The Dentist’s Diary – 591st

For me, there was certainly no shame at all in that loss!

I expected to come up short in that one, particularly against a team who are by far the best in the game at present, mainly because they are, unlike most other teams, almost completely devoid of injuries. That’s the luck you need and it brings consistency, cohesion and confidence. They are on paper little better as a team than we are, although their structures are different and more effective, but that’s a discussion for another day. Nevertheless, I was certainly heartened by a game that for about 60 minutes we were really in with a chance of winning and in which we again displayed that famed ‘Spirit of 2016’, as the players gave their all and by the end left nothing at all on the pitch.

With such an injury crisis, I was just pleased to attend a game where we were no longer in danger of being sucked into the middle eights. It was stress free rugby, but to my surprise in patches we were really good and really intense, in fact in short bursts we looked a better team than the run-away leaders, but as often happens with young players we couldn’t sustain the intensity and thus the pressure. However, there is no doubt that at 18-10 up, had the master plotter Sneyd and his ‘generals’ of Griffin, Shaul, Talanoa and Westerman been playing, we would have shut the opposition out and witnessed a famous victory, but in the end as fatigue kicked in they were just too mentally tough and too physically strong for us.

But thank heavens for small mercies and at least we are, as I say, safe from that bottom 4, because I wouldn’t fancy going to Headingley, Craven Park (or Wakey), Thuggish Featherstone (again), Toulouse and Toronto if this injury situation (as it appears to be doing at present) continues week on week, would you?

I don’t quite know where I should put this next bit, but as always if it is something that has touched me in the last week I feel I have at least to mention it. I really try to always focus 100% on the Club I love and the game I have followed for 60 years but sometimes, however focused I am on that, you can’t help but be sidetracked by what is happening around you. So it is that after a few weeks when all English sports fans had their eyes on the Soviet Union, its now official and football isn’t coming home …. just yet!

Last Wednesday that dream and adventure came to an end, but in a thoroughly divided country that is in a bit of turmoil and a place where the constant backdrop to our lives is that of rising knife crime, street crime and drug abuse in public, of military level poisons on our streets and of course that bloody Brexit stuff, (not to mention protest marches and inflatable Trumps), the World Cup and the exploits of a young unfancied England team have been a welcomed distraction and brought a real lift to everyone in the country.

In fact, as we all looked for something positive, it brought a deliriously happy, shouting and screaming beer chucking unity to thousands and thousands of fans watching in public places and hostelries around the country. Desperate for something positive to celebrate, 28 million watched that last 10 minutes of the semi-final on their own TV sets alone and when you add to that those in pubs, clubs and the massive fan zones around the country, we must be looking at between 30-35 million and that from a population of 55.8 million, has to be pretty amazing stuff.

After the threat of war, only Sport has the power to unite a country in such a way and rather like, on a local level, the mood in at least half the City of Hull that pervaded us for a few days after that 2016 Final win, the happenings of the last few weeks have been a real pick-me-up for everyone.

Such, as I say, is the power of sport. Of course these days winning is everything and the only thing. For Codgers like me the times of good sportsmanship, appreciating good play, even when losing and praising the opposition in defeat, are all but gone, so, what a revelation it was when you saw the unpretentious way the team went about their business and heard the ‘Home thoughts from abroad’, of such unassuming and modest young Englishmen. Such is the state of the national and social media networks you sort of know that despite all the adulation, the recriminations won’t be too far behind, but perhaps in honesty it’s just a case of sometimes you have to lose to learn. Still all that said, it was a great distraction while it lasted and I, at least for a short time, felt good about being an Englishman.

But, following all the long faces that were around on Thursday morning, we had to come back down to earth! Over in West Hull reality arrived with a thud, as we were off to the KCOM and just as with England when they entered the World Cup Finals, we expected little but hoped for something. However, we faced a team that had Ben Barba and who are injury free and therefore by definition far and away the best in the game of British RL at the present time. It was the biggest of big asks, particularly with only Jordan Abdull (out of the 8 previously injured players), returning to the fold for what was a massive game for the Clubs aspirations of continuing an interest in the rest of the season.

As we drove to the game we played the usual round of ‘Injury Bingo’ when we look at the team sheet, picked who we think is our best player in the line-up, and then predicted that he was next for the treatment table. It’s been right four times already and was destined to be correct for a fifth last Friday. It was however impossible to predict that one player would actually get injured whilst on the bench wasn’t it? If as the wise pundits in sport say, “You make your own luck”, then this season we must have lost the bloody recipe!!!

