The Dentists Diary – 379th

A cold frosty Sunday morning, the first real severe night we have had this winter and hey ho it must be the rugby season again!

As the day grew lighter and I saw the back lawn covered in frost, it reminded me of ‘proper’ Winter rugby and all those mornings when I went out there to ‘see if it would take a stud’ before setting out to confront the Pennines, on the way to Leigh or Widnes or some other dreary destination, wondering all the while if when I got there the game would be on.

But this time we were off to Donny, for our first pre season match of 2014 and a game featuring Rich Whiting (a late replacement for Kirk Yeaman who had a stomach bug), Chris Green and Jacob Miller, from what I would say was our starting 17, some fringe players, some Under 19’s I recognised, and several players I hadn’t even heard of (note for this season; get to Bishop Burton more often). It was an interesting afternoon with our constant changes leading to a lot of disjointed play against a Donny team whose quality was dictated by the fact that most had their squad numbers and names on their shirts, so it wasn’t far from their starting 17. It was men against boys at times, but it’s still early days, I told myself, and with a bumper following from Hull, it was certainly good to be amongst friends again.

So whether you spent the week lamenting the cold trip to Donny, wondering why we always seem to get pre season injuries even before we start playing games and whether Tom Biggs hair will be back on his shoulders by the time he finally gets released from Bath, or even how Hull KR can launch their fans Weight Loss Challenge without a mention of Neville Costigan we’re off, and with just over 4 weeks to go to Catalan at home, the anticipation (or indeed that familiar feeling of impending doom) is once again gathering pace!

Well its back to the old routine, as here I am at 5-21 on Sunday evening, Mrs R is driving while I’m sat next to her with my laptop, tapping out the details of our first hit up of the season. So here goes….

This afternoon it was cold (bloody cold), it was only a ‘friendly’ and we were only fielding a scratch team made up mainly of youngsters so why, I ask myself, do I bother? Well for me as usual it was simply a case of….I just couldn’t stay away and by the size of the Hull contingent in the biggest 1,700 gate I have seen for some time, there were plenty more who couldn’t too. So at least I wasn’t on my own and I had it confirmed that I’m not such a hopeless case either, as I passed two cars on the way here that were both decked out as if they were on their way back to Wembley!

What a great turn-out it was and one that the 400 or so Donny fans and their administration really appreciated. Of course it’s a great little Stadium, but please guys, put some cash turnstiles on next time, as the kick off had to be delayed while hundreds queued at the ticket office. Then in the true spirit of the hard drinking, beer swilling, alcoholically frenzied FC Army, at half time the tea ran out too!!! The only other grumble I would have is that we could have done with some simple photo copied team sheets as a PA system that appeared to be possessed by the ghost of Norman Collier soon packed up and left most of us incessantly enquiring, “Who’s that then”. But it was all great fun.

We fielded an extremely young side with the only really recognisable players on duty being Whiting, Pitts, Green, Miller, Bowden and Arundel with Kent, Cunningham and Hadley from the fringes and the rest from the juniors. With ten minutes to go and with us trailing by 12 all around me the usual grumbles started, but as there weren’t any chants of ‘Radford Out’, I could only suppose some of the usual suspects had developed a modicum of patience and were saving them for the windswept wastes of Odsal next week. It was only our first 80 minutes for heaven sake!

However two late tries and a couple of neat conversions by Miller saved our blushes and broke the hearts of a valiant Doncaster. It was a bit worrying to see Miller and even Whiting trying to force things as the game wore on, because I thought it was down to them to offer a bit of composure while the youngsters were getting little change from a resolute Doncaster defence, but at least they wanted to win. However for the main part so many changes and the difference in size and game experience between the teams, made for at times a bit of a shambolic attacking performance from the FC. I have to say that although it’s early days, I wasn’t that inspired in periods of the match! Then again, I have to concede that we have some really talented youngsters coming through and any team that is intent on not giving up in a Friendly despite being 16-4 down, before going on to secure a draw in the last 20 seconds, must show a deal of pride, resolve and tenacity.

