The Dentist’s Diary – 631st

‘Heroes and villains’

Who’d be an FC fan eh?

Don’t ask me to explain that, the Club can’t, the Coach can’t, the Players can’t, so I’ve no chance!!

Instead I’ll pose the question, “Are Hull FC ‘the Forrest Gumps’ of Rugby League???” Well they might well be just that!! Undoubtedly with our team this year, life IS like a box of chocolates because ‘you never quite know what you’re gonna get’. I can’t take credit for that gem, because reader Richard Hall actually text that to the Club, straight after the final hooter and so surreal is this season becoming, no one could really put it any better!

After Huddersfield we were battered, bruised, deflated and despondent and that was just the fans, BUT, as a team we had just 5 days to turn it around. As supporters we wondered if that was ever going to be possible. Catalan on the other hand, as the Cup holders, were the darlings of the media in the build up!  They’d gone four games undefeated including wins in ‘Big’ fixtures in Barcelona and at the Magic Weekend, (where their pack looked awesome), they had rested Mcilorum and Tomkins last week, just for this game, and no doubt Steve McNamara was licking his lips at the chance to get one over his old Club and in so doing get back to Wembley. For the tie the Dragons even stayed over in this country between matches to ensure they had no distractions, they were fully focussed and right on it! They couldn’t lose could they?

No one gave us a hope (if I’m honest you can include me in that too) yet we produced a quite phenomenal display and when Catalan were two tries down in that second half, it was their turn to run out of steam and look as if they were playing in lead boots.  

As performances go it was convincing! We just ran all over them in that second half, but whoever we had been playing in the British game that night, we would probably have beaten them! It might not have been by as many points, but the old adage that we can beat anyone on our day, was never more pertinent than it was at 10-00pm last Thursday night. It would be nice however if someone could tell us (and apparently Lee Radford as well) in advance, exactly when it is going to be our day!

I know we shouldn’t live in the past, but this journal does try to cover the last 7 days so first up let me say that after the Huddersfield game there followed the quietest response from readers I have seen for a while. I presumed that meant that either the Diary was just too unrepresentative of what went on in Liverpool or, perhaps more likely I hoped, you were all as fed up as I was!!

My ‘hand wringing’ and shroud waiving, certainly didn’t go down well in ‘high places’, but I was tremendously disappointed and even after what has followed, I make no excuses about what I had to say. All I could focus on was the fact that our only consistent feature at present is our inconsistency and that trait was to continue apace into this week; in glorious fashion. Of all the problems a club can have, that has to be the single most frustrating one of all for the fans.

The life of a fan is in any case a real roller coaster affair anyway and if you’re that way inclined, you can’t pretend or hide anything, you just have to bare it all and hope that those around you understand a little bit about what you’re going through. As I always say, as far as hobbies and past times are concerned, the lot of the stamp collectors and train-spotters of this world is certainly an easier one than that of a sports fan!!!

In many ways it was OK for the players, for they didn’t have time to dwell on it; but we bloody did!!! They couldn’t spend the next few days in a depressed state and ‘kicking stones’ because the next game and indeed the most important one of the season, was just 5 days away.  However, the difference between us ‘committed fanatics’ and the ‘heroes and villains’ we support, is that we have put in more hours, more seasons and more years than they have.

We don’t get paid for our efforts, indeed we actually pay to experience distress and heartache and we can’t sign for anyone else, as we’re stuck with the Club we’ve got. That’s why for us lot our first win at Wembley was such a life defining moment, but on the other side of the coin, occurrences such as that at Anfield, where our heroes are devoid of any sort of passion at all, are pretty devastating. If ever the expression ‘Roller Coaster’ should be used about fandom this is it!!

As supporters we eat, sleep and live Hull FC, we make sacrifices and place our club above most other things in life and so quite rightly we’re ever hopeful of seeing something like the same sort of commitment that we contribute to the relationship, reciprocated on the field. When we don’t get it, we’re aggrieved. When we do we’re over the moon and so we all hoped that some sort of bounce back was on the cards for Thursday night!   

What’s even more infuriating is the roaring silence that radiates from the Club in such situations these days. It was certainly all quiet on that front after the Huddersfield game and although I was hoping for a statement of comfort or succour for the fans who travelled to witness that debacle, silence fell with a thud! That said, I guess the truth behind the silence really is the fact that no one really knows what is happening.   

As had been the case after the last two blow out defeats, the tumbleweed blew back and forth across the 5-day gap between the games and we all just hoped against hoped that the players, inspired by their obvious love of the Cup, would let their actions on the field do the talking.

The fans were frustrated to the point of distraction and that reflected on the gate and the dozens of fans who I know, who didn’t go to the game at all. With just 4,823 there it was probably a record low gate for the KCom Stadium but, you can’t piss people off and drain their resources of both money and passion one week and expect then to turn up for an ‘All Must Pay’ game the next!

With no succour or explanations for them forthcoming from the Club, many had just had enough. After the Cup game, I guess for them it must have felt a bit like cutting your nose off to spite your face, but it’s their choice as paying customers, end of! It’s all about economics and quite how you include Cup games in season tickets I have no idea, but there is certainly a case for investigating it! 

We all knew that The Dragons had rested both McIlorum and Tompkins for the Liverpool game and that the whole squad rested up in this country before they played us. It was a formula that worked well the last time they demolished us at home and as soon as I saw their team, I did worry a bit. Although I knew with this in and out FC team that ‘while there’s life, …’ I also believed, as far as this year’s hopes for a trophy were concerned, this was probably the last chance saloon!

It didn’t start at all well though did it? Just an hour before kick-off we found out that our talismanic leader in such situations, Scott Taylor, would be missing, due, we were told, to ‘a late issue’ which turned out to be another mishap at Captain’s run. In came Westerman to replace Tag, which perhaps fuelled the conspiracy theorists view that Joe was not so much injured as dropped after the Magic debacle. However, to face our biggest game of the season without both Ellis and Tag just piled on the concern, yet as usual we just had to get on with it!

We kicked off and the first few sets were so important. The first two from both teams were cagy and almost identical, but we needed to work our way into the game, dance their big forwards around a bit and try to build some confidence. We ground it out in their faces and waited our chance and sure enough we got the break. A great kick and a pressurising chase that saw Naulago palm back and Jake Connor cruise in. The pressure from us was building as we got the ball back and a superb cut out pass (which was flat at best) from Sneyd, saw Fairamo shoot in and after just 8 minutes and two great conversions from Sneyd, we were 12-0 up.

Then as often happens with us we started giving penalties away as two on the trot marched them back down the field and Tierney slid in at the corner as Faraimo tried to help Griffin inside and left the French winger open. At 12-4 we all wondered how that would hit us mentally.

Again Westerman conceded a penalty, his second in a few minutes, they were back on our line again and Tierney was in again at the corner. Tony Gigot was starting to cause us all sorts of problems but thankfully Tomkins had left his kicking boots on the bus although at 12-8 it looked ominous. Catalan were on a roll and we had somehow to break that momentum. We had to find something different and get some possession. We did just that and subsequently we wrestled our way back into the game, but lost out when Connor knocked on in a good position.

We tried to take advantage of a massive 45m penalty to stretch it a bit, but Sneyd sliced it just wide. However, after both sides had grabbed the ascendancy in turn in the first twenty minutes, it soon became a nip and tuck stalemate as both sets of forwards battered each other down the middle. We worked a good position but naivety by Faraimo saw him take the bait, get up in the tackle, keep going down the touch line and get bundled into touch. Then it was Ratu, (who was having a great game) that bundled another Catalan attack into touch near the corner flag and as both sides probed and prodded the oppositions defences, we held out and it was 12-8 at half time.

Our lot had certainly turned up this week, yet at half time it was still not convincing and we’d certainly hung on a bit at times. There was certainly no indication at all of what was to come and most of us probably if we are honest, feared a second half back-lash from the holders. I was impressed with Savelio who looked fit and strong and he was joined by a pack who had worked their socks off for the cause. Sneyd as always was controlling things brilliantly, whilst Ratu again shone out as a real workhorse on the wing.

We looked a bit tentative in the first few sets of the second half as Catalan, (a McNamara bollocking no doubt ringing in their ears), went for us, but their discipline was poor and Sneyd used a penalty opportunity to stretch the score to 14-8. It was a frail lead, but a 6-point one just the same and psychology wise at least we had posted the first points of the half. Everyone at home and at the game were uncomfortable and anxious. Watching, no doubt, through their fingers or even from behind settee’s as we all just wanted the time to go by, but as always the clock dragged on and seemed to stand still at times.

Then, it all started to change as they conceded another penalty and a great short ball from the resurgent Kelly, near the line, saw an already injured Manu carrying one arm, running a great line and after the longest 9 minutes I can remember, he crashed over to put us 20-8 ahead. The question now was could we hold on and indeed who would blink first? Of course this is Hull FC and straight away we lost the ball on our own line and as Tomkins stretched out to touch down a rolling ball, Westerman had to boot it dead. However, it was apparent that the Catalan players were becoming a bit rattled and there was evidence of one or two arguing with each other.

The repeat set from the drop out was critical for the visitors as they piled on the pressure, but a brilliant interception by Connor saw him find Ratu and at last we saw our new winger fly! Boy he’s fast and as he scooted 60 yards down field no one could get near him. He’s certainly a real speedster and appeared to not shift out of second gear, as he completely outpaced the opposition cover. With another great Sneyd conversion we were 18 points up. Marc is so good in such situations because although he missed one penalty in the first half, he just kept tagging on the points and he didn’t miss another kick. That must be absolutely soul destroying for the opposition.

Game management was now everything and Sneyd sitting comfortably in the pocket at first or second receiver just took command. Four times he drilled the ball into the corner at the end of set plays and throughout he distributed the ball around the players with ease.  A great run in contact from Mickey Paea was a joy to watch, as he karted 4 defenders 20 meters downfield and the ‘great Catalan pack’ were made to look leaden footed at best! Then, reminiscent of that great blindside move we saw against the Dobbins on Good Friday, Albert Kelly popped up down the touchline off a great acting half pass and outstripped the chasers to speed in under the sticks. At that point on the terraces and at home everyone stretched out a bit and metaphorically at least, ‘undid our belts and lit up a cigar’ it was now down to managing the sets, running down the clock and enjoying the last fifteen minutes.

 As you know by now, I can’t do that well at all, as I’m constantly working out how many sets they have left and how many tries they can still score. But, with us so dominant, even I was a bit calmer by then. Sneyd was superb in managing the game out and when a set came to nought, he was on hand to nonchalantly drop a goal as he literally masterminded everything.

 Ratu grabbed a loose ball in the tackle and was away again to score, before a great Mark Minichiello scoot from acting half saw Kelly turn up for him, to draw the full-back and pass onto the ever willing Shaul, who shot in under the sticks. Metronome-like Sneyd tagged on the extras as the points totted up and Steve McNamara sank further down into his seat.

Savelio, lost the ball in a promising position near the end, which was a shame, but I mention that simply because he had done so well and played himself to an absolute standstill. However, it was a mark of the way that we had kept possession that it was hard to remember any other such profligate play at all, as Sneyd then produced a basket-ball type tip on pass to put Houghton into a gap and he literally sauntered in to complete the rout. 51 points were on the board, the boys were back and the Cup holders were out of the competition.     

Our organisation, tactics and overall plan were superb all night but it was the passion and wanting to win that got us through the tough periods and the skill and guile that saw us post the points. OK Catalan lost their shape and their rags in that second half but if we were wondering a bit what this proved, I guess after last week’s debacle, it was probably that our capitulation to Huddersfield was nothing to do with coaching, but all about a poor mental attitude. Somehow I guess, we have to address that, for had we played like that in Liverpool then the KCom would have been packed on Thursday, but at least we are in the semi-finals and who having watched both teams perform in Liverpool, would have predicted that last Saturday tea-time???

Sneyd cannot be praised enough and thank goodness we have him signed up for another three years. However, I must also mention all the ‘who ha’ that has been going on all week and indeed what we heard on Sky when we watched the game back, about how good Mickey Mcilorum is! Believe me on Thursday night he couldn’t black Houghton’s boots and it just shows how good Danny is and how much we miss him when he doesn’t play. But, every one of the players played their part and deserve praise, I just wish they could do that on a more consistent basis! However brillinat stuff!

So after all that, to the rest of the week and after pictures circulated on Tuesday from training of Adam Swift with the lads, it was obvious it was only a matter of time before his signing was announced and so it was on Wednesday evening, the news first appeared on the Super League site and shortly afterwards went viral, as our second major signing for 2020.

Swift is one of the fastest player in the game, but unlike most genuine speedsters he also packs a real punch as well and has a big impact coming out of yardage and doing the hard yards down the middle. Many Saints fans admire him and didn’t want him to leave , but with Regan Grace and Golden Boot winner Tommy Makinson, he’s struggling for game time.

That’s actually one of the things that intrigued me with one of his interviews when he said, “When I come over to Hull next season I can get the chance to play regularly and that’s an opportunity I will take with both hands because I want to get over the whitewash and score some tries.” The bit about having a chance to play regularly, points to the fact that perhaps he knows something we don’t, with regard to our current starting winger’s tenure for 2020.

Only time will tell on that one, but having seen us made a fool of a few times over the years by him, it has to be another step forward, but I’ll be interested to see which wingers we have left on our books come the start of pre-season training in November. All that said, I’ve always admired him and I feel that the comments of some on the message boards about him are unfair, he’s champing at the bit to prove a lot of folks wrong and that’s always a good starting point for any new player. So, welcome Adam Swift and now we look forward to who’se next!!!

Now, when I looked in the Mail on Sunday last weekend and read the headline ‘Radford’s job on the line after horror show’, I just thought ‘they must be desperate for RL news!’  Lee job was never on the line, because of the way he has surrounded himself with his players and continues to dictate the recruitment for next season. Even if we wanted to get rid, Adam is in a very invidious situation. I doubt very much that a player of the calibre of Josh Jones, who was being courted by Saints, Wigan and Leeds, would move to a club where it was unclear who the Coach would be in 2020. In fact, I believe that Lee has probably already signed a contract extension, but that’s just my theory.

Lee replies to the ‘Radford Out’ brigade?

However, one things for sure, several players who we are currently relying on every week, have been told that they are no longer wanted after this season and the impact that has made on their psyche, plus the fact that a few will be retiring at the end of the year as well, means that we can expect some in and out performances between now and the end of the campaign. After that showing against Catalan it looks to me that the up and down form of the current squad could be down to minds being elsewhere, amongst the players who are coming to the end of their time with us. It might not be what some want to hear, I can’t see Lee departing any time soon myself and after the newly signed Adam Smith waxed lyrical about how he had bought into Lee Radford’s vision for the club over the next two years, as I say, I believe myself that he’s already signed a contract!!

Well I have said in here over the past few years that the games disciplinary system has a sound structure but the selection of incidents that are singled out to be highlighted on any given weekend is a lottery. I have also said that those that are picked to sit in judgement, might even at times be accused of having a bit of a ‘bias’ towards or against certain clubs and individuals. In fact on one occasion a few years back none of us had much doubt when an ex-Dobbins chairman sat in judgement on an FC player, the week before a Derby. We all knew what the outcome of that one would be …and it was!!

However, Neil Hudgell had a go last week after Joel Tomkins was banned and they failed to have the decision over turned on appeal. At first I thought it was typical of that bloke’s sour grapes attitude, however, on closer scrutiny I concluded that Hudge had a point and in a longish statement, hit the nail on the head when he said, “I’m very concerned when we leave Paul Cullen and his department to deliver this selective justice. There’s nothing wrong with the system, just some of the people in it. The explanation of the basis for charging is baffling and has changed over the last 24 hours giving the impression of being made up on the hoof”. 

