The Dentist’s Diary – 644th

Well that looks to be that doesn’t it? 

As we approached two eminently winnable home games against Salford and Huddersfield it was simple, the league was poor, the quality questionable and the chance for a bit of late season glory within our grasp. Two wins at home would probably see us in the top 3. As it happens, we now know thattwo wins would, on Friday night, have seen us sitting four points clear of third, with just two games to go. 

I have come to the conclusion that since we played in that semi-final, we have witnessed a season trailing off with a whimper rather than a roar and that’s happened on the back of a mental attitude that is just not right at all. For me that is down to just one thing …the players. The chance was there, they’ve been looked after, allowed to take a holiday and excuses have been made in abundance for them, but they haven’t been able to handle the pressure and take that chance, or what looks more likely to many of us, they just couldn’t be arsed to grab the opportunity!

Instead, of being excited and looking forward to the run in I guess that I went along on Friday night, quite reticent about it all and almost expecting what I saw. I was therefore able to take ‘a back seat’ and extract some of the emotion out of it and in so doing, what I saw was a group of players who let the owner, the coach and us lot out there on the terraces down …big style. Didn’t they ever realise that we would never get a better shot at Old Trafford than we have been presented with this year, or didn’t they care? 

Against Salford and Huddersfield the game plan they had worked on all week was fine, for it got us 12 and 8 points up,they should then have produced more of the same to take the game away from the opposition. In addition, our defence on which for years we built our success, has been uncharacteristically poor, particularly on our line and that combination of a lack of offensive focus and any sort of defensive grit and determination has led to two performances that are just not acceptable to those of us who attended. I know that players don’t go out to play badly, but they have to have their heads on when the season is on the line. 

On Friday the desperate demeanour of Huddersfield reflected their position in the League, but our slap dash, jumbled showing didn’t represent ours at all! It seems to me that the minute we get in front, all our shape and pattern goes out of the window, the plan is ‘up the Swanny’ and most of the players do just as they like. 

Mentally we seem shot, for once we go behind we are left running around with the ball in the oppositions 20 like a load of school kids playing tig and we certainly never look like scoring. In both our recent games the oppositions line defence was first class and ours was poor, but it is the way that the players have just tossed 2 games away that disappoints me so much. For me as I said in starting, I think that’s it for this year. 

My pal Barry said before the game that he loves reading the diary just to see how depressed I am and I’m sorry if that’s how it seemed most weeks of late, but since that semi-final, I’ve been desperately trying to make some sense of it all and to find some grains of hope in our performances. On Friday some fans were mad, some just trudged off home early, whilst some like my pal Alan tried to laugh it off when he said, “I could have gone to the Willows tonight to see a comedian, talk about value for money, I’ve come here and seen 17!” 

We all take it differently, but we all love our team, we all care and we are all passionate about how we perform (players take note). It’s certainly a good job Alan can laugh it off and perhaps that’s what we all should do. I get loads of criticism for being down beat in here and regularly receive jokey messages, referring to the Samaritans and I’m sorry that it looks like that just lately. 

However, the problem is that as a fan I love my club, but many of us are losing faith in the player’s commitment to the cause, something that was summed up by what reader Dicksaid to me on Saturday, when he commented of our players, “I bet we are hurting more than they are this morning”. Personally I sometimes wonder what game I’m watching because reading the Coaches comments afterwards he seemed to have seen a lot of positives in the display when compared with the Salford game but for me the problems just went on from one game to the next. 

After the game we drove home to Beverley in silence and I couldn’t even face the pub, but if I thought I was badly done to, then what about Mike who made a 200-mile round trip from Cheshire and Iain a 180 mile one from the Midlands, then there was Jeff travelling back and forth from Lincoln, Steve and Harry from Whitby and Richard, Duksey and Harold from the West Riding; and those are just the ones who contacted me. Jeff even text me at midnight, he was still so upset. 

I’m sure there are many more of you out there who travelled miles on Friday, who I haven’t heard from, but surely at least we all deserve 80 minutes of concentration and resolve from our heroes? Yet what a bloody awful home showing we have had to put up with this season. 

All week I knew that we had to right the wrongs of the Salford game, although I thought the build-up before the Huddersfield match was hardly the best preparation for the team and scarcely encouraging for us lot the fans. After that Salford debacle the players were rewarded with a week off on holiday but this week players were still missing and Kelly,despite some positive reports from County Road, wasn’t fit for what was, let’s face it, a must win game. It was ‘only Huddersfield’ we thought, as we hosted a team that couldn’tbuy a win for love nor money at present and that had been nilled twice in their last three games, and who were, after last week, emerging as one of the favourites for the drop. 

