The Dentist’s Diary – 649th

Hello Again and Welcome to the annual, ‘Everyone’s away on Holiday’ edition of the Diary!!!

Two weeks on from the last one, there’s plenty of controversy to talk about across the sport, but news wise at Hull FC it’s been pretty quiet, most of the players are missing as are the Coaching staff, but with season tickets selling well and already only around 3000 behind last year’s total and the new home strip revealed last Friday in Princes Quay, things are bumping along towards the International games and the start of pre-season. 

Somethings however never change and as such, the great and loyal FC Faithful have once again put disappointment behind them and risen to the occasion. As we all prepare to go around again with hearts full of hope and heads full of dreams for 2020, (which will no doubt be a real crunch season for the Club), I believe that it’s been made clear at the club that it’s do or die for some! 

Fridays shirt launch saw the revealing of a home strip that is at least Black and White and that will, I expect, sell really well. For me it’s a bit ‘Blocky’ and resembles a few past Wigan shirts in design, but I’ve learned over the years that its pretty limiting as to what you can do to ring the changes at all. At least the sponsors have been incorporated quite well and it doesn’t look like a walking advertising board and what’s more, there will be plenty around in Beverley by Tuesday, I’ll wager. However, I have to say that as far as home shirts go then I’d go for irregular hoops in some form every year; but that just me. 

It was certainly a good event with new hooker Jordon Johnstone there, (who really can’t wait to get started) and a new signing revealed as well. Hundreds of folks attended in a packed atrium at the shopping centre as we were told that Gareth Ellis had signed a new deal (which I’ve already said, I worry about a bit) and that Joe Cator had signed for the club, despite being offered a deal by Wigan and receiving another late one from Salford. 

Joe is a former Skirlaugh Bulls and City of Hull Academy player who can perform in a number of positions across the park, including loose-forward, second-row, centre and hooker. I always liked him when he was a youngster at Rovers and as an avid FC fan, I’m told it was the prospect of playing for his life-long favourite club that swung the deal for us. When you are offered that opportunity, can you imagine how great that is?? I wish our eighth signing of the season well, but it’s going to be tough for him to get a place in our new look forward roster. As for Gareth, he’s a great guy and a massive personality in camp but that said, (and I hope I’m wrong), I can’t really see him getting much game time either next season, can you?  

With 8 new faces coming in it’s certainly going to be a different looking FC that runs out at the KCom next season and quite frankly it’s a lot of new personalities and styles to incorporate in such a short time. Personally I think it’s about the optimum number you can introduce in one season and no doubt at first we will be getting told that it is going to take a while for their talents and skills to blend. It will certainly be interesting in 2020.    

Besides that, it’s been a quiet couple of weeks but well done to Danny Houghton for again being crowned as the games top tackler at the Man of Steel Awards night last week. Although like all local heroes, he’s a bit of a prophet in his own land and comes in for some stick at times, he’s a great player, but I think he has as Captain looked a tad tired at times this season, as he has tried to lift a team that has faltered and struggled on occasions. Danny’s main means of inspiring those around him is by his own actions and I think sometimes he actually tried too hard to lead from the front, particularly when his colleagues seem to be devoid of much enthusiasm at all. 

However, the fact is, Danny is still one of the best number 9’s in the game and would walk into most Super league teams. On top of that he’s 100% Hull FC and he eats, sleeps and dreams the club. I’m really pleased that he’s again got the recognition he deserves in a Man of Steel category that is based purely on numbers (of tackles) rather than the opinion of others and I just hope with new signing Johnstone coming in next year, Danny might get spelled a bit at times as well, because although he will deny it if you ask him, he just can’t keep going like he has for the last decade, can he? 

I had a few words with the same Jordon Johnstone the other day and although enjoying the welcome he is at present getting in the City, he certainly hasn’t signed to make up the numbers and he comes across as a very confident and ambitious young fella who is looking forward to competing for a place in the team. He’ll be in training from day one and is getting sorted with his arrangements in the area as we speak. He might not be the biggest name in the signings we have made, but I suspect he might well surprise a few. If enthusiasm and ambition is all you need, he’d be on the team-sheet now!! 

Club or Country?? Well that’s often the question in all sport but it’s certainly heartening at Hull FC to see hot on the heels of Chris Satae deciding to forgo the call from Tonga to ensure he gets a big pre-season in, we hear that Josh Bowden has left the England Knights set up. It means that after being involved in the Knights train-on squad throughout the Super League play-offs, Bowden’s season has come to an end and he will get a much needed three weeks off. 

The forward has certainly done it tough injury wise, having returned to action midway through the season after a year out of the team with an anterior cruciate ligament injury. That’s a problem that is notoriously difficult to manage when it comes to the reaction from the injury following the playing of games again. The player sought the advice of Radders and the club’s conditioning staff, after he continued to get that reaction after training and was advised to rest. Josh admitted that his main concern was getting fit and ready for the 2020 season at the FC and so two players have in effect forgone the chance to play international rugby, to ensure they give themselves the best chance of being at optimum fitness for the start of the new season. Good stuff I thought.  

Well, what do you make of Gary Schofield and his comments about the Ladies Rugby League Grand Final being ‘More like an under 11’s game’? Actually, after all the rubbish he has written and the abusive and derogatory comments he had made about individuals over the years, it was tame stuff, but it hit a raw nerve with many. He’s certainly being granted ‘the moral high ground’ when it comes to getting much sympathy from me either! 

I remember many years ago having a conversation with Gwilym Lloyd about his constant quoting that he was only ‘Playing Devil’s Advocate’ about the club I love and I politely suggested that it was all just a cover for him being ‘argumentative and awkward’ and I guess for me the same goes for Mr. Schofield. It’s often not what you say or how you say it, but why you say it and who you direct your comments at!!! One things for sure, I know by just doing this weekly rubbish that when you go into any sort of open access print about anything, you become public property. 

I’ve always taken the point of view in here that I just say it as I see it, but I hope I also try to balance any of my beliefs with both sides of the argument. Thankfully you lot the readers of this stuff are pretty objective and even handed and although often you don’t agree with me, you also accept that we all love our club even though at times we have an individual outlook on the way that they do things. 

But, if anyone is talking about something like Rugby League they have to understand as well, that it is a subject that is very dear to so many people and if you’re talking about a specific Club or its players, then your messing with something that is often central to a person’s belief systems and thus, their lives. In sport as in many other things everyone is entitled to an opinion.  

One thing you can’t be is arrogant or flippant about other people’s points of view, or indeed give the impression that your opinion is right and the only one there is. I’ll leave you to decide if you think any of that relates to the way that Gary operates, but he’s certainly universally disliked on the terraces. 

I’ll tell you a story about him that might help explain why he has been such a pain for so long and why now perhaps his chickens have come home to roost. Back in the days when I was Chairman of FC Voices we used to run an annual FC memorabilia and memories event at the KCom. which many of you may have attended. We used to invite the ex-players to attend to add to the atmosphere and they were great events. One year, out of the blue, Gary Schofield attended. 

He entered the room and walked around seeming to revel in the fact that he was not the most popular ex-player with the fans around him. I understood their feelings as well, because following his leaving us for Leeds and the circumstances surrounding his departure, plus his constant criticism of the team I love ever since, he was certainly not my favourite person at all! But that’s neither here nor there and so that day, as the organiser of the event and out of civility, I took the opportunity to have a chat with him.

We got on well really and so I asked him why he was so antagonistic towards Hull FC, other clubs and certain players across the game. His answer was certainly interesting, because he said that it was the only way he’d get any work. He insisted that he was employed to be like that and if he wasn’t he concluded, he would be just another nameless pundit and perhaps an out of work one too. I sort of got him positioning himself as ‘the Man they love to hate’, but over the years as he has continued in that vein with his constant tirades aimed at specific people (like Marc Sneyd), all that crap has seen me grow to find him tiresome and childish. However, if he really is intent on ruffling feathers, this time he’s certainly succeeded. 

That said, after he landed himself with a deal of criticism from some luminaries in the game, he actually did the right thing and apologising about his comments about that Ladies game. It was the very thing that would take the sting out of it, but then he just couldn’t keep quiet and went on to question why he was still receiving a tirade of abuse on social media. He should have kept his head down and accepted that for year’s folks have been waiting to have a go and now they had their chance and were going to fill their boots. He couldn’t keep quite though, could he? 

Not content to keep stum and just suck it all up, he became animated by the criticism and in his League Weekly column (often the setting for those written assassinations of players he has taken a dislike to) he threatening to walk away from the game all together; as if we should all be begging him to stay!! That ain’t gonna happen at all and now he’s lost more credibility and painted himself into a corner!!! 

It’s a real mess and one that was best left to burn itself out, but instead Gary has stoked the fire and now it blazes on. Sadly, once again in Rugby League, the noises off eclipse what’s happening on the field and what a sad state of affairs that is. But, in his case I always expected one day it would happen, didn’t you?             

Moving on and after what many felt was an unmitigated disaster at Liverpool last year the Magic Weekend has been re-located back to Newcastle for 2020 and everyone I know who attends regularly, hails it as a great move. The Super League Clubs under Chief Executive Robert Elstone have acted quickly in a move that will please most and see the ‘Booze Cruisers’ fighting for their tickets for two days in a city that made them most welcome. Last time the hostelries across the town centre were thronging with fans and if we have to have this ‘beano’ in the first place, then Newcastle which is sufficiently outside the M62 corridor, but also easily accessed from it and also a World Cup venue, suits the sports requirements perfectly. 

I have to say however, that I would have ditched the whole thing myself. Why? Well the cynic in me thinks that over the last few years the magic of the ‘Magic’ has become a little tainted and despite the relocation, we will still see gates dropping at the event. Think for a moment about the poor fans who are still intent on trying to follow their heroes for all 29 Rounds. Their itinery now includes that Magic Weekend, perhaps two trips to France, and one Trans-Atlantic jaunt to Toronto. 

It’s all getting far too much, particularly if, like some, you want to go to Wembley and Old Trafford as well as watching every game your club plays in. I used to be like that and for about two decades in the earlier years of my supporting life I went everywhere. But now I neither have the inclination or the funds to go to France twice, never mind Canada and then Newcastle as well!! 

Plus, as for the muted idea of bringing back the local Derby’s to The Magic Weekend, to ‘spice it up’ again, well, that’s just clutching at straws and all I can say to that is ‘Noooooooooo!!!’ We look to be starting the season with a Derby and have two others already scheduled in the loop fixture formula for next season; we don’t need any more or we will be back to the old over kill again. I know one thing and that is I would rather go to Toronto than Newcastle, if I was inclined to go to either, particularly when Magic is an event that sees a manufactured fixture list and a contrived for TV format. 

As I say, perhaps the event has run its course, as in a game that sees a burgeoning amount of ‘novelties’ being introduced year on year, this particular innovation has now been replaced by the unique prospect of playing a game in Canada. All this razzamatazz outside the set of normal home and away fixtures is just a distraction. Instead of looking for gimmicks we should be majoring on improving the rules, the accessibility to and timing of matches and the quality of the officials so that we are doing everything to make the game, rather than where it is played and what gimmicks surround it, the attraction. 

Look how much added value the game received as a spectacle by just making the corner flag in play when try scoring is attempted or when we introduced the 40/20 rule. With two simple rule changes the whole game got more exciting and better to watch. We already have unique selling points like Wembley and the Challenge Cup, but all we are doing now is diluting their impact. What’s more, it’s costing those loyal fans who just can’t bear to miss a game, a fortune. Too many gimmicks by half for me??  

Now, I wrote the next few paragraphs straight after the Million Pound game (a title that could be in contravention of the Trades Description Act in itself, but more of that in a moment) but I have to say in starting that it was a game that I thoroughly enjoyed. Hot on the heels of that brilliant giant killing feat of the Salford Red Devils at Wigan 24 hours earlier, we were sadly not to see that repeated by the Featherstone’s ‘Flatcappers’, who had done so well to get that far in the first place. However, what a spectacle we witnessed, played out, as it was, in front of 10,000 Canadians hungry for Super League rugby. I was impressed with the match as an event and although a lot won’t agree with me, I have to admit that my initial thoughts straight after the game were that I was pleased that the Wolfpack had won. 

Those thoughts did, I’ll agree, bring a bit of a conflict of conscience for this old traditionalist, but I think as well that I recognise that if the game is to have any sort of chance of flourishing again, it has to maintain its integrity. 

That said, my conflict will not have been anything like that of Richard Whiting! His family and indeed his own rugby roots are totally immersed in the Featherstone; yet he was a player for the Canadians and is now welfare officer for the Wolfpack! He certainly looked a bit bemused afterwards as the celebrations went on out on the pitch!!  

I love the Colliers (as we used to call them) and have some great memories of games at Post Office road against a team that was always passionate and hard to beat on their own patch. In my book talks I always speak about the pre-match drinks in the social Club, of playing through the miner’s strike, of heroes of ours that hailed from there like Charlie Stone, Steve Evans and Vince Farrer and of course of the night my pal Kathy went in the Club after a night game and came out to find someone had nicked their coach!! 

They are a great traditional club steeped in history and memories and as such they are the stuff that our game is made of! So, had they prevailed it would have been great to have another short trip to West Yorkshire next season and to see a great traditional Club taking their place in Super League for the first time. Yet here I am saying I’m pleased that a team that I probably won’t be visiting and whose inclusion I don’t agree with, have triumphed whilst I’m hailing a club whose inclusion in 2020 means that a sixth of the teams in Super League are now based outside this country. That’s not really me at all.

So, why as that final hooter went was I pleased for the Canadians? Well let me explain! If a team goes a whole season losing just once and winning out in the end by a full 12 points, doesn’t get promoted, it is for me just unfair; just as it is unfair that Saints this year were not hailed as Champions after 29 rounds. Play-off rugby should be an addition to celebrating a season of success, not a replacement for it! For me, as a game we have to reward a season of hard work, dogged determination, consistency and effort, not three or four games at the end of the campaign that can easily be effected by injuries and form. 

So, although as you all know I never agreed with the Canadian adventure in the first place, I’m pleased that the Toronto boys are coming up because if we are to look like a credible sport then we have to reward the best team in a competition with the ultimate prize; promotion. They shouldn’t have been in the competition in the first place but they are and the best team shouldn’t be the one that prevails in a short shotgun shootout at the end, but rather the one who week in week out through adversity and strife end up top of the pile? Since their inclusion in Division One the Wolfpack have gone about their business in fine style. Simply put (and when compared with so many other aborted attempts at expansion), the enterprise shown by the Wolfpack as a team starting from scratch with no central funding, in a sports mad city and their then winning their league so convincingly, has been rewarded. 

What’s more there have been so many obstacles put in their way and so much moaning from the ‘stick in the muds’, (both in the halls of power and on the terraces). Such myopic views have I guess held the game back for years, so I’m glad the Wolfpack will be given the chance to show us what they can do to place a global spotlight on our game next year. 2020 should allow us all to at least get an insight as to what such an expansion will do, if anything, to raise the public perception of our sport. Many suspect it will help, although if it doesn’t we should ditch the idea, but we have to wait and see how the administrations of the Super League and the RFL handle what is without doubt, a massive opportunity and a potential disaster, all at the same time.  

Already the Wolfpack have, despite those obstacles put in their way, done much more than any other Super League Club marketing wise; let’s face it they’ve had to. In a major city that is, in the Greater Toronto Area, home to over six million residents and five much-loved major professional sports teams, the Wolfpack have still managed to receive over 700 million total media impressions in 2019. Thanks to several exciting broadcast agreements, including one with Canadian powerhouses Rogers Sportsnet and North America wide CBC, the Wolfpack are continuing to increase their profile and one things for sure, the jump to Super League will certainly serve to further build their brand. 

Through their hard work in developing media outlets of their own, the Betfred Championship Grand Final was seen around the globe, reaching into over 500 million homes throughout major markets including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, France, Asia, India, Singapore and Hong Kong. Of course some fans are already contesting this claim, but the Canadians were never saying that everyone in every home watched it, but it was there in their homes if they wanted to partake and just the name of the Final in the schedules and listings will have cast light on our game and done a lot of good for the sports profile.  

Yet despite the potential opportunity this affords and all the possibilities it opens up for our game, the newcomers have been pretty shoddily treated by the other Super League Clubs. They of course persist in calling it the million-pound game and yet have withdrawn their cut of the central TV pot from the eventual winners, because they are Canada based and split it between themselves. Catalans seem to be able to make their own media arrangements in France and yet get the Sky money, yet there will be no £1.9 million for the Wolfpack!! I think that it’s great that they have stuck at it on those terms myself, but I bet the other owners were rubbing their hands and cheering in glee come the end of that game in Toronto don’t you? 

Yet, despite this lack of core support from the competition itself, there is little doubt that the sport has captured the imaginations of the public over in Canada. Despite there being the Argonauts, the Blue Jays, the Maple Leaf’s and Toronto FC who are all major sporting giants of that country, (two of whom were also playing that day), it was the Toronto Wolfpack who filled the full front page of the local newspaper on the Saturday and Sunday before and after the game. 

In addition to all that, the buying power of their owner, the likely interest from North American broadcasters and the draw of life in Canada will see players joining their club that some Super League Clubs can only dream of capturing. It seems to be already getting to Sonny Bill Williamson, who might not at his age be the best there is playing wise, but as ‘a poster boy’ for our game, there would be none better. 

So, I guess what I am saying is that although my heart went with Featherstone my head had to go with Toronto and, what’s more, as the best team in the Championship last year by a mile, we should give them a crack and see how it goes. They certainly have the marketing skills and necessary resources to build a team and really sell the game over there. Whilst in the UK the kudos and even novelty value of their inclusion could help make the press here sit up and take a bit more notice. It’s a great story for the media, even if they are just waiting for them to fail, and I’m sure already that Toronto will make a better job of trumpeting the game on a world stage than perhaps Kent Invicta, Cardiff City or the Carlisle Boarder Raiders ever did in the past!! 

Having Featherstone in Super League would have been great and you know how much I feel about the club, but when you step back what would they actually have brought to ‘growing the game’ or to giving it a national and international profile? Let’s face it, although this means that two of twelve clubs come from outside the country, does a game that needs to raise its national perception levels and shake off it parochial M62 corridor image, want a third of that twelve team competition hailing from a twelve-mile radius in West Yorkshire? Whats more, Featherstone were in fact intending to only go semi-professional if they were successful with some players on Super League contacts and others staying part time. 

I think in the end its all down to the new club getting some big name, high profile NRL players that other British Clubs can’t tempt to the Northern Hemisphere game and then winning some matches and causing a few surprises. However, if nothing else comes of the experience then the inclusion of Toronto in Super League be it good or bad, can at least give us something to learn from and as a game we won’t die wondering what such a transcontinental expansion would bring. 

So I say, let’s at least give the Wolfpack a chance eh? In a multi-platform, TV orientated sports world you either get a profile for your sport or you die. I honestly think this will be a little different to all the other expansionist stuff we have seen in Wales, London and Rugby Union areas, yet it might just give us an indication of what can be done and what should in the future constitute the requirements for inclusion in the competition. Toronto have a lot of big ideas and look to have the ability and cash to deliver them, so it’s the best chance we will get to evaluate whether the game really has a cross continent appeal. Will the game move forward on the back of their inclusion? Well, if it doesn’t then at least we’ve given it a go!!!      

I watched the Grand Final and was pleased that after all their efforts during the season to get themselves 16 points clear at the top after 29 rounds Saints were rewarded with what the modern game makes the ultimate accolade. They are top of the shop now and look so far ahead of most other teams. I’m sure over there in Lancashire one or two fans are looking to them to sweep the board of all three trophy’s next season and some are certainly bullish about it on the internet. But I would say to them all; be careful about being too cocky! History is littered with teams that have done just that and regretted it. This week as if to remind us all what can happen if you’re not careful, and to honour poor old Featherstone, who came so close, here is a cautionary tale of what happened to us and to the ‘Flat Cappers’ once upon a time in the past.. 

The year was of course 1983 and we had the previous season beaten the Cup Kings Widnes in an amazing and historic Cup replay at Elland Road. We’d got to Wembley again and like Saints at the weekend, we were facing a pretty unfashionable team in Featherstone Rovers, however unlike the Saints, we thought it was all a forgone conclusion.  

That year we were back at Wembley for the third time in four years and the FC army was on the road again and for me it was  another weekend of drinking and debauchery with the annual ‘Mermaid Wembley Trip’, which was my chosen ‘pub’ trip back then. If the experience of the Widnes ‘drawn’ Final the year before had been surreal then this game was just plain excruciating, because Hull have suffered many heartbreaks and disappointments over the years in Cup Finals, but there was never anything to match the depths of despair that we all felt that day and at the end I just pitied those who had made a big financial effort to attend. 

When the FC were at Wembley you just had to be there. One gang of lads I knew travelled down in a beat up Vauxhall Viva and slept in it on the car park outside the Stadium, whilst three others slept in the waiting room at Wembley Park Station, just to be there. Jimmy Moses who I used to know from my days living on the Boulevard regularly related a tale of how he thumbed down a Smailes fish wagon and accompanied by a bottle of whiskey set out for the capital. After half a bottle had been consumed he fell asleep and woke up at 6-00am on cloudy Saturday morning….. in Southend; such is the lure of Wembley.

That year of course Hull FC were newly crowned Slalom Lager Champions finishing four points clear of the Dobbins, whilst Featherstone had just managed to avoid relegation after finishing 12th of 16 Clubs in the First Division (3 were relegated back then). As we walked up Wembley way I can remember vividly (as I can each time I have walked up there) the scene around me. There were folks in irregular painted ‘stove pipe’ hats, capes, white boiler suits and lots of fancy dress, whilst ‘mother’s knitting machine’ had been busy as irregular hooped jumpers were everywhere. 

One gang of about 40 girls dressed as St Trinian’s pupils danced past us doing the conga and singing, “We’re on our way to Wembley, our legs are getting trembley, da da da da … da da  da da!!! Everyone knew we would win that day the only question was….. by how many! There was also little doubt that the players were confident too, because many of them admitted in later years that all their partying on the week leading up to the game was certainly ‘inappropriate’ and the choice of the lime green suits, white shoes and yellow ties that the team wore for the walk around the pitch beforehand, should have forewarned as to what was about to unfold. 

However confident we were on and off the field in actual fact the result was the biggest shock at Wembley for 50 years and caused a real stir, but that was absolutely no consolation to us Hull fans who were absolutely gutted. In a game where Hull’s Paul Rose was the first player ever to be ‘sin binned’ at Wembley, both teams scored two tries a piece and then just as another draw final loomed, Featherstone snatched a 14-12 victory with a penalty goal by Quinn just 3 minutes from time, which sent the fans of the unlikely victors into ‘Dreamland’. 

We were without doubt the architects of our own demise because with 20 minutes to go Hull lead 12-5 but then with Terry Hudson in the sin bin, instead of us taking the initiative, we threw it away. A try by Hobbs and a conversion and penalty by Quinn saw the little West Riding team home for what was for everyone in the game besides us, a great victory for the underdog and ‘The Game’. Charlie Stone who gave the penalty away never really got over it and the picture of him bowed and blooded at the end of the game is possibly the best and most defining image there is of rugby league. 

In a game that was full of records, Hobbs became the first forward to score more than one try in a Wembley Final while 40,000 Hull FC fans stood there that day at 4-47pm in total and absolute disbelief. Charlie the foreman from the City Hall who had sat next to me throughout the game, said in his own inimitable fashion, “Well, that’s the last time, I say, the last time, I’ll see Hull in a Challenge Cup Final” Of course we all shouted him down, and said, “We’ll be back next year” but Charlie’s sage like statement was unfortunately to be proved sadly and chillingly correct as he died in his seat at the Boulevard in a game against Wigan the following year.  

 IOt’s too much to contemplate going through the game blow by blow but one lasting memory? Well I vividly recall getting absolutely ‘blathered’ that night and ending up in “The Sherlock Holmes” in Baker Street. There I met a lad of about 45 who had supported the Featherstone Club all his life and who just sat at a table by himself and cried. We tried to console him, but it was no good because he could just not believe what he had witnessed that afternoon. He said that his life would never be the same again and of course we laughed a bit at that, only to realise some 33 years later exactly what he meant!

That ex miner had reached his own personal zenith and all we could get out of him was, “That has to be it, I won’t be wasting my money and going to Post Office Road again, it can’t ever get any better than this”. If you have read the best ever fans book, ‘Fever Pitch’ you’ll know what he meant and how he felt. He had reached his moment, his Nirvana after which to continue on was futile and quite amazingly we all get that now don’t we? Poor ‘bugger’; I wonder where he is today?

The following Monday the team attended a very low key Civic Reception at the Guildhall, which as I was now a ‘senior’ Council Officer I managed to get admitted to, although it was certainly a very low-key affair. The players seemed to know that they had let the fans, the Club and most of all themselves down and looked as if they would have rather have been anywhere else that night. The team appeared on the Balcony to a mixed welcome from a crowd of about 4000 diehard fans stood in the drizzle, but everyone was disappointed. 

Mick Crane always the comedian lightened the mood temporarily when he whipped the Lord Mayor’s ceremonial three cornered hat off the head of Councillor Harry Woodford and declared to the masses below, “I’m gonna slash the tax on beer and cigs”, which got a big laugh, but in general it was an altogether forgettable occasion, which got too much for Coach Arthur Buntings wife who took one look at the crowd assembled below the balcony and burst into tears. 

I often tell younger supporters about what happened there on the terraces of Wembley that day in May 1983 because grown men really were inconsolable and the whole thing was totally soul destroying. 

That defeat at Wembley and a further reversal against Widnes in the Premiership final seven days later at Headingley, totally took ‘the shine’ off the season for most FC fans, particularly those who expected to win everything and had jumped on board the ‘success train’ a couple of seasons earlier. A salutary tale for any Club that thinks they are ‘there’, for you can soon go ‘from heroes to zero’s’, as we well remember and as do also no doubt some Leeds fans in more recent times. 

So thanks for reading another Diary at a time when quite frankly all is quiet! By the next edition is out on around 4th November the players should be reporting back to County Road and things should be starting to crank up a bit. In the mean-time thanks for your support and for all your feedback, chats and correspondence.  You don’t have to agree with anything I have said this week and I’m sure few will, but I hope you enjoyed the read and at least it might just have got you thinking!!

Faithfully Yours 

Wilf