Performance wise I thought Cunningham got better as the game wore on and played OK at 9. He certainly marshalled the line with some skill, although his passing at times is still far too wayward. However in the halves, particular early on, Harry Tyson-Wilson showed up well and he certainly has a good short kicking game and a strong cut out pass; he has obviously got a big future ahead of him. Miller tried hard while he was on and worked well to lay on the last try, however for me Green and Bowden did really well and were the pick of the forwards, in fact they had probably the best ‘go forward’ on the field and Hadley and Liam Kent did well too.

However the age and experience of the Donny outfit ensured it was men against boys at times and at one point in the second half the average age of the team was just 18, but all of our youngsters tackled like terriers and fought manfully. I was particularly impressed with young Nicklin at full back, who was great under the high ball and good going forward, while having run out of support players his kick on the run to the corner in the first half was real class. It was also his chip over the defence that forced a drop out with a minute to go which turned the screw on a tiring home team and led to the final try.

Pitts did OK and of the other youngsters Brad Fash stood out, however I’m afraid Stark and Leeming, although showing tons of guts and spirit looked a bit out of their depths on the wings. The new ‘game plan’ was seldom apparent and often seemed to depend on short balls out of the tackle, that targeted players with up to 3 tacklers already all over them. However if you’re looking for a positive, the line that Dean Hadley ran, onto a great Jacob Miller pass, to score with 20 seconds to go was worth the admission money in itself.

As for Doncaster, well with 9 Hull ‘origin’ lads in their ranks it was always going to be their Cup Final and it was also great to see Dennis Tuffour on the wing and scoring, because I like him when he was on our books! They looked together and their defence was first class, it was apparent to me that Cooke has them well drilled and they will go well, in fact it was apparent that it will be hard for our duel registration kids to break into that team as it stands, but of course it’s very early days yet.

Well I guess that’s it, the first game out of the way without any apparent injuries and we move onto ‘The Fridge of the North’ at Odsal next week.

So what’s been happening since the last Diary? Well in the past week the training has certainly been rigorous! You get that feeling from the Club and particularly the players themselves, who have all enjoyed pre-season this time around although several have bumps and bruises. In fact everyone agrees that if we fall flat again this season, then it won’t be the fault of our preparations, which many players feel has been the toughest and most intense ever.

In the run up to yesterdays game it was pretty inevitable that there would be plenty in the media about Doncaster, duel registration, the Keepmoat and Paul Cooke and I think it’s safe to say that as far as our partnership with the South Yorkshire Club is concerned then no stone has been left un-turned to ensure that this time around it’s the best it’s been. In fact I can’t believe how far it has actually gone! We discovered in an article by James Smailes last Thursday that went into some detail about the two club’s relationship, that to ensure the transition of players between the two Clubs was a smooth one, Doncaster and Hull will be using the same play-book this season. In hindsight in fact, yesterday Donny seemed to understand it a whole lot better than we did.

As that play book has been written by Andy Last and Lee Radford as the basis for our season, it’s not hard to see how any self respecting, ‘died in the wool’ Donny fan, might just be a bit worried about how close the alliance is actually getting! They could well be asking what’s in it for them and whether it is designed for and indeed biased towards the sole needs of Hull FC. I mean to say, it must be hard seeing players from another Club coming into your beloved team week in week out almost ad hock, sometimes at the expense of your own favourites, mustn’t it?

Winning is something that’s paramount in every fans mind and you’ll certainly turn a blind eye to a lot to get it. Cooke is saying different things to the South Yorkshire press and only indicating that they have a whole new play book but not that it’s our!!!! However it seems that as far as we as fans of Hull FC are concerned we couldn’t really have got a better deal and Lee Radford should be congratulated on getting us to where we are.