Thank heavens we find ourselves where we do in the League!

Thankfully that’s in the ‘top end’ group but, that said, with our recent performances, this match was still looking to be a big one as on it hinged the possibility of the FC progressing into the play offs. 

The game became even more of a potential banana skin when my pal Bill contacted me on Tuesday to impart the news that we were to sample the many delights of ‘5 meters Moore’ as referee this week, because we’d all seen again in the Cup Final (as we did to our cost in the semi) how influential a referee, who refuses to get both teams back 10 yards, can be in any match. 

The build-up in the West Yorkshire papers smacked of a Giants team and perhaps even a coach that was desperate and I knew that if we believed that anything at all is left for us in this season, our players should be just as anxious about securing a win themselves, (particularly when you consider the final two fixtures coming up). Fact is, we have been just so erratic this season and that hardly engendered that much confidence in this fan! What’s more once again I was to be proved right, wasn’t I?

The team news when it was announced on Wednesday lunch time worried me a bit as well, for we were to be without Ratuand Kelly, who are two of our real strike players, Mini was missing and Griffin was injured during the warm up as things just went from bad to worse. Still, whoever played, it didn’t really matter, because we had to step up to the plate and get a win and that was all there was to it really! So, there we all were sat in our seats still waiting for the long promised final push for Old Trafford to begin, as our hearts wondered just which FC would turn up this week, whilst our heads believed they knew already!!!!

Huddersfield started with intent and a game plan that saw their forwards on the front foot and a tendency to get the ball wide as often as possible which saw us struggling to hold them from the off. We on the other hand started scratchily and struggled to hold a feisty and desperate Giants team who were giving the ball a lot of air. they bombed a chance with their first possession when a well-worked shift saw Gaskell put Aaron Murphy clear but the back-rower, playing at centre, ignored Jermanine McGillvary on his outside and was just halted by Jamie Shaul. In their next set, Ukuma Ta’ai was almost in as well.

When Taylor hit Frawley late, The Giants ignored the chance of two points to try and strike again, but we had another let off when Gaskell spilled the ball when we could have been penalised at the ruck. We all sort of sensed already that The Giants might just have our measure here and we had to wake up and quick!! After 12 minutes we did stir ourselves after McIntosh gifted us possession with a forward pass to McGillvary on halfway andstraight from the resulting scrum, we scored with our first real chance. Shauland Tuimavave combined to get Logan free down the right and Jack brilliantly kicked infield where Shaul duly finished.Marc Sneyd slotted the conversion and Tevita Satae came on to rouse us a bitwith a punishing first few drives. He looks good to me, but he must wonder just what he has come to!! Seven minutes later McIntosh got his angles right and delivered a perfect cut-out pass for McGillvary to cut in and finish well and the Giants added their second try in the 24th minute. Our left side defence was woeful and Murphy climbed highest to collect Gaskell’s shallow chip and squirmed over to score as he came down on his back.Gaskell improved but soon we saw the very unlikely scenario of Jamie Shaul the ball handler as he fired a brilliant cut out pass for Bureta Faraimo to slide over.

Sneyd did the rest from wide out to give us a slender 12-10 interval advantage and when we stuck to our game plan we looked OK but we always struggled with the opponents tactics which featured them getting the ball wide on regular occasions. 

The second half showed the difference between a team that fought so hard for their survival and one that looked at times to be looking for the sun-cream and shades rather than the opponents try line. If Jake Connor wants to be our first-choice stand-off, he has a very funny way of showing it! 

As we hunted a score to pull clear at the start of the second period, first he crabbed sideways only to be bundled into touch, and then he spilled the ball under the sticks under no pressure, to waste two golden attacking opportunities. The game became nip and tuck and quality was not that evident from either side although it was tense at times in that third quarter. The crowd certainly found their voice before Logan saved our bacon with a good interception when they had a three man overlap but for a time that was the closest either team got to scoring. We had tons of ball in their quarter and the fans got right behind the lads but they ran back and forth losing ground chasing shadows and exploring all the blind alleys there were, whilst Huddersfield tackled like demons and waited their chance. 

We lacked any sort of nous or ingenuity and with 13 minutes remaining we paid the ultimate price. Everyone in the KC with the exception of our 13 players could see it coming, as fast hand from Darnell McKintosh put Louis Senior in at the corner and when Matt Frawley touched down Gaskell’s grubber a few minutes later the fans streamed for the exits, as Huddersfield celebrated as if they had won the Cup Final. 

I left before the end again and as I headed off across West Park and the final hooter went I heard the boos echoing around the stadium and thought, “No doubt its our fault again!” 

The dependable Bill Dalton informed me of this week’s statistics which indicated that Faraimo’s try was our 2500th Super league Try and Shaul’s touch down brought up 73,000 points scored in all competitions since 1895! However, although the Coach seemed to think we have improved a bit, in the end, for me, it was another disappointing performanceand I don’t think that I’m on my own on that one!!!

So to the rest of the week and once again it was a case of what we had all expected coming to fruition on Thursday, but it was still sad to see the rumours confirmed when it was SekeManu’s turn to reveal his retirement from the game. I have loved watching Seke perform in the black and white and I will remember him for a long time. He is one of the Immortals from 2016 and 2017 and for what he did in those teams, he will always be a hero for me. Seke’s always been aggressive without being a fire brand and always committed without being a show off. He simply goes about his business and produces stats that are consistently high, week in week out. 

As I said of him and Mini last week, when did you ever leave a game and say those two hadn’t tried or given their all. They made mistakes and frustrated us at times, but neither player ever gave anything but their best. So yes, it is sad, but I don’t think that as fans we should ever under estimate what we are losing with these two. The dedication they have given, the surety they have provided and the loyal service that we have seen, is all trumped by the fact that they are two bloody good players as well. As fans it is a natural reaction I think to look forward in anticipation of new arrivals, rather than occasionally dwelling on just how good some players have been for us as they approach retirement. The question is of course with all the heralding of our new signings for next season, will they be as good as those two? 

We know that one things for sure and that is that they’ll have their water on and it may only be when both have moved into a life of retirement, that we realise as fans what we have lost. At least Seke, like Mini, has given service to the end of his career and left with a retirement, rather than going on for another season somewhere else. I’m informed that neither of them was told that they were not needed but rather asked if they wanted to go around again for another year. For me that is just how it should have been. Both have however listened to their bodies watched closely how they have managed trainingand decided the time was right. Perhaps too they have seen Gareth Ellis come back and after an initial burst of the old aggression, seen him look a tad jaded of late, as I think we all have? 

So both could have stayed but another old stager Micky Paeawas not afforded such a luxury and told that he was not needed. I expect he will go around again for one more yearwith another club, probably in this country. He’ll do that because he feels his body will take it and good luck to him, we have to trust the club’s judgement on that one, but as for the other two, good luck to them and thanks Seke for some great service to the shirt we all love, I’ll miss you around the place!

Well we all read in League Weekly last week that Leeds have not given up hope of signing Jake Connor and are preparing a second bid. The Rhino’s have been linked with him throughout this season, although neither club have acknowledged the rumours and as he is signed up on a three-year contract on a good deal not only would his going free up a big chunk of salary cap, but he will also command a big fee. I’m never one for letting our best assets go and I guess it all concerned me a bit. I tend to think that at times Jake is a bit too reactionary for me and for whatever reason (probably because he isn’t first choice in the half’s and predominantly because he struggles when he is in there) and I always think that we don’t want any of that, for it disrupts the dynamic of the group completely. 

Jake certainly had a bit of a bust up behind the posts with Scotty Taylor during the Salford game after he had caved, in an attempted tackle on in the line and he hardly covered himself in glory on Friday did he? Scott loves Hull FC and dummy spitting and reactionary team mates is not his thing at all. All that adds up to a good Nosey Parker fabrication in League Express where all of a sudden it’s claimed that those at the top of our club are willing to listen to offers for the England international. Mmmm, I though another fact-less rumour? 

It had also been raised on social media with William Jackson at the Mail a time or two so he raised the question this week with Radders and got his ears chewed off a bit as our coach laughed in the face of such suggestions and indicated that he hadn’t invested his time and the Clubs money in Jake to let him go to another Club. Was he happy at Hull FC asked Jackson to which Lee replied “I don’t think he’s happy in life! If he’s not happy here, he’s never going to be happy anywhere. Jake goes through the day winding people up. He’s only happy when he’s winding people up and he does it to a lot of people”. Strange kid indeed? 

The rumour, according to Lee, comes solely from social media and was probably started by a Rovers fan. He added that it hasn’t come from Leeds, it’s not come from us, it’s not come from the player himself and apparently it’s not come from his agent. That’s scotched that one for now then and perhaps we should all move on at least until the next rumour appears, but the best way to make it go away is for Jake to get his finger out and apply more time to his obvious ability and less on winding everyone at the club and outside it up!!

Last word to Lee Radford? Well last week at the press day he told Ian Judson, “As far as I’m concerned, Jake Connor will be a Hull FC player next year.”

Last week I alluded to the fact that Marc Sneyd was approaching our all-time drop goal record and vying to be the player that has kicked the most for us in our history. Some readers enquired this week as to what the record is, well, the illustrious Gary (Porky) Pearce, who played for us in the late 80’s and early 90’s holds the record at present with 30, but as I suspected Marc was on 29 before the Huddersfield match and so is about to make another little bit of history any time soon. 

Well after looking forward so much to his day at Wembley our latest recruit Jordan Johnstone copped one in the first exchanges of the game last Saturday against Sheffield Eagles.  He is believed to have fractured his eye socket and will miss the rest of Widnes’s season and has therefore played his last game for the club for which he has been an ever present this season. He was stretchered off just 4 minutes into the game which Widnes eventually lost 36-18. Many pundits over in Cheshire cited the fact that Johnstone has been injured and withdrawn as the single reason that Widnes failed to compete with the South Yorkshire outfit and it was certainly a blow for the enthusiastic youngster. Big things are expected of him and I’m hearing that the club are considering operating with two hookers in games next year. Jordan took to Twitter on Sunday evening to reveal the news with an emotional message to the Widnes fans and let’s hope he is fit for the start of pre-season in 10 weeks’ time.

Well we heard a bit about the latest plans for next season last week and the fact that it looks like the two game Easter rush is to finish is great news for me. You see I believe it has always been a tough ask for any player and what’s more nearer to home it’s never been fair on either ourselves or Rovers to have to play a second game just three days after our Good Friday Derby which, despite what Wigan and Saints fans will try to tell you, is the biggest and most pressurised game in the regular British season. How often have both clubs been through the rigours, expectation and hype of that game only to be ‘fixtured’ away to Warrington, Saints or Wigan, just three days later and had to play threadbare teams of injured and bashed up player’s, fringe players and juniors. 

That has seen both clubs giving up what could be two precious points almost automatically before the second game even gets started. It was never fair and the fact it is to be discontinued, even if it means we start the season a week earlier in January, is, if only for player welfare, a good move forward. If we could now just get rid of Magic Weekend we would be getting somewhere!  

Also announced was the fact that the RL have addressed the issues surrounding the Wembley Cup final and moved our showpiece event to July next year. I welcome that move and although I would always prefer the traditional May slot for what is, for those outside the sport at least, the biggest event in our year, I know that in the old days it was then at the end of the season. Year ago the Final was often a game played two weeks after the regular season Premiership Finals etc. had been played and the last and fitting hurrah of the campaign. 

The game has buggered about with the fixture ever since Summer rugby was introduced and incrementally devalued the whole competition. After initially trying to make it work in May, it has been bumping along at the business end of the League season in conflict with the much hyped,darling of Sky TV, the Grand Final. There has even been talk of giving up on the current venue and moving the game up north but that for me would be a disaster and just another example of our game admitting defeat and down-sizing. 

What’s more it would raise serious questions about the whole status of the sport and where it is going. With no Wembley, the Challenge Cup final would simply disappear from the national consciousness. The BBC may not even carry it anymore and it will become just another Sky jamboree devalued and inaccessible to most. Fact is we all know in our heart of hearts that the problem is not Wembley, nor the cup final. The problem is bigger than that. For a start off the day itself needs reviewing because slowly but surely it has lost that exciting build up with the anthems, tributes and introductions as the tension mounts towards kick off. This year that all seemed to be rushed and undervalued. The 1895 Cup final should be a curtain raiser or not played at all, because the build-up and after match celebrations were just not the same.

Of course we would all agree that the attendances have been disappointing of late but the kudos and the profile that playing our final in the national stadium and the years and year of heritage and history it hold for our sport is just too much to just give up on. If we can’t make one game a year that is watched by a worldwide audience across the globe work at Wembley, then we might as well pack up and go home. We keep talking about expansion, and building the sport and yet here we are contemplating contracting our great game back to its roots and away from the national profile we have always hoped it would gain.   

At least the crowd was up on last year, though in real terms only by about five thousand, if you discount the impact of the 1895 Cup final, and that is something that deems ridiculous the demands of bonds asked of Toronto and initially Catalans at the turn of the year, to guard against such a drop in gate if they were to play in the showpiece game. 

Lots of people criticise the lack of marketing. But in Warrington, there has been plenty of exposure for the final, yet the turnout from Wolves fans was probably less than half of what we would have taken down there, but I guess as well that six finals in 11 years mean the novelty has worn off for Wolves fans, not to mention that they were underwhelming underdogs. But it’s a shame that the fans have lost that cherished privilege there always was when of being down there in London flying the flag for the game. I bet now as well that there are plenty of Warrington fans who regret their decision not to make the trip south on Saturday.

But its simply been devalued as an event, what with the Magic Weekend and also the Grand Final. I guess that the pool of rugby league fans, just like with players, is extremely limited and to expect the same people to turn out for every big occasion is just not feasible. We need a full review of the game in its entirety based around the structure of our competitions going forward. Magic Weekend can go for me. Its played out novelty, that is manufactured as far as the fixtures are concerned and quite frankly how anyone can compare that occasion with the Challenge Cup final is beyond me.

As far as the supporters, well they are always guaranteed to see their team at Magic, so often if they have to make a choice, Wembley now goes by the wayside. Clearly it has split the decision of fans, some of whom decide to go to Magic rather than the cup final, and undoubtedly that has an impact on the number of neutrals attending. But given rugby league has almost a century of history at Wembley, it would be a further nail in the sports coffin should it ever be moved up north. 

Things are certainly competitive in the game at present and this week I was musing on the fact that those who had questioned this year’s structure and deemed it boring before we had even started, have certainly been proved wrong. For, at the outset of round 27, five teams were vying to avoid relegation with just 2 points separating them all and after Thursday night’s game, four teams were locked in second position on 30 points. What’s more those in between the two groups were, with three games left, still all in with a chance of finishing in the top five as well. 

Even I, as a staunch advocate of licensing, have to admit that after last year’s middle eights debacle, this must be seen as a real plus for the game in general. I bet it’s the most competitive league we have seen in any British sport this year and Robert Elstone and Co should be shouting it from the roof tops. 

This year any one can beat anyone on any given weekend, but whether that reflects a uniform excellence or, more likely, a lack of quality all round, is a discussion for another day.

Well its time to announce that Odsal is no more, as its last game took place this weekend. It is a great old ground that holds so many memories for us. This week I was thinking about the end of an iconic if dilapidated stadium which had hosted some of the greatest games the sport has seen over the years. So I thought that I’d have a look at a game that many have perhaps forgotten, but which I remember with great affection. So this week, I want to visit again the heady days of the late 70’s when things seemed so much more simple and straightforward than they are today. It was the 1979/80 season and we were having a good year, our first back in the First Division, and were of course destined in the end to meet Rovers in the Cup Final at Wembley in a game that incidentally you’ll never ever see featured here.

A while ago in the Diary I revisited that great semi-final victory at Station Road but before that we were draw away at our bogey team Bradford Northern in the quarter finals of the competition, on 9th March 1980.  As usual we all set off on the Half Way pub bus for a few pre match pints in the Feathers in Bingley before a game that very few of us thought we had much chance of winning. In the last 4 years Bradford had dominated encounters between the two clubs, winning seven and drawing one of the previous 8 meetings. In addition to that the odds were really stacked against us when you consider that we had not reached the last 4 in the Challenge Cup since 1961.

As usual the M62 was packed with coaches, mini buses and cars all emblazoned with the black and white. That was the famous day that I witnessed a Knutzden’s Deep Freeze lorry disembarking about thirty guys at the Top House next to Odsal Stadium, I can still see them blinking as the big back doors opened and I guess it’s a good job the lorries freezer unit was switched off! When we got to the ground there were at least 12,000 there supporting the Airlie-birds, in fact the kick off was delayed by about 10 minutes as a gate of 22,000 was squeezed in. As the teams took the long walk to the pitch, down those famous steps next to the Stand, the atmosphere was electric.

It was one of those days that came around back then when from the first touch of the ball it was obvious that selection wise, tactically and mentally Arthur Bunting had got everything just right. It came out afterwards that beforehand the whole team had sat down for lunch together at a little pub up on the moors which as far as resolve, bonding and team spirit were concerned, seemed to have done the trick. Before kick off the injured Keith Hepworth had apparently given a stirring speech, stood on a bench in the changing rooms, which talked of fighting to the last man standing and which when followed by a rendition of ‘Old Faithful’ by the whole team, ensured everything was set for a thrilling encounter (I bet we don’t do that these days??) 

Outside the ‘FC Faithful’ was in good voice too, and from the kick off the two sides went toe to toe and tackle for tackle.  After about ten minutes Graham Bray snatched a snap pass from Walters and hared down the field only to be felled by a high tackle from Parker. Following the penalty Hull pressed the Bradford line and when Ronnie Wileman was tackled and then trampled on by Grayson and Geoff Clarkeson, Lloyd popped over the ensuing penalty kick and we were 2-0 up. Next the mercurial Redfearn who had been the standout half-back of the competition that year, split the Hull defence and only a last ditch ‘ball and all’ tackle by Paul Woods stopped him scoring. It looked a bit of a dubious collision as Paul targeted the half backs neck but Referee Ronnie Campbell waived play on, our line got back and we withheld another two drives for the whitewash, before Van Bellen lost the ball as he crossed the line.

Amazingly that was to be the closest Bradford came to scoring but there was still plenty of aggression, dubious tactics and excitement to keep us all on our toes. Keith Mumby pulled off what was probably the best tackle of the game as he thwarted a move started by Tindall and Stone. He somehow just managed to stop Sammy Lloyd as he crossed the line before holding up and driving our second rower back into the field of play. The Bradford forwards in fact went really close on several occasions, but our pack led by Knocker Norton and Charlie Stone excelled against the fancied and much vaunted Northern 6, and Keith Tindall ran himself to a standstill. Twice Charlie Birdsall crashed into Clarkeson to cut him down and a big tackle by Charlie and Graham Walters saw Van Bellen helped from the field, shaking his head and seeing more stars than Patrick Moore. 

As time started to run out Bradford raised the tempo, Knocker Norton and Paul Woods took the sting out of the home teams efforts with two raking long kicks in the last ten minutes while Walters relieved more pressure with a 70 yard mazy run late on, only to be stopped three yards short by Barrends and Mumby. Then as we were pressing inside the Northern 25 Clive Pickerill, who had been superb all afternoon, stepped to the left at acting half back and banged over a drop goal to make the score 3-0 and that was how it finished. Everyone reading this who was there will remember the next bit, because when Campbell blew the whistle the scenes were incredible. It had been a game that had not just drained the players, because on the terraces we were all worn out too, the anxiety and sheer emotion radiated from the action on the pitch meant that you could not take your eyes off the game for a second.

All the excitement, pent up emotion and relief came flooding out of us, and we were down the terracing, over the fences and on to the pitch before the police could do a thing to stop us. In fact, in the end they stood back and waived us by. With about 6000 on the pitch mobbing our heroes, we lifted Knocker aloft and carried him shoulder high from the pitch. They were astonishing scenes that I will never forget. What an occasion and what a game.  As I reminisce I’m sure you join me in thinking that it’s pretty apparent that it was a great time back then to be a black and white and to see all that dedication and wanting in one place at one time and that’s probably why that arm wrestle at Odsal was a game that I’ll never forget.  

Good luck to the old place and as far as that game, well better times than these are at present eh? 

Well what can I say really, I get pilloried regularly for not being up beat but I would challenge that by saying what exactly is there to be up-beat about at present? Jam tomorrow …oh not again!!! 

Our players have let us down in the last two games and however you try and dress that up, it’s a fact!! Mentally they are just not at the races and although I always shy away from Coach bashing I’m sure Lee himself realizes that the mental state that the players enter the field in, has to be down to their preparation and understanding of the situation. They look as if they don’t care and once the crazy desperate stuff starts with the ball in their quarter, no one seems capable of steadying it down. although I’m sure they do care, as I have often said it all seems a bit too cosy and comfortable for some of them at our club at present. 

Many said on leaving that the players looked as if they were on the beach already on Friday and you have to respect the views of those people because, we certainly didn’t seem to show the same urgency as Huddersfield did, although in factour need was just as great as theirs! I’m really disappointed with how the season has worked out and I’m just glad that we aint down there at the bottom, but then again with jobs being on the line, as Huddersfield players lively-hoods are, it might just be the incentive our lot need. It all looks to me to be just too cozy and relaxed at present; there’s no sign of desperation and wanting at all!! 

Thanks for the dozens of messages and tales of woe and despondency you’ve sent this week, for even in the hardest of times there were still positives on Friday!! Lee found some in his post-match comments and so did I. For a start we got parked OK, I had a great chat with my childhood pal Barry before-hand and the Chips were soooooo good!!  

Of course I’m being flippant but reading all your comments to me this week, I know that keeping believing might be out of the question this time around, so at least try to 

Keep smiling!

Faithfully Yours