The Dentist’s Diary – 574th

Well, that bloody weather was awful wasn’t it?

I was under the weather myself all week and just about everyone else I knew had a cold or worse! The conditions were nothing short of horrific by Thursday and I can’t remember so many Super League games being postponed for ages can you? For this time of the year, it was a rare blast from the past, harking back, for me, to winters I remember as a kid living down Airlie Street. As an aside I certainly don’t agree with that crowd at the BBC either, Spring hasn’t ever started for yours truly until 21st March, perhaps now they’ll believe me!

As for the game, well I’m always honest in here and for me first impressions afterwards indicated a scruffy display against a bang average Warrington, but, I guess as well, it was pretty typical of a lot of the fare we get served up these days in Super League’s televised games. However, I’ll take the points, because quite frankly looking at how we’ve played so far this year and the luck we’ve had with injuries, we might just need them!!

The team spirit is certainly there and we work so hard for each other and yet we are so bloody undisciplined at times and give away far too much ball at the wrong end of the field. The stats show that we are one of the worst teams in the league for this and whilst Watts’ ‘nut job’ was terrible, so were some of the stupid penalties we gave away. In addition, we witnessed a mini collapse, conceding back to back tries, again, and there were some poor reads as well at times.

However, grumble over because we won the game and got the points, we looked pretty much in charge at 18-0, despite the stuff I cite above, but by the end I concluded that I had seen little to be that excited about either really. It wasn’t a night to be getting excited anyway, but rather one for getting the job done. Why was I a bit disappointed? Well, I guess it just wasn’t the FC we know and love was it? Still, that sort of grinding performance is how we have got back on the horse in the past and I guess in the end a wins a win and points are all that really matter at this stage in the season. To have had only two points after four matches would have been a real concern, but at this time of year I believe that a 50% return is about where you want to be if you’re not to peak too early.

One things for sure it was a blooming freezing night, but we’ve played in colder conditions ….. just! So, more of that one later!”

It was a wintry scene on Friday afternoon.

The ground staff at the KCOM did a great job getting the game on to thus avoid a fixture pile up later on in the season and well done to every one of the fans who turned up. A lot didn’t and good for them, because it was certainly cold enough to threaten anyone who was suffering from poor health. However, as you know, I’m a big ‘fans’ fan and always side with the great souls that sit there on the terraces, so I really felt for those Warrington supporters who had booked coaches and perhaps who’ve never missed a game live, but couldn’t get there. They must have been gutted, I know I would have been.

The joint statement from the Clubs said that, “It is expected that trains will still be running across the Pennines to Hull, this being a possible travel option for Warrington supporters still hoping to get to the game. However, fans should check with their train company before traveling” The fact, as was pointed out by countless disappointed Warrington fans, was that when they did check there was no way they could get home before 6-00am next morning after, that is, a few hours sat on a freezing cold platform in between. So that wasn’t a very well thought out statement at all.

A Cold night, but credit to the ground staff it was a great pitch!

Had it not been on Sky then the fairest outcome for those visiting fans would have been to postpone the game, but the game was televised and so from that point of view they didn’t miss out, but it was still tough for those who wanted to attend and cheer on their team but couldn’t and well do to the 30 or so who somehow did get there from Lancashire.

For the opposition team to have to travel on the train, stay over-night and then travel back next day was highly commendable as well, but perhaps, standing back from the heroic efforts that have been put in place all week to get the game on, it just again proved the hold that money up front and the influence of Sky TV has over our game.

Still as kick off approached it was obvious that it was going to be a real battle against the elements for the fans, but the pitch itself was in great condition and an improving Warrington were going to be a hard nut to crack.

In the first few sets the visitors looked so much stronger on the charge as they concentrated on one-man rugby up the middle whilst we had to resort to front foot rugby from the backs to get us back up field. That meant that we certainly showed more enterprise whilst they showed more grunt. That made it very nip and tuck and we had to survive some big pushes downfield from their forwards. But we stuck at it and after a quarter of an hour, we got their measure a bit and the teams looked pretty evenly matched despite their tactics being different.

However, Sneydy looked a bit lost at times without Kelly at the other side of him although personally I love to see Connor involved in the middle myself although, he does give himself something of a roving brief. Still, it looked to all intense and purposes that it was going to be a close game, because for me we certainly ain’t dominating teams as we did at times last year. But I guess it was and still is, early days.

There was a fine 40/20 from Jake Connor, before we saw a well worked try for Faraimo that got us off the mark and I remember thinking at that point that Washy was doing a lot better than I believed he could subbing for Houghton at acting half. That opening touch-down came from a sharp pass from him from behind the play the ball, but the great piece of play was the bit of vision from Manu whose cut out pass over the top, gave the winger what was a simple walk in. It was developing into a real close encounter and I guess we would have taken going in 10 nil up when we started, but it was dour stuff and bleak fare at times and certainly not the sort of action that would warm up your feet on what was becoming a real ‘deep freezer’ of a night! Still we led and we’d done what we had to whilst Warrington looked to be still on the train.

I think that would have given anyone concussion!

That tackle on Faraimo was ‘the highlight’ of the action in the first ten minutes of the second half and quite how the Warrington bloke could complain about being sent off, I don’t know, because watching it back afterwards it was a blatant swing of the arm into our winger’s face. Then I thought that we started to look to play the extra man advantage well, with Manu and Talanoa running great lines to isolate defenders, with the try by Tumavive a point of fact, for the lines he and Talanoa ran were brilliant.

With Sneyd’s metronomic leg stroking over the kicks from all angles at 18-0 it was game over and time to go and get a Bovril, if of course the refreshments had still been open! But then, what always threatens to happen when you support Hull FC came about, and a winning margin began to unravel. Talanoa made a couple of unecessary fouls to give the opposition the chance of 6 more tackles close to our line and from the ensuing penalties two quick tries saw us looking down the barrel of a most unlikely defeat.

We looked frayed at the edges, listless and panicky. On attack we looked great with the extra man but in defence the alarm bells were ringing and all that against a ten-man team who we had controlled for 50 plus minutes. We needed to break the momentum and get the ball back and a great gang tackle into touch in the North West corner did just that and anyway 13 men against 12 would, I was sure, still get us home.

Well it would before Watts was plain stupid with his head and deserved all he got (and the 4 games he will probably get!) It wasn’t a full on malicious ‘nut’ but rather a childish head to head warning, instigated by Watts and the referee had no option but to send him off. It was so disappointing and shows again that he is such a talented player who just doesn’t have that much self-control. It was a critical time in the game, yes he should have had a penalty, but he just needed to carry on playing.

Its always easy to be wise after the event but on twitter he later said, “Can I firstly say that wasn’t a head butt and was merely caressing Dom’s forehead with mine in a friendly manner. I wasn’t happy about the tackle and I just lost my head in the heat of the moment. People that know me know that it’s not in my nature to react like that. And I’d just like to apologise to all the kids that saw it and that’s how not to act on a rugby pitch when things flare up. Very unsportsmanlike and very disappointed in myself. I’ll learn from this for the better. Also big up to the fans that braved the cold to support us”.

He’s a talented player and great to watch but he has absolutely no brains at all at times and Lee is going to have to do something about him, because he gets sent off far too often, whilst, what’s even worse, he has no comprehension of the importance of the time in the game when he does such things. Subsequently he just lets everyone down. Still at least he had the balls to go on twitter afterwards. Now however, with Paea out injured we have two of our 5 front line props missing. Hopefully we will at least have Green back next week.

Still back to the game and after that absolute brain fart, it was backs to the wall as we scraped home, but again the players defied the instructions from the bench to go for two in the 78th minute and instead ran the ball, to risk a dropped pass or an interception but somehow we saw out the game. Just!!!!!! As matches go however, I wasn’t too impressed with our performance at all really, probably because all I could think about afterwards was those two quick Warrington tries and the antics of Liam Watts! However, we scraped our way through and just did what we needed to secure the points!

Now in hindsight and after watching it back again, in the end it was I guess a satisfactory outcome and with the exception of a few minutes when again we worryingly conceded back to back tries, gave away needless penalties and ran around like headless chickens, we defended stoically and looked pretty comfortable. Tuimavave returning to the starting line-up after that hamstring injury was the pick of the FC players for me, although he would have been pushed close for that accolade had Bureta stayed on the field. That said, a great tackle from Carlos on Ratchford when we were really under the pump probably, in the end, saw us home.

Great game, great try and shut Atkins up all night!

I also thought despite some poor end of set kicking in the first half, Sneyd’s pin point accuracy goal kicking in a swirling wind also saw us home and in fairness he never stopped trying to get us moving. Hadley, deposed from the acting half backs role by Washy had another great game in the second row and acting Captain Taylor looked nothing like a man who only 18 days earlier had been in for surgery to have his appendix removed. He grafted really hard after Watt’s dismissal, but that put the acting captain who was intending to play reduced minutes on his comeback, under some pressure too!

Liam Watts I like as a player a lot but what a blooming idiot he is!

Another player who is improving week on week is Jamie Shaul and he looked more like his old self coming out of back field and offering an extra pivot role at times. Connor had a good game again and his 40/20 was a great piece of play, but it’s his ability to wind players up without cracking himself, that is something that seems to work and de-stabalise the opposition and it’s a quality that served us well again on Friday. He seems to wind ‘em up and then steps back to watch them implode as players bite back, week in week out. He reminds me a bit of Kevin Dick when he played for us particularly the way that he controls his temper brilliantly with that grin and that, ‘What me ref’ look, but he certainly unsettles the opposition to great effect. I’ll tell you what too I was mightily impressed with Brad Fash from the minute he came on, his no frills efforts are going to see him pushing for a starting spot soon.

Jamie Shaul – best game so far!

We will be a lot better when Houghton and Albo are fit and playing regularly in better weather again, but at this time of the year its just about points on the board and to get two against Warrington, home or away, is always a big tick in the box and so ugly though it was at times, it was still job done.

So to the week gone by and you know over the last two successful seasons, Lee Radford’s not been one for dishing out the bollocking’s, because let’s face it he hasn’t needed to. He needs to sort Watts out now though, because at times he’s uncontrollable, but by and large, the group has been pretty self-regulating really. However, despite all the ‘smoke and mirrors’ that were put about concerning the obvious ‘advantages’ of Australia, the fact is, this week, we were getting to the point where questions needed to be asked, because that showing at Castleford was hardly acceptable was it? That performance wasn’t a crisis, but it was worrying and even though we improved against Warrington it still wasn’t what you’d call inspiring last Friday either! Perhaps it never is in the cold and wet at the start of the season, who knows?

However, Lee seemed to concur with our concerns last week too, because he made some telling comments on the eve of the Wire game when he said, “Consistency is an issue after we started like a house on fire against Huddersfield. We need to be more clinical. We didn’t do that against Castleford and we got burnt. We are playing a team this week that if we don’t play at our best, we’ll get beat”. Then more tellingly he added, “If you are in this camp and you know anything about the game, you don’t need any more evidence that we need to be bang at it tonight. If you do, you’re probably in the wrong environment”. Sounds to me like the players had been given the rounds of the kitchen a bit last week!

I have always thought his aspirations to “Win all of our games during February” and be “At the top of the table and challenging”, were a bit ambitious, taking into consideration the trek down under and the quality of the opposition in that period. However, when you watched it back again during the week the manner of the loss at Castleford was certainly worrying. With the weather, it can’t have been easy either, preparing for the game last Friday and indeed trying to right the wrongs as far as our inability to put points on the board was concerned.

As our major injury worry at present, Danny Houghton, is still around three weeks off returning, we needed to try and keep away from injuries if we could. However, last week at Castleford it was apparent by the ice on his wrist that Mickey Paea had got a problem, but he shrugged it off in an interview, as “Oh that’s just a knock” however how much of ‘a knock’ was only revealed on Tuesday when he had a scan that showed a break that will keep him out for a month. Radford dropped the news in an interview on this week’s Press Day when he said, “Mickey has fractured his hand, so I think he will be out for three or four weeks. It’s a shame that he is going to be missing for a while because I thought St George Illawarra and Castleford were his two strongest performances, so it’s a blow for us and him”.

I have to agree with that because for me he was our best forward in those two games and with Greeny the new Dad still out following a bit of ‘maternity leave’, I think we really missed Micky, plus, the loss of Chris was a double blow before the Warrington game as well. Add to that Watts being in the cooler for the next few weeks and we are starting to look to be a bit depleted up front. I hope Mickey is back soon because he’s showing a lot more promise in the front row, than he did when he was here the first time, but for now we’ll just have to get on with it I guess.

On the other hand, the speedy recovery of Scott Taylor was certainly a surprise to many of us, yet I guess after other players who had succumbed to the same fate have returned quickly, the advantage of keyhole surgery is there for all to see. It hardly seems yesterday (although its around 12 years ago) that my pal Billy was in hospital for a week after the same operation and missing from the pub for another 4 weeks. Knowing Scott as we all do, he’ll have been champing at the bit to return to lead the team in Danny Houghton’s absence, but to do it in 18 days and to play the minutes he did on Friday, is still some feet and no mistake.

Well the RL may be ambivalent to it all, but the game is really floundering at amateur and junior level yet without that grass root infrastructure the game will surely die. But, at least the professional Clubs in Hull are doing their best to sort things out as it looks like a big new initiative is about to hit the local scene.

In his programme notes this month Adam said, “As a club, we are acutely aware of the major challenges we face to attract new players, sponsors and supporters in our own area with the pool shrinking dramatically. We can’t lose sight of the core foundation of our club and are working hard on a number of initiatives to improve that outlook. Enhancing our grassroots programmes is of particular importance and we’re working diligently with local league representatives, the RFL and Hull KR on a project to breathe new life into the community and amateur game locally, which is desperately needed. Both professional clubs need to take a more active, hands on approach to the game in our region and this work will become much more apparent over the coming weeks and months”. That sounds interesting doesn’t it?

You know, when typing this stuff every week and writing other things, I have to watch that I don’t repeat myself too much and so when writing about rugby league it’s hard to avoid things like ‘tries’ and ‘goals’ reappearing regularly, words like ‘season’ are often replaced by ‘campaign’ ‘Stadium’ becomes ‘ground’ and ‘fans’ become ‘supporters’. Finding words that mean the same thing, but sound different is important if you don’t want to appear to be repeating yourself again and again (and again!). However, with that latter example I may have to think again, (again) but let me explain.

As you know, I don’t have much time at all for that Sheens ‘gadger’ across the river, (the beast from the East as I call him) but this week, amidst the gathering dismay there seems to be amongst the administration at the dark side about grumbling fans on social media, he explained, “Fans’, who only come to watch when you’re winning, I don’t have much time for. The difference being that ‘supporters’ are here every week through thick and thin, they hold you up whilst fans tend to blow in the wind”. So there you have it and ‘vive le difference’. I’ll have to be careful how I use it in future!!

It is generally believed that clubs are still at loggerheads over plans for a Senior competition comprising of two 10-team divisions, leaked last week, however an article in the Guardian has indicated that the Super League Clubs might also be considering restructuring proposals put forward in an independent report from what they said was a ‘a highly experienced and world-renowned sports administrator’ that was commissioned last year by then RFL chief commercial officer Roger Draper.

This is a secret report that apparently suggested a brave rethink that would see a top flight of the 10 biggest and best-run clubs, and a 16-team second tier comprising of six strong standalone clubs and 10 feeder clubs. The Guardian stated that, “Below that every club outside SL1 would have the option of becoming what our American friends call “affiliates” in a “farm system” or remaining independent. So, those who miss the cut for the top 10 could retain their independence, as would ambitious Championship clubs and misplaced current SL teams whilst smaller clubs with no desire to be in the top flight, such as perhaps Batley, Dewsbury and Rochdale, would partner one of the 10 Super League clubs, as NRL clubs do in the NSW Cup”.

The Guardian article continued, “The report also proposed a lot of detailed and beneficial strategic player development and what it calls commercial alliances. Wigan could become responsible for London; Leeds would partner with York, (over 4,000 saw their League 1 opener against with Bradford) and St Helens may be asked to work their development magic in say Cumbria. Only standalone clubs would be able to get promoted, with Super League licenses and partnerships reappraised every three years”.

Bloody hell I thought not another plan!! However, I guess at the end of the day that if change has to come then there are merits to this one as there are with most of the others. But, with this plan and the the 10+10 scheme and the franchise system the major problem is what to do with the clubs locked out of the party and cut adrift by the new structure, whatever it eventually is. That will be the bone of contention with many methinks! The lack of a pathway to the top would sound a death-knell for some clubs that many traditionalists, me included, wouldn’t want to see out of the game. However, looking at the attendances at some of the more recently included League One expansion clubs, they would probably be better off back in the strong amateur Conference competition.

With this Latest proposed scheme, even without New York and Boston in the top 20, there could be some major historic names cut adrift, which is the sort of collateral damage that many fans, clubs and their administrators would find totally unpalatable and even quite frightening really.

The position of the different Super League Clubs isn’t clear, but as for reorganisation, well following the meeting of Championship and League One clubs last Thursday, there is confirmation that they voted to stick together and repel any attempts from Super League to breakaway and take their TV money with them. With the current deal tied up until 2021, (what a debacle that was as well) the Super League Clubs are either going to have to wait until then, or take things down the legal route to try and break the current deal or even try to overthrow the RFL. While it’s good to see a united front from the Championship Clubs I’m told that if we wait till 2021 at least three of the current Super League Clubs could well have by then gone under.

Still I guess that the Super League big boys could enforce change before the end of the 2021 TV deal by persuading Sky to re-negotiate now. That would be a big gamble in the current climate, but with the Championship and League 1 clubs sticking together and digging their heals in, that may be the only option left to the Super League Clubs.

One thing is for sure, we are hidebound as a sport because of the Sky deal and the fact that they won’t stream games on demand and yet, more and more, that’s what people want with their on screen entertainment these days. We must move with the times in order to stay relevant and worthy of investment. Why do I say that, well just look at that game the other week at York when they entertained Bradford in front of a gate of around 4500. Bradford Bulls streamed the game on Facebook, and over 120k viewers tuned in. The game has since been watched time and time again and the numbers are continuing to increase. That for a first Division game as well!

I believe the likes of Amazon Prime or Netflix could potentially consider the idea of owning the sport’s broadcast rights at all levels. They could then perhaps purchase more specific rights to games, events or tournaments, as they do with football. You’re not allowed to do what Bradford did in the Championship or Super League because the Sky deal won’t allow anyone else to stream games and Sky won’t do it. This is allowing League 1 clubs to experiment and grow. It is also beginning to prove that the divisions outside of Super League do boast a significant value, which, in the past, has been disputed when it comes to broadcast deals.

Given Eddie Hearn’s relationship with Sky, and his organisations use of pay for view and live streaming for boxing etc, could his possible involvement in the sport going forward now be a factor in opening up of the sport to a much wider audience? There is certainly an opportunity here for Rugby League to be a market leader in the use of such technology but will we take it? (Will we buggery) but we do have to look at new audiences for our sport and this might just be the way to do it!

I know what you’re thinking, I am doing the same! Because, each week I seem to be reporting on yet another structure proposal another argument and another set of rumours and machinations coming out of the game. I do it because I really care and I do think our game is sinking fast and is in a far worse state than some of us, the converted, think it is. Something has to happen and quickly and I don’t know what you think, but for me I’m just bored stiff with it all now, I’m losing interest fast and that just gets me asking myself why after almost 58 year supporting my Club am I more reticent and ambivalent to the state of the sport than I’ve ever been.

Why, well probably because we could have sorted all this, had two strong Divisions, with a third development Division below it, had a structure that everyone could understand that protected the players and that offered traditional ‘who finishes bottom’ type relegation. Instead it’s all just a mess now, but we invariably accept that because in Rugby League it’s always been that way; pretty chaotic! What really T’s me off this time though, is I think the fact that there’s loads of effort going on, schemes and plans are constantly coming forward and good intentions appear to be abounding, but all this seems to be borne out of the need to firstly generate more money for the few, whilst a long way down the road is the desire to protect the smaller clubs, to develop the customer experience and to ensure the game has a healthy future. This one as they say will run and run!

Well if it was cold on Friday night, but you’ve all been telling me that it wasn’t the coldest you’d been whilst watching Hull FC because I and hundreds of others remember well another game that was even colder. Although I’ve covered it before, but after all your interest this week in the Codgers spot I’ll have a look back at a game in 1993 which was played on the coldest day on which I have ever watch Rugby league. Here is how I saw it in the second book, Roaming the Range Together, ‘Going Down the Boulevard’.

Over the 60 years that I have been involved in Hull FC, I have certainly attended a lot of matches when it’s been cold, in fact I’ve attended one or two when it has been positively freezing but there was one game that was played at the Boulevard back in 1993 that will always go down in the annals of our great Club, as the coldest afternoon that we ever experienced at that great old Stadium. Back on 12th December that year our form had certainly improved and we were all hoping for a good run in the Regal Trophy when, to our dismay, we were drawn against Widnes at the Boulevard. They were the ‘Cup Kings’ and although we had won 4 of our previous 5 games, including a narrow victory over St Helens at the Boulevard the previous week, it was going to be tough.

As my pals and I walked down the Boulevard towards the ground it was cold; bloody cold! It was that sort of cold that grips your face and chills you to the bone. In addition, as the wind howled around the houses it was just starting to hailstone. With it being a Cup game we knew there was bound to be some available seats, so we decided to sit in the New Threepenny Stand, hoping that it would at least offer some shelter from what were Arctic conditions.

As I made my way into the seats wishing I had worn a warmer coat, I was greeted by a succession of groans as I pushed my way past a line of middle aged fans with blankets over their legs and their soup flasks twinkling in the already lit floodlights. I finally slumped down in my seat just as the teams came out, vigorously swinging their arms like demented windmills it was obvious that however fast and furious the action, for some it was going to be difficult keeping warm. Before he kicked off, Jeff Doyle was blowing on his hands and it was clearly going to be a bit of a ‘learning curve’ for our Aussie imports.

Widnes were a great team, however we started strongly as Tim Street continually pushed their strong pack back. Then after around ten minutes, a full scale brawl broke out when Tim slapped Esene Faimalo in a tackle. The referee Mr. Ollerton waited for the melee to die down before giving both players a stiff talking too and awarding Widnes a penalty. Shortly after that it was certainly no surprise when the visitors took the lead as Goulding broke through a tackle by Sharp and put hooker McCurrie in under the sticks.

Goulding converted just as the leaden skies started to produced torrential freezing rain which came down like ‘stair rods’ driven on by a north-easterly wind blowing across the field and into our faces in the Stand. Already the cold was taking its toll as twice James Grant sank to his knees between plays shaking his head and vigorously rubbing his hands. Still on we battled, refusing to be intimidated by Widnes’s reputation despite our current hero Australian Des Hasler being decidedly subdued and obviously struggling with the conditions.

Then we scored. Gary Nolan, who was in a rich vein of form and keeping his brother Rob out of the starting line-up, took a pass from Chico Jackson and hurtled down the wing to touch down next to the corner flag despite the attentions of three Widnes defenders. As we all stood to applaud a fine try Gary failed to get up, having in the act of scoring displaced his AC joint. He was stretchered from the field to be replaced by his brother Rob as Paul Eastwood missed the conversion but then scored with a penalty from wide out on the left. As Widnes started to get on top again, the hooter went and at half time as the wind howled and the sleet shone in the floodlights like an isinglass curtain it was 6-6.

The Hypothermia Kid

I remember my knees locking completely as I tried to stand up and to another round of ‘tutting’ from the ‘flask brigade’, my pal ‘Pearly’, with ice bristling in his beard, went off to get us three ‘Bovril’s’. The rest of us stamped our feet in unison with the other 3,400 hardy souls who made up the meagre, but stoic attendance that day. Despite having played the first half with the snow, sleet and rain at their backs, the Hull Dressing Room at the interval was in turmoil.

The Club Doctor at the time, (I think it was Mike Dunham) was summoned by the tannoy and soon declared that 5 Hull players were suffering from early onset hyperthermia. He immediately approached the Referee and requested the game be called off for medical reasons, but when this suggestion was put to the Widnes officials they felt that they were on top and would win and so turned it down.

The half time interval was extended and as the announcer’s records ran out and we were treated to a second airing of ‘Uptown Girl’, out on the terraces we all wondered just what was happening. Apparently Mike Dixon and Des Hasler were so cold that, in an effort to get their circulation going, Pete Standidge, one of the assistants that day, had to run to the Club House kitchen and get all the baking foil he could find to wrap the pair up.

Finally, after a break of just over twenty-two minutes the teams ran out into the sleet and the rain. Both sides changed their shirts, but Hull FC were for reasons unknown, still wearing the dirty wet shorts that they had worn in the first half, they must have been frozen!

We started well as big Tim Street and second rower Daniel Divet smashed into the opponent’s formidable front row of McCurrie, Ireland and Howe. Then Moriarty broke through to be felled by a brilliant last ditch effort by Hull’s Richard Gay that dislodged the ball as a certain score was averted. Hull needed a boost and they got it on 50 minutes. Tim Street went on one of those famous rampaging ‘breakout’ runs down the left to link with the pacey James Grant running at his side. The Aussie burst forward and slipped a perfect reverse pass to Rob Nolan who kicked ahead and chased the ball himself. Despite three blatant attempts to obstruct his path, Rob touched down just to the left of the posts and for a few seconds, we all forgot about the cold and danced in our seats, as Eastwood stroked over the conversion.

Des Hasler was held on his back and Rob Danby went close, while Paul Eastwood, down in front of us on the wing, amused himself by ‘conducting’ the crowd through several renditions of ‘Old Faithful’ which, when a string of four penalties went against us, morphed into, “Who’s Ya Father, who’s Ya Father, who’s Ya Father referee, you haven’t got one you’re a Bas*ard, You’re a Bas*ard referee!!!”. Outside the ground it must have sounded like a crowd of 10,000 as Hull FC held their ground and the lead, until the hooter sounded and a famous 10-6 victory was ours.

Several of the players ran straight off the field at the end and who can blame them, but Chico Jackson, Paul Eastwood and Jon Sharp (whose car broke down on the way to the game in the cold conditions, so he only arrived 15 minutes before kick-off) celebrated with us all, before they ran off to be again swathed in tin-foil and we scurried off to the warmth of the the Eagle pub.

Afterwards Richard Gay said, “I thought I was going to die I couldn’t stop shaking, it was the most frightening experience of my life”. While Des Hasler added, “For the first time in my life, I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes at all! It was the coldest I have ever been or ever want to be”. After that and for the rest of that winter, Des and a couple of other players wore skin tight wet suits under their kit, and if he doesn’t remember anything else from his time at the Boulevard, I bet he still remembers that night in December 1993!

Well back in 2018l lets hope that’s the last of the Cold snap and we get back to something like spring this week. It’s going to be really tough at Headingley on Thursday, we haven’t won there since 2007 and it will be interesting to see just who lines up for us after injuries and suspensions have taken their toll.

A big well done to everyone who attended last week’s game and thanks to FC fans, Bill in Macclesfield, Mike in Cheshire, Iain in Staffordshire, and Grant in Droitwich all of whom wanted to come across as usual on Friday night but couldn’t because of the M62 issues. Thanks too, for everyone else who has got in touch. Let’s all get to Headingley on Thursday, give ‘em ‘a seeing to’ and get two points. Well you can dream can’t you?

Keep Believing

Faithfully Yours