The Dentist’s Diary – 633rd

“Kelly scores … and that was Box Office!”

Those were the final words on the Sky end credits, when you watched it back afterwards and there is no doubt that when we are ‘on it’ we can score some amazing tries and really entertain the spectators. 10 points down at half time and looking slightly second best, you should never write this FC team off, as long as, of course, we have our ‘heads on’!!

At that moment I was ecstatic and so was everyone at home and there in Castleford. And I mean everyone, for as you watch it back and see the joy on Lee’s face and the happiness he and Andy Last embraced as Kelly dived in, you realise just how lucky we are to have a set of guys running our team who are as big a fans, as we all are!  

I grumble when we lose and dance when we win, for I’m a fan and its expected of me. But I was proud of our lads on Thursday, as we witnessed a second half renaissance of amazing magnitude. Once again the tries were well engineered, full of individual style and exciting to watch. In games as tight as this one was, true quality is key and Hull FC had marginally more, as we edged past Castleford Tigers and then blew them away. Our right edge was lethal and in Ratu we must have the find of the season!

With 3 assists in the game, Connor was quite amazing and a relieved and still elated Lee Radford afterwards praised him for responding to his pre-game instructions. He was outstanding as was ‘Commander’ Sneyd and ‘Hat trick hero’ Albert Kelly, as our spine sparkled and shone in the second half Castleford gloom. It was again a wonderful effort by all concerned and with Ellis, Manu, Tumavive, Griffin and Bowden missing, all of whom would have a big call on playing if fit, or not suspended, it was a heartening win for the squad as well.

Realism is needed as well, for we are I guess still a bit in and out. Against Cas and Catalan it was our second half display that got us home, whilst against Salford it was that compelling first half blitz that just saw us win. In the other halves of those games we have been bested by the opposition, but as they say, it’s the points in the table that matter at this point of the season, and another two saw us on 22 and sat in third on Thursday night!!

That’ll do for me!!!!  

The Jungle (or Wheldon Road as I’ve always preferred to refer to it) is a ground that has provided some really lasting memories over the years, both good and bad. It is also one of the smallest pitches in the game and a notoriously ‘claggy’ ground, that has over the years seen some real mud baths, even in the era of summer rugby! With its hostile atmosphere, it’s never an easy place to perform well at and with the proximity of the crowd to the playing surface, it’s a real historical throwback of a Stadium and one I love to visit but, I guess if I’m honest, hate to play at.

In essence and putting aside the nostalgia and reminiscence it engenders, the old place is run down and in a shocking state but the size of the pitch is the biggest issue for visiting teams. What’s more, after so many false dawns, their new ground down near the M62, seems to be no nearer to becoming a reality for their long suffering fans.

I’ve always admired the community oriented Castleford club and their fans. Well, I have until a few years back when they got a bit ‘good’ and a few on social media lost a bit of proportion about it all. It went straight to their heads, as they lost some of their joviality and humanity and for me interacting as I do with a lot of them, one or two became a tad arrogant as well. However, for all of us, when we have a bit of success, I guess that sort of stuff always effects the few. I would like to think though, that the majority of us hold our water a bit, because nothing lasts that long does it and invariably one day you’ll find the opposition fans leaving the ground singing, ‘Sweet Caroline’ back at you!!!  

That said the majority are great RL fans who get it completely but for us lot on Thursday, it was going to be a big ask from the off. Castleford had just about their full pack out again and we are notoriously poor on heavy grounds, preferring instead at present to play ‘top of the ground’ rugby. I thought that it was going to be a real grind and so it was that the FC Army traversed the M62 and decamped to the West Riding on a dank and ‘un’June’ like Thursday night. What more, despite the fear of me sounding like a cracked record, I have to add that everyone, to a person, (probably even including Lee Radford) wondered just which FC would actually turn up.

At least the rain had stopped for a while as the kick-off approached and the teams came out of the only tunnel in Super League that is so narrow it will only take one team at a time!!  Then, after a well-respected minutes silence for the great Bill Bryant, (who I watched a time or two playing with Hepworth, Hardisty and Co in the great Cas. team of the 60’s), we were off.

From the start we noticeably struggled to make much progress and their forwards looked really up for it. It was certainly ‘hard yards’ for us but Shaul was doing well, defusing their towering end of set kicks. The referee gave a penalty each and we couldn’t do much with ours, but after we had to restart with a drop out, Castleford took full advantage and Minnikin was in. On that short pitch you just can’t give a 7 tackle set and then gift them a penalty as well. In that first twelve minutes the Castleford team just seemed to have more verve and a little more punch than we did and trailing by 4, we had to start making more ground on impact.

We pressed, but struggled to make progress in their 20, before a brilliant pass out of the back of a two man tackle by Connor found Naulago and he was in at the corner, although sadly Sneyd couldn’t convert.

Next up a Cas. grubber on the blindside saw Buchanan caught out and unlucky to knock on, but the pressure was on our line again as Cas. got a penalty and it was 6-4. After 23 minutes we were still in touch, but struggling. As we passed the half hour mark both teams were still testing each other out down the middle but then Taylor lost the ball in the tackle, Savelio gave a 5th tackle penalty away and Cas again went for goal to make it 8-4. Then just as we looked to have weathered the storm again, disaster struck as Albert Kelly dropped the slippery ball from the sixth tackle kick under the sticks and Junior Moors was in; with three minutes to go to the break it was 14-4. We were doing OK but as we trooped off the field, Castleford had seemed throughout to have a bit more energy than we had.

At half time, we were adrift, but certainly still in it, although we had looked to hang on a bit at times. We needed a bit more edge over a home team intent on taking our spot in the table.  We’d tried really hard, but didn’t seem to have the muscle to stop their fast play the balls and rolling drives. We also needed to improve our end of sets kicking, where Kelly was wayward on several occasions and too often it wasn’t Sneyd who finished the set. Still, with that 2019 uncertainty that seems to surround ‘which FC will actually turn up’, I guess I was reasonably happy to settled for a 10-point gap going into the second half and still, in theory, being in the game.

We restarted the second half playing towards the Railway End and got stuck into the first few tackles as both teams continued to handle the wet conditions well, although I mused on the fact that it was interesting throughout the game to see both sides conserving energy and trying to disrupt the others pattern, by kicking regularly on the 4th. However, we were still struggling to make much ground with the ball. Again we defused a massive assault on our line and a penalty relieved the pressure. A great kick chase saw us force a drop out and for the first time for ages we had some pressure on their line. As we spread the ball through fast hands Naulago was in again. It was a good response and “Sneyyyydddd!!!” rang out as a great touch line conversion saw us trailing by just 4.

That try inspired the boys and we came alive. We looked to have decided that attack was the best form of defence and whatever Lee had said at half time had worked. Albo went blindside from acting half close to our line and Connor brilliantly ghosted his way between Eden and Trueman and out of our twenty. He turned back into the covering chasers and wrong footed Mata’utia as with a brilliant one handed play he plumped the ball into Kelly’s hands. Albo shifted through the gears and was off as he streaked away for a brilliant try and it was 16-14. In such situations Connor is just a freak and his play is simply heart-stopping as with nonchalant ease he beat their line and left the defending markers grabbing thin air.

Our resurgence didn’t last long as Shaul had the ball stripped, but brilliant line defence got us out of trouble. Back down field we went and a penalty gave Sneyd a chance to stretch it further. Believe me, after our first half struggles 17 minutes into the second half everybody watching would have taken 14-18!! Unfortunately, though, as usually happens with Hull FC, our line defence got in a tangle and Eden stretched out to score and square things up. At 18-18 it was great for the neutrals and indeed for the game, but bloody purgatory for us lot, who could hardly watch what happened next!  Would the great and passionate FC stand up or would a reinvigorated Cas roll over us.

Thankfully it was the former!

Next up, we’d all to endure a marathon video referee session before a try was awarded to Albert Kelly. It came after one of those ‘solid gold easy action’ on the money kicks from Sneyd that brought out a majestic leap and knock back by Connor. So it was 24-18 and quite unbelievably after the woes of that first half, we had again grabbed the initiative. Then surprise, surprise, we got a try disallowed. It looked really harsh in real time and afterwards on the TV even more cruel.

