The Dentist’s Diary – 572nd

O.K. it’s over and the hordes of FC fans are now making their way back home, half way around the world, after what has no doubt been for them all the experience of a life time. Well done as well to the Club, for making it happen and to the players for a great performance on Saturday. They have all, both on the field and on the terraces been tremendous ambassadors for the British game. What a great success the last two weeks have been! All that and it seems no more injuries to report as well.

But now folks, like it or not, its back to reality and let’s just get everyone home and ready for Saturday eh? We can only hope that we can reproduce some of that form back here in Great Britain, starting as I say, at Castleford this Saturday.

Last Saturday morning I was very proud of every one of our players. It would have been easy to give up the ghost after that Wigan defeat and you know and I know, that some FC teams of years passed would have done just that. But, even when you consider the injuries we had sustained, we didn’t give an inch and we were every bit as good as the Dragons, with the exception perhaps of our defence wide out. Once again we conceded too many penalties, particularly in our own half, but the effort was there and we looked pretty proficient when spreading the ball across the line.

It’s has to be good for the team and great for the Club, I’m sure of that and what’s-more, they did us all proud!

Boy, that ANZ Stadium looks big doesn’t it? However, the voices of the Faithful certainly filled it and when you look back at it all, there is certainly no doubt that this trip has been a learning curve for the team and a great experience for all those fans who have made the 20,000-mile round trip.

So, Saturday morning arrived and as I settled down in the chair in my ‘Pajamas’ to watch the action, I wondered how we would fare against a St George team that included a lot of Aussie players that even I’d heard of! It was, without doubt, a daunting task that faced us. The Dragons had some great ball players, some big wingers, a great full back and some massive forwards. With twelve on their interchange bench the hosts were certainly planning on making a lot of changes, whilst although our core 13 looked strong, our own smaller bench was certainly pretty inexperienced.

An early break from Shaul showed a bit of his old ability to attack from deep, before Manu lost the ball when it might have been easier to score. Then some brilliant inter-play from Kelly and Connor created as good a wide out movement as you’ll ever see and we were on the board. It was always going to be hard but I thought we gave it a good go and looked in that first half to create some exciting stuff. Kelly was certainly back ‘in the shop window’ and he did his own cause not harm at all with those first two tries, but I thought the whole team was really up for it and it was heartening to see the lines the forwards were running as they set up the backs for the later plays of each set.

Liam Watts who along with Albert Kelly was vying for man of the match for Hull

But once again we gave away too many penalties in the tackle and a lucky no try decision just on the half time hooter showed that we are still poor over the line defending against the high ball. For me it was all very heartening although Griffin had perhaps his poorest 40 minutes so far, but we had played our hearts out and had a real go at them. Could we sustain it in the second half? Well, quite frankly I doubted it! I mused at half time that having two referee’s didn’t make that much difference although you could clearly see that it cleans up the play the ball no end and it was also good to see female touch judges as well. However, all in all at half time I was really pleased, particularly with Hadley who, at acting half, did a great job against a good defence.

The second half started with a let off, when Wattsy lost the ball, but we continued to attack their line with gusto and our defence tried manfully to move the Dragons attack around before St George scored on a spread play to the left as they ran the ball on the 6th tackle. That play appeared to catch us a bit asleep, and the hosts were back in front, but to be trailing by just two points after 50 minutes was better than I expected. However, they looked so strong wide out when they spread the ball and again we have to stop giving penalties away in our own half because they just kill us.

Still we battled on and Wattsy’s try was brilliant as he took the ball and did what he does best; ran at the gap not the player. It was a great second half showing all round really, as our second string players tried so hard and were not outplayed despite being dwarfed by some of the Dragon’s youngsters. But then sadly, a hand in on the ball, on the last tackle, did for us and they went on to score the winner. However, with Mini, Houghton and Tag missing it was a great performance and a game with no pressure that I really enjoyed. Well done to everyone because those youngsters certainly didn’t look out of place in the second half at all.

A Brilliant bit of self-advertising Albo was great!

Performance wise both wingers did well but need to get their cover defence sorted at times and I thought that at the back Shaul had probably his best game thus far. He looked light on his feet again and a real handful returning the ball and he’s at last playing himself into some form now I think. Connor was again a revelation and no doubt he’ll have been noted by a few Aussie scouts, while I though Carlos did OK when he came on, but for me Griffin was disappointing at times.

Both half backs did well and Sneyd tried really hard to direct play and control things, but Albo had a wow of a game. It will certainly have had a few Aussie Clubs knocking on his hotel room door before we left for the journey home and no mistake. Up front Bowden was better, Paea strong again, whilst Washy and Manu made an impressive looking starting second row. For me, my man of the match in the forwards was Wattsy, who had a big game and certainly posted the fact that he was back and firing again. His was as good a try as you will see from a prop forward.

At hooker and in the loose, Hadley was again brilliant and he’s certainly took over Danny’s mantle with some aplomb and wasn’t intimidated by their big forwards at all. That said, I think that Dean could do with ‘a blow’ at times and if that is the case then I thought Litten did enough to get a bench spot next week. However, it was such a great experience for them all and with Jezz, Downs, Matongo, Turgut, Lane, Fash, Logan and co. all showing up really well and again fitting into the starting line-up seamlessly, the future certainly looks bright. That crop of youngsters that Richard Horne brought through before the new joint academy started are really proving a great investment, aren’t they? They all did themselves proud in this game. Matongo particularly was so strong with ball in hand and he has a big future, as he really did look good as he charged into their line in that second half.

As for the TV presentation well, we experienced a really great commentary again from Vossy and Co and I loved some of their expressions like “He’s dropped his lollies” and when he said, “He’s kicked it back into the kitchen” as we cleared the ball dead to concede a drop out. Good coverage again I thought. I watched that totally one-sided World Club Challenge on Friday and despite the speed of the Aussie game and the strength of their forwards, I was most taken again with the quality of the coverage and the commentating. The two commentators that day complemented what we saw, rather than tried to constantly force themselves on the viewer.

Plus, on the couple of occasions when the referee got it wrong, they just mentioned that fact and moved on, without dwelling on countless replays of the mistake. It was good quality entertainment which showed the Sky TV game coverage at Widnes that night to be sadly lacking. What’s more, when the Aussie presenters made a light hearted comment, it made you smile, rather than cringe, as was, as usual, the case later on in the day with Eddie and Co.

So onto other things and it might indirectly have provided a $10 million boost to the Illawarra economy and £500,000 to Hull FC’s, but, last weekend’s game against Wigan was none the less described in some quarters as a disaster! Still, I guess there is some truth in that as far as Hull FC and injuries were concerned. But, if that is the case, then, for me it was a disaster that the club could have done little to avert. We fought hard and I think in hindsight, had we not suffered so much adversity, we would have won.

The fact is of course teams get such set-backs and if we hadn’t got them there in Australia, then we would have probably got them had the game been played in Lancashire, as was originally intended. Still that said it’s a long time since I’ve seen a team so disrupted by injuries.

Where the players properly conditioned and as well prepared as they would have been back at County Road? Well you have to presume they were, particularly as Lee Radford is a stickler for such things and let’s face it, you don’t have a bigger chance of developing peritonitis sunning yourself in the Southern Hemisphere, than you do shivering here, north of the equator, do you?

Good to see old boy Noggers joins us for training last week.

The fact that this isn’t the first time a rugby player has been diagnosed with such a condition after a game, is a worry, or it could be, but it’s more likely a coincidence, rather than something more sinister. Personally I think that such injury and illness are little else than a case of just being extremely unlucky and no one else’s fault. At least unlike the old days, being separated from your appendix is no longer a 6 week’s job and key hole surgery has certainly massively increased the recovery time. I guess, in the end, despite all the conspiracy theories (and there are quite a few of them around) what has happened thus far is nothing more than unfortunate. We were going to get a shed load of injuries at some point in some campaign, simply because we had done so well with regard to them over the past two seasons. At least most of the ones we got in that game, weren’t too serious and so I guess we’ll just have to get on with it.

Danny’s injury is the most worrying both medically and because of the impact it will have on the team and now apparently even that isn’t as bad as was first thought. Last time he suffered such a set-back, it was last season after we arrived late at Wigan following our Coach being delayed on the motorway, after which it appeared that the players had to complete a truncated warm up. This time after having a week in the sun to prepare, it was just unfortunate that this happened, for as with so many none impact injuries there is simply no explanation as to why it occurred when it did. As I say it’s all just bad luck, but without our charismatic number 9, I think we may well have a few tough games ahead.

All in a day’s work apparently; Mini and Shaun O’Loughlin do the rounds of the photo calls last Monday.

On a more positive note, one player that has really impressed me this season is Josh Griffin and I was wondering quite what had taken a player that I wasn’t that impressed with last season to probably our best performer in our first two games in this campaign. Having joined from Salford ahead of 2017, Griffin showed glimpses of his quality last term but for me he never really cut it at the level I had hoped for, particularly after some great performances against us in previous seasons.

This week in the Yorkshire Post he probably answered that conundrum with an unlikely explanation, when he said of his improved form, “I’ve always had it in me. I’m getting back to where I used to be now. Last year I did struggle for form. This time I’ve just settled down in pre-season, I’ve lost a few kilos which has been big for me and my off-field life is better”.

He then went on to spill the beans on the real reason for his improvement when he continued about the new addition at home, “(As a dad) you see life differently now and from a different perspective. I’ve been missing him this week but hopefully he’s been at home watching, even if he doesn’t know what’s going on. Obviously I’m back playing at left centre role, too, which is my favourite side. Carlos (Tuimavave) is coming back soon, but hopefully I’ve done enough to keep at that side.”

Sam Burgess and Gareth Ellis go Jet Boating

So, it is great news then that Josh is starting to find some form and I’m really pleased for him, however I wasn’t so happy about Liam Watt’s comments about playing this weekend with a hamstring injury. I get the fact that ‘I haven’t travelled half way around the world to not play’ but by the same rule, I think he would have been better rested this weekend. It’s a strange one really because it’s unusual to see a player playing through a ‘hammy’, as usually rest is prescribed for such injuries. I just hope he knows what he is doing and is fit for next Saturday in a game after which, if we don’t win, we will already find ourselves falling a bit behind the eight ball.

It was, this week, interesting to read how ex-players such as Richard Swain, Craig Fitzgibbon, Shane McMenemy, Willie Manu and Peter Sterling speak so warmly and affectionately about their time at the Club and about how the fans ensured that it was an experience that they will never forget. Craig even revealed that whilst we was here for the World Club Challenge, he even drove over from Manchester just to go and revisit the barn conversion in South Cave where he lived whilst at the FC. That affection shown by so many players, is without doubt down to everyone reading this, for as a group of fans we are pretty special.

They talk in the media is all about the need for the game to repeat the exercise that saw us travel 10,000 miles to play a League game, but if the sport decides to do that will we have to go again? I mean to say what other clubs will get over 2,200 to travel all that way to watch a Super League game? When Wigan were first asked by the Aussie tourist boards to go over there, who was the first Club they approached to go with them? Fact is, being the best supporters in the game is probably an over-used adage in sport, but perhaps as far as Rugby League is concerned at Hull FC the words of those retired ex player’s and the actions of those brilliant folks who travelled all that way to get behind their heroes, have ensured that until someone can do better, we take the title in this country!

Here’s the Rev Tony officiating on Manley Beach when Paul and Kim Longley celebrate 30 years together as they renew their wedding vows in the company of the players and the Clubs fans.

Quote of the week this week takes us back to Josh Griffin again, who was yellow-carded with Sam Tomkins in the final stages of the Wigan game after an altercation with the England international. Asked what it was all about, Josh said: “He just talks garbage all the time.” Ha, I thought, why aren’t we surprised by that fact?

Talking about spouting garbage, oh boy, that Gary Hetherington’s a ‘card’ isn’t he? He said this week there’ll be ‘no chance’ of Super League increasing to 14 teams in 2019 which is fine, even though speculation is rife that the competition will expand from its current 12-side format next season. However now, according to some I speak to around the game, one or two owners are sticking out for the status quo, because for one reason or another, they fear the consequences of expansion and quite frankly doing nothing actually suits their own agenda’s best; Gary Hetherington anyone?

But, how can he say that when all the Super League Clubs clubbed together last July to give Leigh a parachute payment so as to help them get back into what would be a 14 team competition in 2019? As I said last week that really happened, because the Leigh owner told us it did. Hetherington in fact went on to say that the only source of the stories of expansion was down to the machinations of the media!

When asked if there was a likely-hood of 14 teams in Super League next season he said, “No. None at all. On that point, once again, there is a load of speculation and a lot of it comes from really p*** poor journalists in my opinion journalists who should know better, who should have a grasp of the facts rather than just a fantasy. We’ve got a real problem in the game because we don’t appear to have any journalists in any of the media with understanding and it’s them who are peddling a lot of the rubbish that is talked about. It’s this misinformation provided by journalists that’s a real problem for our game and it’s because they don’t do their homework and don’t get to know the facts”.

