The Dentist’s Diary – 656th

With our biggest Headingley win in 36 years and where the hell did that come from???

Man, what a great start that was!!! That victory was better than I could ever have hoped for and although some say that Leeds were poor, they only played as we let them, for we controlled just about every facet of the game both in attack and defence in dry conditions and in the rain. At the end the sodden fans danced and celebrated and hoped against hope that at last,  things are on the change!!

At Hull FC, after 5 months of inaction, hope, countless dollops of pretty meaningless rhetoric, speculation, hope, rumour, supposition, opinion making and yep .….. more hope, the talking is over and at last the FC Faithful have witnessed the first-round proper of the 2020 season. 

What a great occasion to open the season it was as well, as the administrators of Super League pushed the boat out to try to create a spectacular weekend to impress those TV companies. The Wigan v Warrington game was a cliff hanger, Saints v Salford was business as usual and as for Hull FC, well what a message that sent out to the rest of the game!!! I thought it was a fabulous performance and the first time for ages that I guess if you stepped back from all the stress and emotion of real time rugby, we never really looked like losing.    

With television deals to be negotiated, a World Cup to be staged, possible private equity investment to be considered and expansion to be handled, it’s most certainly a critical period for the whole game and as for Hull FC well there will be disappointments, injuries and bigger battles ahead, but, just for a couple of days at least, lets enjoy it, for what a start and what a performance that was.

It all had to begin with a bang and after the other games in the round the occasion at Leeds was a real jamboree, a chance to start the season with a Sunday afternoon TV double header featuring the top three Yorkshire teams and of course the most nationally news worthy team in the competition, the Toronto Wolfpack. For a team featuring so many new signings it would always be hard for the FC to settle straight away and all we could do was as I say, hope. A packed Headingley, a bit of early and late rain, a pitch more like the beaches of Tenerife, I had left behind last Tuesday, that turned before the end into a morass, the spirit of Rob Burrow resonating around the place, 2000 FC fans and a ton of anticipation and expectation from all sides. Yep, it felt like a special occasion alright!

All that said, with Lee Radford already adding the caveat that a good start was desirable, but not essential and the strange case of Albert Kelly, any confidence we all had was tempered in the run up, by an FC fan’s usual dollop of reality. With some senior players only having had 20 minutes of first team pre-season action, we all feared that it was going to be a bit clunky and in the end it was …. a bit. But boy we looked fit, we battled for everything, we were structured and yet showed more attacking ideas than we had for ages. 

So, for what it’s worth here’s how I saw the game. It was certainly nip and tuck in the first ten minutes as Leeds got some field position and our line defence was tested to the full. We battled on, always together, always for each other and after 15 minutes Marc Sneyd decided to settle things down a bit and give our forwards a blow, as he struck over a penalty.  Whilst Connor was starting to show a bit of flashy stuff, Sneyd was imperious as he controlled the line and marshalled the troops brilliantly and those two already looked a good combination.  Ratu was looking sharp and he did superbly to set up our first try, taking a high Leeds kick in his own 20 before beating Handley with ease and then turning Hurrell inside and out before streaking down the touchline. What a sight he is when he’s motoring. But instead of going for glory he held his nerve to find Carlos inside him who just managed to get clear of Handley’s desperate late effort. We were off! 

A brilliant short kick by Sneyd’s forced a drop-out and Josh Griffin almost got in at the corner, but he fumbled trying to get the ball down. Our defence was standing firm and looked great as we bundled Liam Sutcliffe into touch as the Rhino’s threatened. Then it was our turn to step on the gas again as Jamie Shaul made a half-break before finding Connor with a pass off the floor. Connor calmly assed his options before gliding effortlessly into space and finding Naulago who ran in untouched. Then what was for me the try of the game saw a brilliant piece of skill from Savelio after Connor spread the ball right, only for Andre to somehow step into the line and completely reverse the flow of the ball, before he turned inside to find Bowden crashing in by the posts. 

The brilliance of Savelio had the Leeds defence completely befuddled, as they stood behind the posts scratching their heads. Sneyd, who was having an uncharacteristic evening with the goal kicks, got that one and at 16-0 we were cruising. With the Leeds fans stunned into silence the home team desperately tried to get back into it and Brad Dwyer thought he had responded when he stretched over out of a tackle, but brilliant goal line defence saw referee Ben Thaler rule ‘no try’ and the video official concurred. That was it for the first half as the FC lads trooped off to the singing and chanting of the FC Faithful as we all wondered if Leeds could come back and indeed if we could continue what was a brilliantly managed first 40 minutes. 

