The Dentist’s Diary – 582nd

Absolute bloody chaos!!!

An ill disciplined and pretty disgraceful final quarter from both sides, a hat full of injuries, one or two bans looming and a refereeing display that quite frankly beggar’s belief. Oh and we are through to the quarter finals of the Challenge Cup as well! And so, as the County Road Centre of Excellence looks more like Hull Royals A&E and the builders are in extending the naughty step, we all look back on what has been a few unusual days, even for an FC fan who thought he’d seen it all.

Our tenacity and fortitude were the watchwords as we won the trophy in the last two consecutive seasons and they were on show in abundance again at Featherstone. However, that battling spirit was completely overshadowed in a final quarter that would have been a disgrace had we been watching it from the touchline at amateur level, never mind it being broadcast live to the nation on Sky TV!

I’ve seen some shambolic performances in my time, but to finish with 9 men and to get suckered into that spoiling, niggling mindset again, for the second time in three weeks, left me cold really. It was win at any cost and we did it, but in the end it actually did come at considerable cost both for now and the future.

Ok we are through to the quarter finals and our fighting spirit has to be commended, but for this fan there was precious little else to take from the game at all. Fact is we were the Super League team and we should be better than that, furthermore we should have ice coursing through our veins when the oppositions hackles are up and we should stay cool and calculated in the face of such intimidation and abject refereeing. On Thursday, we showed neither quality, so much so that when the final hooter went I was relieved, disappointed, furious and a tad embarrassed, all at the same time.

Those injuries, added to the ones we already have, could well be season defining and as reader Richard Hall said, during the game, “I fear the longer this goes on the shorter our season becomes!”. Profound words indeed and Rovers must be licking their lips at the chance they have now been presented with for the Magic Weekend match, but at least the holders were again in the hat for the quarter finals, if that is, we have anyone left to play in them!

Featherstone’s Post Office Road is a stadium that has a big place in the hearts of all the FC fans, who over the years have always travelled over there in numbers. There’s been the collections for the local families, as we all sang “Feed the Miners”, the old club house with the stripper on the pool table, the folks sat out in deckchairs on their dormer roofs on the houses behind the open end, the inebriated FC fans coming out of the Supporters Club after a night match, to find that someone had stolen the Coach etc. etc. etc. The tales go on and on and how good it is that the old place is still there as a bastion of the great game.

It’s a traditional ground with some quite amazingly loyal fans and I only had to sit down for a few minutes with Richard Whiting a while back to realise just how much the Club means to the local community. I’ve had some great times there and indeed possibly my worst experience as an FC supporter was against that Club when we lost to them at Wembley in 1983. What a seminal experience that was for all us Hull fans. I remember well later that same night when somewhat the worse for wear I bumped into a very, very inebriated Featherstone fan in the Sherlock Holmes pub in Baker Street. I was as despondent as he was happy. He however just stood there on his own at the bar with a smile as wide as the Woodhead Pass painted permanently across his face. He looked at me in my FC shirt, shook my hand with a ‘mit’ the size of 4 lb of beef steak and said, “I don’t think I’ll go to see them again, that’s it for me, after 45 years it’s over, I can never better that and now I’ll die a happy man” and there is no doubt he absolutely meant it, for that’s what rugby means to those ‘flat cappers’ in that little West Yorkshire mining town.

As Cup holders and Super League big boys, on Thursday we went there on a hiding to nothing. Down on troops, running a bit on empty after that mammoth effort against Castleford, we were still expected to win by every pundit in the country and consequently, at best, we were only going to come out of it with a safe passage to the quarter finals, weren’t we? That was everything we could hope for really and we had to get on with it, stay cool and not get drawn into a slugging match. Most importantly of all, we had to play the game at a pace that developed a Super League type momentum, with which we all hope the Championship outfit, bricklayers and labourers included, could not live. That was the plan and it was simple on paper, but it was soon to prove a lot more difficult to deliver on grass.

It all started so well with some great tries and some class play from both Connor and Griffin, but then for me, two incidents one at the end of the first half, when Connor successfully wound up Gareth Hock and he took the bait, hook line and sinker, and then in the second when the referee did nothing about what was described as a tackle ‘Right out of Water Boy’, by our Coach, for me transpired to change the game. That was as bad a hit as you will see and after it, with Hock running around like a man possessed and one or two of our lot not far behind, the whole game descended into absolute chaos.

I’ve seen players hit the catcher late but never about two seconds early!! Bentham on the gantry was clearly in the referee’s ear straight away and no doubt to keep the game as a contest, he dissuaded the ref. from taking any sort of disciplinary action at all. That just stank then and it still does now when I watch it back. As an ex refereeing colleague of mine Mark said on twitter afterwards, “I was there tonight. I hadn’t a clue what was going on while everyone stood around watching the ref holding his ear like David Coleman”.

I’m not making excuses because some of our lot and indeed Featherstone’s milked the penalties and got the cards their efforts demanded, but the official completely lost control from that point onwards, the players saw it and Hock and one or two others on both sides took it upon themselves to dole out the necessary justice. The whole game was out of control and instead of either making an example of someone or asserting his authority on the players, the referee lost it completely, as he proceeded to give out yellow cards like sweets!

It’s an age old fact and indeed a re-occurring theme in contact sports that you have to stop that sort of thing at source, if you don’t it just escalates, just as it did on Thursday. It started to bubble up in the Cas. v Saints game in the first quarter but the referee stamped on it and it all fizzled out. However, every Hull FC player was seething after that Shaul tackle went unpunished card wise and that was it, the blue touch paper had been lit and it all descended into an absolute shambles. Some of the treatment of our smaller guys like Houghton, Shaul and particularly Litten got really nasty in the tackle with the former having to put up with a knee on the head after the tackle was completed. It was quite unbelievable, as was, I’m afraid, some of the play acting on both sides, as everyone was trying to get their opposite number carded, or to at least grab a penalty any way they could.

Their Coach John Duffy agreed about the source of it all as well and when he was asked if he thought his team had us rattled towards the end he said, “I don’t think so – I just think it could have been handled a bit better by the official, but I’ll leave it at that.” Good for him, I thought, he got what was happening at least. To add to the debate that raged afterwards, ex referee Richard Silverwood tweeted, “It’s the whole process not just officials. The Video system is a shambles as well. Players playing up to video. Referees not experienced enough to handle games like tonight. A whole lot wrong with the game. Coaches are blaming the referees, Ganson blaming players. Both at fault for it all. Sorry but the game is a shambles, can’t watch this shite anymore”

What’s more and whilst I’m on the officials, the game started at 7-35pm and finished at 9-42pm and as Joe Westerman said after the game, again on twitter, “What’s all that about”, in fact as anyone who recorded it from Sky will see, it over ran so much the timer switched off well before the end of the broadcast. For me, iIt’s about time the officials got a grip!

Once the home team knew they couldn’t handle us and the speed we played at legally, the niggle and inside stuff started and that soon turned into out and out thuggery, when to our detriment, we started to react as the game spiralled down into a real mess. Someone said on RL fans, “Had there been another 5 minutes left to play it could easily have ended up abandoned”. However, as we now know that doesn’t happen until you are down to 4 men (A front row and someone to put the ball in) We were no angels but I refuse to see the blame heaped at our door because there was a deal of ineptitude from the officials and tons of provocation from the home players going on out there as well.

It had all started so well and for 60 minutes we controlled things, played at our pace and looked comfortable, but it ended with a final quarter that was awful and it reminded me of some of those games we saw in the mid 70’s when all we had to bring to the table was our aggression, be it legal or otherwise. On Thursday when the wheel started to come off there was simply no leadership on the field to steady us down and settle the FC heads. We did what we had to do with fast play the balls and smart movement across the field, as we set off like a house on fire. That saw us take an easy 18-point lead, but then we fell into their trap as we did in Catalan and the rest of the game was ugly at best.

That early burst in the first quarter got us home in the end, but when it got nasty, as I say, we saw no leadership at all on the pitch. You see for me I believe that as a Club we are better than that and believe me it would never have descended to those depths had last year’s captain been on the field. Gareth would have calmed them down, led by example and made them all tough it out, but without him (although Danny Houghton did his best and stayed reasonably calm), most of the senior players either disappeared or looked to be out of control as they failed to set the example to the rest. Now as well as all of the injuries, we’ll have Faraimo and possibly Griffin facing bans.

All that said, rugby wise, we were a class above the home team until those last few minutes and our ability to outrun the defence for two long range tries and punch holes in their defence at will in the first half showed that we had our tactics right and I guess all the controversy apart it was an easy win. We never really looked in trouble, but when the heads explode as they did in this game, you never quite know what will happen next, do you?

At least Jake Connor (described by Caroline on RL fans as ‘our resident pantomime villain’) confirmed that in the absence of Sneyd, if we can get Kelly back, we have little to fear about our half backs. He may have wound up the opposition again and he needs to be careful with that and not let it detract from his play, but when it comes to his actual performance on the field, Jake was nothing short of sensational, particularly in that first half when in effect, thanks to him, the game was won.

The half back role is in safe hands with Jake.

We saw some great tries and there were some good performances but I’m shying away this week from assessing them and who did what, because for me the whole thing was over shadowed by a lack of discipline right across both teams, whilst if it highlights one glaring issue in our game it is that the officials just ain’t up to it!!!! I guess at this point I had better move on!

So what else has been happening? Well, I don’t know about you but quite frankly if there’s one thing I’m totally fed up with, it’s all the hints and rumour that are going about concerning the reorganisation of the League’s going forward. Adam was at it in his April and his May programme notes, whilst Hudgell was going on about it this week after his team were put to the sword at St. Helens. We all know that Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan, Adam, Neil and the Saints supremo met with representatives of the Championship and League One two weeks ago to outline some of the “major changes” the Super League Clubs want to see driven through, but further than that all is shrouded in rumour and mystery.

Most fans are fed up of hearing about it now as it’s all dragged on and on with the common theme appearing to be that the Super-8s format, will be in place next year. Certainly, Leeds CEO Gary Hetherington had previously described some journalists as ‘piss-poor’ for suggesting there is any uncertainty over the future format of the competitions. But then intriguingly, Hudgell told the Hull Daily Mail last week: “I anticipate changes to the league structure in 2019, which will help give us more stability and a better chance of sustained progress and proper planning.” No plans have been revealed, and the silence from the rudderless RFL has been deafening. It’s that I think that has proved to be thoroughly dispiriting for everyone, including myself! They really do have to bring some clarity to proceedings because transparency has never been their strong point and as I say the fans are now just fed up with it all.

So, with all these injuries I want next to go back to the Cas. Game and ask if the loss of Marc Sneyd, for perhaps the rest of the season a problem? No of course it isn’t, for in the context of the make-up of the current FC team, it’s more of a disaster for me!!! You see, the tragedy is, that I’m not sure what we will do without him. Marc is our go to man in the tight situation, the man who can put the kick right on the money into the winger’s hands, the one who can turn the opposition around when we are hanging on with two minutes to go and possibly the only player in the British game who can also, under pressure, slot over the winning drop goal from 53 yards out, on a sodden pitch, at the very death of a game. Miss him? Of course we will!!!!

Our current injury situation is without doubt pretty unprecedented. For the last two seasons casualties have been apparent but have usually come to the fringe players so as to not cause too much concern. The senior players were more often than not unaffected, although Danny Houghton copped a 6-week injury at Wigan last year and although some long term absentees were apparent at times, they were few and far between. The law of averages dictates that such situations never last forever and this season our good luck has come back to bite us as we currently have 4 half backs out including three of the most influential players we have in the team Kelly, Carlos and Sneyd. That’s a massive loss to us, with Sneyd’s, as I say, almost season defining but we have to be deemed unlucky to lose all three in successive weeks, however, you have to ride that sort of luck and move on. When you then lose your best forward the player who has led our pack brilliantly this year in Scott Taylor, and a Winger you have to be in a bit of trouble don’t we?

But poor old Sneydy must be absolutely gutted. We ask him to run with the ball more often, he does that very thing, someone grabs onto his leg, hangs on and the rest, as they say, is destined to be history. I always used to think that in the old game the best play-makers were those who were never caught with the ball and who kept out of the heavy traffic, but this season Sneydy has taken on the model of the modern half back, but he runs a bit and now he’s crocked. If Connor continues to do well in the half’s, as I’m sure he will, that’s great but it weakens us in the centre because of instead of having three choices, him, Carlos and Griffin we are down to two, once Kelly is back and with Talanoa out and Faraimo and possibly Griffin heading for bans any more injuries would see our back line demolished. Perhaps we will see more of Miloudi, who knows, but we are certainly struggling and without Sneyd the man who makes us tick, either Connor or Kelly (when fit) are going to have to step up to the plate and lead the team when we have the ball. It’s going to be a tough few weeks and we can I think forget a top four finish.

Now, it’s funny when we are linked with a player and yet no one on message boards etc. seems that interested but that was the case last week when we were said to be interested in Joel Moon who is off-contract at Leeds. The talented centre or half back is reported to want a return to Australia after a seven-year stint in Super League. It is believed the Rhinos want to sign him for 2019, but the RL press said last week that the interest is ‘real’ from St Helens and Hull FC. Time, as I always say, will I guess tell.

The other day I got a great E mail from Nick Henderson who lives in Oldham, he is a fanatical FC fan and for his sins reads this rubbish every week. He took me to task on a couple of points from past editions, which of course is something as I always say, that I encourage; as long as people are taking an interest, then that’ll do for me. However, he then went on to add that I had stated a few weeks ago that Toronto were still governed by the salary cap rules where the most you can spend is £1.9m. However, he said he wanted me to try and explain how they can be signing so many players as the season continues to unfold. I said that it was a question that had crossed my mind a few times as well, particularly as the signings were announced, so I promised Nick that I’d have a look into it and so here’s what I found.

There is little doubt, I thought, that the Wolfpack’s mid-season recruitment has been one of the most active on record and on a similar scale to Leigh when they earned promotion to Super League in 2016. Remember all the questions that were asked back then? Well, just like the Leythers, Toronto’s spending constantly raises eyebrows across the game, as other Championship Clubs look on, some I guess, pretty green with envy. But, when you look more closely they have in fact done little wrong. What we do know is that before the start of the season they weren’t up to the critical £1.9 million figure, because back then their coach Paul Rowley confirming they still had space under the cap for further signings, despite high-profile acquisitions such as Josh McCrone and the ubiquitous Joe Westerman.

Then, before the season started and following disciplinary action still shrouded in mystery, the club was rocked by the sudden departures of Ryan Bailey, Fuifui MoiMoi and Dave Taylor, who left, it was said by the Club, by ‘mutual consent’. If we are to believe the Australian media, Taylor had signed a three-year deal worth $1 million, which is the equivalent of around £185,000 per year. Even if Taylor was signed as a marquee player, his departure will still have seen £175,000 moved off Toronto’s salary cap. Add the salaries of Moimoi, one of the club’s high-profile signings in their inaugural year, and Bailey, who likely commanded a reasonable fee too and the Wolfpack’s had suddenly freed up a significant six-figure sum from their cap.

