The Dentist’s Diary – 629th

Boy I enjoyed that one!!!

What an amazing victory against all the odds that was!!

If ever there was a time when the FC fans travelled ‘More in hope than expectation’, this was it!! But as my pal Sarah said straight after the final hooter, ‘On this occasion, hope overcame expectation”. 

I’m in danger of being over the top again here, but why not? That was for every true FC fan a most unexpected victory and after the announcement of the team before-hand, it was one that exceeded everyone’s expectations.

The Coach and players had been quiet all week, whilst the social media from Warrington was, I thought, a bit arrogant yet I guess that’s understandable from a team that are starting to become the self-styled ‘Billy Big Heads’ of the game. We all hoped that it would get a response and I suspected that  something was stirring down at County Road!!!

You must have felt it too and so it was that with around 9 players missing, our resolve was unyielding and Lee’s game plan spot on. We followed it to the letter, battled for each other to grind it out until every one of the players was out on their feet; yet always believing that they could do it! As the much fancied opposition got more and more frustrated some of the backs to the wall defending in that second half, particularly inches from the line, was nothing short of super human. In fact, some of their massive pack were shaking their heads as they got up from being hit by some of the smaller FC lads.

Smaller guys maybe, bigger hearts definitely.

Pretty it wasn’t, but well done to the team, to Lee and to all those who went. This will once again (and this time for all the right reasons), be a display that will be hard to do justice to in here, but it’s going to be fun having a go

If ever there was a daunting outing on a Spring afternoon this was it. But, it threw up an interesting dynamic for the fans, as on Saturday we found ourselves heading to a ground that has on occasions been kind to us, but doing it to face a team that had certainly had the rub over us of late. Recently Warrington haven’t so much beaten us, as humiliated us …. twice!! And what’s more they’d been reminding us of that all week.

I certainly wondered what had been said at County Road in the run up to the match. Perhaps it was simply that after those humiliating defeats the travelling fans deserve better. Or, maybe the lads had looked at some of that arrogant sh*te coming out of the Cheshire Club this week. However, one thing was for sure, we owed the Wire one!  

All week, as a squad, we should have blocked out everything else, except the fact that we have to prove our credibility as contenders again, because as everyone else is taking points off each other, the top two were pulling away at an alarming rate. We needed, if nothing else, to show that we have the mental strength as a team to put those drubbings behind us and at least put up a good display; but would we win it? Well we doubted that, big style.

In reality I guess it was a question of which Hull would turn up, the FC that can manage and grind a game out, or the one that would capitulate once they were two tries behind. In truth, as fans, most of us had no idea whatsoever!! I guess too, if they were honest as well, the players must have found it all a bit daunting travelling over the Pennines without our talismanic leader and inspiration Gareth Ellis, never mind the other three withdrawn on the day. We had Jamie Shaul back at full-back, but in such testing games, we always play better when Gareth is out there, don’t we?

We knew that for their part the Wolves would be remembering what happened to them at home to Salford and guarding against taking us too lightly, so it was a big, big ask particularly when Bureta Faraimo, Sika Manu and Danny Houghton failed to make the starting line-up after being crocked on Captains run (what they do on that I don’t know, but we do seem to pick up some injuries!).

With Litten unavailable due to an on-going rib injury, Washy was going to have to play a big part at acting half and we’d certainly miss Faraimo out wide where young Buchanan had big boots to fill. What’s more, the Warrington bench was massive as usual and all that considered, as the lads walked out, ‘a hard one’ appeared to have just got that little bit more difficult.

We kicked off and the Wolves went straight for the throat getting down to our line in six carries as their big pack rolled ominously into us. We only made 40 yards in our first possession whilst they played the ball faster and we struggled to hold them, but somehow we got down the field before a risky kick from Hadley gave the ball away. Already ‘motor-mouth’ Connor was winding the Warrington defence up, although in reality the real problem was that we were losing far too much ball.

Under siege on our line Mini did really well to defuse a kick and he then galloped away downfield and although we had set a great platform, it was Mark himself that then lost the ball again as we approached their twenty. Was it to be one of those games again? Well we looked really focussed and intent on upsetting the odds, but then unluckily a swirling and towering kick from Austin, hit Buchanan on the head and they waltzed in for their first try; it looked so easy.

However, Warrington then inexplicably went to sleep after a great swirling kick off from Sneyd, and as Kelly got the ball back the home side could do little but concede a penalty. Camped on their line we almost got in twice before Micky Paea, who was dominant in everything he did, crashed in for a great try and it was 6 points all. As the FC Faithful roared them on, the lads really went for it, with Kelly causing all sorts of problems and as we got into their ten a short kick from Sneyd saw Taylor fly in for an unlikely try as he outpaced a couple of Warrington backs to score.

It was all quite amazing as from being under the cosh we were suddenly in the lead. A great kick chase from Naulago pinned them near their line as our energy in both attack and defence was growing with our confidence. Another great spread play first left and then right, saw Kelly crash in and Warrington, for all their big time Charlie reputation, looked a bit lost. It was wonderful stuff from all our lads as we reached the half hour with that lead intact, although it seemed unlikely to get us home and at 18-6 it was still early days.  

Their rotating forwards entered the fray with some resolve and pressured us, as Taylor went off to be replaced by Matongo, before Green lost the ball in contact to turn it over in a dangerous position. When your leading in such circumstances you have to value the ball near your own line so it looked to be a bad blunder. Still, coming to the rescue, Ratu brilliantly caught a great cross kick from which the Wire should have scored before next up it was Shaul who saved our bacon with a valient try saving tackle on Goodwin, as some amazing defence from Hull again just kept them out.

After before-hand bragging that after our last two meetings they’d do us again, you certainly got the impression that Warrington thought that providing they plugged away their reputation would see them through, but the passion we showed was amazing and soon we were almost in again, before Griffin brilliantly chased down Charnley who, picking up a loose pass, looked to be gone and away for a long distance try.

Warrington should have scored next, but pressure saw then knock on and we got out of jail once again, as we successfully terminating their first roll on for about half an hour. We survived and as the half time hooter went, a cracking spectacle for everyone present had probably produced our best half of the season and we led 18-6.

They kicked off and we had to keep it tight for the first ten minutes or so, but Hadley tried to be too clever at acting half and we coughed the ball up. However, some great anticipation by Naulago saved the day again and we rolled up field to defuse another dodgy situation. Again they came at us but this time Sneyd grabbed the ball and fled our line downfield before a great passage of play saw us almost capitalise on a Sneyd bomb to score. Back the home side came as we tackled ourselves to a standstill, in a game that no one could take their eyes off.

An incident was put on report as Connor claimed he had been bitten, but we continued to suffocate and stifle the Warrington attack by swarming around the ball carrier, however the opposition always looked dangerous. Having lost our way a bit we got caught out as Austin ghosted in following a dummy even ‘Mothercare’ would have been proud of and with Warrington just 6 points behind us it all looked a bit ominous.  

We missed some tackles down the middle as Warrington smelt blood and used fast hands to stretch us. There was a bit of sledging going on too and of course Connor was always in the midst of it all. In this passage of play Warrington were also getting the rub of the green decision wise and as we were really up against it the verbosity of Connor and a slap on a Wolves player, saw us reduced to 12 men for the next crucial ten minutes. His taunting and banter certainly helps unsettle teams like the Wire, but in such situations, when we are under the pump, it doesn’t help us at all.

We just got out of jail again as Naulago hammered Ratchford to dislodge the ball as our now visibly confident winger was certainly having the game of his short career. However, Warrington were in the ascendancy and we were looking short-handed as the home team rolled forward and our 12 desperately slid back and forth in an attempt to cover their ever expansive moves. Hadley went down on our line clutching his elbow and the game was stopped just when we needed ‘a blow’, but, although the doctor was on for quite a while, Dean soldiered on. We were trying to get field position but playing short-handed it was hard, although Griffin was having a superb game and it was he that got us a penalty that finally relieved the pressure.

