The Dentist’s Diary – 701st

“Best performance in the last two years!!”

That was a text I received from reader ‘Ian DesForges at the end of the game and who can argue with that. Man, I was so proud!! It was such a relief to see a FC team playing with so much passion. For in our most complete showing for years, everyone was simply outstanding!

On the day that Hull went to the top of the infection tables in the country we needed a lift, …..boy did we need a lift and hell did those 17 hero’s give us one with that performance. 

All over the West of the City and indeed across the extended worldwide FC family people were on the edge of their seats again and watching through their fingers but in the end were all so proud. Even with ten minutes to go I said to Mrs. R. that whatever happened now (and something often does at that point with us) we should all be very satisfied. I also said that perhaps at the end in the post-match interviews, we were looking at our next Coach.  

I’m a big ‘all change’ and scrap ‘Club Hull’ advocate, as you know, but man Ian was right, for the passion and will to win for each other was there for all to see. Our interim Coach has believed in himself, picked players on form (and not on who buys him a pint in the pub) and made some brave, brave decisions and most importantly the players have bought into his beliefs. All of a sudden our overall shape and attitude is so much better. 

It’s the first time I think, that we have seen an FC team going into the play-off’s getting better and better, we have actually peaked at the right time and weren’t we all proud of that showing, for it was just what all of us who were worried and concerned about everything that is happen around us needed.  As another reader Ian Middleton commented, “It was like we as supporters would want to play” 

How anyone can still doubt Sneyd’s ability beats me. Once again just as in two semi-finals and two Wembley wins, ‘cometh the hour cometh the man’. All the plaudits were flowing for Jake again and what a player he is now becoming, but Marc simply controlled everything, managed the team brilliantly and with a pack on the front foot against a big Wire six, he was the master. What’s more unlike most of the other things that happened that didn’t surprise me at all! 

Incidentally as a footnote, I still couldn’t help wondering what ‘Mr Watson’ was thinking, as he watched that performance!!! 

The difference for me? Well where do you start? Perhaps I should just point to a couple of incidents in the second half when having taken an 11-point lead, we did what we have done for years and tried to release the ball coming out from our own line and of course we lost it ….twice. On one occasion it led to their try, on the other we scrambled to survive, but it was what happened next that was different. Because then we didn’t capitulate to the momentum that the opposition built, nor did we lose energy or take a backward step, instead we rolled our sleeves up, senior players led from the front and we kept possession for a couple of sets before we fought back. How much of that is down to the Coach and how much down to the circumstances we have all faced this season, who knows? But it worked brilliantly!

There is little doubt that Hull FC were arguably the biggest winners when the decision was made to restructure the play-offs this season. Away from our own fans, some were surprised in our inclusion, a few (from notable clubs that weren’t included and finished bottom) were unhappy about it, but as a band of supporters we just accepted gratefully the fact that we had been presented with another game and one that was for once pretty meaningful in the context of this cockamamie season.

That said we all knew that we are hardly great in such situations are we? Last week I said that we ‘weren’t that good at play-off games’ and looking back, I see that since the heady days of us reaching the Grand Final back in 2006 under Peter Sharp, when Whiting, Carvell, Syd Domic,  McMenemy, Horney, Yeamo, Richard Swain and all made for a great FC line up, we have only won 3 out of 10 play-off games. When it comes to this end of season competition, the wear and tear of a tough season has usually taken its toll and too often we were accused of peaking too early as we appeared knackered and had to look on in admiration as the Leeds, Wigans and Saints of this world, hit top form just at the right time. 

Lasty perhaps recognised that too when he said during the build-up, that he had rested up the players a bit, because he thought that we went at it too hard before the Rovers game and looked jaded in the first half. It’s reasonable to think that in the build-up to his first Derby the Coach will have aired on the side of caution and done things much as they had been done in the past under Lee, so perhaps there is a lesson for the future there then!! I know one thing, I was fed up of hearing from the so-called pundits in the run up to the game, because it sems no one gave us a chance. 

Lasty certainly gave an impassionate address to the players before the game where he talked of the fans and the situations many found themselves in and indeed the importance of the game to the City. He also re-affirmed that stance in a chat to the Mail, when he outlined what it was like to bring the Cup home in 2016. He said, “Going past the old Boulevard, the old dears were coming out of their care homes with the Hull FC scarves, there were out in their wheelchairs, grown men and women crying and grandmas and grandads crying and our overseas and West Riding players were blown away by it but I knew it was coming. Then down Hessle Road all the locals come out of Rayners and the pubs and Freetown Way was full and going past Hull Royal Infirmary there were people hanging out of the windows”.

I think the local Hospital Trust might take exception to the last bit, particularly as all the windows on the front of the building only open about three inches, but none the less Lasty paints an impassioned picture. Before the game against Warrington there is little doubt that for our Interim Coach, the fairy tale stuff was still very much alive, but man, those were some fine words about what was undoubtably a big ask. However, I thought, in these troubled times, wouldn’t it be just wonderful to see the FC players celebrate a famous win and move into the second round of the play-offs?

The team selected showed one change that I didn’t see coming, with Carlos drafted into 6, but I could see the logic of the magnitude of game being too much for young McNamara and I also appreciated the temptation to keep Jake at Full-Back, as for the biggest game of the season the Coach put his trust in experience.  

As the game kicked off no doubt a lot of you, like me, felt that this was the big one as far as this season was concerned and to be honest, with the exception of the Derby game, the only one that has meant very much at all. I just wished I’d been there in the midst of the Black and White Army. 

I was actually pretty twitchy again before the kick off and the lads simply had to start strong and fast just like Wigan had when they blew us away in the Cup game, because I thought that  Warrington and their Coach must have noted how effective that was and looked to adopt the same tactics again against us. 

Warrington kicked-off and we went 4 tackles before a good deep kick for Connor pushed them back, then in their second set Carlos copped one on the arm and struggled with it for a while. Then we witnessed our first blunder as Sneyd kicked too long on the last and it was a seven-tackle set for the Wire at the end of which we had to drop out; Warrington were trying to start fast as I suspected they would. Naulago was caught short handed on the wing and palmed ta dangerous pass into touch as the pressure was building. But thankfully just as they moved in for the kill Warrington knocked on from a loose carry. We were really under the Cosh and couldn’t get out of our 20 but a good strong set got us upfield. It was all Warrington and we got out of jail when they broke down the left but threw a loose pass into touch. A massive spiralling kick from Sneyd was dropped by Ratchford and at last we were in their twenty as Carlos nearly got in before Fonua was held up over the line before we were caught off side on the sixth. 

We were getting a bit more ball when a great piece of fast hands got Fairamo in, as Connor touched the ball twice in the move. Sneyd nailed the touchline conversion and on twenty minute we lead 6-0 ahead with no credit at all from the commentators. Watching it back a second time what a fantastic bit of tight side rugby that was, a Sneyd got the call from Connor and play was switched back to the wing. Marc then almost succeeded with a forty twenty, before we conceded a set restart and Warrington got in on their left. We just seemed to be looking  a tad tired after what had been a real helter-skelter of a first 24 minutes. It had been manic and we had to get our hands on the ball, but Gelling towered above our defence, to catch on the sixth and crash over and in 4 minutes we were behind. The speed and pressure of the game looked to be getting to us and we had to get some ball and a bit of a rest as we went behind 8-6. 

The commentary was so one sided at this point, with no credit at all to us, so on my TV the sound went down!!! Great pressure from our right-side defence saw Ashton drop the ball and that gave us heart and a great kick through saw Cator, chasing everything as usual, touch down behind the posts. Once again our game had lifted with the bench rotations and at 12-8 it must have been a great game for the neutral to watch. We were making Warrington come out of their twenty to great effect now and fresh forwards were grabbing yards down the middle as with 20 seconds to go, Sneyd dropped what was to be a very valuable a goal and we went in leading by the unlikely score of 13-8.

We hadn’t been on top, far from it, but we took our chances and went toe to toe to a big Warrington Pack, who tried to grind us down, before once again our substitutions of Satae and Sao got the grunt going down the middle again and Houghton buzzed  around acting half. I was so proud of our efforts at half time. 

We restarted and as expected we were straight under the cosh again before we got the ball back charged downfield and did what the Warrington Coach had no doubt told his team to do,  as some great pressure rugby saw Connor traversing the line looking for a runner and Satae oblige to hit a great line and crash in for Sneyd to convert and it was 19-8 to the FC. Warrington were moving the ball frantically but looked a bit rattled and the question was now, were we good enough??

A rampaging run from Griffin saw Ma’u get Fairamo away and he was just put into touch at the corner flag as a chance for the killer score went begging. Then backs to the wall in our own twenty Warrington stole the ball and we got out of jail again. But Ma’u knocked on trying to off load too close to our line and it took some great defence to muscle up and put Murdoch Masila into touch. Typical of the FC we have wintered and summered for years, Sao then also forced an off load near our line and almost inevitably Ashton got in at the corner, as mistakes cost us with two in our own half in quick succession.  You simply can’t do that and a team that had made few errors so far, was suddenly inviting the Wire back in to the game.  

With a five-point ball game we now had to steady it down, we were still enthusiastic, but a great end of set gadget play by Warrington in the corner, almost caught us out before the whitewash saved us as the ball just bounced on the touch line. 

Sneyd got away brilliantly from acting half before he was pulled back completely wrongly by the referee and you wondered if the luck and the tide of the game was starting to turn against us. We just survived as Sneyd banged a bouncing ball dead and they had another 6, but a forward pass from Hill gave us some relief. 

It was heroic stuff from Hull as we kept bashing them and our energy levels were still high, when a brilliant kick from Sneyd was followed by a big chase and Warrington had to drop out. A desperate high tackle on Taylor gave Sneyd the chance to stretch it to 7 points and of course he took it. A big break by Griffin down the middle got us into their twenty and we had great field position but for the first time all night we looked a bit devoid of ideas, but as they came back into our 30, Cator was there to make a brilliant momentum changing tackle before another fabulous collision by Fonua put King into touch to seal the game. We pressed and pressed and there was drama again behind the sticks when ‘Cheeky Charlie’ Connor pinched the ball one on one and as he touched it down behind the sticks. We had won!! 

What a victory it was and we had so many stars on the night that it is almost wrong to single anyone out, but for me Sneyd stood head and shoulders above the much-acclaimed Warrington play-makers. He was imperious throughout, controlling everything, sorting the line, kicking brilliantly and frustrating the opposition for the full 80 minutes. I love the bloke simply because I remember well what it was like when we couldn’t buy a half back and I defend him a lot in here, but last night he showed just how good he is. Connor again was superb and is such a great player when given the room he gets at full back. Cator made 57 tackles and Griffin made 212 meters with Faraimo a further 176, whilst at last Ma’u is really showing his worth in a brilliant back three. But, no one had anything but a five-star showing, as everyone played for their mates and the spirit and passion I have lamented and wanted to see for months, was there for everyone to see. Watching it back a second time with the sound turned up I still couldn’t find a good word for the FC from the commentators until around the 60-minute mark when it dawned on them, who was actually the best team out there. 

Finally, the dynamic of the Coaches was interesting to watch. Beforehand in their interviews Price was all bumptious confidence and talk of how well they had prepared and what lie ahead, whilst Andy Last quite frankly was so nervous he looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights. At the end even Price had to begrudgingly give us some praise, whilst having that ‘I wonder if I’ll have a job next week’ look on his face, before there wasn’t a mask wide enough to cover the smile spread across Andy’s face. He’s certainly just a fan like the rest of us!

What a great night to be an FC supporter eh!!!

Now to other things and the six-team play-off structure seems to be a good idea for me and something I think we should consider in future years,  involving as it does half the competition but giving an advantage depending on where you finish. It keeps the interest up and makes for a much better finale to the season. In addition, it’s easier for the uninitiated to understand. 

Steve McNamara agreed with me too as this week he said, “The biggest thing is the clarity it’s given the competition now,  there was so many unknowns for everybody’. As it pans out, for me top six is the right decision, I’m a big believer in it. I think it’s something we need to look into for next year as well. In a 12-team competition, 50 per cent of the teams make the play-offs and I think next year when every pound and every euro is going to be essential, keeping the interest in the game is massive. I really like the fact that Hull FC didn’t have a great start but now find their form and are a real threat in this competition. That’s why the play-off system is set up, so that the team in the best form at the end of the competition wins it. It’s not necessarily the team that’s been the most consistent, if you want that, you go back to first past the post. I know the reasons we went to five originally and then into four but I think six is the right balance”. What’s more I think I agree with that!

In a season when nothing really surprises me, I was a bit shocked last Monday. The news about Ian Watson going to Huddersfield Giants just days after announcing that he had decided with Adam not to take up the post at the KCom had me both amazed and disappointed. I say disappointed, not because I didn’t understand Ian’s motives and the fact that he did not want to move his family from where they currently live etc. but more for the message it sent out to some of our fans. 

As I have said so many times before in here, many of us will pay for our passes and continue with our direct debits whatever happens because we are lucky in our circumstances and our almost blind love of the club, but some fans are without doubt looking for a lot more. Some I speak want something to get them buzzing for next season. Others I talk to have cooled a bit on the game and the club because of the other circumstances and worries they have found surrounding them in these troubled times. Although I’m sure that win will have soothed a lot of those ‘wounds’.

People want some hope and excitement and compared with going out and signing a hat full of players, bringing in a new coach of Watsons ability would do just that! The perception that he has gone to Huddersfield rather than join us for ‘rugby reasons’ is being put around by some ‘well-wishers’. However, if anyone thinks that Huddersfield who, let’s face it, couldn’t get regular five figure gates if they signed the whole Aussie international team, are a better bet than Hull FC, particularly for a Coach who wants to make a name for himself and get noticed by the NRL, they are delusional. 

There must have been mitigating circumstance with his family and who knows perhaps the rumoured stipulation that Watson brought all his own backroom and conditioning team and our current lot were let go, had something in it too. I know there is no sentiment in sport, but at a time like this I just can’t see Adam getting rid of Andy Last and our conditioning team who have been so loyal and dedicated this season. The situation at Hull FC is really difficult and still up in the air on both the Coaching and Finance front and I expect once our season is over things will become clearer. 

So where have we got to on the new Coach stuff at present? Well quite frankly not too far at all, however if we continue with Andy Last as increasingly looks the only fair way to go, then there can be no better case from him than that win and then what he had to say his week about us lot the fans! As he commented, “It is the be all and end all for people, it defines a weekend. We’re rubbish if we lose and we’re heroes if we win, I understand that because I’ve been a fan myself, I’ve stood on the terraces and I know what it’s like and there’s nothing better than being part of it when you’re successful”. I never doubted he got it and now I think we have the proof!

For me, the biggest job now for our administration will be re-engaging the fans who have drifted and those that are still underwhelmed by it all. Last Thursday will certainly have helped but we need to see something after the games are over to keep everyone hot. 

The fall-out from Toronto’s exclusion and the ensuing scramble to get into Super League continues and some folks are up in arms about the team that is successful only getting £1m TV money. However, as they scramble for positions all teams are  going into it with their eyes open, but who’s to say with everyone having to pay a rebate back to Sky next season every other clubs share may be a lot less than this year. There has to be at least 12 teams in the League I suppose and I guess with all the financial uncertainty there is around, I’d scrap relegation and build the league incrementally to 14 teams by 2023 then perhaps bring in a licensing set up. That would bring us 13 home and away games and a magic weekend which would be a much better set up than those crazy loop fixtures. It’s a much fairer system than the lottery of playing just so many teams three times. But as I say if the choosing of a 12th team will be hard the fallout from the rest after the decision is made will be a nightmare.  

Because of Covid The Wolfpack were, it has been revealed, aiming to play all their home games in this country next year, and were planning to do that at the new York Stadium, which was great for Mr Flatman the York Council and Co. but sort of blew all the arguments about the Toronto supporter base and its development in Canada out of the water somewhat. 

Michael Carter the owner of Trinity who has battle to keep the club afloat really summed up my thoughts about the whole thing when he said that now was the time to batten down the hatches and not the time to pursue the Canadian experiment. I thought that was a succinct and pragmatic view on it all from someone who is struggling to hold the whole thing together at his own club. 

One things for sure though the whole process has caused a rift in the Super League Board with Etherington and McManus really peeved, because they couldn’t get their own way and get Toronto back into the fold. Carlo Livosi the prospective owner of the Wolf Pack sent a curt letter to Robert Elstone, which the League Express (red hot lobbyers for expansion) printed in full,  in which he suggested Elstone resign. Etherington and McManus forced a vote to that end, straight after the rest of the Clubs had voted to turn down the Wolf Packs application for re-admission. I could understand MR Hetherington’s actions because they were typical, as when he can’t get his own way that’s what he does, but the Chairman of St Helens surprised me a bit. 

However, light was cast on those two’s motives further when in the letter Volsi stated that he had been speaking extensively to ‘certain clubs and their owners’. Make of that what you will, but it  appears to the outside observer Garry H. certainly doesn’t like Elstone (probably because he’s running things) nor does Mr M. but that vote of confidence in the Chief Executive went through 9-2 so the two protagonists were marginalised and will certainly be smarting a bit now!! 

McManus went to town, when he said, ““It is still staggering that clubs are allowed to decide on the existence of another club. I’ve been saying it since before the day Toronto was stood down. It’s a reflection of the totally inadequate governance of Super League that has been in place since its re-constitution two years ago, which has sadly been overlooked ever since.” He then indicated that the governance of the game should go back to the guys at the RFL; but we all know how most of us feel about that, for they have made such a good job of that in the past haven’t they??? He wanted to make a point after being rebutted by his colleagues and as such really put the rest of the Clubs backs up. 

You might disagree with me but I have always said that although it isn’t the most ideal scenario in the long term, in the immediate future,  if we all really, really want the game to survive then the best bet we have is to put the onus on the men with the money, the owners, for they have the most to lose if everything goes wrong.

No doubt there will now be ‘toys thrown out of prams’ and  future initiatives will be blocked by said parties as they try to ‘get their own back’,  as a mini war breaks out amongst the Super league owners with Garry Etherington and Eamonn McManus the major protagonists; why am I not surprised? So, although during lockdown Robert Elstone’s stock with the clubs has certainly been on the rise, we had all better watch this space.  

On that subject I was indebted to reader Dave Cutler who reminded me that expansionism be it to Goole in the 1930’s to Cardiff in the 1980’s, to Newcastle in the 90’s or indeed to Kent rarely works. He said, “Colin Welland wrote a brilliant article about RL expansion. He entitled it, ‘Barnsleyitis’. His point was that if you go Wakefield (9 miles away) or Featherstone (10 miles away), the culture is immersed in RL. However, in Barnsley itself, the culture is football with no interest in RL whatsoever. He was making the point, that if you can’t get RL to travel 9 miles, what evidence do you have to think that beyond an initial enthusiasm, you can expand it successfully elsewhere in the longer term. I do hope that when we look for a 12th team to join Super League, that we keep this in mind”. The fact is I guess Dave, as you say, at a time such as this we are probably better holding what we have, consolidating and trying to get through this crisis before we start thinking about expansion anywhere!!! Thanks for the correspondence mate!

With that in mind I think that after listening to Elstone’s interview on Sky and his placing so much importance on getting a club in that could bring a lot of supporters into the game then I think already at this early stage they are angling to get Bradford Bulls back into Super league, don’t you? 

Now here’s a think, because I heard from Bill the Club Historian and friend of this diatribe this week about a massive day in the history of Hull FC that is coming up shortly. So here, in a return to Codgers Corner, is what he had to say. 

Bill Dalton raises a glass in recognition of a true FC Legend

HAPPY 90th BIRTHDAY JOHNNY WHITELEY

On Friday, 20th November, Johnny Whiteley will celebrate his 90th Birthday. That personal landmark will fall just a month before the 70th Anniversary of his Debut in the Black and White of Hull at Clarence Street, York on 23rd December 1950 which launched a First Grade Rugby League career in which he became an immortal in British Rugby League. Indeed, in an age when “Icon” and “Legend” are bestowed rather too freely, these adjectives can be applied without question to the best Rugby League Player everborn in the City of Hull.

John William Whiteley signed for Hull from the Hull Boys Club in December 1950 after completing his National Service in the Army. The team at Hull Boys Club had a pact under which no-one would sign Professional until they had served their conscription, and most of John’s team mates did so, mainly with Hull and Hull KR. So it was that John impressed in two Trials in the “A” team before being called up in the Loose-Forward berth for the game at York which Hull won 19-11. A couple of days later, he had his first encounter with Rovers in the traditional Christmas Day Derby. His opposite number that day was Alec Dockar, himself an England International. The Programme notes for that Derby game stated that “he had certainly impressed in the two Trials and that Club Officials had great hopes that John would make a name for himself”. Well, at least those Officials got that right! John played 14 games in that first season, only missing out for a month in February-March due to injury.

John impressed in his initial seasons with Hull, sufficiently so to earn selection for Yorkshire in the County Championship encounter with Cumberland at Workington on 29th September 1952 in the second row. He retained his place, this time at Loose Forward for the Boulevard encounter with Lancashire, in which Mick Scott and Harry Markham also featured. In all, John would feature for Yorkshire on some 12 occasions. 

International recognition also came early when he played for England Under 23’s at Wigan. Full England honours followed in April 1953 against France in Paris. The 1953-54 Season saw him help Yorkshire to the County Championship in a Play-Off at Whitehaven alongside Mick Scott, Bill Riches and Keith Bowman. 

That Season also saw Hull reach the first of three successive Yorkshire Cup Finals, all of which John played in. By this period, John Whiteley was revered throughout the game for his ball handling skills, the like of which are rarely seen in today’s game, and his ability to put his supporting half backs through the gaps he created. Tommy Finn scored 132 Tries for Hull and Rowley Moat created a new Tries Record for a Stand-off in the 1955-56 season, by being on hand to benefit from Johnny’s skills. And how many of Ivor Watts 216 Tries came off Johnny’s ‘Scissors’ pass?

The first Rugby League World Cup was held in France in the Autumn of 1954 and John was selected in the 18-strong party under the Captaincy of Dave Valentine (Huddersfield). At this stage, it has to be appreciated that there were some class Loose Forwards such as Harry Street (Wigan), Ken Traill (Bradford) and Valentine (Huddersfield) still in the game, so John was biding his time for full Great Britain selection. Although John was fated not to play in the Tournament, his Hull FC friend Bob Coverdale played in all four matches as Great Britain – perhaps unexpectedly – won the Tournemant. John went on to selection in all of the first three British World Cup squads (1954, 1957 and 1960), a distinction shared only with Mick Sullivan. 

Hull, led by Mick Scott, won the Rugby League Championship in 1955-56 with John having his most outstanding season so far. Nevertheless, it was a surprise that he was overlooked for the Lions Tour to Australasia that Summer.  At this stage, the Rugby Football League did not engage a Coach with their International team, the job being undertaken by League Secretary, the late Bill Fallowfield, who, it was obvious, had favourites in the game that did not include Hull players! 

However, John was on the plane Down Under in the summer of 1957 for the ill-fated World Cup tournament that celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Australian Rugby League and he made his Test debut in the encounter with Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on that trip, and also gained selection for a Rest of the World team to play the Cup-winning Kangaroos. His subsequent 15 GB Lion’s appearances were all the more creditable as there was another generation of good backrowers coming to the fore. 

Another Championship success came Hull’s way in 1957-58, this time with John as Captain of a team that possessed an all Hull-Born Pack of Forwards in the Championship Final. He and Tommy Harris left immediately after that Final to join up with the Lions on the 1958 Australasian Tour – in my opinion, the finest team we ever sent there. The back row of Dick Huddart, John Whiteley and Vince Karalius was the finest such combination in the History of the game. 

John once confided to me that he strived to be as good as these two in order to ‘be the best’. In turn, they were also striving to be as good as John, so no wonder it was such a great Back Row. The games folk lore has the 2nd Test victory at Brisbane as Great Britain’s joint finest hour (comparable with the 1914 Test in which the Northern Union won with only 9 fit men). The following year, John scored a vital match-winning Try at Headingley to tie up the Series against Australia. That was the last occasion the British won the Ashes on Home soil. 

At Club level, under John’s captaincy, Hull reached Wembley for the first time in their history in 1959 and 1960. As ever with Hull, Cup Final luck deserted them, particularly so in the latter year when prior injuries devastated the selection.

After no less than 418 appearances in the Black and White of Hull, in which he scored 156 Tries, John retired from playing in 1965. Having taken on the position of Player-Coach a couple of years previously, he undertook the sole role for a further 5 years during which he guided the team to Yorkshire Cup Finals in 1967 and 1969, the latter being the first success in that Competition since 1923. In tandem with the position at Hull, he coached the Yorkshire County team for 12 years, and succeeded to the Great Britain coaching position, leading them to the 1970 Ashes triumph in Australia, the last time that Great Britain ever won the Rugby League Ashes.  

Upon his return from Australia in August 1970, it was announced that John had left Hull and taken up the Coaching position at Hull KR, citing his disagreement over the Board of Directors taking over the Selection of the team. He guided Rovers to a Yorkshire Cup success in 1971 before leaving Craven Park, where the same differences arose. He returned to The Boulevard assisting with Coaching and in 1992 was inducted into the inaugural Hull FC Hall of Fame. He has since also been enrolled onto the Rugby League Roll of Honour, received the MBE in 2006, and subsequently made a Freeman of the City of Hull. He was finally inducted into the Rugby League Hall of Fame on 7th November 2018.

Even these many years after his playing career concluded, John is fastidious in keeping himself fit, and is a regular attender at the FC training sessions. He continues in an Ambassadorial role for Hull FC.

His personal mantra was to strive to be the best. He wanted to play for Hull, then he wanted to Captain Hull, then Coach them. He achieved all those aims and then the same aims for Yorkshire and Great Britain.

Seventy years  after his Debut for Hull, supporters of all the Generations who had the privilege of seeing him play and those who have met him can truly say of him that John Whiteley was a Legend for Hull, a Hero for Great Britain and a true bedrock of The Greatest Game.

Thanks for that Bill I had the honour to see John play for a few years and although I knew little better because he was always there back then, he was a fine player and one that I will always remember. What a great piece that is from Bill and I hope that you all enjoyed it! 

So, there we are and as I say, that win won’t have done Lasty’s chances any harm and let’s face it although we all know the new coach effect which we have seen so many times before, this feels a bit different. When you look what the club the players and indeed the City has been through, the players that have had Covid, the rescheduling of games etc. etc. it has probably been the toughest coaching test anyone could have faced, particularly when you are working with a lot of guys who were back in March, your mates. No one would have been surprised if this year we had ended up like Wakey or the Dobbins; but we haven’t and whatever happens now, our interim Coach has done a fabulous job, simple as! 

However, lets live in a bit of the afterglow of a great great victory eh? What a great night to be an FC fan it was and what a boost for the mental wellbeing and spirits of every supporter that performance was. Thanks guys for providing a couple of hours when reality was suspended for us all and so many of the old feelings came flooding back! You know, we weren’t given a chance in these play-offs! Even on the hour mark of the game itself, we weren’t, (if you listen to those bloody Sky commentators), but now we sit just one win from a Grand Final. 

League Leaders’ Shield winners Wigan Warriors stand in our way and it will be tough, but who would back against us now? Next week will be hard and as long as the effort and wanting is there again throughout, we really can ask anymore, whatever the score. If we play like that it will be close and if we can raise our game another notch …well who knows. One things for sure those 17 players gave us something to remember through the  awful winter ahead. So again, let’s just enjoy it. It was a fabulous night and a fabulous time to write the Diary, Thanks for all the texts, E mails and ‘in game messages’, thankfully at home, the reception is still good behind the settee!!! 

Stay safe and try to enjoy the week!!

Happy 90th Birthday from Friday, Johnny Whiteley!!!

And 

COMEONYOUHULLLLLAAARRRRR!!!!!!!

Faithfully Yours 

Wilf