The Dentist’s Diary – 584th

I was proud of our lads on Friday. The result was no more than we could have expected if we were honest, but we gave it a real go and surprised the much fancied ‘Wire’ with a first half of energy, passion and youthful exuberance, which had a modicum of skill thrown in too.

I actually though we had a chance at half time, but I should have known better. Miracles do happen, but not that often and experience proved that the Wolves would come out in that second half and put some points on us and that’s exactly what in the end they did, but in the mean time we gave them a hell of a scare didn’t we?

For me it was a game we were destined to lose simply because of the players we were missing. That I’m afraid is a fact we had all better get used to in the next few weeks, for it isn’t the last time such a scenario will be played out ‘before our very eyes’.

Hats off to everyone who played though, because it was an excellent first 40 minutes in which there were some great showings from the young lads. There’s bags of hope for the future in some of those players and they will have all benefited no end from the experience, I’m sure of that!

All in all, it was a great effort and one that belied the number of players we had missing, in what was, before we started, a game I never thought we had a chance of winning. We got no points, but were pretty glorious in defeat. But oh boy, next week now looms and that’s a worry indeed…….

On Friday it was always going to be a big ask and as we stood and prepared to watch the game, with only Jake Connor of those on show having played in every game this season, it was again a much changed line up that took the field. Should we just give in and look to Salford in two-week’s time for those precious two point we need to secure top 8 safety? Well, that was never going to happen was it.

We would never do that, but it looked a bloody hard one to ever contemplate winning, particularly when you looked down the Warrington team sheet. They might have had some missing, but boy, compared to our ‘raggle taggle’ troops they still looked to be fielding a strong team. We had to play the fixture though and so we went there determined to give it our best and just see what happened.

I hate it when it’s like that, because with our squad (and in hindsight) if we had just say three or four missing, we would have had such a good chance of pulling off a win, but with 7 or 8 out it was a massive ask and any effort and level of intensity we could muster was always going to be hard to sustain. Someone said after the game that one side of our three-quarters was probably the cheapest in the league and they were up against the most expensive, but credit to us because that really didn’t show that much.

We started so well with some good sets constructed on hard yards down the middle which led to us scoring two simple but excellently executed tries. We took our chances when they came and a great ‘no try’ effort from Miloudi, which just showed how good he is playing off the cuff, would have seen us well away, had it been given. But, it wasn’t and the game started to turn against us, yet we battled and battled and young guns Scott, Harris, Logan and Miloudi did so, so well and never looked out of place at all. It was all about defending resolutely and when the whiff of a chance came, we had to take it and for 40 minutes we did just that.

The home side squandered possession and looked ill at ease when we carried the ball forward into the heart of their defence. I was so impressed how Logan took the high balls and how both Scott and Miloudi were not afraid to kick ahead and try broken play moves on a couple of free plays.

At half time we all thought the Wolves would take control in the second half, of course we did, but if any FC fan doubted our spirit they were put firmly in their place, for we had already shown tons of it. The way that our lads took the ball to Warrington and the way it unnerved the home team, was always going to see a response from the Wolves come the second 40 minutes. You know in that first half it looked to me as if they thought we would be easy beats, but we proved that we weren’t and in fact at the interval we had done far better than any of us could have hoped.

Of course after a brief flourish at the start of the second 40 minutes when we tried to continue our dominance, the Wolves scored (after no doubt a half time roasting) as they at last got some wind in their sails. They produced two quick tries and we were really struggling, as the momentum that quick scores give turned the tide against us. The loss of Mark Minichiello with a wrist injury left us in disarray defensively in the line and once they were level, the task in hand looked a massive one. Miloudi again tried to works some of his unorthodox magic when he almost pinched an interception, before Masilla just rolled over Jordan Lane and crashed in to see us behind, but we still never stopped trying, did we?

The Charnley try came on the back of a soft penalty given away by Paea for lifting. At that point of the game with us hanging on by our finger nails there was simply no need for it and that dumb indiscretion saw us punished in the ensuing set, which was just too much for us to defend. That was in effect that, but we fought so hard and tried so much, with the team’s spirit there for all to see.

In the end it was only the outcome we all really expected, but no one can complain, we just ran out of bodies, energy and nous as the old hands at Warrington showed a few of our kids a thing or two. That said however no one can fault our lot at all. The referee did a good job but the fact that he allowed Brad Fash to be carried over the line with his legs in the air, was certainly a glaring error and not what you want to see at all when you’re under the pump. However, in the end it made little difference.

In the future when perusing the 2018 fixtures it will look like a drubbing, but it was far from that and we did well, but were never really going to win once they drew level. In the end three more tries did for us and that was that. I thought we had got away without any injuries but then Connor came off with a hamstring injury, just to compound our disappointment.

Before the game we had a bit of a wager on which FC players would get injured this week and, judged by our current luck in that department of late, Jake was high on the probability scale. We could do with a break and no mistake, so let’s hope a scan on Monday shows not too much damage, for we really need him next week.

The Miloudi biting incident was a strange one for me, because having watched it back several times after the game I can’t see what all the fuss was about really and I hope that the review panel can’t either. It’s clear to me to be a case of a bigger player trying to put his forearm into a smaller players face whilst he is on the ground. Miloudi tries to turn his head then a petulant Hill pushes his foreman across mouth, you can clearly see that Miloudi at no point closes his mouth and it’s a nothing incident for me. But, with the RL folks left to decide, who knows what the outcome will be.

The game was two points lost from a predictable defeat, but it was certainly a win, win situation for some of our youngsters and the future of the team has to be bright with talent such as Matongo, Fash, Scott, Harris and Miloudi around the Club. How long we can keep that resolve and enthusiasm going with so many young players in there, (who are notoriously bad at keeping a level of performance week in week out) remains to be seen, but in that first 40 minutes we were bloody great.

There were some heroic performances as Danny Houghton again led from the front although in that play making roll I thought that Connor was a bit quiet by his usual standards and Manu and Mini were less effective than they could have been, but that said, everyone gave their all. Harris again looked good at half back and he should, I think, be given a bit more responsibility, whilst Westerman had a very good first spell and played with a lot of energy and vision. I also liked the form of Cameron Scott, he has size and a deal of vision especially for one of such a young age, whilst in Miloudi, if we can harness his unpredictability, we could well have another ‘maverick’ player who is perhaps worthy of becoming a Lee Radford project!

As someone said, straight after the game, imagine the future of Hull FC if it is to be him and Jake Connor in the half backs in say 5 years’ time; we would then be unreadable as an attacking force. Up front I thought that Paea had a good game grunting it down the middle and he was supported well by Green and Matongo, but all in all it was always going to be a lost hope once they got in front and I think a few minds were on next week thereafter. Still, I was in the end very proud of all of them though!

On Saturday I was told by a contact in Cheshire that the talk on the streets over there was that Wigan were interested in Lee Radford to replace Shaun Wane, who had announced his departure last week. I don’t know if there is anything in it and I hope there isn’t in fact with his tireless work to build what we have at the FC over the years and the loyalty shown to him by Adam Pearson, plus the business interests he has in Hull, I doubt anything will come of it, if there is, in the first place, any truth in the rumour at all.

Thanks to Castleford’s poor showing last Thursday, we end the weekend still in fourth position and as far as the League goes at least, we now buy ourselves a couple of week’s recuperation time for the current injury list, before we take on Salford a week on Friday, in what must be a must win game, for our survival chances in the top 8. Castleford can go above us next week but that one’s a win, win situation anyway, because if they do they will have beaten Rovers, which is always a good thing to happen isn’t it?

We need to get to 20 or 22 points as soon as possible. That said there is the little matter of a Cup game at the current best team in the League to contemplate next weekend, which is going to be so tough to approach, to tackle and possibly to take! Talk about a big ask and us travelling over there with just our hope to lean on eh?

Looking at the rest of the week now and Joe Westerman has certainly been a revelation since he returned to the fold and I’m told, as a more measured individual, he has settled back in with everyone at County Road and is already an important part of the set up.

This week in the Mail, talking of his return he said, “I’m really enjoying it. The first day back was good and I knew from then it was time to knuckle down and get my head on. There is no better place to do it and it’s been pretty good from when I got here. I took a bit of a punt on myself by not signing long term at a club. FC have an option of a year and my goal is to prove myself. I could have signed at a different team for a number of years but I’d rather come to a big side and show I can still play. I’m here until the end of the year and it’s down to me to prove that I can do the things right which I haven’t done right in the past. For me it’s six months and a chance to play well and see what Hull want to do after that. I’d like to finish my career here.” That’s an indication I think that, as is the case from his own admission, he should probably not have left in the first place. However, as a fan you can want a player to say little else really!

You know, I don’t know why I feel this way, (unless it’s down to me growing up watching Johnny Whiteley), but I’ve always loved a rangy, tough, ball handling loose forward type of player. Perhaps I’ve seen a few in my time and thus grown to love them over the years as I watched Johnny, Mick Crane, Steve Norton, Gary Divorty, Jason Smith etc, to name but a few. I guess I like to see a big guy with a natural passing game and Joe fits that description perfectly and is one of the best examples of a ‘ball handling forward’ that there is in the British game at present. He is a talented guy who can create, dictate and set the direction of the game one minute and mix it with the best the next. I hope he makes it and gets a longer contract, just as Albo did when he found himself in the same position when he arrived at the Club. If he does, then with Sneyd, Houghton, Albo, Connor and Shaul all contracted, we are starting to put together a talented spine for the next five years. That has to be good news for everyone.

Talking of Jake Connor, he’s certainly wind up merchant number one at present as far as most of the players across the game are concerned. For me having such a player (and we’ve had a few over the years, like, Paul Woods, Ronnie Wileman and Kevin Dick) is an asset as long as it’s done with a smile on his face and he doesn’t rise to the bait when he gets some back. Despite his man of the match display in last week’s Magic Weekend victory, Lee Radford still insists that the player has to focus on toning down his verbal’s, only to admit that when challenged, Connor always just blames everyone else.

To that end Jake retorted this week, tongue in cheek, “I think Lee Radford is just with all the other ones. He’s always against me as well! Sometimes I like winding up people and sometimes I don’t. It’s just on the day really. Against Rovers I was gulping for breath most of the time and couldn’t even speak! But, whatever happens after the game we just shake hands and it’s all over. It’s all fun and games really”. Whatever else, Jake is certainly a massive talent who we will only see the very best of when he gets a settle position and sticks in it; if we can get everyone fit that is!

Now, it was hardly surprising that we were this week linked with a move for Tom Lineham, because I guess with the situation we find ourselves in we will have probably tried to get every back there is out there, available or not!! Tom was always the joker, whose immaturity was a laugh at first before he just took everything too far, so that in the end he got on everybody’s nerves and when we were made an offer we couldn’t refuse, he was off. That said, he was never one of the real bad boys, just more of a daft lad and I guess we have to think that a few seasons at Warrington have straightened him up a bit. Food for thought all this ‘linking’ stuff I guess, but as he’s not coming for now, it’s all pretty academic, but for the record I would have welcomed him back.

Fetuli Talanoa is injured again and as there is no word of a new contract being forthcoming, for him, then with our rumoured interest in Tom, you just wonder a bit don’t you? I expect as well that, after we got a player’s that brought us £140,000 in from the Wire (in Westerman), back for zilch via Toronto, I don’t think they’ll be letting Tom go for anything but a big transfer fee do you? However, Tom and Joe are still big mates and Westy will tell anyone that you only realise how good it is at Hull when you’ve left and are playing somewhere else. I wonder if he’s told Tom that??? Oh, we do like a conspiracy theory don’t we?

My Quote of the week this week goes to a disgruntled Daryl Powell who said last Thursday in the wake of that embarrassing display at the Jungle against Saints, “I watch Hull at the moment and think, ‘they’ve got some balls about them’. I don’t think we’ve got any”. Thanks Daryl!

I have to say that although it was great to win against the Dobbins again I was still pretty none plussed with the actual Magic weekend and particularly the poor turn out on Sunday. No wonder they wanted us as last game on. Of Course the RL hailed it as a great success they always do and afterwards Ralph Rimmer, still trying to talk himself into a job said, “This weekend is one of the most innovative in sport and we have seen it become increasingly successful since it was first held 11 years ago.”

The first part of that statement is probably acceptable I think, but as for the “increasingly successful” bit, that has for me to be debatable, on and off the field. The 2018 total attendance of 64,319 was down on the previous two years and neither day (38,881 on Saturday and 25,438 the following afternoon) was an event record.

After the dust had settled after Newcastle, Pete Smith in the Yorkshire Evening Post debated the event this week and said, “Switching the Cup final from April/May to August paved the way for the Magic Weekend, but the knockout competition is now struggling and much of that is due to scheduling. Gaps between the later rounds make it difficult to maintain interest and the late August final is too close to the Super League title decider at the start of October. A May final would allow the competition to be played in pre- and early-season and provide a spring weekend out, while also ensuring all the focus at the end of the year is on the race for the league crown”. I think Pete makes a good point there.

As I have said before, the Magic fixtures seem to be devised for their fan appeal, but that suggests a lack of faith in the event itself and this year there were no classic games and only one close result. Smith discussed this point as well, as he comments, “Fixtures could be decided through an open draw, or based on league positions the previous season. However, both those methods have been tried in the past and discarded. Alternatively, Magic could take place as a normal round in the regular season – in other words, every match would be somebody’s home game. That clearly wouldn’t be well received by clubs, even if it was done on a rotation basis and would mean some sides had one more home fixture than their rivals. Another option would be to base fixtures on the league table at the start of the Magic Round, so top plays second, third meets fourth and so on. Magic follows the sixth round of the Challenge Cup, so fixtures would be known two weeks in advance, giving coaches and players enough time to prepare and for most fans it wouldn’t make any real difference, particularly if the event returns to Manchester. Those planning to make a weekend of it will book well in advance anyway, whatever the fixtures and everyone else will travel on the day”.

Everyone seems to have a theory and so the debate goes on and its interesting that he correlates the two competitions because the Challenge Cup is certainly undervalued these days, but as Smith comments above, could that be down to the scheduling and indeed the placing of the magic weekend in that competitions traditional spot in May? Interesting debate that I thought!

However, all that apart looking back, if the weekend did nothing else, it showed just how overused the video referee is. I’ve banged on for a while about it in here but for me having all six games on TV went to allow us to compare a whole round at one go and seeing the games back to back proved I think that referees are seriously lacking in confidence in their own decisions and are handing calls upstairs simply for the sake of it. Regan Grace’s late try against Widnes is just one example. There was no indication whatsoever that a Saints player had knocked it on, while the ball was grounded cleanly, but upstairs we went as if the referee hadn’t the balls to just give the try.

The constant use of the video referee does nothing but slow the game down and frustrate us lot the fans, as could be easily seen and indeed heard around St James’ Park as the howls of derision started every time a decision was sent to the screen. No one wants to watch five or six slow-motion replays of the same try in a game that’s renowned for its fast pace and none stop incident. It’s about time referees grew some and started backing themselves, if they did that then it would speed the game up no end and earn them much more respect from the fans. I see that at the Blackpool Bash this weekend the referees were told to ease up on the obstruction law so something is getting through to the powers that be, but we needs some action on the officials and no mistake.

So a question. Which Super League team is the most likely to get into financial difficulties at any time this year? I rarely feature individual Clubs (aside from our own) in here, but the plight of Salford and their fans attempts to rebuild and run the Club after the departure of Marwan Koukash at the end of last year is a story worth following. They have had some difficulties and had to sell some players just to survive, their squad is the smallest in Super league and they continue at present to live from hand to mouth. Now they are pursuing a course of action used on several occasions in Football, as they have recently formed a Supporters Trusts.

However, it’s been a tough journey already and at any time the Club could go under. This wasn’t helped when the transfer of control was only approved by the Rugby Football League on the eve of the 2018 season and time was always going to be of the essence to merely keep the famous old Club afloat, let alone replicate the successes of the 2017 campaign.

They had very little in the way of funds available to enhance the playing squad and this year’s Salford Red Devils have begun to look increasingly vulnerable despite the best efforts of their players and a dedicated band of volunteers and loyal supporters. They had many initiatives planned to explain the new structure and start the marketing push for Season Ticket sales, but the delays meant they had to scrap all that and had instead to concentrate on the opening game of the season.

They all hoped that the Club would approach a breakeven position but the lack of that pre-season marketing plus a general feeling of uncertainty meant that Season ticket sales were lower than expected. In addition, the home attendances have been poor even compared to last year as had been the level of away support that have attended home games. In fact, most of the income has been down on last year. The playing squad had been contracted to the Club before the end of last season but for the first time in recent history they didn’t have the support of the Koukash, so this Season just survival on and off the pitch is the major priorities.

This week Director Andy Rosler said, “Given, the likely restructure to the entire competition especially the format of promotion and relegation, this is the most crucial season, probably ever, for the Club”. They are currently in mid table which is already a pretty good effort given the size and spend of the current squad, however, given that the financial position is still uncertain, there is still a general feeling of despair and it’s understandable that fans are getting frustrated.

With the need to raise additional working capital and to strengthen the Squad this year and to build a competitive squad for next year some drastic action was needed.
However, this week there was better news and Rosler said “For many weeks we have been engaging with the Supporters Trust with an emphasis on fund raising and sustainability,” he continues “They have been considering the various fan ownership and fund raising models that have been facilitated by Supporters-Direct, mainly in Football. But the club can announce that it will formally begin discussions with Supporters Direct to consider a number of options that will give fans the chance to raise funds for the Club, take ownership and have more say in how the Club should be operated. Details of the various schemes will be made public in the very near future”
The good news was that as an incentive to motivate the whole Community to get behind this scheme, former owner Marwan has now offered to write off the entire debt owed to him, but this is conditional on the Club becoming self-financing for the rest of this season and next. That’s a very decent offer but the lads over there have their work cut out to even keep the Club going for the rest of this year as the middle eights beckons. I don’t particularly like their new home but I have some fond memories of The Willows and our visits there and I hope that they pull through!!

This week in Codgers Corner I want to take you back to the 1997 season and a game that defined our season that year and saw us ‘Back up where we belong’ in the Super league for the first time. Back in those days I was living in Wensley Avenue off Beverley Road in Hull and I had a long standing arrangement to host a party for the folks I worked with at the Council, on the night of Saturday 5th July, so I was a bit phased by the fact that so significant was the game that weekend, (as far as Sky TV were concerned), it was switched from Sunday 6th to the Saturday so that they could televise it, somehow I had to get there and then back for the ‘do’ on the night!

What had happened was this; we had gone through the season so far undefeated with a 20-20 draw at Whitehaven the only blemish on our record. We were going really well until the previous week, when the Boulevard was packed as we all aimed to celebrate an unassailable lead at the top of the table and promotion. Then along came Featherstone to spoil the party and we were defeated 18-4 in another game moved to a Saturday. Over at Huddersfield this gave them, the second placed team, an outside chance of beating us to the promotion place and as usual their player coach Garry Schofield was hyping up their chances and saying that after a few close victories away from the Boulevard we were, “There for the taking” and “Indecisive away from Home”.

I decided that the best way to get there and then back to host the party was to get everything ready at home first and then shoot off to Huddersfield by car and race back home afterwards. If I was late back for any reason the guests would just have to wait outside, because, despite the game being televised, I was certainly not going to miss this one, although after 10 minutes of the game I was starting to doubt whether my ‘journey was really necessary’.

Back then the McAlpine Stadium was just three years old and a great sight that day as a crowd of 6,200 made for a decent atmosphere, although it was still a bit like playing in a Cathedral as I looked round at the thousands of empty seats on display as the Hull Sharks ran out led by Captain Andy Fisher. As they emerged from the collapsible tunnel each player was patted on the back by our charismatic coach Phil Sigsworth. Phil was to leave at the end of the campaign, pushed out by David Lloyd, Tim Wilby and coach in waiting, Peter Walsh, so Phil had a thing or two to prove that afternoon. However initially it looked like Schofield’s predictions were to come true, when after just 3 minutes the towering figure of the home clubs forward Jon Neill popped out a basketball type pass for Matt Sturm to crash in and then straight from the re start Garry Schofield, who was getting a real taunting from us FC fans at one end of the ground, shot out a long pass to put Craig Weston through a gap wide out, he then returned the pass to Schofield who scored with ease. Our ex player ‘gestured’ to us lot on the terraces and he got it back with interest from the FC Faithful. This without doubt riled the FC fans who went wild as at that point in the proceedings we all started to think that all the hard work over the previous games was in danger of being swept away in a tide of claret and gold.

Local Hull lad Cook slotted over the conversion against his home town club and then he converted a penalty so that after just 10 minutes we were 12-0 down and looking to be blown away. However, this was a talented and resourceful team galvanised under a good honest, coach, and the next 70 minutes were a different story altogether. It was the man that radio commentator the great David Doyle-Davidson christened ‘The Mighty Atom’, Mike Dixon, who started the comeback. Mike got the ball in his own half and exploded in sensational style, firing up the attack with a darting break from acting half back. He shot through a gap in the home teams line and found Matt Schultz, (who covered every blade of grass on the pitch in a fine performance), who charged through a two man tackle and slipped out the perfect pass to Andy Fisher for our captain to crash in and score. A Mark Hewitt conversion cut the Huddersfield lead to 6 points and 4 minutes later he was on target again to level the match after we had gone down field and scored again. This time from nowhere Rob Nolan suddenly made a superb midfield break, the hard working Boyd and Fisher, who were to cut Huddersfield up all afternoon with runs out wide, handled quickly to open the gap further and then Fisher found Graham Hallas on his inside for the centre to arc away from the defence and touch down again.

After such a rocky start, to get back on level terms so soon had us all ‘singing our hearts out’ as Hewitt’s goal flew through the posts and although a penalty on the 27th minute restored a two-point lead for the Giants, the introduction of new signing Brad Hepi from the bench saw our performance go up another notch, and we were ‘breathing down the Giants necks’ every time we got the ball. Hepi looked a great buy that day, full of aggression, bite and direction. He took the ball from acting half back, dummied both ways and shot forward. Still motoring he passed onto Hewitt who feigned to go outside, but instead kicked forward with the outside of his boot, the ball came back across the front of the Huddersfield post and as the home defence stood and watched in amazement, there was little Mike Dixon to catch it over his head and score on the stroke of half time. Hewitt’s conversion made it 18-14 at the break, and we all sighed with relief, as after having trailed by two scores, we were now one in front.

We certainly needed to score first after the interval and we did just that. As Gary Lester produced a stunning midfield break, substitute Rob Danby, appeared on his shoulder to take a pass and he in turn produced a deft inside ball for winger Kevin Gray to cut back inside and wrong foot the home team’s defence to touch down under the posts, for Hewitt to again convert. Then Gray had another try disallowed for a forward pass and it could have been a fatal mistake because shortly afterward the Giants hit back with a Paul Dixon try from a Schofield pass to reduce our lead to just 6 points. However, this team was made of sterner stuff than that and after Hewitt had dropped a goal to stretch the lead to 7 points we produced probably the simplest try of the afternoon, but the one that, to this day, I remember best.

Hepi, who was having a sensational debut went on a typical barging run after getting the ball twenty yards out from the home team’s try line. He wrestled and twisted himself to within five yards of the line, and then got up quickly to play the ball. Lester then shot into acting half and grabbing the ball, feigned to pass one way and then stepped the other, before he twisted his way over the line for the winning try. Immediately a ‘conger’ of FC fans started to make its way around the large seated stand that accommodated the away supporters that day as the 2000 in attendance went wild. Hewitt rattled over the ‘extra’s’, I shed a tear and the celebrations began. As the final whistle went coach Phil Sigsworth appeared from the tunnel with a bottle of Champagne, as we all enjoyed one of those rarest of occasions in any fans life; the moment ‘you win the big one’.

After a game where we had been brilliant in defence and good when we needed to be in attack, Schofield shot off the field without even shaking any of the FC Players hands as the chants of ‘Judas, Judas’ and ‘loser, loser’ rang around the Stadium. I was determined not to miss a moment of that great celebration but as the last player, Andy Ireland, disappeared down the tunnel I ran off to the car and hared home for the party. As the guests arrived at around 8-00pm I greeted them in an FC shirt and presented them with the prospect of having to watch the video of the game over and over again in the kitchen, throughout the night! What a great day that was! I expect many of you, the readers of the Diary, were there and I hope my humble attempts at describing what was a fantastic occasion, have brought a few memories back. What an afternoon that was!!

Talking of our great history, it was sad this week to hear of the death of Arthur Wright aged 80, a massive FC fans who travelled to away games for years with Bill Dalton and his gang. A staunch defender of ‘the old times with Eddie Waring’ until his death, he’ll be another member of the FC family who will be hard to replace.

Well we all hoped for an easier draw even before our injury crisis and yet we ended up with drawing the form team of the season so far and what’s more we drew them away. This is going to be so tough and a game that, should we by some miracle win, will go down in history as one of the best ever victories the Club has pulled off. Any team in the game at present even at full strength would struggle to shackle an outfit that move the ball brilliantly, have several game breaking players and for whom at present, every bit of luck that is happening on the field is going their way.

It would be a really tough game had we a full team to pick from, but with a back line that only has Shaul, Connor (perhaps) and Faraimo as anything like recognised players, it looks an impossible ask! It would have been good to have Kelly back, but he’s targeting the Wigan game, so it will be a really big ask. I know lots of us will be going and if ever there was a case of travelling in hope rather than expectation then this is certainly it.

We have however, to just keep hoping because that’s all we have left. Perhaps the current injury crisis, which is both lengthy and severe in who it has targeted, is probably the worst we have seen since we moved to the KCOM and it could see our task almost impossible to overcome. But, who knows, we just have to keep believing!!

Thanks as always for reading the ramblings of what is a pretty down beat fan at present. I’d love another visit to the National Stadium but as I write this, the prospect of walking down Wembley way again seems a long way off! We have to keep believing and keep the faith and just see what next Sunday afternoon brings. We’ll be there in force, it’s still our trophy and we have as both fans and players to do all we can to defend it!!!

Speak to you next week and ….


Faithfully Yours