Before the season started, the Wolfpack quickly grabbed some players to cover the absence of this high profile trio with the arrival of Jack Buchanan, who was a free agent after leaving Widnes, providing cover in the pack. Nick Rawsthorne, the young centre or winger who was on our books, but was yet to break into the first team squad was also signed, while Jake Butler-Fleming signed soon afterwards. That said, it’s safe to assume the combined salaries of the trio is just a small percentage of Taylor, Moimoi and Bailey’s wages. In truth, their combined cost won’t have surpassed Taylor’s.

That said, the Wolfpack’s capture of big-name stars, as the season has continued, will have seen their spending move back up towards the top of the cap again. Reni Maitua was brought out of retirement while the captures of Chase Stanley and Gareth O’Brien signalled two significant financial moves for the Wolfpack. But as quick as players have been coming in, as with Westerman, players have been heading in the other direction as the revolving doors continued to spin around.

Now the Wolfpack have added two further major additions. Darcy Lussick’s arrival saw the club take up the marquee player option once again, while Matty Russell was reportedly on around £90,000 at Warrington before he signed, so it’s unlikely he will have arrived for much less in fact perhaps a bit more. So in reply to Nick I would say that having looked into it and despite their two most recent arrivals, Toronto have still seen more players leave the club than have join since the turn of the year and their spending will still be well under the cap. If anything, they’ll still have some room remaining for further arrivals. Interesting stuff that I thought!

I received four or five great e mails this week from readers who remembered the great times we had experienced in the past at Post Office Road, so I therefore decided that this week in Codger Corner we would look at a couple of such trip in the mid 90’s.

It we go back to Sunday 9th June 1996 and to set the scene a bit, it was the month when my pals and I went to the Odeon to see the premier of ‘Independence Day, where we marvel at the way that Bill Murray beat the aliens on his own. Little changed however at the Boulevard where the FC were again concerned about the condition of the playing surface. The dry summer had baked it hard and it was badly worn in the centre area. Ever resourceful, Steven Ball raised the finance to install a state of the art irrigation system which included a futuristic looking water tank at the Gordon Street end of the Stadium. This construction, we all concluded, looked from a distance like one of the alien space craft from the film, had actually landed on the South Terracing!

However, that week the grass got a rest as we were away and off back to Featherstone again. We travelled early to sample the excellent hospitality of the Supporters’ Club and although the age old practise of covering the Pool table and having a performance from a couple of strippers, had now passed into the mists of time, we had a great afternoon with great beer and savaloy’s with the home fans, who always made us really welcome.

I enjoyed the first half of the game from the open terrace at the South end of the ground, with the usual array of locals watching from their bedroom windows or from the tops of their loft extensions on the row of terraced houses behind me. Featherstone was one place behind us in the table at 5th but we had won our last five games and had annihilated Batley the previous week at the Boulevard 68-12, so we were hopeful of an upset. Featherstone ran out, bizarrely, to soccer anthem ‘Three Lions’ the current Number One in the charts, and they were certainly fired up. They drew first blood after just 10 minutes when Darren Hughes sent Steve Molloy over and this effort fired the home fans into some chanting although at least half of the meagre 1800 crowd had made the journey from Hull. With Molloy and Derek Fox running the game for the ‘Colliers’, only some resolute defence from Chico Jackson and Andy Fisher kept the home team at bay.

Then a sweeping move down the field saw Chico Jackson pass to Tevita Vaikona who brilliantly beat Owen Simpson to motor into the open and ex Featherstone favourite Fisher took his perfectly weighted pass to steam over the line for our opening score. Under 21 International scrum-half Mark Hewitt at hooker tagged on the points and we were level.

Just 4 minutes later after Dave Webber had been tackled 20 yards out, it was Chico Jackson who ran into acting half back and brushing would be tacklers Gibson, Pearson and Summers aside, to score in spectacular fashion. Hewitt then landed a difficult penalty from wide out on the left and despite Pearson reducing the deficit with another penalty for the home side, we went in at the break leading 14-8.