For me if a man is deemed to be tackled when the opposing player who has already tripped him, inadvertently strokes his back with his hand, we might as well be playing touch rugby! It was bad luck indeed and I thought as I watched in disbelief that had there not been a video referee there, we’d have been out of sight. It was the sort of decision that could turn the game or un-nerved us and that had done so in the past and the woe increased as decisions started to go against us and an enforced drop out put us under tons of pressure.

But, then in their haste to get the ball wide to score again, Castleford passed behind Blair who stopped in frustration; but Ratu didn’t. The loose ball was picked up by Naulago and off went ‘the KCom Express’ hugging the touch line. He drew the runners before inside him up popped Kelly, who streaked away for another try, his third in what was to be revealed later, to be his first ever hat trick in the game.

Then it was just a question of seeing it out. Using attack as our best defence, back we came through some big runs out of our half by our men in the middle, led by Minichiello who had a great game again. Once back in possession we waited no longer than the second tackle, for Sneyd to majestically stroke over a 30-yard drop goal and that was it!

His stern grimace and fist pump said it all, for Marc had determination written right across his face throughout that half, he knew he could out think and out manoeuvre this Castleford outfit and having done so, there was no way he was going to lose it now.  

So in the end we witnessed a fantastic and what had seemed, at half time at least, an improbable victory. What a wonderful win it was as we found something in that second half that was lacking in the first 40 minutes. Mini, Paea and Taylor lifted us, Houghton led from acting half and our backs again excelled. Perhaps Lee said a few choice words at the interval but the difference was amazing as with a 27-4 half, we blew the fancied home side away in memorable style. We couldn’t bash then down the middle, so we changed tack, ran around them, at them and over them and won at a canter in the end. It was a night for flying tries but don’t underestimate the engine room in the middle, for they fought and fought a big mobile Castleford pack.

Only a few weeks ago the wags on RL fans were ruminating on our abject lack of pace, but they ain’t baying about it now. Put Connor, Kelly, Ratu or Shaul away and that’s it …goodnight!

But Connor eh? What an enigma he is!! He had a hand in most of our tries claimed he was bitten as a try was scored and would you want to go up and challenge for a kick with him? He certainly looked much more involved than he has been for a while. Which was explained by Lee afterwards when he said, “Last week he played and his involvements were huge and really significant for us, but they were minimal. We challenged him as a staff to try and put some more digits on them. This week he’s gone out of his way, you could see the energy in his kick chase and his back to back efforts. He’s got that magic in good ball. When he pieces both of them together, he’s a talented boy”. As for Jake wanting to play half-back he added, “I think if Jake plays half he’s not happy anyway. He could win the lottery and still be unhappy about how much he had got. We’ve come to accept that with Jake and we have a little understanding with how that works.”

What a talent he is though!!

The difference across the team in that second 40 minutes? Well our kicking and kick returns were better, but a lot was down to the fact that we got Connor more involved than of late, Houghton broke their line several times straight from acting half, Kelly started running more and Sneyd simply took control of our end of sets. Plus, you know what? In that second half I honestly think that we really did want it more than them! We can’t ask more than that! Great stuff!

So to the week gone by and I certainly got the 2020 destination of Joe Westerman wrong didn’t I? I had heard from countless sources in the West Riding that he was going to Leeds and low and behold it now seems that he’s destined to be playing for Wakey next season instead. We made him an offer, but it was only for one year, because we are trying to attract younger quality signings to the Club, so as to give us some sort of continuity going forward. What’s more, it appears we are placing our hopes for Loose-forward in 2020 on the shoulders of Ligi Sao of the New Zealand Warriors. He’s signed already according to some, whilst the Hull Daily Mail have indicated that is the case too, and he’s certainly doing well this season in the NRL. He’s had some great game and furthermore, he has been singled out for great praise from his current team mates, so he might well be a good acquisition.

As for Joe well for me he has always been a player that could change a game, when, that is, he’s in the right frame of mind and allowed to occupy a play making role; rather than operating as an extra prop. But, as I have discussed in here several times over the months, that attitude issue has always been the bug bare for me. It’s unfair to judge him too much on his latest appearances, because he has been used extensively as that extra prop rather than the free running ball handling play maker we occasionally see. That said I think that role is one that will suit Wakefield’s open style of play down to the ground.

However, Westy’s main draw-back has probably been his injury record and, looking back over his career, he does seem to be a bit prone to enforced absences, which is something that Lee recognised when Joe returned from quite a long lay-off earlier this season. Our Coach said on his return, “Joe’s back but for how long remains to be seen” So rather like Jordan Thompson (another player who had returned to the club), Westy will move on in 2020.

The great Billy Joel once sang about trying to go back to your old life, ‘….and the King and the Queen went back to the green, but you can never go back there again” and in sport as in life, perhaps there is a lot in that! They often say returning to the scene of past glories (although glories in this case is a bit strong), never works and perhaps Billy had a point there!

As for Jordan well his second spell at the FC came to an abrupt end, at his request, as last week he returned to Leigh after feeling that he wasn’t getting enough first team rugby at Hull FC, (which ironically is the same reason that he left the first time!)! He was hailed on his return by the Leigh faithful, where he was well liked and so perhaps he has found his true level. Regular readers will remember that I thought he was signed as a sort of sop to the fans in the middle of that long losing run last season. That was after Adam had declared that the initial plans to sign up and coming players to provide depth rather than quality, would be abandoned and we would be making some meaningful signings for the next campaign.

I commented then in here, that for me, I doubted that Langtree, Nzoungou and indeed Thompson really fitted that bill at all and with two of those now released and Levy regularly out on duel registration, it has proved to be an accurate assessment really. Jordan was signed apparently because he could play long minutes in the new 8 substitution game, but if he did possess that ability it never really bore much fruit at all did it? You can’t however dispute that he was a wholehearted player who gave his all and had a real go, but for me he was never able to make the necessary impact on the oppositions defence and was I’m afraid, simply not good enough.

When he was originally signed he came as a centre come second rower who was reported to be a strong rangy runner but he never matched the hype in his first spell and quite honestly since his return to the Club little has changed. I wish him well but I wouldn’t be getting all excited about some wages being made available to sign someone else because there are still players remaining on our staff who are not included in the cap allocation. Still he never let us down so good luck Jordan, let’s hope you really make a name for yourself at Leigh!  

What did you make of Josh Griffin’s tackle against Salford and his subsequent one game ban last week eh? I watched that incident near the end of the Salford game several times afterwards at home and I thought that without doubt it warranted a Grade D rating and a 3-5 match ban for it was certainly a throw that could have broken Inu’s neck and ended his career there and then! Mind you, a couple of weeks back a similar tackle didn’t even warrant a ten-minute benching, whilst another identical incident 2 months ago saw a 5 game ban dished out. All three were the same sort of spear tackle that sees the ball carrier land on his neck.

If the RFL consider player welfare to be such an important issue they have to ‘Put their money where their mouth is’ and start proving it by providing a higher level of protection for the players. That action should start with bans that are a deterrent which will warn players that if they do that sort of thing, they will be sitting games out for a good while. Any other player who saw that challenge, knowing they’ll only get a one game absence are hardly going to be discouraged from doing the same themselves are they? You know my views on the disciplinary process and the panel and although, as far as my team are concerned, I like the fact that Josh only got one game, that tackle was a very dangerous one indeed. The inconsistency and the trivialising of such hazardous tackles does nothing to engender any confidence in the process, or indeed protect the players themselves. It needs sorting, it really does.

Well, Richard Silverwood was pretty good referee in the 15 years he officiated at the top level, well he was as referee’s go!! However, since he retired he has never been backwards at coming forwards when it comes to speaking his mind. Referee’s usually melt away into the background after they finish but some of Silverwood’s comments have been interesting to say the least. This week on Twitter he commented on Tony Smith’s remarks after the new Hull KR coach criticised the performance of Scott Mikalauskas during Sunday’s game against Wigan Warriors. Smith was upset when the official decided not to award a possible Chris Atkin try. Silverwood even went on to share his unfortunate personal dealings with the former Leeds and Warrington boss.

He said on Tuesday, “Shock horror. Tony Smith only back a week and blaming referees, I had 10 years of his whinging. The bloke is a weirdo. My comments go much deeper. I made mistakes along the way, but Smith made a personal grudge against me. Looked away whenever our paths crossed. Wouldn’t shake hands. That to me is pathetic.” It never dull is it?????

Recovering from an ACL injury is a long and hard road and even when your back playing you can get reactions and that was emphasised this week when Josh Bowden, who I thought did really well against Salford, was rested for the Cas. game.  Lee Radford said last week that it could be upwards of two months before Josh is firing properly, as, after a game, he is continuing to get swelling around the area of the operation.

However, that’s the nature of the beast and Lee added that as part of the body’s natural defences for the affected area, when someone comes to crunch your knees together in a tackle your legs automatically give way in a sort of defence mechanism. He said you could see it happening too with Andre Savelio who of course came to us after having a similar procedure.

I’m looking forward to Josh getting back because unlike some props you come across in the modern game he is a 100% tough guy who never takes a backward step and who really does take the game straight into the heart of the opposition line. Interesting stuff though I thought!!

Leaving the Salford game last week, a guy stopped me to ask if I was ‘Who I am’ and if I wrote the Diary, to which I replied ‘I think so’ and he said how much he enjoyed reading it every Tuesday Morning while he was on the train to Sheffield where he worked three days a week. I’m sorry I didn’t get your name mate but you did make a good point that I only feature games in the Codgers spot where the FC have won and fail to look at the hundreds of heart-breaking losses we seem to have suffered in the 7 decades I have been involved with my Club. I said that perhaps I only remembered the sunny days but of course there are always finals and Derby loses that will always stick there, nagging away at the back of my mind. Always pleased to oblige what I thought was a really pertinent point to raise, this week I’ll have a look at one of our most memorable defeats, (for this fan at least) and it didn’t happen at Wembley (where one in particular has been wiped completely from the mind of this supporter!!)

This week I go back to 1989 and the first season that Brian Smith had been in charge of the FC in that short golden era of his reign. We had lost the first 4 league games of the 88/89 season as Smithy took the reign’s, but soon we got some good results and by the end of the year we had somehow scrapped our way to the Premiership Final. Which after what had gone before under Len Casey, was almost unimaginable for most FC fans. So we were at Old Trafford for a game against the Cup Kings Widnes, in which no one gave us a hope. However, this was a new Hull FC, this was Brian Smith’s team full of battlers and passion and anyone wrote us off at their peril. We looked hungry that season, the work ethic was fabulous and the fans knew that even if we didn’t win, we would give it our absolute all.

That Wednesday we queued down Airlie Street to get our tickets and the atmosphere, despite the traditional Manchester drizzle that was falling, was simply amazing. Widnes had a side packed with stars and we were certainly the under dogs, which suited us down to the ground. Thousands packed the M62 on the way to the game and at Saddleworth Moor the whole Motorway ground to a halt as a convoy of traffic crawled the rest of the way to the Stadium. It was a great atmosphere even in the traffic jam, as cars behind us hooted their horns on seeing my new “Don’t follow me, follow Hull FC” sticker in the back window.

We parked in an Industrial Estate, which was to become my regular parking spot for future visits to Old Trafford and once inside, the atmosphere was apprehensive and nervous to say the least. Although the Widnes fans only had a short journey down the ‘East Lancs Road’, as always, in a crowd of 40,000, we outnumbered their fans at least, three to one. In the end it was a game that was decided by three defining incidents either side of half time, which dictated the outcome and the fate of the two teams that contested the Final.

