The Dentist’s Diary – 593rd

Derby defeat puts out any burning embers of hope about Hull FC reaching The Play-Off’s!
……Hull Daily Mail 28-10-18.

I rarely pinch much from the local paper but that headline on Saturday morning said it all, but even that was much too late, as it just quantified everything most FC fans have been saying for the last three weeks. We can now apparently officially forget about having anything much to play for and are now resigned to cruising to the end of the season with the vagaries of this ridiculous league structure ensuring that not only the FC, but Catalans, Wakey, and Huddersfield have all got little to play for but their pride.

The Dobbins were victorious, the bragging right are theirs and have I got it in the neck from the East Hull ‘inteligencia’ ever since! But boy I was upset because Derby defeats are hard to take, particularly when we never really looked like winning. Even when we drew level we somehow knew that we would struggle to finish them off and yet all our Coach could say much about straight after the game was how pleased he was with our defence!

OK our intensity and application in that department was good even in the first half when all the luck went the Robins way, but once again our attack was woeful!! This isn’t football where you can boringly hang on for a draw, in Rugby League you can’t win games if you can’t keep hold of the ball, complete your sets in a structured way and get the processes right at the end of them. The fact is in our game you have to score more tries than the opposition.

We had the Dobbins on the rack at 16-16 but couldn’t finish them off and as I have said a few times of late, for me our inability to build pressure, turn the screw and get over the line from positions in the oppositions 20 is an on-going and worrying trend.

Should we be concerned? Well consider for a minute last season at this time. We had finished third in the league on 27 points, 3 points behind the second placed team Leeds and we were looking forward to a semi-final date next weekend with the Rhino’s at Doncaster to attempt to get back to Wembley again.

We could hardly be in a more contrasting situation this time around could we? And as our 2018 season stutters to its close perhaps it’s time to consider whether we have improved since then? Do we, looking back on the 2018 campaign, still feel that the future is bright? Can the injuries we have sustained in such great numbers, be the only reason we are where we are now? Have we replaced Ellis and Watts who took us so far last year? And finally, despite every one of our starting 17 having been injured some time or other during the campaign, for us disappointed FC fans is it all getting just a tad worrying?
As a fan of 60 years I’ve paid my money and done my time and like everyone reading this I’ve every right to big my Club up and celebrate when they are good and by the same measure when we are rubbish I have every right to complain and grumble about them and so having said that please now read on …..

With a bashed up squad and a short turn-around from the debacle at Wakefield, we hadn’t really trained all week, but we were told that Danny Houghton and newly re-signed Scott Taylor did their level best to get the blokes up for the Derby which surely to goodness shouldn’t take that much getting up for at all!!!!

I guess the Coaching staff even gave up on spending too much time studying an opposition that had players injured, banned, rested and with three making their debuts. No doubt too, most of the video analysis featured our latest ‘disaster movie’, “Nightmare at Belle Vue”, (you remember it, the one that featured the Ultimate Avengers taking on a band of sleepwalking automatons) In fairness the defence improved no end last Friday, but our attack was still predominantly lateral and largely ineffective.

Beforehand we were still talking about keeping up with the top four, however before Rovers we were 7 points behind (which might as well be 8 with points difference) so in essence I guess we had to win all our games in the top 8 and one of Castleford or Warrington with 4 home games and only three away to come, would have to lose at least 4 for us to make it. As tall orders go that one had the look of a Skyscraper before we even started against the Dobbins!!!

However, when you looked at our line up the fact that we had 1-5 playing in their starting positions meant we looked on paper good to go, I guess the point the pundits missed afterwards was the fact that several of our players, the likes of Griffin, Talanoa and Sneyd were only 50% match fit, whilst Shaul and Tumavive were jabbed up and carrying injuries. All the same, Rovers were a hotchpotch of players two of whom hadn’t even trained with their team mates before the game and we should have beaten them.

If it was hard to watch in real time, watching it back in the early hours was excruciating! With my favourite ‘big match’ referee Gareth Hewer in charge, we started terribly, as Shaul hesitated behind the line and surprise, surprise with a drop out and a repeat set, Craig Hall scored. Who else would it be? That was just what a team shot for confidence didn’t need at all but we couldn’t get wide enough, early enough and he was in.

Rovers were running hot, although we did at least defensively hold the line, but we again looked so naive with the ball and kept losing it when we actually needed to settle it all down. We worked hard to bash our way down field, but lacked any sort of fizz or guile with the ball, before (what was to be a reoccurring theme for the night), Manu dropped it, which meant we couldn’t exert any meaningful pressure as the dobbins flagged a bit under our forwards onslaught.

We needed to get on the board but just as we pressed their line Manu dropped it again this time on the first tackle, which was a soul destroying mistake to make. Matongo might be selected for the England Knights but he has to do better than he did in that first quarter, when as a starting prop he only carried the ball 4 times. He lacked any sort of go forward at all and as usual it was left up to Taylor and Paea (when he came on) to make the hard yards. The weather was playing its part as both teams struggled to keep possession, before right on cue it was Craig Hall once more who scored a very fortuitous ‘kick ahead try’, to place us in deep ‘doo doo’ once again.

What a disaster it was turning out to be, we again looked devoid of ideas near their line as we huffed and puffed and struggled to keep the ball. When its going for you its going for you and all the good fortune was going Rovers way. We looked rattled, something that was emphasised when Captain Danny Houghton who should have been setting an example, hit Quinlan around the face, as he and the rest of the team looked to be struggling for composure. Where was the attacking inspiration to come from? Well not from the usual sources of Kelly and Connor who were sat up there on the terrace watching through their fingers with the rest of us.

We were trying to play top of the ground stuff on what was, with the pouring rain, nothing short of a skating rink and despite Sneyd growing into the game, we continued with the wrong sort of rugby. It just wasn’t happening and whilst Rovers used the loose ball they were regularly presented with well, Reader Stuart from Spain, (and my old mate from the Royal Oak), text amidst the turmoil to say that our completion rate was awful and you certainly couldn’t fault his observations, (however far away he was watching the game from) for it was shambolic wherever you were sat. I don’t know what is Spanish for Settee but I bet by then Stu was watching from behind it.

There was however no hiding place for those in attendance on the night and almost right on cue, Tickle was allowed to get in from acting half, which was unforgiveable, as he scored a try that even that early in the game proved to be the match winner. It was all the ex-Hull boys who were making an absolute fool of us. Had we lost the plot again? For that seemed to be the question every frustrated FC fan was asking at that point and it certainly looked that way as we appeared to have no idea as to how to get over the try line and our handling, leadership and organisation was awful. A bit harsh? Well do what I did and watch it back to count how many times we lost the ball in the tackle and took the wrong option in attack in that first half.

At 16-0 down it looked all over by half time and they deserved their lead and for a set of dicks like that lot, that’s hard for me to admit. Our ball retention had been shocking as Mark Minichiello (twice), Masimbaashe Matongo, Danny Washbrook and Sika Manu (twice) all made errors inside Hull KR’s 20, whilst Josh Griffin was easily bundled into touch near their line. With a completion rate of 55% we couldn’t have even won a raffle!

Still, hope springs and we started the second half in better shape with a pretty fortuitously try, but Sneyd missed a good chance to add the two and it still looked to not be our night. Then they lost Maurice Blair for having a go at the referee and with them short-handed we got another quick try from a superb Abdull kick which saw us at last execute an end of set play to perfection. Sneyd’s kick hit the post and bounced out as our bad luck continued!

Then Shaul went down and I’ll ask any reader who has been around as long as I have if you have ever seen as many knee injuries in a season. Every time a player goes down we seem to see the medical staff feeling behind their knees and it looked as if just as we were getting back into it, disaster had struck again. However, for once Jamie managed to gingerly get up and in fact went on to play the game out and performed quite well in the process.

However, I remember at that point despairing again about Manu who seems to be dropping the ball more than he carries it these days. It’s so bloody frustrating! We should have been hammered for giving so much ball away but somehow we hung in there, however we never ever looked like making the sort of play in their twenty that breaks lines and wins games.

For the levelling try, when it came, the strength of Minichiello was awesome and amazingly it looked like we were back in the game. But we started to go to pieces, as having three half backs in Sneyd, Harris and Abdull on the field at the same time seemed to just muddle things even more and we were all over the place when we should have been pressuring their line with every play. Then Mini gave away a soft penalty under the sticks and as the Rovers lead stretched to 4 points it looked beyond us. In the end that first half deficit was just too much to claw back in appalling conditions particularly as we resembled a team who despite toughening up considerably in defence were bereft of ideas in attack.

We didn’t really deserve to win and we didn’t! I worry a lot about our future as a team because we seem to have lost that spirit to find a way to win such games in such situations, we ain’t being inspired as we should be on the field and in that department we certainly miss Gareth Ellis. But. he’s retired and the season is over for us already so that as they say, is that!

To come back to draw level after being 16-0 down and keep then try-less in the second half was a worthy effort, but we shouldn’t have been 16-0 down in the first place. A try in that first half would probably have seen us home, but we seem to lack the organisation and direction we had in 2016 and 2017 and without Watts we miss a strike forward near the line. Yeh, Sneyd tried hard and looked to be getting back to some sort of form after that horrendous injury, in fact I guess that Abdull looked good at times too, but as I said earlier, we just seem to be muddled and indecisive when it comes to going for the jugular in the oppositions 20. The referee was OK, but that said, its worth a mention that I thought Tickle was very lucky when he landed one in the back of Scott Taylor that for me was identical to the charge that Gareth Ellis got sent off for last year.

I’ll tell you what, with Salford winning against Leeds, and Featherstone prevailing in Canada I’m glad its Rovers and not us that are going into the Middle Eights. We’ll enjoy 7 ‘practise’ matches, try and play a bit of open rugby and go on to an off season when we’ll be looking to get ourselves back to a clean bill of health and that will perhaps hopefully see us employing an attacking Coach! But then again, what the hell do I know?

On the night Paea, Carlos, Houghton, Shaul and Taylor all ran their socks off and Jordan Lane had a great game, otherwise Sneyd tried hard as did Abdull, but Marc will take some time to get his mojo back and as for the rest, well…. Nuff said really! But perhaps some catch and pass practise for all, in the next two weeks, is required, me thinks!!!

There are some extenuating circumstances and back on Friday morning I’d awoken bleary eyed and a tad disorientated, thinking “Bloody Hell not another Derby”, I was immediately confused, when I read the Hull Daily Mail (there is so much that is right in that sentence), as it stated that Lee Radford commented, “We want to finish fifth in the regular season and it’s an absolute credit to the group that we can do that, despite me not having eleven of my best seventeen for 55% of the season”. I’m easy to confuse I guess, particularly at that time in the morning but I suppose if he had said, “For well over half our games this season I have had no more than 6 of my first choice starting 17 available”, I, in my infinite ignorance, might have understood it all a bit more clearly.

That said, when you sit back and consider it that is certainly a phenomenal shortfall on the team we would hope to field week in week out and puts into context just how much we have struggled in 2018. The youngsters did well at first and grabbed some precious wins, but slowly but surely we have gone off the boil, before the Wakey debacle saw us hit rock bottom and Fridays poor showing against the old enemy, just compounded the agony.

Comparisons are sometimes misleading but if you compare that with Saints, who are riding high having used just 22 players all year, it’s easy to see why we are where we are. However, the memory of the ‘Johnny come lately’ sports supporter is short and although some of us ‘dyed in the wool warriors’ are still basking in the life changing glory of 2016 and 2017, many were, after Wakey and last Friday, wringing their hands in consternation about the situation we find ourselves in.

As if to animate that, the word on the lips of a lot of readers that I bumped into last week was, “I hope that we have got this recruitment stuff right”, as with another plethora of re-signings at the Club, the indication that we wouldn’t be making any new signings from outside the Club for 2019 suddenly became a reality. This retention stuff is great, particularly when players appear to be so loyal and clambering to re-sign and it also ensures some continuity in the team into the next decade as well. However, it’s also a bit of a double edged sword and not only great news, but it is also a massive commitment to our cap allocation for the coming years, which is something that I guess really does tie our hands on recruitment for next season, whoever becomes available.

With Manu, Washy and Mini probably off at the end of 2019, we have some scope there for 2020, but those are, in turn, some big boots to fill and then of course all the remaining players will need incremental increases to their contracts too. Of course that doesn’t help us for next season when it’s all now ‘as you where’. Lee went on to say in the same article, “I wanted to go around with the same group again, because we have just not seen this squad in full swing this year,” before adding, “But I’m pretty sure when we do, we’ll be there or thereabouts.”

I’ve always felt a certain amount of freshening up is a good thing for many reasons both playing wise and commercially, as more often than not carefully selected recruits brings a new dynamic to any group of workers. It can all I believe get a bit too cosy if you’re not careful. We have two raw young props on board who look great prospects, but other than that, it’s as you were for 2019. I’m told that Sneyd and Westerman are both close to signing new deals and I trust completely Adam, Clarky and Lee. We’ve all had some great times together, so let’s just hope that once again, as in the past, they have got it right. I think myself that I would however like the in-built ability to recruit (if a really good addition is available) to still be there, but as far as I can see at present that isn’t in our plans at all.

Which brings me onto the next, almost weekly bit, where I animate why the Super 8s are now without doubt redundant. I’m not jumping on any bandwagons here because I’ve been banging on about this since last year at this time and it seems every week there’s an example as to why it’s a bloody disaster. So, it’s certainly a case of ‘here we go again’, when you consider just exactly what the FC, Huddersfield, Wakefield and Catalans have to play for in the final seven or eight games? I’ll tell you the answer to that straight away shall I? Absolutely nothing!

The ramifications of that situation are long reaching as well, as all those clubs now face a series of fixtures which will fail to grab the imagination of the fans, who will no doubt vote with their feet and find other things to do during the summer.

Why too couldn’t the transfer deadline be next Friday on a weekend when there are no league games and once the league positions are quite clear? If that happened this year Leigh would definitely know they were down and have 5 days to try and fix their players up, whilst although it wasn’t the case this year up to 7 clubs could well have been vying to avoid the dreaded bottom 4 of Super League this last weekend and so a delayed deadline would have at least stopped three clambering to sign players just in case they were down there.

That’s not shroud waiving but nonetheless, ‘so what’ some will say? However, then you have to consider the problems we will perhaps have with disenchanted season ticket holders as our club tries to entice a de-motivated fan base that has shuffled along till the end of the season, to renew. That hiatus through some totally meaningless games, a sport in turmoil and the lack of new exciting incoming players could prove to be the perfect storm for some clubs, including ours.

A team’s situation at this time of year, be it a demise or an ascendancy, does without doubt impact on those sales, I mean to say, just consider the opposite effect that two Wembley wins have brought to the passes we have sold over the last two seasons. For me it will be interesting to see what Adam has to say about a season that is ending with a whimper, and a whimper that could well be very damaging to the club’s income projections.

However, if those are our problems and if that isn’t bad enough, we now have the new scenario which sees the absolute and almost total dismantling of the Leigh Centurions following their owner saying he can’t go on and that their inability to regain Super League status makes his continued financial backing for the Club no longer sustainable. OK he’s a bit of a volatile character and some will say only in it for the kudos and the money, but that’s a bit unfair, because much of his problems are down to the fact that the Championship Clubs took it upon themselves to dole out much more of the Sky money to the top 4 clubs in their division than they allocate to those in the rest of the League. That’s certainly something the Super League Clubs want to redress so as to give them all the same money and therefore an equal opportunity to progress, but some greedy buggers in that League are resisting that suggestion with all their might.

The vultures were circulating last week as Leigh had a fire sale of their best players from a squad they had taken three years to carefully assemble. Never mind the owner, his circumstances and disposition, just think how those poor Leigh fans must feel. That by the looks of it, herald the decline of a great Club, that has a good Stadium and who have tried really hard to compete with the big boys since this cockamamie ‘Super 8’s’ set up started.

A Club as well, that last year got relegated despite the fact that they didn’t actually finish bottom of the Super League table and who were after the Million Pound game only then saved by a parachute payment made possible by the Super League Clubs having a whip-round.

Now after 12 months they find they cannot continue in their current form after just one marginally unsuccessful season in the Premiership where they will only in the end finish 5th!! At the time of writing they can mathematically still get in the Middle Eights, but their owner obviously doesn’t think that’s possible.

This system is jerked and if say both Widnes and Salford go down then I really do fear for them too. Those clubs like Featherstone, Bradford, Leeds and Halifax who are shouting foul at present, completely based on self-interest, had better be careful what they wish for!!

Back at Hull FC the week has been over shadowed almost completely by another raft of player re-signings although let me say from the start that the new contract that has been accepted by Scott Taylor is simply a no brainer and a brilliant piece of business involving a player that would walk into almost any NRL team tomorrow! He could easily become a real hero over there but instead we have made him a great offer and his loyalty to the club he loves has done the rest. That’s what we should be doing tying up our greatest assets on long term contracts but, having been successful there, it’s what you do next that seems to split opinion. Do you keep your biggest stars and augment them with more big stars from outside the club that might not fit into the ethic and togetherness of the team, or do you stick with your current more fringe players, that are loyal and doing a pretty good job for you? Watching the last four games, and despite all the well-publicised adversity, I tend to wonder whether going with the same squad for next season is a wrong decision, I trust Lee’s judgement but when you look around everyone in the top four, who are way ahead of us, are still strengthening.

Bowden’s re-signing was a good move too, providing he fully recovers from his injury. It certainly looks a sensible move now we have lost Gareth Ellis and shipped Wattys out particularly seeing how the forwards have been (Taylor excepting) up front since they left! In the dim recesses of my brain he is remembered by me as a great yard maker compared with what we have seen of late but take no notice of me, because I always find the longer players are off injured the better I imagine them to have been. Of course we all know that he isn’t a game changer, but he is a real prospect when compared with a couple of props who have lost their go forward and one that ‘falls off the bike on the touch line’ and gets himself injured, before he even takes to the field.

As for a Washy, well that is a difficult one to understand at first glance. I’m not sure I would have gone through with retaining him, although I guess with the promise of a Testimonial he won’t prove to be an expensive acquisition and he is certainly a loyal, no fuss, good clubman sort of player that puts his body on the line every time he takes the field. He certainly deserves a Testimonial and I for one will be doing everything I can to support him. He’s a loyal servant and 100% Hull FC, which in the end probably got him the contract.

Then there is Jack Brown, well, what do we know about him? Not a lot I’ll wager! This week I asked three people from outside our Club who really know about these things and they all gave a glowing Testimonial for the kid. They all stated that as a junior Jack is outstanding and perhaps even the best young prop (in the 18-20 years old category) in the game at present. I don’t know if that is true, but these are the sort of prospects we should be signing up and it means that, on our books, we now have two of the best young British props in the grunt department there are in the British game.

On the down side we have waived goodbye to both Jansin Turgot and Ross Osbourne and I think Jack Downs may be following them out of the Club soon too. That’s sad because Osbourne really hasn’t had a chance, Turgot was a real trier that looked to have ‘something there’ and I really liked Jack Downs, for the lines he ran and the general enthusiasm he showed. Times are changing in the younger ranks of our team as I also hear that Jordan Abdull is off back to Rovers at the end of the campaign too.

Well, thank goodness the Derby’s are over for another year. However, this week that got me thinking about such games from the past when they were still the highlight of the season and when we faired a little better than we did on Friday and I went back very quickly to the 1982/83 season which was one of the best I have watched as a fan of Hull FC. It was the season of course when we were, after a game at the Boulevard against Barrow, presented with the League title for the first time in 25 years, in front of 17,000 adoring fans. There is little doubt that the story of that year could fill a book on its own and maybe I’ll attempt it, one day, but this week I want to focus on a great game that set us up for that title, and one of the most memorable Derby’s I can remember.

That Good Friday I drove down to the Boulevard from our house in Garden Village but despite the fact that it was still an hour before kick-off I found it impossible to get parked in my usual spot in Selby Street and ended up way down Woodcock Street. The new departure of playing the traditional fixture at night certainly seemed to be working! By the time I got to the Boulevard the queues at the Division Road end of the ground came snaking across the little car park and out into the street. Luckily having a pass got me inside quite easily but once in the place was already buzzing with excitement and anticipation.

The Division Road terraces had been taken over by a sea of Red and White as the other side of the City had their annual ‘holiday’ in civilisation and as the Threepennies were already overflowing, I fought my way through the well of the Best Stand and took up a position on Bunkers Hill at the Airlie Street end of the ground. The pre match atmosphere was fantastic several red and white scarves were burned in the Threepenny Stand to great adulation and there was an even bigger response when Rovers tried to do the same with a black and white one on the open terracing at the other end and almost set fire to the crowd!! By the teams ran out an amazing 20,569 fans were in the ground, which was I believe the only 20,000 plus gate we had in the 80’s!

The Dobbins came on a five match winning streak and really fancied their chances particularly as we had lost a rearranged game the previous Monday at Castleford which ended a 9 game unbeaten sequence for the FC. Rovers were still a few points behind us in the League whilst we were at the top with Wigan with just this game and three others to go. Lee Crooks was injured at Castleford and so we had to reshuffle our pack moving Trevor Skerrett to the second row and bringing in Phil Edmonds to the propping role, whilst Barry Banks came onto the bench.

Referee Mr Thompson must have felt the tension as he ran out to a chorus of ‘Oh Oh Oh Oh what a referee’ (complete with the usual final string of expletives), as he called over both captains to the centre spot to give them a lecture before we had even started. Kevin Harkin kicked off and after an early scare when Terry Day dropped a ball near the corner flag which Laws the Rovers winger could not pick up cleanly, the game settled into a pattern where Rovers camped in our half and pressed our line. This went on until the 11th minute when it looked as if finally, our resolute defence would crack, but O’Hara intercepted a pass and hared off down field with George Fairburn chasing him. As Fairburn closed in on an angled run to cut him off Dane kicked forward for Luella to just lose the race to touch down as Fairburn desperately trailed back and kicked dead.

From the drop out the ball was fielded by Bridges who drew a perfectly positioned Rovers line, before passing to Norton. The Dobbin’s defence was arranged ‘man on man’ but they had forgotten to cover Garry Kemble who stormed up from full back onto a beautiful Norton pass to score wide out. Prendiville, who had been handed Lee Crooks’s kicking duties, missed with the conversion but we were in the lead. The next ten minutes were all Hull, as first Terry Day and then Paul Rose were held up short of the line by some brilliant tackling by Fairburn and Robinson. Then, as Garry Prohm broke for the opposition, stand in prop Edmonds grabbed him from behind in a great tackle but Big Phil stayed down rolling in agony, as the ball ran loose and Kemble collected it to relieve the danger.

On the 29th minute we saw a dazzling try. Back on our own fourty yard line Dave Topliss got through the first two defenders with ease and as the cover came across passed to a rampaging Paul Rose. The ex Robin’s hero swatted a couple of tackles away before moving the ball to Harkin who immediately put Leuluai away. He drew the defence before passing onto the unmarked Prendiville who squeezed in at the corner. He converted his own try but whilst he was taking the conversion, Edmonds was helped from the field to be replaced by Mick Crane. The rest of the half was typical cut and thrust Derby fare, but as the whistle went for half time a fight broke out between Hogan and Charlie Stone which the referee broke up and we went in 10-0 up.

This was Mick Cranes sort of game because the unlikely hero who loved fish and chips and a smoke in the tunnel before he ran out and hated training, revelled on the big stage of such occasions. The second half was only three minutes old when ‘Craney’ ran into acting half as Bridges was tackled fifteen yards out from the try line. Quick as a flash Mick dummied to the blind side and shot through the rovers defence on the open side to touch down in a matter of fact sort of way, with no opposition players near him. Then it was Bridges and Crane again, as this time the pair linked superbly for Harkin to finish off with a magnificent looping pass to put Dane O’Hara in at the corner.

Although ‘Taffy’ Prendiville missed both goals he made the next try for James Leuluai. The try was perhaps the only one of the night which had an element of luck in it as Prendiville came inside looking for the ball and got a short pass from Steve Norton. He looked up and seeing four Rovers defenders bearing down on him kicked a mighty up and under that caught in the wind and rebounded off the upright straight into the NZ centres hands. Prendiville tagged on the points and Rovers looked a dejected team as they trudged back to the centre spot to kick off. After those first ten minutes Rovers had toiled and become more and more desperate to get into scoring positions, but could find no gaps, until with just 4 minutes to go Kelly flung out a speculative pass which Hall caught and crashed in to score. Shortly after that referee Thompson blew for the final time and we had won a massive game against the old enemy and were on the threshold of the title.

The sight of a bedraggled George Fairburn being carried off the field by two of the Rovers staff at the end said it all that night. Rovers had no excuses to offer because they had none to give as the red and whites had been completely out gunned and out thought by the FC team. Crane, Topliss, Harkin and Norton together on the same side meant two play makers at each side of the ruck which formed an attack that was as clinical as it was unpredictable. What stays in my memory the most was the all-round strength of that Hull side. The man of the match award went to Norton and Rose jointly but for me that night it should have gone to Kevin Harkin, who had probably his best ever game for Hull FC.

So, the seasons over and so is our run of victories over the old enemy. Their time had to come and it did on a windy and wet Friday night when the last vestige of any hope for our season washed away down the drain along with the torrential rain. Such defeats, when you know you are so much better than that, are heart breaking, but its such bad times that make the good times good and all those Rovers fans smiling over their gruel on Saturday Morning, don’t have the memories we have although one day they were going to get their moment of glory.

One thing I do know is that I hate Derby’s and yet times such as those outlined above, I used to love them. However, these days the insults and bigotry I receive and the fact that 4 (or 5) in any season is just too many, seems to have put me off them altogether. I guess I’m not on my own either as threats of flooding, thunder and lightning and a growing loathing of the event in general, saw a lot of my mates consigned to watching from the pub or from behind their trusty settee’s at home. The gate of 17,500 shows how interest is these games is waning because of over exposure and I just hope we as a Club try to address that fact.

Thank goodness that Rovers are so crap that they ended up in the bottom four and we don’t have to meet up with them again this year. I just hope that the Clubs see sense and scrap the pre-season game as well, so with hopefully a more traditional format for the leagues next season we can settle back into playing just the 3 games again.

But at least they are out of the way for another year and we’ll see what unfolds in the next few weeks. Its hard writing the Diary on such days and watching it back on TV to see if I’ve got it right is even harder, believe me. I hoped I’d seen it wrong in real time, but I hadn’t and I’m sure that I’ll get it in the neck from one or two of you because I’ve been ‘Too negative’. However, writing this in the early hours of Saturday morning that’s how I feel and I can only tell it as I see it, otherwise what is the point of doing it? I’m still bitterly disappointed but I’ve had enough now and I’m off to bed, so thanks to everyone who got in touch and I’ll speak to you all again next week. One things for sure at least I won’t have to report on another defeat, because thankfully we haven’t got a game!

Thanks for giving me some of your time!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf