The Dentist’s Diary – 570th

Those were two, precious, precious points and in the end it was a good night, a fine occasion and pretty much all we could have wished for so early in the season!!

It was always going to be a bit hit and miss, but it’s all about the W in the games played column at this time of the year and if you were to describe Thursday night in a sentence, then it would be ‘scintillating for half an hour and adequate and understandably scratchy, for the rest of the game’. At one point in that first half we conceded too many yards and our goal line defence, which has served us so well, looked shaky . So early in the season it’s hard to repel sustained attack and they went Penalty, Penalty – Try, lost ball, Penalty – Try and quickly posted two easy scores in a period of play when perhaps a better team would have grabbed another couple as well. But leading from the front with some tenacious tackling when we trailed 12-4, Houghton and Co. somehow survived, rallied and eventually came good in quite dazzling fashion.

Therefore, it was job done and we flew out to the sunshine on Friday night with some early momentum and two points in the bag and, standing back from its all, I guess we couldn’t have wanted for much more. To sit there for the last twenty minutes knowing that the opposition weren’t going to win, was a nice way to ease us all into the 2018 season and in the end that’s how easy it turned out to be! What’s more, it brought two points that I believe will be priceless as a springboard for the next few difficult weeks.

Congratulations to everyone who braved a cold night to make a brilliant opening gate of 13,700 and to Hull FC in general for an enjoyable evening. I also would extend a big well done to Lee Radford, for cometh the hour the attitude was just right and the youngsters stepped up seamlessly to produce a brilliant second half lift in a game that was always going to be a potential banana skin.

What a Thursday it was, when all day, despite a long drawn out and inclement January being at last out of the way, I was bloody freezing!! It poured with rain all morning and I just couldn’t get warm and so it was that at 7-00 pm, cocooned in layers and layers of clothes, I waddled across West Park, more like a departing spaceman slowly perambulating towards his rocket than a rugby fan contemplating the start of a new season. In truth by the evening arrived it wasn’t that cold, but it had taken me so long to get all those clothes on that there was no way I was ‘casting a clout’ at that late stage.

Furthermore, years of doing this in such conditions had long since made obsolete any quips about, “Bloody Summer rugby”, although the perennial grind of it all hadn’t stopped some repeating that now hackneyed statement, as we walked along ‘Paul King Way’ toward the luminous edifice that was the KCOM Stadium.

Super Moon Super night!!

As we walked we were followed by a group of Hudderfield fans who were very upbeat about their prospects, as they bashed away on what sounded like a collection of their mother’s kitchen utensils, to raise a chorus of ‘Fartown, Fartown’ into the cold February night.

The floodlights shone out across the Park, expectation and hope was all around and little it seemed had changed as even the Allam’s had as usual done their best to ensure we queued for everything; but we were back home again and starting over on another adventure.

All day the game had played on my mind and yet somehow I thought, as I shuffled along, the desperation and the fear I’d experienced in the past wasn’t there anymore. Unlike (thankfully) the team, perhaps I was just a bit complacent, just a bit matter of fact, because the pressure is off these days and in the end it was to be a good night all round.

Those weather conditions were hardly ideal for a big gate, but boy did we get one as almost 14,000 pilgrims made their way to the KCOM, full of hope and expectation. The newly converted hoped for the drama of Wembley all over again, whilst those more hardened fans like me, just hoped for two points however they come our way! Starting well is always a real priority these days.

As the crowds milled around the turnstiles, I mused on the fact that the Club should really be congratulated for the number of season ticket holders they have secured this year. Normally in both Football and Rugby Union the stated aim is to get around a 75% renewal rate on memberships. Rugby League fans are more loyal and the average renewal rate in Super League is around 78%. Of course with people moving away, changes of circumstances and bereavements etc. to get around three quarters of your members back again is pretty good, but this year our level of renewal is at a phenomenal 92%, which is, quite frankly in sport, unheard of. We should therefore not be too surprised that our 8,500 plus (and well plus) subscription level is an all-time record for the Club. Of course, that reflects just one thing and that’s our success on the field but, none the less, it’s a great achievement in anybody’s book!

The gate was, on such an awful night, quite brilliant and perhaps an indication of the advantages of selling tickets in advance rather than as it was in the old days, mainly on the gate. Rugby fans like value for money and once they had invested their hard earned on the tickets, a bit of Icelandic weather wasn’t going to put them off! Of course once you’ve got them there, it’s all about getting them back next time and on Thursday it was then down to the team to keep us all ‘warm’!

In the Hull Daily Mail on Wednesday Scott Taylor had publicly warned all the players in no uncertain terms about what would happen if they weren’t careful and credit to him, Danny and the Coach for carrying that through. I had banged on in here for ages about this Aussie trip being a distraction that could derail us before we had even got going, but so far my concerns have been completely unfounded. For what it’s worth I still believe that the really big test will be played out in the cold light of Castleford in three weeks’ time, but the first hurdle of getting them to concentrate on the Hudderfield game and put Australia out of their heads until Friday, has been successfully negotiated and therefore its so far so good and I stand corrected.

Huddersfield had a twenty-minute spell when they could be described as feisty, but something that seems to have passed a lot by is the level of fitness we displayed compared with the opposition, who looked out on their feet (despite some success) as early as the end of the first half. A desperate fly kick dead near the 40-minute mark saw their ranks in disarray across the field, whilst the Hull attacked looked fresh and hungry as they smelt a second try on the hooter. Both teams had players missing, but the seamless way that our young substitutes of Turgot, Matongo and Abdull played their part with no drop in intensity to be seen, was tribute to the progress that they and the club have made in the last 12 months.

They have all really come on, furthermore, bringing Jordan into the battle really brought something different to the party. ‘Boom and Zoom’, (Matongo and Abdull) coming off the bench lifted the team so well, when a few years ago the introduction of players with such relative inexperience would probably have seen our intensity and aggression, dip somewhat. That aspect of our display so early in the season was very encouraging.

I was always concerned about the four players who hadn’t played a minute of ‘official’ rugby in pre-season and it seemed unthinkable to me that they could come in without being at least a bit ‘ring rusty’ and, in fairness, I do think that Jamie Shaul looked a bit scratchy at times in the first half and Taylor uncharacteristically missed a tackle for the visitors first easy touch-down. However, Tag more than made up for that with a typically devastating second spell, Manu was superb with some big hits and some brutal running, while Minichiello was inventive and deceptive throughout and put out a good pass for Talanoa’s third score. It was impressive to see that forward trio slot straight back in and they will only get better and better, which certainly bodes well for us in the coming weeks. Once again it was a risk, but a calculated one which Radford managed superbly with some astute substitutions.

At half back Sneyd and Kelly looked great together, although Marc, who had a fabulous game, has to keep out of the impact as much as he can, because he’ll be getting himself in trouble injury wise, trying at times to take the line on like a forward. In the role of ‘the puppet master’ he pulled all the strings in a great display and hit a superb cross kick for Talanoa to score and completed a brilliant 40/20. Kelly brought ‘electricity’ into the spread plays and did the running and passing in the line, whilst in Albo, Houghton, Abdull, Connor and even Hadley, we have play makers all over the field. We over-elaborated at times particularly when we were out of sight on the scoreboard in the second half, but when we get the ball wide we look really effective, with both our wingers having great games and Talanoa back to his best, not just scoring a hat trick, but also driving the ball out of defence to great effect.

He had a great game and is I believe worthy of a new contract right now!

Houghton, the Mail said, had a quiet game on his 300th career appearance for the Club, but I have to disagree with that because, whether it was his freshness or the fact that he has been practising his skills, I don’t know, but his passing was brilliant at times both short and long and his running from acting half particularly down the blind side was terrific and gained us yards.

Hadley, playing at loose forward, is, I’ll predict, going to be great. He runs hard can pass a bit, will readily jump into acting half and has a great vision and reading of the game. The exercise of farming Abdull and Dean out last year, looks to have been a master stroke and both appear to be completely back at home in the black and white ranks. Traditionally Lee Radford has always preferred three big lads at the back of the pack and indeed, he started with Hadley at 13. However, when he was brought on, Jordan, who is just 22 today, really added some zip into the attack and varied the play magnificently when he came on to play loose man. In fact, I guess a lasting thought from Thursday is that we certainly don’t just have great depth now, but we also have great quality and ability throughout the squad and that allows us to now vary our more traditional structure when we need to.

He impressed me!

Despite those 4 players not having played pre-season, our fitness levels were excellent and we harried and chased, backed up in numbers and crunched into a Huddersfield pack that was on paper extremely strong. After the Giants enjoyed a first half twenty-minute phase when their forwards rolled up field with relative ease, our superbly conditioned state perhaps went a long way to winning it for us as the game moved into a second half that their Coach described as a ‘Car crash’ for his team. If you want an indicator of just how much our 6 took out of the Giants pack in that period, then take the example of their prop Sebastine Ikahihifo whose obvious malaise whilst prone on his knees and vomiting behind the back line held up play for 4 minutes near the end. Afterwards it was stated by Rick Stone that he wasn’t an injury or concussion, but rather the fact that the big forward was absolute exhausted and ‘completely out on his feet’.

One disappointment for me with the visitors was I guess, the form of Jordan Rankin because you all know how much I always rated him. However, in the ‘What the hell do I know’ department it wasn’t until the end of the game that I even noticed Jordan at all and as for Lee’s decision to not fight to keep him at the Club, well, when compared on the night with Abdull ….. there was no comparison! So I think perhaps, as usual, I got that one wrong as well! As a team the Giants rely heavily on their half backs and good old Connor’s constant commentary certainly riled Broughy! We laughed and laughed as the once great ‘little general’ just got more and more wound up and his game got worse and worse as the match wore on.

So, in the end on Thursday, much to the relief of us all, it was job done, Australia beckons and we have those so, so precious two points in the bag. What’s more for the 5th season in succession our 2018 campaign good or bad, will be built on a First Round win. Top stuff!!

As a footnote I was well impressed with the new monthly magazine that has replaced the programme, which with 64 full colour pages and a lot of really good editorial and insight. It is a massive step forward and really good value at £1, get one if you can.

A good read!

So onto the rest of the week and there is no time like the last forty-eight hours before the big kick-off for the rhetoric and speculation to reach a crescendo and there is no one more equipped and experienced at heightening that excitement than James Smailes at the Mail. In what was something of a master stroke last Wednesday the paper published two Q & A sessions between their Sports Editor and the Hull and Dobbins owners in a ‘mirrored’ situation, that allowed fans from both sides of the City to assess just where their Clubs leaders were when compare with the leader of the enemy.

Each article started with a question concerning how much both parties were looking forward to the season, Adam was upbeat if not a tad cautious about over-confidence and the threat posed by the difficult first few rounds and that trip to Australia, but he was obviously excited. Whilst Hudgell’s response was pretty surprising even for me! I spoke to Adam myself a few months ago and asked him if, after two Challenge Cup wins and gaining almost Saint like status in West Hull, he was still excited by it all and was loving it at the FC.

However, as I reported in the Diary at the time, his demeanour said it all that day, as a smile spread across his face and he said he was still enjoying the challenge and ‘loving the ride’. However, Hudge apparently is different! Asked by Smailsey if he was excited about the new season he said, “Enjoyment went out of it for me a lot of years ago, there is no real enjoyment in it anymore”. That’s encouraging for your fans Mr H!!!

Having then gone on to read both articles I certainly know where I would rather be, with Adam pretty assured and upbeat and his Rovers counterpart hinting on at least three occasions that if he got a decent offer to take over the Club, he’s be off!

But enough of the Dobbins, let’s face it, you don’t read this to hear about them and I have to say that Adams interview was really well measured and contained I think the thoughts of a bloke who is definitely in control and indeed running (at present at least) a Club that’s in the enviable position of at last being self-financing. Much of that is of course down to us lot and the way we have responded to this year’s Membership offer, which in turn is down to two Cup wins at Wembley and the feel good facture that engenders. In fact, personally, it looks to me as if, should we one day get a new owner for the SMC, to hopefully then stop the current ‘games’ that seem to go on with that crowd, we could actually be financially secure. But unfortunately you never quite know what those buggers are going to do next, do you?

Adam has with Clark, Ellis and Radford a management team that is as he likes it (small enough to be affordable and flat enough to be controllable and accountable). This allowed him to make the point in his interview that every day he is able to keep a tight check on things. Flat structures like our Club’s are without doubt the best there are in a company environment. They keep the organisation light on its feet and let the top bloke speak to his ‘generals’ directly and immediately without a trickle down pyramid effect through layers of management, as was always the norm in old fashioned companies of years gone by.

That stable state of the Club we all love, is reflected by many things, with performance indicators ranging from how much the fans have laid out on passes and shirts etc. to how few signings we have had to make and the fact that the majority of the perennial grumblers seem in general to have melted away.

Then there’s our owners more hands off approach to the media, right through to the fact that I have struggled in here all winter to find anything at all controversial to write about our great club. It’s a long time since we’ve been able to say all that isn’t it? In fact, there is little doubt that after 12 years of Diaries this pre-season has been the quietest. I think the fans trust all four at the top of the Club and that reflects in the satisfaction level amongst them. Everything is of course dictated by success or otherwise on the field and you, me and Adam all know that can all change very quickly!!

It was a good piece by James Smailes but we all know that a few years ago we would have all been raking through every word our owner said in it, searching diligently and perhaps even desperately for hints on signings, sackings and future directions. However, this time I read the Bosses comments with a feeling of security and satisfaction and I think when we reflect on that, we realise that those who are leading our Club at present, give us all a modicum of comfort and security.

Then of course there is always the fans need for some security of tenure. It’s great to win trophies but in the end when it comes down to the nitty gritty, all I and perhaps everyone else reading this wants, is to live in the sure knowledge that we are going to have a team to support in years to come.

It’s not a fear of failure and relegation that occupies our mind when the going is tough, but rather the fear of what the consequences of such ‘disasters’ might be and what it might lead to as far as the sustainability of our Club is concerned. If we had a guarantee that whatever happened nothing would change, then we’d be fine and enjoy the downs a bit more and even as much as we enjoy the up’s at present. However, we all know that such security is never a likely contingency in sport and perhaps what happens to a Club financially when they are relegated, is something that the owners should be looking at in their current deliberations.

Adam indicated in his interview, that the days of massive end of season clear outs is gone and we will in future be making targeted moves in the transfer market that address need rather than reflect a desperation to underpin perceived issues. Again, I think that’s a real sign of stability, particularly at a time when a few more desperate Clubs, can’t sign anyone decent for love nor money. If anything flagged up a slight concern from Adam, then it was his comments about him fearing some personnel at the club losing their ‘hunger’ a bit after two Challenge Cup wins. He cited the trip to Australia as not being just a prestigious means of making a bit of dosh, but as also a way of keeping the players sharp and focussed, rather than resting on their laurels. However, only time will tell if that one works!

So although not exactly Pierce Morgan and Donald Trump, I think that James Smailes did an excellent job for both Clubs in those Q & A interviews and it gave us all food for thought as the season began.

Incidentally as an aside I think if there is an under-current at all in what I read about our Club and the RL these days, then it is that I get the distinct impression that while 6 or 7 Super League Clubs are intent on moving the game onwards and upwards and into the lime light again, others, perhaps fearing for their own positions, are still sitting on their hands and opting for the current malaise and a safer and less radical, status quo.

Now for other things and it was good to see Danny Houghton lead the team out last Thursday at the start of what we all hope will be a long and successful stint as Club Captain. He certainly has a tough act to follow and since his appointment has no doubt spent some time with Gareth talking leadership. Danny once told me, a while ago, that they all felt a foot taller when Ellis led them out and that’s certainly a hard act to follow.

I think Houghton realises that although he can learn a lot from his predecessor, he has to make his own mark on the position and with another great ‘example setter’ Scotty Taylor, as his number two, he has I think, every chance of being successful. When asked by the Hull Daily Mail about what is undoubtedly a daunting prospect Danny said, “I probably won’t try and fill in the footsteps of Gaz. If I’m honest it’s just too hard to do that. That is simply too hard to replicate but in terms of captaining the club I’ll approach it how I do any game and probably in a different way to what Gaz did. There is nothing I can do to replicate Gaz because he’s a legend. His stature in the game is huge and I’d be stupid to try and be everything he was.”

So it’s down to Danny to take up the challenge and lead us forward, it started well last Thursday, let’s hope it now continues that way!

Lee Radford was I think, this week, preparing the ground a little for us losing Albo because of our inability to match any deals Kelly’s offered from Australia for 2019. Indeed, it appears that Carlos might be tempted too. John Bateman of Wigan said this week that he was off at the end of the season and mentioned how his head had been turned by the time he spent in Australia with the England team. His most telling comment was, “Seeing what it was like when I was playing over there for the World Cup, it’s really good to realise just how big rugby league is over in Australia”. That to me harks back immediately to the need for the British game to get its act together and quick.

What’s more, that scenario certainly isn’t good news for us as our lads set off for two weeks where they will see nothing but the best of Aussie RL, through the training facilities, as they hear about the wages and indeed enjoy the weather and lifestyle. All the while the NRL Clubs will be able to run the rule over our best players. It’s a worrying one for me really, because the British game just won’t be able to compete and if we’re not careful we’ll lose all our star players.

As I have said so many times of late in here, we need change and we need it soon.

Now, when League Express reported last weekend that Nigel Wood was to receive a £500,000 severance payment which would go straight into his rather ample pockets, I like many others was pinching myself to see if I was dreaming! What is all that about? Is that the Mr. Woods who whilst Head of the British game went on two week’s holiday during the last World Cup?

Poor old Nige, only £500,000 however will he manage?

This aberration is about to happen at a time when season ticket sales are down in most instances, most Super League Clubs can’t afford to run a reserves team, our players are going to Australia because we can’t compete with their wages and we watch as the game we all love is stagnating!!

Yet we pay him half a million to walk!

And what’s more we do it for him to move into another high profile position in the game and be retained by the RL as a consultant! When you think how much difference £500k would make to some grassroots community clubs it’s really is a disgrace that he gets a sum like that as a “severance”. The fact that he thinks it’s appropriate to accept it, says plenty too as far as his morals are concerned for me.

Come on man, that’s bloody obscene because you really couldn’t make this stuff up at times, could you? £500,000 could finance a Reserves League for at least one if not two seasons if it was split between the Clubs and they were told that they had to run a second string! If ever there was a case for making sure we don’t end up with a fudged in house type appointment of an insider or an old school blazer boy to replace Wood, then this is it.

If we replace him with someone like Ralph Rimmer who is already at the RL and who must have been at least complicit to signing that severance agreement off in the first place, it will be an absolute travesty of justice. The place is a farce! We really do need a new dynamic broom at the top to sweep clean some of the old boy network and incestuous going’s on we see at Redhall! For me it’s all pretty unbelievable really, although I do find myself once again say ‘Why am I not surprised eh?’ Rant over and an end of all the apostrophes!!!!!!!

However, I wasn’t on my own having a go at the RL this week as on Wednesday Michael Norris posted an interesting piece on Facebook which read, “There are 74 stories on the Sky Sports Front page and not one of them is about Rugby League. This is the company that owns sole rights on Broadcasting Super League and yet, 2 days before the start of the season ….nothing!! Is that the games fault for not providing content who knows? But there are 6 Super Bowl Stories, 3 Boxing and 3 Rugby Union stories; it winds me up something shocking”.

The thing is Michael, it winds us all up!! Whether they supplied editorial or not it’s a sad reflection of the complacency of a broadcaster that has a sport stitched up until 2020 and as for the RL, well they should be telling ‘em to get some coverage of our game on there. That broadcast deal is just another calamity in a long line of disasters.

Anyway, how good it was this week to read an in depth interview with Doncaster RL chiefs, John Scarrow and Carl Hall and to hear them talking long and in detail about the relationship that their Club have with Hull FC. They accepted that the players they got on duel registration were a big help and had strengthened their team no end, but added that the relationship had evolved to go much deeper than that. They said that Adam often enquires about the workings of their Club as they do the same about Hull FC and they all get on really well. Richard Horne is paid by both Club and the cross over with the opportunity for Doncaster’s players to do full time training at County Road whilst our fringe players get reciprocal regular game time with them, was working really well. With no Reserves this year it’s probably the best we can do at present.

One great bit of news for the game this week was the announcement that the excellent weekly magazine programme Rugby AM has signed a three-year deal with Free sport UK. I watch Rugby AM all the time and used to catch it on the rather rustic but locally focused Estuary TV. However, now it is getting national free view coverage at last and it’s a great watch as Hull FC regularly feature on it. On making the announcement Rugby AM said, “We will broadcast to 18 million UK homes on terrestrial sports channel Free Sports for the next three years. This allows us to showcase the players, personalities & grassroots of rugby to a national free-to-air audience” and that’s a massive plus for the game. Watch it if you can!

Thanks this week go to my pal Tommy Ball, who used to play for the Club back in the early 60’s, for identifying all the faces on this picture, from what was last weeks well received article about Roy Francis. Tommy tells me that a lot of Roy’s ‘mold breaking’ training techniques back in the 50’s were performed strictly to a stop watch and were he said, learned from an Italian Football Coach Roy met on holiday; as always in here, the stories just keep on coming!

I got it wrong and so here is that pic again, the players featured are from left to right, Nan Halifihi, George Mathews, Roy, Stan Cowan and Ivor Watts.

Thanks for that Tommy.

So its Wigan up next and wherever you play them The Pies are always a handful and it will be tough when we meet up with them again next weekend in Australia. So I thought for a change, this week in Codgers Corner I’ll just go back just 15 years to the 2003 season when Shaun McRae’s team was renowned across the game for playing creative attractive rugby and we started the season like a house on fire. As a club we had relocated well to the KC Stadium and gates and season ticket sales were on the rise year on year. Trish Goldsmith was still at the club and running most things off the field and she had varied our traditional shirts somewhat, by introducing a white shirt with a black irregular V, which, looking back, is still one of my favourite strips. It was well accepted by the fans that year, but after the fiasco of those Sharks shirts in the late 1990’s, what wouldn’t have been?

We had started the season with Friendly wins at Caravan Park and Halifax and beat Halifax again and Sheffield (88-0) in the Cup, before going out of the competition to Leeds 41-18 at Headingley. In the League however, we started with wins at home against Widnes and away to Warrington and Wakefield. So, with the best defence in Super League thus far, we were going well as we approached the biggest test of the season so far, when on Friday 4th April the Wigan Warriors came to the KC Stadium.

It had not been a good week preparation wise, as Shaun McCrae wrestled with a series of niggling injuries picked up in a great 27-14 win at Warrington the week before. However he was in the end able to field the same team for the third game running, although all that was about to change dramatically. Our most serious doubt was the inform second row forward Richard Fletcher who injured his sternum the previous week but who played on through the pain barrier with a protector in place.

You tend to forget just how good he was back then!

Wigan were without the injured Andy Farrell and Mick Cassidy and were further rocked before the kick off when Australian Julian O’Neill, who was to sign next day for Widnes, ‘disappeared’.

We kicked off on a chilly still night and Jason Smith was the first to show, teasing Wigan with a deft early kick to the corner which Carney just grabbed before he was hammered by three Hull tacklers. Lam had to relieve the pressure three tackles later with a kick downfield which was driven back by Greenhill and Ryan. Then we were put under tremendous pressure as Chester twice lost the ball, firstly on the half way line and then again in our own 20. Richard Horne and Steve Prescott saved the day with crashing tackles on Lam and Hodgson and it was a relief when after 8 minutes Prescott landed a penalty goal to settle things down a bit.

Always the Warrior; Jason Smith

Then after good play by Logan, Chester atoned for his early mistakes and had us all on our feet with a neat kick over the top which he gathered to put pressure on the Pies defence. We were tackling really well and the visitors were struggling to get out of their own half but our attack spluttered and stuttered and failed to really get going. With 20 minutes gone after Prescott had again come to the rescue with two superb takes from deft cross kicks from Lam, we increased our lead further when Steve himself converted another penalty after a high tackle on Logan.

There then followed our best scoring chance so far as on 27 minutes Jason Smith wriggled out of a two man tackle and put Cooke away. Our off-half brilliantly drew two players and looked to have put Best in at the corner but Hodgson just managed to knock the ball down and the chance was lost. Then we increased our lead, after a brilliant kick to the corner by Smith was juggled by Best who despite the attention of Dallas, managed to finally ground the ball and score a try which was gleefully applauded by the fans, once the video referee had confirmed the score. Prescott this time landed the goal from the touchline and as we approached half time we were 10-0 in the lead, however we were dealt a blow when Jason Smith went off injured and had to be replaced by Graeme Horne.

Half time came with no further scores for either side and Shaun McCrae’s talk in the dressing rooms must have centred on the need for the FC players to concentrate on cutting out the daft mistakes, which had littered the first 40 minutes. Straight from the kick off Dallas went in bravely but Toa Kohe Love forced him to knock on and the mistake proved decisive. Graeme Horne worked the ball to the left for Chester to produce a great kick through, which Maher chased down just beating Carney to the touch down, and although Prescott missed the conversion at 14-0 we were well in command of the game. Back came Wigan though and after 9 minutes of the half Prescott just managed to force Dallas into touch as he was about to score. Then Richie Barnett grabbed Hock as he broke through. However, on 52 minutes disaster struck; a superb break by Richard Horne and Kohe Love set up a position for Fletcher who made a thundering break down field and then passed onto Scott Logan who was held just short. However, he was seriously injured in the tackle and after a lot of attention to his lower leg he was stretchered off the field.

The Great Steve Prescott, who with some great takes and tacklers was brilliant at the back that day.

Our injury woes were not over yet as shortly afterwards Kohe-Love was escorted off the field holding his arm in an ominous fashion and we were in a bit of disarray. Taking advantage of our problems Wigan then scored themselves as young Gareth Hock, sneaked in straight from acting half on the blindside. Danny Tickle could not convert but at 14-4 we were under a bit of pressure for the first time in the game. Then with 11 minutes to go we hit back again to put the match beyond Wigan. Shaun Briscoe who had experience a torrid night in the Wigan number one jersey was forced into an error by Rich Horne and Paul Cooke and as he spilled the ball we took advantage. Graeme Horne and Cooke worked the blind side to feed onto Kirk Yeaman and the youngster resisted three would be tacklers to crash in to score a fine try. Prescott missed the goal, but with just 5 minutes to go he landed a late penalty to send the FC Faithful into raptures as the final hooter went and a battered and bruised FC had beaten the mighty Wigan 20-4. What a game and some great days at the KC before the dicks took over!

It was great to meet so many readers and old friends on Thursday and indeed have a good yarn and de-brief afterwards in the Tiger which is fast becoming the new ‘Drum and Monkey’. It’s certainly a tough one out of the way, which now heralds the start of a massive adventure Down Under for the Club and of course lots of you readers. If you’re going, then I hope that you have a great time and if you get the chance please read the Diary whilst your there. Any pictures, stories or revelations will be greatly accepted by yours truly and included in here, but most of all have a safe trip and a great time making history with Hull FC.

As for me, well its business as usual and I’ll be back next week after watching the goings on in Australia against Wigan, not this time dressed as Tim Peake, but rather sat in front of the TV in my Pyjamas!! Thanks to Sammo, Dave, Tommy and Bill for the input and to you all for sticking with another Diary and sending the correspondence, comments and indeed corrections I have received this week, they are all really appreciated.

As for the Dobbins well I’m sure they’ll be fine when Danny Tickle lands in Town!! PMSL!!!

Keep Believing

Faithfully Yours