Fake News in Rugby League; what a ridiculous outburst! Talk about how to make friends and influence people!! To hear such comments from one of the ‘respected’ owners in the game is so counter-productive it’s unbelievable! It’s almost as if he wants to turn what’s left of the RL media, that still care a bit, completely against us!! For me it’s his own judgement that is **** poor because the unacceptable thing about Gary’s comments is that the small band of journalists who still cover the game, do try to champion the sport whenever they can. Too many times though, a lack of information from the ‘inner sanctum’ makes their job very difficult.

Gavin Wilson York City Knights Media Manager responded immediately on twitter, “Hetherington really endearing himself to the #RugbyLeague media this morning. I trust the next SL CEO meeting will be an open house so that all those hard working ‘pi** poor journalists’ can be in possession of the full facts then? Thought not”. Even Neil Hudgell who I don’t agree with very often, chimed in on twitter, with this repost, “A very dangerous path for Gary H to be treading in the ‘trades’ (trade papers) this morning, in my humble opinion”. What’s more you really can’t disagree with them can you? Turn the media against us and we are sunk!

There has always been too much cloak and dagger about the RL and quite frankly Hetherington has been in the thick of it all for too long, in a position that I think suited him. You see for me he has a big problem and it’s that he wants to be in charge and head Honcho of the game. It’s a self-imposed position he firstly manufactured for himself and then wallowed in over the years. However, now I think that perhaps the once top dog is being superseded by a few of the newer breed of owner and he doesn’t like it much.

Interviews in the national media like the one in the Guardian that featured Adam Pearson recently, won’t suit him at all, especially when our owner is talking the game up, talking positively and outlining big changes coming in an attempt to save a declining game. Let’s face it our best team was miles out in the World Club challenge, even though the opposition were three weeks off their first competitive game and the Loiners had played two before they set off to play them. We should aspire at least to be as good as that lot over there, but over the weekend everyone inside and outside the sport in this country just shrugged their shoulders and accepted that we are way behind the Aussies.

I think clubs like Hull, Saints, Wigan and Warrington want to progress the game and they are desperate for better quality on the field as well as more exposure and a higher profile on the national and indeed international scene, but Gary doesn’t like that much. Or at least he doesn’t like the fact that he’s not leading it. I think that although there are some poor reporters out there, we also have some really good ones and for every Garry Schofield there are several James Smailes’, Adrian Durham’s, Peter Smith’s and Martin Sadler’s and the game has to at least respect them a bit.

One things for sure, the state of British rugby league after years of the Hetherington’s and a few others ruling the roost, is in pretty poor shape. We are still quite obviously the poor relation of the NRL and the numbers of youngsters entering the game and playing in the junior ranks is going backwards, as is the sports profile on the national stage. Our current league structure is totally baffling for the uninitiated and our procurement of media contracts especially for TV coverage is nothing short of abysmal. Further-more as fans we are pretty fed up with it all and want to see some action to improve and resurrect the image of the game we love!! However, p***ing off the few dedicated journalists we have left, is not the way to do it!!! So, I think that there’s more to this outburst by the Leeds Chief Executive than a comment on the quality of journalism in the game. As I said earlier, “He’s a card isn’t he?”

Radders catches up with Stevie Michaels.

How interesting it was to see that, after all the hoo haa there was last year about the difficulty that was common across the game with regard to holding the new Rhino ball in wet conditions and after being told by the hierarchy that we were imagining it, the newly formed Rugby League Players Association are now calling for the RFL to make adjustments to the ball. They have certainly come under a lot of criticism from players, coaches and fans alike and now former England star Gareth Carvell has told League Weekly: “I think it contributes to five or six extra knock-on’s per game”. So do we mate so do we, but will they listen?

I was thinking the other day that although we strive to make our game a truly international one, the World Club Challenge between Melbourne and Leeds certainly exposed one of rugby league’s biggest failings – the fact that we have so many bloody versions of the game. Brian McDermott only found out 48 hours before kick-off, that the game will be officiated by two referees, as per the NRL, rather than one, as per International and Super League rules. How the hell can any sport wanting to expand and be taken seriously across the world, have three different versions of itself? There are several major issues that the game should address to make itself appear more competently run and standardising the rules between all competitions should be at the top of the list.

Those in Toronto who have been captivated by the sport of rugby league must be left scratching their heads when they watched what should be the highest profile club game of them all, last Friday. Rugby League has enough challenges as it is, without having to explain that there are three versions of it’s rules. Maybe Nigel Wood can have this at the top of his agenda when he takes up his role at the International Federation.

However, he’ll have a tough job because the stumbling block with always be the NRL. Like with many things relating to the growth of the game, they’ll do their darndest to ensure it’s blocked unless everyone else agrees to do everything exactly as they do it; otherwise it simply won’t happen, but it should. Of course, the versions of the game aren’t a million miles apart, but it is the finer details of the rules that confuse the casual viewer, and rugby league just doesn’t need the doubt and uncertainty it causes. We have seen the RFL, perhaps due to their own commitment to growing the game, implement some rules first seen in the NRL, such as the 40/20 kick restarts and seven tackle sets, but the Aussies do as they like anyway and that is something that must be totally confusing for any newcomer to the game.

The conundrum faced by Lee Radford with regard to who plays at loose forward this season, is interesting indeed as these days it’s a real, game to game, ‘horses for courses’ position and not really as predominant in the spine of the team as it was years ago. In fact in the 70’s and the 80’s it was a position occupied by some of the greatest exponents of ball handling in the game. So, this week in Codgers Corner I want to look back at probably the greatest loose forward and perhaps too the greatest ‘character’ I have seen play in a Black and White shirt. I could talk of Knocker Norton or indeed Johnny Whiteley who had more skill on show, but for me there is someone who is still in my memory, just that bit more special.

We have had some real “Star” number 13’s when it comes to on the field ability and indeed, some real jokers off it, but few if any can match this week’s featured hero. This player was one of the most talented I have ever seen in those famous hooped shirts, and yet he drove coaches and supporters to distraction with his tricks and by frequently going absent for sometimes weeks on end. For this player in fact, it was not about what he was, but what he could have been, with a bit of application. But everyone loved him!

Mick Crane was as elusive on the field as he was off it! I remember when he first signed for the club on 4th December 1970. We lost away at Cas. that day, but then went on an unprecedented run that saw us lose one, draw one and win seven of our next nine games! Mick came from local rugby and I don’t put our winning streak down to him, but he was from the off simply unplayable at times and anyone who watched him play back then would agree that he was always a bit of a talisman, when his name appeared on our team sheet.

In his first season at the club Crane, who played in most games, scoring 3 tries while playing in the centre. Even back then he was a languid sort of player who always seemed to be able to have more time on the ball than any of his colleagues, he would also have a habit of popping up in the line anywhere but in the centre!

He soon gained a reputation off the field too, he hated training and he was not worried who he told about it! In fact, he much preferred to sit it out with a “trade mark” fag in his hand. Yet if he could have mustered up a modicum of ‘total’ commitment, he would have gone on to become a household name in International rugby. But then, had that happened, I guess he’d not have been the player and legend that we now look back on with such affection.

When he moved to loose-forward we all quickly realised that here we had a talent that was at the very least, something special. The position gave him a licence to “officially” roam the field and Mick seemed to have the ability to transform a game in a split second, with something that was so simple, and yet so well executed that it left the opposition totally mesmerised. Many were the times that his tactics were nothing short of audacious, like when he would produce a short kick over the heads of the defensive line, whilst still in his own twenty-five. And, more often than not he would amble through, re-gather the ball and charge off up field. His grubber kicking from hand was a real revelation too, at a time when that ploy was not seen too often.

In his first spell at the club he gained an off field reputation that was second to none. Dick Tingle will tell you a great story about how he experienced Craney’s antics first hand back in the 70’s on a trip to play in Cumbria. The bus stopped at Preston for a pre match lunch, paid for by our then Chairman Charlie Watson. Mick gobbled down his lunch and then shot out to a nearby betting shop to place a bet. With everyone back at the coach, there was still no Mick, and Charlie decided that he should be the one to go and tell Craney it was time to go. A few minutes later he returned to the coach with a red face, puffing on his famous pipe until it resembling a chimney on fire. He was asked if Mick was coming and replied “Yes, in a minute, when this next race has finished”. That was Mick Crane!!!

He certainly defied all the textbooks on being an athlete. I also remember that his fellow players nicknamed him “The Dreadnought”, (after a famous submarine of the time), because he was the absolute master of getting a “sub” on his wages from the then, and usually very prudent secretary, Cyril Fowler.

Mick’s first spell at Hull ended in 1977 when he was transfer listed after failing to show up for an away game against Wigan. Leeds swooped and signed him for their then record fee of £13,000, and we all thought that was the end of Craney at the Boulevard. But we were wrong on that score!

His spell at Headingley saw him play a part in the Loiner’s Wembley Cup winning team of 1978, but then, as was his wont, he disappeared (again) for several weeks, was transfer listed, (again), and joined the Dobbins for a fee of £9,000 in November 1979. After a couple of seasons, he returned to the Boulevard for a similar fee to begin his most memorable spell at our club. He was no different though, and I remember well that when the first of our New Zealanders Gary Kemble arrived early from NZ, he wrote a letter back home to Dane O’Hara that stated, “One of the best players we have stubs his cigarette out in the tunnel as he runs onto the pitch”.

Soon Mick had appeared in two Wembley finals, and featured from the bench at Elland Road against Widnes in the 1982 final replay. He suddenly seemed to take the game more seriously, and even made a Test Appearance for Great Britain later in 1982, when he played against Australia. This followed one of his most memorable outings for our club when he played in that mighty effort by Hull against the Aussie “Invincibles” that same year. It was a game we lost 13-7 and one that I highlighted here in the Diary a while ago. Craney took the man of the match that cold night with a real hero’s performance, that was even more spectacular when you consider that he was marked by one of the greatest ever Aussies, Ray Price.

Of course it was too good to last and after basking in the reflective glory of an international call up, soon afterwards he went missing again. Once again, he returned but after missing several training sessions he was listed at £25,000, however this time no one was willing to take the risk anymore, so Mick buckled down again, and made 40 appearances that season. At the end of the 1984 season he disappeared again, telling me shortly afterwards, in the Punch Hotel in Victoria Square, that he had officially retired.

Of course, no doubt needing some ‘funds’ he returned for one last time two years later in 1986 to make 18 appearances in his last season for the club. Although he had slowed up a bit, his brain was as sharp as ever and he developed an amazing dummy that saw him just ghost through defences time and again in that final year!

He will be remembered as a real character simply because every fan who was around back then, has a Mick Crane story but we should never forget his playing career either. In all, despite the tantrums, disappearances and transfers, he made an amazing 359 appearances for the club, and so was a great servant to the black and whites. His unpredictability was an enormous asset, and what is often forgotten is that he was also a real hard worker, sometimes making 3 and 4 tackles in the same set of six. For someone who went into a sweat at the mention of training, he had boundless amounts of energy and graft in him too.

The modern game and the physical attributes needed to play it, means that newcomers will never see the likes of Craney. He was under rated, often not taken seriously, but a class player just the same. Peter Sterling once said of him, “If this guy did not drink and smoke you cannot imagine how good he could be”. Believe me, the history of our great club and the game in general would be a much less colourful one without the character and skill of players like the great Mick Crane. Perhaps in fact they just come along once in any supporter’s lifetime. I count myself lucky that he came along in mine.

As always the correspondence continues to pour in and thanks to everyone who got in touch. It was great to hear from Brian Wright in Lincoln this week, who has been getting over some pretty major heart surgery, but who was, all the same, determined to get to the Hudderfield game at the KCOM. He wrote, “My 1st target was to get to the Huddersfield game. I succeeded complete with my long johns, 2 pair of socks, 2 shirts, 2 coats, a cap scarf etc. and thoroughly enjoyed it (except for 20min)”. Brian talked as well of his love of the old ‘A’ team games and how the entertainment at them was so good. Thanks for the letter mate and I hope you continue to get stronger.

Another interesting E Mail came from regular readers Mike and Sue who drives over from Widnes for every home game. Mike commented that he realised how things had changed as he threw out a few old Diaries and found this entry “23rd March 2014: Over to KC for Widnes game – lost 0-7. Dreadful! Got wet going into the ground and it was very wet on first half of the drive home. We were pathetic against a Widnes team who offered nothing!!! Why do I do it???” The answer to that Mike concluded, is, “I am an incurable Hull FC fan and I do it in return for days like those experienced in 2016 and 2017 at Wembley”. So do we all mate! Nice touch that I thought!

Thanks for all the letters E mails and texts again this week, they are really appreciated. I’ve enjoyed following our fortunes over the last two weeks and well done to everyone who went and indeed those who played! I’m going to Castleford on Saturday so no doubt I’ll see you there, but I think myself that it might be tough going and after what has gone before, perhaps a big ask!!! So …..

Keep Believing

Faithfully Yours

And Finally never a truer word!