So after a short break, training starts on Monday as already we look towards 2019.
However, what’s unfolded of late has been pretty relaxed, in fact have we ever known a quieter couple of weeks at the FC? With several players not returning from holidays until this weekend prior to training starting again today (Monday), little has been going on and even the guys on the club site have been scratching around for stories. In fact, the usual pre-deadline ticket hype we usually see this time of year has been rather lethargic and slow to get off the ground.
We heard from Jordan Lane on how he will be ‘pushing on’ next season and how Lewis Bienek is enjoying playing for Ireland, but otherwise until Friday and Abdull’s departure, little appeared to be happening, as a shorter than usual post season break saw everyone scrambling to fit their holidays in. Let’s hope they’ve all had a well-deserved rest and are now getting ready for the big push for 2019 which starts this week.
The quieter than usual situation was emphasised as far as the fans were concerned as well when on the invariably busy RL Fans message board, the tumble weed has been blowing about for a couple of weeks now and at one point no one posted for almost 48 hours. Granted several players have been spotted in the gym getting an early start and I was talking with Washy there the other day and he appeared to be raring to go.
Perhaps we are deemed to be doing OK ticket wise, or maybe perhaps we will see more hype this week as the first renewal deadline approaches. None the less it’s certainly been quiet but a big well done to the 5000 or so who have signed up so far for next season and don’t forget if you want to secure your usual place and haven’t yet got it, then this coming weekend sees the cut-off point for a guaranteed seat.
However, all that said the wait for a bit more news is I think almost over as several senior players have been in for testing this week and, as I say, a lot are appearing at Total Fitness in advance of training commencing. It’s all part of a new structure for pre-season which has seen players given a shorter break and coming back where possible on the same date. Last year’s practise of a phased return has been scrapped and all this week southern hemisphere players have been flying back into this country to get started.
Of course in the last 7 days there has been a departure, when Jordan Abdull left the Club for London as the career of a player who has become something of a conundrum, finally came to an end at the black and whites. Jordan has been just that for me; something of an enigma really!! Why do I say that? Well having all the potential to produce the goods, he’s promised so much over the years without ever coming up to the standard that was needed to supersede Kelly, Sneyd, Westerman or Connor in the spine of the team. Particularly, I’d add, if all four of those players are fit (not a very likely contingency of late I know!!!). He follows in the wake of a whole raft of local half backs that have, over the years, looked to have some potential but failed to deliver and Jordan’s demise emphasises just how hard it is to produce home grown play makers.
On loan at the Dobbins he seemed to have found his level as he was a big favourite with their fans, indeed the East Hull club seemed keen on retaining him but he was, like Dean Hadley, seen as a project who would benefit from going out on loan. Sadly however, on his return he never ever looked to have made the step up that we all hoped for. That said of course, the injury crisis at the end of the season did give him every chance to shine at the black and whites.
Those last 7 or 8 games of the 2018 campaign were his big opportunity to cement a future at the FC, but he failed to take it and so, surplus to our requirements, the club looked around to find him a new home. As always, conscious as our club are of their duty of care for its employees, the FC were instrumental in securing his move onto the Super League newcomers, ensuring as far as they could that the transition was as easy and ‘seamless’ one.
Jordan played 54 games for us and as he had a year left on his contract, we have secured a transfer fee for him from London. They have only given him a year though, despite having paid out that fee, so they must also have a few reservations too! I always want local lads to do well as they progress through the ranks but, if I’m really honest, I was always a bit under whelmed by Jordan. Not, by his effort or commitment, but more by his lack of progress and quite frankly I wasn’t that surprised with this week’s news and if your honest, I doubt you were either?
Of course as always I wish him well for the future and I also thank him for standing in so stoically when we were under the cosh last year and in fairness in the end he was always a player who tackled hard and ran well for the cause. Never the less he still didn’t quite have the right kick (at the right time), the right pass on hand, or the right line when needed and despite playing his part in defence he never looked to display that required X factor that a genuine and regular play maker has. He probably had it on the training pitch, but we rarely saw it out there on game day. That appeared at times to frustrate him and certainly didn’t do his cause any good in the eyes of the fans. So, half back wise, another one bites the dust, but Jordan’s only 22 and now a whole new future beckons! So …..Good luck to him I say!
The second test match between England and New Zealand arrived on Sunday but not before Alec and a couple of other readers had contacted me to say that they had filled in the BBC viewer’s comments form to complain about the lack of coverage and lead up stuff before the game. The saturation coverage of the Rugby Union games came and went without our game being alluded to at all, until, that is, it was given a passing mention after the report on the Saturday RU internationals, on Sunday morning.
There is little doubt that Rugby League has a lot to address with regard to the issue of the standing of our game in the eyes of the media and thus the unconverted public. The way we are treated at present means that its hardly surprising that although we attract the converted to these games, few who are not dyed in the wool turn up to watch these quality matches between some of the best players in the world. We simply can’t seem to get the media excited enough to actually inspire folks to go along and watch, can we?
As for the game itself well those who didn’t get to see it missed a real treat. I guess as an FC fanatic, I was on Connor watch and he started by receiving a shocking ball and being forced into touch in the second minute and as viewers e soon found ourselves again admiring a Kiwi side that moved the ball well and looked really dangerous. However, we dug in again and Jake had a great game particularly for someone who doesn’t think centre is his best position. He scored a good try made two others and got loads of mentions by the pundits and the media alike. I guess watching it back again he certainly showed some really mature centre play both in attack with ball in hand and in defence where his positioning sense gets better and better.
Of course there is always a worry and as reader Ian Middleton said to me straight after the game, “I was so pleased for Jake, but him playing so well whilst Aussie eyes are watching really does worry me!” However, its good to be proud of our national team again and what an effort those lads put in. It all looked a bit of a hotch-potch when the squad was announced, but what do I know eh? As I’m sure you realise I loved it and it was a really good (dare I say) advert for the game as a whole.
Now, let’s face it, the dynamic and day to day comparisons between the two Hull Clubs, their owners and their aspiration’s is ever changing! It is sometimes a bit fraught, often a tad comical and sometimes down right perplexing, but its always interesting isn’t it? What’s more if you support either club with a passion, it always will be as well, for somehow the temptation to look over your shoulder at what the other lot are doing is hard, if not impossible, to resist.
So this week it was no surprise to me at all, when I found myself intrigued by the differing approaches the two clubs are taking to the up-coming Super League season. At the FC, as the advent of the return of reserve team rugby appears to be just around the corner, we have beefed our already large squad up again with some in coming fringe players, whilst at the Dobbins Mr. Hudgell declared this week that Tim Sheens had been instructed to cut his squad for next year down by ten from 38 to 28. That’s hardly enough to run a reserve grade team is it? I wonder if they don’t intend to run one at all or perhaps even if the rumoured combined reserve grade team is rearing its head again; thankfully our efforts to build as big a squad as we have had for years rubbishes that rumour, because heaven forbid that one ever happens!!!!!!!
We obviously felt, after the lessons learned from the longest run of defeats we have seen since the early 60’s, that we couldn’t manage on the depth we had last year as Adam announced two months ago that we would be beefing up our squad with ‘meaningful’ signings. Even if they haven’t come up to some people’s expectations and a few fans interpretations of ‘meaningful’, we have certainly brought some interesting characters in and we definitely look to be equipped to support a reserve grade team.
Rovers on the other hand are cutting down drastically on players for 2019. Hudge said of their recruitment thus far, “We expect to sign three more players, but we want quality over quantity because the squad last season was too big by far and Tim has a brief to reduce that”. Rovers have already gone a long way to cutting their squad down, having released those 10 players earlier this month, while Weller Hauraki, Jimmy Keinhorst and Ryan Lannon have been brought in. However, when (and if) the new reserve league is announced it will be interesting to see how their thinking pans out and indeed if Hull KR are in there.
What about poor old Dean Hadley eh? He must have run over a whole alley full of black cats at the start of this season!! In fact, this last week must have seen him pretty p*ssed off and I’m sure pleased to see the back of the 2018 campaign. It wouldn’t be a tour of Papua New Guinea without players getting ill; it always seems to happen to someone and this week it happened to Hadley when he was admitted to hospital banned from exercise and so decided to come home early from the Knights tour. Just to prove the point he was quickly followed by another illness victim in Liam Sutcliffe!
Dean’s a player with great potential and one I have a lot of time for. He took his medicine last year and obviously benefited from a year’s sabbatical at Wakefield where he really impressed the fans and Coach Chris Chester as well, to the point where the Club would have loved to sign him. However, since his return to the FC despite showing some real class when on the field, actually staying on it has been his biggest problem. Actually he made 22 appearances this last season, but it never seemed like that many as he struggled to stay on the pitch and was on and off the field on a host of occasions. Then he gets selected to tour with the England Knights and after playing one game he’s taken ill!
However, throughout 2018 Hadley has been unlucky and when he has come-back, he’s just got going before going off again and most frustratingly with rather than one reoccurring issue, with an array of injuries. So for me a clean slate for 2019 can’t come quickly enough for him. I thought he and Westy would be vying for the loose forward position next year but between now and the start of the season he’s got to get fit, get well and to get a bit more luck next time around. As an employee though Dean Hadley is a good club man, a great trainer and has a load of potential to become a blooming good player.
With the new season just around the corner I thought it would, this week, be worth a look at the early season highlight, that is ‘The World Club Challenge’. The ‘on/off’ fixture will return to the DW Stadium next February when the Betfred Super League champions Wigan Warriors take on the National Rugby League champions Sydney Roosters. It will be the 27th Challenge since the Roosters were the inaugural winners in 1976, the sixth in Wigan, and the fourth at the DW Stadium, where Wigan won the last of their record four world club titles two years ago with a memorable 22-6 triumph against the Cronulla Sharks.
This is yet another of those ‘manufactured for TV’ moments that our game is so good at, but although its history is short, some searching back also proves that it is quite interesting too. The competition started as I say in 1976, all be it unofficially, when Saints, our champions that year, went to Australia to play Eastern Suburbs who had won their competition. The home side won 25-2 and it was another 11 years before another WCC game was staged when in 1987 Champions Wigan took on Manley at Central Park.
It had been over 10 years since our international team had beaten the Aussie but a packed house under those famous Wigan lights saw the ‘Pies’ triumph by 8-2. The victory was sweet indeed and much was made by the press of the fact that on that night every Wigan player was British.
The first official WCC was staged in 1989 when Widnes (who beat us in the premiership that year) played Canberra. Three further games all involving Wigan were played in the next 5 years, but with the outbreak of the ‘war’ in Australia (that raged for two years over there from 1995), between the games administrators and the NRL over TV rights, no WCC games were played and the competition was suspended. In typical RL fashion however to compensate for this in 1997 the World Club Championship was staged with all 12 teams from the British Super League playing the top 10 from the Southern Hemisphere.
However, as usual we were pretty ‘cr*p’ at that one, and no British club even got to the semi’s. Eventually Hunter Mariners were defeated by Brisbane Bronco’s in the final 36-12. This was all seen as a bit of a disaster but in 2000, following a lot of behind the scenes stuff by Sky TV and the Aussie broadcasters, the principle was revived, and the competition in its current state was launched.
Throughout all this catalogue of attempted competitions and aborted formats Wigan were for many years the only club to actually play the game outside this country when in 1994 they travelled to Australia and, much to the Aussie fans disgust, came home winners after a 20-14 victory over the Brisbane Bronco’s at the ANZ Stadium. Over the years in general the home team has done well, (although there have been exceptions) and if you talk to Aussies about the competition, when it comes to being beaten here, they cite home advantage and the wintry conditions as excuses for any poor performances. Still the evolution of the competition is an interesting one I think.
18 teams have competed in the World Club Challenge with 12 teams being successful and being crowned world champions. Wigan have currently won more finals than any other team and could be on for another win come next February. It’s a funny old phenomenon though that despite the huge billing and hype it gets never really seems to have taken off. Will it survive in the ‘bright new future’ for our game? Well only time will tell on that one!
You know, often in the closed season I take the opportunity to explore and examine things in our game that I don’t usually have the time or space to expound during the season. With the new era of Super League upon us and the Clubs looking to the future and indeed Toronto going great guns in the Championship, perhaps it’s a good time to have a close look at expansionism in our game, the fool hardy way it has been handled in the past and what can (and will) happen when you’re not careful.
In recent times there has been plenty of ill-fated and hapless expansionism around and never more so that in 2012 when out of the blue four new teams were announced to be joining League 1 ahead of the 2013 season.
six years later, to the week, from the announcement and we find that none of them now remain. Northampton didn’t even make it to the fixture list, having withdrew their application, (which was linked heavily with the struggling football club with home games due to be played at their Sixfields home), in the build-up to the initial games. The football Club went into meltdown and without so much as a whimper or any support from the RL, so did the Second Division RL team. Gloucestershire All Golds and Oxford both battled on and then dropped out in 2017, claiming to be merging to form a Bristol club to join back up in 2019, a move which now appears to be dead in the water.
And now Hemel Hempstead, the sole survivors and a club that has been around for almost 40 years as the flag fliers for the southern amateur game, have pulled out having struggled to compete in the division, something that is animated by having last year to have to relocate their training to Dewsbury.
Hemel will look to regroup in the mooted Southern Premier League, which clubs hope will include some sort of connection to League 1 to ensure progression up the pyramid is possible when clubs are ready. Gloucestershire All Golds are likely to be part of the new set-up too, but we’ll see I guess.
Those 4 new teams were in essence on a hiding to nothing from the off. Struggling to attract players of a sufficient calibre, their locally produced players, surely the whole point of having an expansion team, were just not at the level of the players at other heartland teams. What’s more whilst Toronto and others can afford to splash out on bringing in overseas players and seasoned Englishmen, the reality for other expansion teams is very different.
It’s so hard to grow revenues through ticket sales, sponsorship and merchandise, particularly if you’re getting slugged every week, and it appears that the pain has now become too much for all four of those expansion clubs to continue in their current form. West Wales Raiders had appeared to be another club on the brink, but they have at least recruited an overseas coach and he’s brought with him some import players and how they will impact for them next season will be interesting. Can they become competitive but still provide the platform for Welsh players to progress, which was the original intention, well again only time will tell I guess?
To be fair, in the first season after the new clubs joined, the 2013 League 1 did have a bit of an expansionist feel to it, with only Oldham and Rochdale from the so-called heartlands; together with the two Welsh teams, the three new expansion sides, London Skolars and South Wales. In that campaign, Hemel finished fifth, winning eight games from 16; Oxford also made the play-offs with five wins and two draws.
That was about as good as it got, though Hemel Stags did reach the play-offs in 2014 as well. Unfortunately, the addition of relative powerhouses like Toronto, Toulouse and Bradford has just blown away those at the bottom. Rugby league went ahead with these projects at a time when in here and across the media we were saying that it was an ill-conceived idea in a game that appeared to be built on sand. Indeed, I said in the Diary in 2013, “There is absolutely no real logical thinking in this strategy at all” and I guess, on that one, I have been proved right.
So where are we now? Well, the news that Hemel are to withdraw leaves League 1 with 11 teams – Doncaster, Coventry, Hunslet, Keighley, London Skolars, Newcastle, North Wales, Oldham, West Wales, Whitehaven, and Workington. You could call that weird and hard to understand expansion into the ‘nether regions’ a failed experiment, though, judging on some of our past experiences in that field it comes as no surprise.
Hopefully the recent steps forward with the structure of the game, and the upcoming announcement about the Southern Premier League (or League 1 South), will put to bed the uncertainty of the structure of the game and enable clubs to thrive and grow in environments more suitable to their clubs.
Away from RL for a moment and I was certainly touched by the sudden and tragic death in a helicopter crash in Leicester last weekend of the cities Clubs owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, for in one tragic act, it did I think, touch every sports fan in the country. As so many Clubs struggle with suspect, removed, anonymous and often self-consumed owners, the outpouring of grief by the Leicester City fans shows what a truly great guy he was. The way the whole of Leicester embraced the way he went about his business without fuss or publicity and how he galvanised a whole community behind the Club was almost unique in modern times.
He didn’t want self-gain, he didn’t want knighthoods, he didn’t want land grabs, or to change the shirts or the name of the Club he just wanted Leicester City to succeed, for his customers, the fans, to be happy and for all their dreams to become a reality. They did, and big style, in fact as big style as there is, with a team that was struggling against relegation out of the Championship just 2 years previously becoming Champions of the Premier League; that’s the stuff that real dreams are made of.
How envious many sports fans were of those ordinary guys on the terraces of the King Power Stadium in 2017 as the impossible dream for 90% of football supporters became the stunning reality for the Foxes fans. As I watched them all on TV back then, families in tears, ‘hard knocks’ crying their eyes out and old gnarled and obviously long suffering supporters just stood there with their mouths open, in reminded me of that half hour I experienced at Wembley on 27th August 2016 at 4.50pm. For it was something that I will remember long after the actual action from the game itself has faded away.
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, brought all that to the good people of Leicester and did it without any scruples and little it would appear self-interest. He is now revered and will be forever a legend in the that Midland City, as could have been other owners of Football Clubs not a million miles away had they acted with such integrity and honour. Lessons there for many I think!
How that unassuming and humble guy will be missed in Leicester, because in a cynical, cut-throat and mercenary modern professional sporting world he was a real one off and how the reaction of all those folks in Leicester warmed all our hearts for it was a moment of veracity, honourability and public grief far divorced from the often cynical and invariable money led sporting scene of 2018.
Now how cool is this?
Talking of nice guys in football I’ve always been a bit taken with the demeanour and methods of that Jorgen Klopp gadger down at Liverpool. There was an interesting angle this week on the New Zealand team’s preparations for the Test match at their home ground of Anfield when he got involved a bit. As regular readers know, I haven’t any particular leaning to any one Premiership team, I’m rugby league till I die, but I can appreciate a good game of football just the same if only for the fact that when compared to watching FC I can enjoy it with the pressure off!!!
However, I’m not one for favouring an out of town team and although I always wanted City to win over the years and would always look out for their score, even that interest has ceased since the Allam’s came to town. However, it was great to see the Liverpool boss inviting the Tourists down to the Reds training base on the outskirts of Liverpool last Tuesday. Furthermore, after mingling with some of the English Premier League’s biggest names, it was fitting indeed that the Kiwis performed an Adam Blair-led haka to thank their hosts.
I have always watched Coaches in all sports to see how they perform in an effort to motivate their wards, because it is something that interests me and over the years I have grown to appreciate what a good manager Klopp is. However, what even I found surprising with him was his response to this spontaneous act by the Kiwi’s when he intimated that his association with the Haka went back 15 years. The 51-year-old revealed the Maori war dance was a staple part of game day preparation in his first managerial role, at German club Mainz 05, who he helped promote to the Bundesliga in 2005. He would play a rendition of the haka on the TV screens on the team bus as they arrived at match venues to get the blood racing. Whether its rugby or any other sport you can usually judge a good coach by his actions, but I found that really interesting and a tad surreal that a German Coach at a German club would do that!
It was cold last week, wasn’t it and it was I guess of things to come in the coming weeks. As the fire blazed in the bar of the Dog and Duck last Friday night and dark encircled the traditional hostelry, the discussion got around to winter rugby and the ‘good old days’. We covered the big freeze of 1963 when we went around 9 weeks without a game before playing Wigan on a Thursday afternoon, ‘skating’ to victory against Batley at the Boulevard in 1979 and going as kids with a shovel to help clear the snow from the Boulevard in the late 1950’s. However, everyone agreed that there was one game that Hull FC played at the Boulevard back in 1993 that will always go down in the annals of our great Club as the coldest afternoon that we ever experienced at that great old ground; and as I say there have certainly been some of those over the years.
Back in December that year we were certainly having a betted season as Royce Simmons had put together a team which was starting to look as if it could reignite the flame that Brian Smith had kindled at the start of the decade and that had been almost completely extinguished by the Boards parlous financial stae and the demise of the great David Kirkwood as Chairman in the Noel Cleal era. We were all looking forward to the possibility of a good run in the Regal Trophy when, to our dismay, we were drawn against Widnes at the Boulevard on a freezing cold December Sunday. They were the ‘Cup Kings’ and as such pretty stern opposition although we had at least, won 4 of our previous 5 games, including a narrow victory over St Helens at the Boulevard the previous week.
As Billy Spencer and myself walked towards the Boulevard it was already bitterly cold, it was that sort of still, heavy ‘cold’ that grips your face and strikes through however many layers of clothes you’re wearing. In addition, the wind was howling around the houses of Airlie Street and it was just starting to ‘spit’ with cold ‘hailstoney’ sleet. We could tell that it was going to be a poor turnout by how few folks were around at 2-30pm and as it was a Cup game, and there were bound to be some available space, we decided to sit it the New Threepenny Stand, hoping that it would at least offer some shelter from the biting elements. When the teams came out they were all seen vigorously swinging their arms this way and that, like demented windmills, in what was to prove a vain effort to keep warm. In fact, as he kicked off Jeff Doyle was blowing on his hands, and it was clearly going to be an ‘interesting experience’ for him and the rest of our Aussie imports.
Widnes of course, were a great team in the mid-nineties and featured that day, Bobby Goulding at Scrum Half, David Hulme at 6 and John Devereux in the Centre. However, we started strongly on a pitch that was muddy and really slippery in places and Tim Street as awkward to tackle as usual, continually pushed the strong Widnes pack back. However, after around ten minutes a full scale brawl broke when Tim slapped Esene Faimalo in a tackle. The referee Mr. Ollerton stood well back and waited for the melee to quieten down before giving both players a stiff talking too and then awarded Widnes a penalty which Hadley sliced into touch. In fairness we expected to be well beaten by Widnes and so it was no surprise when they took the lead. After 23 minutes Goulding broke through a tackle by Sharp and put hooker McCurrie in under the sticks. Goulding converted just as the leaden skies started to produced torrential freezing rain which came down like ‘stair rods’ driven on by an ever increasing wind.
Already players were visibly suffering from the cold and twice Aussie surfing fanatic, James Grant, sank to his knees between plays shaking his head and vigorously rubbing his hands to try to get some feeling in them. Still on we battled, refusing to be intimidated by Widnes’s reputation and both Dixon and Doyle went close, although the current star of the FC team Des Hasler was frequently seen with his hands down the sides of his shorts and was pretty subdued and obviously struggling with the conditions.
Then we scored. Gary Nolan who was keeping his more illustrious brother Rob out of the starting line-up took a pass from Chico Jackson and hurtled down the wing to touch down in the corner under a strong, three man Widnes tackle. As we all stood and cheered the effort, Gary couldn’t get up and had, it transpired, in that heavy tackle, displaced his AC joint and was stretchered from the field to be replaced by brother Rob from the bench. Paul Eastwood missed the conversion but then scored with a penalty from wide out on the left and as Widnes started to get on top again, the hooter went and at half time as the wind howled and the sleet poured down it was 6-6.
I well remember trying to stand up from my seat and my knees locking completely, it was so cold. Still, Billy went off to get some Bovrill’s, I stood stamping my feet in unison with another 3,400 hardy souls who made up the meagre attendance that day. The next bit I only heard afterwards, but off the field things were, it appeared, certainly getting serious. Despite having had the now gale force wind at their backs, with the rain and snow that brought, Hulls dressing room at the interval was in a shambles. The Club Doctor at the time, (I think it was Mike Dunham) was summoned and declared that 5 of the Hull players were suffering from the early stages of hypothermia.
He immediately went to the referee and asked for the game to be called off for medical reasons, but when the request was put to the Widnes officials they felt that they were on top, had the wind behind them in the second half and would therefore win, and so turned it down. The half time interval was extended by eight minutes and out on the terraces we all wondered what was happening. It was also said afterwards that Mike Dixon and Des Hasler were in such a state that Pete Smith, one of the assistants that day, had to run to the Club House and get all the baking foil they had, to wrap the pair in, this, in an effort to get their circulation going again. Finally, after a break of around twenty-two minutes the teams reappeared as the rain continued to pour down. They had both changed their shirts, but Hull, for some unknown reason, were still wearing the dirty wet shorts they had worn in the first half.
We defended magnificently at the start of the half as big Tim Street and second rower Daniel Divet smashed into the opponent’s formidable front row of McCurrie, Ireland and Rob Howe. Although when Paul Moriarty broke through a two man tackle and headed for the line, he was felled by a brilliant last ditch effort by Richard Gay that dislodged the ball as the danger was averted. Hull however needed a boost and they got it on the 50-minute mark.
Tim Street went on one of those famous rampaging ‘breakout’ runs down the left and linked with the pacey James Grant on his shoulder. He burst forward and unleashed a perfectly timed pass to Rob Nolan who kicked ahead and chased the ball himself. Despite three blatant attempts to obstruct his path to the ball, Rob touched down just to the left of the posts and for a few seconds we all forgot about the cold and danced in our seats, as Eastwood stroked over the conversion.
Despite their illustrious opponents and the horrendous weather Hull FC might easily have increased their lead. Des Hasler, who was still subdued by the cold, was held on his back over the line and Rob Danby came within a whisker of taking a Jeff Doyle pass to score. Paul Eastwood on our wing ‘conducted’ and encouraged the crowd on several occasions as the meagre gathering sang ‘Old Faithful’ and, when a string of four penalties went against us late on, “Who’s Ya Father, who’s Ya Father, who’s Ya Father referee, you haven’t got one you’re a Bas*ard, Your a Bas*ard referee!!!”.
We sounded like a gate of 10,000 and it inspired the boys to hold their ground and that lead until the hooter sounded, and a famous victory was ours. Several of the players ran straight off the field at the end and who can blame them, but Chico Jackson, Paul Eastwood and Jon Sharp (whose car broke down with a ‘waterlogged’ engine, before the game so that he only arrived 15 minutes before kick-off) celebrated with us all before we scurried off home, for a couple of beers and a good warm, because as the gloom gathered it was still raining and freezing at the same time!!!! Afterwards Richard Gay said, “I thought I was going to die I couldn’t stop shaking, it was the most frightening experience I have ever felt”. Whilst Des Hasler said, “For the first time ever, I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes at all! It was the coldest I have ever been in my life”. If Des doesn’t remember anything else from his time at the Boulevard, he will never forget that afternoon in December 1993!
I’m indebted to my mate Tommy Ball for letting me know about Local playwright, Ian Judson who is producing a play about Jack Harrison called, The Jack Harrison Play. It is on between 4th to 8th November and the performance takes place at the Park Street Performing Arts Centre. You’ll remember I’ve featured Ian in here before as he tries to raise sufficient funds and awareness for a city-centre based statue of Jack. It should be a great night and an appropriate production for the Club, the City and this week’s amnesties remembrance.
So there we are another Diary after a quiet week and yet so much correspondence and contact from readers, for which I thank you all. I hope there is more to report on next week and don’t forget the season ticket ‘secure your seat deadline’ this Saturday. Thanks as always for sticking with the Diary and I’ll speak to you all next week.