The Dentist’s Diary – 624th

From Deflation to Elation!!

Here’s to

SNEYYYYYDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!….
and the one and only priority at the Club at present; getting him signed up!!!

What a game and what an ending that was! As the Rugby League world witnessed our 2,500th win as a Club in all competitions, it was the manner of the victory, crowned as it was with one of the truly great endings to a match, that sees it all still being replayed again and again in our minds. I can’t remember anything marginally like it at Hull FC since March 1988 at the Boulevard, when drawing with Wigan, the visitors had a 50-yard penalty attempt which they took after the hooter. It fell short before fast hands in a Gary Pearce inspired move swept play 95 yards down the field, for McCaffrey to score under the sticks at the other end.  

In the Super League era not since the Dobbins joyous capitulation against Salford at the end of that MiIlion-Pound game, have the fans of the sport seen anything like it and yet, compared with this one, both those two climaxes pale into insignificance, for in France there was so much more going on. We were down and out, we had a bit of luck, we had belief, there was poise, focus and a pre-conceived plan that everyone stuck to ….and then of course there was Marc Sneyd!

It takes Dynamo an age to produce one bit of magic, well, step aside buddy, because here comes Mr Sneyd, with 4 in a minute! A short restart with 4 seconds to go, that threw the Catalan player into indecision, a great 50-meter penalty under intense pressure, a superbly grubbered kick-off that found touch and that wonderful drop goal that spiralled high over the posts to send us all into raptures. Has there ever been a more spectacular finale to an FC game? How can you ever really believe it actually happened, however many times you watch it back again? What’s more, how can I ever really do justice to it in here?

Even now sat in the early hours of Sunday morning I’m at a loss to explain it all for it was just an amazing ending to a wonderful against all odds performance, that was littered throughout with heroic acts!!

Rugby League as a dramatic experience doesn’t get better than that finale, well it doesn’t if you win and thankfully again in Golden Point, it was the FC that prevailed.  

Forget the ‘Game of Thrones’ mania that is sweeping the country, this wasn’t contrived, fictitious, pre written or acted out; this was proper Dragon slaying drama that unfolding in real time before our very eyes. Had it been our starting 17 it would have been a good win but to do it with that team out there was quite phenomenal. In the end if we had lost in Golden Point, we would have been gutted, but we didn’t and a fairy tale game came to a fairy tale conclusion! It was a match that had us all for 78 minutes watching in disbelief as 17 heroes of all abilities and persuasions battled it out on a foreign field, only for us all to be thrust into despair, before an ending that will live forever in our memories and one, the likes of which, we will probably never ever see again.

Marc Sneyd Mobbed

That last minute or two in France gripped everyone, be they out there cheering on the lads, or at home watching on TV and I defy anyone to say they weren’t shaking with firstly despair, secondly with disbelief and then with absolute joy. It was surreal, you couldn’t watch, yet you couldn’t look away. How many more, watching at home like me, almost switched off as they scored their last try, in fact I don’t know why I left the TV on, but as I emerged deflated from behind the settee, for some strange reason I did and I’m so glad about that!!!

One things for sure, if anyone out there ever doubted Marc’s quite amazing ability, then they should eat their words now, for he was ‘magnificent’, on an evening when that often over used sporting expression was not out of place when applied to the efforts of any one of our 17 players.

Am I going over the top? Well for once I don’t think I am. Two debutants, two 18 year olds and two 37 year olds, players out of position, players carrying knocks, one player lost in the warm up and twelve players missing through injury, plus a seven o’clock morning flight out there on the same day; the ‘improbables’ just go on and on, in a game that was played out at the toughest of places to go and get a win; just ask the Saints and Warrington!  

Like many of you I guess, I watched on TV expecting nothing at all with all our props missing, Westy out in the warm up and youngsters and oldies all just it appeared, making up the numbers. Whatever the game plan Lee came up with to suit such a raggle-taggle 17 had to be good, stuck to rigidly and carried out to the letter, otherwise it appeared, nothing but another thumping was on the cards. But it is in such situations when we are really under the cosh, that Lee Radford’s planning, inspiration and motivation are at their best.  

The magnificent FC fans had made their annual pilgrimage in the usual numbers. Some had flown in the day before, whilst others had stayed all week in Salou and the other Costa Brava resorts and so the scene was set for the first of our two visits to Catalonia this season. With all those players out however, it was a massive ask and most had travelled more in hope than expectation.

A 7-00 am flight from Humberside Airport meaning that some of our lads probably had to leave home at 4-00am, was hardly the best of preparations either. Had we written it off already? Had we hell!

As the game kicked off no one really knew what to expect and we all just hoped for some passion and fight and not a repeat of Warrington!

It all started badly with Westerman dropping out in the warm up and with 12 players missing, it just got worse, as we dropped a kick at the end of their first set of six. The Catalan forwards looked so much bigger than our lot and muscled up down the middle before Tomkins sold ‘a nursery full of dummies’, all of which we bought and Gigot ran in to score and so it began! We looked lively with the ball and had decided it seemed, to throw it around and try to wrong foot their big middles. It was good to see Connor back in the half’s with all those little touches and I thought that Wynne was a bit unlucky to not open our scoring, being perhaps robbed by a camera angle that hid a Catalan knock on. Thompson was driving well, but the ‘Zimmer brothers’ Ellis and Minichiello were massive, did long minutes  and led the line with great aplomb throughout. We were certainly battling and with 20 minutes gone I thought that we had done really well to just be 6 points down.

The second quarter started with one of those fraudulent sort of play the balls, when the tackled player stepped over the tackler (Houghton) to play the ball straight at him and two points ensued. We simply have to sort this out because Catalan used it at least 4 times and it is tantamount to cheating. It doesn’t happen in the NRL so perhaps we have to look there to sort it out. However, at 8-0 down we were still having a really spirited go and what a brilliant debut try it was for Jack Brown whose combination of a big frame and good feet was a revelation. He simply strolled through the line onto a brilliantly anticipated short ball and what a delightful debut try he scored. On 30 minutes there was absolutely no lack of spirit and character and we were in again as the introduction of Kelly, (which saw Connor move to centre and Griffin to second row, another masterstroke), brought an immediate first ever try for Connor Wynne. Then Griffin got in as well from a short tap penalty from Houghton that made absolute fools of the Frenchmen and quite frankly at 18-8 at half time you had to be very proud of the lads. Although I think we all feared a back lash in the second half, after the Catalan boys had seen the sharp edge of McNamara’s tongue at half time.   

Cassiano again milked one of those step over the bodies penalty’s and we were straight under the cosh on our goal line before, with no doubt Macca’s words still ringing in their ears, in romped Catalan to put our lead under threat again. And, with the FC fans still streaming back from the bars, it was just the start we didn’t need. Then a kick-off that went out on the full saw us under more duress, but somehow we muscled up, however the Catalan push was still on, before brilliant goal line defence got us out of jail again. A superb kick through by Sneyd got us back further in front when Griffin, who is becoming the consummate finisher, glided through on Marc’s shoulder to touch down. However, with the lead restored two penalties conceded put us back in trouble and a try under the post saw Catalan hit back again and each time they did, I feared a collapse. But it never came, as sheer guts and determination and a will to play for each other again got us through a sticky patch of Dragon’s pressure. Penalties however were coming too quickly as indiscipline in the tackle put us under the hammer again.   

Back we came with Connors brilliant no-look sleight of hand getting Faraimo in and the lead was now 8 points. But then Kelly knocked on and we were back under pressure, penalties again followed and it seemed they were the only way their big forwards could get down the field as our tacklers swarmed around them and they got more and more frustrated.

The tension mounted as Sneyd almost got an interception near our own line, but they came back and scored in the corner and it was back to being a 4-point ball game. There were scares, a disallowed try that was harsh, but very acceptable, and finally that almost disastrous end when I defy anyone to say that they were not simply distraught. However, that depth of despair suddenly morphed into the most unlikely reversal of fortunes most of us can ever remember.

A fantastic short kick off with 4 seconds to go was so well flighted that Williams didn’t know whether to stick or twist and that indecision saw him step over the 10-yard line. A brilliant 50-yard penalty under maximum pressure from half way drew us level and although we lost the toss and had to kick off the extra period, a brilliantly executed bouncing restart bobbled into touch to give us the ball back 30 yards out. Then, after 4 drives we witnessed the drop goal that by now we all expected, but still couldn’t believe when it happened. Sam Tomkins face was a picture!

The game had it all and I was a total wreck when it finished, it was an absolute classic ending to a match where although both sides suffered defensively, the tries flowed, we just got home and perhaps, with Albo starting on the bench, we also solved the conundrum of how to play all three of our talented half backs in the same side.

Performance wise its wrong to really pick anyone out but the bone crunching tackles and leg pumping carries of the almost 38-year old Gareth Ellis, were simply amazing. Sneyd of course was man of the match however, he was so much more than the last gasp ending and his game management throughout was a joy to behold. Marc certainly had two great allies in both Connor and Kelly who, with no doubt a point to prove, came off the bench and played so much better this week. Perhaps that’s how they fit all three in the team in future?

Houghton was massive, whilst Griffin was again a tower of strength in the centre and the second row but, ‘big up’s’ have to go to young Connor Wynne whose tackling and attacking back up play far belayed his years. Plus well done Jack Brown! He was so good that even as an 18-year-old prop he looks ready to step up into the first team right now. His footwork on the charge against such colossal and seasoned forwards was quite amazing.

All that said in the end everyone was a top performer and everyone was a star and although Catalan no doubt had one look at our team sheet on Friday night, laughed and had another beer, more fool them for taking us lightly, (if that’s what they did), for this was a fighting Hull FC team that can lose games for me, as long as they always play like that. 

So now and reluctantly, I move to the rest of the week and first up: Good Luck to The Flying Dustman!

Wembley 2017 Remember him this Way!!

This week we heard of the retirement of one of that brilliant class of 2016, as Fetuli Talanoa decided to hang up his boots and the announcement certainly marked a sad day for this fan. You sort of think that such epoch making players will always be there, but of course in sport nothing stands still and so on Friday we will all wish a final goodbye to a hero of those two great seasons, one of the games real gentlemen and a really nice bloke.

A bit over the top? Well not for me it isn’t, because when he arrived he was, in his first year, an honest grafter in a struggling team who, as those around him improved, grew with them to be an integral part in that famous FC Squad. Unlike the Pritchard’s, Taylor’s, Manu’s, Minichiello’s and Kelly’s he didn’t arrive with great trumpeting, but he actually got better and better as he progressed until in his pomp in 2016 and 2017 he was one of the best finishers in the British game. I’ll certainly miss him around the place as he was a player who, perhaps without me actually realising it, was one of my favourite FC heroes. That was the sort of player he was though, because whilst the other ‘Big names’ were out to dazzle us with their play and their words off the field, he was there on the wing scoring tries for fun, winning us games and finishing his chances brilliantly.

Colloquially called the Flying Binman by the FC Faithful, I have always preferred in here to err more on the side of that famous Wagnerian Opera and so over the years I’ve dubbed him, ‘The Flying Dustman’. Fetuli is a good guy and someone who always has time for my pals and I at the gym, whenever we’ve ‘interrupted’ him for a chat. When my pal Jeff pointed at me and said to him a few years ago, ‘He calls you the flying dustman’, he laughed, well he did after he had asked exactly what a dustman was!!

Just look at this one! Airborne at Widnes 2016!

Fetuli’s was a fairy-tale transformation and his story is the stuff that legends are made of (in fact I’d love to write a book about his life, for he is such an interesting bloke). A troubled youth, who made it to the NRL before he suffered from severe pneumonia and retired, Fetuli was plucked from the obscurity of the Sydney Bin Lorries by the FC. There on the streets he had made some life-long pals in a job that he never found demeaning. After that he became a fixture in ‘The History Boys’ squad at Hull FC.

He certainly scored some amazing tries with flying catches and brilliant dives, some of which will live with us in our memories forever. Who can forget that touchdown at Doncaster in the 2016 semi-final and his try at Wembley in 2017?

Of course his participation in one game in particular, will go down in history forever, for he was one of the legendary 17 who made all our dreams come true and crowned our very lives with that moment at ten to five on Saturday 27th August 2016, when the hooter went and the taunt of ‘You’ll never win at Wembley’ was put to bed forever!

Talk about a gentle giant, he was always honest, always genuine, and always FC through and through and although he hasn’t played this season, when you sit back from it all it, the place won’t be the same without him around. There is no way I can thank adequately any of those 2016 greats for what they did for me personally and sadly this week we have seen one of the most potent and yet most humbling members of the team depart.  

Always 100% FC!

For my part I have sent him a copy of the 2016 book as a keepsake and signed it thanking him for the memories, from me ‘….and all the readers of the RL blog The Dentist Diary!’ I hope he takes it down from the book shelf in the future and shows his children as they grow up, so that they can relive with him their Dads part in that great, history making, campaign.  

We all have a chance on Friday to say good-bye to him and we should all do that long and hard and give him a send-off to remember, because he has given us so much that we will hold dear and we owe him big style. Well done Fetuli, best wishes to your family and Good luck to, ‘The Flying Dustman!!’

Also leaving the club this week was recent signing Danny Langtree. I have only seen him once playing for the Reserves but I really did think he looked an honest player. The fact is that it appears he’s not been on the cap at all, so couldn’t play for the first team anyway and with ‘in-coming’ players in the shape of trialist Ratu, Gareth Ellis and Savelio, apparently there is not the scope to keep him and so he returns to his previous club, Oldham.  

For me, it’s a shame and does pose the question as to whether in the end all the fans that moaned about us signing some pretty unheard of guys in the closed season ‘to increase the size of the squad to cover injuries’, had it right. I know that the reserves league fell through, but all the same it seems strange that after only a few rounds and in the midst of a massive injury crisis, we have shed both Danny and Hakim in a week.  However, after Saturdays showing we shouldn’t grumble I guess, because we seemed to have got the back up just right there didn’t we? I guess the truth is that Langtree in the end thought, ‘What’s the point’. He’s been travelling miles every day and training the house down and yet he’s not been registered to play. That’s not his fault, he’s done his best, but the Oldham stalwart will instead now return to the Club he loves in Lancashire and put the whole thing down to experience. Good luck to him anyway, as so we move on and ‘another one bites the dust’. Who’s next do you think?   

You know sometimes I hear quite a bit from readers and at others although I know you are all still there, I hear very little. Some things really do prompt the average fan to get in touch and last week a lot of you seem to have been a bit put out when Lee Radford admitted that the fact we were playing away from home, could just give us the confidence we needed to win the Salford game!! Of course we did win and the FC Faithful who made the trip really did, as was the case in Catalan, make some noise to assist our heroes get over the line.

But then comes the rub, because in explaining why his charges have played better on their travels this season, Lee Radford claimed that, “It’s sad to say it, but I just think we prefer playing away. You’re not under the blowtorch, you’re not under the moans and groans from behind the sticks. I think the fans that we take away with us get right behind us and they are very vocal, I don’t know why it is, it’s just one of those things”. He repeated the same sort of assertion after the French game, so what do you make of that? Not a lot seems to be the consensus of many readers!!

I think we’d all agree that something is wrong at the KCOM and that its not all on the pitch either! I’d also agree that after that victory at Catalan, out of six games away from home, we had been beaten by the last kick of the match at Caravan Park and won the other 5 we’ve played. There is little doubt that our away form has been phenomenal, because in each game, we have faced teams desperate for a win themselves and yet we’ve prevailed, all be it often in very tight and scrappy encounters. It’s not been pretty, it’s been hard, we have been under pressure and yet somehow we still found a way to win them all!!

Some would say that we haven’t really played anyone much, but our home form at the KCOM where we should, with around 10,000 adoring fans behind us, be winning regularly, has been patchy to say the least. To further compound that fact last season (as I related in here at the time), a Coach from a West Riding team actually told me at a social event that his team liked playing at the KCOM. That can’t be right can it? 

As supporters and in our defence, we can’t always be happy, clappy all the time and certainly not when, as in the last home game, the team we love is conceding points at almost one a minute! If I’m honest here, then for me that really isn’t the sort of thing a Coach should be saying, even if he thinks it, because all it does is alienate further the fans that he must have thought he was shaking into some sort of positive reaction. It doesn’t work like that at all and if he thought it would motivate us all to suddenly become more animated, I’m afraid from what I’m hearing from Diary readers in the wake of those comments, it’s maybe had a contra effect.

That aside, perhaps as loyal supporters we should all be a tad embarrassed that anyone at our club should be prompted to even say that. None the less, facts are facts and we all have to admit that for years, even in the biggest (none Derby) games at home, our crowd is often quiet and lacking in any sort of umpph!!! Why is a bit of a mystery, because even when we were playing in front of 985 fans at The Boulevard back in 1975 the interaction, encouragement and fervour of the Threepenny’s put the willies up many an opposition player.

For us lot though when we are at home, it usually takes a visiting player’s illegal actions or indeed the in-actions of the referee to incite the crowd into some sort of passionate response. That, when there should actually be a spontaneous reaction in the crowd to get behind the team and encouraging them to play above themselves from the off. That’s how the fan/player interaction should work, but yet it doesn’t seem to at the KCOM.

There is little doubt that it’s the teams job to get the crowd going and inspiring stuff and great deeds of valour do rub off quickly on the terraces. Furthermore, we all have to agree that showings like our last home game, would have made even Mother Theresa kick the cat! You see for me it’s wrong to blame the guys behind the sticks, some of whom will have just raced from work to get to the KCOM and then shelled out £26 for the privilege of watching their heroes, before going back to work on Monday to get harangued all week (by the Dobbins fans) about a performance, that has been laid bare for all to see on TV.

Those loyal fans want their heroes to do well, try to understand when they don’t, but have every right to gripe a bit about some of the stuff we have seen served up at home in the last 10-months; even the most paranoid player surely understands that. As I always say we pays our money and we have every right to have a moan!! 

But there are also thousands of fans who, because of their circumstances, cannot get to away games and live for that 80 minutes every two weeks, when they watch their heroes at home. In fact, had our home form matched in any way our efforts away then we would be top of the table. However, perhaps for both a set of rugby players who are a bit paranoid about criticism and a crowd that’s apparently a bit lacking in passion, we probably all have some work to do.

I don’t have an answer, but for any club, in any sport, to claim they play better when they are not in front of their home fans, is a damning indictment in anyone’s book; as long, of course it’s the truth! Trying to look at the whole thing from a proactive angle, perhaps it’s time that FC Voices and other supporter’s groups got their heads together to work with the Club and the fans they are supposed to represent, to at least discuss ways of getting an atmosphere back. We can all remember the days when ‘Come on You Hullaaarrr!!’, used to echo around the street in a half-mile radius of the Boulevard on match day’, for it was a time when teams used to quake in their boots, as they ran out to face the Threepennies. That will never really come back, because in the end that was The Boulevard, a cauldron of emotion that was, over the years, often imitated, but never duplicated.

However, when you stand back from it all there is little doubt that Lee is right because we have gone in a decade or two  from the most intimidating crowd in the game, to perhaps the most reticent and that’s certainly worrying.

The sqeaky clean, new sanitised environment at the KCOM, compared with the Boulevard, is often cited as a contributing factor, but it’s not really, for I saw the atmosphere that the Spurs fans generated from the first kick of their game in their new home last Saturday and they were only playing Huddersfield!

 I guess that the ‘final retribution’ of Wembley has something to do with us lot in the old brigade being a bit more reticent of late too; for now we have seen it all, and personally these days I even find massive defeats like the Warrington one a lot easier to get over than I once did. In the end I don’t know what the answer is and we certainly won’t ever see the KCOM transformed into Headingley over-night. However, if we believe Lee, then if our ground was as intimidating as Leeds’, The Jungle or even Caravan Park, who knows where we would be in the League. Is he’s right, would it really make so much difference, or do some players simply use it as an excuse? If it is true, then how do we change it? Well, I’m not sure, but I do know one thing, it won’t be by blaming the crowd for grumbling when the fare on the field is that bad, will it??       

The Codgers spot three weeks ago, generated an unprecedented amount of Mail. The very mention of Keith Boxall brought an affectionate ‘tear’ to many eyes and several younger readers also enquired about both David Doyle Davidson who got several mentions and those desperate 70’s that both seemed to play a big part in Box’s career. DDD is a name so important in the recent history of our great Club and yet he seems these days to have drifted off into the mists of time as have those turbulent 70’s when on several occasions we were in danger of not having a club to support at all. So this week, I would like to turn the spotlight on the mid part of that decade and DDD in particular.

Back in the 1990’s when we were all very despondent and times were tough under the Lloyd regime, our gates dipped to around 3,500 and I know a few ‘younger’ supporters look back on those days and marvel at the fact that now we get such big gates at the KC. But, if they think that is a turn-around in fortunes they should have been around in the 1970’s when attendance’s swung from that famous 983 against Huyton, to 18,500 (with 2000 locked outside) just four years later for the Floodlit Cup Final in 1979.

I was in my twenties in the the seventies, and the club back then really tested the patience of the strongest and most avid fan. The lads and I on the Threepennies just turned up every week, almost it seemed out of a sense of duty, as on the field the club seemed to be settling for sad mediocrity. This was a bitter pill for many to take after the glory days and Wembley appearances of the 50’s and sadly many voted with their feet! For as around us as all the world was changing, Hull FC were going backwards!

Local heroes Chris Davidson, Keith Tindall, Brian Hancock and of course Keith Boxall, all did their best and we appreciated that, but they were too few and lacked support from the rest of the team. I will not go into the Huyton match, for I have covered it in here twice before and of course it was a match which, despite the meagre gate of 983, just about everyone I know attended!! However, I well remember particularly another game against the same club in 1971/72. During a family break with friends in Matlock I travelled all the way back to the Boulevard, specifically to watch the game. Next day I returned to Derbyshire by train, having attended a performance that, although we won quite easily, was played in front of a crowd of just 1050. That was (before the famous game) a club record low attendance. Another game against Dewsbury in August 1971 saw just 1,243 folks attending at the Boulevard, and so it went on, in the mud, week in week out. The club was close to going under on several occasions and I remember once during, I think, the 1973/74 season, the players went 7 weeks without even getting paid! The shirts were faded, the burgers soggy and the ground simply a dump!

After a succession of coaches with local connections, including Johnny Whiteley, Clive Sullivan, Ivor Watts and Roy Francis (again) had tried and failed, it seemed that the end of the club was in sight as we moved from crisis to crisis, until that was, an unusual and unfashionable “Messiah” came along in the shape of the ubiquitous David Doyle-Davidson. He was almost a last resort and took up the reins with the club at an all-time low. After 3 years of wallowing in abject mediocrity in the doldrums of the Second Division, David came in with another old boy of character, Cyril Sykes as his assistant and all of a sudden there was a glimmer of hope around the place.

I remember as a player that David made his last appearance at Castleford in 1972, to end a career that spanned 11 years, during which he made184 appearances. He was in fact in 1964 the first ever substitute to take the field of play in the game, when he came on for the injured and recently deceased Terry Devonshire. He hung around the club after he retired, helping out and briefly taking over as stand in coach, before he was officially made First Team Coach in May 1974.

He was a bit of a changing room psychologist who had great man management skills and he soon started to get the philosophy and rationale behind playing in that famous strip back on track. David instilled a belief system that was infectious as it spread out of the dressing rooms and on to the terraces. By 1975/76 the team and the fans were running on pride and passion again and we even reached the John Player Trophy Final, being the first team outside the top flight ever to do so.

The atmosphere off the field back then was excellent and there was a tremendous team spirit. David was renowned for his passionate motivational speeches, which he delivered at great length before each game. Sometimes, I remember, the team came out late because of the verbosity of these pre match presentations. He often even invited the local press into the changing rooms before-hand and the mention of those pre game diatribes always reminds me of one of Dick Tingles favourite stories about DDD! He relates how before one game all the players waited patiently for David to deliver his speech. When he got into full flow, the joker of the team Alf Macklin said, “Don’t worry boss there’s no need for that, I’ve got last weeks here”. He then produced a real icon of the time, one of the first portable tape recorders and played the previous week’s speech back to the assembled group. The place erupted and Dick says that it is the only times he ever saw DDD lost for words!

