The Dentist’s Diary 575th

You know me by now, I hate losing at the best of times, but some defeats are easier to take than others, and perhaps in hindsight on Thursday, as far as Hull FC were concerned that was the case, but as far as the officials were concerned it wasn’t easy to take at all!!!!

A great showing of resilience and fortitude under pressure by the lads saw a late fight back almost get us the points, we had Leeds on the rack, but just lacked the final ball needed to put the game to bed. So, in the end, we fell just short and as far as the pundits and papers are concerned apparently the ‘Headingley Hoodoo’ continues!!

To go there, once the scene of some great FC victories, (but where in recent times we haven’t won since 2007), with 6 first teamers out, was always going to be a big ask. Leeds, with no game last weekend, looked fresh in the first quarter, however what a fight we made of it. It was easy to see that afterwards and be disappointed, whilst feeling really positive about the future, but the officials were just crap at times and I think at the end we had every right to feel badly done to by the video referee last Thursday.

I’ve just about had enough of some aspects of the game at present and the officials are one of the reasons I feel that way. But that’s my problem and we should certainly take nothing away from our lads at Headingley, because the spirit and fight was amazing. We could as a group of players have got really disenchanted with it all and a few years ago we probably would have, but we fought and fought, took whatever was thrown at us and kept on trying right up to the end.

The game was lost through a few patchy periods of play and some poor and contentious decisions in the first half, but we never gave up and we never gave in. We battled and battled and at 20-6 and playing Leeds and it would appear at times the officials as well, most teams would have thrown in the towel, we didn’t and although we tried manfully to snatch the points, we just couldn’t get over the line. That meant that we got no return from a game we should have won, but although that was disappointing as I say, you have to give top marks to everyone involved. I was proud of that effort, it was a battling and fighting performance and short of not winning, I have no complaints with the lads at all really.

As for the state of the officiating, well that’s completely another matter for me!

We now enter a period of what look to be slightly easier games and, make no mistake about it, we have to get some wins. However, that’s for the future but for now, back to Thursday and the Stadium at Headingley is certainly looking strange at present isn’t it? It’s in the midst of the biggest construction exercise it has seen since it first opened way back in 1890 and will look a totally different place when its finished. Not only had the South Stand been rebuilt and opened with a make-shift capacity of 2000 for our game, but the new temporary North Stand, which looks very smart, (but very temporary), held around 2500 on Thursday, as the metal superstructure for its replacement starts to rise from the ashes around it. I’m sure it will be a fine place when its finished, except for the fact of course, that there is still no plan to cover the away end, which judging by the weather we usually get when we’re there, is certainly a rough deal for travelling supporters.

We’ve been in a bit of a mess, injury and player wise since we returned from Australia, with 2 then 4 and this last week 6 players missing and with Manu injured during the match things show no sign of improving any time soon. With Albo, (surrounded by rumours that he has already signed for a club, possibly Manley, down under for 2018) still suffering from concussion and three more absentees after the Warrington game in Watts, Bowden and Bureta, our strength in depth was to be severely tested. Still, it was good to see centre Josh Logan at last back in the team after a shocking year out injured and Jordan Lane, who I always rated as a youngster, making his debut. It was certainly a big ask for them to step up into the intimidating atmosphere that is always around at Headingley (whatever condition the place is in) but they both did just that … big style.

With only a smidgen of sleet being apparent in Beverley on Thursday morning, it was amazing to see how much snow had fallen in the Leeds area that day. The ground staff at the stadium had done a great job to get the game on and at least come kick-off the playing surface looked good, if not a tad moist. However, it soon became apparent that it was very slippery and both teams struggled to keep their feet. However, that said, the home side’s first try wasn’t in any way down to the conditions, as we couldn’t get any pressure on the kicker at the end of a set and then couldn’t get anyone in the air for the catch. Shaul got his timing all wrong and didn’t contest the ball at all as Watkins came down with it and we were behind after 5 minutes.