Last year’s alliance with York faltered and eventually failed because the Wasps coach and Peter Gentle couldn’t see eye to eye, both Clubs played a different sort of game and York were very precious about their own players getting first shout! Perhaps you have to say who can blame ‘em and perhaps too you might add that having that attitude didn’t get them very far either, judging by their finishing position in the League! However we’ll just have to see how it all works out, but for me it appears to be an excellent set up and one that might just succeed.

Well thankfully it’s been a much busier week on the FC front as (following what was described by James Smailes as the longest field session he had ever experienced), last Monday at Bishop Burton the lads were back to training with a bang. Apparently Richard Horne is in brilliant form at present and showed up really well while Rankin did well too, considering it was his first run out with his new team mates. It’s been a good pre season and according to what Rich Whiting was saying to me last week the two ‘short sharp shock’ pre season camps we have so far organised, have been the most intense and the best he has attended in his whole career. However as the lads got their heads back down to training, most of the media focus was on the announcement of Club Captain, which was made at the end of Mondays marathon session.

After all the conjecture and punditry that each season surrounds the naming of our new on field leader, it was something of an anti-climax when it was revealed that it would be ‘as you were’ with Gareth Ellis as Captain and Danny Houghton as his number two. As the news was quietly slipped out on a Club Grapevine notice I was, I have to say, a bit surprised because although I would never question Ellis’s ability to lead by example off the pitch I am not sure he’s the dynamic and animated captain I appreciate on it. Danny Houghton was for me a given, his style of play and love for the Club made him a natural to continue his ‘apprenticeship’, as he progresses towards being Club captain one day.

I wondered if Westerman might get a shout for reasons I covered a few Diary’s back, but at least it’s now sorted and announced; and that without any sort of hype or the big ‘Captains Day’ celebrations we have seen at times in the past. It appears that as far as playing down the propaganda is concerned, our very welcome softly, softly approach to the 2014 season continues. That at least is the case with us but over at Caravan Park, in a quote I have tucked away for future reference, Phil Lowe has stated on KR TV that they have ‘The best pack in Super League’; I’m just really glad we ain’t doing that hollow, ‘party line’ stuff anymore.

It was another blow to us fans when it was announced that Jason Crookes was injured again, but the 3 to 4 month prognosis was a real setback for everyone, including the player himself. That really does leave us short on the wing, ironically just at a time when Jason could have got a game and really made a name for himself. I saw nothing at Doncaster either that indicated that we had a good youngster coming through to take their first team chance. Happily Ben Crooks and Tom Lineham are back in full contention again and Shaul and Arundel have both been getting a run out on the wing in training, but we are certainly short of outside backs.

The Club expect the ‘Flying Dustman’ will land any day now, but a lot depends on his fitness, while as far as Tom Biggs is concerned Bath won’t budge at present and it could be days weeks or even months before he is released, although I’m told with him being purposely sidelined by the RU Club, he’s desperate to get away. The only silver lining with the latter situation is that at least he’s saving us a bit on the cap. So already we have a bit of a problem out wide and it will be interesting to see who lines up there for the Bradford game.

Bishop Burton training-amongst the encircling gloom!!

Well it appears from your correspondence this week that one or two of the more perceptive readers saw that I was hinted at some problems with the SMC in last week’s Diary and I have to admit here that I did know about the pitch issues that were announced last Monday, but just occasionally to reveal what you know can be harmful to the Club you love, so I had to keep stum. However often in here it’s worth reading between the lines and as I understand it this has only been going on since a few days before Christmas, when the Club were summand to meet the SMC and the bombshell was dropped about the work on the drainage system and the sub soil, which has now led to a switch of two fixtures.

I know that we were approached in early summer and even back then the Club were worried about the impact the work would have on the fixture’s, but subsequently the SMC changed their minds with the good state of the pitch in April and May dictating that it wouldn’t be necessary to dig the pitch up after all. Indeed the SMC approved the list of proposed fixtures issued in early October and as a Club we checked with them again just to make sure and everything was fine.

Then in late November and early December the under soil heating system started to fracture and as it is warm water driven, flooding ensued and so the work had to be back on the agenda. There are sub-soil issues too which they will now also address, but I know that Adam was really disheartened and not a little irritated when he found out the situation had changed and he had to go cap in hand to both Widnes and Wakey (I bet Ruley and Agar loved that!) to reverse our fixtures with them. However with the RL’s assistance the switches were made and we the long suffering fans have to live with it. One thing’s for sure if we were the only tenants or City were floundering in the lower divisions the SMC wouldn’t be shelling out £1m. But, they have to do it because of the football. But, then again as it has been proved time and again, it’s definitely the football that damages the pitch, for once the fact that the SMC is owned by the same person that owns the football Club has come to our rescue!

I don’t know if there is any compensation deal in place, but I would have hoped that Adam will have negotiated something, because there is a hidden side to all this that could affect income this season. So many home games on the trot will invariably hit gates because consecutive weekends of shelling out for none season ticket holders will be tough financially for a lot of folks. Some folks have arranged holidays around the fixture list too, so it’s hardly ideal is it?

It’s therefore essential that we get off to a flying start and if there was ever a season when it was imperative that we develop a siege mentality at home and make it ‘Fortress KC’ then this year is it. If we start slowly or lose a few of our early home games, then the pressure will really be on, because if we are floundering with a lot of injuries or just a general loss of form, the thought of two months of away games on hard pitches suited to open rugby is worrying to say the least, especially as several of them are against teams who could be struggling too.

Then there’s the potential home draw in the quarter final of the Challenge Cup. If we get that far and are drawn at home then where do we play and indeed, could we stomach our ‘friends’ hospitality? For me the one place we shouldn’t play it would be Caravan Park because quite frankly I’d rather go to Doncaster than play over there in ‘Pound land’!!

Although it’s a real bummer we have to live with it, the late changes to the schedule are no fault of our administration and any blame there is has to fall at the door of the SMC, although I guess the actual truth is that the whole thing was pretty unavoidable. However ‘every cloud’ as they say and for those who travel to all away games at least we will be doing it on lighter nights and in better weather, plus the bring back Sunday brigade might just be wishing they had invested in a pass now, because now they get couple of Sunday home games too. However on the other hand a 9 week period of away games is expensive for the fans and a drain on everyone’s finances coming as it does at the threshold of the holiday season.

On another take completely I have to smile at all the folks who went on about the Council not being able to order our pictures back on the walls last year during Whiteleygate because the very reason that the Council could do nothing, (the fact that they relinquished financial and operational control in exchange for not being financially liable for the KC) is the same one that dictates that when we need a new pitch it’s the SMC that has to shell out £1m to provide it! However it’s another issue that affects our Club and one that few expected. So, as I said last week you never really know what’s hiding in the background waiting to jump out and bugger things up. Being an FC fan eh? Don’t you just love it!

So where do you stand on the ‘singing corner’ idea then? This week it was revealed that the Club are to back a small area of the ground in the East Stand being designated as a place where banners are allowed and the chanting is incessant, as an already growing core of fans, try to help re-discover the atmosphere we used to get at the Boulevard. It’s not a new idea over in Aus. the Rabbitohs have one called ‘The Burrow’ and the Bulldogs one called ‘The Kennel’. But then again those are probably the only areas in those NRL grounds were anyone sings anyway!

For me the atmosphere at the Stadium has been lacking of late although I’m not sure whether that is down to the lack of such a ‘Glee Club’, the place, the fans demeanour or indeed the standard of rugby. As my pal Jed said the other day, “It’s always better away” and of course it invariably is. There we are usually all crushed together at one end, surrounded by the enemy, as sheer pride, desperation and sometimes a sense of isolation often see us lifting the roof. So, for me if we can generate that sort of atmosphere at home then it’s an excellent idea….. in principle. But before it can come into practise I would want to see the whole proposal closely scrutinised and several safeguards put in place because it’s an idea that could also get right out of hand very quickly and once you’ve agreed to it, how do you stop it?