Leeds came out pumped up and Luke Gale got close at the start as he was held up inches short, but again our heroic last line of defence stood firm. We got back up the field and again Sneyd steadied the ship with another penalty. 

At that point we thought we had it in the bag, but the clock crept by ever slower and I guess you still wondered a bit. Then in desperation Matt Prior hit Chris Satae high, Prior spoke out of turn and the extra 10 yards gave Sneyd another long-distance chance, which he nailed despite a swirling wind and the rains starting to fall.  Another penalty followed before a peach of a cut-out pass by Shaul sent Naulago speeding in for his second. As long flat passes go, you will not see better. You could see how a player not known for his passing ability was rightly pleased with himself and he admitted afterwards that it was an area of his game he has been working hard to improve of late.

Handley got a consolation try, before Shaul got his just deserts with the final try again after brilliant work by Savelio. And, after watching the clock for much of the game and wanting it all done and dusted, in the end you didn’t want it to finish. It was a fine start to the season and a tribute to all the hard work the boys have put in during pre-season. 

The picture that says it all!!! 

Regular readers will know that at this point in the proceedings I usually have a look at who performed well and who didn’t. However, although I’ll do that, let me first say that for the first time in about two seasons, this week, everyone was a hero! 

Shauly under pressure for his place from Albo had a fine game from the back and looks the ideal go to person with so much ball being released in the tackle by our new forwards. Faraimo and Ratu looked good on the wings and although the former had little chance to shine, Ratu continued where he left off last year and was brilliant. Carlos and Griffin both looked great in the centres but it was at half back that we controlled things throughout. We wondered about Radders dropping Albo, but Connor looked like he had played at 6 all his life and Sneyd brilliantly led the team around the field as only he can. Bit of kicking practise needed there though!! (ha ha)

Of course, that half back dominance was only possible because of the efforts of a magnificent set of forwards. Savelio was my man of the match perhaps because of how much he surprised me, for not only is he strong with ball and in the tackle, but he runs deceptively and has great hands as well. As I said earlier, the try he manufactured from nothing for Bowden is a real watch again and again moment. Jordan Johnson, despite what we had heard, didn’t run out of puff and controlled the acting half admirably, scooting and stepping well out of there for 70 odd minutes. Taylor led the way as usual and grabbed loads of yards in contact as did Sao, whilst in the second row both Jones and Ma’u are going to be massive. 

Both grabbed yards and yards but they were also in every big tackle and fought for every ball. Ellis played a big part in things too. He did a big stint in the first half and really bashed up the Leeds forwards as he was into everything, running himself to a standstill. On the bench special mention for Satae who caused all sorts of problems and as well as releasing the ball well in the tackle, the Leeds defence just couldn’t get him down. He looks different again after a good pre-season and giving up his international chance has certainly paid off. Savelio I’ve mentioned, but he did come back so well from his injury hell, whilst Jordan Lane was faultless too when he came on. 

Leeds were not exactly Champions material, but let that take nothing away from our showing. You can only play what is in front of you and we played Leeds off the field. It was a great start and all the new acquisitions looked good. For me Savelio, Satae and Shaul stole the show, our pack was a revelation, off-loading, varying the point of attack, supporting well and tackling in numbers like demons throughout. What’s more, although tough and uncompromising, we kept the penalty count down too. No one dropped off and no one shirked a tackle or a carry. 

There are bigger battles ahead of course, starting on Friday, but this was without doubt the ideal start for the FC. And the last word goes to Gary Schofield, who said before the game, “I think Leeds will win by 10”. Great stuff!  

So, to other things and I guess when you stand back a bit the news that Matty Dawson-Jones was to depart the club for Bradford came as no surprise really. The thought that he was a great prospect and the hope that we had discovered another star when he scored that try at rovers in the first game of last season was immediately dashed with a tragic and serious injury in training a few days later.

 I still think he did the initial damage when he went down in his debut game at Caravan Park but the club have insisted all along, that it happened in training. Whatever the cause that was it for about ten months, he worked hard with the conditioning and strength teams to ensure he started this year fully fit, but lacking in match practise and also behind at least 4 other wingers in Fonua, Swifty, Ratu and Faraimo he was always goping to struggle for a first team place. Behind the eight ball from the off, chances were always going to be thin on the ground for Matty and so as part of our dual registration agreement (and despite the player still being in contract), we engineered a deal that not only suited the cash strapped West Riding club, but also the player and our cap allocation. I guess it sort of cemented the deal with Bradford and Matty will get the game time he craves as well.

It’s a shame that a player that has had such bad luck and yet worked so hard to get back is leaving, but as he did, he was full of praise for the support he had been given by the Club and Lee and I guess he must hope that pastures new bring a change of luck. It will be interesting to see how he goes because before he copped for that injury, he looked a fine prospect and to that end, I wish him well. Had he not been injured he could well have been, by now, an automatic choice for a wing berth at the FC? 

The news that, at last, it is planned to at least spell Danny Houghton a bit during games was welcome indeed. I have always maintained that Danny looked great out of acting-half in the season he was spelled by Aaron Heramaia, for a quarter of an hour before and after half time. I also liked how he looked when Litten was on the field and he moved to an extra pivot in the line, last season. He is a good creator and I think myself this move is a really good idea. 

Again, on the plus side, it’s great to see the fans pouring back to the KCom on a promise of great times to come from one of our strongest rosters for years. With almost 9000 season ticket holders signed up, the Derby selling really well, an amazing 150 commercial partners and the news that a record number of executive boxes have already gone, things are certainly encouraging. As performance indicators go, well, that’s more partners and more boxes sold than ever before in the 18 years we have been at the KCom and perhaps we are nearing a record for season tickets too. As I said last week we had better deliver this year, for if we don’t, then a massive opportunity to be one of the best supported Clubs in the Country again, will have passed us by. 

Make no mistake about it, this is a seminal moment and a potentially game changing season for Hull FC, we’ve started well but we simply have to grab it!

But it won’t be easy, I mean to say, have we ever had such a tough start to a season as the one we have just launched into? It’s certainly a long time since the easiest looking game we have had in the first 4 has been away at Leeds!! Wigan and Saints are always tough, wherever you play them and despite what some of the glass half full brigade will now have you believe, Rovers home or away, in any circumstances, is always really difficult. But we have at least made a brilliant start!

Our bad luck with the fixtures apart, I think that in general, the Club owners and Mr Elstone have done a good job on hyping up the launch of the 2020 campaign as I think they recognise the importance of this year for the game as well. 

With the TV contract up at the end of 2021, I’m told the clubs want any new deal done by the end of this season, so that the clubs and the winning bidders can get ‘all their ducks in a row’ as we build towards the new contract. Actually, all sides are already talking, something that they hope will be aided by how the action started and an explosive opening to this campaign at Wigan and Leeds. How things will go once bidding is out in the open, is hard to gauge, but realistically it’s hard to see anyone but Sky winning out in the end and I think it will only be if the Comcast conglomerate doesn’t come good money wise, that we will see another broadcaster enlisted and that then, perhaps, more in desperation than suitability. Still Sky seem to be getting on board with the new administration of Super League as televising this Sunday’s Double Header and taking on an independently produced magazine programme led by the game and not said broadcaster does, I think, go to prove.

At the end of the last campaign viewing figures increased as we over-took those of both Darts and club Rugby Union. I hope that the broadcasters will realise the potential there is, particularly if our administrators can push ahead and away from the staid old ways of the RFL, bring a bit of razzamatazz back into the game and with a more level playing field across the clubs breed a modicum of uncertainty, as to the outcome of games as well. 

You know I think a lot more folks tuned in towards the end of the 2019 season just to back Salford who, as the most unlikely of challengers, brought the game alive in those closing weeks. I was certainly shouting for the Red Devil’s as I’m sure were a lot of you reading this, I remember some in the pub, who usually don’t watch the sport, tuning in just to see who Salford could ‘do’ next! Unlike with the FA Cup, giant killing, even in our own Challenge Cup, is pretty uncommon isn’t it? Yet it’s that magical ingredient of ‘the fairy-tale’ that often makes a sport, as far as the uninitiated are concerned.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that I think at present (the whinging of Toronto aside) the Clubs are making a pretty good fist of it. The longer vision of the game and broadcasters alike has to be that of a serious sport packed with top class athletes that appeals as a broader entertainment too. You must not prostitute the integrity of the game, but we have to be a spectacle that appeals, as a sport, to all ages and classes of spectators and viewers. 

Look at American football, I watch it, but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not as good a game as Rugby League. However, without sacrificing the toughness or skill of it all, or endangering the integrity of its spectacle as a sport for the purists, the hype that surrounds it has almost given a ‘kings new clothes’ element to it all. It’s a hype that portrays it as something that it isn’t. but, like it or not, they do a fabulous job of selling a stinted, stop/start game to make it a real experience, so that the media and TV companies love it because of the wide cross section of folks it attracts. With such a good product as we have, it must be possible to do something similar with Rugby league too. 