On the way to that JP Final we beat Leeds at Headingley in a replay and Saints 9-8 at the Boulevard in the third round. I then went across the Pennines to witness a great game at the Willows, where we despatched that star spangled Salford side in the semi-final. Their team was top of the league and full of household names being led by that Welsh wizard, and RL legend, David Watkins. To everyone’s in the game’s disbelief, we won 22-14. In the days when the Captains run usually involved going out for the sandwiches, The Doyle changed the game plan completely at training the night before to out-fox their illustrious opposition and I remember that Boxall, Tindall and Bill Ramsey ripped the Salford pack apart as sticking rigidly to that new structure of the prop forwards running wider, we ran out easy winners.

The final against Widnes was played at Headingley and was a great game that we just lost 19-13. That game has been featured before in here and will no doubt be again because it really was special. The following season on the back of that success the Doyle and the lads regained our First Division status by winning the Second Division title. Sadly, however mainly due to lack of funds to strengthen the team to David’s requirements and the rigours of the top division, (plus a lot of his current players getting older), the club came straight back down again.

In December 1977 after a new board had taken over and the team had experienced several injuries leading to a string of defeats, DDD quit the job and was replaced by Arthur Bunting, and the rests as they say is history!

Had David been given the resources that were placed in the lap of Arthur, then who knows how far he would have gone in the coaching business? Personally, as a leader in his field as far as player motivation was concerned, I think he would have taken us a long way indeed!

 However, it was not to be, but for me, he brought the worst team I have ever seen pull on black and White shirts, up to a team with the basic ingredients needed to be the best there has ever been. If it was not the actual renaissance, then I believe it was at least the start of it! Looking back, I know you only remember the sunny days, but it was a great time to have just survived as an FC fan and David certainly helped pull us out of the doldrums and perhaps, just perhaps, without him there is a distinct chance that we would not now be sitting at the KCom cheering on our beloved Hull FC today! Now there’s a sobering thought.

So, how do you ever sum up that game on Saturday eh? I know some will say that I’ve been totally over the top here, but after last week totally ‘blasting’ that appalling showing against Warrington, why not wax lyrical over a game and a finale that was such that we may never ever see the likes of it again. Then there was us lot sat for 79 minutes on a roller coaster that we should by rights never have been on, before we moved onto the ‘Big Dipper’ that plummeted down to total disappointment then up to the peak of absolute euphoria.

All the talk of that finish should never diminish the performance of all 17 heroes in the other 79 minutes. Lee described it as a smash and grab raid as we flew in grabbed the points and flew out again that same night! We rode our luck a bit had the rub of the green at times suffered from some cheaty stuff around the rucks and most of all just gave 200% right across the team. I talked earlier about how a lot of us old timers have had their appetite for the game blunted by 2016, but no one out there can have failed to have gone through the washing machine of emotions during that one. It was a famous, famous victory, that I will remember forever.

So we move on to the annual visit of the great unwashed from Loserville, but I refuse at this time to let the prospect of that lot baying at us like demented banshee’s for 80 minutes detract from this weekend heroics. My apologies if the last couple of Diary’s have been a bit reactionary and if you like a tad ‘random’, but it’s been a bit tough at home of late, however things are just about back on an even keel and now we move on to that most loathed of home games and then to an easy one on Easter Monday away at Saints. Boy these are tough times. 

Thanks to everyone who has been in touch this week I’ve tried to cover a couple of the points you raised and believe me everyone’s support is really appreciated. The Diary next week will be out on Tuesday after the two Easter games that now loom large and couldn’t be any harder. But for now forget Rover and just bask for a few days in that amazing performance over in France. Talk about it, brag about it and wallow in it! For it was a very special performance and a great night to be an FC fan. Thanks for all your friendship and for following another Diary to its conclusion, I’m certainly a proud FC fan this morning and no mistake!!  

Keep Believing and

COMEONYOUHULLLLAAARRRR!!!!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf