The Dentist’s Diary – 559th

So here we are, the last Diary for three weeks and judging by the lack of activity that we have seen forthcoming from our club of late, then perhaps a break is a good idea. What a great season 2017 was though and although not as significant as the previous historic campaign, we still have a trophy in the cupboard and what’s more I’ve really enjoyed an absorbing campaign following the Club we all love. After last week’s look at what could happen next season if we ain’t careful, this week I’ll have a look at a couple of interesting areas and developments within the game and in Codgers Corner there’s a look at happier times at Leigh, back in the early 1980’s.

Well, Mahe Fonua is gone and as I always say, boy will we miss him. However, before he departed he left us with a few thoughts about how we will best replace him in the FC ranks next year. He has one particular player in mind and before returning Down Under to link up with his new club, Wests Tigers, the 24-year-old endorsed Nick Rawsthorne as the player to take on the responsibility of a position that made Mahe a legend at Hull FC.

Last week he said, “I think Nick Rawsthorne is a great athlete. I was talking to one of the boys about it. Under the right guidance, I think he can be a very dangerous player. He’s got a great physique, perfect height and great ability to get under a high ball and take a good attacking kick. He’s more than capable of filling my boots and I think that will happen in the years to come”, However, Mahe also had a few thoughts on his incoming ‘replacement’, new signing Bureta Faraimo, who is seen by many as the man to initially slot into the wing spot vacated by Fonua. Of him he said, “I know Bureta Faraimo and he is a very good signing, he’s strong, fast and has all the qualities needed in Super League. Hull FC have got a very good buy in him”.
Mahe likes the look of Nick Rawsthorne.

It was also good this week to see Dean Hadley happy to be back at Hull FC and explaining in a Hull Daily Mail interview that he never wanted to go to Wakey in the first place, choosing instead, to do as he was told, rather than insisting on staying at the KCOM to fight for his place. However, back at the start of last season it was ‘needs must’ and the number of players we had on our cap meant that when Wakey were interested, off he went to cement a place in the hearts of the Trinity fans who wanted, in the end, to retain his services beyond 2017.

Looked good at Wakefield this year!

That was never an option however and returning, by his own admission, as a better and more confident player, Hadley is now looking forward to regaining a place in the FC starting line-up. With a tricky season coming up after the loss of a couple of massive players in Ellis and Fonua, much next year hangs on the ability of our two returning loanees Hadley and Abdull to force their way into Radford’s thoughts during pre-season. There are chances too for Rawsthorne and Faraimo to stake a claim and it will be good to see who comes through in the early part of training. I hope Hadley makes it, I was impressed with the way that such a big man could jump into acting half back with such aplomb at Wakey and I’ve been really impressed with his form for the Wildcats when I’ve seen him play for them.

Bit of a muscly bugger isn’t he?

So as I said earlier, it’s been a week when little has happened at Hull FC and with the exception of the launch of the new Hull home shirt next week, (with players on International duty or on the beach, or both), it’s going to be a bit quiet for a while. I’m having a break after this Diary, but in this last edition of the 2017 season, this week I’ve had a look at a couple of what I think are interesting areas effecting our game as seen through the eyes of an average sort of fan, in his declining years.

So first let’s have a quick look at video referees. Everyone is fallible even in would seem when they have been given the opportunity to watch a piece of action 10 times before making a decision. We’ve all seen that time and again over the years, but we’ll never solve that one, even video officials are human and we just have to accept that bit. Nonetheless, it’s pretty obvious to the vast majority of fans, that there has to be a massive advantage to having a second look at some of the hairline decisions that can change the course of a game, a season and indeed even the final destination of a trophy.

I think they labour it at times, because except in some extenuating circumstances, we as fans only have to watch an incident back a couple of times in slow motion to know exactly what has happened, however often the off field official seems to enjoy his moment in the spotlight and some decisions can go on and on long after we have all decided the outcome. Nonetheless, regular readers will know that I have been an advocate for there to be video referees at all games (televised or non-televised) for a good while now, in fact I’ve suggested it should be a case for all or nothing for years. It was back in the 1996 Super League World Nines that we first saw the use of the video referee and it immediately made a difference. Yet, 21 years later, it still hasn’t been developed enough across the sport to really improve our game.