All that said, I do think for that panacea to come to fruition, the pulling up of the draw bridge and a break away by Super League is one day pretty inevitable, although again and perhaps surprisingly, that is probably an integral part of any early discussions going on with Sky anyway. 

The broadcaster has made it pretty clear that they are not interested in showing regular Championship games and indeed on those club’s behalf, the RFL are currently investigating other outlets, such as live streaming, to get the lower two leagues out there and to a wider audience. 

What’s more, at present all those clubs in the Championship get a cut of the Sky money, yet very few games are televised, something that certainly seems to be becoming a bone of contention with some of the bigger clubs. Perhaps come 2021 the lower leagues, hopefully through the RFL, would be better negotiating their own deal with say Premier Sports, Amazon or BT Sport, or even their own TV channel. 

Why do I say that the new TV contract will be linked with the possibility of a break away Super League with no regular relegation? Well, I believe that the clubs and the broadcaster believe that the franchise concept is the only real end game, however that said, that will only work, integrity wise, if we somehow still have the door ajar for upcoming clubs and if we have 14 teams and no loop fixtures. 

With 29 such games we would, I think as well, need a proper league winner’s trophy that goes to the Champions at the end of those rounds and a Grand Final as the culmination of a properly structured end of season play-off series. All of which would need at least £4m more input from the broadcasters each year and there, I guess, is the rub. 

All pie in the ‘Sky’? Well perhaps so, but the wheels of Elstone empire have started to roll and the frustration caused by the continuation of gimmicky rule changes apart, I think the sport at the top level is perhaps at last moving forward in the right direction. But, just churning out game’s week in week out on TV, so long the staple of the sport, will never be enough.

We have to make the new weekly magazine programme ‘Inside Rugby League’ a must watch and commission more one-off documentaries to sell to the burgeoning digital TV market as well. The latter must not cheapen the sport or those who play it, but when I look at the story of the amazing renaissance of South Sydney under Russell Crowe as it was portrayed in the wonderful observational series of documentaries ‘South Side Story’, I can well imagine how a biopic on our 2016 season and the effect that Wembley had on a whole community of fans, past and present, or indeed the behind the scenes story of Salford’s 2019 campaign through all their post Kukash adversity, would go down well. 

That sort of stuff has to be handled properly of course, but in an age when everyone seems to be craving more and more digital and on line viewing, in the right context it could engage a lot of casual observers and perhaps introduce them to our game. I know loads of folks who have watched South Side Story and been moved and inspired by it and they ain’t all RL fans either!! 

Just some pipe dreams from this fan? Well I just hope as a sport we move forward and progress, because we can’t survive purely on gate income, we need the TV money and so this season, as we approach the sales pitches to come, we need a growing audience and more national exposure. In fact, we need a buzz around the place, from Round 1 to 29. 

Hopefully gone are the days of the RFL continually wringing their hands about lack of national press coverage of the game and then sitting on them for the rest of the time. As a game we now have to go out and grab a market share of what is a media savvy populous, hungry for new experiences! These could well be exciting times but we have, as the great game of rugby league, to grasp them with both hands!!

But of course, we always shoot ourselves in the foot and just as things seem to be looking up, along comes The Israel Folau bombshell!! I guess I have to mention it, although in this blog of an ordinary fan who loves his Club and tries to champion everything that is great about the game we play, it’s an embarrassment that I wish I didn’t have to comment on! Catalan Dragons last week signed Folau, after he had been sacked by Rugby Australia and banned from the NRL for homophobic comments on social media, in which he said amongst other things that, “hell awaits” gay people!! 

He used his religion to vindicate his words, but ours is an all-inclusive sport and as a player he has a corporate responsibility to its recognised ethics. The British game has worked tirelessly at Club and Administration level with Women’s Super League and women’s rugby, with diversity and inclusion, like no other game could, but this one signing, could have undermined all that hard work. It certainly could have alienated all the LGBT fans or rank and file supporters who have any kind of morals in that direction. Indeed, one national newspaper stated that it denoted the fact that the RFL, (who incidentally were awarded an accolade from the charity Stonewall in 2012 for their work with the LGBTQI community) now ‘approved of bigotry!!’ 

I guess at this point I should put my head over the parapet and say that from a purely personal point of view having seen what Folau said in Australia and his later comments that the Australian bush fires were the work of God against the countries legislation on same sex marriage, I was just appalled!!! I wouldn’t have been pleased had we signed him I can tell you!  But that’s purely my point of view and I guess I’m entitled to it, just as you are to yours! As for the Catalans, well for me, this just proves that they are a Club that has all together lost its moral compass, remember they are the ones who also signed Gregg Bird and Todd Carney!

Apparently, Steve McNamara rang Batley’s Keegan Hirst, the only openly gay rugby league player in the game, but did it after the Dragons had made their move for the Australian. Hirst told BBC Breakfast TV, “He said he was giving me a call out of respect, but I kind of brushed that to one side, because if that was the case, he wouldn’t have signed him! I told him I felt there was two things going on. Either Catalans didn’t care what he said which was worrying, or they did care, but they were willing to put their values to one side for a few extra tries a year and a couple of extra league places. Out of seven billion people on the planet, nobody else must have been available for Catalans this season”. 

Having said all that and you might feel like me that it’s bad enough as it stands, it’s the bigger issue of us appearing to be a game that is desperate and one that contains clubs that will overlook years of consideration and caring, just to gain the edge over the rest and grab some success at any cost; that is a real worry, as it is completely at odds with the image League has tried to project for the last 125 years. Remember that the game came about in the first place through a need to right the injustice where players and Clubs who could afford to play the game, would not agree to those who couldn’t, getting compensation for loss of wages.  

Big coupe’s in the transfer market to gain an advantage over your rivals and even fiddling the salary cap, is one thing, but just at a time when the build-up to the new season is going so well, here we are again, ‘across’ the national media for all the wrong reasons. Chairman were signing a letter to threaten legal action against the French should their sponsors withdraw, Clubs are planning gay pride days to coincide with his visit, fans are planning protests and pretty decent blokes like the owner of Wakefield Trinity are up in arms. Even some of the Catalan players are unhappy, something that I think is borne out by the way that they were so easily put to the sword by a very unfancied Huddersfield in France this weekend! Do we really need this? 

Elstone should have spoken out, but instead he batted the issue straight onto the RFL who immediately washed their hands on the subject and said it was up to the Clubs, as to who they employ and they could do nothing about it. That stance differs considerably to what it was just 9 months ago when they said, “The RFL Board has ultimate discretion to refuse to register a player where it might bring the game into disrepute or where he has been banned and deregistered by any other governing body” 

The `RFL shifting their position? Well surprise, surprise eh? Remember Ben Barba last year? 

Friction is increasing, splits are appearing and things are starting to come to a head. Pressure is building between the top dogs at the RFL and the Super League clubs, as they appear to be at loggerheads over this one, whilst Toronto are under pressure from the other clubs because of their whining about their quota and funding issues. The RFL are, let’s face it, little more than a paper tiger these days. Perhaps they should no longer have sovereignty in isolation on such things, perhaps they are inconsistent in their decision making and out of touch? 

Indeed, is it time that the Super League Clubs were completely self-governing and issues like this one were discussed between them all in private, before a decision is made, because it is directly on Super League, its Clubs and their fans that it impacts, and in such issues, they all really do need to be seen to be singing from the same hymn sheet. 

It appears to me at times as well that Catalans Dragons want to be part of the ‘club’ when it comes to TV money etc. but they feel comfortable acting as a maverick when it suits them as they seek to gain an unfair advantage. The clubs have to work as one on such matters, instead of them being seen to fall out with each other in public over something that was, we could all see, going to cause a lot of bad publicity. And all that, just days before the start of the most important season for years. I’ve often said it in here before, but quite frankly, you really couldn’t make it up could you??

So, to lighter things and another game against Leeds in less complicated times as in Codgers Corner this week I want to go right back to the 1981 season when we were doing our best to get over that defeat at Wembley against the Dobbins and doing it in the best possible way, by winning lots of games. We had been knocked out of the John Player Trophy semi-final by Barrow but in the League we were second and going well and had just beaten Featherstone, Halifax and Bradford in successive matches. Leeds came to the Boulevard on a breezy cold afternoon when we were at the peak of our attendances in that decade and 15,119, packed the ground in a white-hot atmosphere that only the visit of the old enemy from Headingley could generate. It was the first round of the Challenge Cup and all the talk in the papers in the week before was getting back to Wembley and forgetting that torrid defeat the previous May.

That afternoon however what was unfolding in front of a mesmerised audience was one of the most devastating team performances of the season The game kicked off and Hull were immediately into action, with Skerrett, Stone and Norton well on top of the big Leeds men Rayne, Eccles and Harrison. Norton was originally Captain that year but it seemed to have affected his form and so Charlie Stone had taken over, although both players had been doubtful right up to kick-off. However, after 18 minutes we had not turned our superiority into points and we were all starting to wonder if Leeds would snatch the first try.

Then from a scrum Pickerill fed Barry Banks who surged past Dyl and as Atkinson came across to tackle him and he should have gone outside to Graham Bray, he turned the ball back inside and found Norton. Twenty yards out Knocker ran into some heavy traffic but beat one then another Leeds player, as he stepped and dodged his way through, before waltzing past the Leeds full-back Neil Hague to score under the posts. What a try that was and we all instantly knew that Norton was back to his best

Sammy Lloyd stroked over the goal and our confidence grew as almost immediately we witnessed probably the move of the season. Newlove and Wilby exchanged passed and sailed past McIntosh and Atkinson before Wilby fed onto Bray out on the wing. He got the ball some 60 yards out, he ran at and beat Hague and although Rayne caught him a yard out, Bray somehow managed to crash over and the crowd went wild. Their happiness however soon switched to anger as Referee Billy Thompson ruled that Bray had performed a double movement and he ruled the try out. The fans went mad as that song about the ‘Little wooden whistle’ (with the mandatory string of obscenities at the end) rang out from the Threepennies. 

Next Newlove broke down the middle and fed Banks but a great chance was lost when this time he turned the wrong way and ignored Crane on his outside. However the pressure built on Leeds, as we went in for the kill. Pickerill almost scored before, in the 39th minute, Stone slashed the Leeds cover to pieces with a brilliant angled run and Banks charged through to score. Lloyd again goaled and we went in 10-0 up at the interval.  Five minutes after the break Lloyd was on target again this time with a penalty. This came from another brilliant Norton break where he fed Skerrett with an underarm pass and the Second Rower ran off down field. He kicked ahead bwfore being blatantly tripped by Hague who saved a certain try. Two minutes later the under-pressure Leeds defence cracked again, as Banks burst through and was tackled high by a desperate Kevin Dick. Lloyd again converted the Penalty this time from the touch line.   

At 14-0 the game was won and although Leeds saw a lot more of the ball we tackled like demons and kept them pinned in their own half for most of the time. Mick Crane came on and took over from the injured Pickerill and Paul Woods made some great punching busts through the opposition’s line. A late inclusion for the injured Ronnie Wileman, Tony Duke shovelled the ball out in the scrums and Tim Wilby was solid in the centre. In the last- minute Terry Naylor scored a desperate, late consolation try and Dick converted before the referee blew the whistle and we had got through to the second Round of the Challenge Cup. Those were such great times and I never fail to be excited all over again when I write about them! I hope that you enjoy these trips down memory lane too, because they are great memories!

Well done everyone marching for Rob this weekend. County Road to Headingley 57 miles and a great effort and thanks to all those diary readers who sponsored them!

So, although I was so heartened by Sundays showing, it’s now onto another bloody Derby and boy do I hate them!! I hear from plenty of readers who these days prefer to watch it on TV and I have to say that I get that, because I just hate the whole thing, but by the response of the fans and the way they have bought tickets, plenty of folks still enjoy the wringer they are about to be put through. Of course, it’s one of the hardest challenges we face, simply because of the hype, expectation, hope and fear that surrounds a Derby. Great if you win, but soul destroying if you don’t and something that however badly either side is playing, could never be classed as predictable! 

The Diary will be back again next week after the game, as it resumes its weekly editions. These may be a little shorter because we’re all getting older and I have to write it while you have to read it!! However, I’ll try and take you through this  the Diary’s 15th season, in what is likely to be another roller coaster of a year. But, at least it’s started really well hasn’t it?? A big good luck to my pal Ian Desi who is going through it a bit at present and thanks as always to Dick Ollett, Fred B, Harry Unwin, Jeff, Brian the drummer, Ian M, Kathy, Richard K and everyone else, too numerous to mention, who has all been in touch. Thanks again for all you input, it’s always really appreciated and I’ll see you all next week.

But for now ….well sing your hearts out, get behind the boys and strap yourself in for the first test of fortress KCom. I fear Friday will be a lot harder than yesterday, but with this lot carrying our hopes for 2020, perhaps we can at least start to believe a bit again. 

Enjoy the game keep believing and ……


Faithfully Yours