From the kick off it was apparent that if we were there to compete, our forwards led by Dannett, Steve Crooks and Paul Welham, had to get on top. So, in the early stages it was pleasing to see them pushing the Widnes six back at every opportunity, whilst in possession, Lee Jackson was masterful at acting half back ‘scooting’ first this side, then that, to consistently wrong foot the opposition. Of course as often happens after such endeavour, Widnes scored first. Hull had kept ‘Danger man’, Emosi Koloto, quiet for 20 minutes until he broke a Windley tackle and started off rumbled down-field. As Fletcher came across to affect the tackle, he passed to centre Darren Wright who wrong footed our retreating defence to score. Next we received a real blow as, having been sandwiched in a tackle between McKenzie and Joe Grima, Hull scrum half Phil Windley was knocked out cold. He was carried off, but in his absence and for the rest of the first period, Gary Pearce stood in brilliantly at scrum half.

Undetered our fighting spirit came to the fore as Gary Divorty stepped out of a Hulme tackle and sped towards the line where he almost scored himself, before slipping out a short pass for Welham to crash over. Pearce goaled and we were level. By this time ‘Porky’ Pearce was really controlling things, as he almost got first Eastwood and then Sharp in for tries. In the end though a penalty on the Widnes ‘twenty-five’ saw him grab two more points to give us the lead for the first time. At this point we were threatening to snatch the initiative away from our more illustrious opponents but then came the first of those three defining incidents, deep in the Widnes half.

In the last minute of the first half Pearce was contemplating a drop goal attempt when Jackson instead went blind at the play the ball and fed centre Price. The youngster sent a fast rolling grubber towards the corner flag for O’Hara to chase, but somehow Andy Currier got his hands on it, knocked it in the air caught it and was away. Brilliantly, Price somehow recovered and moved in to tackle the Widnes man only for Tony Myler to step between the two players and obstruct him. The referee completely ignored this infringement, which left Price on his backside and Currier haring away down the left wing to score and at half time we trailed 10-8. The battalions of FC fans were certainly not happy and as they gave referee John Holdsworth a deal of abuse as he left the field with chants of ‘Cheat, cheat’, we went off in search of a beer.

The second half had hardly started when Widnes scored again. Paul Fletcher who sparkled all afternoon at Full-Back for Hull pounced on a loose ball and ran off, only to be called back by the referee, who had already indicated a knock on and a scrum with the ‘feed’ to Hull FC. “What happened to the bloody advantage rule?” yelled my pal Billy, but to no avail.

Amazingly we only lost one scrum with the head all afternoon and of course it had to be this one.  Again, as the ball was passed across the Widnes line, Price was pulled down and obstructed, this time by Currier, and once Alan Tait had given Martin Offiah his only decent pass of the game, what happened then was a foregone conclusion, as he scorched down the wing as only he could.  Another Davies’ conversion meant that suddenly we were 16-8 down and in need of a quick score. We looked to have got one three minutes later, as the third and final critical incidents began to unfold. Paul Welham was pulled down inches short of the line and from the play the ball Lee Jackson dummied before shifting play the other way for O’Hara to cross the line and right in front of us, clearly put the ball down. He was immediately carried out of play by both Pyke and Wright, but as we all celebrated and the Widnes player’s heads went down, amazingly the touch judge ruled no try and the referee pointed to a ‘25 yard re start’. By this time we were all fuming, frustrated and struggling to come to terms with what we were witnessing.

Inconsolable, Paul Fletcher took it badly

There was still plenty of time left, Pearce landed a good angled penalty on 58 minutes and Blacker, Nolan and Fletcher all went close, but in the last quarter of the game we couldn’t add to our score, although we never stopped trying to the very end.  As the hooter sounded we had lost 18-10 in heart-breaking and disappointing circumstances. At that stage I felt numb, rather like when you stub your toe and there’s that awful hiatus between the impact and the pain setting in. However, there is little doubt that after cheering and applauding the FC players who had given so much, we all made our way home believing that we had been robbed; a feeling that over the years we had grown to get used to. I remember being proud of my team and disgusted with the officials and after getting stuck in what seemed like an interminable traffic jam, I channelled all that anger and frustration into driving aimlessly in whatever direction other cars didn’t seem to be travelling in and we soon got lost in Manchester.

