The Dentist’s Diary – 581st

WE’VE GOT ALBERT KELLY!!!!!!!!!!!!

And what a massive signing, playing wise that is, there will be a lot of long faces in the East but he’s ours for another two years!! However, more of that later, because first I have to ask the question …..

WAS SATURDAYS WIN THE BEST DISPLAY SO FAR THIS SEASON?

Well you know, I think it maybe was, for it was certainly an amazing turn-around from last week’s debacle in France and how the players and the fans wanted it and rejoiced as the final hooter went and victory was ours! The result was our sixth home win out of six this season, with, after years of trying, the Black and Whites, on and off the field, at last making the KCOM Stadium the fortress it always should have been. All of a sudden teams won’t want to come visiting to what is now a hostile environment and true to our famous spirit in adversity, once again it was the fortitude and stoic nature of our endeavour that led to the West Yorkshire Clubs downfall.

With no video referee to scrutinise ‘the far end of a fart’ of every score, the game flowed, the referee was in control but kept it moving and as a team from 1 to 17 Hull FC were simply magnificent. Castleford were absolutely out on their feet by the end, as we overcame a couple of poor errors that led to their two tries, to control the game almost throughout. Without those two unfortunate mistakes, (a ball left to bounce near our line and a fumbled up and under) both perhaps down to our last line of defence, we would have nilled them. It was a great defensive showing and a much steadier performance all round.

There will be bigger battles and harder mountains to climb, but on Saturday we all witnessed a brilliant showing and could ask for no more. Well done to everyone involved, because I loved every minute of it!

You know, some say that Rugby League is a simple game and Saturdays excellent win went to prove it, for while the pundits point to our defence, our ability to overcome that adversity and the spirit and the excellent tries we manufactured along the way, for me I’d put that win down to all those things, but place them behind two simple factors that went mostly unnoticed.

Firstly, there was our discipline, which saw us hardly concede a penalty. There were few leg up’s for the visitors as our self-control was excellent. That kept the Castleford team having to come back out of their own end to get down the field and having to do it in just 5 tackles and a kick. That went hand in hand with a real clinical execution in attack. Our left edge is usually where the tries have come this season, but it was on the right where we were most successful, with the partnership of Griffin and Faraimo developing to frightening proportions.

Then there was Mr Hewer the referee and his officials, who let the game flow (although he missed a few forward passes) and in general he had a good game, cut out the needless penalties and was seen and not heard for long spells.

But back to where it all started and as the sun shone down and an uncharacteristically pleasant Bank Holiday Weekend beckoned, this was for me as big a game as it gets. A big gate, lots of the uninitiated there, and a match that if we lost and Wakey won, would see us thrust into no man’s land between a top 6 finish and a 7th or 8th outcome, or even the unthinkable alternative, all made for an interesting prospect all round. When you looked at a pretty compressed table that’s where we were, a win at Catalan last week would have seen us bobbing along nicely and a game to relish in the KCOM sunshine, but with that shocking defeat the pressure was really on and we needed a result. The boys simply had to perform.

The gate, a phenomenal 13,600, saw the KCOM packed with youngsters and newcomers who took advantage of the deals that were on offer and it was great to see all the wives and girlfriends of the tight buggers who usually won’t pay for them, enjoying the game and the sunshine. But, with the Albert Kelly announcement brilliantly delivered beforehand, the atmosphere was great and a good time was had by all. The preliminaries were good, the fun day excellent and the half time show entertaining for those kids in attendance. So, first of all a big well done to James Clark and the marketing team for creating a great occasion and selling out the lower tier almost completely. How good it was as well for a change, that after we had worked so hard to get a big crowd there, they were treated to great weather and the best performance of the season.

The sun shone, the players performed and I really loved it all. They were without their first choice half backs, plus Greg Eden and Jake Webster, with Calum Turner drafted in for his debut as a result. While showing promise in attack, that left edge was successfully targeted and picked apart by Hull as our game plan was designed to get at the Castleford wide players and we did that with some aplomb. Cas. still had plenty of fire power but we defended heroically and coupling that with a clinical edge in attack, we were in control throughout. Sneyd ran everything till he was injured, just as the second half got under way, but we continued to probe and work for each other and the winning margin reflected our superiority. The left edge is usually where the tries have come from this season, but it was on the right where we were most successful this time around and the partnership of Griffin and Faraimo is certainly developing nicely.

We got back to doing what we do best and in defence the attitude and ‘terrier like’ tenacity was back as everyone worked tirelessly for the full 80 minutes. As Sneyd departed Cas threatened a comeback, but we covered and scrambled to force the usually poised and polished Tigers into mistakes as they tried in vain to approach our line. We are certainly looking better on defence at home this year because in those 6 wins, only Wakey have put more than 20 points on us and that in a Bank Holiday Monday game when both team’s intensity was understandably down. We just have to start doing defensively away from the KCOM what we do so well at home.

But it was on attack where we shone brightly as Connors quite amazing ball to Seke Manu for our first try set the scene for what was a Man of the Match performance. Described afterwards as “The naughty Schoolboy who is good at everything” Jake not only set the line alight going forward, he was also in the ears of one or two Castleford players, as his taunting had the desired effect in unsettling the opposition. His goal kicking at critical times was faultless too and I think it’s clear for all to see why Huddersfield coveted him so much.


Scored two tries and had a great game!

When Sneyd went off, Tumavive and at times a resilient and very impressive Joe Westerman, took over the play making roles. They both worked well with a sharp and impressive Houghton to run the Castleford defence ragged. In fact, even before Marc left the field, in an impressive fifteen minute spell before half time, Westy ran a lot of the plays as he settled into his old role and pulled the defence around at will with some good lines and some great passes. To chants of ‘Westy’s better than Wattsy’ he really surprised me and he’s looking to be a great mid-season signing, who certainly brings something that we have lacked of late.

Faraimo had his best game for the Club and is starting to look a real handful wide out. His pass back to Griffin outside him for the last try was a great piece of rugby and he took his own two tries really well. Tumavive looked assured in the centre, whilst Griffin after a couple of first half mistakes had a wow of a second half, as he cut loose at the Castleford line and exposed some frailties out wide. Shaul made those two errors, but that’s the lot of a full back, because rather like a goal keeper in football if you make a mistake you’re really exposed. However, he came straight back after the first blob and scored a really good try full of pace and guile and in general he ran the ball well.

Up front Taylor was magnificent again as he led from the front, Paea was effective every time he had the ball whilst Matongo had one of his best games as, egged on every time he got the ball by the vociferous crowd, he hit the line with some gusto. Houghton had his best game for ages and ran acting half brilliantly, while in the second row both Mini and Manu had their best outings for ages, whilst in Hadley we had a willing worker who even spent some time in the centre in the second half when we were down on troops. He’s becoming a great player. Bowden and Green ensured the intensity down the middle wasn’t to dip at all and all round it was a fine display.


Sika Manu; Quite the scoring machine!

So, those who graced a sunny KCOM last Saturday witnessed 17 heroes delivering a great win and with just four or five points now needed to ensure we stay away from the middle eight’s, it was job done. Last Saturday’s hit up had a bit of everything for a massive gate, in what was arguably, as I say, our finest win of the season. It also saw us, for now, replace Castleford in the top four, though they do have two games in hand. However, few who were there on Saturday will be bothered, after that record crowd for this campaign of 13,623, went home elated and joyful with what they saw. It was an energetic, vibrant and dynamic team performance, which humbled the much fancied Tigers and I loved every minute of it.

As I say it featured some great performers and the quite sensational and pleasantly unexpected return of Joe Westerman, who was into everything whilst he was on the field. My pal Dave said, “He looked delighted to be wanted”, and that just about summed his demeanour up. Next week is a massive game for us as the Cup Holders and it won’t be easy, but this week, for now, let’s just enjoy the moment after what was a great afternoon to be an FC fan.

So to Albo and after ‘Chicken Nuggetgate’ and all, at last he’s signed. The announcement, coming as it did after some very commendable stage managed drama before the game, was greeted with celebration around the Stadium and set the scene well for the battle to come. For better or worse Kelly is now our player for the next two seasons. He’s an exceptional signing on the field (although his off the field antics of late must cast a slight shadow over proceedings) and after Lee Radford indicated that they made it a bit easier for us, we should all be thankful to those Rovers fans who sent that video around the Australian press last week. I’m sure it helped in getting the signing over the line.

I think on balance it has to be great news because players of that calibre are few and far between in the English game and we can I’m sure, expect to see some real fireworks from him in the future. The player just has to appreciate the responsibility the position of wearing the famous irregular hoops carries with it.

Lee Radford gave an insight into the capture of the wayward super star when he said, “I was simply honest with him. I told him that I really like having him around the place, and so do the rest of the boys. Whilst he’s an unbelievable player, he’s also a bundle of energy around camp, which is a great thing to have.” So, we have to trust our Coaches judgement I guess, for he’s ours now until the end of 2020. Incidentally, don’t go listening to those Dobbins fans who, green with envy, are citing that he’s getting paid phenomenal wages either, because yes he’s on a good whack and so he should be, but he’s no way a Marquee signing, whatever others will tell you!

Now, there were certainly some great tales coming back with the fans from Catalan and even though a lot of folks like me were really disappointed with what went on out there on the field, everyone who went seemed to make the most of it and had a good time over there. I heard loads of stories, not the least the fact that a thunder faced Adam Pearson, after a really short post-match press conference, took our coach back onto the bus early after the game, where apparently there was a deal of finger wagging going on between the two! Is it right, well at least three people tell me it is, but then again I told them not to worry too much, because I was not that surprised at all really!

You see for me that’s to be expected because if we were upset as fans with that performance, believe me, no one would have been more aggrieved than Pearson, who doesn’t take defeat well at all. We usually aren’t privy to what goes on behind closed doors, but I’ve sat with Adam a time or two in the West Stand and believe me our owner is totally engrossed in it all, making every tackle and passing every ball, as he lives every minute of the game he is watching. He’s a winner and I’ve been in his company when he’s gone home straight after a game, because he was so disappointed with what had happened. Unprofessional? Well not for me, because I want my owners, Chief Exec’s and coaches to be as upset as I am after defeats, particularly when they are as bad as that one was in Catalan, because believe me, the Frenchmen are the worst team in the comp. Yet, we let them suck us into their cynical and negative mind set, when we had been warned all week what would follow if we let that happen.

We have a problem mentality wise this season, we must have, because the difference between our good performances (Leeds two weeks ago and Castleford this weekend) and our bad ones (Catalan a week ago, and Salford in March) indicates that, however close together these games are, we still fluctuate from verging on the brilliant to looking like suckers and daft lads who are easily conned by teams who, in the case of Catalan, have nothing to offer but their theatricals and spoiling tactics. That, for me is no good at all for we have to be better than that!!

Inconsistency has been prevalent ever since that trip to Australia, with probably our most conclusive league victory before this weekend taking place the week before we left for Down Under, when we beat Huddersfield in our first game. We have performed heroically in games like the Dobbins Derby where we won short-handed against the odds, we took it to Castleford and Leeds at home big style and yet fell on our arses at Salford and Catalan. Meanwhile, we flattered to deceive to get the points against Wakey, scrambled a win against Warrington so that now, so inconsistent is our form that no one seems to know what the next week will bring. Yeh, we have issues with injury and a big impact player in Watts has been sold, whilst Ellis has retired (and he’s pretty irreplaceable). Its easy after a game like the Castleford one to forget what went before, but I look back to the spirit of 2016, that togetherness, that player unity and that will to win at any costs and thankfully I think it came to the fore again this weekend but I just wonder why we don’t see it more often.

Here’s my favourite tweet of the week from Aaron Bower, which was posted during that boring match last Thursday between Saints and Catalan, when it seemed the video referee was never off the air.

While everyone was over in France poor old Yeamo was left ‘home alone’ to supervise Joe Westerman’s ‘get fit quick’ programme. Joe has had a lot to do as he tried to cram in a full pre-season into 2 weeks, because he was certainly off the mark when he signed, but boy has he worked hard at County Road since he arrived. After a forgettable spell at Warrington and an unsuccessful one with the Wolfpack, Lee Radford acknowledged last week that the England international has a point to prove at the KCOM Stadium, and failure to do so could see his talent go to waste and put the once international player firmly on the scrap heap. Lee said last week, “I think it would be a career of regret. I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that. If this one doesn’t work out, ultimately that’s what it will be. Look, I haven’t got a crystal ball but I don’t know where else Joe could go to after us. Joe’s desperate for this move to work and we’re really keen for it to work too. It was a no-brainer really. He knows where he’s at in his career and what’s at stake if this move doesn’t bear fruit”.

Radford claims that Westerman is keen to impress and he certainly started well on Saturday, so as fans we should at least give him a chance and I’ll tell you why. He has made all the right moves so far and he is certainly working really hard and putting in all the extra’s since he signed for us on a contract that is a paying lot less over a shorter period than he was offered elsewhere. In fact, once it was clear that he was available, it wasn’t just Wakey and the Dobbins that were trying to get his signing over the line, because two other top 4 Clubs threw their cap in the ring late on as well.

However, the player had made his mind up that his only chance of resurrecting his season was at the FC, with his ex- mentor Lee Radford. Joe wanted to be part of our Club again, he showed it the other evening and that’ll do for me. So, he’s taken a massive cut in the wages he was offered elsewhere and opted for a season with all the options for his continuation at Hull FC on the Club. So far so good I think!

Well there’s more sad news to report this week, with the death of a massive hero of the great Arthur Bunting era, Charlie Stone. What a lovely guy he was and a player that epitomized fully what is meant by the saying ‘A gentle giant’. It was a real tragedy and almost immediately after his death was announced I heard from Club historian Bill Dalton who as always was right on the money as he reminded me of Charlies illustrious career.

Bill said,

“Stone, a native of Pontefract, commenced his First-Class career in the back row at Featherstone Rovers in the 1970-71 season and stayed there until the 1977-78 season when he moved up to Blind Side Prop. He was at Loose Forward for Featherstone in the 1973 Challenge Cup Final at Wembley and on the bench in 1974, gaining a WInner’s medal in the first of those in the 33-14 win over Bradford Northern. He also represented Yorkshire on a couple of occasions in the mid-1970’s. In all, he played 261 games for Featherstone scoring 28 Tries. In those games at Wembley, he also played with future Hull stars, Vince Farrar, John Newlove, Graham Bray, Keith Bridges, and Dave Busfield.

Hull moved to sign Charlie in their re-building following the relegation from the First Division at the end of the 1977-78 Season and he appeared for the first time in a Yorkshire Cup-tie at Bramley on 20th August 1978. Arthur Bunting initially used him as a Second Row alongside Sammy Lloyd, but by November, he moved up to Bling-side Prop from where he forged a great reputation as a tough tackling ‘never-give-an-inch’ stalwart in the pack. He was always remembered for his ‘Wing Span’ whereby the attacking opposition seemed to be automatically enveloped within the radius of his arm’s length. Although he scored only 4 Tries in that glorious 1978-79 season, two of them came in the hardest games of that historic 100% successful League campaign – the last two games. At Oldham on Bank Holiday Monday, 7th May 1979, he scored to help Hull to a hard-fought 10-5 success and in the 26th game, at home to Hunslet on 18th May, he reached out of a tackle late in the contest to score the only Try of the game and broke the 1-1 deadlock. That Try, along with Sammy Lloyd’s conversion, presented Hull with the 26th victory.

By the end of the season, by which time he had formed a formidable Prop partnership with Keith Tindall, Charlie was selected to tour Australasia as part of the British Lions squad. Although he didn’t make the Test team, he played in 12 Tour games for Great Britain. He played at Wembley for Hull in the 1980 Challenge Cup Final and again in the drawn Final in 1982 as well as the famous victory in the Replay at Elland Road. Perhaps his rare inglorious moment in a Hull shirt was committing the foul which presented Featherstone the winning Penalty Goal late in the disastrous 1983 Final. Of course, he completed his set of Winner’s Medals with Hull as he was a member of the 1982-83 Yorkshire Cup and League Championship squads. He played in 188 games for Hull, scoring 8 Tries. He returned to Featherstone midway through the 1983-84 season and finished his career in 1985-86 at Bradford Northern for whom he turned out on some 29 occasions’

Thanks for that Bill and you know personally, I remember the day he was told that he was not to be retained by the Club. I’d gone to get some tickets and saw him on the concourse at the front of the Boulevard as he left the directors lounge, when with a tear in his eye he said, “They’ve told me they don’t want me anymore” He was a real hard guy on the pitch and a real nice guy off it! A Great player about whom I have some great memories of his time at our Club.


R.I.P. Charlie Stone.

Last week Zak Hardacker was given a 14-month ban for drug abuse and it suddenly became one of the most talked about stories in rugby league in 2018. The England international and former Castleford Tigers star was handed a 14-month ban from the sport, following a positive test prior to the 2017 Grand Final. With the ban back dated to September, when the trace of cocaine was found in a urine sample, the fullback is not allowed to join a club until 7th November. Of course, Wigan Warriors are the favourites to snap up the 26-year-old, however the big question for me and no doubt everyone reading this is why is his ban only 14 months and not the prescribed standard and expected 2 years?

The reduced ban was subsequently explained away by the local West Yorkshire newspaper I read by saying that Zak had big personal issues and could in fact have killed himself had he continued drinking spirits that night, but that he was instead saved by taking Cocaine. If I’m honest that’s still a really hard one for an old has been like me to take in. Initially, you all like me no doubt looked back to the case of the ubiquitous Rangi Chase who is also currently serving a drugs ban, because on closer scrutiny and taking personal circumstances out of it, the two cases are otherwise identical in every way. Both Anti-doping Agency rule violations state there was a ‘presence of a prohibited substance or its metabolites or markers in an athlete’s sample’ and the class of drug is described as a ‘stimulant’. In addition, both state the substance was ‘Benzoylecgonine’.

Yet, as we all thought when it was announced, there was such a massive difference in the sanction dealt out on the two, as Chase will serve 10 more months than his counterpart. It’s strange and for many reading this, where drugs are concerned there can be no mitigating circumstances at all really, but in the bigger scenario of the game itself why are we not surprised that confusion reigns? Inconsistencies are all too common in rugby league, so much so that we all just get on with it and don’t seem too surprised at all by the difference in the bans.

Every week the disciplinary panel comes up with a different interpretation of how many games a certain ban should carry. Look at two, without malice, that involved us earlier in the season, Warrington Wolves halfback Dec Patton was handed a five-game ban, and while his swinging arm was reckless and ended Bureta Faraimo’s game at the KCOM, there was no malice involved. Later in the season at Caravan Park Faraimo was red carded for a high tackle on Chris Atkin, yet his ban was significantly less, as he missed just one match. Both incidents have been discussed at length in here and of course we just move on, but there is little doubt that our referees also interpret the game in a different way, week on week.

I read a great article by Sean Hayes the other day which looked at the inconsistencies out there on the field around the different officials handling of the ruck. In addition, we are subjected to baffling obstruction calls in almost every single fixture, as no-one can seem to agree on whether play has been effected or not. It is incredible that as a sport, we have so many inconsistencies and different interpretations of events on a weekly basis. An accumulation of all of the above issues leads to fans and coaches blaming officials, officials blaming coaches, supporters claiming certain clubs get preferential treatment (as many asked on social media ‘was Hardakers sentence very conveniently short so that he could start the 2019 season with Wigan?). Some complaints may well be valid, but will we ever get to a stage where we are all on the same page so that newcomers to the game ‘get it’ immediately? Somehow, I can’t picture that happening any time soon can you.

Last week I made a point of saying what an absolute twat Garry Schofield is proving to be with his continued hounding of Marc Sneyd. It was a comment that received only agreement from the readers that contacted me and as a couple said it’s amazing how a lad who was such a great player when we signed him back in the 80’s could become such a negative journalist who relies on sensationalising the putting down of one particular player so much.

However, it made me think just how good a player Schofield once was and how he started his career as a real hero of the Club before he graduated to Judas status, as he left the Club in acrimony to join Leeds for the ‘Big Money’. So, let’s go back to the great days of the early 80’s, were there were disappointments a plenty, but invariably they were soon forgotten as the team always seemed to lift themselves to reward the fans the following week, with a marvellous performance.

One of my favourite games of that era took place on 4TH March 1984 just a week after Saints had knocked us out of the Challenge Cup and we faced the daunting task of taking on Championship rivals and top team of the season Widnes at the Boulevard. Gates were at that time starting to wane a bit and wouldn’t be helped by that defeat in Lancashire and the fact that Peter Sterling had returned to Australia after a wonderful 10-week spell at the club. Sterlo was of course to return the following year for a sensational season, but with just the League left to concentrate on, the fans that turned up that day expected a heartening performance from the FC and we were not disappointed.

All week long we had sweated on the fitness of Steve Norton and talented young loose forward Gary Divorty but both came through late fitness checks although they had not trained at all since that cup reversal the week before. Both were however greeted with a massive cheer from the 10,838 crowd when their names were announced on the team sheet before the game. Divorty was developing into a teenage sensation and was joined by several other great young players that Bunting was bringing through the ranks. Widnes needed a victory to go top of the League whilst we were in fourth position, just a point behind the top three.

We had blooded several of those youngsters and as a team were becoming known that year as ‘Buntings Babes’, but Divorty, Puckering, Schofield, Edmonds and Proctor had not let us down, and at the other end of the age scale veteran Prop Keith Tindall was still going strong and doing a good job off the bench. However once the game got under way it did not look good when Edmonds tripped Burke and the Widnes full back converted an angled 45 yard penalty, but it was not long before the Hull pack set about the powerful Widnes six.

A massive crash tackle by Rose and Dannett straight from the re-start after that penalty, set the scene as Evans ran the ball back for 45 yards and a good chance was lost when Schofield couldn’t hold a Norton inside pass. ‘Schoey’ was going really well as the ‘teenage sensation’ of the League that year and was already on 24 tries, many of which had come from his trade mark interception play.

It was he who opened the scoring for us after just 11 minutes when a quick play the ball and pass from Puckering saw Divorty break away and run 50 yards down field before feeding the young centre who went in wide out, but missed with the conversion. Back came Widnes and it took two heart stopping tackles from Gary Kemble at full back to thwart first Hughes and then O’Laughlan. However, our forwards led by young Andy Dannett in the second row and Phil Edmonds up front were dominating the massive Widnes six and on 21 minutes we scored again. A flowing move first across and then down the field involving Norton, Topliss, Ah Kuoi and Leuluai saw Divorty in the open again and he whipped out a brilliant long pass and Schofield’s pace did the rest as he touched down close to the corner flag. At 8-2 our inability to convert our tries was a worry and Hughes nearly punished us as he broke through but was caught by Dane O’Hara ten yards short of the line and spilled the ball in the impact of a tackle he didn’t expect to come in.

Next after a scrappy few minutes the crowd were jumping for joy as Norton crashed through the line, linked with Topliss and as our charismatic half back looked around who was on his shoulder but Phil Edmonds, who brushed Andy Gregory aside like a rag doll (not an easy feat at any time) to score. However once again Schofield missed the kick. It seemed like we were missing the injured Lee Crooks in the kicking department, but it didn’t matter as we witnessed the try of the game, if not one of the best in the whole season. The move stated ten yard from our line as a Widnes attack broke down when Joe Lydon went through a gap ‘without the ball’, and Leuluai picked it up. He stormed on downfield and as the cover ‘funnelled’ him into a ‘blind alley’ James somehow passed the ball around the tackler and found Schofield again. Off he went from 70 yards out with Burke and Joe Basnett in pursuit. As we all held our breath he ran first one way then the other before burning off the latter in a curving run towards the corner. He placed the ball over the line and ran off towards the crowd to celebrate a 24-minute hat trick which prompted the national press next day to label him ‘Whizz Kid’ Schofield. As half time beckoned we scored again and once again it was Norton who made the break, dummied once then twice before handing the ball on to Dannett who scored a well-deserved try and at half time despite Schofield missing 7 shots at goal we still led 20-2, having scored 5 quite brilliant touch downs.

Eight minutes into the second half Schofield at last broke his duck with a towering penalty after Andy Gregory had ‘lost it’ and slapped Topliss as he danced past him. Two minutes later as the Widnes team seemed to have lost interest in winning and following some massive hits from the Hull forwards Schofield landed an easier penalty under the sticks and at 24-2 we were cruising.

In fact, as often happens in these situations we ‘took our foot off the gas’ and Myler got a try for Widnes as Kemble was left facing three attackers as our last line of defence. Proctor came on off the bench for Topliss, who appeared to be concussed, and the evergreen Tindall swopped places with Edmonds who was limping badly. Norton and Ah Kuoi then combined from a scrum as the New Zealander somehow stepped inside Lydon and outside Myler to touch down and at last Schofield managed a conversion. Basnett scored a late consolation try when he ran 60 yards to score for Widnes, but by then it was all over. At the end we all stood and cheered as the lads did an impromptu lap of honour, so good had our demolition of the mighty Widnes been. The victory was built around a collective force, as individual skills blended perfectly with intense pressure, and where young players and old hands worked perfectly together. The pack was brilliant not just in their power but their ability to produce some fabulous running and ball skills, whilst Schofield was the predator supreme and with a dozen games to go he already had 27 tries against his name.

Oh how the mighty have fallen eh? But Great memories just the same!

Well we are back on the Cup Trail this Thursday in a game against a very tasty looking Featherstone outfit, who have played really well of late in the Championship. A lot of fans were saying last week, “Let’s play some of the youngsters”, but for me we play our fittest 17, because this is a real banana skin against a team who play at an intimidating stadium and who have nothing to lose at all. They are one of the best lower tier outfits and have built a good team, but they’ll fancy their chances and no mistake and we have to go into it as Cup holders who want to retain the trophy, not as a team that has at last got an ‘easier’ draw in their first round of the Cup.

Featherstone are one of the Clubs that are severely aggrieved with the Super League Clubs and their plans for future structures in the game. Their owners will have upped the ‘anti’ during the week and the Championship side will be raring to get at us and prove a point. Lacking three half backs as we are at present it’s certainly a very tough fixture and one that I think we have to win if we are to be in amongst the trophies this year because quite frankly, if I’m honest, despite that rousing display last Saturday, I still can’t see us getting anywhere near Old Trafford at present!

We all have to get down there and get behind the team who have in turn to turn up from minute one and not let the Championships team’s tactics or intimidation knock us off our game plan. We have to have that Challenge Cup focus that got us so far in the last two campaigns and draw again on the spirit of 2016. Anything less could see us in trouble. I can hear you laughing now as we all bask in the reflected glory of Saturdays fine performance, but these sorts of games are always a bit dodgy. Play like we did against Leeds and Castleford and we’ll be fine, but play like we did in Catalan and we could be embarrassed.

Thanks to everyone who has got in touch this week and boy were a lot of you disappointed after that last minute loss in France. No doubt all is fine again now though!!! It was however, looking back a week, a shocking showing really and although I never feel we have a right to win, we should expect better, well I would have, had I travelled 1,100 miles to watch it!!! You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned the Magic Weekend shirts that were launched this week and I’m sure they are great for the kids, but they all look horrendous to me if I’m honest but that’s the traditionalist in me I guess. Magic Weekend eh? Another real banana skin? But, for now I’m just enjoying the memory of Saturday, whilst all the while starting to get a bit fidgety about Thursday. It’s a big one and we are the holders, so come on Hull let’s get our heads right, do a job and beat Featherstone so that we get into those quarter finals again. Apologies again for a rather rushed Diary, but I’ll be back next week and let’s just hope I’m reporting on a win!

Keep believing everyone!! And …….

COMEONYOUHULLLLLLAAAARRRR!!!!!!!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf

Two more years of Nuggets!!