The Dentist’s Diary – 654th

“It’s time to make the KCom a fortress!!”

So, said Adam Pearson in his Christmas Day message to the fans and perhaps after all the claims and promises that have been made throughout a period of rhetoric, meaningless media comment and now pretty tiresome trivia, for me, that statement has come through as perhaps the most pertinent point to date! 

So at last we are up and running and in producing this first Diary of the new decade, I’m conscious that after all the hype, promises, speculation and hope that always surrounds the selling of season tickets, a new campaign at last beckons and brings to us all renewed hope and a deal of expectation for our club’s future and the success of our team. 

So, with that in mind, I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a belated Happy New Year, what’s more, let’s hope that for all us FC fans, it’s a great and memorable one. 

However, if that ‘Fortress KCom’ concept is ever to become a reality, then as Adam said, we have to change a lot our mentality and attitude to winning at home. You see for me, when you actually analyse the past two seasons, it has been our form in Hull that has let us down. Indeed, even in the glorious campaigns of 2016 and 2017 we were scratchy on our own turf, but then we made up for that by being quite amazing away from the KCom, as we travelled to intimidating places like Saints, Wigan and Warrington and brought home pretty unlikely victories. 

The fact is, we have to do better in Hull. By consensus our home seems to be a wonderful place to perform; so wonderful in fact that it appears to often inspires the opposition more than the home team. All the rival Coaches say in the lead up to games how great a place it is to play and they seem to use it as a motivation against us!!! However, this year with well over 8500 subscribers signed up we have a great opportunity to thrive. If we can enthuse the not so committed ‘intenders’ on the fringes with the promise that a visit to the KCom on match day habitually leads to a win and definitely ensures an action-packed experience from the black and whites, we have a chance of building a massive home support. Furthermore, pull that off and allow our current players to play to their natural strengths and we’ll be winning regularly again and back in the entertainments business big time! So, 2020 appears on the face of it to be an almost unique opportunity to inspire the latent ‘take it or leave it’ FC community and engage with them once more. 

But, on the other side of the coin if we fail to impress at the KCom once again and rely on unlikely victories away from home, then I’ll predict that come the pass re-sale period at the end of 2020, we could really fall flat on our faces. So, I guess what I’m saying is that with such a massive season ticket base, packed full of expectation and expectancy, it’s quite frankly now or never to deliver. 

If we are to succeed in the weeks to come, then consistency at home is our biggest challenge, for if you keep clocking up the home wins whilst entertaining, inspiring and animating that partisan crowd, everything else follows. A Happy New Year? Well I guess should the above happen, then we are, as fanatical FC followers, all but guaranteed one!!

So to the Halifax game, which although eagerly anticipated by some, was always going to be a run out for the fringe and junior players and a chance for one or two first teamers with a point to prove to blow away some cobwebs. The size of the travelling contingent displayed the fact that perhaps everyone realised that too, and at a cold and inhospitable Shay it was always going to be a glorified trial game. However, for some, fighting for a place, you felt it was really important one too. 

The first quarter was a really scrappy affair with our lot looking as if they badly needed the run out, for we looked rusty, struggled with possession and generally looked clunky which was in the end, our undoing. Ratu knocked on and lost the ball and arch nemesis Burrell almost got their centre in with a neat kick, that Cator had to kick dead. However, Halifax who were happy to mix it a bit, controlled things well and whilst for them it looked like an important game for us it looked nothing more than a chance to try a few things out.  

After 20 minutes Woodburn-Hall opened the scoring for Fax with a try that looked to be coming. Halifax’s Kavanagh went down with what looked to be a pretty serious injury and after a lengthy delay the forward was stretchered off and play got back under way with us battering away at their line but getting little joy. A theme I guess that was the story of our attacking play all afternoon? Captain for the day Griffin trotted off and straight to the dressing rooms on 25 minutes, but generally, our defence stood resolute against an experienced Halifax team. That said we squandered ball and looked pretty inept when it came to opening up their defence. 

At half time it was 6-0 and I guess as we fielded all our youngsters in the second half the outcome against that strong Halifax outfit was pretty predictable already. Kelly was still out there and looking sharp without having much support, before a brilliant sweeping move saw Patterson-Lund score for us and the teams were level. After a shaky start Eldon Myers had grown into the game and made the initial break after Kelly put him through brilliantly. In fact, although it was all our youngsters out there now, we controlled the third quarter pretty well. 

However, the situation was not to last and tries from Paul Brearley and Travis Corion followed by a late consolation for the FC from a scrappy effort after a kick by young Jacob Hookem saw the game end at a dreary Shay, 18-10 to the Fax. The refereeing never changes and the official hardly covered himself in glory, so same old same old there then!! 

In the end, on reflection, our youngsters fought hard and put in a massive defensive shift which must have pleased Lee. Savelio looked handy and Johnstone worked hard behind a beaten pack where we were well beaten in the front row. Up front, Fash and Brown showed up well, but we were beaten in the forwards as an antagonistic Halifax stuck it to some of our young kids. 

So all in all, it was pretty average game for a poor gate of 1300 to watch and it gave few pointers for the FC fans either, except that although we have some great young prospects most of them are perhaps some way off the first team. However, it was a good run out for everyone and we avoided any real injuries, but we might learn a bit more next week, I guess.

Most of this Diary was written before everyone went off to that game, but as the anticipation built before Christmas, we were availed of some news that came too late for the last copy of the Diary. So, with that late addition of the London pre-season friendly game this next weekend at Elloughton, at least those who are unable or disinclined to travel to meaningless pre-season hit up’s in West Yorkshire in the depth of January, are to be afforded a chance to see how the team is progressing thus far on (almost) home territory. 

This year we seem to have adopted a policy of only playing Championship clubs in these games, which is interesting to say the least and whether that is a good idea, will only be apparent, I guess, when we tackle our first League game. There are points for and against this approach, because to play games against top league opposition tends to ‘show your hand’ a bit, whilst also perhaps putting unnecessary pressure on the late returning players before they are 100% fit for Super League. However, then again, it’s possible that the same players need the pressure of playing top line opposition to be match hardened anyway? It’s such decisions that make the Coaching role so difficult to carry out and indeed easy to criticise ‘from afar’!

Halifax was nothing to go by, for in all these things ‘the proof of the pudding will only be in the eating’ and we’ll only know how well Lee’s pre- season plans have manifest themselves, when we attempt to hit the ground running at Headingley. If we explode into the game and look good, then win or lose we have at least got it right. But, if we are not at it, ‘under cooked’ or a bit ‘clunky’, then perhaps we will have got the level of intensity in the pre-season games wrong. 

Of course, it’s easy to sit here full of Christmas pudding, pontificating about this sort of stuff, but those first few games as they have fallen for us, are a real baptism of fire. I guess as well it’s that daunting start that will guarantee that game time in pre-season will be purposely limited for a few of our prized possessions. I expect that we will aim to keep injuries down and get a bit of the element of surprise into our play from the start as we have to try to hit The Rhino’s with a bang. Still everyone is working hard, but if it’s on the right things will only become apparent on Sunday 2nd February!

Talking of working hard, one person who has openly admitted it’s been the toughest pre-season under Lee Radford, is Jamie Shaul. It’s certainly been gruelling as the team has done loads of fitness work, and tons of hill climbing and ball work most of the latter on a pitch, covered in something like 2 inches of mud. Jamie’s very optimistic though and said last week in the Mail, “To be fair it’s probably the most excited I’ve been, to play with this squad. I think we’re looking good; we’ve signed really well and from what I’ve seen in training they all look good. They’ve settled in really well. It didn’t take them long to settle in to be fair, it’s like they’ve been there for ages, they’re all real good personalities, they’ve all fitted in really well. We’re quite a good group to be fair, everyone welcomes everyone in and we’re quite tight.”

For all of us lot, that has to be good news all round, but on a more cautionary note perhaps when you look at the squad across the board, with so much quality running so deep, Jamie should be pleased that he seems to be the only one who doesn’t have an obvious replacement and for him at least the pressure might not be quite so intense. Players of quality like Bowden, Connor, Swift, Fairamo, Griffin, Naulago and even Houghton (through missing the start because of injury) and Kelly all find themselves under a deal of pressure; the sort of pressure that they never would have been under at the start of 2019. 

Of course, Jake Connor, Connor Wynne and Josh Griffin can play at Full Back but no FC fan worth their salt would believe that they are putting as much pressure on Jamie as say Kelly puts on Connor or that Fonua and Tumavive put on Griffin. 

So for me, after Jamie, full back is perhaps our weakest position. None the less I really do believe that he should be looking over his shoulder at Connor Wynne, who was sensational when he came in last year against Rovers on Good Friday and who, (if he can keep his fists in his pocket), could be a revelation with a run at number one. It will be interesting to see how Shaul reacts to Wynne’s obvious pressing for recognition and what pressure he in turn puts on our regular full back and indeed what part he has to play in the season to come.  

Well, as I alluded to earlier, it looks as if we might just be heading for record season ticket sales this year, something that was trumpeted in last week’s League Express. As teams like Wakey will be happy with around 3000 subscribers, other Clubs like Hull KR rejoice at reaching a very commendable 5,500 passes, whilst we are on target for a mind boggling 9000, which is, even when you consider our signings, pretty amazing. Progress has been excellent and it’s certainly the most passes we have sold (at this point in the build-up), since we moved to the KCom. 

Despite a pretty disappointing couple of seasons, the fans have flocked back again and rewarded Adams investment, but that won’t go on forever and their faith has to be supported with a campaign that is memorable and a big improvement on recent years. The mindset of us all in 2016 and 2017 was that we approached most games thinking we would win and if we didn’t, we were really disappointed. Over the last two years however that has been reversed and many fixtures were, if we are honest, approached with trepidation and with a defeat often accepted as pretty much what we expected. 

James Clark often had big marketing ideas, that he shared with me, when he was heading up that arm of the Club, but his plans didn’t always get the support they deserved, however now as Chief Executive he has had the chance to stretch himself and test out his theories. What’s more, with such things as the Challenge 10,000 initiative and an excellent season ticket offer based as it is on the actual dynamic and make up of our audience and its needs, we are certainly making strides forward. So much so that it seems, according again to League Express, that we are as a Club leading the way with sales in the game once again and, along with Leeds, doing best across the sport in that area. In fact, they say our total is the most recorded by any club so far this year. That’s a great compliment to Adam, to Clarky and to the fans who have bought into it. I think that we might not quite get to 9000 but who knows? 

Whatever the outcome we will be backed by a guaranteed 5 figure gate at every home game and as I said earlier, it’s a massive opportunity to create an intimidating atmosphere and a bigger core audience. As the brilliant off the field work goes on, it’s all now down to the mindset of the players and their wanting to succeed. However, with that sort of backing and a fair wind behind us, it should be possible. What’s more we are about to announce record retail sales and for the first time for ages our commercial and sponsorship operation is going really well. 

On that front it was also stated by the League Express that they  had learned the club may be on the verge of announcing a significant sponsorship opportunity with an ‘internationally recognised brand’. What that is all about we’ll just have to wait and see but, in the back-office, things continue to progress as the innovation and ideas come thick and fast, which is extremely encouraging for us all. Of course, in the end all the great marketing ideas in the world fall on the rocks of frustration if we don’t get a response to match that hype, out on the field. We have to excite again!! All the spade work has been done, now it’s over to the coaches to devise the sort of game plan that does that and to the players to execute it!! Exciting times though!! 

For years and years, in fact ever since the arrival of the Allam’s at the KCom, the regular rumour of the day and indeed the dream of many an FC fan, has been to own our own stadium. In those years it has certainly been muted within the club and I guess it’s safe for me to say now, that once upon a time for a few months it moved a lot closer than just being a rumour. It was therefore interesting to read William Jackson’s comments in The Mail last Friday (older readers will no doubt understand why I always want to put ‘Branches Everywhere’ after his name!!), where he stated that although nothing was imminent it was something that the club might consider ‘When the lease at the KCom runs out’. 

We certainly have a 50-year lease which expires around 2051 but it has built into it a statutory review with the management company (SMC) after 25 years. I expect that fast approaching occurrence in around 2026, is what William was alluding to. The general consensus rightly or wrongly, is that we are being fleeced by the current operators, but what is fact is that obviously we are missing out on the concourse sales and suffering from the constant percentage deductions levied on ticket and season ticket sales. That said, if a potential new home is to become a reality, as William insinuates is a possibility, things will have to start moving in the next couple of years. 

However, as was the case last time, although finding a suitable location might not, with the Councils help, be a big issue, capital funding and securing the backers to provide it for the new build, would always be a major, if not unsurmountable, stumbling block. Still it’s an exciting thought and certainly one to bear in mind in what might well develop into a real watch this space situation.

So, to other things that have caught my eye of late and to ‘The strange case of Andre Savelio’. I haven’t mentioned him much in here, (perhaps because he has a name that is constantly changed by my spell checker to Andre Savaloy!) but when he  signed quite out of the blue, I was certainly excited about his capture. I guess that I still had the vision of him wreaking havock in the second row for Saints, however since he arrived, his injury curse has continued and he really hasn’t had a good go at a first team place, what’s more, with the team we’ve signed up now, that ain’t going to happen any time soon either. 

The fact is his injury record is, I guess, a bit of a worry and although it’s said he is in terrific shape at present, one has still to wonder if another set-back might see his future in doubt. Let’s hope that now he goes from strength to strength, but as I say he might have to wait to get a shot at the starting 13. Mind you, if he is going as well in training as they say, then a place on the bench is, I guess, with his ability to play a few different positions, not out of the question. 

Well now for a bit of a grumble because, for me, the one thing that our game needs badly (if it is to ever consolidate and develop its status as a frontline national sport again), is to increase everywhere possible the amount of kids that want to take part and play the game. However, last week the new head of the Hull KR academy John Bastian stated that talented youngsters could be lost from the City of Hull and East Yorkshire if the two clubs are prevented from topping up their scholarship squads. After years of being told that the talent pool in the game was shrinking, we are now assured that there are lots of juniors in the 15/16 age groups, that are keen to try and follow a career in the game but who can’t do so in our region, because of this ridiculous restrictions being placed on the two Hull Clubs. 

The joint academy was, I’m sure the majority of readers will agree, an ill thought out disaster, understandably developed on the back of a need to save cash. Both sets of fans disagreed with joining forces and so the news that it was to be scrapped in favour of both clubs running their own youth set ups from 2020 was universally greeted with cheers at both sides of the City. Now both clubs are investing in their own independent set up’s and rebuilding their youth teams.

But there’s the rub because whereas other teams can have 20 scholars at both under-15 and under-16 level (with 400 players in total from the community game allocated to scholarships), due to the split the two Hull clubs are only allowed 15 in each age group. What a load of absolute rubbish that is. If the kids are out there, they are of sufficient ability, they want to play the game and the clubs have the money to take them on, then why the hell restrict anyone from encouraging them? 

Again, it’s another short sighted, parochial approach that’s blocking more participation in a game that is full of such petty moves and agenda’s. It’s unbelievable really and when I read about it, I was flabbergasted. Who is imposing such restrictions? Is it the RFL, or other clubs jealous of the ability of our region to sustain two academy outfits again and find more talent than they can find for one team? It’s just ridiculous! How the hell will our game ever thrive, unless it adopts a ‘come one come all’ attitude to anyone who wants a crack at playing it, be they male or female, young or old, but particularly if they are 15/16 years old and hungry to give it a go!! Again, we make all the right noises, but just don’t deliver, usually on the back of such petty actions as this one!

Well nationally, the new year’s honours list held few surprises really, (unless of course, you were interested in the addresses of the recipients, but how good it was to see Lizzie Jones being as she said “overwhelmed’ and “privileged” after being awarded an MBE. We all remember how tragically Lizzie’s much-loved husband Danny collapsed and died from an undiagnosed heart defect whilst playing for Keighley Cougars against London Skolars in May 2015. The Wales international’s sudden death prompted this brave young woman to launch a campaign in association with the RL Benevolent Fund to raise funds to help amateur Rugby League clubs purchase cardiac defibrillators, an initiative that has gone from strength to strength.

In fact, over the last four years, the Danny Jones Defibrillator Fund has raised almost £200,000 and purchased potentially life-saving equipment that is safeguarding the health of more than 40,000 Rugby League players and officials, as well as countless fans. The fund has also helped pay for cardiac screening for junior and adult Rugby League players, and in recent months is helping other sports, including cricket, generate the funds they need to install defibrillators at local clubs as well. And, how bloody good is that!!! She thoroughly deserves her accolade and we should all celebrate not just the award she has been granted, but a very determined and dedicated women. 

Over the years we have all witnessed some really funny comedy shows on TV, remember, Steptoe and Son, Early Doors, Pheonix Nights, the Two Ronnies and of course not to forget either, Boots and All?? That programme started with the best of intentions, but descended into a bit of a farce in the end, prompting Sky to remove it from the air waves. However, just before Christmas it was announced that the Super League owners were facilitating a new TV magazine to expunge the memory of the clowning shambles the latter eventually became.  That demise of Boots and All left our sport with no magazine programme at all on our main Broadcast outlet., but the new show it is claimed will be different and modelled more on the NRL’s flagship magazine programme, The Footy Show. 

The Clubs say that they want to feature ‘the amazing athletes that are involved in our game, so younger people can engage with them and see how ‘cool’ they are’, (they say!!!). They have guaranteed that it will be a bit different to anything we have seen thus far and I hope it is, because I have always thought that as a sport, when it comes to Sky’s coverage, they have (compared with Football and Union), always trivialised things with a level of levity our great game didn’t deserve. Past presenters, particularly Stevo, always made light of the serious side of the sport and where for the most part trying to be too comedic. Someone in the national media actually described Boots and All as being akin to the greatest game in the world, animated by Laurel and Hardy! Perhaps that was a bit much but, I expect that most of you will get what I mean. 

The new show we are promised will be hosted by people that youngsters aspire to be, to look like, to have the same physique, to have the same attitude and to have the same image. Rather than it be jocular, disrespectful and not of the right quality, they say that the aim of Super league is to use this vehicle to get the sport at the top of everyone’s second sports watch list. 

What was certainly interesting was when we were told in the same breath that we were, “getting better viewing figures at the end of last season than we have done for a long time, when we  were far in excess of women’s football and on a par with darts and better by a long chalk than club rugby union”. One thing is for sure with rule changes and the structural adjustments we made to relegation and promotion last year, we still have a lot to offer, but I believe that if the clubs can pull such initiatives as the new TV show off, then we can make the product better and more attractive to the uninitiated. That should then hopefully lead to even better viewing figures and as we come to the renegotiation of the deal, we’ll be more attractive to broadcasters as well. However it is by no means guaranteed that the new programme will be on Sky as on which channel or platform such a programme will go out, is still at present, a matter for conjecture.

So, after all the hoo haa about the Reserve Grade being introduced this season and it being compulsory for all British based Super League teams to take part, we now see several clubs also signing up to duel registration agreements with Championship Clubs. I am all for the reserves grade and think it is the proven way of developing home grown players, but as always in our game we are just stalling and dithering as the ‘mob rule’ approach of 12 clubs running the senior division with all having an equal voice, is seeing the guidelines and rules of second team rugby fudged and smudged already. The actual relationship between the Clubs, their second string teams and selected Championship outfits is unclear and impossible to sort. It just doesn’t make sense because I can see those same teams still having DR agreements and yet come the middle of the campaign, when injuries strike, them not being able to raise a Reserve grade team. 

It’s just a farce really because we need to get back to the days when every first team player knows that should they not perform, there is someone trying hard week in week out in the reserves, ready to grab their chance. That’s how it needs to work, but instead we continue with a duel registration system that only really benefits the Super League Clubs, whilst the Championship team on the other end of the arrangement gets a good player one week and not the next. Yet, such arrangements do nothing to encourage the lower League clubs towards developing their own youth and therefore spending  money and time growing their player base. 

That has to be the way forward for the game and so I guess for me I’d scrap duel registration, reward the Championship teams that develop their own talent through the junior and amateur ranks and make the Reserve grade and teams honouring their fixtures in it, mandatory. However instead once again we have more prevarication and thus a system that no one quite understands. Once Duel-Registration comes in to muddy the water around the Reserve grade, it all get convoluted and difficult to disseminate for the average fan and again there is little transparency or simplicity in what we are doing.  there are very few low scoring 

So, to Codgers Corner and when compared with the days of old and with the sport being full time, there are very few low scoring games these days, although they used to be fairly commonplace in years gone by. Even way back in that glorious 78/79 season when we won every game and got promoted, there were 6 games when the total scores numbered ten or less points. The following season when we lost to the Dobbins at Wembley there were actually 10 games that fell into the same category, and famously in 1988 we drew a cup semi- final with Halifax 0-0 and lost 4-3 in the replay.  Having mused about that a bit this week, I thought for a change I would look at one such low scoring affair, and one of the best I can remember personally. It was against Carlisle at the Boulevard in November 1982. Carlisle eh? Where did they come from and indeed where did they go to? That year we were having a good season, we’d won 7 out of 7 of our home games and were sat just two points behind leaders Leeds on 20 points.

So it was that on one of the bleakest wettest November afternoons I can ever remember, we faced the bottom team Carlisle at the Boulevard in the mud and 8,550 of us turned up for a game that we were expected to win, but one that was played in horrid, sticky and levelling conditions. It was our third game of the week having already beaten Oldham at the Watersheddings and Featherstone at the Boulevard in just 5 days. That night it was bitterly cold and the rain that drove down had started when I got up and continued until well after I got home from the post m atch pub visit, early on Sunday morning. It was horrible and the Threepennies was crammed as only it could be on days like that, as no one wanted to stand out on the terraces and brave the elements.

The game was the first ever to be played between the two clubs as Carlisle had only been formed for two years. With such a crowded programme we also had a lot of injuries and some of the players who actually played were nursing bumps and bruises too, but although the media back then described our team as depleted, it still looked pretty strong on paper. It was a tale that you could have told these days about any one of dozens of games at the KCom of late, in that against Carlisle we had tons of possession and lots of field position, but we just couldn’t get over the white wash. The game started with the wind swirling Kevin Harkin’s kick-off straight into touch and a success in the ensuing scrum put the men from Cumbria on the front foot straight away. In fact, although we lost just about all the scrums in the second half, we won the first half scrums 14-2, so there was really no excuse for not getting a stack of points on the board by half time, but of course we didn’t.

Carlisle played tight well constructive rugby with the ball, whilst in the first quarter we spilled possession and gave away too many penalties. In the main, chances for both sides were at a premium though as both packs got bogged down in the morass that was the middle of the pitch. After 12 minutes Prendiville came inside to tackle ex Rovers stalwart, Wally Youngman who side stepped him, and as he strode away, Taffy hung a very uncharacteristic stiff arm on the marauding winger. Youngman sprang up and went mad dancing on the spot in front of the partisan FC crowd. However, from the resultant penalty Newton missed touch altogether, Taffy collected the ball in his own 25, and ran it out well past the location of his misdemeanour and deep into the Carlisle half. Talk about irony, it was not lost on the Threepennies, who loved this and let Youngman really know about it!!! 

Crane then made a superb 30-yard break as he stepped first this side and that, only to find no one backing up, before managing in the next set to single handedly tackle three Carlisle players at the same time. He charged into the ball carrier and two other players, thrust two to the ground with the other slipping in the mud, to sustain what looked like a pretty nasty groin injury. On the 14th minute Crooks kicked a penalty after Sanderson had tripped Evans in full flight and then Crane, who was everywhere, managed to release the ball from a three-man tackle into the arms of the waiting Leuluai. James shot off from a standing start and split the Carlisle defence before drawing their centre and winger and putting Prendiville away. He shot down the touch line to score in the corner just before Bargett crashed him to the ground well over the line. It was an excellent score that belied the conditions, and indeed the rest of the play we saw that night. Crooks however missed the goal and we were 5-0 up.

After that it was pretty much all one way, although we could just not get the final touch to score more points. Youngman robbed Evans by kicking dead when Crane had grubbered through and then the same player failed to score again, when all he had to do was hold a looping pass out to the wing that came from Crooks. Lee, then took a knock in the second half and was replaced by veteran prop Mick Harrison, who had returned to the club and was making his first appearance in the Black and White for 8 years. Carlisle got on the board at last in the 57thminute when after three previously aborted attempts, Newton managed a penalty to make the score 5-2. As the game wore on and we failed to score, Carlisle sniffed the chance of an unlikely win that would lift them off the bottom of the table and FC old boys Crowther and Birdsall combined well for the former to take a return pass and crash towards the posts. 

It was only a massive effort from Proctor, Skerrett and Sutton that saw Charlie drop the ball, when it would probably have been easier to touch down. Risman also went close but slipped in the mud with the line at his mercy to allow Kemble to track back, to stop him. In the last few minutes it was all very tight and we could hardly watch as Mick Crane again came to the rescue as Carlisle threw caution to the wind and he twice   made timely interceptions deep within our own half. 

On the wing for the visitors Ian Bell was having a great game and with two minutes to go he shot off down the whitewash, from his own twenty-five and looked likely to score, but the cover just managed to nail him after a long cross field chase! And although totally illegal, a trip in back field on a chasing Carlisle player by Crane, that the referee completely missed, ensured Bell had no support to pass to anyway.

That was the last real action and soon after that passage of play, (our kid!!) referee Allen blew his whistle for the end of the game; we had won and went top over Leeds on point’s difference. The score line of 5-2 reflected a dour game in which there were over 40 scrums and too many mistakes from both sides. Throughout referee Allen, who you will remember I featured a while ago after an abysmal showing when we lost at Bramley, and he lost his job for a few weeks, was again appalling. Once again it was not the penalty’s he gave but rather those he missed that got the crowd roused. At one point, I remember, he fell full length in the mud in front of the Threepenny Stand and for a minute lay there unable to get up. 

The Threepennies chanted, ’Off, Off, Off’, because back then there was no escape for referee’s once the lads in the famous old stand had decided you were no good. Mr Allen was certainly not a popular referee at the Boulevard. Bur, good old Mick Crane eh, what a player and an unlikely hero he was in a game best remembered for him, the mud and the ref! 

 So that’s it for another edition, the new season beckons and at last the pre-season games are underway. With a first away game at Leeds and a first home encounter against Rovers our Super league start couldn’t be much tougher never mind what follows those two fixtures!! Meanwhile, our fiends across the River are making noises about a successful season which in itself will be a novelty, but no doubt with the news that Hull KR are poised to buy their own stadium back from the Council for the knock down price of £1.6m, we’ll soon be hearing all the, “At least we own our own Stadium’ stuff. Surely, singing as they go, with their usual banal sense of envy, ‘Old Faithful You’ll never own your Stadium!!”.

The next Diary will be out around 20th January when I will cover our friendly games and what I make of how we are going to go in 2020. In the mean-time thanks for all your good wishes over Christmas and indeed for reading another Diary and I hope as always you found something interesting in it. Quite frankly I can’t wait to get back to the weekly editions at the start of February when we will again have some games to report on!!!

Keep believing!

Faithfully Yours 

Wilf