So those on the panel rightly or wrongly decided to ban Tomkins, but then when challenged on appeal they actually changed the reasons behind their decision, before the appeal hearing, thus wrong footing Rovers defence. This prompted Hudge to quite rightly point the finger at those on the panel, insinuating like I always have, that all is not as transparent as it should be with that lot. So for me and as I have said in here on countless occasions over the years, the whole set up needs looking at, opening up for all to peruse and some consistency brought into who is used to make these decisions.

Hudge didn’t object to the punishment and took his medicine, but he did call into question the process and I’m sure that his protestation will have as much effect as everyone else’s have had in the past ….zilch! However, perhaps Elstone and Co. should get hold of this one, because it is a process that brings the game down because it simply isn’t transparent enough to stop the conspiracy theories, that I believe are far more than just theories. It’s a typical RFL old boys Club, so let’s sort it out for the good of the game eh?  

As Jamie Thackerey, Shaun Briscoe and Stilts were on the field to deliver the match ball on Thursday and we remembered that great Final in Cardiff in 2005, I thought a lot about that game and that team afterwards. So here this week, why not live again with me that wonderful, wonderful day in Wales as here, in an extract from ‘Book Two’, are my memories of a sunny afternoon in Cardiff back in 2005.

 “ …..As we arrived outside the Stadium there were a few long Hull faces as word spread through the crowd that on the night before the game Shaun Briscoe had been rushed to hospital with appendicitis. A victory that seemed unlikely suddenly looked impossible and when we heard that instead of bringing in Motu Tony as the logical replacement, winger Nathan Blacklock was to play at full back, there was some concern. Still everyone was there to party and many donned fancy dress and there seemed to be Skeletons, Big Baby’s, Gladiators and Clowns everywhere, as young and old made the most of that rarest of occasions.  

When we got inside there was plenty of antagonism going on out on the terraces between the Hull supporters and the already gloatingly, confident Leeds fans. Tin foil replica Cups glinted in the sunshine, scarves were waved and flags sprung up everywhere. The atmosphere was certainly charged with emotions as Katherine Jenkins led the singing of ‘Abide with Me’ and one Hull fan, Kevin Short, became quite a national celebrity as he was caught by the BBC TV camera’s crying through the moment, as he remembered his FC supporting Grandfather.    

The baiting wasn’t just reserved for the terraces either and afterwards we found out that in the tunnel there was an altercation between Stephen Kearney and Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield. The latter had joined other Leeds players in shouting “Here come the losers”, as Hull left the changing rooms. Kearney certainly put them right in the tunnel, the fans put them right on the terraces and the players put them right on the pitch!!

After the Hull team had been led out by ‘Number One’ fan and brave Cerebral Palsy sufferer Scott Walker, the game kicked off in a cauldron of emotion as the Hull fans did what they do best and easily out sang a smug Leeds contingent. Sinfield soon tested Blacklock but then following a towering bomb, a mix-up ended with Gareth Raynor trying to prevent Mark Calderwood touching down, by pulling him back by his shorts. The video referee awarded a penalty try and Sinfield converted to give his side a 6-0 lead.

Midway through the half a couple of Rhino’s handling errors allowed Hull to apply some pressure as a speculative kick to the right wing by Shayne McMenemy was brilliantly flicked on to Tony by Richard Whiting. The winger chipped over Marcus Bai and despite being crash tackled over the line, he beat Ali Lauiti’iti and Richie Mathers to touch down. Danny Brough levelled the scores with a fine touch line conversion and we were level. However, despite a number of near misses, that’s how it stayed until half time.

During the interval, I didn’t know what to do with myself and I was in a trance like state as the tension really got to me. I wandered around aimlessly, before being approached in a refreshment area by a guy I had never seen before in my life. Sporting a Hull scarf and speaking in a broad South African accent he asked me if the Rosenberg which was emblazoned across the back of my shirt, was my name. I replied that it was actually name of my first FC hero, Wilf Rosenberg, ‘The Flying Dentist’, who I had watched at the Boulevard back in 1962. He immediately shook my hand and introduced himself as Wilf’s nephew, who had made the trip over from South Africa to watch the game.

It was a strange encounter but did bring a strange symmetry to this story as an echo from the very earliest supporting days  came back out of the blue right there under the East Stand of the Millennium Stadium, on such a significant day, in the recent history of our Club.

The gamble by Leeds to play centre Keith Senior with a painkilling injection in his injured ankle, came to an abrupt end when he didn’t re-appear for the second half and soon a couple of loose passes by the Rhino’s put Hull on the attack. This time we took full advantage as Motu Tony, intercepting a pass from Mathers, set up a good attacking position. Blacklock squeezed out a superb pass for Raynor who scored in the corner, for Brough to again add the conversion.

Leeds drew level again when Sinfield put Danny Ward over and then converted, but then the Leeds captain sent a kick on the fifth tackle straight into touch to give Hull another excellent attacking platform. Leeds seemed to have weathered the storm when Bai collected Horne’s grubber behind his own line, but the wingman tried to pass to Mathers, the ball popped out and there was Whiting to score the simplest of tries. Brough converted and then added a drop goal to give Hull a 19-12 lead going into the final quarter.

Just when Leeds were starting to look ragged, handling errors by Hull threw them a lifeline. Sinfield fed Mark Calderwood from a scrum after a Hull knock on and when Blacklock missed him, the try was inevitable. Bai made up for his blunder when he out jumped Tony, to grab a kick from Mathers to touch down and Sinfield converted both to make it 24-19 to Leeds with 10 minutes remaining.

Hull looked to be down and out, but they summoned one last effort after a grubber kick from McMenemy yielding another six tackles deep in the Leeds half. As we all stretched and strained as if we were playing, at a play the ball in front of the sticks Horne feigned to go right, half dummied to just wrong foot the defence, and released Cooke to his left. As we held our breath and the action went into ‘slow motion’ our number 6 gliding through a gap to cross the line. We all grimaced as he celebrated before he put the ball down behind the posts, but get it down he did, and the place erupted. When Brough stepped up to take what was a simple conversion, he admitted afterwards that thoughts of Don Fox’s Final miss for Wakefield in 1968 went through his mind, but he kept his nerve and we were a point in front.

However as often happens just when you think you have it won, a fumble by Jamie Thackray from the kick-off gifted the ball and the last set of six tackles of the game, to Leeds. They charged downfield to set up a position for the drop goal that would tie the scores, but as Sinfield aimed to stroke the ball between the posts somehow ‘Captain Fantastic’ Richard Swain got out of our line, jumped in front of him and charged down the kick and the Cup was on its way to Hull. Still the game went on and we were awarded a penalty which we still had to take after the hooter had gone. I imagined all sorts of scenarios but as McMenemy tapped the ball and toe prodded the ball into touch the hooter went again and the celebrations began.

John Kear, who had masterminded one of the Challenge Cup’s biggest upsets when Sheffield Eagles beat Wigan in 1998 and who rated this victory even better, fell over the advertisement boards before he ran onto the field and hugged his players, whilst for me it was all just simply amazing. I couldn’t cheer, I couldn’t dance I just sat there with my head in my hands and cried, and I wasn’t on my own!

All the heartache, all the frustration and all the disappointment endured since our last Challenge Cup victory was forgotten in an instant as all around me grown men and women were reduced to tears. It would have been so cruel on our players had we been denied victory because their passion and determination deserved to be rewarded in what was one of the most emotional Finals of all time. It had been a long, long journey since Elland Road in 1982, full of disappointment, disenchantment and at times anger but at that moment, it was all so eminently worthwhile.

Forty minutes after the game had finished and as the ‘banging and clattering’ of the scaffolders dismantling the dais that had seen Richard Swain hoist aloft the Challenge Cup, echoed around the empty stadium, no one wanted to go home. Hundreds just stood there, transfixed and zombie like, long after the last diminishing chord of ‘Rockin’ all Over the World’, had faded into the ether and the last of the players had retired from the pitch to open their champagne, or in Leeds case, cry into their Tetley’s Bitter. 

Eventually the stewards were almost begging us to “Go Home” but I was just overawed by it all and never wanted to be anywhere else, ever again! They should bottle that feeling and sell it as you leave games like that one. Then, when you eventually prepare to ‘depart this mortal coil’ you can uncork it, take a long sniff of the sweet smell of success and exit this world in the knowledge that you know exactly what it was like ‘Being There’ ….” Great memories eh?

So still on the history bit, Guy Marshall was in touch this week with a bit of a puzzle as he sent me a picture of a signed ball and said, “This ball was passed to my father some time ago by a family friend who won it in a raffle at a club event in the mid 80’s. My father gave the ball to me shortly before he died. I think the ball is most likely from the 1984/85 season. I may be wrong. However, there is one, possibly two, signatures in the middle left I cannot work out. It looks to me like maybe P.J something, or it could be that the signature that looks like P.J is one signature and the rest another. Any Ideas?”

Well, Guy had them all correct, besides this one, however, FC historian Bill Dalton although struggling himself guessed it might be Phil Edmonds. I’ve scratched my head about it all week but I think Bill actually got it spot on in the end.

The ball in question and the mystery signature!! Blow it up (the picture not the ball) and see if you can get the rest, as Guy did!!

So were into the semi-finals and after a victory’s against all the odds and the pundits, like that one against Catalans, it certainly brings the smiles back to all the FC faces. How we can turn that sort of thing on and off like a tap is still baffling, but we move on I guess and hey ho, It’s a long time till the end of July and the semi’s and we certainly need some points before then!! The fact is that we might have to get used to this up and down form, but at least it makes it difficult for teams to plan for us and I think mathematically at least, we still have a good chance of making the top five. But with so many blow out games, what’ll be most galling, is if we miss out on points difference!!

Still, as Danny Houghton said, twice in a post-match interview, We’re in the draw for the hat!!!!” and before kick off on Thursday that’s all we could have hope for. 

We now face an 8 day turn around and a chance to rest up before we play Salford at home and wonder again which FC will turn up. Looking at the games that come after that away from home, we really do need to win this one and most fans would have it down as a must win if we are to keep in contention for the top 5. However, whether the players prioritise it as such in their minds, remains to be seen.

Now, in finishing, for a bit of an insight into just how sad I am, because as for the semi-final at Caravan Park on Friday, well you know, I might have pretended differently, but in my heart of hearts I was so relieved that the Dobbins couldn’t get past Warrington!! Some, on message Boards and twitter, perhaps a bit younger than this old guy, went on and on all day on Friday about wanting the great unwashed in the semi-final or the Final to ‘do them’! But, all that was not for me. Perhaps I’m just tired and world weary or have overdosed on the antagonism and baiting that now goes on and which is at times pathetic, but you know what? I don’t think I could have stood it.

Of course winning the semi or the final against the dicks would be great, but after all our feats of daring do in 2016 and 2017 I just couldn’t contemplate the alternative. In those seasons I would have probably said, “Bring it on” but let’s face it, with our lot at present we could win handsomely or get beaten by a margin that would be impossible to ever live down. Not having to face the latter possibility was a blessed relief!!

 I’m trying desperately here to explain why I felt the way I did and failing miserably. But I was certainly relieved when Warrington won. Still that’s just me and no doubt most reading this now won’t agree, but at least I’m honest; they’re out and their season’s effectively over, whilst at Hull FC we live to fight another day!!!

I just wonder if I was on my own on that one?

It was great to receive a plethora of text messages as the final hooter went last Thursday and indeed a stream of messages thereafter, I really do appreciate your support and friendship. We got through and it appears that, like me, most of you were surprised, a bit baffled where it all came from and just bloody relieved that we were in the draw! It was a great fighting win against all the odds. The preparations for next Friday and what goes on between the player’s ears on the night, will obviously dictate what exactly happens at the KCom, but for now after all the doom and gloom of last week, let’s just enjoy the ride for the next few days eh? What a win it was!

Thanks as always for all your support and apologise for a negative old Diary last week!! We’re in the semi-finals, Rovers lost and Catalans got their bond back!!!! In addition we’re very close to signing Joel Thompson and who knows what we’ll do against Salford next week? Onwards and upwards? Well, let’s hope so eh?

Faithfully Yours

Wilf  

And of course for regular readers you’ll see, it’s that time of the year again!!!!