal to our Club and he certainly does deserve the fantastic response his Testimonial is receiving!

Organiser Dick Ollett (hooped shirt) at the end of the event.

At that same Race Night last week, I met a real FC legend in Graham Holmes who was (older readers will remember) the on field announcer in the 1990’s. ‘Ohmsy’ is a great bloke and he turned up with a programme from a game in 1967 which immediately rang some bells with me. It was for a semi-final of the Yorkshire Cup when we played Leeds and I was able to tell him that it was in fact, I believed, the first ever game played under floodlights at the Boulevard. I promised him I would feature some stuff from my first book about Floodlit Rugby League and that game (and what better to feature this week than a win over Leeds) so here for a change in Codgers Corner and for ‘Olmsey is just that….

“……In the sporting world of 1967 the live spectacle of Rugby League was being eclipsed by televised sport in general and football in particular. This was not just happening in Hull, where Hull City were still doing well and mopping up any ‘floating support’, but across the heartlands of the game in general until that was someone thought of the BBC 2 Floodlit Trophy. This was a competition the Rugby League and the Broadcasting Corporation manufactured to meet the needs of TV, (something, sadly, that seems to have happened countless times in our game since then). BBC 2 was the corporation’s new second channel, which had started two years earlier in April 1965 and since its launch it had gained something of a high brow reputation.

This had not pleased a section of the licence payers, particularly those who lived north of Luton. In their search for programming that would popularise the channel in the north of the country, the Governors of the BBC decided that sport should be introduced to their programming and so the then Controller, David Attenborough, came up with the idea of incorporating a bit of ‘Northern Culture’ in the form of a rugby league tournament, which I guess in their ‘southern’ eyes at least, fitted their needs exactly.

Many clubs and supporters had reservations when the BBC’s idea was first muted and there were several strong letters in the ‘Rugby Leaguer’ which was the game’s only weekly newspaper back then. However so appealing was the potential for the exposure the tournament gave to participating teams, it caused no fewer than twenty-one clubs to install floodlights in pretty quick time. It was revolutionary as well and the competition even experimented with limited tackles for the first time, in fact this proved to work so well that a ‘four tackle and a scrum’ ruling was adopted for the full League programme the following year.

The first series of games were staged that autumn and each week at least one match would be played under floodlights, on a Tuesday evening; the second half of this match would then be broadcast live on BBC2. Non-televised matches were played at various times, depending on clubs’ fixture lists and quite ironically the only condition for inclusion was that the club had to have floodlights.

In typical Rugby League fashion and quite bizarrely, the rules did not stipulate that these lights had to be good enough for TV cameras to be able to film the proceedings and so despite the title, many matches in the early rounds didn’t even take place under floodlights and when they did it was hard to see what was going on out on the pitch anyway. Clubs such as Barrow and Bramley, whose lighting was sub-standard still took part in the competition but their games at home, could not be televised. It was just another outlandish chapter in the catalogue of such shambolic happenings that litter the history of Rugby League and its administration.

So, it was in 1967 that floodlights first arrived at the Boulevard being introduced solely to allow Hull FC to compete in the new competition. The then chairman J.L. Spooner and our Board decided that they wanted a piece of the TV action and so some floodlights were ordered and paid for by a loan from the Rugby League. The new lights were housed on eight columns four in front of the Threepenny Stand and 4 in the well of the Best Stand where holes had to be cut through the asbestos roof to accommodate the pylons. The total cost of the installation was according to that year’s account’s £7,138. Ironically in front of over 6000 Hull fans (almost half the gate) Hull lost their first game under floodlights 8-12 to Rovers, at Caravan Park, in the preliminary round of the BBC competition. However, nine days later we beat Leeds in a Yorkshire Cup semi-final in our first home game under lights, but more of that in a moment.

I have a vivid memory of that first Floodlit Trophy game which saw 14,000 fans packed into Craven Park to see their new lights for the first time. The incident concerned was a tackle by David Doyle Davidson on the Robins new hero the dynamic scrum half from Castleford Roger Millward. Although afterwards all the players agreed it was an accidental tackle from where I was stood at the Tote End of the ground it looked horrendous, as Roger fell to the ground pole axed and had to be stretchered off the pitch.

Years later David related a story to me about how the referee realised straight away that it was an accident but as the Rovers fans went wild and demanded blood, he called our player over to him to have a word. Doyle-Davidson had only been moved to number 6 that day to mark the mercurial Millward because he was accepted as being Hull FC’s best tackler at the time and so understandably the crowd suspected foul play. The referee told ‘The Doyle’ that he realised it was an accident but as he could see how the crowd were taking it he would point to the Dressing Rooms several times and David would nod his head, he added, ‘If you do anything else you will be off’. So, as the crowd screamed for him to be sent off our player stood hands behind his back nodding as the refereeing motioned towards the dressing room and the situation was defused. How times and referee’s in particular have change!

Although there was no indication as to just how much electricity our new lights actually used but one thing is for sure and that is that when they were switched on they lit Airlie Street, Carrington Street and Division Road with an eerie sort of half light which created a strange and perhaps spooky effect for the folks who still lived around the stadium. A lady who lived in Carrington Street, Mrs Robson, actually wrote to the Hull Daily Mail claiming she felt she needed reimbursement for the cost of having her front room curtains lined, because she claimed, when the lights were on she couldn’t see her television properly.

As I alluded to earlier the first game that was played under our new lights was not actually in the Floodlit Competition but a really memorable semi-final game on our way to a Yorkshire Cup final defeat. The game itself saw us produce a wonderful performance as that night we ran Leeds off their feet and we as fans absolutely loved it.

The game took place on 27th September when we came out winners by 31-6 in an epic match in which once again, Chris Davidson shone. The Leeds team, packed with quality players like Bev Risman, John Atkinson and Mick Shoebottom, were red hot favourites to march on to the final, but our little scrum half took them apart with a marvellous display of terrier like tenacity, to which the much fancied ‘Loiners’ had no answer.

I enjoyed every minute of the game as did the rest of an amazing 13,000 crowd, many of whom it was suggested had been attracted by the novelty of the new floodlights rather than the anticipation of a good game of rugby. Any victory over Leeds was always massive for us kids back then, there was a pitch invasion at the end and we ‘chaired’ our victorious heroes off the field that night!

What it was that motivated our players so much when we played Leeds, is something to his day that still confuses me but there is no doubt that even in the darkest days of the 60’s and 70’s we always had a real go at Leeds when they visited the Boulevard. Their fans were always portrayed as a little ‘superior’ when compared with the working class core of FC supporters, an image that their apparent arrogance certainly perpetuated. They were also a club that always seemed to have pots of money to spend on players as well and the ‘Threepenny Stand Choir’ liked nothing better than to chant (to the tune of Camp town Races) ‘Spent a Fortune won f*ck all Leeds, Leeds’ as invariably we overcame our West Riding adversaries in the Boulevard mud ……”

Happy Days eh?

A big mention now to my mate and regular reader Northern Soul Neil whose have a bit of a tough time at present and to Bill Dalton who struggles on valiantly with his broken shoulder.
Thanks as well to everyone again who came for a chat and to exchange stories at last week’s race night. As for this Diary, well the seasons over and it time to decide on things going forward. I think what we’ll do this closed season is have a couple of editions to take us up to the middle of October, then I’ll have three weeks off to recharge a bit, before returning in November to take things through Christmas and on through the 2018 season if that’s OK with you lot!

Thanks for all your support throughout the 2017 season and I hope you stick with me going forward as with Clubs in trouble, restructuring on the agenda and our plans for next season, it’s going to be an interesting few weeks.

Sadly though, for now it’s over and the closed season is upon us, but 2017 has again been a great ride hasn’t it?

Friday was still the defining game of our 31 game League season because having won the Challenge Cup again, it was our big chance to go one step further than last season and actually get to the Grand Final. Sadly, it was not to be, but nevertheless we have come so far so quickly and yet as fans, (as I have said so often in here over the weeks and months since Wembley 2016), we all seem to take it in our stride and indeed for granted, never stopping to try and take in just how much forward progress this team has actually made.

In our game there are two ‘proper’ Trophies to win and we have one of them back on the shelf for the second year running and some would kill for that. What’s more, our Coaches excellent plotting and gradual build up almost got us over the final hurdle and on to Old Trafford, and we will be (to quote another often used sporting cliché) ‘better for it’. No doubt already Radders will have digested what happened and started to formulate his plans to ensure we are even better equipped come this time next year.

It’s over and we have again come through it in pretty good shape. Let’s just enjoy the moment and look to the future! Well done to all of you out there on the terraces who have had the strength to believe, to the players who became heroes, to Lee and the coaching staff and to Adam, the Club and everyone involved with it and hard luck Hull FC; perhaps we’ll do it in 2018!

Keep Believing and thanks for all your support!

Faithfully Yours