At half time most of the Hull fans changed ends to stand in front of the score board and as was expected Featherstone came out all guns blazing. Hull were struggling to hold the big Featherstone front row of Malloy, Roebuck and Tuffs and it took a last ditch high tackle from our full back Peter Fitzgerald, to stop Eddie Rombo going in at the corner. Pearson converted a penalty and after a great downfield move by the Featherstone backs, Fox touched so that after 60 minutes we trailed again, 16-14.

Hewitt levelled with a penalty when referee Mr Taberne decided that Fox had strayed off side in the defensive line, but then disaster struck as the official sent Hewitt to the sin bin after he held Summers down in a tackle near our line. While he was off the field Featherstone capitalised on their extra man advantage and Molloy stormed in after a long spell of pressure to make it 20-16. At that point our forwards were performing heroics in defence and in one five-minute spell ‘Irish’ Dave Moffat (who held an Irish passport) pulled off nine tackles, which was pretty amazing for a second rower.

Tackling everything that moved, he and Jon Aston kept us in the game in that torrid spell, but then as Hewitt returned with 9 minutes to go we managed to wrestle our way back into the game. Chico Jackson almost got over and Marcus Bai was forced into touch inches from the line, but it was a bit of magic from veteran Gary Divorty that found the home defence tired and flat footed. He stepped outside two players and finding Moffat with a smart pass back inside, it left the big forward a clear 10 yard run to the line. With a Hewitt goal we took a 22-20 lead which we clung onto, to record a great victory.

It was a result that registered Featherstone’s first home defeat of the season and brought Moffat his third consecutive ‘Players player of the Match’ award, although Chico Jackson must have pushed him close that day. Mark Hewitt did well that afternoon too and didn’t miss a single goal kick. It was a great game!

Reader Dick Ollett also contacted me and mentioned a game he remembered from back in 1971 at Featherstone, which I covered in the First book as follows….

“That spring of 1971 we played Featherstone at Post Office Road in the Challenge Cup, the date was 21st February and it was always a tough game at the home of the ‘Colliers’, but on this occasion Hull had several injuries with Arthur Keegan, Clive Sullivan, Terry Kirchin, Brian Hancock and Chris Davidson all missing from the starting line up so it appeared that it was going to be almost impossible to get anything at all that afternoon. Back then though we had a ‘Super sub’, David Doyle-Davidson, who was regularly on the bench. He had throughout his career at the club been a good ball handler and runner and a great tackler. He had played in every position in the backs and so his versatility had made him an ideal candidate for the 14 or 15 shirt. On this occasion as our injury jinx struck again David came on from the bench after about 20 minutes when we were already 7-2 down. ‘The Doyle’ then commenced to literally tackle everyone on the Featherstone side at least three times and his ‘one-man show’ of defiance was such, that we fought back to grab an unlikely 7-7 draw. A one-man performance is in actuality almost impossibility at any level in rugby league, but on this occasion the media hailed David’s efforts as just that and having been there myself I will vouch for the fact that it was a worthy accolade as I have never seen a player since make so many consecutive tackles.

David was chaired by us fans from the pitch at the end and then carried down the tunnel by his team mates. This was a good thing for the hero of the day as well because the story goes that Clive Sullivan and Arthur Keegan had to take his boots off in the changing rooms after the game, because, following his ‘Super Human’ effort, he simply couldn’t stand up. At the replay, which we won 12-8, word of his amazing performance at Post Office Road had spread through the ranks of the Hull supporters and we all gave him a standing ovation as the teams entered the field of play at the Boulevard, but despite all his efforts three days earlier……. he was still number 14 and still on the bench!

Thanks for the great Memories of Post Office Road Dick!

The other day a guy stopped me out of the blue in Toll Gavel in Beverley and said, “Hey Wilf, thanks for the Diary mate I read it out on the rigs and it’s a real lifeline to what is happening back home with my Club” He then added, “Quite frankly I don’t know how you do it every week”. We had a great chat about the state of the Club and the game, shook hands and went our separate ways. However, it did make me wonder too why I do it and also amplified my own feelings about writing 6000 words every week that have, over the years, seen me write enough words to fill well over three bibles. I guess on reflection it’s often been tough going, it disrupts your life and working under pressure to get it out, does see it sometimes repeat itself. However, it usually takes up most of my weekend, as I try really hard to honestly put into words, my thoughts about the team and game that I love.

I really do try to speak just as I feel, and it does upset folks at times, but this week, (after that chat in Beverley) and looking back at some of the more recent editions, I realised that the constraints of deadlines and time often see me missing the point, repeating myself, getting obsessed with certain issues in the game and sometimes, on occasions, getting it so wrong. But isn’t that just what all fans do? The thing is I can’t get it right every time, nor can I make it funny or pertinent or even at times topical every week and what’s more, as I move towards seventy it can’t go on forever. I ain’t a journalist and I couldn’t write a shopping list when I started 13 years ago (some would say I still can’t) but I just write what I feel and hope it strikes a note.

You see I absolutely love the game I have supported for over 60 years and what’s more I am so fed up and frustrated with all the shambolic goings on with the RL, the Super League Clubs, the referee’s and officials, the parlous state of video officiating, games over running, players feigning injury to get other players carded, the crap commentators we have, the way our game is shuffled around the time slots for broadcasting, to suit the men at Sky etc. etc. etc. I have in fact in 60 years, never despaired about the game as much as I do now. It’s just a good job that our Club is in such safe hands really!

But, I can’t do anything about it except to be completely honest, so I guess what I’m saying is that as long as I can keep going, I’ll do my best to reflect what’s happening, but it only comes from an ordinary supporter who might know a few players and ex player’s and a few folks at the Club, but who more often than not just listens to the thoughts and views of other fans around him; those who are in fact, just in the same boat as me. Thanks to you all, the current readership fluctuates between 1600 and 2200 every week, depending, that is, on how good or crap we are doing and to get better numbers than watch some games outside the Super League, is certainly really humbling. I know many of you are as frustrated with it all as I am, so I just want to say thanks so much for all your support over the years and for sticking with the Diary, whilst I want as well to also apologise if at times it all gets a bit muddled, repetitive and ‘ranty’?

That said well, as for next week, I can see little further than a real pasting in Newcastle with the players we have out for the Magic Weekend. But how good it would be to be proved wrong wouldn’t it? . I’m not going and at present I’m glad I aren’t. I’ll be there in spirit though, sat at home behind the settee with my periscope or at best watching through my fingers. As I said earlier Rovers must be keenly anticipating the battle with the thought of getting two points from a patched up and wounded FC and although I think that Carlos, Paea and Taylor will all perhaps have a chance of playing, we could well be without 9 or 10 first teamers.

There were some big lessons to be learned at Featherstone, but only time will tell if we have learned them. In fact, for me the way the prognosis for the players we currently have injured is going I think we will have to battle to stay away from the bottom four now, with perhaps the home games with Salford and Widnes critical to our survival. We looked safe after the Cas win and were even looking upwards to a top 4 finish, but how quickly things can change eh?

So thanks for reading what is no doubt a pretty down beat Diary, which despite a win in the cup is coloured by the unsavoury happenings on the field at Featherstone and those off the field across the game. Good luck to everyone going to the Magic event and I hope you all have a great time and enjoy the match, we’ll still have more there than anyone else.

I rarely say that things look bleak to me, but after two years of relative success, at present, on this occasion, perhaps they do! Still all we can do is hope, as we all ask the questions, will Yeamo make a come-back, is Richard Horne cleaning his boots as we speak and how’s Johnny Whiteley these days!!! Tough times indeed! But, as my mate Dave said this week, “You have to have Faith!”



Faithfully Yours