Firstly, I feel for those fans who already enjoy sitting in that area and who will have bought their season tickets (all be it an unreserved section), with the aspiration that they will be able to sit where they always do. Perhaps they won’t want to watch the game through a screen of flags and banners to the accompaniment of regular rounds of our very limited repertoire of songs and surrounded by a constant party atmosphere? Then again I know a few who will absolutely love it!!!

However there has to be some safeguards with regard to abusive/racist/sexist chanting, etc and indeed what do the SMC feel about this idea? For me personally I hope it doesn’t get to drums and trumpets, but there is a long way to go on this one, I’m no kill joy, so in principle I welcome the proposal, but only in principle. In fact as many of you know I’m not adverse to standing hands aloft at Derby’s and demanding My Fathers Gun (only at Derby’s mind you) and chanting what the Pope said to the famous Kingston Rovers when they went to Rome to see him. However for me, fans reaction has to be spontaneous and dictated by what’s happening on the pitch, I don’t really think that for this aging dinosaur the South Stand at Leeds would be the place to enjoy the game I love, but we’re all different!

But then again neither can I spend last week in here extolling the virtues of the fans of FC United (last week) when they to a person seem to sing constantly throughout the full 90 minutes of their games. I just think the whole thing has to be thought out properly! If you like the idea, tell the Club and if you sit in that area and don’t like it tell them as well. Just my views of course call me an old stick in the mud if you like, perhaps I just worry too much, but if it comes off it needs to be branded better than the Boulevard Corner I feel. As the last resting place of Old Faithful the other day I suggested ‘The Glue Factory’!

Rich Whiting’s Testimonial which starts with the game at Featherstone and runs for a full year is starting to take shape with the Testimonial Brochure packed with pictures and articles by a host of players fans and friends, being launched at the game at Featherstone priced £5. Please try to get one because it’s a great souvenir marking the career so far of a very special player. His testimonial shirt will be seen firstly in the game at Featherstone when it is worn by the players and will be on general sale in about 8 weeks time. It’s taken a massive effort to get the necessary sponsorship in place but now it’s done and it’ll be on sale from the Club shops from early March.

Also worthy of a mention is Richard opening meal which rather as was the case for Yeamo last year it will be a family affair on the afternoon of Sunday 9th February with guest speaker’s family fun, raffles and an auction. There are some amazing events planned in what should be a great year for ‘Superman’ Whiting and I hope everyone will do whatever they can to support Rich because he’s simply our sort of player and in this his big year give him something back for all the entertainment he has given us.

Last week I discussed the fact that one or two of our players were maybe on getting their last chance this season and that Jacob Miller needed a big year at number 7 and I guess Joe Arundel is probably in the same position. Joe finds himself in the ranks of the ‘last chance salooners’ following a season when because of injury he hardly got going. When he started to get fit he looked sharp and fast as he showed at Caravan Park but by and large it was one injury after another and we never really saw his potential. Now seeing him yesterday he certainly looks fit but having to shift Yeamo and Crooks, will see him have a big job on his hands and as I said about Cunningham last week he really has to use the pre season friendlies to stake a claim to a starting spot. He was the subject of a massive contract offer when he arrived from Castleford with 3 of his 4 year term still to go. However I’m convinced he has to step up this year before our owner runs out of patience, I hope he does well, a top quality centre that age would be a big plus but we’ll see; good luck to him anyway.

Talking of Young Cunningham I’m told he was nailed on for a year at Donny until he arrived at pre season training. Since then he has been on fire, Radford has had to think again and could well be knocking on the door of the first team come the start of the season. He looks fast, sharp and keen but he’ll have to improve his passing a bit though!

There’s a massively important meeting taking place at the RL on Friday when the Clubs are expected to discuss the format for the League from 2015 forward. The fact that it will be 12 teams is a gimme now, but it’s whether it’s one up one down or the (pretty ridiculous) new idea of 12 then 8x8x8 that is decided upon. The rebels led by Wigan include us, Warrington, Wigan, Huddersfield and Rovers, with a trip to France by Gary Etherington having swung Catalan back to support the 12 and 8 idea. I’m told that 8 Clubs need to vote for the new proposals to get them through so Etherington will get his way, there’s now little doubt of that.

How they will sell season tickets, for 22 games against Super League opposition followed by 7 more against, …..who knows? We would I’m told go for two separate seasons which is worrying. Well it is when with this seasons traditional subscription schemes at Widnes and Bradford way down, even the sparkling new Koukash led Salford has only sold 2500!! Then to further muddy the water three French Sports papers announced this week that Toulouse have submitted a bid to play in Super League in 2015, and have launched a website containing details and a petition to gain support. Their inclusion the French press claim is believed to be dependent on them being able to negotiate a separate TV deal, independent from the existing Super League deal with Sky Sports.

So will we see three teams relegated next season so we can make way for another French Club; I love the game I have supported all these years, but quite frankly all this stuff is just becoming a gimmick too far for me! How it will all pan out is anyone’s guess but I think it’s a right bake, I have all along and why we can’t just go for a simple relegation and promotion scenario is anyone guess. Now having asked their readers and received a resounding ‘No’ from them, both RL papers (Martyn Sadler having now changed his mind) have come out strongly against the change, but still the RL press on, because as I have said in here so many times ‘Bugger the fans Gary knows best’. I have told you before some Clubs suggested asking the fans their views, but Kath and Co. soon put the kybosh on that one!!!

You all know, by the amount I have twittered on in here that I think it makes so much sense! It’s a traditional scenario and if relegation has to come back, and I’m not even sure about that now, then surely the traditional means of facilitating it is the best.

On a personal note, and I’m always totally honest in here, when the new split league season is approved, I really don’t know how this fan will take it, I honestly don’t because, after all these years of watching the game, I can’t believe what it makes me contemplate. If it’s the new format that is adopted and the Etherington Mafia are running the game, it could just, for me, be the last straw. I love my Club and the game, I always will, but quite frankly enough is enough and I don’t think I’ll be on my own in assessing my personal position, so let’s hope common sense prevails.

But to brighter things and this week someone on Rugby League fans very worthily decided to analyse the break-down of Clubs that are featured in the first release of Sky games for next season. No doubt our performance at Wembley and at Huddersfield last season has deigned us not ‘the best TV’, and so we are well down the list which shows Sky appearances as follows Leeds (10) Saints (9) Wigan (9) Warrington (8)Huddersfield (7)Hull KR (6) Cas (5) Catalan (4) Hull FC, Salford, Bradford and London (3) and Wakey and Widnes with only 2. Attraction wise then it seems we are on a par with Salford, London and Bradford, but what does it really matter? In fact in many ways is a decided plus because firstly with the exception of an Easter Thursday night trip to the Vomitarium we have avoided the dreaded football season Thursday evening fixtures away from home, with all they entail. Then, and more importantly still, we are given the opportunity to continue our low profile approach to the season and can fly well under the radar.

Adam Pearson won’t be too disappointed either because although the pitch fiasco sees us playing a string of home games at the start of the season few are televised and so if you want to watch your team you have to turn up at the KC to do it because you can’t sit at home or in the pub conserving cash and watching on TV. It’s tough on exiled fans across the world who rely and a good proportion of our games being televised to satisfy their need to see their Club but in general as I said earlier every cloud!!!

This week after a long discussion in the Drum and Monkey the other night about Goal Kickers at which we discussed Arthur Keegan, Sammy Lloyd and Danny Tickle in Codgers Corner I want to look back on someone who is something of a forgotten hero, despite the fact that he played 10 years for the club and only left us in 1994. The fact that he is sometimes forgotten is probably because he signed for the dark side after he departed the Boulevard and that usually means that we are quick to forget. Never the less Paul Eastwood joined Hull FC from local Rugby Union outfit Hullensians where he had shined in the role of stand-off and he became the clubs second most prolific point’s scorer in a career that spanned, as I already indicated, ten seasons. There is no doubt had it not been for the fact that for his first five years in the first team he was not first choice goal kicker, then I believe he would probably have ended up as our top points scorer of all time. He was with hindsight a great winger and really potent when given the ball a short distance from the line, indeed his skill as a try poacher gained him international acclaim, where he scored some great tries for England. However his departure to the Dobbins finds the hardened FC fanatic hard pressed to speak about him in the same breathy as say, Bruce Ryan, Wilf Rosenberg, Clive Sullivan, Dane O’Hara or even dare I say Gareth Raynor!

The fact is that Paul was an accomplished if not outstanding winger until the great Brian Smith got hold of him and then, as with several other local players of the day like, Gay, McNamara, Sharp and Dannett he suddenly became a really good player, causing people to sit up and take notice. What a great coach Smithy was! He instantly recognised the latent ability of his young winger and handed him the kicking duties. In the next three seasons he kicked over 100 goals a year as well as scoring plenty of great tries too! Paul made a total of 13 appearances for Great Britain, where his determination and strong running made him a national favourite. 6 years after his debut at Oldham in February 1985, he was to star in that most memorable of FC games against Widnes in the Premiership final. That day after bursting through the line and bumping off two would be tacklers, his precision pass set up a vital try for Russ Walker.

Perhaps though despite some memorable appearances in the black and white, the game that sticks in everyone’s mind is the one against Australia at Wembley in 1990 when Paul scored two typical tries crashing in at the corner to follow up by kicking three goals in our unlikely but famous 19-12 defeat of the old enemy. That was a classic game as was the one two years later when we beat the Aussies in Melbourne in the second test. In this match Eastwood kicked 6 from 6 as the Great Britain tourists caused a major upset. In fact on our 1990 tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, he was our top try scorer with 9, top goal scorer with 23, and subsequently top points scorer with 62. Still he scored some memorable tries for us none more than one I saw him get when he beat at least 5 players in a chase to the line against Leeds in 1987. It was his ability to get his body close to the ground about six or seven yards out that made him almost unstoppable in the corner that day and on many other occasions too.

After 10 seasons at the club, Paul missed the whole of his last campaign on our books with an injury and then many of the Dobbins fans who had constantly harangued Eastwood over some alleged misdemeanours off the field, had to eat humble pie and collect the rent themselves as they welcomed him to Caravan Park! He played out two further seasons before retiring from the game in 1997. He is never one of those players that get a mention straight away in the pub when we talk about great servants to our team, and yet when you look closely at his career, he was both a great clubman and a national hero. He looked the part had a cavalier attitude and was totally fearless, in fact his record shows that he had a deal more success than some other players that still claim hero status in the eyes of the fans!

So who’s going to Bradford? It’s a cold inhospitable place for a fully blown Super league game in mid June, so on Sunday we’d all better get well wrapped up, because it’ll be freezing. With Crookes and Tusan already out injured, my quote of the week this week is a cautionary one as Lee Radford said yesterday, “We have a few players who are not training right now, but they are precautionary things and nothing serious. They will be getting right for the Bradford fixture next week.” Where it ever so?

Thanks to everyone who came to chat yesterday at Donny, I don’t know about you but I love being there away from home surrounded by kindred spirits! Plus, a big well done to the guys from the new fans web site ‘’ that emerged this week, it’s a great development because I believe that these are facilities that are so important for any fan base in good times and bad. It appears to have been well received too, because due to the overwhelming amount of traffic on Friday night it temporarily overwhelmed the server. I am also as always grateful to all those who have contacted me this week, the main computer at home blew up (literally) last Thursday so apologies in advance if I don’t keep in touch as often as I usually do as for now at least, some E Mail addresses have disappeared altogether.
See you all at Bradford and ….

Keep Believing!!!!!!!!!!

Faithfully Yours