Twice then we had let offs on our own line, but survived before two stupid penalties led to an easy try to Briscoe and at that point we looked to be struggling to stay in the game. But the heart and the spirit in our depleted ranks shone brightly, particularly in the young and inexperienced and players like Lane, Masi and Logan really got at it and shook the Rhino’s to the core with some good ground gained and some real pressure on their line.

We fought on and after a great piece of skill by Connor, Logan had a try disallowed by the video referee for a very dubious off side and in fact when watching it back afterwards it was probably a try! It was a strange, strange moment and one which underlined once again that even the forensic examination of a passage of play doesn’t always produce the correct outcome. However, the fact a definite no try by Briscoe was sent to the Video Referee when the linesman’s was stood right next to his foot, (which was about 18ins in touch), hardly engendered any confidence in the officials for the rest of the game.

For me Logan had a great game and this disallowed score should have stood for me.

Then, just as we were all thinking it was never coming, Hadley did so well to get on the end of a Marc Sneyd kick and we were back in the game. Shortly afterwards as we got a roll on we had another try denied by the video referee, this one utilising that ridiculous obstruction rule where a player, miles away from the action, comes in fleeting contact with an opposition defender, when in effect an Olympic sprinter in the same position, wouldn’t have been able to get near the ‘try’ scorer!! It’s about time we had some ex-players and a bit of common sense involved with the video refereeing malarkey, just as they do in Australia, because it’s all too incestuous and buddy, buddy, with referee’s doing it! That disallowed score, after all the effort we had put in, was pretty unpalatable as well.

So, the hooter went and once again at half time everyone at the match and no doubt watching at home, were talking about the officials and not the game.

We had tried so hard and played heroically at times, but once again fate had dealt us a crap hand and we were behind 10-6. But, one things for sure, you couldn’t fault the lads at all. But we should have been 6 points up! If there was one worry for me, it was our left edge where Carlos was doing a sterling job, but he was in between Mini and Talanoa both of whom were caught out a time or two on defence.

There was no return after the break for Seke Manu who sustained a calf injury, so we were short-handed before we even restarted, but the first second half set finished with a great kick from Connor that stopped a foot from the dead ball line, whilst almost immediately we had a let off at the other end when Myler was caught off-side. Back we came and Sneyd almost got Connor in at the other end and it was back and forth in a game that must have been great to watch if you were a neutral. But then the referee took a hand again and a ball that came off Talanoa’s knees was deemed to be a knocked on and from the ensuing scrum in the Rhino’s went again.

We battled back with two great tries and the one from Talanoa was superb, what strength he showed to get the ball down and how the few battled valiantly against the odds. We almost got home and although we fell just short, you have to be proud of our lads and the fight and fortitude that they put in under amazing difficulties. Badly done to by the officials, amazingly unlucky a time or two, 14 points down and 6 first team players out and yet we almost pulled it off, it was a heroic performance and as I said earlier as far as our lot goes, there will be no complaints from me.
Performance wise I thought Shaul did OK after a couple of early lapses but he is caught in possession too often as he runs down blind alleys for me. Talanoa took his try brilliantly but lacks a bit on positioning in defence, whilst for me Griffin had a good game carting the ball forward with effect, Tumavive was our best three quarter again but that said, for me Logan had a great game. Returning after so long out and always a good player, he showed a lot more strength and presence than I remembered him having and he might take some shifting.

Connor perhaps didn’t see as much of the ball as he should have done but he is a class act and no mistake whilst Sneyd never stopped trying but his kicking from hand was a bit in and out and at times he tried too hard to over compensate for the missing Kelly.