I well remember in here, in an edition I posted in 2008, I had a lot to say when the subject was high on the media agenda after the RL had used video replays as an experiment at a non-televised game between the FC and the Dobbins. A few weeks later the RL begrudgingly announced that it had been successful, but the clubs and the administration buggered around for over a year before they got around to discussing it’s benefit and more importantly it’s cost. The latter issue was the crux of the matter in a game that was even then starting to suffer financially, a situation that then led to the RL quickly and conveniently kicking the whole idea into ‘The Long Grass’.

For whatever reasons despite the success of its use in that Derby game the subject hasn’t raise its head much at all in the last 9 years, nor does it look like it will be introduced any time soon and we still sit here today, asking from time to time, for the system to come in, so to at least give a bit more believability and transparency to our official’s decisions. It might cost every club a bit, but if the openness it brings to the process can improve the games attraction to those who have walked from it because of the state of our refereeing, then in the long run it might just be worthwhile. I think it would at least have reduced the almost weekly occurrence of the referee being the main talking point after a game. So why hasn’t it been introduced, is it that money issue, or is it the lack of qualified staff on the roster of RL officials?

Looking back in the Diary in 2008, I reported that after trialling the video referee system in that none televised Derby, Stuart Cummings who controlled the games officials back then, had this to say, “It helped with a number of key decisions. As a result, we have explored the introduction of video referees at all games in future, a move which, although eminently worthwhile, would cost a six-figure sum each year.” Then silence fell with a thud and nothing else happened.

So cost is the main issue, but it is not just the decision making in games that is effected but for me, as I have often said, it just makes no sense for there to be extra help for those teams who are on Sky, if that service is not afforded to everyone else. If you look at the games that are televised, most feature (what I always refer to as) the darlings of the media, the ‘bigger’ teams of which I guess we are at present one. You don’t see the likes of Salford, Leigh or Widnes on there as much every week, yet it’s been possible to watch Leeds, Wigan or Saints on most weekends over recent seasons and Castleford were certainly on a lot this past one. Therefore, most weeks, the other less ‘fashionable’ clubs are running the risk of being on the end of those ‘iffy’ decisions that we all see on watching the games back afterward, decisions that could in ‘real time’ have cost them the game and much more in the long run.

The ‘bigger’ sides have many more opportunities for those ‘dodgy’ decisions, over which there might be a doubt, to be sent ‘upstairs’ and reviewed, at many different angles. How often do we see a refereeing electing for a try in a televised game having that decision overturned by the video referee? Take a look for a moment at a great example of this conundrum, for if our game against Wakey last month, when we needed to win at all costs, hadn’t been on telly, we would have drawn and perhaps missed out on the top four, simply because the missed Trinity drop goal at the end would have been given; the on field referee said as much! So, these days some clubs get the benefit much more than others, in fact Catalan have the additional official in the video booth at every home game, because every-one of their games in France is televised, how can that be right? I have lost count of the times that I have watched highlights of games, seen the tries, and thought, ‘that looked a knock-on’, or, ‘his foot was clearly in touch there’. I know you’ll say that decisions level themselves out over time, but some decisions in some games, at some points of the season are more important than others.

There are few things that all fans agree on, but I think that this is one, because for me it’s a case of either put video referees at all games, or take them away completely. It’s bizarre to think that we’ve gone 21 years and still some games are given the extra help of that technology, while others aren’t. The use of this form of settling disputed scores etc. and the way its use has survived in a game that introduces gimmicks and then quickly jettisons them at regular intervals, must have proved its worth. It’s certainly a fact that a lot of other sports have followed our lead yet we haven’t found a way to move it forward and implement it at all games.

All the matches in Australia are televised live, so it’s not an issue there, however here that isn’t the case and still for some reason we haven’t taken the initiative and found the cash to do it. For most fans I guess the situation is that we either have video referees at all games or take pot luck and get rid of them, but for me I can’t understand why the former hasn’t been given the green light ages ago, however much it might cost. Years ago of course there was no video referee and the official used to come out and face the media afterwards to discuss his decisions. These days they are for whatever reasons ‘faceless wonders’ and we never ever hear a referee, at any time, interviewed on radio or TV, never mind asked to justify a certain decision. If we leave a game completely baffled by a call that has cost us, unless its televised that’s it, we’ve had it, but its discussed by the fans on the way out at the cost of not talking about great tries, tremendous personal effort, or star players.

We have made advances and the chance to hear the on-going decision making on mikes and even the deliberations of the video referee on Cup games on the BBC this year, has been interesting and enlightening and another step forward which certainly added some transparency. In American Football the referee announces what his decision is when giving a penalty. I don’t say we want that (with the on-field referee wired to the PA system) but if we could watch the replay (as a video referee deliberates) at every game and hear him weighing up the decision through the PA system, as we heard in the Cup games on the BBC, at least we would all know where the officials are coming from and there would be more transparency around some of the more debatable calls.

It’ll cost the game of course. There would be a one-off payment for supplying the kit for every Stadium, but once in there it would only be the need to pay an official that would be the cost incurred and the balance of that against the clarity the change would bring about is a no brainer for most fans. I could go on and on about the whole system, because with officiating there are many things to talk about. One of the other hot topics is the amount of leeway video referees get, after a referee has declared try or no try before the video referee has even had a look at it, but that’s for another week. For now, I just hope that the RFL will revisit the subject of video referees at every game, sooner rather than later, but I honestly doubt they ever will.

Poor old Mr Allam he can’t get away from us can you? Still at Least there was no mention of Hull CITY at Norwich.

So to Zak Hardaker and the use of cocaine by players in our game. As I said on RL fans, I can’t understand anyone condoning it or trying to say Hardaker is badly done to, although as often happens in such cases, some folks are. He’s an idiot to use it and the fact he got caught is neither here nor there for me. The point is that such players aren’t scroates on an inner City estate, or part of that sad growing community that hang around in doorways waiting for their next bit of chemical excitement. These are professional sportsmen who have been given a chance many young people would kill for and as such they are held in high esteem by hundreds of those kids on their way up in life. Those young fans are very impressionable and use such heroes as examples of what they can aspire to. From a moralistic point of view it’s a player’s responsibility to uphold the reputation of his team and the game and indeed set an example to us ‘less gifted’ individuals that look up to them.

Those aren’t I hope, old fashioned unhip values, but rather just common sense, when applied to a person who has a gift which puts them in a position where impressionable people are in awe of them. They have a responsibility to conform to the accepted principles that go with such a position, if you’re a pop star or a ‘celebrity’ there are no rule and its down to the individual’s own preferences and social conscience, however if you’re a sportsman there are rules and as such you go into the game knowing you conform to them or else. If you don’t follow them then you get what you deserve. So I’m afraid there can be no sympathy from me for Mr Hardaker at all, but that’s just a personal somewhat I guess moralistic viewpoint.

However, the Castleford full back is the third player to get caught this year and yet with Cocaine, the reality of its use in the context of Rugby League is more intriguing than you would at first think. Morals apart, when you look closely at the actual rules relating to the taking of cocaine as far as the game is concerned, it’s pretty hard to understand how injudicious and foolish Zak was to even get caught in the first place; particularly with a Grand Final and a World Cup on the horizon. Why the hell would such a talented athlete take such a massive risk? Perhaps a bit of ‘the arrogance’ or maybe even ‘the fallibility’ of youth came into the equation at that point, who knows?

When you spend some time, as I did this week, looking at the rules of the game as far as substances such as ‘Charlie’, are concerned, his indiscretion becomes even more puzzling. There’s a misconception that cocaine is a barred substance in Rugby League, probably because of my own views on player’s responsibilities and their role as examples to the fans. But when you look closely at the letter of the law, it certainly isn’t a totally prohibited substance at all! Some drugs are banned all the time (for example steroids) and for obvious reasons. However, cocaine isn’t; it’s only banned as the rules say, ‘in competition’, because it’s a ‘prohibited stimulant’.

Another popular misconception is that ‘in competition’ means ‘in the season’. It doesn’t. ‘In competition’ refers to the period from 12 hours before a match until (forgive the technical of the anti-doping book here) ‘the end of such competition and the sample collection process related to such competition.’ In other words, if a player wants to take cocaine at any time during the rest of the week and it is out of his system 12 hours before the game starts, he’s fine as far as the rules of the RL are concerned. Hardaker failed a test taken after a match and this is the bit that beggars belief, because he must have taken the stuff in the build up to the game.

However, although the rules state that as long as it’s out of your system 12 hours before a game, cocaine isn’t banned, it is, of course, still illegal as far as the law of the land is concerned. A player caught taking it, say on the days after the match, could be arrested, as he could, should it be found in his bloodstream whilst he is driving. He could also be disciplined by his club, too, if he were pictured or seen taking it, for they have as I say, a duty of care towards the more impressionable of their supporters. However, a player wouldn’t be banned by the national anti-doping authorities if, say, he took a test for steroids and other totally banned substances at training on a Tuesday and none were found, but Coke was detected in his system, because that would be ‘out of competition’. In fact, its detection wouldn’t even be flagged up by the authority.

It’s common-knowledge cocaine passes through the system quickly (for reasons of self-preservation I think I should add here ‘apparently’). Even the Government funded drugs advice website states a urine test will only stay positive between 12 hours and three days. The only risk a player has is if he is tested ‘in competition’ on game day and cocaine is traced. I should add here that my investigations indicate that with ‘chronic and abundant’ cocaine consumers, the detection window can however be wider because it is absorbed in to their system big style and the more they take, the more likely they are to be caught with a residue in their sample a couple of days after they took it.

I’m sorry that’s a bit complex and repetitive, but I investigated it all in some detail, because I wanted to get to the bottom of this issue. If nothing else, the information I have gleaned as you can see, certainly makes cases like this even more frustrating and baffling. If Messr’s Hardaker, Walker and Chase wish to wreck their own lives and careers by abusing their bodies in such a way that’s their choice, but the naive (or arrogant) nature of their error of judgement as to when they did it, is quite frankly staggering. Why would a player risk taking cocaine so close to the build-up to a game? This is Hardaker’s career on the line and for all this to break just 4 days after he was short-listed for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel Award after a season that was described in the presentation speech, as a ‘stellar campaign’. He had travelled right to Old Trafford and was then set to take off this week to play for England, so quite frankly it simply beggars belief really. Daft lad or what?

I’m sure you join me in hoping that at this juncture that Zak is getting all the support he needs, for the lad needs a bit of guidance, he’s young, he’s daft and let’s hope one day he’ll learn from all this and become a better person. What more, I think we can all can take it as a given when he said that he didn’t take it to enhance his performance, if he really wanted to do that, I’m sure he’s aware, there are much better ways of doing it! No, it was taken for recreational reasons but ridiculously close to a game and that’s the flaw in his make-up that he needs to address.

Coke and its use has never appealed to me, but I’ve seen the residue of such misdemeanors plenty of times in dressing rooms when I was City Hall Manager and since then I’ve seen it on toilet floors and once in a wash basin. It can only be performance enhancing in sport in the very short term, but that’s not why players, take it. For what it’s worth, I don’t think Rugby League has a ‘big’ drugs problem simply because I think the problem is bigger than that and one that runs throughout society. ‘White line fever’ is no longer a rich man’s pass time either and these days it impacts and effects all classes of the population, in fact its everywhere.

I’ve never taken it and I never will, but we probably all know people who do, because that’s how widespread it is. I expect other players will be indulging from time to time, as will no doubt plumbers, gardeners, shop assistants and even policemen, simply because in society it’s omnipresent, it’s endemic in the community and it’s all over the place. But, players know the rules, so quite frankly I’m staggered that so many (three this season) still choose to risk breaking them. However, I don’t think it will be the last time we see it raising its ugly head in our game either do you? Good Luck Mr. Hardaker I think when the powers that be get hold of you, you might just need it!

Well it looks like that in a few year’s time you ‘globe-trotting’ FC fans that are off to Australia, will be doing more long distance continent hopping, as Super League spreads its wings to North America. Already Toronto are on the rise and were promoted from League One this year after a season that saw them lose just one league game and they have already made a number of big name signings including Warrington pair Joe Westernan and Ashton Simms, ahead of their push to claim a place in Super League. The mastermind behind this mind boggling development is Erek Perez who said this week that this was never just a one club project. Here’s what he had to say in a long quote that is none the less worthy of a read.

“When we started this journey, we knew that one team is not enough to yield what you need to yield from the market. To bring revenues, to really start bringing new money into the sport you’ve got to have multi-markets. Now that Toronto is up and running and in a very good place – definitely the strongest team commercially outside of Super League – it’s time to fulfil that destiny and get the next teams set up. I’ve decided to partner up with other professional sports teams that own their markets, so they already have the infrastructure and the expertise set up which will make it easier. Toronto was the first of its kind and so a test project. There were a lot of mistakes made and a lot of lessons learned. By partnering with these other professional teams I think we will find an easier road to success and the new clubs would be happy to come into the Rugby League structure at whatever level the game choses. Everyone knows the format might be changing, so that remains to be seen. But we’re looking at 2019 and 2020 kick offs for these new clubs. If we do start in League 1 then that’s fair, but if we start higher, then that’s because the format has changed. Wherever we start we’ll work our way to the Super League. Three North American clubs are not the limit of our ambitions. We are looking to make Super League the most commercially viable competition, apart from the Premiership, that plays in the northern hemisphere. To do that you need to have more North American markets, at least five or six clubs in the next 10 years.”

“We’ll see” I hear you all say but It’s a development that is interesting, mould breaking, pretty adventurous and pretty scary too.

This week in Codgers Corner it’s another by request game as Billy Hodgson of Beverley got talking about relegation this week as we all felt for the fans of Leigh and what it would have been like for us all had we been in their predicament. We got talking about visits to Leigh’s old Hilton Park and he asked me to feature again a game he well remembers from the golden era of those fabulous ‘Bunting Years’. So, this week in the nostalgia spot we’re back in September 1980 in a season when we were trying to get over, as fans, the heartbreak of Wembley, the previous May. The Division One campaign began in earnest with a 21-17 defeat at Headingley in a great game against Leeds and the following week we beat Barrow at home to set the stage for an away trip to Leigh, and a difficult looking game against a strong Lancastrian team that had yet to register a win in the competition.

As I have said before in here, what I remember most of those trips to darkest Lancashire was just how dour a place Leigh was. We arrived as always in good time and descended from the coach in a strange misty, drizzly half-light that always seemed to envelop that area of the country in Autumn back then. Bill Bentley the Landlord of the Blue Bell (the pub that we always used) had put on a great spread as we accessed the premises by the back door at around 11-30. All the curtains were drawn because it was still half an hour before opening time but we were soon tucking into some great cheese and pickle sandwiches and ‘the best Savaloys in Lancashire’ (according to Bill wife Celestine anyway) all washed down with a pint or six of Thwaites Best Bitter. At 12-00 noon sharp the curtains were thrown back and the front doors opened, as in walked the regulars to find copious amounts of empty plates and us lot, bedecked in black and white, devouring the last vestiges of Bills buffet and grinning over the top of our half empty pint pots. Their humiliation was not over yet either as I remember that day we had some fun taunting the home supporters with talk of us being about to make a bid for John Woods their charismatic and much coveted half back.

From the grimy window, through the now driving rain, you could see the stark outline of a pit head looming out of a misty sky and just across the road, the Hilton Park ground itself which looked a cold and inhospitable place, with just three cars on the car park and a couple of yellow jacketed stewards huddled in the doorway of a turnstile trying to keep dry. However thankfully by the game kicked off it had stopped raining and a watery sun was shining through some rather threatening clouds. We stood on the open end terrace, separated from the pitch by a low concrete wall, whilst the brash and loud home support in the Tommy Sale Stand to our left harangued us about our defeat at Wembley and being the ‘Money bags’ team of the competition. A ritual we were used to as it happened everywhere we went back then.

It was certainly a dour place. At one end the place was dominated by the edifice of that Parsonage Pit and the Victoria Mill which both appeared to be still existing in their original Victorian state. I remember thinking that perhaps the sunshine really did not suit a vista that was always referred to on the TV by Eddie Waring, as the ’Dark Satanic Mills’ end of the ground.

The crowd of 4,500 packed into the little stadium made for a great atmosphere and as we kicked off Leigh hit us with some dazzling rugby as uncharacteristically we gave them far too much room to play. Each time we tried to set up any pressure on the Leigh defence we were pushed back by some great field kicking from both Alan Fairhurst and Tom Gittens. In fact, we had two narrow escapes in the first four minutes before a towering kick from Woods caught in the wind went straight up in the air, fell into a melee of players and bounced backwards off someone’s head straight into the open arms of Gittens who cantered in under the posts for Fairhurst to goal. This shook us into action but sadly of the wrong type with first Walters and then Dennison guilty of high tackles on Leigh players and with Fairhurst landing both penalty’s we found ourselves 9-0 down after just 16 minutes. In all that time we had not even been over the opposition’s twenty-five yard line.

Then in the 25th minute disaster struck again, as a raking downfield kick from Gittens found touch, Leigh won the scrum against the head and Woods somehow smuggled the ball out of the tackle near half way and released Bilsbury who shot away on a dazzling 40 yard run to the line and with Fairhurst’s goal we were 14-0 down and already staring defeat in the face.

A lecture from Norton and Birdsall behind the posts saw us come back to the half way line with some determination in our stride and as our defence closed ranks, our attack started to fire. Norton was the instigator having a hand in two great attacking ‘sets’ in the next three minutes. On 28 minutes ‘Knocker’ sent Dennison away for our stand-off to swerve around Donlan, before passing onto Wilby. The rangy three quarter ran on through the centre channel before putting ‘Taffy’ Prendiville in, as he squeezed between two defenders in the corner. In that last ten minutes before half time Leigh began to wobble, as Skerrett, Stone and Birdsall ripped into the home side’s forwards and they in turn started to show signs of fatigue. Just before the whistle went, Charlie Birdsall crashed in for Lloyd to goal and at half time we trailed by 6, although it was obvious as we queued for a cup of Bovril that the last twenty minutes of play had left us visiting supporters a lot happier than the home crowd.

The second half started much as the first finished with Hull pressing and Leigh desperately trying to cover up. Then after seven minutes Norton again broke brilliantly from a three man tackle on the left, he fed onto Wilby who ran straight at Hogan, drew him and then released Prendiville for the Welsh flyer to cruise in at the corner for his second try. To chants of ‘Super Taff Super Taff’, Lloyd landed a brilliant touchline goal and as the rain started to fall again we were just one point behind. Next Pickerill broke from a play the ball and a neat reverse pass sent Skerrett charging in under the posts and another Lloyd goal put us 18-l5 in the lead. The rain was now lashing down but our rampage continued as Robinson joined the line from full-back and Wilby shot down field to touch down, a score that completed a man of the match performance from the Hull centre.

At 23-15 we looked to have it won but in the last ten minutes Leigh found there second wind and bombarded our line, as the old failings crept back into our game and we needlessly conceded an incredible 6 penalties in the last 9 minutes. It was ‘backs to the wall’ stuff until with 6 minutes to go Gittens broke through again and Fairhurst scored. At 23-20 we were struggling to hold out but Hulls pack led by Norton just withstood the home team’s final fling. Prendiville finally relieved the pressure by intercepting a speculative pass on our ten-yard line and kicking ahead he was just beaten to his hat trick in the last action of the game, when Dave Bullough the Leigh winger just managed to kick the ball dead.

Mr McDonald blew for time and the hands of all the Hull players shot in the air, as the FC Army clambered over that concrete wall and onto the pitch to celebrate in the rain with the players. It was a great victory in which everyone played a part, but when you look back you realise that it was, in the end, almost totally dominated by the man that ran everything on the day the great Knocker Norton. What a privilege it is for all of us who are old enough to have seen him play in the irregular hoops of our great club.

As for John Woods, well he had a fantastic game and right on cue that Wednesday it was announced that we had offered the little Lancashire club £100,000 for their ‘talismatic’ number 6, but despite us being the ‘Big time, big spenders’ of the competition back then, they turned us down, and so, unbeknown to us supporters, our Board of Directors started to turn our attention to another great number 6 plying his trade at Wakefield, but that as they say is another story.

Now I get so many e mails and texts etc. every week, most on rugby some on other subjects, but one of the most bizarre I ever received came this week and I share the content with you because it had me in stitches when I read it. The correspondence was from a regular reader who I have got to know over the years who is around my age and although by no means a ‘Desperado’, he’s single and recently decided to have a bash on a few of those dating sites. He wrote a detailed profile which included his age, birthday, love of all things Rugby League and Hull FC in particular and in fairness got some very positive replies although one he showed me took some beating.

After reading his profile a seventy-year- old lady from Skegness wrote: “We must be ideally suited because Libras and Capricorn’s always are. I love to go down to the beach all weathers at dawn with my metal detector then home for a glass of wine and to listen to a bit of Beethoven. Can you push a wheelchair on sand? Hope we can meet soon ….” Well it made me laugh anyway!

Thanks to all your support, the book continues to sell well and can now be obtained in Beverley, where the Landlord of the Dog and Duck pub in Ladygate Mark, is helping Danny’s appeal by selling it over the bar. He’s a top bloke and big thanks to him for his support. On the Testimonial front the Xmas factor tickets are going fast and its looking like by the Diary is back it could well be a sell-out. Danny is away getting married, but before he left he asked me to thank everyone who is rallying around to make it such a memorable year for him.

So there we are, not much to report this week as the players are away and the Club concentrates on launching the home shirt and selling season tickets. I’m getting my passes this week as usual and it appears that the response has been good, but of course, there is still a long way to go. Rather like young Mr Milouka, our rather wayward signing from France, I’m looking forward to putting my feet up for the next three weeks. Talking of him he’s seems to be a bit of a liability to me! Can you imagine the explanation, “I missed the bus to Barcelona and the chance to play in the World Cup, it’s enough to make you spit!!” Knowing our Coach, I can’t see him being around long really can you?

It was great once again to hear this week from Brian in Spain, Sue and Mike in Crete, Lorraine Smith in Anlaby, Tommy Ball in Florida, Sammy in Houston, Sammo, and Harry March in Portugal and thanks for all your comments and ideas over the years. The texts and E Mail’s have been frantic of late so apologies to anyone I didn’t get back to.

I’m now going to give the Diary a break (as I usually do) for three weeks, so that I can recharge my batteries and give you all a break as well. I should however give a massive thank you to Joe Bennett for all his support in posting this diatribe every week for the last 12 months and I know he joins me in saying that your support of this rubbish over another great Hull FC year is greatly appreciated. I shared some of its greatest moments of 2017 with Joe and he really does support me and the Diary massively. In addition, thanks for your encouragement, your comments and your correspondence; please keep all that coming.

The Diary will be back on Monday 13th November when we’ll go through the festive season and on to the new campaign and whatever that will bring with new players, new challenges and new hopes!

In the meantime, thanks again, look at the picture below and …

Keep Believing

Faithfully Yours