Paea was next to receive treatment, but with 18 minutes to go it was backs to the wall stuff as Shaul shone at full back,  but if I’m honest it was still hard to see how Warrington wouldn’t get one over us any time soon. We looked crocked and buggered as they broke again and when in possession we had to try and hang onto the ball, but we couldn’t and it was getting tougher.

We tried a drop goal but under tremendous pressure and without his minder Griffin shielding him, Sneyd missed to the right. The home team swarmed back up field but Goodwin was held up inches short as Naulago brilliantly got his hands under the ball and somehow we had weathered the ten minutes of Connor’s sin bin without conceding.

Superb game!

That gave us confidence but his absence came at a cost, because we looked out on our feet, however ‘commeth the moment commeth the Sneyd’ and after a position was brilliantly worked by the forwards, he dropped a great goal from a long way out. But, even then 7 points just didn’t seem enough.

Back came Warrington but Naulago again caught a high ball in a dangerous position and defused a doggy moment. By now however, we were completely ‘gassed’ but in the spirit of ‘If you’re going through hell keep going’ somehow we were hanging on and with some sterling effort including a massively brave collision from Taylor which led to a right melee, we held out to win. It was what can only be described as a heroic and courageous victory which had to be seen to be believed, yet one that was guaranteed to make every true FC fan swell with pride. As the hooter went the home side sunk to their knees in disappointment and some of our lads did the same, but in relief and utter exhaustion.

It wasn’t pretty at all, but after a great first half we really rattled them defensively thereafter. What an effort, what a performance and what a win; it was as good as it gets for passion and wanting and after everything I have said about a lack of that at times this year, it was all we could ask for! I know I’ll cop it for being over the top again, but that display was for me as a fan, everything you want to see from your team.  

I was scribbling down my notes throughout, but it’s hard to do such a titanic effort real justice, but sufficient to say it was the best battling performance thus far in 2019 and really did auger well for the future.

So to the rest of the week and as the 1st May came and went it was always a case of who would blink first as far as our out of contract players and the club were concerned. We all knew that being promised big changes for 2020, would mean that there will have to be casualties too. At the start of the week it was Dean Hadley who was in the frame. It was revealed in the RL press that the Dobbins have spoken with his agent, but Wakefield are also very keen. We wanted him to stay, but perhaps monetarily not as much as the other clubs wanted to sign him.

 All we can do is put a price on a player and see if it matches his valuation of himself. If I’m honest and taking sentiment out of the equation, Dean is one of those I’d maybe let go. Over his time at the club it’s fair to say that he’s clocked up the injuries, he’s certainly got the potential to be good, but even at times when the team is thin on the ground he seems to struggle to hold down a place. If the signing predictions of our owner (we have already agreed terms with three new players) are to be believed and with us hunting second rowers, Dean will probably end up as a stand in and logically moving forward that would have to be on a reserve grade salary.

The terms we have on offer to him have not exactly seen Hadley rush to sign for us and unless that changes he could be one of the first to be heading out the door at the KCOM; but brace yourself, for he won’t be the last by any means.

This news is just in the vanguard of what could be the biggest shake up of our playing staff since 2016. The Club has big ambitions recruitment wise and with Sneyd, Taylor, Kelly, Connor, Griffin and Carlos all secured on improved deals and a lot of the cap needed for incoming players, we are obviously cagey about players like Dean who has, to be frank, only been in and out of the team this year.

I have always liked Dean and was impressed when I saw him playing for Wakey, but he’s always promised much but been ‘the nearly man’ at Hull. He’s certainly a naturally fit player and a good defender but he’s a utility player as well and we all know how hard they find it to secure a settled run in the team. Even the truly great utility players like Richard Whiting struggled at times to fit into the side!

A successful squad is all about getting a team stuffed full of class front line players who have the ability to win games on a regular basis, covered by adequate and reliable ‘depth’ featuring up and coming quality players and where necessary a few reliable stand ins’.

That’s easy to hypothesise about but extremely hard to actually pull off when you consider the money that there is in the British game, the limitations of the salary cap, quota issues and most importantly the availability of players of true quality.

As I say, the last time we managed such a renaissance was back in 2016 and we all know what happened then. We started with 6 new players including, Fonua, Manu, Taylor and Pritchard. Ellis, Talanoa, Sneyd and Mini were all doing it already, whilst Taylor brought a passion and ‘home grown’ love of the Club, as well as total quality and ‘Frank the Tank’ whipped up an unprecedented excitement and fervour within the fan base. Pritchard’s playing ability was almost eclipsed by the buzz he brought to the terraces. Let’s face it you always need a person like that who can sell season tickets, pose for selfies, ‘kiss babies’ and give his kit away at the end of every game, Frank did that …big style.  

To deliver anything akin to that again dictates that there will first have to be a big clear out and that’s never pretty. Fans will scratch their heads and even shout foul, but the club have to be hard and take some criticism if they are to position the club for a revitalisation of our playing staff. If a player is quality (like Ellis was) or has an outstanding chance of evolving into an outstanding player (Like Connor), then we have to do all we can to sign them, if they have been here for a while already and don’t fit into either category we have to move them on.

Several things are certainly unpredictable at present. For me the jury is still out on Chris Green and we’ll see where that one goes, but a lot of the other stuff is still very much up in the air. Using the above benchmarking I’d certainly be looking to do everything that we can to secure the futures of Ratu, Litten and Faraimo, because I think that they are all good players who could be great and with the retirement of Talanoa and the lack of cover at hooker there is a distinct need for cover too.

 I believe at present Ratu wants to stay after this season, but must navigate around his main employer the army, whilst we have offered Faraimo a deal and I hope he stay! Jez Litten is just about to sign up and although he perhaps needs to beef up a bit, with bags of potential he is our only real understudy for Danny. If we can keep them, then all the rest I think could move on, particularly if we have better replacements lined up. One favourite of mine already rumoured to be on his way out is Joe Westerman.

Readers in the West Riding tell me that he’s indicating that he is to re-join Castleford and his mate Wattsy, although apparently Leeds are sniffing around as well. He is a player that wants a big deal from us, but who although possessing the ability to change a game, has for me some issues with his application and an injury record that leaves something to be desired. He was brillinat on Saturday but if he was really that good, surely we would be breaking the bank to keep him, but we ain’t, so if he goes then so be it, the Club probably know more than we do! 

Of course as a backdrop to all this, it’s free reign for the agents just now! They try their best to not only get the best deals for their wards but of course to line their own pockets too. However, at the FC I also think that come the end of the season we should prepare ourselves for some ‘natural wastage’ as some players will leave to join other Clubs on better terms than we can offer simply because everyone will be forced to run reserve grade teams; whilst Manu, Mini, Washy and Ellis will likely all retire.

In the past we all know that we have picked up players discarded by big clubs; so that they can bring in someone who will improve their squads further. We have talked them up and claimed that we could bring something out of them that had so far not manifest itself, but generally we haven’t. Perhaps now we should follow the lead of Saints, Wigan and Warrington and go for the best, even if it is at the cost of losing some of our current squad. In a quest to do this we will invariably see smaller Clubs pick up our players, because, following our own recruitment commitments, they can offer more than we can within the cap. This can be hard to accept, but it’s probably the only way that a club can lift itself further up the ladder.  

It’s also important that our newcomers not only improve the squad, but also inspire the fans. I’m hearing that we have been chasing Josh Jones from Salford for ages, but I thought we had missed out when it was widely rumoured that he was returning to Saints. However, buried at the end of a long interview about his own tenure at the Lancashire Club, Justin Holbrooke said this week, “Josh is a great player, but he’s sorted elsewhere now and won’t be signing for us”. Swift from Saints is another rumoured to have signed, he’s a player who is well thought of by the Saints fans I have spoken too, but already rubbished by the keyboard Warriors on the message-boards here. Talk about running someone down before he even arrives!  

For now, I’ll be keeping my powder dry and watching what happens but of course, come October, many will vote for or against our recruitment for 2020, with our feet. Some, a lot of whom read this weekly drivel will, like me, still go if the tea lady is at prop next season!! However, a lot will judge their investment against what value for money they think they will get and indeed how fired up they are by the prospect of seeing our new recruits playing. The management will realise it’s a difficult one to pull off, but, at this stage in the proceedings fans have to be tolerant and forbearing and try to appreciate the retention and release decisions that are made. We simply have to wait to see who we sign, before we scream about who we let go.

It’s an exciting time because as I always say everyone likes a ‘good’ signing or three, but the vagaries of fan-dome dictate that not everyone has the same opinion as to who is ‘good’!!! It will be tough to perhaps hear of some players we like leaving the club, other supporters and many of the usual suspects will clap their hands with glee when announcements are made; but that’s just the way it is!

If we are reasonable fans, who hold the love of our club close to our heart’s, we’ll try to understand what is happening and the motives behind it and we’ll entrust our administration with doing the best for the good of the Club we all love as it moves forward.

As ever, in the end, the decisions we make to let players leave will only really be judged by who we sign in their places.  As I say exciting times really!!

You know, even after all these years of watching the game I love and realising that there is no room for sentimentality in sport, I still have what you might call the occasional ‘soft spot’ for certain players who pull on the famous black and white shirt. Just occasionally for me a player’s attitude or bad luck strikes a note with me yet why that is, I don’t really know. One such player was Hakim Miloudi, a rather itinerant sort of character who was certainly off the wall with his actions at times, both on and off the field.

However, if you ever spoke to the guy he certainly wore his heart on his sleeve and really did enjoy playing with the FC lads who all considered him a ‘bit of a character’ too. Tales of his off field exploits which it wouldn’t be fair to cover in here, had me (and many of his colleagues) in stitches; he was a real character alright!  He certainly came across as being a bit naïve which saw him have the odd brush with authority outside the game as well! All in all, he was a bit of a ‘Jack the Lad’ who carried that attitude onto the field of play, where kind observers branded him flamboyant whilst the more scathing  decided he was pretty reckless. By Lee’s comments, it was obvious that our coach struggled with his lack of structure too, which was perhaps just an extension of the way the guy was in life, although that, in the end, was I think his downfall as Lee ran out of patience.

Hakim genuinely loved his time here and being around the FC fans, and his almost naive honesty came through again this week when he said, “I’m gutted to leave the club, I wanted to stay and finish my career with Hull so I’m gutted. When I am talking with the boys now I feel bad, I feel like crying because I think about the two years and it was amazing. The fans were amazing with me. I liked it, I will never forget my time there. For me this club will be in my heart forever.”

That statement alone further cemented that soft spot I had for him and the guy even went on to say that he doubted that he would be able to play against the FC, if he ever visited the KCom with another club. He said, “I think about that a lot, I want to be back at the KCOM Stadium with the fans because it’s amazing but it would be hard to play against them because they’re my team now. But if I play for Toronto I’ll do the best I can do”.

So a bit of candour, a deal of innocence and perhaps even a bit of a gullible approach to what is the cut throat business of professional sport. However, although I get completely the reasons we let Hakim go, I think I’m getting soft in my old age because something about the guy hit a chord with me and I hope he does well in his future career, there is definitely something there, but getting that talent focussed and controlled will be the Coaching challenge, wherever he plays. He will go one of two ways in sport and perhaps in his life as well and I just hope that in both it goes well for him.   

Well our embarrassment of riches at Half back has had a pretty predictable outcome as Liam Harris left last week to join York for the remainder of the 2019 season, with us having an option to recall him after the first month. He made 7 appearances during last season’s injury hit final rounds but so far this season he has had a bad injury and although he played last week for the reserves, he hasn’t featured for the first team. Perhaps therefore, as we now have some options in the halves, he will get a lot of match practise over there in North Yorkshire. York are going well, they are a well-run club and they will no doubt be off setting his wages as well. Good luck to him, he has something there and needs game time and it will be interesting to watch how he goes.

The Cup draw is something that these days I find a bit hard to watch. I was convinced beforehand that we would come out of the hat to play at Rovers, (where of course we would win …easily, but before which I would probably have had apoplexy), but thankfully we didn’t and as John Kear once said when he was our coach, “All you need in the quarter final is a home draw”. It could have been so much worse as well, like away at Saints, Catalan or Warrington or even at Wakey.  Instead our path to a semi-final spot is barred by a team that visit us again, after humiliating us at home only last week and over whom we must have a longing for revenge and redemption. It should be all we need to hit them running and be really up for it. If we can’t beat Catalan then we won’t be deserving of a trip to Wembley really will we? For me it was a good draw and a massive chance to progress.

The omens are good too. We met and beat the Dragons on the way to the 2013, 2016 and 2017 finals and as I say we owe them one this time around. It will be hard and a real battle but if we show the resolve and fight we showed against Cas. and indeed Warrington, on a quiet, echoey Thursday night, we’ll be fine. Bring it on!!

Well we don’t often get one over Warrington like we did on Saturday and I remember a time when we did the same thing off the field as well. This week in the Codgers spot I thought it would be worth a look back with some affection, at a time when we had a largely untried Coach, who was trying to build a winning team with few resources at his disposal. That coach was Brian Smith and the halfback that he pinned so many of his hopes on only scored 18 tries in 3 seasons at our club and yet he was still one of our most influential signings we have made in the 60 plus years that I have been watching Hull FC. Have you got it yet? Well add to that him being the only player from the club to have won the Harry Sunderland Trophy as Man of the Match in the end of season Premiership final, and you will know that this week I am featuring Greg Mackey.

When Brian Smith arrived at the club, he was largely untried but came across as a real inspirational character that just oozed passion and resolve. He knew however, before he came, that there was little money available for team building. He scoured the NRL for up and coming players but got his most influential Aussie signing from a lot nearer to home, in fact from just across the Pennines in Warrington. ‘Bluey’ Mackey joined the club in October 1989, in a move that was shrouded in controversy. Greg was classed as an ‘average’ player over in Australia (playing for Canterbury Bankstown and Illawarra), who decided to try his luck in this country and took up a short-term contract with ‘The Wire’. They saw him as a temporary fix for their half back problems, but he soon took control of things over at Wildespool and as a natural leader on the field, he took the club to the Lancashire Cup final in 1989. The Warrington fans loved him, and he had just agreed to sign a 2-year contract extension with them, when his old mate Brian Smith, contacted him.

Smithy stepped in and snatched him from under the noses of the Lancashire Club, in a move that created a storm in the game. Warrington accused Smith and our Club of an illegal approach, and it all got very messy. However, Smithy, who was always a man who knew what he wanted, stuck to his guns, and eventually Warrington accepted Mackey’s departure and a small compensation payment that made up for the last few weeks of his short term contract. That was, for me, one of the best deals Hull FC had done for years, because as we all know too well at present, great half backs who lead the team around the field, are devilishly hard to find! The deal however did have its drawbacks because we had to release David Liddiard (who was another good player), to make way for Mackey, because we had exceeded our overseas quota.

With the great Brian Smith mapping out the game plans for every match in meticulous detail, and Mackey dictating matters on the field, Hull FC began a great revival that was to culminate in us winning the Premiership two years later. Mackey had another great strength too, because although he missed his second game for the club because of a thigh injury, he then went on to play in every other game in his three year stay. That was a run of 94 consecutive matches. In fact, when he returned to Warrington after playing for us, he went on to play another 98 successive games for them too. Gregg was just what you needed in an injury crisis!!!!!

