The Dentist’s Diary – 620th

That was some victory wasn’t it!! Can you believe it?

I’m still struggling to grasp it all!! I simply can’t remember so many tries being scored by the FC without the opposition putting a hand on the ball. And good tries at that!!! All worth the admission money alone as was the sight, with 15 minutes to go, of the Leeds fans all …..

“Marching out Together”

In that first half I wondered why I ever bothered buying a seat for all that money, because I was stood up for most of it!!!

If all the accolades are piled on that domineering and totally authoritative 30 minutes in the first half, then the second half defensive showing was equally impressive. I’ll grant you, we missed a lot of tackles, but our willingness to work for each other shone through and from being 10-0 up after only a few minutes the Rhino’s weren’t allowed to score a single point for the rest of the game, whilst we scored 34! 

Since last June, at so many games at the KCom, we have sat there in silence, downhearted at what we were witnessing. We were certainly all silenced again on Friday, but it was stunned disbelief this time around, for we all sat there pretty incredulous as to what we were seeing. I guess looking back, it was just too much to take in!

I can’t remember seeing a better 20 minutes of rugby from an FC side for years. It was simply imperious stuff and for once, writing this in the early hours of Saturday morning, I find it hard to do justice to just how good we were in that spell. Even watching it back its hard to appreciate the spring, verve and ruthlessness there was across the team in that period.

Leeds are a shadow of their former selves, we all know that, but they still held a hoodoo over us that has, even for the best FC teams, been difficult to overcome. Not this time though!

The purists will say that it was not as good a performance as I am about to make out, but who cares, after all those defeats at home on the trot, whichever way you look at it, for any FC fan that was a bloody wonderful victory!

Again this week the glow of that win at Huddersfield burned on for a while before the thought of (We all Hate) Leeds arriving at the KCom, started to bite. I mused on the fact that they always seem to have had that ‘Indian sign’ over us at our place and although they have struggled a bit and we’ve improved no end, there was no reason to believe that situation would change.

However crap they were playing, they’ve always raised their game against us lot, and although history from back in the 70’s and 80’s dictates that we always used to beat them, that’s a tradition that’s long since melted into the mists of time. So our game this weekend was a task that was daunting to say the least, we all needed a boost and we got one when the teams were announced on Wednesday lunch-time and Scott Taylor was included in the line-up.

The fact that the Club utilised a rarely used ruling that stated, when you’ve no fixture on a weekend a Reserve team game counts against any suspension, showed a deal of resourcefulness on our part as well and boy did it pay dividends.  

Still, talk about Karma! I instantly thought, ‘up yours’ to all those clubs, particularly Leeds, who let us down and left us high and dry in the Reserve League, for it was certainly an unexpected bonus for us. What better game to relaunch an aggrieved Scott Taylor, who has been resting up for two weeks and ‘kicking the cat’ to get going! Shauley was back too, so the scene was set for our first home game for three weeks and on a wet Friday night, it captured imaginations and generated a really good gate as well.     

As we walked to the Stadium the rain was at last easing, but it was frustrating to see the continuing chaos in Walton Street as fans in cars tried to access the car park on the Fairground. In the end most got in on time to swell the gate at kick off to well over 12,000, all of whom sat on the edges of their seats and wondered whether we could over-come that long standing Leeds curse and continue our run of victories.

It all started so badly. Leeds throughout the game didn’t seem to have difficulty putting yards on us and with both teams able to gain 70 odd yards in a set, avoiding penalties in those early stages was paramount. But of course, we had soon conceded two, both of which, following such territorial gains, led to Leeds tries on a left flank that looked decidedly wobbly. At 10-0 down, (and to the accompaniment of ‘You’re not singing anymore’ from the away fans), it was looking a lot like ‘same old’ as we couldn’t get our hands on the ball. However, with our forwards looking so much better down the middle, to our credit we wrestled a foot hold. I have said in here so often when we have been beaten, that the modern game is all about momentum and getting on a role, but somehow this time we managed to stop Leeds in their tracks.  

Matongo, (rewarded for some great performances with a starting spot over Taylor) and Paea, went crashing down the middle and Manu and Mini, probably collectively the oldest second row partnership in the British game, absolutely smashed them through the wider channels. Houghton buzzed from acting half and both centres weighed in with charges akin to second rowers as well. Bring on Tag and Ellis on the rotate and you’ve suddenly got a formidable pack out there. Standing back from it all, I think that the reality was that Leeds just couldn’t cope with this pressure and particularly with the speed of the play the ball it allowed us to produce, it’s a benefit we are capitalising on in the new faster game and soon the tries were flowing.

Firstly, a brilliant cut out pass by Albo sent Ratu steaming in before a great switch behind the play the ball from Sneyd saw him wrong foot the Loiners defence and there was Masi to steam onto a great short pass to crash over. Next a move started on our own 40 saw Westerman, who was ruling the roost in the middle of the field, time his pass to Sneyd to perfection, Marc fed Mini who bust through a hole just as if it was ‘2016 revisited’ and after he had ‘galloped’ 40 yards, he found a return pass inside to Sneyd and we were in again.

All of a sudden it wasn’t us lot that weren’t ‘singing anymore!!’

Straight away we were back at them as after a great ball from Westy it was Manu who ploughed through the middle before releasing a great one handed pass to Shaul who ran a brilliant diagonal line to touch down again. As we all sat in ecstatic disbelief, more great service from Houghton saw Albo dummy and go as only he can to crash over next to the post through three players who were trying to stop him. As Mrs R said, “You can see why he gets a lot of concussion can’t you?” But as 0-10 became 30-10, I honestly can’t remember Leeds touching the ball. What’s more in that period, we had given no penalties away and not lost the ball once. It was the most purple of purple patches and quite unbelievable to watch.

Of course in the modern game that’s still a deficit that can be breached and we then watched a critical six minutes before half time when Leeds peppered our line, we missed tackles but covered up brilliantly for each other and as the hooter went and all their effort came to nought, we’d done more than any of us could have ever believed just 30 odd minutes earlier, when we trailed 10-0.

The second half was always going to be an anti-climax, because that’s what happens in such circumstances, but as the rain came down we closed the game out scored one more try and took the spoils in a match that will, for that first half alone, be remembered for ages. The withdrawal of Westerman for the second half cut down the options we had in the middle of the field, but if the first half was so impressive for our attack, the second half was the same, but for our defence. We actually missed over 30 tackles in the game, but it was the will to dig deep and help each other out that really shone through for me.

A good try engineered by Fairamo, going to the blind side and kicking through for Hanley to score, saw the Loiner fans, accompanied by one dick throwing his beer all over the FC crowd, heading to the exits, like water down a drain. We had decided they ‘would not pass’ and we held firm to close out a famous victory.

After all that heartache, ragging and pain, what a great night it was to be a Black and White!!

Performance wise. Manu, Sneyd and Kelly were hard to separate for man of the match as all of them had fine games. Westerman only played 40 minutes but made so much difference in the line where his pass selection is so good, whilst Minichiello showed some great speed for Sneyd’s try and had his best game of the season. Watching the game step up a level as Taylor and then Ellis came on was again back to what happened in 2016 when it was Frank the Tank and Ellis on the rotate and you have to say that our forwards bossed the Leeds six all night. Taylor and Ellis crunched the opposition relentlessly, Matongo was massive, Paea, despite soldiering on with a rib injury, had another big game, Houghton was electric in the second half as they tired and tackled like a trooper again all night and Hadley and Thompson also did their bit in a fine forward performance.

In the centres Carlos and Griffin were unstoppable at times and both defended wide out well too, whilst Ratu continues to impress and on the other wing despite not scoring Faraimo had a great game both in defence and attack, he was at fault for Briscoe’s early try but thereon he was into everything and played like an extra forward when a roll on was needed.

So a superb performance all round really and as I say a good night to be an FC fan. The spectators showed their unquestionable loyalty by turning up in numbers and were rewarded as at last we won at home and did it in real style. The atmosphere was a bit flat at times but this time around, that was down to a corporate feeling of disbelief, rather than any poor fare on the field. I can’t remember watching a period like that 30 minutes for ages because we completely dominated the Rhino’s and they just couldn’t get their hands on the ball. Rugby League is all about establishing the momentum and keeping it going and we did that in absolute style on Friday! If you were there I’m absolutely sure that you will remember that first half for a long time!  

Well, the news on Jake Connor’s injury could I guess have been worse, but not much! You know, I wish we could get a break with injuries to our spine, because we are certainly struggling there with Sneyd, Kelly, Shaul and now Connor all having suffered already in just 5 games! The sport seems at present to be beset with injuries, but I guess Jake’s will see him back around the busy Easter period and that would be a big plus I guess. He’s a quick healer, so let’s hope he is back sooner rather than later.

One things for sure we have to try and keep Albo and Marc Sneyd reasonably fit in the mean-time, because if we don’t we are a bit short in the half backs at present, as Harris is unfit as well. Thankfully our spine is evolving though and the form of Jamie Shaul and even Jezz Litten and the emergence of Joe Westerman is a big plus, but we could have done without the injury to Jake for sure.  

Also in the news this week was Jack Logan who has gone on a month’s loan to the Toronto Wolfpack. Jack showed great potential before a pretty horrendous injury, managing just 8 games last season, but he has found chances hard to come by in the first team. Hull FC head coach Lee Radford: “It’s going to be a bit of a different environment from what he’s used to but he should benefit from the chance of a bit more first-team action with Toronto.”

For me it’s just common sense to get first team game time for our fringe players wherever we can. It’s only a month, but if he gets three or four games in an environment which could only be described as very different to County Road, then for me he’ll certainly come back a more rounded player. Again for the Club the player and indeed the Wolfpack it has to be a great move.

Getting game time is, as I say, paramount for our fringe players so although many lamented the lack of quality in a Keighley Reserves side last week, the fact is our lot got a game in ‘real time’ against players they hadn’t played against before and were therefore given a chance to showcase themselves as they bid for places in the first team. In atrocious conditions that could have seen the fixture postponed, Talanoa got his first run out and looked sharp, Miloudi had an outstanding game in the half backs, the centres ran riot and in Langtree we had the best forward on the field; who incidentally was thus rewarded with a hat-trick of tries.

It was a muddy old night in Keighley!

The reserve League is a good idea and as long as opponents continue to be able to raise a team, it’s a good thing for the game and our Club. I’m told by the Club that Keighley, despite fielding a load of amateurs who were desperate to get contracts with the club, put up a hell of a fight (that sadly the score doesn’t reflect), which has to have helped our lads no end. Good stuff!!    

Well, in these days when the national spotlight seems to be firmly focussed on a load of politicians who represent people, then just do as they like, what price loyalty eh? Well, was there ever a better piece to read in the Mail than that interview last week with Scott Taylor who is for me the epitome of everything I want to see in an FC player.

It was a great piece that genuinely inspired me when on the subject of watching matches, he said, “I’m a Hull FC fan at the end of the day, it’s always been there and when I’m watching games I get a bit emotional and carried away. I get drawn into matches and watching the boys the last two weeks alongside the coaching staff was tough, but what a massive buzz too, seeing them win at Wigan and then again last week at Huddersfield”.

Apparently he’s not averse to kicking the back of the seat in front of him and jumping up in the air and shouting at officials, which is just what we do and indeed what we want to hear that our heroes are doing as well. We love all of them don’t we, but for me, to hear that, makes Scott a bit special.

He has to be, for in modern sport players are often hostages to fortune, money chasers and in complete denial about what is in essence the whole point of it all in the first place; satisfying the customers their fans. For me, ‘Scotty Taylor’s’ are few and far between! He hasn’t been at the club he supports all his playing career, in fact he had to play for our mortal enemy, and then Wigan, but when we wanted him and Pearson got in touch, he took seconds to decide. Then he refused to sign an improved deal for the Pies who, in a dudgeon, subsequently sent him out on loan to Salford for a year. Scott put up with all that, just to come home and get back with us lot for what was to turn out to be a historic 2016 season, in which he had such an important role. “Who said Hull can’t win at Wembley” will stay with me forever!

He’s one of our own!

We have been lucky as fans over the years for we have had a lot of those kind of servants, like Johnny Whitely, Ivor Watts, Alan McGlone, Chris Davidson, Brian Hancock, David Doyle Davidson, Tony Duke and Keith Tindall to name but a few from the 60’s and 70’s. They were all that special breed of player that sees Hull FC as much more than a stopping off point or purely a source of income. We all think that there is an element that is very special about Hull FC, we would do, but there must be something in it, because the trait of such ‘homers’ has continued even into these sanitised and commercially driven Super League days.

Of the players I have really got to know personally over recent years, there is little doubt that Richard Horne, Danny Houghton and of course Kirk Yeaman would all have found it almost impossible to play for anyone else, for when you got to know them, the one thing that shone through more than their love of the game, was always their love of Hull FC. I can say that hand on heart and for instance, when Kirk had to go to Donny on duel registration early in 2016 he hated it; not because he was a rugby snob, or because he thought he was bigger than that, but just because it wasn’t Hull FC. Adam Pearson told me that Yeamo never had an agent and his contract negotiations usually took 2 minutes of discussion and another twenty of cracking jokes. For he was just pleased to be staying and the business was done with one stroke of the pen. 

In addition to those guys some have, for good reasons, strayed and come back, like Taylor and indeed Washy but all the time they have had that great affection for the team they looked up to as kids. Some even went to watch Rovers in their early years, but it was playing the game for a Hull team and the strong bond they quickly developed with the ‘FC Faithful’ that changed their lives forever.

That’s why Testimonials are so important and why I have been involved in so many, because perhaps they are the only way that we as fans can actually reward that loyalty. Footballers get so much money, they don’t need Testimonials, but RL players need it and appreciate it and in exchange for getting involved the amount of appreciation those FC players have shown to their committee’s etc, has to be experienced first-hand to be believed.

Never ever underestimate the importance of players like Scott Taylor to the dynamic of the Club. For me he is just a model clubman and a hero for our times. In professional football few talented local players hang around at all, choosing instead to see their home clubs as just a means to an end, but in Rugby League and particularly at Hull FC that has, for decades, been completely different. It’s quite hard to pin down and animate in words, but such players are very special, as I believe is a Club that is able to engender such feelings and as fans, we are so lucky to be part of it all!    

Now, if there is any vindication of the recruitment, we have made in the last 12 months then I guess it appeared in the Hull Daily Mail last Tuesday. There was Rovers and Gareth Westmorland the Rovers correspondent (soon to leave the Mail to become Marketing Manager at Caravan Park) lamenting the fact that they could have 12 out for Wakefield yesterday and wringing their hands at having to call up players from the Hull Academy. Meanwhile, there we were on the same day, with still a few injuries of our own, announcing a 19-man squad for a Reserves team game. I know a lot of folks, me included, did rage a bit at the fact that we hadn’t made any ‘Big name’ signings, but I guess that you can’t have the best of both worlds can you!!

The thing is with a salary cap (which as I will discuss later is becoming a joke anyway) you simply can’t do both and so whichever way you go it’s a gamble. This week on the Rovers secret message board one contributor lamented long and hard the lack of depth in Rovers squad, whilst on RL fans only two weeks ago there was a thread entitled, ‘Time for Pearson to Make a Marque signing!’ Those two instances show quite clearly the two sides of the argument; if you have a small squad with big names, but they get injured, your doomed because of the low numbers on your roster, but if you run with a big squad and don’t get injuries but win nothing because of a lack of the ‘Wow’ factor, then you’re a failure as well! So, as I say, because of the restrictions of the cap, Clubs really can’t win.

At least we are trying to work within the cap and not flaunting it, so I guess we just have to trust in Pearson, Clark and Radford and in their defence, let’s face it, how would we have managed at the start of this season with around 9 missing for the first two games, without that depth. It’s a hard one isn’t it?

Talking of Marquee signings, it was revealed last week that Huddersfield Giants made a whopping annual salary offer of $500,000 to NRL superstar Gareth Widdop. That’s around £268,000 a year, yet that was still not enough to tempt him to West Yorkshire. Instead the 29-year-old opted to sign a three-year deal with Warrington. He might have preferred the more fashionable club but it could also mean that the Wolves have offered Widdop even more! 

Quite frankly the way it is going at present with Warrington and Leeds in particular, the salary cap is starting to appear to be a farce and the sooner we either police it properly or get rid of it, the better. Scrapping it will of course means that there will then be rich clubs and poor clubs, but for me that’s not such a bad thing, because the current equality we have, creates too much of a levelling out of things. With no cap, when a poorer outfit beats one of the big boys, it will be headline news, just like it used to be in the old days and that brings much more spice into the equation.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that getting rid of it is a good move at all, but if a club is paying what Warrington already are on long term contracts and then pay out another £300,000 to a new recruit, surely they must be doing something to get around the regulations? This sort of stuff just reduces the credibility of the game and you have to wonder if certain Super League Clubs already have a whiff of the fact that perhaps a future scrapping of the cap is on the cards in the new Super League set up?

Whatever the situation, in the first instance when the average fan on the terraces see what some of our heroes, the average players, get as a wage, it’s certainly hard to stomach such salary’s. However, I guess it’s a two-edged sword, because if we want to see the best players in the World playing in our League then you have to pay for them. As for the salary cap, well we don’t know all the in’s and out’s of the current situation do we and perhaps that suits the powers that be anyway, but with signings like Widdop and the squad Warrington will have next year, the lay man out there has to pose the question, “How the hell do they fit all that lot under the Cap?”  

In the mean time as all that unfolded, Wigan got their two points deducted awarded back on Wednesday and why am I not surprised? But, if there’s any sort of consolation then it is I guess the fact that my lack of amazement on that one is, I’m sure, shared by just about everyone reading this!!!

Now to other things and this week for a change a look at what is happening Down Under in the game of Rugby League and in a competition that is admired so much in this country. I found this time line of the Aussie closed season the other day and boy do we have a lot to be thankful for with regards to our players and their behaviour. For me the game down there is blighted (by a small percentage I’ll grant you) of self-opinionated, testosterone fuelled idiots. It is in essence a situation that is completely out of hand and an absolute and utter disgrace. Talk about role models for the kids?????  Just have a read through the story of their closed season; talk about a game in shame!!!   

4 September – Pictures are published of Canterbury players dancing nude during their Mad Monday celebrations. The club was fined $250,000 and Adam Elliott and Asipeli Fine both pleaded guilty to wilful and obscene exposure.

30 September – Jarryd Hayne is alleged to have sexually assaulted a woman after travelling to her home in the Hunter region on grand final night. He has been charged with aggravated sexual assault and has pleaded not guilty.

1 October – Greg Inglis is charged with speeding and drink-driving while returning from an indigenous tournament in Dubbo. He was stripped of the Australian captaincy and handed an 18-month good behaviour bond.

13 October – Parramatta’s Jaeman Salmon is charged with drink driving after a traffic accident in which he flipped his car and hit three parked vehicles. He was convicted and disqualified from driving for six months. He has also been stood down from round one and fined $10,000.

24 November – Wests Tigers’ Zane Musgrove and Penrith’s Liam Coleman are involved in an alleged incident at a Coogee hotel. The pair have pleaded not guilty to indecently assaulting a 22-year-old woman.

2 December – Newcastle prop Jacob Saifiti suffers a broken leg after being knocked out in a fight outside a pub. He was not charged by police, but fined $25,000 by his club.

6 December – Dylan Walker is charged with common assault following an alleged domestic violence incident at his Dee Why home. He has pleaded not guilty. His partner has retracted her original statements made to police in which she claimed he pulled her hair, causing her to fall.

13 December – Jack de Belin is charged with the aggravated sexual assault of an alleged incident involving a 19-year-old woman. He has pleaded not guilty.

21 December – Six Cronulla lower-grade players are involved in a scuffle at the Cronulla Sailing Club. The nightclub banned the entire Sharks playing group. The six players were all fined.

25 December – Brisbane’s Myles Taueli shatters a man’s jaw with a punch only weeks after being drafted into the Broncos’ top 30 squad. He has been convicted of assault, jailed for two years and has had his Broncos contract torn up.

26 December – Newcastle’s Tautau Moga allegedly slaps a taxi driver. He has been charged with common assault and will appear in court on March 21.

20 December – Wests Tigers utility Michael Chee Kam is alleged to have punched a car share driver. He has been charged with common assault.

07 January – Scott Bolton pleads guilty to common assault after grabbing a woman’s upper thigh at a Sydney bar. He was given a 12-month good behaviour bond.

11 January – The first of three lewd videos involving Dylan Napa emerge on the internet, all of which show the Queensland prop engaging in a sexual act.

15 January – A video emerges of Corey Norman watching on as a man snorts a white substance off a plate. Norman was sanctioned by the NRL for the video in 2016.

1 February – Ben Barba is sacked by North Queensland after the club views CCTV of an alleged domestic incident at a Townsville casino. He has been handed a life ban by the NRL.

20 February – Brisbane’s Payne Haas is stood down for four games and fined $20,000 for failing to comply with an integrity unit investigation.

1 March – De Bellin and Walker to be stood down indefinitely, pending domestic violence claims while Bolton gets a five-game ban for common assault on a women and Napa is fined over publishing lewd video’s. The NRL says they will not register the contract of Musgrove over un proven sexual asualt charges.

5 March – Penrith’s Tyrone May is arrested and charged with two counts of recording intimate image without consent and two counts of disseminate image without consent.

With rumours again rife over there of a burgeoning recreational drugs problem as well, for a professional sport in a League that is hailed as the best in the sport, that all makes for something that can only be classed as an absolute disgrace doesn’t it? I bet the NRL administrators must be wondering, ‘what next’.

Everyone is still talking about our hero of the moment Marc Sneyd and it got me thinking about some of the other good scrum halves we have had at the Club. It’s easy to think immediately of Tommy Finn and Peter Sterling of ‘Bluey’ Mackey, Kenny Foulkes and even Danny Brough, but one stands out head and shoulders above them all for me and that man was the late great Dave Topliss. He was a quite amazing player and one who anyone who experienced the relatively short period he spent at our club, will remember forever!

Toppo is the stuff that legends are made of and yet he only played for us for 4 years, and actually only joined the club at the age of 31. For years he had tormented and frustrated the FC Faithful and those of most other clubs too, as he led Wakefield Trinity around the field during his 13 years with his hometown club! He was always a thorn in our side. Rumours were rife for years that Arthur Bunting was after him, but if you were around then, well, you will know already, that we were always linked with every great player that was available, and Dave was just that, a great player.

Having put together the most formidable pack in the League, our coach then managed to finally get Toppo, for a bargain price of £15,000, to put the finishing touches to a back division as good as the club had ever seen!

Dave takes on the Featherstone defence at Wembley 1983.

We didn’t talk of spines back then but stand-off, Loose-Forward and scrum-half in those days were still the critical positions, and when Dave joined Harkin and Dean our “Rotating” half backs and Knocker Norton, the scene was set for some exciting times. Dave signed for us in the close season in May 1981 and I remember at the time some “hurting” Trinity supporter commenting in the Rugby Leaguer that he was finished; how wrong he was to be proved. Toppo was almost immediately made club captain and in his first season led us to that fabulous Challenge Cup replay victory against Widnes at Elland Road.

Dave was a class act but was not just a great player and a real thinker, he also was one of only a very few players who actually seemed to have invented a move. Back in the early 1980’s my pals and I at the Half Way on Hessle Road used to call it his “rap-around move” and try as they may, the opposition could never quite handle it at all. Everyone knew what was coming, but no one could do much about it.

Take that final replay at Elland Road for instance when Toppo got the Man of the Match award and scored two tries. For his first our second touch-down, there we were with a scrum near the right hand touch line about 25 yards out from the Widnes line. Toppo barked out the instructions as the pack formed and the two centres Leuluai and Evans and full back Kemble stood almost in a line about 10 yards apart and well back from the scrum. We had all seen this before, and the crowd started to roar in expectation; that move was on!

Dave and Trevor Skerrett hold the Cup aloft at Elland Road on a night I won’t forget.

Swift hands from the scrum saw Tony Dean feed Topliss whilst three backs raced towards the action. The fast and straight dummy running of Evans and Kemble took two defenders away whilst Topliss fed Leuluai who stopped turned his back on the defence for Toppo to curve around behind him, where he took the return pass and continue on, in an arcing run to the line. We all knew it was going to happen and so probably did the Widnes players and coaching staff, but no one could do anything about it!

Toppo said afterwards in the Yorkshire Post, “My first try worked like a charm. We tried it twice at Wembley but each time Eric Hughes spotted it, and snuffed it out. But tonight our timing was perfect, the defence opened up and I was over”. The previous try was the same sort of thing too, except that Toppo fed Norton who turned his back on the defence, Dave got the return ball and as the defence shut the hole on him he fed Kemble who was running a great line and Gary sped over. Other clubs caught on and tried the move themselves but although it was often imitated, it was never duplicated.

He also scored a memorable try against the “Invicibles”, the 82 Aussie Tourists, when our scratch team so nearly beat them in that famous game at the Boulevard. His try that night was one of only 7 that they conceded on their whole tour of this country.

He was much more than that because he was just an outstanding talent, a great team player and a really nice bloke too! I met him several times at post game “soiree’s’ at pubs around the City and he always had time to talk about the game! When I asked him one night in the Mermaid why he signed for us and left Wakey, where he was such a legend, he said, “I just wanted the Hull fans on my side for a change”

In his short career at the club he played 120 games and scored 56 tries, but most of all he became a real hero who in later years evolved into a legend. When he reached 34 and Fred Ah Koi was signed, the writing was on the wall, but it was still Toppo who played in the first 8 game of the Peter Stirling era and what a sight those two together behind the scrum where! He eventually left our club and still managed to play two seasons at Oldham, before he became player coach at Wakey!

The saddest thing of all of course is the fact that Toppo was just 58 years old when he died. However, for me, his memory will burn bright, and the sight of Toppo standing off the scrum and dummying and passing amidst the advancing FC back line will live forever in my memory. Great player, great captain, and always worthy of a few lines in here! Now at the other end of the age scale, just a quick mention for young Lochlan Fitzgerald who is a talented young full back who I believe got a rough deal with that acursed City of Hull Academy last year. He’s certainly a talented player who has now managed to get himself into the FC Reserves squad and he trains regularly with them on a Thursday evening.

Born and bred a Black and White and educated from an early age on the Threepenny Stand, he has been with the Club since he was 14 and was rewarded for his perseverance with a place on the bench for the Reserves at Keighley and he got on in the second half. It’s not always the big and famous that are heroes of a Club; so a quick well done to Lochlan!

So there we are and I guess it’s a case of what more can you say. If there was one team after Rovers that you would want to beat out of sight in just 30 minutes, then it would be Leeds wouldn’t it? Years of frustrating reversals at their hands were finally sent packing and put to bed on Friday night and that can only be good for our confidence and self-belief, both on the field and the terraces.

However, that said, Wigan, Huddersfield and Leeds are hardly the shining lights of the current competition are they and this coming Friday, against another team who are always pumped and feisty when they visit us, is a different proposition all together! Wakey are a form team, strong down the middle and lethal wide out and they will be as stiff a test on Friday, as we will probably get at the KCom all year.

But for now? Well let’s just enjoy the moment eh? It was a fabulous night under the lights and the memory of it still burns bright for me. I’ve a spring in my step, a smile on my face and Dobbins fans are hard to find at present.

Thanks to everyone who has been in touch, to Carl, Iain, Ian M, Brian in Lincoln, Richard Watson, Dick O, Kevin Horsley, Jim in Scunthorpe, Steve in Hastings, Faddo in Sierra Lanka and everyone else, too numerous to mention, who has contacted me this week. It’s so great to hear from you and thanks to everyone for your brilliant support; it really does make all this worthwhile and means so much to me.

You know, it won’t always be this good, in fact next week it could all unravel for that is the lot of the passionate and possessed sports fan, but let’s all just enjoy it for now, because after the last 8 months I think we all deserved that win!

Enjoy Your Week


Faithfully Yours