That injury crisis had previously done for us in the Cup and although its only mid-July, already the question is being asked across the supporter base; is our season already over? However, I would pose the question to all you much valued and appreciated readers of this Diary, that with the injuries we have sustained to such instrumental and key individuals thus far, would we really be surprised if it was?

On Friday as fans bedecked in summer garb crossed West Park to support their team and did so, more in hope than expectation, the weather was great again and I commented to Mrs R, that we really had experienced some real Summer Rugby this time around. Still I guess as we enjoyed that weather we all wondered exactly what we were about to witness in the next couple of hours.

We started so well with that explosive try by Faraimo and he got an almost miraculous second, just before half time, as he almost single-handedly ensured that we kept in touch and in the game, although the loss of Connor on 33 minutes was a massive blow.

There was some great stuff from our lads, however in the end we all had to admit that Saints were good, if not very good and although we tried and tried and at times were the better team, they had the nous, confidence and game management that a full team of starting players brings. Take those two short kick offs in the second half when we desperately needed the ball back to stop them rolling forward. We tried the first and it saw us grab possession before Mini got the ball stolen one on one (which was pretty unforgiveable) but at least we got the ball back. The second time right in front of us I watched as Swift ran behind the line of jumping FC players as Taylor palmed the ball back and the Saints winger was on the spot to catch it and defuse the situation. That sort of clarity of thinking is what teams that are coping with the pressure do in such circumstances. We on the other hand appeared to not be coping too well at all at that point in the proceedings.

You just couldn’t fault our effort and for 50 minutes our depleted troops gave the best team in the competition, who were missing just one player from their preferred 17, a real run for their money. We had a couple of outrageous decisions go against us particularly that Barba loss of the ball after Abdull’s impact and considering what else the referee missed during the game, I think we did OK. But I can’t help but think that he perhaps gave them the lift they needed to get back in the game. Its fair I think to say that the referee was a bit green but as a new boy to Super League, well done to him for at least keeping the game flowing, but it has to be the same for both sides. With every one of their knocks and injuries we seemed to see play stopped immediately for attention to be administered, whilst most of their 4 second half tries were scored whilst we had men being treated on the field of play. They just played on and seemed to be able to take advantage of those situations, while by the same score immediately one of their players was injured the whistle was in the referee’s mouth.

The officials display could best be described as patchy and that in a game in which our depleted troops at least needed a fair rub of the green to be in with a chance of getting anything.

Bureto’s two tries were real class, particularly the second when a spread play and long hard and high Kelly pass saw the player have to turn backwards and jump at full stretch, inches from the touch line to even catch the ball, before turning to face the line and setting off to beat two tacklers to touch down. There might be question marks about his defence as there were with Fonua, but boy, just like Mahe this guy can finish.

There were some other really good performances too, like the one from Jansin Turgot who looked really sharp, Danny Houghton who ran and tackled himself to a standstill, Jordan Abdull whose siege gun kicks were a welcome addition again and Scott Taylor who led from the front and never gave a backwards step. It’s been a nightmare season for injuries, but all we can ask is that the team we field, however depleted, give it their best shot and on Friday they did just that!

There were some memorable moments too. Few people would ever have thought that Three Lions could ever have been sung with such gusto so soon after England’s painful World Cup exit. However, with a little alteration, we sang out loud and long, “He’s going home, he’s going home, Barba’s going home” after the Australian full-back was ‘sacked’ behind his own posts for a drop-out that led to Turgut’s great try. That play was a great victory for persistence and tenacity, before Man of Steel favourite Barba then blobbed again as he missed an attempted intercept of Kelly’s fine floated pass and Turgut romped in. But we couldn’t sustain the pressure and in the end the Saints simply blew us away. So we move onto Wakey and a must win game for the home team, which certainly looks an ominous proposition for us.

Once again this week I had a bumper bundle of correspondence, some of which I can’t really do justice to with detailed replies, simply because of the sheer volume that comes in and if I at times fail to acknowledge you, I apologise for that.

One such correspondent is Brian Wright in Lincoln who drives over for every home game and who regularly takes the time to appraise me of his thoughts on all things Hull FC, which are always succinct and very well put. This week he concluded his E Mail by reflecting the view of just about every FC fan I bumped into over the weekend, when he said, “To be quite honest Wilf I think I’m ready for the end of the season, I’m sure there’s some good games to come and I think Leeds have won it from 5th place but with the points we are behind and Wakefield away and then HKR at home, with the players available I think it’s beyond us. It’s the HKR game that worries me most, I hope I’m completely wrong and our forwards can batter them, but it’s a worry!”

Most fans I speak to feel that way at present and whilst not calling the team or individuals out at all, they lament the injuries we have sustained, but I guess as fans some of us still tend to forget just how good the past two seasons have been. In the end, injuries apart (and as Brian also said), there is certainly no underestimating the loss of Ellis as our Leader for he has proved impossible to replace and although Taylor is taking over the mantle up front, we really do miss Gareth’s ‘on field presence’ when the chips are down and adversity is all around.

As we struggle to get troops back, all the while the gap between the top 4 and the rest is stretching and threatening to get just too big. With the majority of our casualties back we’ll be giving it a real go in those final 7 games, of that there is no doubt, but just how futile that will be is quickly becoming apparent. All that said, for good old ‘glass half empty’ me, the most important time was last weekend when Catalans victory at Wakefield mathematically (and it was a very complex calculation) meant that we couldn’t end up in the middle eight’s, before Leeds lost at Castleford confirmed it in more simplistic and recognisable terms. However, all around us and particularly directly below us, turmoil and uncertainty reigns and at least 7 clubs are struggling to recruit and retain players and even plan anything at all for next season.

At best I can see one team dropping out of Super League which is an acceptable thing to happen, but at worst I can see two or three Clubs going down and how the hell the other Super League Clubs will be able to find them parachute payments to protect their player’s mortgages and families (as they did last year with Leigh), is anyone’s guess. With two games to go and with 7 teams still in the bottom 4 mix, it might suit the sensationalists, Sky TV and the media, but to have 60% of the Clubs in the division in that state of flux so late in a season is I think an issue.

Hopefully the current structure will revert to a more traditional one next season, with a more old-style relegation and promotion, but in the meantime the next two months are destined to be chaotic for many teams, their players and their fans. There will be in essence three mini competitions and in the middle one the FC and the three other teams that survive the drop will probably be left with little to play for but their pride.

I know some of you glaze over and skip it when I talk about the future of the game, but I love Rugby League and firmly believe that if we don’t make changes and get them right this time, we could all see the sport exiting the last chance saloon. Neil Hudgell certainly had his say on the matter this weekend and although I dislike the guy with a passion, he undoubtedly gives a concise and ‘no-holes barred’ insight into what is going on structure wise. Regular reader Mike from Cheshire was straight onto it and got in touch just as I was reading it myself and if you haven’t had a chance to peruse Hudge’s comment’s then here is a link to what he had to say.

http://c.newsnow.co.uk/A/946094938?-17211:2418

He in fact says very little that I haven’t been saying for months in here, but the bits about Gary Hetherington and the Bulls boss are certainly eye openers and I have to admit to finding it hard to disagree with much that Mr H. has to say.

Back at Hull FC and more unexpected news came about last Tuesday when Josh Griffin surprisingly signed an extension to his contract which will keep him at the Club until the end of 2020. Had this happened last year at this time I would have lamented the sense of it big style in here, because I wasn’t impressed much with a player that I thought would come in and really make his mark. Rumours of him not fitting in with the lads coupled with some pretty ordinary performances, had led me to believe we might have got it wrong, but come this season how wrong could I have been.

Griffin worked his socks off in pre-season and from game one he was our most consistent player gobbling up the top yard maker title week in week out and scoring some great tries. When he got injured our impact and strength in the centres dipped immediately and boy have we missed him since. Several Super League Clubs had been sniffing around already for the 2020 season and so we decided to pounce and get Griff signed up. The players were certainly pleased about it and once again he cited the culture and the ‘family’ that exists at the Club as an important part of his decision making process.

Now you’ll remember that Lee Radford said a couple of weeks ago that the Black and Whites would be doing ‘zero recruitment’, but it seems that now the Club has had a change of heart. We don’t have a lot of cash available under the cap and first priority is apparently to get Joe Westerman contracted, but after that a couple of in-coming names are in the mix. Whilst I don’t expect any mega signings ahead of the 2019 season in terms of NRL stars or top British wage earners, I do expect Hull to add to their current squad with a couple of young up and coming fringe players.

I’m told that the Club are running the rule over a couple who fall into the category of being emerging talent right now. One of them is a forward and whilst nothing is sorted out yet and set in tablets of stone, FC are certainly looking to add to their squad for the 2019 campaign. Let the speculation begin.

No doubt if you read this last week you’ll recollect that I took Lee Radford to task a bit concerning his public comments about the team’s performance at Huddersfield and particularly about young Hakim Miloudi who he openly criticised for his man of the match (according to Sky viewers) performance. Lee said that it must have been Stevie Wonder that had voted for him which, although I’m sure tongue in cheek, I thought was a bit harsh. However, I can report that Hakim himself took it all on the chin and just got on with it, in fact the players inform me that Miloudi, a Frenchman who is just mastering the British language, wasn’t bother too much at all. Perhaps that was simply because in the first place, he didn’t know who the hell Stevie Wonder was!!!!

Well, Danny Houghton’s Testimonial Year has at last come to an end and I’m pleased to report, thanks to everyone, it’s been hugely successful and a great benefit to him and his family. The Committee has done a brilliant job and as always the Hull fans have without doubt looked after their own and the response from everyone has been pretty phenomenal. Danny deserves every penny of it, for he is a bloke who is hell bent on spending his whole career at the Club he loves and supports, he’s just as down as we are when we lose and just as elated when we win. Furthermore, I have found him to be a man of great integrity and certainly someone who always gives his all for the cause.

How good a bloke is he? Well he turned up out of the blue at Rosenberg Towers last Monday evening just to thank me for helping to run the Xmas Factor event and more importantly for raising £3000 from you the fans from book sales. Our hour together talking the club and the game was pretty amazing, before Mrs. R sent him off with a punnet of freshly picked Raspberries. You see he didn’t have to do that at all and many in his position wouldn’t have, but rather like Yeamo in his year, he appreciates everything that has been done for him. To see him arrive was a great surprise and just a mark of a guy who really appreciates what we have all done to help him gain a hugely successful Testimonial. Top bloke that Danny Houghton!!

I never cease to be amazed about the great fans and supporters I have got to meet through writing this weekly blog but I still sometimes wonder after almost 600 editions, if I’m losing it all a bit. That was something that was borne out last Sunday as we all went to the Wolds Inn at Huggate for lunch (I can recommend the meat pie by the way). There, a guy at the next table turned to say, “Hello”. He asked if I had anything to do with rugby and I said a cautious ‘Yes’ (I didn’t want a family lunch spoiled by some idiot Dobbins fan as has been the case on occasions before) but he then asked if I had anything to do with the Dentist Diary to which I said laughingly, “Yes, I probably do” and he concluded that he thought it must be Wilf that was sitting at the next table when he heard me talking. Boy, I must sound like I write, now that is a worry???

It turned out it was Dave Palmer and we had a good chat about the Black and Whites, although now I find that I still know little about a guy who has apparently been a reader for ages. Well little except to say that he can certainly put the Pistachio and Amaretto Ice Cream away! He jokingly put down his quite amazing hearing abilities that matched my voice with my writing to years working on submarines. What a nice guy ‘Sonar’ Dave was and how good it was to talk to him, but boy oh boy, it just shows you how this stuff has taken over my life and how stereo typed this rubbish has made me! Perhaps, I should start doing this as a pod cast? Great to meet you Dave and thanks for saying hello!

So it looks like the top job at the Rugby League is to go to the number two to Nigel Wood for the past 3 years, Ralph Rimmer. However, is that a good move? Well those of you who read this regularly will know my views on that, because I believe we need a complete clear out and some dynamism and leadership from the top. I mean to say the governing body has just announced that The Rugby Football League made a loss of more than £2 million in 2017. Of course that’s all we get to know and isn’t it always so, as they announce at the same time that the annual accounts won’t be published in detail until later this year.

They will certainly make for interesting reading and if this Diary is still going then I’ll be looking closely to see if some of the real lead balloons that Mr. Rimmer oversaw as deputy leader, are included. For me, it will be interesting to see if England’s Dubai training camp, which was booked and then scrapped, is included in that figure. I’d be keen to see too, if a severance pay-out to chief executive Nigel Wood, reported by The RL press to be £500,000, is included and even more interesting to see if money paid for Wood to work as a ‘consultant’, which reportedly involved a trip to New York, is in there as well. Then of course there is the matter of a severance pay-out to another executive, Roger Draper, which was at the time reported to be close to £300,000, has that been included too? We’ll just have to wait and see, but that loss doesn’t make good reading for the game does it?

Now Harry Parkinson got in touch this week to comment about how accurate Jake Connor and Marc Sneyd are as place kickers and indeed how lucky we are to have them on our books. He said he thought some folks took that situation a bit for granted but then the talk got onto goal kicking and drop goals in general, he asked me to have a look and see if I can find out who has kicked the best over the years.

Always happy to try and oblige I did some digging and what I can tell Harry is Wigan’s Joe Lydon is credited with landing the longest and possibly most famous drop goal in rugby league history. It was in the 1989 Cup final at Wembley in a game that I actually attended. With 7 minutes left the game was tied at 7-7 Joe got the ball well in his own half and swung his leg at it to land a massive one pointer that was actually measured at 61 yards (and we thought Marc’s ‘stonker’ against Wakey was long!!) Lydon said in a famous interview afterwards with Ray French, ‘I just closed my eyes and swung at it’.

The longest ever place kick was scored at Knowsley Road back in October 1929, (and I wasn’t there) with the help of a strong wind. Cas, the visitors were awarded a penalty in the middle of their own 25-yard line and Arthur Atkinson immediately pointed to the posts, in the distance, at the other end. He went back about twelve paces raced up to the ball and struck it sweetly. The crowd apparently stood open mouthed as the wind caught the heavy leather ball and it sailed 75 yards and bounced in off the cross bar. The greatest goal kick at Wembley was Len Killeen’s long distant effort for Saints against Wigan in 1966. The 100,000 gate looked on in disbelief as after just ten minutes Saints were awarded a penalty eight yards inside their own half and just ten yards from touch and as Killeen pointed straight to the posts. That one went over too, this time with a bit to spare. So there you are Harry, I hope everyone else found that interesting for all of them were certainly big kicks.

This week in Codgers Corner I’d like to go back to a game that perhaps a lot of readers will remember. I want to take you back to an historic match in the 1981/82 season when the FC army took around 3500 fans all the way to London to watch the FC play a Challenge Cup game (on the way that that drawn final and Elland Road win), which was played at the newly formed Fulham Club. The London outfit had been promoted to the top flight after just one season in the Second Division and were really making an effort to establish RL in the capital.

That day in Feb 82 we travelled down by car, changing drivers at Leicester Forest East, and arrived in the capital about an hour before the scheduled kick off. We parked in one of those wonderful streets of yellow brick terraced houses that denoted the area around the famous Craven Cottage ground and walked off to the match stone cold sober (a rare occurrence in those days I have to say).

Craven Cottage was a great little Stadium back then, perched as it still is on the banks of the Thames, and this northern lad can still remember vividly being taken aback, as from our vantage point in the North Stand I watched as behind the stand opposite two 6 men rowing crews in long boats batted it out down the River Thames.

The teams ran out from the Old Cottage building which was situated in the corner to our left and from the kick off it was obvious that the Londoners were really up for a scrap. They were having a disappointing first season in the top division being positioned near the bottom of the league but were led by Reg Bowden and Harry Beverley two big names that the club had imported from ‘Up North’ to spearhead their challenge. They certainly fancied their chances of getting to Wembley, whilst we expected a physical game and we got it. However, there were also moments of high drama and the surprise return from injury of Bowden saw the hosts play way above themselves in an enthralling encounter. I remember it as one of the tensest, nerve jangling Cup clashes that I have seen.

In fact, the Londoners probably looked back ruefully at two disallowed tries that would, had they been given, have certainly put a different complexion on the game, and seen us dumped out of a cup competition that we were in the end destined to win. Don’t get me wrong referee Mr Fox got both decisions spot on, but the hosts still counted themselves unlucky in the end.

The first quarter was a really dour affair with the Fulham pack led by two giant props Harry Beverley and Peter Souto ripping into our 6. These two rampaged up the field on several occasions scattering our forwards although both Tindall and Stone played themselves to a standstill in the first half repelling attack after attack. Reg Bowden brilliantly led the Londoners and both centres M’Barki and Diamond looked dangerous on the fringes. Shining light for the FC in those early exchanges was Trevor Skerrett who was not expected to play at all, but made a surprise return from a groin injury. He drove the ball into the heart of the Fulham defence and twice broke the line by swatting away the attentions of second rowers Wood and Gurley.
We tried hard on every occasion possible to get the ball wide but Fulham were determined to not allow us to use our extra pace out there and they moved up quickly, time and again to cut out that final pass to the wing. Both sides sparred with each other, but there was no doubt that Fulham were on top, as the game finally sprang into life on the 25th minute mark. The host’s second rower Wood charged through a gap, linked superbly with John Crossley and the stand-off beat the whole FC defence as he raced to the line to touch down. Diamond who had scored in every Fulham game that season, kept his record intact with the conversion and we were 5-0 down. Back we came and for the first time we pressurised the hosts in their own 25. Skerrett kicked ahead and should have scored but the ball shot off down the slope and ran dead before he could get to it, and Tony Dean who was having a fine game dropped the ball with only full back Allen to beat. In those days when all seemed lost though there was one man that could sort things out and make the difference. Enter ‘Knocker’ Norton.

Tindall, Dean and Topliss carved out a position with a flowing move down field and at the play the ball Knocker went to acting half. Quick as a flash he scooped the ball up and glided between three defenders as only he could, to score next to the posts. Crooks added the goal and we were level. Then the last act of the first half saw the first of the disallowed Fulham tries, when a pass at least a yard forward put Diamond over in the corner only for Mr. Fox to blow up for an obvious offence.

The second half saw a fine drizzle starting to fall, but it did nothing to dampen what was turning into a gripping encounter. Fulham came out fired up and laid siege to our line. After just two minutes Bowden put Husain M’Barki in under the sticks but as the centre ran towards the Fulham fans to celebrate, referee Mr Fox was having none of it, as perfectly positioned just to the right of the play, he called the final pass forward. It was really tight though and we were under some real pressure when a big ‘break out’ move down field by Duke, Kemble and O’Hara set up a position for Tony Dean to drop a goal and at 6-5 we were in front for the first time in the game.

For the first time too, as their big forwards tired, we really stretched their cover, with Terry Day and Steve Evans just failing to get in as both fell in last ditch trip tackles. But 11 minutes later a fabulous move engineered again by Norton, who touched the ball three times in one passage of play saw Stone and Steve Evans created some space wide out on the left for Paul Prendeville to sneak in low to the ground in the corner. A magnificent touch line conversion from Crooks made it 11-5, and at last we had a bit of breathing space. That was the final score, but not the end of the story by any means as Fulham threw everything at us in the final ten minutes. Tony Duke who had lost the scrums 6-1 in the second half tackled his heart out and with three minutes to go tackled both Bowden and Kinsey in one set piece move from a tap penalty, to deny the Londoners a try. That seemed to signal the end for the hosts with the last few minutes being played out in the middle of the field and as the final whistle went we were in the hat for the quarter finals. Those two disallowed tries certainly made all the difference as for once luck seemed to be with us. Looking back I guess although Fulham had done so much right, it was in the end Hull FC’s professionalism, and of course the great Knocker Norton that got us through.
The journey home was a happy one made all the more joyous when we got near Doncaster and heard on the radio that Rovers had been knocked out of the Challenge Cup at Caravan Park. A disputed last minute penalty goal by Leigh skipper John Woods had finished their dreams of Wembley in an 18-17 defeat. A big cheer went up in the car and we then of course looked forward to Monday nights draw, which was to bring a home tie with Halifax in the quarter finals.

So that’s almost it for another week but as everywhere I go seems to be steeped in the launch of that new ‘Mama Mia’ film, it was a case this weekend, for me at least, that as far as our chances of ending the season with a top four play-off game are concerned, it was all about Abba! For we have certainly reached our ‘Waterloo’ and the chance of having much interest left at all in the Super Eights could well have be a case of ‘Slipping through our fingers all the time’. We are, as a team and a group of supporters, at a real cross-roads in our season, if not in fact way past it!

It’s going to be a massive task to make the 4 now but if a couple of teams flounder a bit, 5 points is catchable and of course we have to keep fighting. The goal has to be to win our next 2, but Wakey are going to be desperate this weekend and no mistake. However if we can do them and then the Dobbins we could just be 3 points adrift at the split, but that’s just pie in the sky for me, as it would still leave us with a mountain to climb. Still, we’ll just have to see what happens and hope. There is therefore little doubt that, as Brian mentioned earlier and as a lot of the other fans I meet are saying about a pretty insignificant end of season being in store for us, we’ll just have to put up with it. It’s what happens, well it is until a new structure for the game is sorted.

Thanks to everyone too numerous to mention who once again got in touch this week and ….

Try to keep believing!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf