The Dentist’s Diary – 646th

‘I’m Glad it’s all Over’

So sang Captain Sensible, but there has been little that was sensible about our last four performances of 2019 and although Friday was much better for effort, in hindsight you realise that we were never going to win it, because in attack we simply lacked any variation or ideas ….again. 

We were outplayed by a much better team on Friday.  The FC fought hard and never gave up and without the ball we showed some real guts and determination to stem a tide that flowed from a Saints team that were more direct, more lethal and who showed us just how to vary your attack to keep the opposition guessing. 

On the other hand, our offensive play was again predictable and even a bit pedestrian at times. We have to do something about our style of play, for we again lacked any sort of craft with the ball. We all applauded the effort in defence, but we were again lacklustre and uninspiring in possession, as too often we lost our way and looked devoid of ideas at the end of our sets. 

Changes have been promised by Adam and for me they have to come, because we need a completely new outlook as to how we play rugby next season, particularly when you see how far ahead of us Saints are. We need to be enthused as spectators again too, because even with the signings we have made, if a bad attitude creeps in again, we could be in trouble next year if we aren’t careful! Adam this week alluded to a change of playing style, but as the recruitment of big forwards and the ever increasing size across our back line continues into 2020, it’s hard to see a change of game plan coming any time soon but, all we can do is hope!  

Friday was the final game of a disappointing and in some ways worrying season and the end couldn’t come quickly enough for me. There was so much wrong last week at Castleford and there is certainly still a lot to sort out in the closed season. We had heard all week about players leaving, us going out on a high and a chance to send some heroes off with a win, but no one told Saints, for they were ruthless. 

Never the less, it was win/win for me really, because should we have got the most unlikely victory of the season, I’d have been pleased with that and as we didn’t, I’m just happy that this turgid season is at last at an end. Wigan had given us a life-line so, on Friday we just had the little matter of somehow beating the best team in the competition, who were themselves heading for a record breaking winning margin at the top of the league. It was always going to be a tough one but after Wigan literally blew Castleford away in the rain on Thursday night there was hope … but not much of it! 

In the end our last-ditch bid for a play-off place ended in failure as the curse of our awful left side defence struck again and Tommy Makinson scored a first-half hat-trick. With the ball we were simply not good enough, although in fairness it was our best performance since the Wigan game and with a bit more direction and leadership we could have won. We showed tons of heart and spirit but we faced a team that were so slick at times, they made us look pretty ordinary. 

With Paea dropping out, Savelio a no show again and Connor starting on the bench, the loss of Danny Houghton with a calf injury on 20 minutes, didn’t help at all and it could have been a bigger winning margin for the Champions, had visiting full-back Lachlan Coote not had an uncharacteristically bad night, as he converted only one of his five attempts.In the first half we battled well between those tries and scored a good one ourselves, as after a period of mazy, muddled attacking in their twenty Taylor grabbed a great Shaul passto crash in. In fact, had Sneyd been able to hang onto his own ‘chip’ over the Saints line to score, it could have been a different picture at the half way point. That passage of play was a great piece of off the cuff rugby and the sort of thing we had all been longing to see. It was certainly not in our ‘oh so structured’ play book and something that prompted my mate to comment, “I bet he’ll get a bollocking for that!”. 

Our left side defence was woeful again, both under the kick and on the slide when Saints turned up the gas and poured down that side of the field. Makinson swooped for his first touch-down after nine minutes from Coote’s cut out pass and he added his second six minutes later after the mercurial Theo Fages, who was brilliant throughout, floated a perfectly weighted kick to the corner. Then he completed his hat-trick when he accepted another Coote pass to race in. It would have been great to watch if it wasn’t your team that was at the receiving end of it all! They were just so much better than us as a mixture of skill, wanting and confidence easily animated why they are the best team in the competition by a mile. Our attacking plan was again ponderous and for the most part predictable and we really do need some new attacking ideas before next season.  

However, after lots of effort, Coote’s misses and a deal of tenacity in defence we went in at half time trailed by only 14-6, but with our hopes of a top-five spot fading fast. In fact, most of us were just pleased that we’d kept the score down, although for us everyone was having a real dig in defence, but the industrious Carlos Tumavive was the only one of our backs who looked like he could make something happen and he never stopped trying. Some around him however, just looked clueless with ball in hand. 

We began the second half strongly and our fight and tenacity kept our illustrious visitors scoreless in the third quarter, but a period where we camped on the Saints line for three consecutive sets as Ratu tried desperately to reach Albert Kelly’s kick, saw us come up empty handed and after Saints weathered that storm, in the last 20 minutes the Champions finished us off, as they broke to leave us in deep trouble with a fourth try from centre Percival. 

The game over, Grace put the finishing touches to Saints’ win late on and we were done, as our season ended as we had all expected it would, but with a performance full of guts and determination complemented by an attacking plan that was never going to beat the champions had we played till midnight. In that second half we never looked like getting on level terms, as more of that safety first, boring rugby, that we have come to expect saw us turning the ball back inside as we ran down blind alley, after blind alley. They spread the ball faster than us, struck from deep, ran onto the ball from first man hard and probed and prodded our line throughout. 

In the end it was a performance from Saints that gave us something to aspire to in the future, but it was obvious that we would need a complete change of focus and some new attacking ideas before we ever get anyway near being as attractive a team to watch as Saints are at present. Their intensity was amazing at times, as was their line speed and ‘fast hands’ and it all prompted my pal Neil to say, “They worry about attendances, yet if we played like they do (Saints) we would be getting gates of 16,000 every week”. A bit of an exaggeration? Well, perhaps it was, but I and most of us who were there got his point. Our play really is dreary at times!

For me the stars of the night were the crowd, who did their best to get behind the team from the moment they ran out to warm up and it was great to see Mini and the other leaving players getting such a great send off after the game. I couldn’t believe it when in ‘The Tiger’ afterwards my pal Rich told me that Carlos Tumavive hadn’t been included in the names offered on line to fans to pick the man of the match from, for he had a great game and never stopped trying. 

Mini lost the ball a couple of times, he usually does these days, but he certainly put in a really big stint in his final hurrah, Shaul was better than of late and Taylor, Ellis and Matongo battled hard, but for me Sneyd was ineffective again, Kelly struggled to make an impact and on the wing, Faraimo was found wanting once more, where his inability to defend wide out was business as usual.  Otherwise as I say it was a blessed relief when the hooter went and the 2019 season was put to bed. It had started reasonably well and included some highs and some awful pastings and finished with what can only be described as a whimper. What next, well we’ll have to wait and see won’t we?  

So to the week gone by and were I to spend time here discussing everything that has been going on this week, this Diary would be more like the Book of Deuteronomy than the usual journal I produce to reflect how I’m feeling about the club I love. The big news off the field this week has to be Adam Pearson’s end of season interview with James Smailes and his chat with Radio Humberside on Wednesday, which were both succinct, interesting and even a tad incendiary at times. We all wondered what Adam thought about what’s happened this season, for he has certainly been quiet, but I think we got a pretty good resume of that in what was an excellent piece of journalism by James Smailes. 

That said we all know that with the squad we have and the facilities they are afforded, we should expect a better level of consistency. I thought that Adam did reflect well the fact that he understands how upset us fans are about the team trailing off again this season and he also appreciates our frustration at us seeming incapable of winning games regularly at home; but, I hear you say, he would say that as we set off selling season tickets wouldn’t he? But deep down I think at least he gets it! 

A big reveal on Humberside did see Adam actually stating that both he and Lee had made a big mistake in letting Wattsy go and that for me shows one of the big flaws in our current set up. In here at the time you’ll remember I said that when you look at guys like Alex Ferguson they got the best players into the club whatever their baggage, sorted that baggage out and got the best out of them. We let Watts go because he was deemed by many to be ‘a bad boy’ whilst those in the know said he wanted to play in his natural style, but was being told to play in another. Believe what you will, but he went and we all tried to understand, however, here we are a year or so on admitting we made a big mistake and should have sorted him out and got the best out of him!! 

We benefitted to the tune of around £100,000 but will we be having the same conversation in a year’s time about Jake Connor? There is certainly an X factor about Jake that has to be nurtured and a wayward side that has to be sorted, but if we don’t do that he’ll just be another Liam Watts, who will go onto greater things and who we’ll regret letting go. I detected from what Adam said on the radio that we might let him go when he returns after being in the international squad, but for me, if we do it, then it’s an admission that we still can’t handle such issues. 

In Hakim Mouloudi there was something there, all be it not on the scale of the other two, however few who saw him play for the Reserves and Doncaster wouldn’t admit there was some flair about him, but he was a bad boy and off he went; he had talent but struggled when thrown in too early and with his own attitude, but it didn’t appear to the fans that we had persevered with him at all. That might be wrong, but that was how it looked. For my two penneth here, I think that we have to sort these players out and judge them in the end on their ability, not dismiss them for their character deficiencies. It is important that we employ people for their outstanding sporting abilities and not because they are, “No Bother”. Otherwise we end up with staid, robotic, functional players that might lack to ‘certain magical something’ but who are jolly nice guys!!      

A lot on the terraces are pretty disenchanted by things at present. So what do we do about it? As fans, in such disappointing times, I guess the ultimate action is that we can withdraw our support, but if you really love your club as ‘a supporter’ you’re just cutting your nose off to spite your face. For, I’d always rather be a stake holder and able to have my say, rather than being on the outside looking in. 

Why? Well because I love Hull FC. They’ll always be with me and I’ll always be with them. However, I do also defend my right as a customer to criticise the product if its failing me. The mechanism is there to do that, but the club still struggle to get members to their regularly ‘meet the management team’ events which are designed for just that purpose. Some spurn these opportunities and prefer instead to abuse players on social media. You just have to get things in proportion and it appears some in the ranks of FC fans don’t get the ‘in any kinda weather’ bit at all. 

Still we seem to have shifted ground on the coaching set up at least and Adam said in both interviews that we are reviewing where we are with that with regard to bringing in some help and he even states that we will see additions, however Lee’s reluctance the other week to accept it was needed, might make that one a bit interesting don’t you think? 

After all the rhetoric and in depth stuff Smailsey and to a lesser extent Humberside managed to extract from our owner, we should always remember that we would be totally sunk without him. We are lucky to have Adam, but he ain’t going to be around forever. He is, by what he had to say, trying to spread some of the financial burden he bears and looking towards his later years, when he might one day, withdraw from things altogether. That’s why, I’m sure, he is wanting to bring in new investors and as he calls them, shareholders. 

If the club needs help I know that we’d all buy shares, for we all did in the old days, but Adams reluctant to ever consider a share issue. He likes to be in charge and its his money, so why not? That’s why, I think, he is more open to seeking a partner or partners, rather than pursuing a traditional company based model. 

But as season ticket holders I guess we’re all sort of pseudo share-holders anyway. We invest in our club, often by direct debit, month in month out. That’s the best way we can back them, but as Adam recognises, in exchange for our 20 quid a month, we have a right to some level of consistency in the product and the right to question the team’s form, if we don’t get it. He appreciates that, because in hard economic terms, without it the sales of season tickets will tail off and we will be sunk. AND we would be sunk!! Adam is not Simon Moran at Warrington and sitting on a £300m fortune, he is a successful business man who has wealth, but it’s limited!! He’s going to want value or at least eventually financial parity for his investment and why not? 

After I had got over some of the rhetoric we get in such ‘state of the nation’ interviews, the real issues are as always the hidden gems that came out. For me the biggest single point was the comment by Adam that, “With the amount of liabilities and infrastructure we have got the club wouldn’t be able to handle relegation”. 

I have been telling you all that for years and you all know if you read this regularly that I’m never happier than when, every year, we have around 22 points and can’t go down. I have personal experience of the user agreement we have with the SMC and the fact that we would have to renegotiate our deal, “Where we to fall out of the Senior Division of the Competition”. 

That was originally put in by the Council to protect either Club as tenants should they fall on hard times, but with the current regime in place at the SMC it’s not hard to imagine that in such circumstances perhaps we would be penalised rather than assisted!! That, with the added problems we have seen at Leigh and Widnes, with losing your youth set up and senior players, would spell disaster for a club that doesn’t own its own ground to borrow against?  Why do you think Rovers are so intent on buying Caravan Park? 

As a club along as we succeed we are OK, but if we don’t then we’ll be in a bad place. In that situation Adam is our best bet and we have to support him, but that doesn’t mean that we should stop having our say as we are investing, both emotional and monetarily, in his Club and his team. But, reading that interview you can see that he gets that completely, I still support him 100% but he’ll have a job on convincing some that the talk of ‘Jam tomorrow’ will be an authentic claim this time around. As a club, without Adam we would be sunk, so we have to try and support him. not for his benefit, but for the continuance of OUR Hull FC.  

Well I can’t remember the last time that one player won 4 awards at the annual end of season beano, but Josh Griffin did just that last Tuesday. It’s a sad reflection of the clubs current campaign, when he does that and last year’s recipient of the 2019 young player award, Jordan Lane, wins that accolade again this year. Fact is they both deserved their honours as well, as few others could match either for consistently in a season when most players have been in and out with their form and for some that’s being kind. It was great as well to honour Mini, Seke and the now to retire, Micky Paea.  

Mickey told me seven weeks ago that he was leaving and that he was considering offers from clubs to go around again for  another year in Super league. I’m told however that of late he has found it really tough going and that he has a couple of injuries that have caused him to reconsider. He’s had a pretty good season though.   

Now, we all spend a lot of time these day fretting and worrying about what has exactly gone wrong with Hull FC this season and, more importantly, why we look a shadow of the team that beat Catalan and then Castleford, in stirring away performances just three months ago. Something is certainly wrong and last weekend perennial hand wringer Gary Schofield gave us the low down on what he thought was the problem. He said, “The big problem is Jake Connor he is no good for the dressing room and getting sin binned at Castleford was a symptom of the problem with him. I think the club now has to get shut. But who will now want Jake Connor. His actions indicate that he wants to instigate a move himself. If I was the Coach I would put him on the transfer list. I wouldn’t want him in my dressing room, he doesn’t respect anyone”. What a rant eh? Yet pretty much par for the course for the original FC ‘Judas’. 

Then in waded Judas 2 (Paul Cooke), who has been spending time of late trying to build his credibility up in hope of burying past misdemeanours. He came with some scathing comments about Connor which you all probably read in the Hull Daily Mail, likening Jake to himself in his wayward younger days and identifying that he either had to shape up and sort himself and his relationship with his play mates out, or ship out! 

I’m not on for bearing malice, but it came across as being rather ironic as both passed judgement on someone who has as yet done nothing like what they both did to gain the ire of the FC Faithful. Talk about kettles and pans eh? Thing is of course Connor has to be sorted and his flair and ability brought out, or as I have already said, we’ll end up with another Watts scenario. Lee has hinted at the fact that all Connor does all day is wind everyone up; well, sort him out then guys!! 

So what do we do? Well perhaps Richard Agar’s smirk when Jakes name and demeanour was mentioned on Sky before the Castleford game was a bit of a clue, although Adam denies that Leeds are still interesting.  Let’s face it Leeds (and Agar) have history in filching players from us in underhand circumstances haven’t they? But let’s get it in proportion. Have the antics of one player actually robbed us of a top five place and ruined our season? I think myself that’s a bit unlikely don’t you?? 

Now you all know my views of the ridiculous middle Eights set up we had to endure for 2017 and 2018 and how in here I decried it just about every week as being manufactured, courting cheap sensationalism and almost impossible to understand for any potential new convert to the game. It was a real dogs breakfast of a structure. ‘Every Minute Matters’ was the slogan rugby league adopted in 2015 for this ill-conceived plan, when it changed its play-off system (which was we found out later, a phrase they pinched from the East Lancashire Hospital Trust three years earlier) and you’ll remember that we were promised an end to ‘late season games with nothing to lose’. It was full of holes and as I say much lamented by a lot of fans across the game and indeed many Diary readers too. Thankfully like so many of our games gimmicky additions, the new structure didn’t last.

The Super League decided to take over their own destiny James Elstone was appointed and we returned to a format this season that some at the RL indicated could lead to dead rubbers as the season closed. Yet there we were finding ourselves this season on a last weekend that held more drama than all 4 seasons of Peaky Blinders! London, Hull KR, Wakefield and even Huddersfield could have perished and only two weeks ago four teams were locked in second place jostling for positions in the top five. In fact, with three games to go every team in the competition with the exception of Saints at the top, were contesting either the top or the bottom. That is the sort of scenario the powers that be could only have dreamed of! Someone said this week that, “Freaky Friday, or whatever we’re calling it, is a nerve-wracking, thrilling, mind-boggling finale to the season”. 

The outcome was no doubt just a twist of fate and next year the relegation candidate may be decided in early August, but for me I think all of us who went on and on about that cack-handed set up in 2017/2018 have been completely vindicated. Sometimes in sport as in life the simple tried and tested methods are right, although I still think that the short sighted approach of some Championship clubs who decided that even if a club went through the season undefeated, they would still not get promoted, wants looking at! Still no one can complain at the current outcome of Super league can they?  

This week in Codgers Corner we travel back to the last season that we played at the Boulevard and a game against Castleford that we played on 21st April 2001. Back then, as the KC Stadium started to rise majestically over the roof tops behind Bunkers Hill, we were enjoying a very successful season under Shaun McCrae. The visit of Castleford was as always keenly anticipated, as they have always had a reputation for playing attractive rugby and that season they were going well particularly away from Wheldon Road.

That day we fielded a strong team which saw scrum half Tony Smith taking his place on the bench after a long lay-off, while Cas had a mini injury crisis and were without their influential half back partnership of Dale Fitz and Lee Harland and even played their assistant coach, a 35 year old Gary Mercer, on the bench. That made him the oldest Super League player to take the field that year.

The game kicked off with nearly 9000 in the ground and I watched the match from Bunkers Hill at the Airlie Street end. The first few exchanges were rugged affairs and Nathan Sykes, Dean Sampson and the returning (On the P***, On The P***) Michael Smith all had tilts at our front row! In fact, referee Silverwood was in danger of losing control from the off. Then against the run of play Carvell squeezed out a pass to Rich Horne who put Graham Mackay over in the corner, whilst at the other end Danny Orr sent Smith over after Paul Cooke had dropped the ball in front of him. In fact, Castleford were proving really lively and their stand in half backs were in danger of taking control of the game until Raynor chased back to crash tackle a break-away Danny Orr, who never got up from the collision and had to be carried from the field. 

Straight from the restart Cas dropped the ball and we got possession back. Adam Maher and Mackay combined well and swept the ball down field, and as the visitors sliding defence closed in Mackay sent a peach of a pass for Matty Crowther to go in close to the corner flag. Straight away we repeated the action almost to the letter but Mackay, who had run fully 40 yards down the centre channel, lost the ball whilst trying to change his carrying hand and the chance was lost. However, on the 30 minute the flood gates opened. Firstly, Cooke picked up a Healey kick near our line and sent out a long looping pass to the unmarked Kohe Love, who set off on one of those mazy runs that eventually saw him waltz around full back Rodgers to go in under the posts. It was a superb score that had everyone buzzing long after the conversion had been taken. Then just four minutes later Jason Smith who had seemed to be limping for some time, inter-passed with Lee Jackson for the Aussie loose forward to end up with the ball and crash over Michael Eagar to score, again under the sticks.  

Two minutes from the break another fine flowing passage of play saw Horne feed Ryan and he brilliantly put Steve Prescott into the open. Our mercurial full back side stepped one and then two defenders before placing the ball behind the line without a hand being put on him, and a fifth conversion from Crowther saw us 30-6 in the lead. It was a bit flattering to say the least and you felt a bit for Cas, but in that first half we were unplayable at times and our completion rate of 98% was simply awesome.

The second half saw us playing into the strong wind that both Cooke and Horne had used so well in the first half. After just 7 minutes Horne and Jason Smith put Mackay in again wide out on the right, but Crowther missed with what was to be his only failure of the afternoon. Then another 60 yard run by Mackay sent Crowther himself in for his second try and as the teams returned to the half way line, Tony Smith took to the field. Cas rallied a bit, as Michael Smith who even I had to admit was having a very good game, (For a fat lad) burrowed in for a score and then put out a really good dissecting pass to Wayne Godwin for the hooker to score beside the post. Soon Sampson was rolling over for another, before we finished the afternoon off with brilliant sweeping downfield move started by Craig Greenhill and Scott Logan which saw Deon Bird send out a long pass to put Kohi Love in for the last score of the game.

On the hooter Tony Smith, nearly produced a fairy tale ending to the game as he touched down Jackson’s kick through, only for the touch judge to declare that he had not grounded the ball correctly! Still it was a great afternoon’s work, which saw us win 48-18 to consolidate third place in the table. It was one of several great games in a good season and a fitting reminder for this supporter of those great days after the merger, and before we left the Boulevard. 

Now to the most serious issue this week and the claims of abuse of players on social media by so called fans. This sort of stuff really does p*ss me off and is pretty unforgiveable. It’s intolerable for any player to receive it, but the news that last week Masi and a few other got ‘shocking’ abuse after the Castleford game is wrong on so many levels. Its bad when aimed at any player, but Masi is a genuine guy, who always tries his best and who has been through awful personal trauma recently, which he battled through in commendable fashion for such a young man. 

Furthermore, why abuse him? In that shocking showing at Castleford Masi scored the opening try when a host of the ‘luminaries’ around him failed to cross the whitewash, he gave his all and he has been one of our better performers throughout a disappointing year. Apparently the content of the tweet was disgusting and rumour is that it may not have been a Hull fan at all, but followers of a rival club. But, whatever the circumstances, the club should refer such abuse to the police and get it sorted, this is Rugby League, but sadly as well it’s just an example of something that is seen across sport in general. Years ago to dish out such insults you’d have had to face a player and risk getting bopped, these days in the bedroom, with a keyboard and the curtains drawn it’s just a coward’s way of doing things. As for the players involved, take no notice guys, for I really find it hard to understand how these folks can be classed as anything but pathetic to be honest.  

I think that despite the new signings who are coming in, the fans of Hull FC can best be described as being a tad under whelmed with things at present. However, if it’s been disappointing on the field and quiet at the club, that can always be guaranteed to ensure that the ‘noises off’ get louder and louder, as the frustration grows. But, fans should always have the right to speak their minds. 

In general, most fans are constructive and prefer to argue amongst themselves about how to sort things out, rather than voicing their concerns to the club or the players. On that score the message boards have certainly been red hot and the talk in the pubs and clubs is despondent and sometimes angry, for whichever way you look at it, 2019 hasn’t been a good season for Hull FC. Even the most optimistic and glass half full brigade are scratching around for positives after us failing to even get in the play-offs. We could have been in that bottom four and it could have been a lot worse, but that’s scant consolation when you have been in the top 5 since April and promised a late season push for honours before the team falls away to 4 consecutive defeats, just at the wrong time. Whilst I totally abhor any sort of on-line abuse directed at players or officials, I still believe in the supporters being heard.  

We have a right to be upset at such times as long its done properly, even if some don’t take that constructive disapproval too well. I’ve had criticism from ‘high places’ from time to time about the Diary simply because I try to animate my own thoughts and perhaps the thoughts of the bulk of supporters. 

Its fine when I’m going over the top and praising the team, but when you have a go and show disappointment and despair (usually borne out of frustration), you’re in trouble. However, I have to say that since James Clark has been Chief Executive that has subsided somewhat and he almost seems as frustrated as all us lot at times!! 

I try to never openly criticise players or Coaches simply because, unlike those on message boards etc. who think they do, I don’t know all the facts. However occasionally if you’re a supporter, individuals do at least warrant a mention!!! But I defend my right, as I do the right of all those on message boards, Face Book and twitter to have an opinion on Hull FC. I might not agree with them but, as long as it’s not abusive and is constructive that’s fine and in any case 9 times out of 10 if they didn’t care they wouldn’t do it! 

It can’t be easy for the officials at the club to take such comments, but they can’t expect us lot to feel pain, to strain and struggle, to cheer, rejoice and cry, to spend thousands of pounds and defend our heroes when sometimes their actions are almost in-defensible, to travel the country, to buy the shirts, to believe the hype and try to accept the excuses in an understanding way, to laugh, to cry and to have the club lodged perhaps forever in our very DNA (and to even write 6000 words a week for 14 years about them), WITHOUT us all at least having an opinion. 

In the end all we are is addicted, we all have opinions because we have bought into the dream with our hearts and souls (and cash) and many of us simply can’t get out. A few will manage to walk away and others to make the leap into the light and move on, but most of us are in a never ending loop and an allegiance which will only end, if someone remembers to cancel our direct debit after we snuff it!!! 

Those that can be upset by comments, like owners, players and officials have to realise that they all come and go in time, but the one thing that remains is the supporters. We can’t retire, sell up, move on or get transferred, we can’t shift allegiances as if they have never existed. All we can do is hope that things will change and that next year will be the year, for we know after 2016 that miracles do happen. As you get older you try to blank disappointment out a bit and take it on the chin, those Wembley wins have certainly helped me considerably with that one. But, I still get upset at performances like the one at Castleford and still can’t sleep after them, but these days at last I do seem to get over it. That’s because, if you don’t find a way to manage it all; in the end it’s that hope that ‘kills’ you. 

Once your well and truly hooked whatever age you are, there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it; Hull FC has been such a big part of your life your stuck with them. So my 59th season ticket beckons and I’ll be there, I’ll be grumbling and I’ll be critical if I feel the situation deserves it. I’ll also be over the top when the prospects are brighter and you know what, I make no excuses for my state, for I draw great consolation from the fact that when I react in such a way, I’m not on my own and we’re all in it together. In the end I guess the only saving grace is the  fact that we’re all amongst friends. And I am forever grateful for all the friendship and camaraderie that stems from me producing this weekly drivel. 

I popped down to the Club on Friday and dropped off signed copies of ‘2016 The Year of the Airlie Bird’ and a message of thanks from myself and the fans to Mini, Manu and Washy for what they did. I said I hoped that when they read the book they would appreciate just how on one sunny day in London in 2016 they changed thousands of people’s lives forever. I’ll particularly miss my chats at the gym with Mini for he is a thoroughly nice bloke! 

As the dust settles a bit The Diary will be back next week to discuss what is wrong what should happens next, but then, after a few years of struggling to keep things going on a weekly basis through the winter, it will be moving to once a fortnight until the pre-season friendlies. I’ll enclose a schedule of publishing dates in the next edition for everyone. In the mean-time well, we hardly went out in a blaze of glory did we? But at least we had a go!! Well done to everyone who went and responded so well from the terraces, thanks again to all those who has been in touch and to you all for sticking with another Diary. I hope you found something in it of interest!

Keep Believing 

Faithfully Yours 

Wilf