Up front we fielded a depleted pack in which Scott Taylor and Hadley shone out like beacons. Taylor played long minutes and was so strong whilst Hadley relished the loose forward role he is occupying since Washy has been starting at hooker. Washy himself did his best operating the acting half duties again and gave some good service, but he’s not a specialist in a very specialist position and we really need better cover for Danny in my opinion. Around those three, Masi had a good game and is a real one for the future, Green looked really good and was my Man of the match, closely followed by Hadley. Fash continues to grow in stature and Lane didn’t look out of place at all, in fact he had a wow of a game and I didn’t see the young debutant put a foot wrong. Fact is I think, had we had Paea, Watts and Houghton available to take the sting out of a fast and furious first quarter by Leeds, we would probably have won it, had Kelly been playing we could have walked it!!

Used his feet well; it was good to see Greeny back!

However, on the down side Mini doesn’t look to be his usual self at present and might be carrying an injury which seems to be effecting his defence, whilst Manu’s injury was unfortunate to say the least. Finally, I should give a special mention to Jordan Abdull who I though was brilliant when he came on. He changed the tempo of the game and was always a handful. It’s hard to know where he would start in a fully fit team. I’m certain that the game was lost in that first quarter where Leeds played with more speed than us and if we lacked those forwards to slow them down then, we also missed someone like Albo or indeed Abdull who could buzz around to give the opposition something to think about in that period. Jordan did that in the second half and certainly does look good!

The fact is of course that both Jordan and Dean Hadley have really shone out this season and despite criticism from some quarters last season the exercise of farming them both out to other clubs for the whole season gave then the necessary game time, experience and confidence to return much better players. Again it was a bit of a master stroke from Radford!

Finally, when you watch it back, the absolute farce that is Sky TV at times, had an un-named player short listing 4 Leeds players for Man of the Match and not a single Hull one!! That, when there was only 4 points in the bloody game. They wouldn’t even name the player that selected them either, it was so embarrassing. That and a long diatribe whilst the game was going on, about building an igloo for the pitch side commentator makes it’s easy to see why some folks skip the pre-game preamble and switch the sound down! They make our game a laughing stock at times. At least they are helping keep gates up because no one in their right mind would skip a match to watch it at home with that lot! Beggars belief? It certainly does!

All that said its two points lost and a L in the fixtures column. Speaking to Scott Taylor this week on the ‘Our League’ app, Lee Radford said of foregoing the Challenge Cup for winning the Grand Final: “Not that it (the Challenge Cup) doesn’t mean an awful lot, because it’s an unbelievable experience, but I think the Grand Final has eluded us in the last two seasons. I think like every other team in the competition, we’re striving to get there and the fact that we’ve got so close over the last two seasons, it only whets your appetite even more.” That indicates to me that we have made the League a priority this year, but I think that the reason we have got so close in the last two seasons is maybe because we started so well, for whatever reason with two wins from five games that isn’t the case this time around.

I think you need to register at least a 50%-win rate and pick up a point a game in the first quarter of the season. Bad starts do knock your confidence and some of the best teams have found it hard to overcome them in the past two years. Three defeats so early in the season doesn’t look good, but we fought so hard on Thursday and we shouldn’t, nay mustn’t, let it knock our resolve. If we don’t, then the future is certainly a brighter prospect than maybe it looked at ten o’clock last Thursday night.

So to the rest of the week and the amazing interview in the Mirror last week with Scott Taylor indicated that he had played the game in Australia against Wigan with an appendix three times its normal size and how amazing is that. He said, “I woke up on the morning of the Wigan game at 3am in agony and couldn’t get back to sleep. I thought it might be food poisoning or stomach cramps and saw the doctor in the day, didn’t really eat and then played the game. But I wasn’t feeling good and was still in a lot of pain”. That’s pretty brave stuff and I’m told by one of his colleagues, immediately after the game he couldn’t even stand up and the doctor sent him straight to hospital, the infected appendix was removed and the rest as they say is history.

Liam Watts was certainly up early last Sunday morning apologizing to the FC fans on twitter about his stupidity the two nights before, when he explained he’d, “lost his head in the heat of the moment”, adding: “People that know me know that it’s not in my nature to react like that. 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.”

Watts later posted on his Twitter account: “Also when people get paid to publicly humiliate players who give their all every week to this game and put their bodies on the line week in week out its wrong! So easy to criticise from behind a phone or camera lens. Madness.” He was obviously referring to RL journalist Rod Studd and immediately Studd responded, “It’s not a humiliation Liam, it’s a criticism of on field actions which players sometimes wrongly misinterpret as character assassinations. I’m not slaughtering you as a human being. I don’t know you at all.”

I’d keep that situation as well Rod if I were you as Watts then went on to say, “I’m fine with you criticising what I did but then don’t bang on about that being the reason for me not getting picked (by England). There’s a lot of very good players ahead of me.” Back came Studd with, “Hull fans frequently ask why Liam Watts isn’t picked for England. His own view is that other props are better. My view (please bear in mind I’ve never played) is that he’s an outstanding player who would be a major asset to England but for his recent poor disciplinary record.” So the exchange ended and we, along with Mr Studd and indeed Liam, awaited the disciplinary panel meeting.

The scene was well and truly set for Wattsy to have the book thrown at him, but I think for once the disciplinary lot were pretty reasonable. It appears that he would have got 2 games but because of his record of late, he got 3. That seemed reasonable to me, because a rubbing of heads as he did should undoubtedly have been punished, because you just don’t do that, but it was certainly not a ‘Hessle Road Kiss’ either, was it. So three games, I felt was reasonable, but Liam has got to start to wise up, because to everyone (including Rod Studd apparently) he looks a bit of a dick head doesn’t he? He is such a talented guy and yet he can’t keep his hands in his pockets at all. At the same meeting Carlos got a grade A for compression of the neck which again was eminently sensible, because you could see on play back, it was’nt intentional at all.

Talking of Carlos, I was told from Australia last week that there is a rumour around that suggests he is interesting the New Zealand Warriors and that he might even have agreed a deal with them for next season. It’s only one of ‘Wilfs Whiffs’ at present, but watch this space.

I was pleased to see the re-introduction of the England Knights 25 man, ‘train on’ squad this week and how rewarding to our development programme it was to see Josh Bowden, Dean Hadley, Masimbaashe Matongo and Jamie Shaul, all of whom have come through it, picked in the squad. In addition James Cunningham who is tearing it up at the London Bronco’s and who I always said in here we should never have parted with in the first place, is in there too and finally, thanks to the work done by Huddersfield in his development, Jake Connor gets a place as well.

Masi got his call up papers last Wednesday!

What a great tribute that is to what Lee and the team are doing in the development department. As I said two weeks ago, the introduction of the joint academy will half the number we have coming through in future and surely the case to continue with your own academy is borne out by the number of ex FC academy lads we have picked in the Knights train on squad. Wait till a few of the next crop get going as well! Well done to to Scott Taylor on getting in the full England squad, he certainly deserves to be there doesn’t he?

Well as supporters how often do we say that we are the last to know what’s going on in the game and although the customers, the last to be asked what should happen. All the best brands in the World are customer led, they listen to the users respond to their needs and use advertising and television to bring the product to bigger and wider markets. That’s why they are the best. In Rugby League we don’t listen at all, we seem to ignore the customers and indeed instead of using it to spread the word we are completely beholden to Television for our games very existence! In League we few would argue that we almost seem to totally ignore the customers.

We exist in a somewhat sanitized situation at Hull FC, for the success of the last two seasons has seen our gates rise and so our judgement can be coloured. However, Clubs like Wigan, Warrington and Leeds who should all be doing well, are still struggling to maintain their crowds never mind increasing them. We all know it’s been proposed in recent times, (amongst a plethora of other proposals nobody seems entirely satisfied with), that ten teams in Super League could well be the future. But, more to the point, does anyone bother to ask what the people who pay the wages think?

Well last week, League Weekly did, when the excellent RL weekly asked fans what their ideal number of clubs would be for Super League – 10, 12, 14 or 16. The results were pretty damning as far as the thoughts of the Clubs were concerned with just seven per cent of readers believes a ten team structure is the future. That should be enough to put those pushing for ten teams to end the fight instantly, although history suggests they won’t even blink whilst reading the results.

In addition, 47% of voters said the competition should revert back to a 14-team league! Will that happen? Will it buggery, because its spreading the ‘wealth’ too thinly. This is without doubt where Redhall and all the ‘blazers’ working there, have shown to be at their weakest, because it shows an abject inability to gauge, listen to or react to its customer’s views and wishes.

What’s more the same can be said for fixtures. In a poll the previous week, the same paper asked readers when they prefer to watch Rugby League and a massive 49 per cent said they preferred Sunday afternoon. How many Super League fixtures have taken place at that time this season? Five, out of a possible 26 (up to this weekend) and two of those would have taken place on Friday had it not been for the snow. Look at Rovers who have been almost forced through the circumstances surrounding the fixture list to move from their traditional game day and to do it to the inconvenience of a lot of their fans.

Rugby League Express said that these two polls provide, ‘A damning figure that tells you everything you need to know about where the game is right now. Any sport that doesn’t listen to its customers is destined to struggle. And you don’t need to be Eddie Hearn to understand that!”. This I think is just evidence of just how out of touch the RFL and the clubs are with the people they rely on to ensure their existence continues.

On that subject, you know I was watching the excellent launch programme for the first weekend of the NRL season on line and I noticed they mentioned that North Queensland Cowboys’ Johnathan Thurston was preparing for his 300th league game. He is a player that debuted in the same year as Sean O’Loughlin, who was recently reported to have already played well over 420 matches. That I think just highlights the difference in the two competitions in that I think ours goes on far too long making I think the early rounds look decidedly jaded at times. We expect our players to play too many games and perhaps too we expect our fans to watch too many. In the first ever Super League campaign, in 1996, we kicked-off in March and had 22 league games. When the Grand Final system was introduced two years later, there were 23. But by 1999, that number increased to 30 regular season games and since then, it has fluctuated around the 27-30 mark, with various play-offs structures thrown on top.

The NRL teams play 24 games, plus play-offs. We play some teams three or four times a year and for many of the uninitiated, it’s hard to follow a format that just seems to go on and on. However, in the NRL there are six teams that only play each other once a year! Imagine the clamour for tickets if Hull faced Rovers only once a year? You’d struggle to find a stadium big enough! Of course, why clubs here want the extra matches is simply for the money they generate. Our game is in a parlous state, I mean to say, some Super League clubs don’t spend anywhere near up to the salary cap limit anyway and many don’t run reserve teams simply because they are skint. But, would cutting the number of fixtures and raising their exclusivity cover or increase the money they generate? Of course it wouldn’t. so how do we solve it? The Clubs are talking now simply because interest in so many fixtures is waning and income is on the decline. At present it would appear that many are keen for change, but a couple of Clubs, I’m told, don’t want to go along with the majority.

I only put in hear what I’ve heard after I have tried to check it out for authenticity and this week I was told from two separate sources that there is increasing frustrations over the failure to agree a format for the ongoing structure of the game. It is believed a number of proposals, including the two 10-team Super Leagues idea, have been backed by 10 of the Super League clubs, with the same two opposing the proposals on each occasion. It is said by those much more in the know than me that these two clubs ‘have a special bond via their representatives’ and on that score I can only speculate on the Etherington/Peacock connection at Leeds and Rovers. I might of course have got that completely wrong, but whoever the two Clubs are they are, it’s said, still pushing for a return to the previous licensing system, to run with traditional relegation and a review of Clubs every three years, as was the case with the last franchise situation we saw. It just goes on and on doesn’t it?

So the administration of the sport is on the move from Redhall and although it could take up to 3 years to complete the switch, the new National Rugby League Centre at the Etihad Campus will provide Rugby League, we are told, with an ‘iconic new home’ and will offer ‘world-class facilities for every level of the game, from community to the England Senior teams’. The move will see the Rugby Football League become a major tenant within the next phase of the Etihad Campus development. The site has already proved a good English base for the Toronto Wolf Pack of late and following an extensive process that began in 2016 and involved applications and proposals from a number of different councils based in the North of England including Bradford Leeds and (its rumoured) even Hull, the Rugby Football League Board unanimously approved the proposal from Manchester City Council and the City Football Group last month.

While final plans for the new headquarters are still being developed, it is confirmed that the Rugby Football League will also become major tenants of the regional arena which will be rebranded as the National Rugby League Centre.

The new Rugby League England Performance Unit, led by Rugby Director Kevin Sinfield, will start to work at the facility from later this year, while all Rugby Football League staff will relocate into a new state of the art headquarters before the start of the Rugby League World Cup in 2021. Vying for the top job, Ralph Rimmer seems to be boosting his ‘vote for me’ campaign by taking credit for everything these days and he did again for this, (as indeed he did for approaching the Hearne organisation the week before).


Just thought you might find this interesting kick-off Hull City v Millwall, another full house (13,000 apparently)

Now to the Codgers spot and the discussions of my piece about Mick Crane the other week continue to rumble on and it would appear that perhaps that great player deserves a book writing about him, because you all have so many stories to share about our wayward but brilliant loose forward. We were talking the other day in the pub about that and about characters we remembered from our club because quite frankly we have a great history of them at Hull FC. We lamented the lack of them in the game these days and commented on the fact that in the past every team seemed to have at least one.

Sadly, we thought, the modern game has somehow ‘sanitised’ them away. There is no doubt that skilful players, top scorers and club internationals are always remembered by the fans. However, for those of us who have been around for years (and years) there is always a place in our hearts for those players who, be they good or bad on the field, brought a bit extra to our enjoyment of the black and whites, and often added a little extra in the dressing rooms too. They are of course the ‘real’ characters. But if Mick Crane was the greatest character we ever had, then there are certainly plenty of others that spring to mind who were not far behind

My mind immediately goes back to a great centre we had in the 60’s called Dick Gemmell, he was an international and quite a serious sort of bloke who however also possessed a wicked sense of humour. Dick once played with a really bad ankle injury, he had to, because it was the Yorkshire Cup final in 1969, which we eventually won by beating Featherstone 12-9. After the game I remember he revealed, with a big smile, that he had actually bandaged up the good ankle, and left the bad one uncovered to throw the opposition off the scent!

Remember Lee Crooks, one of the most talent youngsters the club has ever produced. He, it was rumoured, sometimes liked a couple of pints before a game. I remember one Good Friday Derby where Lee, after about 20 minutes, popped off to the changing rooms, he was back in a minute, but we all knew where he’d been and chanted “We know where you’ve been” when he returned. Once in a game at the Boulevard in 1979 Paul Woods, that doyen of the ‘Coat hanger’ tackle, and one of the hardest players I have ever seen, tried to sneak a few yards on a conversion attempt from the touch line in front of the Threepenny Stand.

The referee spotted him and immediately moved the ball back to the whitewash of the touchline. Paul placed the ball, took 4 strides back to the metal fence, wiped his boot, climbed over it, cleared the crowd and prepared his run up from 3 steps up the terracing! The place was in uproar, even the referee laughed that afternoon.

Remember too, John Maloney, who used to turn up at games in his companies Bentley and “Super” Alf Macklin, who regularly turned up for games at the Boulevard on a bike, sometimes with a pot of paint he had ‘procured’ for another player on the handlebars! Alf could get you most things it seemed. He was a real card, and once, when tape recorders had first arrived on the scene, he furtively taped Coach David Doyle Davidson’s pre match talk. The following week David, who was known to repeat himself a bit, was just about to launch into his usual stereotypical speech ‘gung ho’ when Alf started the tape recorder and said, “Don’t Worry boss save your breath we’ve got last weeks on tape”.

Whilst I am remembering ‘Super’ Alf he had another idiosyncrasy in that he would not eat hotel or restaurant food and so his Mum, who I knew (as she worked at the Council as a cleaner), packed him up every week with some sandwiches. It is said that there was always a fight for seats between his team mates at any meals out on the ‘road’, as, while Alf tucked into his usually pungent egg sandwiches, you could be guaranteed an extra plate of food if you sat next to him.

Another real ‘court jester’ was Terry Devonshire who would crack a joke whatever, and whenever the circumstances. He used to have a running conversation with the referee for most of the game. Once though, it got him into trouble because in a game at York when Jim Neale was sent off, chirpy ‘Dev’ trotted up to the referee and back in the days when referees were not averse to the friendly pat and in his usual joking manner, ruffled his hair and said, “Come on Mate, why have you sent ‘Neilly’ off, what was that for”. He must have caught referee Eric Lawrenson on a bad day though, because he swiftly retorted, “You had better go and ask him yourself, you’re off as well”.

Another amazing character I remember was Jack Kinsley the club’s physio in the 70’s. He was a hard man and the players hated going to him when they were injured, in fact Kenny Foulkes once told me that they would run a mile rather than have their injuries ‘manipulated’ by Jack. I remember once seeing him put two of Tony Dukes fingers ‘back in’ after he had dislocated them, without Dukes coming off the field. You could hear the crack from the Threepenny Stand and although Dukesy was a tough character, boy did he scream and dance that day!!! Chris Davidson was another great halfback who used to love a laugh! He was also a local publican and at one particular game, he made a couple of mistakes and took a lot of abuse from a particular individual on the Threepenny Stand. This guy it turned out was one of his customers. How do I know that fact, well Chris looked over to us in the stand pointed at the guy and shouted, “Don’t bother coming in tonight John, your barred!”

Even the great Arthur Keegan had his quirks which made him a bit of a character, because despite playing for our club for 12 years he never moved from his home in Dewsbury. Arthur loved living in the West Riding, and refused to own a car preferring, if he couldn’t get a lift, to travel by train 3 times a week to Hull without complaining. Then there was Vince Farrer who started the exodus of great players from the West Riding to the Boulevard in the late 70’s. He was renowned for being a ‘bit careful’ with his money. He had the club’s bonus system worked out to a ‘T’ and would give his colleagues a running commentary during games on how their points scored bonus was going and how certain mistakes had cost them money! Farrer was big friends too with Charlie Stone, Clive Pickerill and John Newlove, all exiles from the West Riding, and these 4 were always getting up to something and pulling pranks on their team mates.

Around the same time we had the great Ronnie Wileman and Tony Dean, sadly now both not with us, at the Club, they were both tough nugget characters but their party piece after games was to perform in the pub as impromptu Cannon and Ball impersonators, and so it goes on! You see I know that my memories of my Club would be a lot less vivid and memorable were it not for the characters we have seen in the Black and White hoops and aint we lucky to have been there to experience them. I know you’ll have so many more that are dear to you but I hoped you enjoyed me sharing a few of mine.

So, after a weekend when I found myself in the unusual situation of supporting the Catalan Dragons it was, just the same, disappointing at Headingley, but perhaps in the bigger scheme of things it was heartening as well. We have a good squad, but are missing many of our most influential players and yet last Thursday we came so close. However, like it or not and whatever the circumstances, we need to start winning games and we need to do it soon or I think our confidence might suffer a bit.

Sadly, due to circumstances beyond my control, I’m going to take a break for the next two weeks and so the next Diary will be posted around Tuesday the 3rd April, straight after the Easter weekend games. I’m really sorry, but I have two weeks of things that I can’t avoid, then hopefully we should be set fair for the rest of the season. Thanks for all your support at a time when it’s hard to decide were our season and perhaps more importantly the future of the game we all love is going!

After that showing at Leeds, I’m hoping for some exciting times ahead, Let’s get a win next week at Salford and

Try to Keep Believing!!

Faithfully Yours