The Dentist’s Diary – 569th

Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never Ends……
Another year, another season, another challenge!

The morning of Thursday 1st February will dawn full of hope and expectation for every Hull FC fan. The new shirts will be out of the wardrobe, the passes will be checked, the adrenalin will be up and we will be ready for the fight, for make no mistake about it, that is just what it will be! This is a massive game for us all and one in which, if we aren’t careful, we could really come unstuck.

I know that to many people reading this, it seems foolish to describe the first game of the season as a ‘must win’, but we need points on the board early on, particularly when you consider what is to come in the next 4 or 5 weeks.

“We can go as far as we want. If we believe in ourselves there’s no reason why we can’t achieve anything we want to. We’ve got to be realistic that we have to work hard and work hard for each other, but if we do that there’s no reason why we can’t develop our season”. So said Lee Gaskell of Huddersfield Giants this week and it mirrors almost exactly a comment by Gareth Ellis at the start if our own glorious 2016 campaign. For me, that says it all really, because thereby hangs the danger in such matches; at this time of year everyone thinks that they can win, that they are ready for the fray and that this is their season.

Its certainly going to be a tough old night!

On Thursday we’ve got to get amongst ‘em and knock them about early on, because you only have to look back to the Super Eights last season and our 46-18 reversal against the Giants (and indeed at Mr Gaskell’s hat trick that night) to remember that if your slightly off the pace you can get blown away. Our heads were elsewhere that windy evening and its memory should make us all realise what can happen this time around, if the lads don’t put Australia out of our minds and aren’t focused on the task in hand from minute one.

The Giants will be desperate to get as many early wins as possible and we have to be just as desperate to make sure they don’t get one this week. All the talk of ‘slow starts’ and it being a long season and ‘a grind’ come to nought when you consider last year and how, at the end of the regular campaign, those early wins were so useful and indeed how they kept us away from the desperation that was the bottom half of the table.

One thing that has come out of pre-season for me though is the fact that if some of the ‘Big name’ players don’t step up to the plate or if they get injuries, then we at last not only have strength in depth, but we also possess some second string replacements that can move almost seamlessly into the first team. We have always had one or two reliable quality stand ins but for me we have come so far on this one since 2015. Although our current squad may not be the most impressive throughout, skill wise, pound for pound and player for player we have quality and reliable strength in depth in every position now. You only have to look at our half back cover to know how that situation has improved greatly in the last couple of years. We should at least all be heartened by that fact!

However, although we have a really strong squad as a Hull fan it’s never plain sailing is it? From a 2017 season when very few players were out of contract, we move now into a period of 9 months when, (such is the cyclical nature of rugby deals), we have a total of 12 players whose contracts are up for renewal. However, that does pose the question, are we happy to opt for a steady as you go approach, or do we need an influx of new blood which would invariably mean not renewing the deals for some of these current out of contract players?

The answer to that one is probably, we need a bit of both. It’s a tough one and a bit of a balancing act really and although I’m sure Lee and Gareth Ellis know what they are doing, for me it’s something they won’t be able to really answer properly, until we are a few weeks down the road into the new season.

You see, although I was told weeks ago that we had opened talks with several players, I think some big names immediately spring out of the list, however (because I’ve done it to death of late) I’ll skip Albert Kelly for now. Our usually ‘quiet guy’ Carlos Tuimavave has already come out and indicated that he wants to stay and the same I guess goes for Fetuli Talanoa but I think we would all agree that he has to prove his fitness after that worrying succession of injuries he suffered last year. Fetuli is a great player and a fine exponent of wing play, full of great energy, skill, good jumping and catching and solid defence and on his top form (and fully fit) he would be a no brainer for another contract but, we’ll have to wait a bit on that one I think.

Mark Minichiello and Sika Manu would also be no brainers were Mini a bit younger and Sika not perhaps mindful of the fact that this could be his last chance of a final shot at things in the Southern Hemisphere. Both are brilliant players, Mini is honest and will decide himself whether at 37, 2019 is a season too far for him, while Seke, who is a measured individual at the best of times will consider his family, his ambition and how well he is settled in this area, before taking his time to decide his future.

