The Dentist’s Diary – 567th

“It might be a friendly but there’s no such thing as friendlies when Hull FC and Hull KR play each other”.

So said Jordan Abdull before the game and hundreds of stay away FC fans wouldn’t argue with that one! Can you see their point? Well perhaps you can, I guess!

It’s never easy with these games but with interest in this now regular pre-season hit up apparently at an all-time low and indeed in 2016 gates at Derby’s in general down as well, there is little doubt that such a friendly game for many is a match too far. Still it was an OK contest and an entertaining game with a great scrap near the end thrown in for good measure! Lee Radford, who was well pleased afterwards, has to decide what is most beneficial to the team’s development at any given time, for he has to ensure we get our best prepared, fittest and most experienced team out on the field for the Huddersfield game. For him, I’m sure, everything else, including a bitter local rivalry is at such times, pretty academic.

On the subject of the gate as well, one of my pals was accosted by Rovers fans before-hand who commented about the attendance and the reticence of some FC fans, “Your fans can’t care much about Danny Houghton” to which she replied, “Excuse me, look at all the shirts we’ve bought and the books and the calendars and the dinners and shows we’ve packed out; we’ll do right by Danny Houghton!” and of course she was absolutely right, as our popular number 9 heads for a record Testimonial!

Fact is I guess it was always going to be a poor turn out, no one likes to sit there with that lot at one end, chanting ‘Your Sh*t, Your Sh*t’ every-time they take the lead and cheering every potential FC injury, unless that is, we play Rovers with our best available team.

In the cold grey days of last week, as I anticipated the coming Derby, I didn’t relish it much at all. I worried about the difference between the two line ups and what the outcome was last year. I will therefore start by saying that you know I’m a big supporter of Danny Houghton, a great admirer of Adam and the current administration and a massive fan who appreciates what all those parties have done for us over the last few seasons. However, I also defend my right to say it as I see it and I’m pleased that it was perhaps the best possible game for our hooker’s big moment and so I went along solely to him. However, for me we brought what was still a bit of a poor gate on ourselves and the club will no doubt be learning the hard way that for many in the legions of dedicated FC fanatics there is simply no such thing as a ‘Friendly’ in such circumstances.

For hundreds of supporters, when it comes to pre-season games, we either play Rovers with our best possible team at a time that we can field our best players, or play someone else. At such times no one gives a flying fig if we lose to Catalan or Wakey or even Leeds, but as Abbo said, for many these things are serious stuff!

I got it right in the neck in the pub afterwards from a load of Dobbins fans who you’d have thought had won the bloody Cup Final!! That wasn’t pleasant, but I’m a big lad, however it does animate exactly the situation with these matches. All that said and bearing in mind what I said last week about so called ‘Friendly’ games, although I just went along to support Danny (and I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised at the performance we produced and the closeness of the match), had I not been there for Danny, I honestly doubt I would have gone at all!

As for the game well what exactly did we learn? Well let me say from the off that with the side we had out we certainly did a lot better than we did in the same fixture last year and those of us who sat there absolutely nithered, were rewarded with some fine performances. However, on the weather front, first of all let me say it wasn’t cold, it was bloody perishing and well done to everyone who went!

As for the lessons from the match well we certainly learned that Jake Connor is an absolutely prodigious talent who will dazzle this season, that, providing he can curb his impetuosity off the field, Miloudi will be a great acquisition, that Griffin is going to give it a good go this season and looks ten times better than he did last year at this time, that Jack Sanderson is probably the fasted man on our books, that Dean Hadley won’t be far off starting this season and that slimmer of the year Jordan Abdull will be pushing for a place, having returned from East Hulls equivalent of Rampton, a much better player.

Danny Houghton the ‘Hair’ apparent to the FC Captaincy?

For those who didn’t go can I firstly just say that one piece of brilliance by my Man of the Match Jake Connor when he rose about three Rovers players caught the ball from a big up and under in one hand (yes honestly in one hand) and then fell through the tacklers and put it down over the try line, still holding it in one hand, was an amazing moment. You won’t see a better piece of individual skill this season. That and some quite amazing goal line defence under pressure where my highlights.

Connor scored two and made two and his first half try was a peach as well, as he broke the line, ghosted through a gap with a brilliant step and then stepped the full back to score unhindered in front of the baying half-wits. Jake is going to be massive this year and to crown a great performance in both the centre and at half back he also produced a booming 60 yard 40/20.

Mosoe Masua won the biggest lump of lard on the field award but in fairness he was pushed for the title by Justin Carney!!

Slimmer of the Year Jordan Abdull’s, got a lot to offer too. Trailing 12-0 in the first half he spotted the Rovers defence short on their right and produced what was a perfect cross field kick straight into Griffins hands over the line, as the centre scored with ease. As for Miloudi well he’s a real handful and although still very green (on a couple of occasions he let kicks bounce rather than fielding them) he’s a feisty little man and a real handful with ball in hand too. At training he apparently needs an interpreter at times as he is so competitive, but he looks like he has certainly got something.

Up front lacking players like Bowden, Green, Paea, Minichiello, Watts, Manu and Taylor we were always going to struggle early on as Rovers fielded a very strong pack. However, well done to both Matongo and Fash who tore into the Robins and matched their front row perfectly, often making ten and fifteen yards a drive out of our own half. Whilst he was on Houghton had a great game, as did Danny Washbrook who was always on hand in defence and attack to help out, make yards and pull-off some great tackles.

Despite a ‘topsy turvy’ look to the side as players came on and went off, it was hard to fault anyone on the Hull side and both Hadley and Abdull really looked like new players while another in the same category Jack Logan, shone in several positions. His versatility was really evident as well, he seemed to be playing everywhere and after months and months out injured he did well at left centre, right centre, left wing and right wing. Hadley’s so strong and adaptable and when we lost Litten (who looked really sharp out of acting half) and Danny, he took over at acting half back for most of the second half. However, a year on from the start of his season long loan at Wakey, he certainly looks a lot more ‘street wise’ in the positional sense too.

Sneyd had a good game and did his best to get an often disjointed line moving, but as is always the case in a team full of youngsters, every time we scored a try, it seemed to go to their heads and we soon conceded at the other end. But they’ll learn about that and I bet Lee Radford was a lot happier than the Rovers Coach, because although the Dobbins won, when you looked at the two teams there was no way the game should have been that close for so long.

So for me it was all a lot better than I expected and as a hit up for a team the likes of which we usually field at Donny in Pre-Season, it was a good showing with loads of positives. The main thing was of course we came out without any injuries and that’s a massive thumbs up for our conditioning staff. It will certainly be interesting to see who gets a game next week against Catalan won’t it! So all in all it was not a bad afternoon, idiot Rovers fans apart of course!!

It appears that we might be about to see the advantage of duel registration working both ways after great prospect and young starlet Liam Harris was named in the team to play Rovers as perhaps a cunning plan to lure a great prospect away from Hull KR, without them knowing what was happening, started to unfold. Harris, who played as a Doncaster Player on duel registration, was offered a new deal with Rovers and they really wanted to keep a player that had already impressed the Rovers fans before he inexplicably signed for a team two divisions down the ladder in South Yorkshire. It is widely speculated on social media that it was a planned move with a long end game engineered by Radford and particularly Hull FC Assistant Coach Richard Horne, who Harris is very friendly with. It remains to be seen how that one unfolds!

So, what else has been happening this week, well it came as no surprise I guess, when last week it was reported that both Warrington and Hull had abandoned their reserve teams ahead of the new season. With no organised reserve system in place, a handful of Super League clubs including us, had operated with reserve teams off their own backs, playing nothing more than glorified friendly games. With the latest withdrawals it just leaves Wigan, St Helens, Wakefield, Keighley, Leigh and Halifax in running second strings to bridge the gap between the first team and under 19s set ups.

It’s hardly surprising really that we have given up on the scheme, but how I personally long for the old days when Hull A was a regular fixture in this fans diary. However, there were just 21 reserves games in 2017, with countless fixtures abandoned rearranged and abandoned again. The players we had kicking their heels waiting for either injuries to first teamers, or the next Reserves game, could instead I suppose have been out on month long loans or playing for Doncaster our duel registration partners.

There have long been calls from me and hundreds of other fans for the return of a compulsory reserves set up, which was effectively done away with several years ago by the abolition of the Under 23s competition in favour of the dual-registration scheme. This is of course just another indication of the lack of players that there are now participating in the game compared with say twenty-five years ago when most teams including those in the lower divisions managed to run A teams. Now alas they are reduced to actually borrowing first team players from the bigger clubs. It’s a shame I know but it’s an expensive exercise to run a Reserves team and I guess it’s the only option we as a Club have at present.

The joint Statement from the new Board of Super League and the RL on Friday about the state of the game told us nothing that we didn’t already know really, in that Super League clubs are now applying the blowtorch, they want change, the RL is panicking somewhat and in response they have commissioned a review!!!!!! The pressure is on and perhaps now is a good time to look at the whole current situation with the question…….

RL in Great Britain today; is it about to be ‘Mutiny Mr Christian????’

Indeed, perhaps its worth trying to make some sense of what exactly is happening in our game, what is likely or indeed about to unfold and where it leaves us lot out there on the terraces, supporting the sport we all love. The thought of, “What the hell is going on”, is something I’m sure has crossed all your minds of late and so, for what it’s worth, here goes!!

I think we could well be on the cusp of a massive change in both the structure and hierarchy of our game with a veritable revolution, that will change the face of the British game forever; forever and hopefully for the better. With, resignations at the top, the bigger Clubs squeezing them from one side and a potential Players Union approaching from the other, Redhall is under pressure and has therefore called for this review, no doubt to buys some time as the Super League Clubs flex their muscles. You can’t beat a good ‘Review’ in the short term to quell the revolutionaries can you?

The new panacea for Rugby League in this country that is starting to leak out, has to do the trick, because after so many false dawns, the game is still in financial decline as the clubs across the sport show a worrying regression and we might just, this time around, be in the last chance saloon. That’s not shroud waiving by me, but rather a question of facing the facts as Clubs who in the past have resisted revolution have begrudgingly now got on board, (simply because they are suffering as well) and a wind of change is blowing through the British game; one thing is for certain however, Redhall will no longer have its own way.

There has been ‘sabre rattling’ going on all week and, just as I went to print with the last Diary a surprise article appeared in the Guardian that emphasised my concerns when our own Adam Pearson became, if you like, an impromptu spokesman for the senior clubs in our sport. ‘Sir Adam’ said that clubs are set to approve some major changes to the structure in the coming months, which will transform the sport’s mainstream profile in this country and, he said, “Allow it to compete properly with Rugby Union”.

Our owner certainly picked on the game that he once played in the West Riding for a reason and said at one point, “The athletes in our sport are just as good as in Union and someone will eventually catch on that inflated wages going into tight head props that can play 30 minutes in the other code can be spent just as well in Rugby League. Someone will wise up to it, I’m sure.” Strong stuff indeed, but who reading this wouldn’t agree so far?

The article re-iterated the fact that that the 12 Super League clubs recently ratified changes to the competition’s board which led to the Rugby Football League’s chief executive, Nigel Wood, resigning as a director and added that the 12 CEOs had been instead appointed as directors of Super League to allow them to dictate the competition’s direction (code I think for deciding where the TV money is spent) and no doubt its future format.

Pearson, talking exclusively to the Guardian, believed, he said, that extra power for the clubs will enable the sport to move forward. He commented: “I think you’ll find that over the next three months there will be some significant changes to the game in this country. We’re no longer prepared to be accepted as a poor relation; we’re fed up of being downtrodden as a code just because we’re on the M62 compared to the M5. We need to start getting some due recognition and you’ll see some major changes in the coming months. I think there’s a collective feeling in the sport that over the next six months, with the way we’re going, we can become a real threat to Rugby Union in this country.”

I’m told from insiders that massive changes are in the pipe line and only this week the Clubs had a ‘behind closed doors’ meeting with the Toronto owner. Perhaps an interesting clue as to what this all means, is to be found in the fact that those senior Clubs actually invited the Canadians and Toulouse to play at the Magic Weekend in Newcastle on May 19 and 20. That decision has certainly put a lot of other Championship clubs’ noses out of joint, but I think that the new Super League Board have designs on these expansion franchises as the means of leveraging new markets, new media openings and the massive pots of cash they can generate.

I think the RL is running scared and if the Clubs really are taking over, then after the balls up the RFL have made of everything for years, it’s perhaps a good thing. If I had to choose between Adam Pearson and Nigel Wood to take the sport I love forward, I know who I’d be more positive about!

For now, we are only getting the preliminary posturing’s, however and some will cry ‘Self Interest’ towards the owners of the Super League Clubs but why not let them have a go? It’s their money and if they lose it all then it’s their problem, however if they are successful so is the game and that benefits not just them but all of us.

For years and years fans and the senior Clubs alike have cast a longing look across the equator to the NRL, to the way that the game is run down under and the money that they generate for players and owners alike. The important thing to understand from an Australian perspective is that at present Super League’s relationship to the RFL is not like the NRL’s relationship with the Australian Rugby League Commission. Far from it in fact.

Here in Super League we still have promotion and relegation. The teams in Super League can change. So the clubs outside the top competition have far more say in what happens than they do in Australia, where the NRL clubs hold almost complete sway. However, things have already started to change here and it now appears that the Super League Clubs actually had a whip around to provide Leigh with a parachute payment at the end of last season and did it from their own funds and against the wishes of the administration of the game.

On your Bike big Nige!!! (to another big salary!)

The portents of change are, it would seem, everywhere at present. Just three days after Wood’s departure, the RFL’s brightest young light, (and ex- Warrington Chief Executive) their commercial chief and Super League executive director Roger Draper, also walked. I think the top Clubs originally saw his appointment into the RL as a really good move as he knew first-hand what issues the big Clubs had. However, he quickly became embroiled in the culture of Redhall. He suddenly became a massive advocate of a twelve team Super League, the Middle eights play-offs, the Million Pound game and promotion and relegation. Could we therefore, with his sudden resignation, be getting a clue as to what is planned by the new Board? Have the Super League owners given up on the RL? Did we in fact on Tuesday, get a hint of what’s happening when Derek Beaumont the Leigh owner let slip (in a quickly withdrawn tweet) that SL will be expanded to 14 clubs in 2019!

Furthermore, last Monday the Batley owner Kevin Nicholas said he had seen correspondence which hinted at a power play by the Super League clubs. He said, “I was able to see a letter from October 7 that (Wigan owner) Ian Lenagan sent to all Super League clubs, some of it expressing reasonable criticism of the RFL, making it clear that Super League should be making all the decisions on where all the (TV) money goes, and should have complete control – not the independent RFL board,” So I ask myself, if the Super League Clubs are to take over control of all the TV money, is a breakaway between full time and part time clubs in the offing, or at least on the horizon?

That would be a massive schism that would cut right through the heart of the British game and might be too rash a way forward to contemplate, perhaps even for the so called ‘Influential’ owners in the game. Still something is a foot but there are presently more questions than answers. However, it seems we are in the process of being drip fed information that could well be the harbinger of big changes that perhaps indicate a massive renaissance of the whole game.

What do I think about it all, well I’m a traditionalist, you all know that, but I have to say to the bloke who went on one message board this week advocating we all wore T shirts with ‘Cumbrian not Canada’ that if we did look to former heartlands like that to establish a new Super league Club, the money would be coming from within the current game and there is no new money and precious little appetite for that sort of thing. In any case we are not putting any money into Canada at all, because the way things are they are actually providing it all. The difference with Toronto (and New York) is just the vast amounts of money, TV rights, coverage and exposure their involvement brings and it’s just that; money and profile coming into the game. It’s not the same old dosh going around and being spent on what could, in say Cumbria, still be a lost cause. Let’s let someone else take the risk, seems to be the motivation here!

I use the ‘Cumbria not Canada’ guy as an example because it is regularly raised by some Diary readers and yes the RL supporters up there in the far North West shouldn’t be ignored. But I guess the question that is being asked is what will bring more profile and exposure to the game, an independently funded franchise or two in North America or another Super League Club in Cumbria where the present Clubs would, quite rightly in their eyes, resist one of the other two being elevated or an amalgamation anyway?

Those who have been reading this know how much I care about the smaller Clubs, but with most Super League outfit very coy about what appear to be poor season tickets sales for 2018, a complete dearth of available players for clubs to sign, the virtual collapse of reserve rugby, the exodus of the best young players to Australia gaining momentum and youth rugby league in turmoil, I really do fear for a game that just can’t continue in its present state.

If the sport is in big trouble then why not put the people with the money, (who know what they are doing with that money, and who therefore have the most to lose if it goes mummeries skyward) in more of a controlling and steering role? Let’s face it we have had too many journeymen administrators, parachuted in from other sports, (who don’t know the game or its fans), put in charge of late.

Who replaces Wood is critical and we don’t need someone from the old guard or the old school blazer brigade to continue down the same road, we need instead, a chance for a new face and leader to take rugby league forward. We certainly don’t want another internal appointment like Ralph Rimmer or indeed serial power grabber Garry Etherington either. Many within the sport are hoping now is the opportunity for change, for fresh leadership and innovation. It’s time for someone not only with charisma who is media-savvy, brave and experienced, but a person who will make the administration more transparent and engage better with its key stakeholders. If that doesn’t happen I can see a break away by Super League from the RFL on the cards myself!

We need to grow the sport and do it as soon as possible, otherwise we will fall so far behind the NRL in our game and RU in this country, that we will end up being seen even more as an ‘also ran’ sport here and by those down-under as a competition that is by definition inferior to the Queensland Cup! We need something to happen in the British RL game and quickly and at least now we seem to be seeing some action!

The game just won’t survive if it doesn’t raise its profile and generate more TV and sponsorship income. As one fan said to ‘old stick in the muds’ like me on a message Board this week, “To move forward fans are going to have to accept change because we’ve lagged so far behind in the last 30-40 years in pushing the sport into other areas nationally and internationally, we are playing catch up, big style”.

Look at Youth development as one area where we are failing through lack of resources. Take what’s happening under our noses at the two pro Clubs in Hull, there they have effectively reduced by half the number of young players we can develop by amalgamating the Academies. Why? Because neither Club could afford to maintain their own. They both told us there wasn’t the talent out there anyway, but in essence the problem was that we can’t put enough money into finding and developing it.

Kids appear to want to play rugby. How do I know that, well just go down to Beverley RU on a Sunday morning to see it! Rugby Union is growing massively locally at youth level, whilst across the region RL’s Amateur clubs are struggling for junior numbers. If the game continues to decline, then more of the few really quality young players that we do produce will either end up in the NRL or be poached by the RU.

When the Aussies massively raised their salary cap we were told that although our top players might end up there we could rely on the supply of quality young talent that is coming through the ranks, but where is it? If we do uncover a really gifted young player at 18 does he sign for a British Club for say £15,000 or £20,000 a year or try his hand in Australia where the starting salary is up around £70,000? The game is, because of a lack of investment at grass roots and a deficiency of new money coming into it, slowly withering away year by year and if the SL club owners think they can do something to address that, then for me it’s worth a shot.

Let’s face it the RL has proved they’re incapable of turning things around but hopefully with Woods gone and if the RFL start listening to the right marketing experts and club owners, we can get this product back to a more acceptable level of national interest. Let’s face it we came within a whisker of winning the World Cup last year and yet 90% of people in this country were oblivious to the fact!

I love the game and I’m always a massive champion of the likes of Rochdale, Batley, Oldham and Swinton and I always will be. Somehow they have to be looked after and still allowed to dream, but we have to be realistic and perhaps really radical now or the game will just die. Over the years the RL has failed to address the issues. Someone in a high position in the national game E Mailed me back in October and said, “How can the game let a team like Bradford Bulls, that has a potential and proven attendance of around 10,000, sink down the divisions, not by bad play, but through abject bad management and a succession of poor owners. Intervention should have been forthcoming, and guidance and vetting instigated to ensure the Club stayed on the rails and in the hands of the right people, but it wasn’t and thousands of potential RL fans have now found something else to do on a weekend and could well be lost to the game forever”. That’s an example that is indicative of the malaise of the game at present and the ineptitude of the RL.

This has been all a bit long winded I know, but I hope at least it gives food for thought and a basis for debate. I love the lower divisions and believe strongly in a means of everyone having the ability to succeed and progress, but whether that approach and the evolving parochialism it engenders is ever going to place the best game in the world in the position it deserves in this country, is I’m afraid, very doubtful. I believe that if Adam Pearson was right in that article last weekend, then this is about to become the biggest debate the game has seen for years. It’s exciting and even scary, but it might just work, whilst on the other hand there could be casualties and a few bloody noses even if it does.

Well whilst I’m on expansion, last week I raised the issue regarding the Toronto teams broadcast rights and the fact that the Championship Clubs didn’t like it and, as I expected, the whole thing rumbled on again this week. It was the RL who broke the silenced first when an E mail to all Championship Clubs which was leaked and indicated that they have been told they must allow Premier Sports to broadcast their home games against Toronto – and that they won’t be in any way financially rewarded.

The email, reads: “At the time of entering the league structure, and with the objective of increasing interest in the competitions, it was agreed that Toronto be granted the non-exclusive right to broadcast live any Toronto Wolfpack game. Sky Sports, who recognise that their circumstances are unique, also agreed that, should the Wolfpack be promoted to the Championship, they would support this continued transmission (home and away, not including games played at Summer Bash, the Qualifiers and Magic Weekend). Further to this, the Toronto Wolfpack have made arrangements at their own cost with Premier Sports to produce and transmit those matches played in the UK”. It certainly looks to me as if the RL, the Super League Clubs and a lot of other folks are hell bent on getting Toronto into the game and keeping them at the top end of it. Is it because of the profile and kudos it will bring to the game or the literally millions that there are forthcoming from bring Clubs in from Canada and the USA. I’ll leave you to decide on that one but even an old traditionalist like me recognises that we simply have to do something!

In Codgers Corner this week I want to look at games played in wintry conditions and in that context my mind immediately went back to the mid 1990’s for a match when the attendance at the Boulevard was just 3,460. It was during the 94/95 season when times were tough and every season was developing into a battle against the drop to Division 2. The game in question was against Wakefield Trinity on Sunday 19th March 1995. It was a cold, dank day at our spiritual home and it turned out to be an even more bleak and dire struggle against a Wakefield outfit that arrived at the Boulevard fancying their chances a bit.

It was in fact way back in the previous year on 13th November when we had witnessed our last home victory and they were tough times indeed. I watched this game from the terracing at the Airlie Street end of the ground and feared the worst from the off. We were touted by all the RL pundits as favourites for the drop and the meagre crowd reflected that even the staunchest of the ‘Faithful’ had run out of patience.

Still we started brightly that day with Tevita Vaikona charging towards the Wakey line only to throw out a pass straight to the visitor’s winger as the chance went begging. It was the first error in a game that featured 34 in total with the mistakes shared evenly between the two teams. So skill wise it was poor fare indeed. In the 11th minute over at the other side of the pitch Leroy McKenzie raced in, but as we celebrated he was brought back by the referee for stepping into touch and straight from the ensuing scrum the play flowed down the other end and Childs the Wakey winger got over, only to be denied by a forward pass.

Hull’s play around the rucks and the play the ball was shocking and soon frustration at the number of mistakes both teams were making boiled over and Hull’s Richard Gay and Wakey’s Ian Gildart were sent to the sin bin for constant holding down in the tackle. However, a foul on Leroy McKenzie offered us the chance of putting the first points on the board and McNamara obliged with a fine kick, to give us a 2-0 advantage. ‘Macca’ was playing prop that day and he and Tim Street, who had just become a proud father two days earlier, really went at the Wakey forwards and on the back of that pressure, Busby was held just short before Mike Dixon produced a peach of a pass to put Gary Nolan in for what was an excellent try. Macca converted and we led 8-0.

In those days, there was no way that you could settle on the terraces with an 8 point lead and as we turned our backs to shield ourselves from the driving snow and hail that lashed the Airlie Street end for the final two minutes of the half, Wakey pressed hard. However, we wrestled back the advantage and a break down-field by Street enabled the rest of the Hull forwards to work a position from which Johan Windley popped over a drop goal to make it 9-0 at the halfway mark. The half-time break saw the snow abating and as the teams reappeared the sun started to shine, while it was also noticeable that the strong wind that had been at the backs of Trinity in the first half had dropped considerably.

Steve McNamara was certainly quite extraordinary that day

Wakefield started the second period at a hectic pace and only resolute defence kept the opposition at bay before the pressure got to Nolan who stole the ball from Nigel Wright, and Wright himself converted the penalty to get Wakefield’s first points of the game. We continued to battle on and Busby was unlucky when he touched down only for Tim Street’s pass, smuggled out of a tackle, to be deemed forward. Tim, as anyone who saw him play will testify, was never very impressed with those sort of decisions against him and in the very next hit up he ‘measured’ Aaron Whittaker’s collar with a stiff arm and was despatched to the sin-bin for 10 minutes to cool off. This signalled a rally from the visitors who started to stretch our short-handed defence first at one side and then at the other.

Although the mistakes continued to come thick and fast, Wakefield at last scored a try. Gildert was forced to leave the field after a massive tackle from Gary Rose to which the referee objected and Wright placed another penalty between the posts. From the Kick-off we held the Wakefield advances but on the sixth tackle Richard Gay knocked a towering up and under on, just 15 meters out and Wakey used the field position to get Child over in the corner. Then as the snow began again, we all watched in amazement as Wright, who was never the most convincing of kickers slotted the ball through against the wind from right out on the touch line, and we were behind for the first time, 9-10.

The final 15 minutes were real nail biting stuff, with both sides threatening and also making mistakes and the tackling getting higher and higher as the players tired. Then we got the bit of luck you need when you’re struggling and in need of a break. The referee, John Holdsworth blew for a penalty, which none of us had seen or understood. Afterwards he revealed it was for Wright not playing the ball correctly and with a dipping kick from 35 yards in a blizzard, McNamara re-established a slender one point lead for the FC. The drama however was not over yet and when Wakey surged down the field a Maea David ball steal saw the opposition awarded a penalty about 30 yards out. Wright then had a brain storm as he elected to go for distance and kicked to the corner. It was then desperation stuff as the Hull side defended their line and on the fifth tackle after Wakefield had been held on the whitewash twice, the hooter finally sounded. It was a fantastic defensive set by the whole Hull team and as the snow started again, the fans celebrated a rare and unlikely win. We avoided relegation by just a point that year, but it was a close run thing that was probably in the end down to that win and that Windley drop goal in the snow that day.

So there we are and we move onto Catalan next week and despite what I said last week about these games yeh, you guessed it, I’ve got my tickets already! Of course our aim as fans has to be to get as many as we possibly can along to the KCOM for our first game against Huddersfield. To help with that I see that there’s a great deal going for the first League game at present as well.

Once again, if you’re a season ticket holder you will have the chance to help get a really huge crowd to start the season as we all have the chance to bring two friends or family members for just £5! We can all get these two additional tickets for just £5 until 5pm on Monday 22nd January and as an advantage to season ticket holders they will be available next week prior to going on general sale. It’s a massive chance to build a big gate for that first game and I’ll be getting a couple to give away at the pub as usual.

Thanks as always for all your support and for your feedback after last week’s Diary its really appreciated. It’s been a bit of a rushed Diary with that Sunday fixture, but I’m heartened today to have seen just how much talent we have at the Club and how physical and well-conditioned even the youngest players looked on Sunday. Let’s see what this week brings eh?

Faithfully Yours