The Dentist’s Diary – 655th

The FC Fans Have Done Good!!!

That has to be the message to the game in general and what’s more, the FC Faithful should be congratulated as after a really disappointing couple of seasons, we approach 9000 season tickets sold, we’re apparently selling merchandise like never before, we’re heading for a massive Derby gate and we’ve sold out the away end at Leeds for the big first game of the season. Meanwhile, as if to consolidate the loyalty and passion of our fan-base, several intrepid FC fans are walking all the way to Headingley before that first game, in an effort to raise money for the Rob Burrow appeal. 

Later in here, in the company of Club statistician Bill Dalton, I’ll take a look at our fortunes at home as a Club over the last few years, which includes stats that make those efforts from some wonderful supporters even more incredible and a real tribute to the resilience of the FC fans who have once again, defied logic, stumped up and come back for more.  

If ever it was timely to say to the players and officials of our great Club, ‘Right Guys we have done our bit, now it’s over to you!” this is the time to do it!! As the excitement grows for the season ahead and optimism abounds in the rank and file of the FC supporters, it’s now or never, for the team have to deliver. 

But, as fans, it’s great to have our appetite back and feel the great expectation that surrounds a time of the year, when we all believe that anything is possible; The players look fit, the squad looks better than last year and as for us fans? Well, let’s face it you can’t be moaning about a loss when you haven’t played a game yet can you!!!

So, as the anticipation builds, where do I start? Well, how about chaotic parking, great chips at £1 a tray, mud everywhere and a couple of thousand hardy folk eager to see some rugby; boy, it was just great to be back at Brantingham Park, last Sunday!!

The surrounds might have been a bit of a morass, but despite the overnight rain the pitch was perfect. 

With so many there and the overnight rain leaving the secondary pitches too wet for car parking, by kick off time folks had left their vehicles everywhere, from the centre of Elloughton right up the sides of the roads to Brantingham village and even up to Ellerker; it was chaos. We were greeted with a taxi on the verge outside the ground, up to its axel’s in mud but, all that aside, when compared with the fee the SMC wanted for the KCom for a friendly, everyone agreed it was absolutely fine!!! It also proved to be an entertaining, if not chilly, afternoon out and a chance for a lot of people who don’t travel to pre-season games, to see their heroes and one or two of the new boys stretch their legs. It was an interesting afternoon of rugby too, with a good attacking showing from our lot in the first half and a solid defensive display in the second. 

The favourites for the Championship ‘crown’ gave us a tough run out and with the ball in their hands, they looked lively throughout the match. For the FC, all eyes were on the new boys with Fonua putting in a few big hit ups (although in fairness, he looked a bit rusty, which I guess is understandable when you consider the time he has been out of the fray). Savelio worked his socks off and Jack Brown looked the part on a skiddy surface which I thought suited his stocky stature, as time and again he trundled the ball upfield and was hard to hold.

On attack, where it appeared that more work was needed, Sao didn’t disappoint at all. He looks like he’s going to be a massive addition with his strong running and astute offloading in the tackle featuring throughout and he timed his run to perfection to grab his try from a short ball from Kelly, in what was a really well executed move. Another player who impressed me was Joe Cator. He’s a real jack-in-a-box, full of energy and guile around acting half. I’m sure from what I saw that if he ever has to stand in as hooker, he won’t let us down at all. However, pride of place has to go to ‘Mr Magic’ Albert Kelly, who looked to dictate play every time he got involved in the line. Once he got his hands on the ball, everything around him speeded up and holes opened up as things started to happen. 

One thing that hadn’t changed however, was the fact that he spent far too much time tackling the big boys down the middle when I think that we need to wrap him in cotton wool, because we are a far better team with him on the field. I liked the look of Myers as well and Satae was more than a handful in the middle of the park, while Sneyd and Kelly pulled the strings really well behind the forwards, in that first half. 

To say we were without a host of potential starting players like Houghton, Taylor, Swift, Connor, Ma’u, Johnstone, Jones and Bowden, at Brantingham we went well and put in a good show. It was good to see Catalans Coach Steve McNamara there to watch his son make a cameo ‘Home’ debut and in turn it was great to meet some Diary readers and talk old times as well. The chat covered all sorts, our pack, the bands we’ve seen of late, the wish for a new stadium of our own, dieting after Christmas and even the greatest FC off-loader of the late 60’s, Terry Kirchin; the camaraderie was great and I really do enjoy  these pre-season no pressure games!!

So, it was onto our last pre-season hit up before we go to Leeds and as such you would hope that it would prove a big indicator as to our possible starting line-up for that game. It was a frosty morning which gave cause for concern about the game being on at all but, thankfully it was and it again proved to be very useful for our build up to the new campaign. However, let me say straight away, Batley are no Leeds Rhino’s and on that showing they are a bit behind Halifax and the London Bronco’s as well. Two first half tries in three minutes, made any sort of Batley come-back darn near impossible, as we pretty much controlled things throughout the game.  

Fact is, you can only play what is in front of you and we did that by and large very well and we seemed to build in confidence once a scrappy first 15 minutes was out of the way. Our wings looked strong again and Ratu was just lethal when he was given a go at the line. I think he’ll start at Leeds myself. What’s more to keep the home team pointless for three quarters of the game was again due to an excellently drilled defence. We succumbed but in that final quarter we were much changed and looked disjointed, however when our full team was out there, we certainly looked formidable and so much more mobile and decisive in attack than we looked last week. 

Connor was superb at times and produced some great passes as he operated in the half backs, in fact a ‘pearler’ of an over the top effort near the end to Faraimo, that wasn’t forward but was penalised as such, was brilliant. His decision making and option choosing was good as well, but a word of caution because he won’t be getting that time and space to operate in, if he plays at Headingley. 

Ma’u was impressive. He is going to be a massive asset as long as he is allowed to play in a wide channel, for he just looks so strong and Sao despite getting a bit of a knock, did well again. Savelio is just graft personified as he again had a good go and Faraimo, Carlos and Griffin (who seems to have found a passing game) all looked sharp. Up front Taylor and Jones drove in with gusto and looked to benefit from the game time to shake off a few cobwebs, whilst Albo linked well and passed effectively from full back, when he joined the line. 

However, although all the tries came from the three-quarters and we still bombed a few chances in attack, at 38-6 it was excellent as far as what we needed to see was concerned and as a team we have grown in stature since the Halifax game and progressed well, first getting the defence right and then working on the attack. We now have two weeks to work on completing as many scoring opportunities as we can, as we attempt to hone our game plan and get ready for Leeds. 

So, that’s the ‘stress-free’ stuff done and we have got through without any real injuries too. Next up however the battles begin, the pressure is on and we have to strap ourselves in for the ride through Super League 2020. We appear to have built our preparations towards the big kick off well and have progressed week on week; but who knows what awaits us now?????? 

So, to other things and you know what there is something that I just don’t get, because I find it hard to believe that we have allowed young duo Cameron Scott and Lewis Bienek to join Leigh Centurions on loan for the 2020 season. At the same time the Club also confirmed that Scott has penned a new two-year contract extension, keeping him with us until the end of the 2022 season, so we ain’t moving them sideways and indeed the Club have made it clear that both players have a big future with us.  

However, for me it’s hard to understand the need to let anyone go out on loan when we are already running a Reserve team, (that only allows a couple of amateur filler players per game) and after we have entered into a much heralded duel registration deal with the Bradford Bulls just this last week. 

I would have thought those arrangements, with a squad of arounds 33 and the regular injuries the season throws up, would have been sufficient, wouldn’t you? Some Clubs can’t even raise a reserve team for a pre-season friendly at present!! However, no doubt Leigh will be paying a portion of their wages and that will be helping our cap situation, as we are, I believe, at present over spent. It will no doubt be something to do with that. I just hope that with such a strong roster, as there is at Leigh, both players get regular game time. Still if it is to be loan deals, then there is nowhere better than Leigh for them to be playing. They have a good Coach and will be challenging for the top of the Championship. A good idea? Well, I guess we’ll see!