Andy Dannett faces the Stretford end after the game.

Next day suffering with a hangover I took a day off work ‘with cold’ and having studied the local newspaper headlines that declared, “The Try that Never Was”, I consoled myself with the words of the now ‘God Like’ Brian Smith, when he said in the post-match press conference, “We’ll be back and next time we’ll show you we can be winners” Brian Smith that man of few words had once again said just the right thing and how right he was to be proved just two years later.

You know that was nothing short of a superb win on Thursday night. We’ve seen some crap this year and we’ve seen some champagne stuff and that display certainly falls into the latter category. However, after the dust had settled, what interested me a lot too was the fact that on Thursday night only three teams of the twelve in Super League had + points difference. That indicates just about everyone suffering blow out scores at certain times of the season. We were told by Lee long before the season started that this year, with just 8 substitutions, it could well be the ability of your backs in the final quarter to break the game and that could see teams prevail against the biggest and strongest of tiring packs.

You know, I think there’s something in that because just look at our last few games when we came on strong in the second half against Rovers, Catalans in the Cup and Castleford, whilst both Catalans and Salford came on strong against us in that second half. Suddenly the potency of Sneyd, Kelly, Shaul and Connor comes to the fore and if we can just hang in there against the bigger and perhaps stronger packs, those players and our more, light on our feet forwards, can prevail late on.

As it was Lee that identified it when I featured his theories in here last November, perhaps we should credit him with it and the fact that even with several first choice players missing we still had the depth to get one over that stronger Castleford outfit. Strength in depth we certainly have, as long as we get our heads sorted out before-hand.

Sometimes though you can look too closely at those things and miss the fact that in this instance it was a great performance full of passion and a will to win, balanced with some potency in attack that in season’s gone by, we could only dream of. Kelly was a risk to sign and has lapsed once, but is flying now, Connor is always a risk on the field and performs more wind ups than the Clock curator in Hull Guildhall, but we have harnessed and even used both players petulance and off the wall stuff and now they are winning games for us on a regular basis. Then there is Sneyd. He still has his critics who say he doesn’t take the line on enough and that’s true and it would be nice if he did that more often to release the outside backs, but not if it is at the cost of his natural game. It doesn’t appear to be part of that and for me, who cares when he controls a game, organises the line, kicks at the end of sets and lands drop goals as he does? I certainly don’t!

Did you see him on Sky when you watched it back and before the kick that Kelly scored from? Marc stood in the line as the tackled player got up indicating and shouting exactly where it was going, moving Connor in closer to carry out the tap back before landing the kick right on the money. Over my 60 years watching the game, I have heard the very best half backs lauded as “Playing in a dinner suit” because they controlled everything, created all the tries yet, hardly went to the line, got caught in possession or their shirt dirty?  Sneyd is more than that, because when called on he can produce a fair old tackle, as incidentally can Albert and Jake. You can’t have everything and after so many years lamenting our lack of half backs and inability to control games, he’ll do for me.

So a nice nine day turn-around before we are off on the away trip from hell for the second time this season! How nice it must be to know all your home games are on a Saturday afternoon and televised with a video referee in attendance at every one? Then of course, we have a very tricky 5-day turn-around before we play Rovers at Caravan Park; oh and then its Saints at home!!!!  It certainly doesn’t get any easier, but for now let’s just relish that game watch that second half again and marvel at those tries!!

Thanks to everyone who has been in touch again this week and particularly to you for reading another diary. I hope you found something to enjoy; it’s a great feeling to have won that one isn’t it!! Now let’s see which FC we see next week in France shall we??

And as a final thought, well done to Radders, for he has built a team that can really excite. At Hull who knows which FC will turn up next week, but he’s unearthed some amazing players and tempered and focussed some talented but petulant ones. But the challenge now is that if, in the years to come, we are to be a truly great team he and Adam have to find a way to keep Kelly and Connor away from the NRL, to retain Ratu at the Club and to wrap Sneyd in cotton wool!!! Do that and with players coming in and coming through we have a real future to look forward to, but it won’t be easy at all, will it???

Keep Believing!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf