The Dentist’s Diary – 618th

GOLDEN SNEYDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!

A great game, a great contest, a golden win and some much needed relief for us all. It’s been a while coming, but boy was it worth waiting for!!!!!! OK it’s only a win but I loved it!!

All those 13 defeats on the trot and still we sell out our away allocation of tickets in advance and did those fans sing the FC home! What a golden Sunday it was, when instead of us going down in history for our longest ever run of defeats, we made history by winning the first ever game with a Golden Point.

You really couldn’t make it up could you? And who better to carry that accolade into the annals of our great game than Marc Sneyd! Behind in the first half, in front by 10 points twice, level at the end and then that moment of magic to add to all his others!

To go to the Champions without a win under our belts and to do that must give us a massive fillip and boost both our confident and our self-assurance. We stayed together, we had grit, determination and incredible team spirit, then at last, after we had been so brave, fortune favoured us a bit and WE WON!!!!!

It had a feeling of inevitability and ‘here we go again’ when Hardaker stepped up to attempt the winning conversion. BUT, it didn’t happen did it and we won as, ‘The Ice Man Commeth’ and did the business. We’d been down and almost out, but we grabbed the opportunity to complete what will always be remembered as a historic victory. So here goes with another of those up all night Diary’s!!!!!!

Of course it’s great for us lot and will keep us all going for a day or two at least, but you know in such a glorious moment my heart again goes out to those Widnes fans who have for years trekked the country and turned up in all weathers to support the team they love. At the time of writing as we celebrate that win, they have raised over £40,000 to save their club which is absolutely massive.

Those fans have, through no fault of their own, been taken to the point where their club could be subject to liquidation as a team once hailed as the Cup Kings, teeters on the brink of oblivion. With 12 points deducted, a cancelled fixture and, on Friday afternoon, less than £1000 in the bank, it could hardly be any worse and so, at this time of adulation amongst us lot, my heart goes out to every one of them for I just imagine what it would be like if it were us. But more of that one later!

Now I’d only seen him play twice before yesterday, but I have to say that I did honestly think that Ratu Naulago had something to offer us at Hull FC. Quite how much would actually come to the fore at Wigan, was however quite unthinkable! This week we all hoped that the rangy speedster might be signed after that great hat trick for the Reserves last Saturday, but he was given a one-month extension, before at last on Thursday it was announced that he had signed. I’m told by those inside the Club that with the exception of Jamie Shaul he is probably the fastest back on our books and a good player to Coach, so with all that to consider, it was really a no brainer for me.  

Quite frankly, with Dawson-Jones out Ratu’s raw pace and size dictates that he certainly offers something to the team going forward. In fact, after what we saw at Wigan, we could have unearthed a real nugget in a sport where the gerrymandering of the RFL at youth level, has left the sport so bereft of exciting new talent coming through.

We were told by the club that his signing and that of Gareth Ellis is solely down to the savings made by sending Louis Bienek out on loan to Batley. However, after one national news-paper indicated last weekend that London Broncos were ‘watching the situation with interest’, I’m glad Ratu’s our man. Now he’s a hero and although he’ll have set backs, we just have to hope that he goes on from what was a pretty memorable start.

As the teams were announced at the DW, he was on the wing to make his debut, whilst Ellis was there on the bench as well, could our returning talisman succeed in inspiring us to a victory, where on 13 successive occasions no-one else had been able to?

It had been a strange old week for Gareth! We were told he had retired, then told after last week that he was just making up the reserves numbers and then he is in this weekend’s squad. I know we are desperately short of front rowers, but even more short of people to inspire us on the field and before the game in the dressing rooms. Well-done of course to Gareth for putting his hand up, he was possibly the difference and what a part he played yesterday.

As the teams were announced it looked a pretty good line up, well good for a team that was missing 9 players, although with just 8 subs now, perhaps our lighter middles could come to the fore against a team that must have been drained by that World Cup challenge defeat? Before we started I thought that perhaps that was our best chance, but how the Champions would react to that defeat split opinions pretty evenly across the game.  

We started well trying to shift the ball quickly, until Griffin, in his haste, shot out a shocking forward pass. But we came back with a great set featuring two probing scoots from Houghton and Shaul and some good defence saw Faraimo defuse a kick before predictably he handed the ball back to Wigan. That dropped ball led to a Pies score on the left as we scrambled to get our line back, which is, I thought, exactly what happens when you give the ball up to a ‘switched on’ team. They poured forward after that, but Hardaker put the ball down and as we were visibly struggling with the pace of the game, the speed of Wigan’s passing was a worry.

We pressed their lines and lost our way completely in one set but in the next Matongo unloaded in the tackle, Connor cause the opposition to hesitate and Sneyd put Tumavive over the line to release the pressure and boy did we need it releasing! The end of set tactic seemed to be hoisting the ball as high as we could and chasing like hell to hammer Hardaker before he could get moving; it was a tactic that was looking pretty effective too. Then amazingly Westerman who makes so much different in the middle of the field, waltzed in with an amazing dummy as he spun his body to fool everyone, including his own players and we were leading.

We were on a role but as usual coughed up the ball and back came Wigan, but again we survived as Williams chipped it over and it bobbled dead. Our confidence was visibly growing as we came back and almost got over again but just came up short when Faraimo was out jumped for a second time in the corner on the last tackle. We again just couldn’t finish a wobbling opponent off though!

On came Ellis and we looked even more potent with the ball as his presence visibly lifted everyone. As Connor was running them ragged across the middle of the field, Gareth was immediately pointing to the players, sorting the line and bringing his colleagues on. Another penalty after Hamlyn had fouled Jordan Thompson put us up the field again and now we were running hot and surprising everyone. Westerman made ground, Connor lobbed the ball to Ratu and he romped in and as Sneyd converted and it was 16-6 to Hull. But in the next set as we again looked slick with the ball, Houghton chose the wrong kick option on the sixth and a poor effort came to nought. Sneyd tried a chip and was blatantly obstructed, something that went unpunished and his efforts came to nothing as well. Then we gave the ball away again in our half and you can’t do that at Wigan, as Byrne romped in with us lot caught ball watching.

We played well in the first half and deserved, I think, to be further ahead and but for a couple of real brain farts when we kicked early in sets and lost ball in critical positions, we would have been.

We started the second period with a good set and after some amazing juggling between his legs by Jake Connor, Westerman put Ratu in and it was first blood in the second half to us. Sneyd converted from the touch line and the difference was back to 10. We were playing the ball quickly and even rolling over the Wigan six, before some good defence caused them to kick dead on the sixth. Next up, Sneyd was stopped just shy of the goal line again, before Westerman stupidly gave a penalty away to ease the Wigan woes. We just have to stop that in their 20-meter area, because it really takes the pressure off the opposition and puts it back on us. However, as a team, we certainly looked better than we have all year thus far.

As we entered the final quarter however, Wigan looked to have found their second wind as they kept the ball alive, but Matauti helped us out as for the third time he dropped the ball. But the hosts were certainly on the come-back, whilst, as we tired, we were a bit too ambitious at the back end of our sets. If we lost our shape attacking wise, defensively we held firm again, even when Ratu went down in agony with cramp. We were starting to wobble and get ruffled and Connor gave away his usual penalty for talking back to the referee. I hope he wasn’t too graphic this time!! Subsequently back came Wigan to capitalise on it and fatigue cost us, as Lane shot out of the line and Ben Flower crashed in.

We looked like we were about to throw it away. Ratu eventually went off and Thompson went to centre as Griffin took over on the wing whilst the FC Faithful held their breath and feared the worst. Then Minichiello gave away a penalty and frustratingly we piled more pressure on ourselves as they started another set on our ten-yard line. After some valiant defensive play Shaul copped one and had to leave the field with a head knock, which was another massive blow. Then it was real backs to the wall stuff as we battled and battled as our energy ebbed away, Wigan camped in our 20, but again somehow we survived. However, with just two minutes to go they got what appeared to be the killer try as we were out on our feet and in disarray. It was just so tragic ….again. But suddenly, after all those losses and all those disappointments at last the gods shone on us as the conversion drifted just wide. So golden point for the first time in Super league history was on!!! But we looked out on our feet!!

We had been lucky with that touch of fate, a bit wasteful and a bit naïve when we tired, but we’d also been bloody good at times, we could have won it, we could have lost it, but we deserved something as in the end it all came down to the golden point. We won the toss and received first, we got another break when Westerman brilliantly worked us a penalty, the resultant kick was planted in their half, one drive from Paea, the position was set, Marc put himself in the pocket called the play and then ………………Sneyyyyydddddd!!!!!!

On the terracing, in front rooms and across the world, FC fans jumped in the air!! It was an amazing end to a heart pumping spectacle, but quite frankly, once the dust had settled a bit and the tears had been dried, that missed conversion was the turning point for usually as far as good fortune goes we don’t have any!! But you make your luck and how we deserved it yesterday!! I’m so pleased for the Club, the Coach the players and every Hull FC fan, as we had all wondered just when the nightmare would end. Well, guys it has; and in spectacular fashion.

Player wise it’s almost wrong to single anyone out as it was our group tenacity and will to win that got us playing so fast from the play the ball and tackling so tirelessly in defence. Lee singled out Ratu, Sneydy and Ellis for praise, but I would also add Westerman simply because when you watch it back you can see that for much of the time when he has the ball, the opposition have no idea what he will do next! Connor is the same and was massive again because of his unpredictability and Houghton had his best game so far this year. Paea was more direct, Masi improves week on week and Griffin showed plenty of strength and battling. Whilst in the second row the ‘old guys’ fronted up brilliantly, as both tackled their hearts out.

But, perhaps in the end the input of Ellis in the dressing room before hand, on the touchline and for 30 odd minutes on the field was the difference between the two teams. What an absolute enigma that inspirational character is!! However, I guess, the big questions now are, has he got out of bed yet, can he get out of bed yet, how long can he go on and indeed how the hell will we ever be able to replicate what he brings to things?

Plus, in my small corner of the FC world, after 240 days of fretting and worrying, how good it is to be able to write a positive Diary again!

Now to more mundane and pretty concerning things because you know I have worried about the parlous state of the game and, over the past few seasons, been in fear of how precariously poised several Clubs have been finance wise. In recent years Bradford, Salford, Wakefield, Castleford, Huddersfield and Leigh have all been in difficult positions and I think sometimes as supporters, we underestimate just how bad the situation is in the game.

For me you see, the fact is that the game is skint!!! The amount of club’s who we thought were reasonably wealthy and yet who still reneged on forming a Reserve League, should have been a clue, because it confirms I think, that too many are at present just getting by! The fact is that I’m now starting to believe (and here comes the contentious bit) that until we can get this situation sorted, we should maybe consider suspending relegation. A bit strong? Well I’ll tell you why I say that!

Look, I know that’s a far reaching and pretty controversial thing to say, but consider for a moment the state that Bradford were in and where Leigh were when they dropped out of the top tier two seasons ago; a Club that almost went out of business twice in the last 12 months. Bradford were a very well supported team, whilst Leigh had a great new Stadium that cried out for Super League rugby. Bradford imploded and then despite a hands out of around £500,000 from the other Super League Clubs, the Leythers collapsed like a pack of cards on going down. Rovers survived relegation, predominantly on the strength of Hudge’s hand-outs and the loyalty of a big fan base and credit to them for that, but even they said at the time that they could be in really dire straits if they had to sustain a second season down there.

Now we hear that the latest relegated club Widnes, a founder member of the game back in 1895, has seen the wheel come off big style; after just three games. The Championship club were due to be under new ownership as of last Wednesday, however then dramatically, the deal collapsed.

The current Widnes’ board have already written off £370,000 worth of loans owed to them in an attempt to bolster the club’s ‘buy-ability’ and they got that £350,000 of their £500,000 from the Super League Clubs as well. Yet they still suffered this major setback. By mid-week their game against Sheffield was postponed and the Club had a major cash flow problem having just £1000 left in the bank as of Friday afternoon.  

As I said earlier, when your sat where we are and where the fans of say Wigan, Leeds, Saints and Warrington are, its often easy to put your head in the sand and ignore such a terrible situation, but its apparent if you really care about the game, that we just can’t go on like this. With talk of liquidation this week and a failed bid to buy them out by the Toronto boss, (who wants to change the name and relocate the club lock, stock and barrel to Liverpool), what a bloody mess it is, particularly for the most important and ‘first forgotten’ people; the Widnes fans! They have rallied round already and are raising amazing amounts of money, but will their club ever be the same again; I doubt it!

Fact is though, we currently have a scenario that dictates that more than 50% of clubs in the top division, were they to get relegated, would probably be in the same position as Widnes and Leigh. We could even be in it, should relegation come knocking, not because of our owner, but more because we are tenants in our stadium and have what can best be described as ‘worrying’ landlords. So many would likely collapse within a year, taking with them years of work to build their hard earned community infrastructure.  

Let’s look at this past closed season and be brutally honest here, we lose Widnes with a core of around 5000 fans (they had sold 7000+ for this weekends aborted fixture with Sheffield) who watch their heroes in a good council owned stadium. That Club, who are certainly not one of the richest, have built an infrastructure that supports an academy and a community set up that is second to none. They go down and in comes a team with a stadium that holds just over 3,200 and a supporter base of around 2000 at best. Their infrastructure and community development side is far inferior and will take years to develop to the stage that Widnes’s was at. That’s harsh on the London Club and their fans, for, just as they should, they came up purely on playing ability last season.

I base what I say on a love of RL and a wanting for it to not so much succeed, but just survive in its present state!! I have a couple of mates who follow the Broncos avidly and I apologise to them now for saying this, but I’m trying to look at the future of the game as a whole.

You know it’s easy to see what Adam meant when he said the game would have been better had Toronto come up instead of London. It was harsh even by his occasionally controversial outspoken standards, of course it was! However, he based that assumption on the fact that although the Canadian outfit and their location wasn’t ideal, the new markets they would have opened to the game and the new ‘Sky free’ money they brought into it, would have been invaluable. Relegation decimates a team and its staff. In fcat, the only reason Leigh and Widnes were still here at the start of the season after they were relegated, was because the Super League Clubs all had a whip-round to manufacture a parachute payment to help them out. But unlike football the game itself makes no provision to help a Clubs transition after relegated.

However, it’s a double whammy at present! Because so under-resourced are those second string teams when they come up (without any sort of depth of support mechanism in the back office) they are bound to struggle with the huge financial gulf between Super League and the Championship, because it is impossible to bridge it in a 5 month closed season. Then the relegated team, in losing its Sky money, automatically has to scale down to lose much of what they have worked so hard for years to build. The football league recognised this years ago with a proper structured (and phased over three years) parachute payment system, that is centrally funded from the TV money.

Hands up here, I know I have always argued that the mayhem caused by the middle eights had to go, but I’ve also always maintained stoically that the sport needs a means for the second tier clubs to get promoted if they finish top. I stand by that, yet at present the current game just can’t sustain that exchange of clubs and we are in danger of continuing to lose long established ones, like Widnes, every time a relegation takes place.

They may continue, but must do so without the Sky money and thus the community infrastructure they have built over the years, because they simply can’t afford to fund it. As for the Vikings well, that the club has ended up in their situation has provoked a lot of anger among the fans, who have stuck with Widnes despite three relegations since 1995 and backed them when buying season tickets for this campaign. Many of them are pointing the finger in the direction of their former (and our ex) Chief Executive, he’s getting some real stick and even threats to his family which is just unacceptable. But, I’m certainly not going to attempt to apportion blame except to say that the game itself is letting down the clubs. You always just have to hope that those who are custodians of YOUR team look after it properly don’t you? Well done to those Widnes fans so brilliantly raising cash, good luck guys! As for the game itself well can it afford to continue with relegation and promotion without creating the necessary funding safety nets and is a Super League of 14 teams with a franchise situation perhaps after all, the long term answer? Now some good news for Junior Rugby in the area which as is often the case with such things, seems to have received little publicity in the media at all! Below is a picture of the touring West Hull Under 13’s team who are at present touring Australia and who recorded their second win this week, 16-22 against Atwell Rugby College.  Here are the lads from both teams after the game.   

Well done lads

It’s been a great trip and so far they have trained with St George’s under 20s, volunteered to meet and feed the homeless of Perth, faced a Maori side who commenced with a Haka, trained with West Coast Pirates 1st Team and played a curtain raiser for Cronulla U20s.

The parents had made sacrifices and worked hard for a year to make it happen, but the lads are repaying their belief with some great performances. So, at a time when I and many others lament the lack of reserve leagues, the development of combined academies and the encouragement of young players for the Super League teams of the future, I’m pleased to feature this initiative here. It’s great to see grass roots amateur rugby leading the way. Well done to everyone at West Hull, but it has been a poor show from the media with one parent who reads the Diary commenting, “As a team we have spent over 12 months trying to get everyone repeatedly from Look North to Rugby AM, Hull DM to the RFL and Sky interested in our boy’s tour down under all to no avail whatsoever and they wonder why the game is on its arse!!!!” So come on you lot in the media, let’s celebrate such initiatives instead of ignoring them!

Young Richard Hall win’s player of the tour!

Now some sad stuff as this week the death was announced of FC stalwart and hero of the 60’s John Maloney. Of course many of you will remember him and none more so than Bill Dalton the Club historian, who kindly sent me this brilliant obituary that I think says it all really.

……………..

JOHN MALONEY

John was one of that rare breed of players who had two spells at Hull.

He made his debut on 2nd October 1965 and left for a short spell at York almost exactly 6 years later. He had just a year at York before returning to The Boulevard.

In his Hull Career, he made 226 Appearances, including a solitary Substitute entry. In those days, it was regularly the practice that goal-kickers would attempt penalties at Goal when awarded anywhere in the opponents half. John constantly “took what was on offer” and was generally reckoned to be worth 8-10 Points start to Hull. For much of the time in those days, they needed it!!!

He scored 38 Tries and for a good proportion of his appearances during his first spell at the Club, he was Centre to Clive Sullivan. He was probably the finest Goal-kicker in the memory of most supporters as he kicked a massive 674 Goals, contributing to a Total of 1,462 Points, second only to Joe Oliver on both Counts.

He left for a spell at York in October 1972 and played some 34 games for the Minster-men, scoring 4 Tries and kicking 111 Goals. He then returned to the Boulevard for a further year until he then went to Home-Town Dewsbury, then the Rugby League Champions. He managed some 18 appearances, registering 4 Tries and 13 Goals. It should be noted that Nigel Stephenson was the regular Goal-kicker at that time. John moved on to Rochdale Hornets in January 1975, and operating chiefly at Full-Back made 68 appearances, clocking up 9 Tries and 111 Goals. He managed to exasperate Hull supporters on 14th March 1976 when he kicked 3 Penalty Goals to defeat Hull 6-5 and helped deprive the Airlie Birds of Promotion to the First Division. No sentiment in Rugby League!!! He finally retired from playing on 9th October 1977”.

………………………

Thanks for that Bill; Wow that’s over 900 goals in a career!! I remember John as a resilient player and at one point of that career he made 92 consecutive appearances for the FC. He was a quietly spoken guy whose wife’s father owned an engineering firm in the West Riding, of which John was a Managing Director. Maloney would drive over to training twice a week in his company limousine at a time when Club joker Alf Macklin, who played outside him on the wing a time or two in the late 60’s, used to arrive on his bike. I remember that Alf used to really rag him about that!!

John playing against hunslet at parksid

Maloney was in the team that won us the Yorkshire Cup for the first time in 46 years at Headingley against Featherstone in September 1969 and kicked two goals in a victory that I feature below. But boy, as Bill says, he could kick goals from all angles and from a great distance as well. Condolences to family friends and team mates!

R.I.P. John Maloney

Whilst I’m on sad things I also heard this week of the death of a good pal of mine and Hull FC fanatic Brain Wilson. Known to many as ‘Car Park Brian’. Until he became ill he was a regular home and away FC fan for years and years and in that time, I have shared many a pint or two with him before and after away games. Brian was character who worked for years as the Car Park Attendant at the Guildhall in Hull, where I worked. He always had to talk about his beloved Hull FC before anything else and after a weekend game, if you had to get into the Guildhall in a hurry on a Monday morning, it was almost a case of avoiding Brian if you could! He loved the Club and my favourite recollection of him featured a time when they had just got a drop bar barrier on the Guildhall car park which he controlled from his little hut.

One Monday after a particular controversial defeat, Brian left the barrier down when I pulled up and shot out of his hut to talk to me about the injustices of the day before. Looking in my mirror, as he talked through the window, I could clearly see KH 1 the Lord Mayors car behind me complete with Chauffer, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel, The Beadle and the Lord Mayor all in full ceremonial robes. However, that didn’t bother Brian when a chance to talk about rugby was on offer, they’d have to wait!!!!  What a lovely bloke he was, I have so many fond memories. My condolences to Family and friends and you know he’d have loved that yesterday and been in the pub with us all afterwards ….but then again perhaps he was!!

R.I.P. Brian Wilson.

So to the Codgers spot and the only Trophy we won whilst John Maloney was on our books. Back in September 1969 I travelled to the game by rail. The train was packed and once we got off in Leeds we all went for a few beers in the Scarborough Hotel which was just around the corner from the station. There to the accompaniment of a few pints the juke box blasted out the Beatles ‘Come Together’ and ‘Sunny Afternoon’ by the Kinks.  At about 1-00pm, a little the worse for wear I got some fish and chips and then boarded the bus for Headingley where we alighted right outside the Cricket Ground turnstiles in Kirkstall Lane. Once inside we took up our position in the South Stand amongst another 6000 high spirited Hull fans. Rugby league was going through a torrid time back then and that was reflected in a gate of 11,089 which was the smallest to ever watch Hull FC in a Cup Final.

The day before the match coach Johnny Whiteley had announced that club captain Arthur Keegan would miss out through injury. There were few times in his thirteen year reign as club full back that Arthur missed a game and so it was to be ironic that ‘Mr Reliable’ was missing when we won the only piece of silverware we got during his entire career at the club. His place was to be taken by youngster Malcolm Owbridge who was playing in only his seventh first team match. The other big pre match worry was the fitness of Centre Dick Gemmell who had taken no part in the cup run, having been out for the past eight games. He had suffered a bad ankle injury, but with Keegan out it was decided that Hull would risk him with his ankle strapped up.

He took over the captaincy for the day and said afterwards that the large wad of white strapping was actually on his good ankle to fool ‘would be’ tacklers in the Featherstone ranks.  He had two pain killing injections in the bad ankle before the game which by the end of the match appeared to be wearing off a bit. Just how brave Dick was that day can I think be gauged by the fact that after the game, so badly had he aggravated his injury, he couldn’t walk to the bus and was subsequently then out of the game for 12 weeks. Still cometh the hour cometh the man and rather like Gareth yesterday, Dick led us brilliantly that day.

The game was played under the four tackles and a scrum rule and the number of scrums this generated  (39 in all) saw us given a big advantage throughout the game by hooker Alan McGlone who won 29 of them! Sadly, at times poor handling and ‘option taking’ meant that we wasted that advantage somewhat.

We kicked off playing towards the current score board end, although back then it was on the opposite terracing which these days accommodates the Carnegie Stand. In our first set ‘Mr Magic’ Terry Kirchin managed to release a ball from a five man tackle to the supporting Maloney. His play eventually saw a 50-yard flowing move thwarted on the line by the ‘Colliers’ full back Cyril Kellett. Next it was the turn of Alf Macklin who took a great inside ball from Dick Gemmell to again be held just short. Featherstone then threatened through Newlove and Nash but Hull’s defence with particularly Harrison and Forster repeatedly stamping on any power thrusts by the Featherstone stars Thompson and Mick Morgan, stood firm. One player that was literally sparkling though was our loose forward Joe Brown, who was by far the most creative player on the field, having the Featherstone defence mesmerised at times. The rest of the half was a stop start affair with Hull taking the lead through a towering Maloney penalty and Kellett kicking two more for the opposition leaving us trailing 4-2 at half time.

The second half started with a nice little punch up when Smailes went for Gemmell and three or four FC players piled in. From the resultant tap penalty Hartley the ‘Colliers’ scrum half ‘scored’ only to be brought back for a forward pass. Then we took the lead. A flowing move started again with some great slight of hand by Kirchin which saw Brown carry the ball down field before he released it to Dick Gemmell. Now I don’t know if you ever saw Dick play, but if you did you would remember the way that he took the ball into the tackle and being such a tall guy he was able to somehow pass over the top of the opposition player to release the ball, with a bullet like wide pass. That is just what happened that day and Sullivan gleefully took the ball and cantered in for a try.

At 7-4 up we had a golden opportunity to put the game to bed but we then witnessed the one piece of action that anyone who was there back in 1969 will remember to this day. Alan McGlone broke free from a tackle and fed Gemmell who was by this time limping badly. Three would be tacklers saw his distress and decided to pounce but once again out came that wonderful, powerful pass over the opponent, and Sully was away and heading for his second touchdown. We all cheered with great relief as he crossed the whitewash but stood open mouthed at what happened next. He then turned to go to a position closer to the posts but he legs shot from under him on the muddy surface and he fell over the dead ball line. We just could not believe what we had seen, as the crowd were momentarily reduced to a stunned silence.

Still we only had to wait a few more minutes for the winning score. Once again, vindicating Whiteley’s decision to risk his dodgy ankle, it was Gemmell who grabbed a pass from Maloney to make the initial break before he passed onto Joe Brown. He ran straight at the heart of the Featherstone forwards dummied once and then twice before slipping a wonderful inside pass to Prop Jim Macklin who ran in to score unchallenged. This time Maloney kicked the goal and despite a Steve Nash try in the dying minutes causing a few hearts flutter, the whistle went and we were home and dry, we had at last won the Yorkshire Cup.

We all ran onto the field to congratulate the lads before we congregated around the central section of the best stand to watch the trophy presentation. Joe Brown got the ‘Man of the Match’ award that day but the whole team, resplendent in their white shirts with the black V, deserved the accolade. The fans went mad singing and chanting as it took Dick Gemmell all his time to crawl up the steps to lift the trophy. But for me personally it was a defining moment because we had won a Cup, the first since I became hooked on Hull FC and it was a brilliant feeling.

Rare pic! He might not have played in the final but the great Arthur Keegan certainly relished the chance to get his hands on the cup in the Supporters Club that night (picture courtesy of the Kirks FC Hall of Fame)

So that’s it for another week as we move onto another hard looking hit up at Huddersfield, who are at present at the bottom of the table with Wigan (ha ha).  

That was a win and a half wasn’t it? What a performance and what a great team effort with 9 players missing. In the bigger scheme of things it was only a win and only two points, but in the even bigger scenario it was the winning from such a close game when we have lost so many in that position, that was so important. The inclusion of Ellis which some questioned turned out to be a master stroke by Lee but everyone played their part in a victory that is so important for the Club, the players, the fans and my sanity. I absolutely loved it, having almost forgotten what it is like to win!!  And so did this lot!!!!!

Of course one swallow doesn’t make a summer but it’s a start, it was the Champions at their own home and to all the doom merchants who were last night bleating on about, it’s only one win and we have to back it up, just shut up and delight in it!!

Yesterday we witnessed a match that had fans at the game, at home and across the world punching the air and bursting into tears of joy again at the end; for heaven’s sake; just enjoy it!!

WE still have a lot to do and we need to keep improving for we are far from ‘great’ at present. However, its Huddersfield up next and folks are already saying we have to win that, but for now just relishthe moment,s, we’ve broken our duck and now the only way is up!! It was our first win since 29th June last year and after 240 days of waiting as Mrs R said in her own inimitable manner, “I hope it isn’t that long before we win again”. “Of course”, I assured her, with fingers crossed behind my back, “it won’t be!!!”

Thanks to everyone who has been in touch this week and to those who were in contract constantly yesterday afternoon. We all needed that one, some laughed, some cried and some just stood there in disbelief, but now at least we are off the mark and we all feel a lot better.

Halleluiah we have Won!!!!!! Enjoy the week, I know I will.

Comeonyouhullllllaaaarrrrrr!!!!!!!!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf