The Dentists Diary – 382nd

Arise Sir Richard of Whiting….

….who sadly said it all last night when he humbly tweeted “I Can only apologise to the FC fans that attended, that the teams effort on the field didn’t reflect the effort you made to travel over”

Richard Whiting - Hull FC

Well, if in the end it was a shambolic performance, it didn’t feel like that early yesterday afternoon, as legions of ‘the quiet mans’ admirers trekked along the M62 to pay homage to Richard, on a day he will remember for the rest of his life. We certainly turned up in numbers; it’s just a pity several of the players didn’t turn up at all!

With the usual spirit of the FC Faithful the motorway was packed with cars as were the streets around the ground, a situation that reminded me so much of those days spent there in the 70’s and 80’s. No one came out to sit on the house roofs behind the end terracing as they used to do back then, but otherwise it was as if we’d never been away.

However back in those halcyon days, ‘friendly’ or not, Hull FC a proud Club always showed some heart and always played with spirit; it would appear that is no longer the case. After that performance, a few of our players should hang their heads in shame! It was a poor showing that left me frustrated and disappointed, in fact it was, in the context of who we were playing, and the importance of the match to a colleague, one of the worst FC display I have seen for years; and boy have a seen a few crap ones. I might mellow a bit by mid week but writing this as always, straight after the game, it’s hard to find any positives at all! I’ll praise ‘em when they’re good, but I have to call it as I see it and for me yesterday, they were rubbish!

This was a day we’d all been waiting for; it was the chance to honour an adopted son of the Club, as Richard Whiting led out the FC to play his Testimonial game at the ground where it all began. Back in 2004 ‘Stilts’ joined us as a relative unknown from Featherstone and because of injuries, was thrown straight into the first team in a variety of positions, to help, it was said, the Club decide which suited him best. The answer to that one was probably ‘all of them’ and the rest as they say ….is history

2004 Squad - Hull FC
Rich and the new boys of 2004 but can you name them all!!

Yesterday we set off early and to make sure the car was full, I took my pals Stu and Sammo from the Drum and Monkey. When we got there we all helped selling the souvenir brochure, which is a great read and it was soon apparent that for the fans and Richard this was a very special occasion.

After the SMC at the KC had priced themselves out of staging the game, Featherstone said, “Come over here and we’ll split it with you” and so the match was moved to at least ensure that Rich could come out with some cash. Whatever the rights and wrongs of all that, it certainly wasn’t going to deter the fans and as they piled through the gates waiving their fivers for the Brochure, I realised once again that they are without doubt the best there is. 3,200…..it looked a lot more than that to me! We all sat in the Good Fella’s Stand not far away from the buffoon with the Drum, who continued to orchestrate a canon of chants from a dozen or so Featherstone fans, which only seemed to included ‘Get inta Em’ regurgitated ad infinitum! Singing Corner it wasn’t!!

The game itself should have been an important one for several players who were looking to get one last chance of a start against Catalan. I went along thinking that the day was all about Rich and that we only really needed to win one pre-season game, and that was ‘job done’ last week! But I was certainly ill prepared for what I saw on that muddy field in West Yorkshire yesterday afternoon, because it was nothing short of shambolic!

Firstly, I have to say that Featherstone are a very good outfit, who haven’t now conceded a point in the second half of any of their pre season games, they were well drilled and led by a scrum half that for me could do a job for us, anytime. However much our coach might have been fuming afterwards, he has to perhaps take some of the initial blame for what appeared to most of us, from the off, a totally bizarre team selection. I mean, what is to be gained in our last pre season game, by playing a back row forward at acting half back? Hadley did his best, but was obviously out of his depth and could only pass one way! Up front we left out Paea, Feka, Ellis, Heramaia and Houghton against a Featherstone pack that knew every inch of the field, used the slope really well and were full of passion and grunt, while we huffed and puffed and never got going. They wanted ‘it’ so badly while we had left whatever ‘it’ was, on the bus!

What worries me the most is that it’s apparent that the club still hasn’t got rid of the culture where the staff think that they are international class ‘big time Charlies’ who don’t need to bother when playing a ‘lesser’ side. It might have been a friendly and a nothing game, but in effect it was Widnes away last season all over again and just as then, I felt cheated at the end!

The pack we started with was totally dominated and we only got near their line twice in the first half. Green and Watts couldn’t hack it and they can come out with whatever excuses they want, but we were crap!! On a difficult pitch too many didn’t have the right attitude, while others lacked any idea of what the plan was, and I include Yeamo, Arundel, Lineham, Shaul, Crooks and Miller in that appraisal because they all seemed preoccupied and off their game. Miller continues to flatter to deceive and does one brilliant shift or run and then disappears for 20 minutes! I know players always take it seriously, but on this occasion it honestly looked as if many of them just couldn’t be bothered.

We had our starting half backs out there in the first half, but Horne and Rankin are just too alike for me and I think that Gareth Moore the Featherstone scrum half showed exactly what we lack and looked much more effective than MiIler did, or has done thus far this year. Behind a dominant pack Moore prompted, probed, organised and ran at the line, while Rankin was the best of our three for me, but he too laboured behind what looked at times like a bunch of dumb second rate forwards.

If there were any positives, then I guess Rich Whiting did well and once again young Stark (still looking 14) tried really hard, Rankin will benefit from the game time, Bowden got some minutes in which he’ll need (because I can see him starting against Catalan) and several of the youngsters tried really hard late on, but otherwise I was struggling. In addition a kind lady sat behind me, (a description disputed by her Husband) gave me a team sheet and we sold about 600 of Rich’s Testimonial Brochure beforehand and those were, for me I’m afraid, the only highlights.

All in all, despite being out muscled, those youngsters on at the end showed more spirit than the ‘big boys’ did in the first half and as we lost Watts and Green to bad looking injuries, it’s all concerning a bit now. OK you’ll say, it was only another friendly and we won the one that mattered, but I’ll say it here, I’m worried!! I was there and if you were, then you’ll be worried too. It’s OK going on about it being ‘early days’ but it’s a week on Friday guys, we have no more warm up games and we go into the new season on the back of an absolute shambles. For me it’s just not adding up at all!

But most of all Richard deserved so much better from his colleagues, we did our bit and well done to everyone who turned up, but it was a thoroughly disappointing display which took the shine off what should have been a memorable afternoon. With the game being on TV and the opposition being Catalan, a week on Friday I anticipate the lowest ever first gate we’ve seen since we moved into the KC.

So, in the end we the fans did Richard Whiting proud and at least he appeared to come through unscathed unlike 2008 when he was injured in pre-season and had a succession of set-backs and breaks that saw him miss almost the whole year. I just feel so sorry for the bloke, he was let down by his mates.

Richard Whiting - Hull FC
2008 was not a good year for ‘Stilts’

It must have been worrying for Adam too yesterday, but as an aside interesting as well when, as a Wakefield lad, he was able to go back to the Club that his Grandfather Will Pearson once captained. I expect Adam pondered how little the place had changed since he stood on the terraces to watch ‘Grandad Will’ play there in the mid 1970’s. Perhaps that’s a bit unfair, with the new stands they’ve bought from Scarborough Town football Club, but the state of the pitch certainly hadn’t changed much had it? It was all as I remembered it and for this fan as well it was something of a sentimental journey that took me right back to those days during the miner’s strike when we all sang ‘Feed the Miners’ as we tipped into the bucket collection. Happy Days? Well more memorable ones than yesterday anyway.

ScarboroughTown
The old Scarborough Town McCain Stadium Stands are an improvement!

You know, as an aside, a senior official at our Club said to me that my views on the restructuring in here were just based on an unreasonable approach to how we would do in the new set up. He said that we wouldn’t finish in the bottom four and if we did there is no way a Championship Club could compete with a Super league Club in that mini League. I wouldn’t be so sure of that now, would you?

So what’s been happening over the last seven days, well way back last Monday I spoke to several of the first team players as they attended the gym for rehab session after the Derby and asked a few of them what they thought the biggest plus was to take out of the win. To a man they said that they couldn’t believe how much energy and power the team had right up to the final hooter. They also talked of a complete change of culture at the club as this season everyone is playing for each other and the spirit throughout is first class. Much of that is based, they indicated, on the principle that everyone is desperate not to let Lee Radford down. Didn’t last long that one did it?

However at the time I thought that was very positive but we’ll see how they feel after three or four matches! You see for me our squad it’s certainly not a bad one and has more depth than we have had for years, but is it a top 4 one? Can it be continually focussed whoever we are playing and have we sacrificed individual class for quantity? I have to say I wonder a bit about that one myself, I still believe it COULD be a good season, but only if the spirit, fellowship and loyalty to the Coach shown against Rovers, continues come good times and bad. That’s of course is easily said at present and particularly in the wake of a Derby win, but it’s a long, long season with many twists and turns (and just seven days on we’ve seen one already), there’ll certainly be wet nights at Widnes, muddy pitches at Odsal and disappointments and injury’s to come.

For what it’s worth it’s my opinion that talking that situation up now is one thing, but delivering it over 9 months and then peaking at the end is completely another; it’s certainly a big ask! I was also hearing last week that Jay Pitts could well be on his way to a year-long loan at Doncaster, while I also hear that they are a bit concerned about Shannon McDonalds injury, but that Chris Tusan is coming along well. There is also a whiff, be it ever such a faint one that we might just consider bringing in a new face, if we can move someone out and at present I’d take Gareth Moore myself, but that’s just because he whipped the floor with us yesterday!

The news on Friday that the Club wouldn’t be going to St Georges next week came as little surprise, because having factored in possible bad weather Lee Radford told me twice during January that we were in front of where he expected to be. In fact by rotating between Bishop Burton and YPI they haven’t missed a single session all winter. The 4 day break from training that the cancellation offers is paramount because the way the season is structured could mean that, should we have a good year in the Cup, the players will not get a decent break at all for the next 9 months. It will also have saved some money, but I’m told that cancellation fees were high as the elite English Football Centre is much in demand. It certainly wasn’t a cost cutting exercise in any way and so now this week it’s be all sweat and bollockings till Thursday and then a weekend off before the team’s back and preparing for Catalan at home.

It was interesting to read this week on a national RL website about Feke Paleaaesina and the events that led up to his signing for our Club. You’ll remember that he had two years left on his contract with Limoux, but was determined to take the opportunity to return to England, not least for his Wigan-born wife Michelle and their two young children. He indicated in the interview that that it was pretty difficult for them over there because they were the only English-speaking family in the team so she was on her own when Feke was training.

He added, “She toughed it out for me, but she was keen to come back. The Limoux Club would have liked me to stay but my family comes first and it was an opportunity for me to play at the highest level again.” However Wigan and Salford fans might not recognise their ex favourite when we visit them this season because their favourite has trimmed down to a little over 16st, having shed more than two and a half stone since he last played for them. He went on to say, “In fact I was over 120 kilos when I was at Salford and I’m 104 at the moment. So I’ve lost quite a lot of weight, not just from the training but also from eating right”

He added that it was a lot different returning to Super League and starting back in it at the KC Stadium compared with French Rugby Union, where it was certainly not as organised. He commented, “We had to take our playing kits back home and wash them ourselves and pay for our training kit so it was like being back as an amateur. Here everything is pretty much given to you.” No wonder he looks so happy when you see him around the place, it’s obviously a chance he never expected to get again and I for one, hope he takes it!

Well, first of all we don’t look like we’ll be having a Duel Registration Club for 2014 and now all of a sudden, we have two! The news about our latest alliance with Gloucester All Gold’s has been rumoured since our Under 19’s played them a few weeks back at Bishop Burton. It’s a good move for some of the younger players but don’t expect too much, because I’m sure Donny will take the first pick of our available players. It was interesting however to read at the end of the article that all our players (with the exception of imports who are exempt) have signed duel registration contracts with the South Yorkshire Club, so who knows, we might see Gareth Ellis Richard Horne, Kirk Yeaman, Tom Lineham etc. getting a game over there as they return from injury, sometime this season. Of course it should be said here that this situation is OK for now but what happens next season if we have a bad campaign and they have a good one and Doncaster are playing us in ‘the league of death’ at the end of the season? Duel Registration won’t work then and for me it’s time to re-introduce an A team style competition into the game.

I have been pestering Lee Jenkinson for week about when the light blue training range will be in stock because I wanted a new top for the gym and I like that ‘away shirt blue’! Well, last Thursday I happened to be in the shop and got a sneak preview of the range which is excellent ‘in the flesh’ and after a bit of cajoling Lee agreed to give me an exclusive and sent me some images, which I thought I would share with you all today. So here they are seen for the first time here in the Diary:-

Training Top 2014

Training Polo

Training Hoodie

 

The whole range will be on sale from the night of the Catalan game onwards and personally I really like them and will be getting the training top as soon as they are out. By way of a change I just thought you might find that interesting!

Although the RL in this country has rejected them out-right, I quite like the rule changes that the NRL has adopted for the 2014 season. Most of them seem to me to be designed to create faster restarts, improve player safety and encourage more thrilling match finishes. What was most interesting for me in the whole process was that unlike here in England when we have a completely new playing format for 2015 foisted on us without us lot out there on the terraces having any sort of say at all, with these changes more than 11,000 NRL members, players and fans were engaged in the review process through an NRL Nation online survey.

The fans rejected some of the ideas and they have been discarded, but those that they have adopted certainly enhance the entertainment of a game which is in the NRL already very exciting! It’s all about asking the fans if they believe the changes will improve their enjoyment of the sport. Here in brief are the changes that are to be adopted. See what you think.

Zero Tackle From 20m Restart

The first tackle after a 20m restart/optional kick will be called a zero tackle. The rule change provides an extra tackle to discourage tactical kicks and negative play when the ball is kicked dead to slow down the game and deny wingers and fullbacks the chance to return kicks.

40/20 Restarts

The team that performs a 40/20 kick will restart play with a tap kick 20m in from the touch at the point it crossed the line instead of at a scrum.

Restarts From Kicks Out On The Full

A handover will be awarded when the ball is kicked out on the full on any tackle.

Those are the major changes to the playing rules but then there are to also be some alterations in the interpretation too. These are as follows:

Stop The Clock

During the last five minutes of a match, the clock will stop following a conversion or penalty kick at goal until play restarts at halfway. The interpretation change will add excitement during close matches, provide consistency across matches and reduce potential time-wasting.

Quick Taps

A quick penalty restart will be permitted on any infringement except 10m penalties, where the referee issues a caution or within 10m of the opposition goal line. The interpretation change encourages more continuous play.

Captain Communication

Captains will only be able to speak to referees during a stoppage in play (tries, injury break or when referee is issuing a caution). Penalties and scrums are not considered stoppages of play. Captains will be given an opportunity to speak to the referees as players leave the field for half-time.

Goal-Kicking Time Limit

The referee will call time-off at approximately 1min 20sec following the scoring of a try. Fines will still apply to clubs when a player takes longer than 1min 40sec to take a conversion.

Finally, on player safety they are to introduce the following;

Cannonball Tackles

When a player is being held in an upright position by two defenders, any additional tackler must make initial contact to the player in possession above the knee. In addition, referees will be instructed to call held earlier on upright tackles to deter unnecessary third-man tackles.

Crusher Tackles

The Match Review Committee will be directed to charge crusher tackles at the higher end of the scale to provide a greater deterrent.

To me all those seem pretty OK and appear designed to either look after the players or improve the customer’s enjoyment. As I say they have certainly gone through an extensive and far reaching consultation process and provided measured explanations behind the rule changes instead of saying, this is what’s happening, get on with it! It all looks good stuff but as an aside, I do wonder if the NRL are moving towards getting rid of scrums altogether. Still, I bet we’re watching how they go and I just wonder how much of the above will eventually be introduced here; we usually follow suit don’t we? However I guess I mention it here, because quite frankly I just love the refreshing way the NRL go about making sure that change is an all embracing, structured process, which means when it comes, everyone owns it and feels they have been part of the process.

On our big changes for 2015 I noticed that some interesting stuff leaked out this week about the rebel Clubs philosophy after they had grudgingly agreeing to back the one vote victory that Hetherington and Co. got on the restructuring of the game. The good Doctor Koukash who saw the light and changed sides on the original vote, hinted on Wednesday that the Clubs wanted an Independent Chief Executive for the competition who would be answerable to the Super League Clubs and not a member of the RL.

He also hinted that the full amount of the money saved on the two Clubs going down should not be going completely to Championship Clubs and I have to say that I agree with both stances. Mr Hudgell hinted at much the same thing next day, indicating that the 6 Clubs were not ‘rebels’ but just wanted some control and some transparency in the running of the League they all supported through their investment in their Clubs.

For me, the failures of the RL to attract any consistent levels of Sponsorship to the Super League, was crass. The restructuring is being hailed as the saviour for failing Super league Clubs but for me they were only failing because Red Hall had not been able to attract sufficient sponsorship into the top competition to supplement the Sky money. As Bradford go into administration again and Wakey have their capacity slashed, Clubs continue to falter, while economically the possibility of increasing massively our gates, becomes more and more unlikely. So surely it’s obvious that the top League clubs need to benefit from increased central sponsorship and on past evidence, I firmly believe that it’s the owners of the Clubs that are best equipped to get that myself!

However although I thought they were both spot on, it seems that much of what Mr. Hudge and Sir Adam had been arguing for was lost in all the ‘smoke’ and mirrors of a new TV deal  announced on Thursday. This followed a Super League meeting on Wednesday where the Clubs ratified a plan that will see some Championship Clubs Cap levels raised to around £900,000 with the bulk of the increased income going to them. Several Championship Clubs are well equipped for this sort of thing but others who, with the best will in the world, are little more than hobby businesses these days (that’s not being disparaging it’s simply a fact) will be suddenly cash rich and expected to employ several full time pro’s, to effectively shrink the gap between the two competitions.

Where will these players come from when many don’t even operate a second team? Heaven knows! One thing’s for sure though and that is that in these times of such a fluid panacea in sports media, to sign a deal with a TV company that runs until 2021 is for me folly. I say that because you simply don’t know what other company’s like BT Sport and Premier Sport might be in a position to offer in say two years time. The RL said that they talked to Premier Sport but I know they didn’t have any meaningful discussions with them, and there were certainly no talks between Sky and the RL before the deal was signed about the comedians they have as commentators, but as usual it’s all a done deal and we have to get on with it. It was all a stitch up, this deal and the re-structuring has been done for weeks, the rebels tried their best but one thing’s for sure we won’t as fans have any say in it at all.

You doubt whether things are stitched up? You think, “Come on Wilf get over it”? Well as the NRL consult 11,000 fans and stakeholders before making a few rule changes, remember how every Club that goes into administration in this country (Bradford, Wakefield and Crusaders) are deducted points? Well apparently all of a sudden perhaps they’re not! When Bradford went into administration last Friday morning before reforming as a new Club….again, they issued the following statement.

BRADFORD BULLS officials have this afternoon announced that the club will not suffer a points deduction, as a result of its former operating company entering administration.

OK Bulls Ltd was placed into administration this morning but the club has since been purchased by Bradford Bulls 2014 Ltd. And, on behalf of the new board of directors, chairman Mark Moore has confirmed that the Bulls are to remain a First Utility Super League side and will start the new season on zero points.

Ten minutes later it was removed and replaced by this;

BRADFORD BULLS officials have moved to clarify the club’s position regarding a potential points deduction, after it was announced that its former operating company has this morning been placed into administration.

And, as a result, discussions with the Rugby Football League are to now begin as the Bulls bid to avoid a point’s deduction ahead of the new campaign.

Is it just me, but having read those two contradicting statements  it’s hard not to wonder if everything has been cut and dried in advance and Bradford let it slip isn’t it? Nor is it hard to hazard a guess how the outcome of the ‘discussions with the Rugby Football League’ about points deducted will turn out!

With all this going on all I can say is that it’s a good job we all love Hull FC!!!!

Last week’s Derby victory Diary seemed to strike a chord with many of you and Dave Corby and Bill Spriggs both contacted me to say “how about a look at a Derby game from the past” and so, happy to oblige, in Codgers Corner this week I feature my favourite ever Derby victory. This one is featured towards the ends of the first book but as many people had probably got bored long before they got to anywhere near that point, I make no apologies for featuring it again here; I just love thinking about it. This time we go way back to the late 1970’s when the Club was on the up and to a game at the Boulevard on the bitter night of 18th December 1979. It was the night of the last ever Floodlit Cup Final.

I worked at the City Hall back then and we got everything up and running for a Choral Concert at the venue before I departed for the game at about 6-40pm. I ran down Carr Lane and just got on a Corporation bus that was crammed full of FC and Dobbins supporters and we were packed in like Sardines, with about 20 people stood downstairs and even on the back running board. We all literally fell out onto the pavement as the bus pulled up on Anlaby Road at the bottom of the flyover. As I walked along the Boulevard I remember experiencing that magical glow from the old out of focus floodlights that lit up the rooftops all around the ground.

It was an amazing aura that shone out of the darkness and you knew as you walked along that you were in for something special. I arrived in Airlie Street clutching the ticket I had purchased from Yewbank’s the furniture shop in Wright Street before I was faced with an amazing sight! Although the Floodlit Trophy Final between the two Hull Clubs had been sold out for about 2 weeks there were literally hundreds of folks milling around, obviously ticketless, but desperate to be a part of it!

In the end 18,500 of us packed in the ground with around another 1000 locked outside on the Car-Park. There was an amazing atmosphere in there that night and I took my place on the terracing at the Airlie Street end of the ground. This after any thoughts of getting into the Threepennies had been dispelled by the sight of several burly police officers standing at each end of the stand, which was already packed to the rafters.

The game kicked off and was quickly stopped as a red distress fair shot out of that same Stand, to crackle and fizzled on the touchline. This was extinguished by a member of the local constabulary who executed his duty by stamping on it to the accompanying cheers of the mocking crowd. However a couple of minutes later our attention on the game was distracted again, this time whilst the kids who had climbed on top of the Threepenny stand via the scaffolding holding the TV Camera’s had to be coaxed down into the waiting arms of the constabulary, by the tannoy announcer.  If the happenings off the field were exciting, they were nothing to what was about to happen on it!

We went into the game as massive under dogs. Rovers had dominated the local scene for years and we had just come up from the Second Division in that famous undefeated season. Although big things were just around the corner, we were still building for that future, and our ranks were made up of “tryers and has beens” with a smattering of real class!! Take our half backs for instance, they were a real veteran ‘little and large’ act. There was 6ft 2ins John Newlove who was 33 and diminutive ‘Cheeky Charlie’ Keith Hepworth, who was an incredible 38 years old and who was to play most of the second half with a broken hand! In the pack we had two veterans of the ‘hungry years’, Keith Boxall and Keith Tindall. Added to these were some real stars in Charlie Stone, Knocker Norton and Vince Farrar. The great, and now sadly deceased, Paul Woods was also in there at full back. Incidentally Rovers half back combination was the dads of two ex FC personal, David Hall and Alan Agar!

From the kick off the game was played at a high tempo and there was no lack of big hits and high tackles, this might have been a televised final, but it was still a local Derby! Our hero’s played out of their skin but we only led 5-0 at half time. The try when it came was on the back of a Rovers mistake. The ball came out of a scrum and the Red and Whites flashed it across the line only for Mike Smith to drop the ball. Young winger Steve Dennison who at 18 years old had the most memorable game of his short career, fly hacked the ball through, it stood up for him, and to the increasing crescendo produced by the Faithful, he legged it to the line and touched down.  The second half started with Hull trying to press on with their advantage and after just two minutes Graham Evans (the man with the gum shield that was twice as big as his mouth) crashed over for Dennison to convert. The lead up to the try was brilliant, with Paul Woods running right over two Rovers tacklers to free our centre with the line wide open. Woods was having a wow of a game, all aggression and suspect tackles, and no one seemed to be able to stop him or wanted to be tackled by him. Phil Hogan tried to stop him, but he felt the full force of Woodsy’s power in his face and was carted off on a stretcher and straight to hospital!!!

Next (“Old Mother” as the threepennies chanted to him) Hubbard scored for the Dobbins in the corner before substitute forward Charlie Birdsall charged through a ruck of Rovers players, scattering then like skittles to eventually role over the line to score. This set off a continuous chorus of “Old Faithful” that lasted long after the final whistle and the presentation of the trophy!!

Paul Woods

What a great night that was!! Paul Woods picked up the Man of the Match award and Steve Dennison (above) kept the match ball! The fact that we were playing our 5th match in 16 days took nothing away from what was a night that everyone who was there will remember forever!!

It was the last time that the trophy was contested and Hull got to keep it! Where it is now is the subject of a few conspiracy theories and urban myths, (most believe it to be in the Castleford Board room), but the winning of it will long remain one of my fondest memories in a life time of watching the FC!!!

Well now. On a lighter note, a short piece that I gleaned from Barry Edwards of our Ex Players, David Howes and a few of the lads who had recently been out in Tenerife and had met up with that most famous of ex players and our ex coach Len Casey. Since his retirement Len has moved up to the Lake District where ‘Cast Iron Casey’ looks to have mellowed somewhat, spending the bulk of his time gardening! Apparently in the garden around his guest house he grows ‘the biggest Dahlia’s in Bowness. However although his expertise in Horticulture seems to be going from strength to strength, that’s more than can be said for his future in metal detection.

You see, Len’s wife recently bought him a metal detector and he was soon out in the fields with his new toy, searching for ancient artefacts, roman remains and treasure trove. However, (and at this point I have to emphasise this is a true story) after about an hour Mrs Casey was becoming increasingly concerned by the dozens of holes that Len was digging without actually finding anything! At last the mystery was solved and although left red faced, Len still goes metal detecting; however when he does he no longer wears his steel toe capped boots! Len Casey eh…….still a legend!

So we get a breather next week before ‘the war’ begins again with as tough a start to the season as you could imagine. Already, if we are to get anything of a start, it looks as if the Catalan game is a win at all costs one. If were don’t it might be a case of sticking together and getting through the next two as best we can, however we’ll worry about that next week! Well done to Jed Rust and everyone at FC Wheelchair rugby who in turn want to thank all those who attended after £1800 was raised on Friday at a race night at the Three Tons…top effort for a great cause. What a debacle that was yesterday, but in the end it’s been Rich Whiting’s week and we all did him proud. I hope you’ll all raise a glass to him, for he certainly deserves a big year. Rich, being tea total, will no doubt be abstaining himself!!

Don’t forget if you’ve got any pictures send ‘em in and a big thank you to the many people who have again been in touch this week it was great to hear from you all and thanks for your support! The Diary will be back next week, if Len doesn’t get me first!

In the end I think we’re all a bit concerned because like me you probably can’t ever remember us taking such a hammering from a lower division team in a pre season friendly – even with the juniors playing. It feels like that pre-season Peter Walsh had in 1998!! You might think I’m being too negative and a bit over reactionary unless of course you were there to see a bunch of part-timers (no disrespect meant but that’s what they are) make us look like amateurs! I really enjoyed meeting so many readers and old pals but sadly it was a bad day for all those who turned up; we all deserved so much better! AND Rich Whiting after a game in his home town, feeling he has to apologise to the fans on a day that should have been so special, you couldn’t make it up could you?

I’m a bit concerned, I really am!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf

P.S. I don’t know what this lot have got to smile about do you?
Hull FC Squad 2014