Now, it’s rare that you witness a real bit of history being made but when Gareth Ellis first enters the field for the FC, in a ‘proper’ game this season, he will join a very elite group of players indeed. For having made his debut in the senior ranks in 1999 Gareth will become one of the few players to actually play in 4 consecutive decades, which is a tremendous feat. He joins some real luminaries such as Jeff Grayson, Gus Risman, Terry Clawson and of course the great Neil Fox. Gareth turns 39 on 3rd May and in the twilight of a quite amazing career, he’s  about to become a member of that very elite club. As for the player himself, well it a great honour and although he might be getting on a bit, I’d still rather have him playing with us, than against us, wouldn’t you? 

Now, far be it for me to discuss the Royal wrangles that continue to hog the tabloid front pages these days, for quite frankly, I just glaze over with that stuff. However, I did notice, this week that Prince Harry confirmed that he would be continuing his involvement with our game, citing the fact that he admired our attitude to mental health, adding that, “It’s not only about being physically fit, but also about being mentally strong as well”. 

The fact is that as a game we are held up as an example of good practise in that field and player welfare in general. I also honestly believe that, compared with other sports, as supporters we understand the principles of that sort of stuff pretty well too. These days, as fans we understand better the strain that playing a physical sport, within a strong peer group, in front of critical fans and an even more critical media, puts on our players. 

Personally, in the 70’s, I had a lot of nervous trouble myself, in an era when what I was suffering held great stigma and such things as nervous breakdowns were in the world of work, seen as a sign of weakness. As for the Doctor, well he just filled me full of Valium and told me to man up a bit!!! Thankfully times have changed considerably and the new found awareness and understanding across the populous in general and our game in particular, is extremely commendable. In fact, as a sport we are now adopting an attitude towards mental health care that is second to none. 

That position of enlightened understanding is one that the games administrators and coaches have worked hard towards for several years. It also means that players find it easier to ‘come out’ about their problems. Of course, mental health concerns manifest themselves in many different guises, some very serious and permanent, others that are more temporary and circumstance based. I guess too, that this situation hit home a bit for all FC fans last week, in an interview with Jake Connor where he openly admitted that he was, in a related way, benefitting from counselling.   

That in itself would have been a source of ridicule in the dim and distant past, but thankfully it’s not now, in fact far from it. That said many supporters including myself have been a bit judgemental about Jake of late and it just goes to show that perhaps it’s unwise to do that, unless you know all the facts.  

In an in-depth article in rugby-league.com he talked about his personal experiences and said, “My attitude wasn’t there last year. I didn’t perform the way I should, drifting in and out of games. Some games I didn’t really want to play. My head just wasn’t there, but I didn’t want to let anybody down either. Anybody can have a dip and I’m surrounded by good people who have got me to where I am. Like our conditioner, Paul Hatton. We get on really well and I kind of broke down to him one time. He suggested counselling. I didn’t think stuff like that made a difference, but it’s been really good. When I’ve seen my counsellor, I’m level-headed; when I haven’t, everything is back up in the air. So, I’m going to carry on, get myself in the right state of mind and come back and play like I’ve been playing forever”. 

For want of a better word, that was a ‘brave’ statement to make, particularly for a player that is pretty disliked by opposition crowd’s and is cast, as he says in the article, as the Pantomime Villain. In that role he has always come across as a cocky sort of individual who is always winding the opposition up. That is certainly true and we have all witnessed it, to our amusement and also of course, enjoyed somewhat the way that it annoys the opposition fans. But all that, he insists, is just down to him being ultra-competitive. 

He continued, “Some people just do enough to get by. I like to win everything. I grew up on a council estate in Ovenden where you’ve got to fight for yourself. Ever since primary school, I’ve always wanted to be the best. I play to win. It doesn’t bother me being thought of as a pantomime villain. I probably need to rein it in a little, but I’ll fight for everything. I play on the edge; always have done. My aggressive side comes from my dad, Junior. He passed away when I was 10. He was working at Crossley’s in Brighouse, fixing washing machines. It was a heart attack, three days before Christmas. He was only 37”. 

Jake concluded, “I’ve had to cope with it, but it’s not that simple. Sometimes you can’t just step on to the field of play as if nothing else matters. It’s been more difficult over the past couple of years than for the previous 12. People see me on the field, but they don’t know me off it. They can’t see what I’m going through off the field”. 

Which does, I guess, (when it comes to the heat of the battle and the rejoicing and despairing of the season, that we all experience), says it all really.  

I thought it was a really honest article and the player has certainly to be commended for admitting that he is just going through what thousands of other folks in all walks of life go through in silence, every day. The club have no doubt rallied round as well and that has helped rebuild his confidence, (a process that might explain him being given the number 6 shirt this year). But, credit to Jake, for having the ‘balls’ to talk and do something about it. That might for some reading this not be the macho thing to do, but such action is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength and it’s the sensible way to go. Oh, and well done to Paul Hatton for advising Jake to take that course of action and get some help, as well. 

In sport, which is in general surrounded in bullshit and false bravado, I personally find such honesty refreshing and a see such actions as a courageous thing to do. What’s more, I know that he did it not just to explain his own circumstances, but to also help others who might still be suffering the same sort of stuff in silence. What’s more, it’s great that our sport allows for an environment that makes such actions possible, for I bet he would have thought twice about saying that in an open interview that the fans will see, had he been playing, say, football. 

In the ‘global’ context of mental health, perhaps Jakes problem is not seen by some as a major issue as such and some will say ‘No big deal’ but he has done something about it and well done to him for that! Interesting stuff eh?

Now, we have already seen some changes to the rules for this season, mostly around tinkering with shot clock times etc. and let’s face it the game wouldn’t be Rugby League without a rule change or two every year would it?? However, last week along came another; well not exactly a rule change, but rather a declaration that we are about to reaffirm and indeed police properly, one that has sadly fallen almost into disuse. 

In the 14 years that this diatribe has been going, perhaps the biggest and most reoccurring bone of contention rule wise with this fan, has been the mess there is around the rucks and the different interpretations there have been from year to year and even game to game around the play the ball. Back in 1895 the greatest game in the world was created when some players and clubs decided to get away from the shambolic loose rucks that engulfed every tackle in Union, stop the forward motion temporarily ‘at the mark’ and get on with the game by playing  the ball through their legs, WITH A FOOT!! 

For decades that was the norm but for season after season of the modern game, players have been stepping over the ball, stumbling forward off the mark, playing it whilst on their knees and on occasions throwing it through their legs. However, last week we were informed that referees will be clamping down on not playing the ball with the foot in future. (how long will that last, I hear you all saying!!)

Players have got away with it for years and let me say, who can blame them, if the officials are so crap as to not bother about it, why play to the letter of the law when everyone else is gaining an unfair advantage by bending it?  

I welcome this move and when there was a clamp down in the NRL a few years ago, at first it was all a bit stop/start, but anyone who watches the Aussie competition week in week will know that now the game is so much better for the change. Everything flows more, there are no anomalies around the ruck and the consistent application of the rule means that fans have less to argue about; so, everyone’s a winner. This is a great development, that is well overdue, let’s just hope that the officials can police it properly. 

Now for something different and I guess it must be four years at least since I’ve had a closed season look at the state of Rugby League message boards and particularly at where we are these days with RL Fans, the sister Board to this regular journal. If Looking back to the turn of the century, when such technology was relatively new, it was Trish Goldsmith our Marketing and PR supremo when the Gateshead merger took place, who was charged, by Shane Richardson, to develop a club message board for the fans. The aim of this, Shane told us all at a fans forum back then, was to galvanising a tired and disillusioned support behind the reformed Club.  

After a honeymoon period when we all enjoyed the facility bringing the fans together to chat about all things FC, it descended into a playground for the Rovers trolls and more worryingly the ‘Jonas’ amongst our own fans. Soon, name calling, bad language and player abuse deemed it almost impossible to police and finally the club gave up on it. 

However, having got a taste for ‘T’internet’, we all moved onto RL fans which was already a free for all where trolls, odd balls, mysterious characters and duel identities abounded, but, none the less, it was still all pretty good fun. In those early days of the century and indeed for the next few years it was the place to go for inside information, a good laugh and a deal of meaningful banter and discussion, if, that was, you could take the joke being on you on occasions.

 With the Dobbins in the Championship some of their fans like the great and much missed Vince and of course our own Standee, (both of whom I got to know well), wound us up at times and we all goaded each other, but slowly but surely a dark presence seemed to grow across the Message board which, I guess not surprisingly, coincided with Rovers being promoted. No doubt it happened the other way around, on the RL fans Dobbins Board as well.

 All of a sudden, the trolling and insulting firestorm, that was inherent in the global social media revolution of Facebook and Twitter, gathered pace on RL fans and it became the playground of a few idiots, who managed to spoil it (because they could) for everyone else. 

If, like this Blog, you’ve been involved with it all since 2005 and rode the evolving of the social media scene along the way, you’d know that in here I have always attempted to stimulate debate and don’t mind at all being criticised. However, whilst just writing up the thoughts of an average fan, if you could have seen some of the comments and threats myself and my family have received on the one hand and the life-long friends I have made over the years on the other, it would capture in a microcosm the whole breadth of the good and bad sides of social media. 

The fact is of course, once you set yourself up to pass comment on anything in a public domain, you leave yourself open to the scathing abuse that any ‘Billy no mates’, sat on their own in their bedroom, with the curtains closed, can tap out on their keyboards. Personally, for me and the Diary, when I didn’t bite, it passed and it’s all pretty much OK now and perhaps over 14 years, I’ve just evolved into a bit of a dinosaur, that goes on a bit and can’t be goaded anymore? 

However, it seems to have taken its toll on the RL fans message board which by definition is a hub for all things FC and yet, a lot less used than it used to be. It is I guess the way of the world these days and that is probably reflected in the current state of many message boards at present. 

Although there are still some great guys on there, perhaps the trolls, loud mouths and doom mongers have driven some folks away, I know I rarely go there at all myself these days; let’s face it, I can sit at home and get insulted. However all joking apart if the protagonists and just plain bad minded people from both sides of the City have driven the ordinary fan away or reduced them to just looking in, it’s a shame, for although some try to conduct some meaningful debate, it is now lacking the  depth of interesting content that was once such an attraction. 

At present, as the closed season ‘tumbleweed blows about’, the Board can go two days without a post and although some still have a go from time to time, most have moved on now and don’t take part at all. That is, I think, very sad!! The moderators do a sterling job of policing the place, but it just seems that after all that has gone before, many ordinary fans are just ‘battle fatigued’ and just can’t be arsed anymore. Where there was once, the insiders, the ‘friends of a friend’, the accountants (who would analyse the finances), the ex-players and the armchair coaches (who could explain and discuss conditioning, training, injuries, etc.) there are now, few such participants left at all.  

Some team’s fans now operate their own Boards, run ‘by the supporters for the supporters’ of that team. Take Rovers for instance, who have a prospering ‘private’ board on which they can just ban anyone who blatantly gets in the way of objective discussion. A good old argument’s fine, as are differing opinions, but derailing threads and abuse for the sake of it, is soon dealt with on these private boards. Perhaps you think it stifles freedom of speech, but like it or not, they really are thriving communities. 

Perhaps the time is right for someone to start a full-blown Independent FC message board that is solely for FC fans and one that is policed as such by like-minded moderators. They may be some out there already but they certainly are not very high profile. You probably won’t agree with me and of course it’s all a matter of opinion, but it’s something that has been occupying my thoughts of late and I wonder if it struck a chord with any of you out there, who once upon a time like me, used to gravitate to RL fans every time you picked up the computer. 

Here’s a great pic of some massive heroes, together again in Australia. Fred Akoi, James Leuluai, Dane O’Hara and Gary Kemble; what memories!!

Now, last week I had a long chat with my pal Ian about the Boulevard and how iconic a place it was. We both agreed that as memories melted away into the mists of time, of course it would gain more and more of an almost mythical status, but yet when you step back a bit, it was still a pretty amazing place. We both agreed that we will love the old stadium to the day that we die and that despite all its shortcomings, (and there were several!!!) it was always felt like our home and was in turn, one of the most feared venues for any other team to play at. 

That chat got me thinking and my thoughts were further enhanced this week after a chat on the same subject with Club historian Bill Dalton. So here, instead of the usual Codgers spot, and in light of all the mail I received this week after my plea to the club with regard to making the KCom a fortress, Bill’s had a look at both venues and below he discusses with us  whether the Boulevard was the great ‘homer’ of a ground, that we all thought it was. So, here, Bill’s thoughts;  

THE FORTRESS THAT WAS THE BOULEVARD

In September 2020, it will be the 125th Anniversary of the staging of the very first Northern Union fixtures since the breakaway from the Rugby Union. On 7th September 1895, Hull travelled to Mount Pleasant, Batley to initiate their Rugby League journey, followed, a week later by the trek to Wilderspool to record their first win in the new game, by 9-3 over Warrington. A further week saw Hull at last take the field at their new Headquarters, The Boulevard, entertaining Liversedge in a game won by the Hull ‘All Blacks’ by 3-0 – with a Try scored by George Jacketts. However, it was not the first occasion that a Hull team had played there as a Home Ground because the Hull ‘A’ team entertained Batley on 7th September whilst the First team were away at to their first team. 

The Hull Board had negotiated a lease agreement with the Boulevard Athletic Grounds owners following Hull Kingston Rovers inability to meet the trebling of the rent they had been paying to play there since February 1892.

Over the next 107 years, The Boulevard was to stage 2025 of Hull’s Home fixtures as well as about 1500 “A” Team games, countless Junior curtain raisers and Junior Cup Finals, 4 Test Matches, 3 World Cup fixtures and an infamous International Championship match in 1951 between Other Nationalities and France which has gone down in folklore as ‘The Battle of The Boulevard’. Of course, the grand old place also staged frequent Yorkshire County matches. Moreover, it most certainly did become a real Fortress for the Hull team as they amassed a winning percentage record in all of their Home games over those 107 years of 74.2%. Those 2025 Fixtures having gleaned 1,456 Wins, 82 Drawn games and 487 Defeats. So basically, in good times and bad we still won around 3 out of every four fixtures we played there. 

One overriding and constant advantage of The Boulevard was the famous ‘Threepenny Stand’ which, for most games, was throughout its existence, packed with the most humorous, knowledgeable and good-natured fans who ever attended a Rugby League game. The passion showed towards their team – and the appreciation of the skills of the finest players ever to grace our game whether in Hull shirts or any others – and the comical repartee of its inhabitants made The Boulevard a place to be feared by every team that visited. Some of the ribald comment which ensued from the ‘Threepennies’ gave rise to many talking points in the Pubs and Clubs of Hull over the years and tales of doings in the Stand were the stuff of legend. 

Of course, a lot of it was ‘Toilet Humour’ in more ways than one, but it was a regular saying that the Threepenny Stand was worth a 10-Point start to Hull! Back in the old days there was always singing by the Stand’s devotees – mainly ‘Old Faithful, of course – but the only anti-Rovers song ever heard was ‘The death of Old Cock Robin’. Quite why our KC East Stand nowadays consistently belt out a song about ‘shooting Rovers Scum’ when Rovers are not the opposition is, frankly, for me, beyond comprehension.

The Ground saw its record attendance in March 1936 when 28,798 packed in to witness a dramatic Challenge Cup Quarter Final clash with old rivals Leeds. Joe Oliver and George Barlow were sent off together in the closing minutes, allowing Leeds to cling on to a 5-4 lead to progress to their first Wembley appearance. The previous record had been 28,000 for a Derby Top Four Semi-Final in 1923. The Post-War Record was the 27,000 for the Good Friday Derby in April 1958, and there were quite a few attendances around the 24,000 mark in the big games of the late 1950’s. Of course, the principle difference between The Boulevard and the KC Stadium is the all-seating feature of the latter, but the Ground Record of 25,150 for a GB v Australia Test in 2005 might still seem disappointing in comparison.

 What might the new Stadium’s capacity have reached had it not been constructed as an all seater?

Initially, of course, the move to the new Stadium did seem to find favour with supporters because the average League match attendance at The Boulevard of 6,928 in 2002 transformed in 2003 at the KC into 11,598 – a net gain of about 4,600. As time went on, however, there were several ‘Boulevarders’ who became sceptical about the new Stadium, claiming it lacked the atmosphere of our former fortress. Indeed, there were some who for a time only attended Away games! 

That said, the average at the KC rose to a season-high of 14,605 in 2007, although it has to be noted that after our cross-City rivals’ Promotion to the Premier Division, we had two Home games with them, giving a slightly inflated average. That average has dwindled slowly since.

The impressive win record of Hull at The Boulevard of 74.2% over the whole of our 107-year occupation, obviously shames our current win average at the KC. At the end of the 2019 Season, Hull had played some 226 League, Cup and Play-Off fixtures at the KCom, winning 155, drawing 7 and losing 100 – a success rate of just 60.5%, clearly not really a figure which supports the myth that we are a Top Four team. The best teams do consistently achieve more impressive Home results/statistics than that. The answer? Well, it is stating the obvious to say that history has proved in previous eras for our Club, as with many others, that a consistently winning team, especially at home, will bring the support back. 

The Solution?…Make the KC the Fortress which The Boulevard almost always was. We should be going to home games not just thinking “Will we win”, but debating as well, “By how many”. We have once again to make the visiting teams quake, the moment they see the Humber Bridge loom into sight through the Bus windows. As fans we have to give the opposition both barrel, urge the boys on with constant rounds of ‘Old Faithful’, not some meaningless drivel about “Seeing the Pope and Rovers”!! 

As of January 2020, there have been 13 Derby matches at the KC. Only 7 of them have produced an attendance of 20K +. However, as we appear to be approaching a Membership figure of 9K, it would be interesting to see if that mark is reached at the game in February. I would suggest that it needs a big push from Rovers to get to that figure. I hope that the 9K isn’t going to form the overwhelming percentage of our regular attendance because the ‘Walk-up’ pay-on-the-day’ element of our gates needs to be bigger if we are to succeed, despite the obstacles put in the way by the Stadium Management Company.

Furthermore, coming right up to date, what is r even more worrying when you study our form at the KCom of late are these stats for the last 5 seasons 2015-19:-

2015………  ….5 Wins from 14 League Matches…  ….35.71%
2016……………9 Wins from 15 League Matches………64.28%
2017……………9 Wins from 15 League Matches………64.28%
2018……………8 Wins from 14 League Matches………57.14%
2019……………5 Wins from 14 League Matches………35.71%

Summarising, that is 36 victories from 72 over those 5 seasons, with an average of 50%, what’s more as far as home wins are concerned, we were last season on a win ratio, right back where we were in 2015 and that’s not good enough at all!!

MMmm! Interesting stuff indeed and thanks’ for that Bill and for all the statistics you include which not only emphasise the difference, ‘Fortress’ wise, that exists between the Boulevard and the KCom, but that also indicate as I tried to do last week, that if you want to be really successful you have to make your home ground that fortress and win the majority of your home games!! 

So, another two weeks to go to our first big hit up at Headingley, in front of a full house and 2000 FC fans! What an occasion that will be, as we move into the serious stuff and the season kicks off with a bang! Thank you as always for all the correspondence and good wishes and for all the chat comment and good-humoured wagging I got last week at Brantingham. 

I now want to finish by commending Richard Kirk, Allen Slinger from the Tiger Inn in Beverley and all the folks who are taking part in Richard’s Marching4rob sponsored walk, as they tramp the 57 miles from the City to Headingley before the game on Sunday week to raise money for Rob Burrows and MND awareness. It’s a great gesture and typical of the amazing spirit of FC fans, a spirit that I highlighted in here at the very start of the Diary. Should you wish to contribute to their efforts here is a link to their Virgin Money Giving site, please help if you can;

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/Marching4Rob

We’ll next speak after the Leeds game, when the Diary reverts back to the weekly format, but in the meantime, enjoy the match …………..

 AND SO IT BEGINS !!!!!!!!!!!

ComeOnYouHHHHHhullllllaaaarrrrrrr!!!!!!!!

Faithfully Yours 

Wilf