Mackey was made Captain of the team shortly after he arrived, and was ‘vocal’ from day one, he was also strong willed when leading the players, both on and off the field and commanded tremendous respect from his fellow clubmen and soon the team were on the up. Greg made his debut on 29th October1989, and by the end of that season we had been on a 9 game undefeated run and got through to the Premiership play-offs, where we were beaten in the first round, 18-8 away at Widnes. The following season though was one that all FC supporters will never forget, as the club went on another great run and got to the Premiership final for the second time in three years. Sadly, by the time of those end of the season heroics, Smithy had left and Noel Cleal was our coach. However so respected was Brian by the players and staff that the season was obviously still his, and we all felt on the terraces that the players were still playing for him and indeed he spoke to several of them by phone in the changing rooms before that Final.

If ever there was one single play, involving Greg Mackey, that the fans who frequented the Boulevard back then will remember, it was one particular kick in that 1991 season. It was deep into the final minutes of the Premiership semi-final and we were losing to Leeds 7-4. The Boulevard was a cauldron that night, but try as we may we could not get close to the Leeds line to put pressure on for the winning score. All of a sudden Mackey took a snapped pass from Patrick Entat at acting half back and hoisted a massive up and under from just over the 40-metre line. The ball hung in the air for literally ages, swirling in the wind over the try line as it fell towards the waiting arms of former New Zealand Rugby Union full-back John Gallagher. Under pressure from a couple of FC forwards, he fumbled the ball and Gary Nolan, recently introduced from the bench, snapped the ball out of the air and touched down, to an ecstatic response from the ‘Faithful’ all around the ground. We went ballistic, and the chant of “Spent a fortune won F*ck All, Leeds, Leeds” echoed around the ground.

In the final at Old Trafford it was again Mackey that was the star as we overturned all the odds to snatch a great victory over Widnes. Bluey was everywhere that day, he had a hand in two of our tries and his exceptional tactical kicking pinned the much fancied ‘Chemics’ back in their own half for long periods of the game. It was a fine performance and he really did deserve the Harry Sunderland Trophy. The following season however, after the Board were forced to sell a couple of our top players to keep the Club afloat, the FC team started to fall apart. Greg returned to Warrington, leaving that record of having played 95 games, scoring 18 tries.

The picture that says it all as Greg Mackey holds aloft the Premiership Trophy at Old Trafford in 1991.

But what a difference he made to the Team and what a great half back he was. As I said earlier, as the Club went into decline Gregg returned to Warrington but, although he is sadly no longer with us, dying as he did in September 2014, he will always be a hero in my eyes!

You know arrogance in sport always ends in tears and it is something truly great teams try to avoid. Just look how the players and managers of the Manchester City’s and Liverpool’s of this world respect the opposition whoever they are playing. So perhaps this morning as they lick their wounds that is something Warrington should take note of, for I was pretty dismayed by their comments about our last two reversals in the week leading up to the game. I thought it was just me but apparently the lads saw it too and Lee really had little to do to get them up for this one.

After the game he said, “It gets teams backs up that! There’s a way to win and you don’t have to embarrass people and that certainly played a part. That was the team talk – job done. The last time we played here I described it like we had a load of young kids going out, it was like Gladiator, where they p*** themselves before they went out into the Coliseum, that’s what the dressing room was like, they were sheepish and looking at the ground, I wanted to get up and cuddle them. But today, there was a bounce in the changing rooms and a good energy and I felt they had a gut full of them and the stuff they had said.”

Doesn’t that just make a great victory even greater and good for Lee, for he is never short of a good quote is he? Thanks to everyone who got in touch this week its always great to hear your views and comments. Now we have to wonder who is injured, how bad Danny Houghton’s leg is, how Scott Taylor is fairing and what happens next in this topsy-turvy FC season. However, for now let’s just enjoy a great victory against all the odds and an extraordinary display of courage and determination from the FC boys. Not for the first time this season we have made the rest of the game sit up and take notice and this time, for all the right reasons!  

Keep Believing and enjoy the week!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf