The Dentist’s Diary – 616th

Oh Dear!!!!!!

In the end I guess the best team won but, as it happens and looking back, only just!

Yet we are fast becoming the nearly team and that’s not good enough at all. We toiled and worked and tried and tried, but in simplistic terms we just can’t finish the opposition off and it’s now a question of how long can our lads come up short and yet still turn up so enthusiastically. In sport confidence is everything and ours has to be under stress. After 13 straight defeats, it plays on my mind, so it must do the same to the players. Only this weekend Jake Connor commented on the fact that he now faces two weeks of ‘being in a bad place’ after yet another reversal.

I’m not one for predictions so early in the piece, but I do think it’s going to be a tough old campaign for our team. But, if we are honest, few of us really expected anything less did we?  

Attacking wise we have certainly improved, Connor, if we can keep him away from the disciplinary panel, is shaping up to be a ‘world beater’ and Westerman, if we can keep him away from the treatment table, is a big plus in the line as well. However, on the other side of things our pack, that once struck terror into even the biggest sets of forwards, seems to have lost a lot of it’s potency, they are getting older, looking too lightweight and failing to get the jump on their opposite numbers. Too many opposing players are in fact just allowed to stand in the tackle instead of being put on their backs and its stinging us big time. On Thursday the opposition ‘6’ ran through and even over us, because we just couldn’t slow the play the ball down to hold them when they rolled forward. Its tough for any FC fan to see our forwards bettered so easily by another team.

We were certainly marched down field a full 80 yards on several occasions, just as we were at the death at Caravan Park. So, it’s frustrating, as the attack improves and the forwards go backwards. Unfortunately, and critically, having seen 6 Super League games now, I’m starting to think that every other team seems to have got better, rather than, like us, marked time. On that evidence I base my assumption that we are going to toil a bit in what is shaping up to be a long hard season. First up however somehow, somewhere, we have to get a win and although that’s easy to say, where it will come from is much more difficult to predict. 

After all these years, to say I was excited about the new season would be stretching things a bit, but as I said last week, I was certainly relishing our first home game, all be it shaping up to be a tough one. I saw a hardened and lively Castleford as a much bigger test than the one we had experienced in the Derby  and that they would be stronger, less one dimensional and more expansive than Rovers. Sadly, on all those assumptions I was to be proved right!

Waking on a bleak Beverley Thursday morning, the rain and wind had kept Mrs R. rousing regularly through the night and it was still lashing down on the roof as daylight broke. As for me, well I had woken a time or two in a cold sweat wondering if my pass card would work at the turnstile, but that’s just me I guess!!

However, by lunchtime things had improved, the sun was out and I couldn’t wait to get going. I was now really looking forward to the match.

The opposition had for decades been branded with the title ‘Classy Cas’, but I knew that their recent good fortune in the League had come more from the way that they had strengthened their pack and set up their defence. That change had seen the West Yorkshire men batter teams down the middle, whilst getting the ball wide to where they would kill teams off. We certainly still had that 7 players missing, but they were light by two half backs and a couple of forwards too.

It was invariably going to be a big challenge, but a lot of the players had been in the gym this week and they all sounded keen to get to the Castleford game and in the Mail Scott Taylor said that he and Danny Houghton had been ensuring everyone stayed buoyant and self-assured. Never the less on the terraces we desperately needed to get that 12 game losing ‘Monkey’ off our backs and to at least see some progress unfold on the night.

Looking around the terraces I suppose for a Thursday night a gate of 11,000 plus was disappointing but it was school next day. In fact, afterwards in the pub my pal Richard (who is a junior coach in Beverley) commented just how hard it had been to get parents interested in the two for a fiver deal because of that. I’d hoped for a bumper turn out to get us going but that crowd and the weather made for a flat sort of atmosphere, although credit to the visitor with a good few from Cas made the trip over for the game. All that said, there is no getting away from the fact that it was the third smallest opening gate in our 17 years at the KCom and that with a 2 for a fiver deal as well!!

With Connor back and Westerman operating at 13 I was hopeful, but the inclusion of Miloudi on the wing was a bit of a worry and quite a mystery, which was only to be answered after the game with that devastating news of Dawson-Jones’ season ending injury.

Cas. started like a house on fire whilst we showed nothing like the intensity or focus we had displayed at Caravan Park. We looked asleep at times, dropped off tackles and were soon 10-0 down. There was some poor defence particularly on our right from Miloudi, had allowed Trueman to easily shrug him off to create their first. In fact, it looked a lot like ‘Back to the Future Time’ as our intransigence against a pretty clinical Cas. side, meant that we saw little from Connor and Sneyd who, like the rest of the team, spent most of the first quarter on the back foot.

 It was all very worrying and the next score was crucial, but thankfully it came to us. Firstly, Minniciello was robbed of a score by a Castleford ball carriers foot being in touch before he released the ball, but then Connor’s delightful drop-off saw Westerman cruise in with a show and go from close range. Then a brilliant cross field kick from Sneyd saw Connor rise majestically to bemuse the Cas defence and canter in himself. Really great players look as if they have more time than everyone else to effect plays and so it was on several occasions with Jake on Thursday.

We were, (a little surprisingly it has to be said), in the lead and everything looked good approaching half time, as we peppered the opposition line before coughing the ball up again! Brushing tackles aside, again they swept back down the field far too easily, and with their forwards rolling over us, Miloudi had his third brain explosion of the night and Shenton cruised in at the corner. So Cas. rather fortuitously found themselves going in two points up.

It had been a fast furious and exciting half where we had come back from the dead to sting the West Riding team, but as I chatted to old friends again, we all agreed it was hardly convincing although three things stood out for us all. Firstly, the game itself has improved no end with the new rules, for our first 40 minutes at home had been frenetic, ferocious and incident packed, particularly when we got going.

Secondly, when we did get moving, the inclusion of Connor and Westerman made us so much more potent in attack, as we varied the play and looked really exciting at times going forward. However, on the down side, most worrying for us all  was the ease by which a Castleford pack led by McShane and Watts could cruise down field from their own quarter to our line, time and again and do it in just 6 tackles. Our pack, Taylor apart, looked pretty ineffective to stop them and with McShane terrorising us from acting half, the fear factor that was always instigated by our pack in 2016 and 2017 appeared to have evaporated; at times we simply couldn’t go toe to toe with their forwards. With the ball we didn’t share the work out either and Matongo in particular struggled to get involved. In the second half, we concluded, we had to control the tempo of the game better and wrestle the initiative from the visitors, but that was to prove to be easier said than done.   

We started well were in good field position inside two minutes of the restart, only for Carlos Tuimavave’s wild offload to end our chances, as the ball fell straight into the opposition’s hands.  Back came Cas straight down the field, again marching all over us, as we looked incapable of stopping them. Then, after some pressure we were made to pay, when Clare dived over in the right-hand corner. McShane’s third missed conversion, though, meant that despite the feeling of ‘déjà vu’ that surrounded our performance, we only trailed by six with 30 minutes to go. But, when your down nothing goes for you; ball comes loose from our player and it’s a loose carry, ball comes loose from theirs and it’s a reef, nothing including the bounce of the ball was going our way.  

Despite all that we looked to have got right back into it when a brilliant series of dummies by Connor saw him walk in from close range, but the call went to the video referee and Westerman was pulled up for obstruction after unintentionally running into Watts. The thing was for me, in that period of the game, as was the case last week, once Litten was on and running things from stand-off, Houghton looked far more effective at first receiver. All of a sudden, the ball wasn’t just going across the line in a hurried and desperate fashion, but players were chiming in from deeper positions and distances and Houghton was picking a pass to suit the oppositions defensive setting. At that point we looked good going forward from our own half. Being behind with time running out meant that we had to abandon one up forward play, which wasn’t effective anyway and stretch things a bit, what’s more we looked to be doing that pretty well.  

Another sharp short pass from Connor saw live-wire Shaul break the line again, before the full-back passed inside for Jordan Lane to score. It was a fine try and Sneyd added the extras and it was 24-18, but Castleford were handed a two-score lead again when Jordan Rankin added a penalty goal in the final quarter. We pressed and pressed though, as Mark Minichiello went close but crashed into the post, before Connor was held up over the line. But then hero turned villain, when Jake lost possession on the ensuing set close to their line as our progress again broke down. We fought back manfully as Cas clung on, before Miloudi spilled the ball whilst attempting to score and the visitors just held on to win.

Says it all! The players reflect the views of the supporters at the end!

I have said in here before that this season I wouldn’t be expending time and energy lamenting the performance of our officials and yet here I go with two paragraphs about Mr Kendall!!  The referee looked to have had a shocker from where I was sat. It looked as if Cas. only had to appeal at a tackle to get a penalty and were allowed to stand off-side at every set. I watched one full set when we were trying to come out of our half. In it they were in front of the referee for all 6 restarts, so much so that he even had to shout for a player to move on one occasion, because he couldn’t see the play the ball as the Cas. forward was stood in front of him and blocking his view!!

As frustrated as we were!

When he quite rightly went to the screen to disallow Connors second half touch-down because Wattsy was blocked by Westerman, we were accepting of the decision, if not a tad disappointed. Let’s face it, the obstruction law in RL needs looking at because too often players deliberately run into another player in such circumstances. However, our acceptance soon turned to infuriation when Castleford scored at the other end moments later and referee Kendall did not seek help from Thaler at all, although it could be seen that Junior Moors appeared to fumble as he went over. It might have been allowed, but at least have a look at it, so justice is seen to be done!! It’s that inconsistency that really infuriates fans!!!

From Mr Kendal it was a poor showing for me, but still not an excuse for us losing!! Fact is, in such situations with a weak official, we are still a bit naïve and other teams are much better at exploiting their short comings than we are.

Performance wise in my mind there were three stand out players on the night. Connor, Westerman and Shaul all shone brightly when we had the ball. Connor after a quiet start was just amazing with a hand in three tries and great presence and positioning. It’s not an over statement to say that he could become one of the best players in the world and a wonderful back handed pass in the second half showed just how good he is already! His future is in his own hands now. He has the ability, now he needs to sort his temperament out!! Westerman came back in, did long minutes and looked quite amazing too with ball in hand. He ran the attack in the middle of the park and was instrumental in some really quality attacking play that we produced sporadically but not often enough. It was one of Joe’s best games for the Club.  Shaul too was ‘Mr Dynamo’ again, into everything, he broke the line time and again and is in great form at present. His progress onto the international scene is probably only barred by his inability to at times pick a pass to keep breaks going.

So to the rest and I thought that Miloudi struggled and suffered from regular brain explosions throughout, which directly or indirectly all led to Castleford scores. More over his defensive and positional play meant that the opposition’s backs targeted him all night. Sneyd had a good game again with some astute kicking and organising of the line. I watched him off the ball a time or two and he is always shaping the line and giving out the instructions. There is little doubt that with him, Shaul,  Westerman, Albo and Connor our spine is not short of class.  

However, that’s no good without the platform a strong pack provides and it is there that I have some reservations and where I feel we are being undone. Taylor had a great game as always and Houghton tackled everything, but looked better as I said, when Litten came on, but for me, and its only me, Paea needs a rocket because he’s not making an impact at all.  Thompson (only 19 yards in total all night) is not effective or big enough to rotate in the front row either. Manu was mistake free but failed to dominate the Cas forwards much at all, whilst Mini tried really hard, but for me failed to impress too. It’s an aging second row and sadly it looked like it was on Thursday! Matongo did well again when he had the ball but he was overlooked all the time and became the perpetual dummy runner, whilst Litten and Lane both made an impact and gave us hope when they came on. However, in the new faster game you still need your forwards to boss games. Ours failed to do that big time against a good Castleford pack, that rolled us several times coming out of their own half. It was painful to watch and that for me was our undoing last Thursday!!

That evening we also reached a very unwanted record as we are now level on 13 with our worst ever run of defeats in our history. I expect no one except the gloaters will want to hear that, but it’s a fact. In 1963 we went from 31st August to 23rd November without a win. We ain’t that bad yet though, because back then, after we had beaten Keighley to end the run, we continued on and lost the next 7 games as well and didn’t get a win until 15th February when we beat Bramley 12-8.     

The news that broke after the game that Matty Dawson Jones is done for the season, was a bitter blow to us and him, as the injury hoodoo we have suffered for almost 10 months now, struck again at training last Wednesday. Lee Radford said, “Matty Dawson-Jones is gone for the season now. That happened on Thursday so obviously that is a huge blow after only playing one game for the club. He’s done his ACL. I had a tough conversation with him and I genuinely feel for him. He just needs to make sure he gets his rehab right.” That again is a real blow to a player who looked really up for it and one who could have made the wing position his own this season. It will be a long hard battle back for him and I wish him more luck than we as a team are having at present.

You know when you linked almost inseparably with your Club, sometimes it’s hard to swallow some of the guff that Chairman and Coaches put out to the fans, although in general it’s an issue for all supporters  across many sports. We at Hull FC had loads of explanations when we made our close season signings and although some are valid and some have to be taken with a pinch of salt, that’s what any Club does simply because they feel obliged to try and justify their sometimes baffling decisions. We can never ever be privy to why somethings happen, simply because some things have to remain confidential and so sometimes, like with Talanoa’s current injury, it’s hard to know just what is happening.

However, I remember one comment last year that really resonated at a time when some were disappointed with our new recruits and we were told that Joe Westerman, would be “Like a new signing” and for me I really hoped that was true. Sadly, he just got going and was then injured and out for the rest of the season. However, he certainly didn’t disappoint this week as returning from injury he produced one of his best performances for the Club..

Old time loose-forwards are hard to come by these days and Joe has the ability to make that pass or shift play in a style that is less predictable than most. What’s more, once he’s up to speed he is a lot better option than playing a prop at loose man as he showed on Thursday. So, the powers that be got it right this time and let’s hope as he gets stronger, he gets better and avoids any of the knocks etc. that will set him back.   

I guess I have to say that when I spoke to most fans last week after the Dobbins disappointment many pointed to Jake Connor his misdemeanours and subsequent absence from the starting line-up as a reason for us not winning. I don’t know if that’s fair but perhaps we would have been further in front by the end had he been playing.

It was therefore interesting to hear Jake at least owing up to being a bit of a daft lad in the Yorkshire Post last week. He said, “Personally I feel I could have made a difference if I was out there. I can’t wait to play now – I feel like I owe the lads. It was tough missing a derby and it’s definitely made me realise I need to keep my head down and stop doing stupid stuff”. Let’s hope that he remembers that in the coming weeks, but at least he felt guilty for what he had done and showed his remorse with his actions this weekend, which I think shows a bit of maturity is creeping into his rationale. 

I remember in the days when I was around some of the hardened and world worn elected members at the City Council that a well know saying when political intrigue and plotting was afoot was, “It’s always best to Keep your Powder Dry”, and quite frankly since then on many occasions it has proved sound advice!

I thought about it this week when I read of the work that was going on at the club with regard to signing players for 2020 and Adams comments about marquee signings. He said that although the Club would be bringing in several new signings and were working on them now, they wouldn’t be going down the marquee signing route because a) the took up too much money in the cap allocation and b) the wages they got often disrupted the rest of the players. That sent some hares running in the fan base and it’s not too strong a thing to say that it also disappointed a lot of fans who had seen what Leeds and Warrington had done just recently in the marquee stakes.

There is an interesting dynamic going on here because I have in the past spoken to both Kirk Yeaman and Danny Houghton at length about the difference between new signings coming into a club and loyal players renewing their contracts. We all agreed that such players as they both were, are prophets in their own land, in that new signings especially big ones are front page news and build supporter expectations whilst loyal, long serving quality players are if you like part of the wallpaper and thus their re-signing’s are dismissed pretty quickly. Although we also agreed that if such players were to forgo their loyalty and sign for another club, at their new home their fans would be dancing in the streets at such captures. That’s the way it is with fans isn’t it?

Supporters just love the prospect of big name players coming in and any indication of that not being likely to happen is seen as a lack of ambition at the top of the club. Perhaps it would have been best for Adam to just say when asked about such signings that all options were being considered and keep stum. It’s best to just wait until you’re in a position to announce the first in-coming player, whilst attempting to not shatter the fans perhaps misplaced expectations before that. Let’s face it, we all know the unrest Adam’s comments about making some ‘real signings’ led to when he made them in the middle of that losing run last year, particularly when the identity of our actual signings were revealed.

Fans were underwhelmed, because hopes had been raised and now on the other side of the coin, here’s our owner playing down the magnitude of potential future signings!! Some would say well he can’t win then can he, but perhaps keeping your powder dry in such situations, animates that other old saying of “Least said soonest mended”. However, as a last thought on this, what would the fans do if the club just kept quiet until the signings are made; I’d hazard a guess that the fans would say, “No one tells us anything”. So the club just can’t win and as I finish three or four paragraphs that are just made up of a procession of cliché’s and aged truism’s, I’ll just add that sometimes “Silence is Golden”. I’ll get my coat!!!

This week in Codgers Corner I want to indulge myself a bit because I had an E Mail from John Setterington in County Durham who is an exiled FC fans and regular reader of the Diary. John is a bit older than me and he can’t make games these days, but still follows the club and watches on TV. He talked about a player that we both really admired back in my late teens and his early 30’s and so for the second time in this journals 13-year sojourn, I want to feature one of those unsung heroes that stick in your mind as a fan, and yet are never mentioned in the same breath as Knocker Norton, Dave Topliss, Clive Sullivan or Peter Stirling.

What so many fans talk to me about are those players that have a special place in the memory because of some quirk or skill (not always of the favorable persuasion) that didn’t ensure they were stars, but did make seeing them unforgettable and an experience that lodged in the brain forever.

I guess there are just one or two who fall into that category for most fans and for me they would include, Alf Macklin, for his unlikely stature and yet brilliant nose for the line, Kenny Foulkes, for his anonymous yet so influential presence in the team (and the fact that he looked a lot like Eric Burden out of the Animals), Paul Woods for his sheer brutality in the tackle, Wilf Rosenberg for the spectacle of those dives and the excitement his presence on any rugby field engender for all who saw him and Mark Jones for looking the part and yet never ever getting anywhere near acting it!!!!  

However, for me and John above all those there is just one who despite the passage of many, many years, we still can’t get out of our minds!!

So let’s have a look at him again this week in, very topically, a story that starts with a match against Castleford! On Thursday 7th August 1969 the club announced that they had signed a gangly, tall second row forward from Barrow, on a three match trial. Some of you have guessed already haven’t you? But back then, no one had heard of the player or knew much about him except that he was called Terry Kirchin. His debut that Saturday against the West Yorkshire Club saw us win 30-4, and Kirchin was simply amazing. It was a dream debut. Time after time he ran the ball in hard, sucked the forwards in, and then produced the single act that was to make him so memorable.

Wherever he was on the field he would always keep his feet in the tackle and then ‘as if by magic’, despite the attention of a clutch of players, a hand would appear from the ruck grasping the ball and pass it out!! For the first few times this happened, the ball just went to ground, but once Davidson and Hancock had ‘Got the Idea’ they took the ball every time and Kirchin’s magic hands led to three of our tries that day.

In the days of trundling forwards who couldn’t pass but instead died in the tackle, the man was amazing to watch and a cross in modern day rugby terms between Paul Sculthorpe and Paul Daniels (so magical were his repeated off loads). The more that Cas. tried to stop him that day, the more he did it. By the end of the game he was given a standing ovation, but our Chairman Reg Lee was having nothing of it, and said that he would play out his loan spell before the Board of Directors made a decision on his future. Something that infuriated the fans who feared someone else would sign him and indeed possibly led to Lee’s  demise a few weeks later, when Charlie Watson took over.

However, after Kitchen had reproduced exactly the same form and tricks at York the following weekend, action had to be taken, and he signed for a career that lasted just three seasons and 118 appearances. Everybody at the civilised side of the City was talking about Terry and his handling abilities. His best game for me was later that season at the Boulevard in a match against Huddersfield on the 8th March 1970. That contest was one that I remember to this day, and was played against a Tykes team who were level with us in the league table at joint 9th..

Throughout the game we were much the better side but despite all our efforts, thanks to Mr Thomas the referee losing control of the Huddersfield forwards a time or two, it took us a long time to get the better of the Fartowners that day. Huddersfield, who had taken an early lead with an opportunist try by their loose forward Davis in the 26th minute, took everything that we threw at them. Their stoic defence was assisted, I remember, by a ‘glue pot’ of a pitch which was in places ankle deep in mud, and that made turning quickly nearly impossible. Just before halftime however in the South West corner of the ground, Terry ‘The magician‘, came to the rescue by plunging through a ruck of players at the play the ball with ball held high above his head in one hand, to touch down for Maloney to tag on the points that saw us go in 5-3 in the lead.

The second half however was the bit I remember most, as it was Hull all the way. We completely ignored the conditions and threw the ball around to play some great rugby. Hancock fed Eric Broom who put out a deft little reverse into the path of Kirchin. This time Terry just charged at the Huddersfield forwards as one after another they attached themselves to him. As players tried to get his legs he just stepped out of the tackles and ploughed on, leaving a trail of bodies behind him. Then he shook off the tacklers and stepped into a gap about 20 yards out, a position from which he could have probably scored himself, but instead he literally just handed the ball to John Maloney who went on an arching run, around the desperately retreating defence, to touch down in the corner. Maloney himself converted from a difficult angle and we were on our way.

About ten minutes later, as we pinned the visitors in their own quarter, frustration took over and Loxon the Huddersfiled scrum half tried a short kick out of his own twenty-five. It flew straight to Dick Gemmell who drew the defence before giving an inside pass to Brian Hancock to scooted through to score another try. Our forwards were now on top and Kirchin was in the thick of everything we did. His driving runs had Huddersfield players showing a distinct aversion to getting involved in the tackle at all when he had the ball, and he was matched for most of the time by Mick Harrison, who ground into their pack time and again.

There were two of the RL’s tour selectors present that day and no doubt Harrison’s form would have caught their eye. The other forwards got involved too, with both Roy Firth and Shaun O’Brien following Kirchin’s lead. But it was the way that the ball came out of the tackle every time Terry was in one that really stuck out. Time and again he baffled the Huddersfield tacklers to distraction as he held the ball in one hand above his head in the tackle.

About a minute from time Kirchin got the ball on his own 25 and despite his more slenderr frame, ran straight at giant pot-bellied Huddersfiled prop Ian Van Bellan, who crumpled to the ground as three more would-be tacklers moved in. Terry took the tackles standing up, wrestled his ball handling arm free and handed the ball out to a grateful Ibbotson, who ran on another twenty yards before being stopped in a great last ditch tackle by that most famous of Huddersfield second rowers Bob Taylor, but the crowd missed all that as they stood looking mesmorised at the melee of tacklers as they struggled to hold Kirchin. They continued to wrestle the standing second rower whilst Ibbetson charged off downfield oblivious to the fact that Terry had already released the ball.

That last play of the game that day has stayed with me all my life and that vision of Terry Kirchin is simply unforgettable really.  We won the game in the middle of a four match winning streak 17-3. Kirchin was a real one off and just to put the icing on the cake Terry left us for Rovers after 3 seasons. We were all disappointed, but they had envied him for some time and we got a handsome transfer fee to boot! However, he decided after one game that he did not like it over there in the East, and he quickly disappeared back to Cumbria and relative obscurity!!!

After I had written my first book Living in the Shadow of Giants, Terry’s daughter who lives in Scotland contacted me and thanked me for featuring her Dad in it. That was the first I had heard of Terry since he’ fled the Dobbins Nest’, but apparently he had been a big wig in the off shore oil industry before he’d retired to Scotland himself. Those readers who have been around the FC for more than 50 years like me will all remember Terry Kirchin, and for those who don‘t, believe me you missed a treat!! You can keep your David Blaine and your David Copperfield this guy was a Rugby League magician of real note!

A rousing rendition of Old Faithful in honour of a great, great No11 Adam Maher, as he fights against motor-neurone disease.

So that’s another Diary almost polished off, but I have to say that for me, the atmosphere last Friday was for a lot of the time, pretty flat. But that’s understandable really. In those times in the last few seasons when we were on the edge of great things, every game was a pressure cooker of an experience, packed with hope, anticipation and excitement but at present there is a feeling of acceptance and resignation amongst the fans that sees an atmosphere of inertia descend on the proceedings.

You only have to look at the 11 minute’s applause for our hero Andrew Maher, to see what passion there lies within those fans, but it’s certainly subdued in games, as everyone desperately looks for some spark of excitement in what I think we all believe is going to be a long hard season. I know that we are only two games in and it will have its highs and lows I’m sure, but even a couple of the staff at the Club have agreed with me on the ‘long hard season’ bit already! None the less we’ll all hold the line, look for some more encouraging signs and hope for better things, for that’s all we can do really!

That’s how I see it personally and we all have to rally around the team, but with only two games gone, doing this Diary week in week out I can’t really win, but that doesn’t bother me much as it is a lesson I learned a lot of years ago anyway.

Last season as defeat followed defeat I was slated for being too negative, then last week I was in the dog house with a few for being too positive, whilst this week I’m in danger of being in trouble for being too negative again; and so it goes on. However, I only really reflect the up’s and down’s of an average fan and say it as I see it. I thought that at Caravan Park at least we looked up for it and stuck to a plan, but this week, despite our enthusiasm and passion, we were simply rolled by a stronger and more mobile pack.

So now, two games in, for me our backs are as good as any in the League, we are as creative as I have seen us for a while but our forwards have gone backwards and without the platform they provide we’re always gonna struggle. It is, despite the rule changes, still going to be in the engine room where games will always be won and lost.

As a fan, you sort of feel that whilst your pack is muscling up, but you attack isn’t firing, things will improve, but it’s not so certain when it’s the other way around, is it? The sad thing is, at this early stage it seems that although other teams have stepped up a notch we just haven’t built or even consolidated on 2016 and 2017 and there lies, for me, the biggest worry of all.

None the less its two played and two lost and now we face a bit of time off to regroup next week. It’s still early in the season but as I say, I can’t help but feel that we are already behind the eight ball a bit and it certainly doesn’t get any easier as we go off to Wigan and Huddersfield. What’s more watching the Pies on Friday night, that’s becoming even more of a worrying proposition in itself! Let’s hope they get a bit bashed up next week eh?

Thanks to everyone who got in touch over the last week and particularly to Mark, Neil, Alec, Mike and Steve who all came over for a chat at half time. It’s tough going at the moment, but we have to just suck it up, try to believe in the boys and hope for better times.

Thanks for reading another Diary and for sticking with us for another week, keep smiling and try to Keep Believing!!

See you next week!!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf

Finally, what we need perhaps is a bit of this sort of enterprising play! 

Amateur Rugby League Trick Try from blackandwhites.co.uk on Vimeo.