The Club will already know exactly how all these players feel and will be, as has been the case over the last three years, laying their plans accordingly. With none of them there are question marks about their ability, its now more about their personal intentions, age and fitness to continue. I love Danny Washbrook as you know, but whether he is worth a renewal is up for debate as well I guess and much may depend on whether he will take a pay cut as Yeamo did in his last season. But, as I say I like Danny, he’s a great Club man and I would always hope he stays.

As for the youngsters, well I guess the club will have to balance their development over the past couple of years, with their future prospects at the Club. They will ponder on whether there is a good chance that they will make it, or if they are blocking someone else with ability coming through the ranks. But with Brad Fash, Jansin Turgut, Masimbaashe Matongo, Jordan Lane and Jack Downs there is a case for keeping all of them, so on that one I guess it will be hard for our Coaches to decided. On all these matters I think we face an interesting few weeks!

Masi will get a new deal I’m pretty certain of that!

So, after Albert Kelly’s revelations about his possible future move back down under it was as I just stated great this week to hear from an FC player that wants to stay in this country as long as possible. Speaking in League Express last Monday, Carlos Tuimavave said: ” I’ve got two kids now and I want what is best for them. That said, I would love to stay. The buzz around here is so good. Not just around the boys, but Radders brings all the families together and that transcends onto the field. We have a very strong culture here.”

Let’s face it, a player who uses the word ‘transcends’ in a quote is certainly worth listening to, but joking apart, for me Carlos is a good player and one who has tons of vision and who is really street wise on positional play, wherever the Club play him. He’s a handy half back replacement, but he’s certainly come into his own as a centre and should be a shoe in there, were it not for the fact that in Connor and Griffin we have two more exceptional talents who offer great cover in those centre spots. One things for sure Lee Radford certainly rates Carlos, he always has and as someone who is never a scrap of trouble off the field, he’s well respected by his team mates as well.

On the other side of the coin however, I was sad to see Nick Rawsthorne leave! I understand that at present if we register everyone we are over the salary cap limit and something has to give. As a player I really rated him when he first signed and I remember his first game for the Under 23’s and a few first team outings he had when he looked pretty handy. We played Toronto this week and he impressed them and as they’ve just lost those 3 key players and are expecting another departure, they have money to spend and apparently Rawsthorne has family in Canada. But, as I said earlier such decisions have to be made and his departure is certainly not the end of the world, however for me the only real flaw in his game was probably his defence as at 15 stone he was a big lad and had some presence. As I always say, we move on and have to trust our coaches and get over it. Good luck to Nick though he’s done nothing wrong whilst with us and I wish him well.

Last week I mentioned an E Mail I had received from Dave Cutler who is a regular reader and who I said I’d mention again this week. Dave said that he had noted, “The genuine and well-deserved tributes to Cyrille Regis following his untimely death and the role he played in combating racism & prejudice in sport” and added that it got him thinking.

He continued, “This, along with the surprise focus on Clive Sullivan and the 1972 World Cup win & ‘that try’ on the 2017 BBC Sport’s Personality of the Year awards in its brief RL section, has deepened my thoughts that Sully’s achievement as the first Black Captain of a Great Britain team, has never been fully recognised, either by the sport or indeed our city”. Dave added, “Am I also correct in thinking that Roy Francis was the first Black Professional Coach in any sport when he was appointed in 1954?”. You’re spot on Dave, (except for the fact that he became coach a few years before that) and Roy like Clive in the 60’s, undeniably did so much to break down the barriers of racism in British Sport in the 50’s, as well.

Roy had felt the brunt of the bigotry way before he was appointed Coach at the FC as when, after returning to play for Barrow after the war, he represented Great Britain but was controversially overlooked for one Ashes tour to Australia for ‘political reasons’, as the organisers ‘feared the ructions that could be caused by travelling to a country with a bar on non-white people’. How times have changed eh? And boy have they changed for the better!

Of course it was never ever an issue at Hull FC and Francis was firstly a much loved player for the Airlie Birds, before he became one of the greatest Coaches our Club has seen, as he led us to many trophies and successes in the golden era of the 1950’s, before he departed for Leeds in 1964. All that at a time when the Coach was just that ‘a coach’ and the team was actually picked every week by the Directors!!

Cheered on by 20,000 fans for those big games at the Boulevard, in the peak of that brilliant era we got to at least one final every year, during 7 successive seasons.

Always a snappy dresser, Roy sits on a kit bag on the bench, with Tommy Finn, Brian Kershaw and Nan Halifihi (on the left with a bag of goodies!)

Lacking the resources of the big money clubs like Leeds and Wigan, Roy was a real innovator and a really forward thinking coach, at a time when training techniques were still very stereo-typed and basic. In general, full backs just practiced kicking, the backs did little but sprinting and passing and the forwards took care of the pies!!! But Roy was different and had the forwards practicing sprinting and passing like backs and thus came about the much hailed mobile (Panzer) pack. Those free running forwards were instrumental in our being so successful at terrorizing the opposition during those halcyon days of the 50’s.

His methods were revolutionary and, to strengthen their leg muscles, he often had the backs jumping up and down the terracing with a ball clamped between their knees for hours, whilst he was also one of the first Coaches in any sport to have games filmed for later analysis, usually over a pint in the Club house after training.

Plus, he also went to the Board and asked for them to install training arc lights on the Best Stand so that players could still practice on an evening in the depth of winter, he would even utilised Medley Street Baths for some indoor practice when the pitch was frozen at the Boulevard. So, the title of innovator was certainly not lost on Roy Francis. His man-management, coaching methods and use of psychological techniques, were considered years ahead of their time. With Roy, the player’s welfare was always top of his agenda as well and he was one of the first coaches to embrace players’ families, regularly arranging for them to all meet up at the Supporters Club, whilst he also offered them transport to away games for the first time.

Roy surrounded by the Hull lads in their heyday

So, the featuring of the great work that Cyril Regis has done has quite rightly I think, caused fans like Dave to remember that we have also done our bit as a Club in that area as well and we should all be proud of that fact. I remember well as a lad back in the mid 60’s (at a time when, like most sports, few black players featured in our game at all), I watched a three-quarter line of Sullivan (B) Barnwell Carmichael and Sullivan (C). To have three black players in a team, never mind between numbers 2 and 5, was simply unheard of back then.

All that and then as my pal Kathy pointed out, we also had some white South African players like Charlie Nimb and Wilf Rosenberg who hailed from a country that in those days was rife with discrimination and bigotry, but everyone got on, everyone pulled on the shirt with pride and they all did their best for each other and what’s more, us lot out there on the terraces loved them. We certainly took them to our hearts and they were all heroes to us, whatever the colour of their skin and wherever they came from.

So I’m really pleased that Dave mentioned that point, for it reminded me that I am proud to be associated with a club for which such Coaches as Francis and players like the Sullivan Brothers, Keith Barnwell and Nan Halifihi were able to ply their trade with us, judged solely on their ability. Thanks for the E mail Dave and for reminding us about that little, but extremely significant bit of our Clubs history.

Well whatever the details are, it now does appear that there was one big pre-season incident which sparked the departure of the three senior Toronto Players and although its pretty unimaginable in the modern ‘media fishbowl’ that is rugby league today, (particularly when it concerns ex or current NRL players), a week on, no real details of that incident have emerged. That fact really does surprise me but we’ll get to know the details eventually I guess.

All the same, their loss, for whatever reasons, will be a blow to the ‘marketability’ of the fledgling Club in Toronto because as Rugby League is a new professional sport to Canada, they will have been relying on such big characters of Fui Fui and ‘The Coal Train’ to engage with and excite the local community. The Wolfpack’s chances of promotion to Super League in 2018 will no doubt decrease with the loss of three likely starting forwards, because although Toronto enjoyed a significant size advantage in their 2017 Kingstone Press League One campaign, this time around in the Championship it will be a lot harder.

One saving grace however is the fact that at least it will free up some cash and two import spots to potentially make some new signings and indeed as I write Rawsthorne and Jack Buchanan have been signed on. Although they originally recruited strongly in the forward pack and in the halves, with newly appointed captain Josh McCrone, their outside back stocks needed a boost especially after the loss of 2017 Captain Craig Hall. However, that said a few in our camp were impressed with the standard when Toronto played us in a full contact game this week and it was good to see Richard Whiting on the score sheet for the Canadians game against the Bradford Bulls.

Of course the fact they are out there in the market place desperately seeking signings, with a big wad of cash and an import place still available, doesn’t help at all the Super League Clubs that are still desperately looking for players to enhance their squads! Let’s face it, if you were faced with the choice of an amazing lifestyle in one of Canada’s most progressive Cities, playing for a transcontinental fledgling team in a season that could lead to a seminal promotion to the top tier, whilst, all the while, carrying the hopes of a nation and perhaps the long term future of the game in North America, AGAINST going to Widnes or East Hull, where would you go?

How interesting it is to see news leaking out from several Super League Clubs, that season ticket sales are again down with Wigan and Saints openly hinting that this was the case. In addition to that, Widnes have issued a rallying call to their stay-away fans to snap up season passes ahead of the 2018 campaign after Chief Executive James Rule provided a pre-season update to fans where he stated that over 600 members had chosen not to renew their passes this time around. These revelations I am told are just the tip of the iceberg and there needs to be big changes in the RL and quickly before the whole game sinks into decline. Hopefully those changes are on the way!

We heard this week that interim Rugby Football League Chief Executive Ralph Rimmer has put his name forward to succeed Nigel Wood and why am I not surprised? He went on to say that the governing body would also be happy to speak to boxing promoter Eddie Hearn about filling the vacancy. Featherstone chairman Mark Campbell has called on the RFL to appoint Barry Hearn, whose son Eddie suggested in an interview that he could turn the sport around in the way that the pair transformed the fortunes of snooker and darts. He’d do for me I think because we desperately need some new ideas and some dynamism at the top. Ralph just isn’t the answer and I hope to be honest, he doesn’t get it. It’s nothing personal but whoever is appointed I believe has to be someone new with new ideas and none of the baggage that everyone who seems to work at Red Hall is surrounded by.

From what I have heard when Ralph has spoken about anything that is a bit controversial, he appears to be very much a ‘company man’ and I think we need some charisma and dynamism at the top, to lift the sport and shake things up a bit. This is our last chance to get it right and we need new blood in charge and not the old guard or the old school blazer brigade.

Rimmer said there had been no direct approach to Matchroom Sport (Hearn’s Company) and that there were no plans to headhunt a successor to Wood, who will step down at the end of January. About bringing in someone like Hearns, Rimmer said, “Never say never is the answer to that. If anybody can bring anything to the sport, we’d be more than happy to speak to them. We are pretty open to ideas”; and so should be everyone who cares about the game of rugby league.

It became apparent at the same time that the Super League clubs are certain to miss their own deadline of 1st February for introducing a new domestic structure for 2019 onwards, which could mean an expansion of Super League from 12 to 14 teams. So everyone who kicks off the new season has no real idea what they are playing towards and what will happen at the end of it. Rimmer also revealed that Toronto would not be guaranteed automatic promotion to Super League even if they were successful in their Championship campaign and would instead be subject to a review. However, that vetting will be done before this May and will be undertaken by Wood in his final role with the RFL before taking over as full-time Chief Executive of the Rugby League International Federation in May. Why the hell he has to do it, heaven only knows!!

While I am talking about administering the game it came out this week that the next England Coach will get a 4-year tenure taking him up to the next World Cup and what a good idea that is and I applaud the RL for deciding on that one. We need continuity in the post and no mistake, but what was certainly not music to my ears was the fact that we could be giving it to Wayne Bennett who will be 72 by the next World Cup. In the last tournament we did alright, so I guess the Coach did alright too, but there was a certain amount of arrogance surrounding the fact that he was an Aussie Club Coach picking Aussie based players in the first place and that was pointed out in the Aussie press a time or too to explain away our better showings. However, more importantly why pick an Aussie on a four-year contract and overlook again some of the great and younger British Coaches? I expect they will all see that as a right kick in the teeth. Never mind what the paying public will think.

It wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t have any good Coaches (and there have been times in the past when we haven’t had any mainly due to the massive influx of journeymen Australian coaches that we saw at the start of Super League). However now, after years of developing their skills, we do have several top exponents of the job and quite frankly as the British game seems to be increasingly discarding Aussie Club coaches in preference to British ones, I think if we appoint another Aussie to the international job then it will be a shame. Ok, perhaps our success in the last World Cup was in part down to the tactics Bennett adopted, but a lot of it had to be down to the quality of players our coaches had developed in the first place. Of course just to rub our noses in that one, Bennett chose those Aussie based players who, I think most of us would agree, were not as good as some British based lads he over-looked!!

I’m not ageist at all, let’s face it at 68 (the same age as Wayne) I can’t afford to be, but I just think a younger British Coach for the International team would help breath a bit of belonging and loyalty into the UK based supporters and with 4 years to go at it, surely one of our lads could make a good fist of it?

We certainly have the calibre of candidate for the post, I mean to say, 4 of the top 5 Clubs in last year’s Super League table were coached by home grown ex-players. Last year, the Castleford Coach was hailed as the new ‘saviour of the game’ because of the style of play he so successfully adopted, the Leeds Coach took his team from bottom 4 to the top prize in the sport in 12 months, whilst Lee took his charges to successive Cup Final wins and is proven at being really good at getting a team up for the really big matches. If it’s going to be a part time post again, then why not give it to one of our lads? Still, what will be will be I guess and as always we’ll just have to wait as see, but I’m convinced that we have the talent already working here to Coach the England team. Last I heard as I posted this blog is that it’s Bennett’s job to turn down and if he does that then Dennis Betts will get it!!!!!

In the mean time as a backdrop to all this stuff that is currently going on, we have to hold the line, keep the sports credibility and develop our image. However, it must still be amusing to some outside the game as they no doubt cringe at the names of some of our stadiums, like the Mend-A-Hose Jungle and the Totally Wicked Stadium and now we’ve got Wakefield Trinity renaming Belle Vue, The Mobile Rocket Stadium. Cash strapped Trinity came up with a new way of getting some dosh into the club by holding a raffle among businesses to see who would have the honour of having the stadium named after them. First out of the hat (although I think I’d have had another dip in there before I said anything myself) was The Mobile Rocket Company who make apps for business.

Now I hear that Rovers are doing a big deal with Kellogg’s to sponsor their stadium for the next few years. It’s part of an advertising campaign aimed at popularising some of the breakfast provisioner’s children’s cereals. How does Fruit Loop Craven Park sound to you?

This week in Codgers Corner I don’t want to go back that far but would like to highlight a wonderful game from back in the last but one season at the Boulevard. After all the stress and worry of the Lloyd era and the merger, it was great to be playing rugby again with a quality team coached by Shaun McRae and after two easy Rounds of the Challenge Cup when we had beaten the Lancashire Lynx and Rochdale and amassed over 80 points we played Wigan in a Cup Quarter Final at the Boulevard in front of the TV cameras on the afternoon of Saturday 11th March 2000.

The week leading up to that Cup quarter final was one that was fraught with injury problems that threatened to scupper any slim chances we had of winning a game that all the pundits and bookmakers had as a ‘banker’ for the competitions favourites. In came youngster Paul King at prop and after Australian Adam Maher had been taken ill and withdrawn on the morning of the game McRae had no hesitation in calling up an even younger Richard Fletcher onto the substitute’s bench. In the presence of the television cameras from BBC Grandstand we all awaited with a deal of trepidation our first really big game since the merger. Referee Russell Smith blew the whistle and Radlinski struck the ball deep into the Hull half as a massive roar went up from the 7700 crowd. This seemed to do little except put off the Hull players waiting to receive the kick as Broadbent knocked the ball forward and Maiden picked it up in front of him in an off side position leaving Farrell the simplest of penalties to give Wigan an early two-point lead.

That was a really poor start but it didn’t deter Hull, who immediately started to make inroads into the Wigan defence in the very next set of six tackles. Hull’s enthusiasm was certainly apparent when Robinson kicked into the corner where Wigan’s Dallas fielded the ball only to be swamped by five chasing Hull players. Youngster Richard Horne was certainly prompting and probing around the ruck and he almost got Jenkins in after 7 minutes as Hull pushed on. Then we were level as an over-worked Wigan defence were caught off-side and Ben Sammut, 30 yards out to the left of the posts, hammered home the penalty. Wilson then sustained a head wound after a high shot by Dallas and went to the blood bin, for youngster Fletcher to come on into the second row. Another high tackle this time on Jenkins by Wigan scrum half Tony Smith, saw the latter lucky not to be sent off but then, on the 15-minute mark, Hull took the lead.

Richard Horne again made a half break and fed Will Robinson. The scrum half immediately stepped inside and then superbly fed Maiden who crashed over near the posts and when Sammut had landed the conversion to all the fans amazement we led 8-2. We were stood on the Airlie Street terracing that day and the place went wild as Will Robinson shot in again after a brilliant move involving a defence splitting break by Collins, however on consulting the video referee it was decided that Will had lost control of the ball as he put it down and the try was disallowed. Still the crowd sang and cheered and at regular intervals ‘Old Faithful’ rang around the old place; it was just like the Brian Smith years all over again.

Next up Carney was sin binned for an alleged ‘deliberate’ offside, but as the half came to a close Wigan started to come back into the game. With an amazing 7 minutes of injury time being played Hull had to cling on and Jason Robinson went close for Wigan as his grubber kick was brilliantly tidied up by Matt Daylight, before Renouf intercepted a wayward pass from Felsch and the Wigan centre looked set to score. However, Daylight had the pace to track back across the width of the field to cut him off and nail the Australian international centre 10 yards out and as Half-Time arrived at last, we were all physically drained but elated by the score.

The second half started with Maiden kneeing a loose ball forward and almost finding a gap in the oppositions defence but in general Wigan were starting to exert the pressure again and although the crowd did their best, much of the enthusiasm of the first half was evaporating fast. However, despite all their pressure, Wigan could not penetrate a Hull defence led brilliantly by Fletcher, Wilson and Broadbent and in the end resorted to converting a penalty when Fletcher was also caught accidentally off side. Twice we lost possession in our own half in a titanic battle which saw several Hull players visibly feeling the pressure. Felsch and Robinson went off to be replaced by Stanley Gene and Wayne McDonald, as Mick Cassidy and Dennis Betts both went close for Wigan. At the Airlie Street End we just stood transfixed on our ‘lucky step’ on the terracing and prayed.

Then with 10 minutes to go and Hull hanging on for grim death the whole place suddenly erupted as the game took another dramatic twist. A couple of fortuitous penalties at last relieved the pressure and we actually found ourselves with a ‘set’ in the oppositions half. Firstly, the returning Robinson managed to work a gap in the defence but was injured again as he was tackled by Terry Newton. Straight from the play the ball Stanley Gene sped away down field in a mad dash for the line. This set up a position some ten yards out and two tackles later Gene operating from acting half back brilliantly supplied a short pass to 6ft 7ins Wayne McDonald who somehow hurled his body over the line. Ben Sammut added the extras and it was apparent to us all that Wigan were visibly stunned as they stood behind their try line, gasping for air.

We then all watched as Wigan threw everything they had at us. However, we now had some confidence and as the game wore on the young players took their opportunities. Horne made a break only to be felled by Betts in an illegal tackle and then both King and Gene were held inches short of the line. Then a dropped ball saw Wigan sweep back down field and Renoulf set up a great chance for Newton before he was stopped about a foot from the Hull line by a mighty tackle by Deon Bird, then Sammut had to be alert as Farrell’s kicked through, before at last the hooter went, we had won 14-4 and the celebrations began.

The scenes that followed were reminiscent of those great days in the early part of the previous decade when against all odds Brian Smith steered us through the rounds towards the Grand Final. There was the same sort of high emotion everywhere and I remember that I had tears in my eyes as all the tension and pressure of the Lloyd years ebbed away on a tide of rejoicing and euphoria. “Hello, hello FC are back FC are back” echoed around the ground and we all stood there and applauded the team as they did a lap of honour. Although Wigan were to put over 120 points on us in our three other meetings that year, after all that had gone before, it was great to be watching open attacking rugby again and be proud. We had witnessed what was a certainly a famous victory for us all and one that will live in my memory forever.

Now just a quick mention of the last book, 2016 The Year of the Airlie Bird, which has now sold around 600 copies with around £3000 of the income (all the profit) going to Danny Houghton. I’ve got to my target and thanks to everyone out there who has supported me for that is your money not mine that has gone towards the Testimonial Fund. There are still copies left at both the Club shops and if you’ve not yet read it or you’re not sure about it, why not take the opportunity to read the first chapter for free as the journey that was the fabulous 2016 season begins. It will be available from Friday here on the blackandwhites site if anyone is interested (OK, OK, I hear what you’re thinking, but you can’t blame me for trying!)

So, it’s here and the big game on Thursday is going to be packed out on what should be a great occasion. It’s strange at this time of year to be saying it’s a must win game, but as I said earlier, with what is coming up for me it is just that. We need to fly off on the Aussie Adventure with two points in the bag and I’m sure that’s just what Lee is saying to the lads, for we cannot afford for their minds to elsewhere, we have to go for it and do that from the off.

I’m really looking forward to it though and once again I have to say that following two wins at Wembley and particularly that 2016 season, I’ll really enjoy it, simply because everything else now is a bonus. It’s not desperate stuff anymore and as long as we stay away from the bottom 4 it won’t be ever again! That’s not to say I won’t be a bit twitchy before kick off because it’s too late in life for me to change all that stuff now. I’ve suffered for years and I guess on Thursday I’ll be going through it all over again. However, I don’t know about you, but whatever is thrown at us now, I feel a lot better prepared mentally these days.

I do know as well that I’m also really excited, I always am at this point in the season; there are the new players, the new hopes, the League table with everybody’s equal and us lot this time around daring to be positive. It’s a time where in the past the fretting and tension has started, but not this year, all of a sudden it’s an adventure and not a worry. Still however you feel about it one things for sure, this is now the time that as fanatics we move into the endless weekly turmoil that is game day, injuries, the media making it up, us lot scouring the internet, everyone head scratching, some disappointing defeats, the dicks across the river rattling their tin cups on their cages and hopefully some great moments to savour before all of a sudden, it’s game day once more and it all starts over again; only 35 weeks of that to go folks, so strap yourself in because the journeys beginning and who know where it will take us.

You know some of the heroes of 2016 and 2017 are still here and some have moved on, but this team and their deeds has proved so rewarding and inspiring for the fans of Hull FC over the past two campaigns and there is no doubt that the current squad is now ‘Standing on the shoulders of Giants’ as they face the new season and that will, I’m sure, present a deal of pressure for many of them.

However, how we cope with that pressure will dictate if the last two glorious campaigns have been the start of a dynasty and a prolonged period of success to equal the other great era’s in our history, or just a very rewarding and unforgettable flash in the pan!

We’ll do our bit, we’ll be singing and chanting we’ll be there on Thursday and we’ll show those Giants what a full Stadium backing the home team looks and sounds like. As fans we’ve invested our money, our passion and our hope in the next few months and in just four days’ time the whole circus starts again. As fans we’ve done our bit and now …’s over to you guys!!

Keep Believing, Keep Hoping and …..


Faithfully Yours