The Dentists Diary – 384th

“Goal kicking costs you games” was one of the comments made in Friday’s post match de-briefing in the Drum and Monkey, to which I had to reply, “But it didn’t cost us this one” and of course it didn’t.

Getting this old chestnut out of the way first, can I say that for me if we are to have an off day with the boot then have it when we score 8 tries. Let’s hope our failings in that department on Friday get the issue of some consistent goal-kicker to the top of our agenda, so we can get it sorted and move on. How we address that failing will now be critical but we just got away with it this time! We certainly got out of jail with the Catalan misses at the end, but that went to prove for me that it wasn’t all Joe Westerman’s and Ben Crooks’ faults and perhaps the swirling wind and conditions played a part too. Thomas Bosc is one of the best goal kicker’s in the game and he couldn’t hack it in the end either.

I could see a few folks I bumped into on the concourse afterwards were wondering why I was disappointed, but that was because for me once again we put the cue on the rack and let the opposition back in when we thought we’d won the game. There was also for me the feeling of disbelief that a team coached by Lee Radford, a rugged defender in his playing days and last season’s defensive coach, could concede three tries in the last few minutes in such a disastrous manner. However on reflexion there was much to celebrate too. Some of our attacking play, once we got onto the front foot, was as good as we saw all last season and certainly pleased the fans, it was scintillating stuff that started through the introduction of the fresh legs of Heramaia, before being carried forward by Horne and Rankin.

With the tough two games we have coming up, we desperately needed that win and in a season where for this fan the first goal is to keep away from the bottom two places, we are out of the starting blocks with two points, as we dodged the bullet against a team tipped to make the top 8 and that’ll do for me! However more consistency is a must and much bigger battles loom ahead!

I had watched the skies and the weather forecast’s all day, wondering just what we would face once we got to the KC and although the swirling wind did play a defining part in the outcome, the players on both sides handled the conditions well, the ball was seldom lost, and we witnessed a game that was towards the end, excruciating to watch for the FC fans, but no doubt an absolute wow if you were a neutral.

Jordan Rankin
Rankin’s away!

With us behind by 10 points twice and the French almost coming back from a 16 point deficit, it was a feisty encounter. There was little doubt that the Dragons had prepared well and set their stall out to get off to a winning start, foregoing as they did their usual scheduled flight, to instead hire a private jet to fly the team into Humberside airport. With this they hoped to minimise the effect of the travel, to give them the best chance of success. They spoke before the game about retribution for the Cup reversal in France and that play-off defeat at the KC last season, and in that first half particularly, their massive pack were fired up and took the game right into the faces of our forwards.

Our six met them toe to toe but couldn’t wrestle the initiative away and get on top, so much so that behind them Rankin was pretty ineffective and Horny conceding penalties for fun. The second half was different and with Heramaia pulling the strings the forwards got on top, the halfbacks started to fire and some of our stuff was a joy to watch. Then, towards the end we couldn’t get the ball and the comeback was on!

You’ve heard me say on many occasions that even when we have a good lead I’m still restless and fretting and working out the minutes left and equating them to the number of sets the opposition have to score in. On Friday they had just three sets left and we had a sixteen point lead, but bugger me, they bloody scored in every one of them!!! Only at Hull FC eh? I was gutted as it all unfolded, but relieved in the end!

Tom Lineham Hull FC
They don’t get much easier than that; a rare high spot on Friday night for ‘The Flying Pig’

However that nail biting finale apart, their first three tries came off penalties, there was a deal of indiscipline and some poor defence so there is much to work on, but there was much to celebrate too. On the minus side, we gave away needless penalties and our defence on the right flank was abject at times with Escare’s passes twice catching out Lineham and Crooks to furnish Cardace with a first-half brace of tries and another late mix up almost costing us the game at the end; Tom certainly has some work to do. However it was something that in true Lineham manner he accepted fully after the game as he tweeted, “absolute nightmare, live and learn”.

But, as a plus, for 25 minutes in the second half our attack was electrifying! The transformation that the introduction of Heramaia made was startling, as change immediately came about right across the field. He almost single handily took us out of the arm wrestle on the deck (which we would never have won) and onto the front foot.

Jordan Thompson Hull FC
Straight on and straight in! Thompson scores a brilliant try with his first touch!

Up front it was still a real battle, just as our Coach warned us it would be and although we fought manfully and in general held the massive Catalan pack, we could not outmuscle them in the actual tackle, where they are experts at the ball carrier holding onto the tackler to prevent him getting up and the defender laying on as we tried to get to our feet. But once the ball started to move about we got them on the back foot and should have finished them off.

For me the referee was poor, but good teams spot what the officials are after and humour them, rather than just ignoring their little foibles, particularly after they have already been warned. However the excessive use of the video referee, his inability to operate the touch screen and the time decisions took to be announced, might be OK for the folks at home, but it’s soul destroying when your there, wound up like a clock spring by the drama and stimulus of the game.

In the end we all witnessed some good stuff; a bit of great stuff and a lot of work to do in the defensive and goal kicking departments. However for a televised game on a shocking night an attendance of 10,100 (without 1500 school kids going free and a big travelling support of around 1000) was first class and a real tribute to everyone who turned up on a shocking night.

Before I look at performances just a word on our new Coach, because I was so pleased that he got off to a winning start, all be it in a strange and at times baffling performance. He must be relieved to be off the mark after being quoted as saying, “I think they are trying to end my Coaching career before its even started” and he’s certainly is a lot more vociferous and animated during the game than some of our past Coaches have been. Choosing to watch from a box rather than the seats in the Directors Box, Lee was spotted by my pal Darren, (who was in the box next door), shouting and dancing along with the best of ‘em, as Rankin scorched in for his try.

Now for a brief look at the players and I’ll start where I think it was won in the end; in the front row. Paea and Carvell started at prop and did a great job right in the faces of (Brother) Paea and Lima, while Feke, with one massive drive directly before Whiting’s try, changed the game as soon as he was introduced. His straight running, ‘no messing’ style was a joy to watch, while Bowden put in an excellent stint too. Those four players in the engine room really did us proud and after pre-season, it was great to see a proper no messing, go-forward front row for a change. I expected big things there and was not disappointed at all. If they can keep fit they’ll be a massive asset this season.

Houghton had a big first quarter where he was direct and tackled everything that moved, it was a typical all action show throughout and he perfectly complements Heramaia. He comes on to capitalise on Danny’s hard work through the middle by spreading the play wider and pulling tired legs about a bit. Azza was for me pushing hard for man of the match as he immediately changed the game with some brilliant running and passing that sparked Horne and Rankin who then started to boss the attacking play. I thought Ellis had a workmanlike if quiet game, while Whiting, starting in the second row, took his try well and did a lot right, he a great ‘supplier’ out of the tackle. At loose forward, his kicking apart, Westerman really stood up and put in a fine display. He stepped more and took the line on in a much more structured fashion, while coming off the bench Jordan Thompson was an instant hit. I have to hold my hand up here and say that I may have called him wrong when I doubted his pedigree in the closed season, it’s still early days but that try was a joy to behold and something that I’ll remember for a long time.

In the backs Shaul did well but suffered a bit from having to cover Talanoa (Mr Orange Boots as Kathy in the Drum and Monkey has christened him). Although he struggled at times with his positioning on last tackle kick plays from the opposition, I take nothing away from ‘The Flying Dustman’ because he worked incredibly hard particularly when trundling the ball down the centre to help his forwards out; he’ll be OK! Horney and Rankin got moving and had great games in the end, with Rankin running himself to a standstill by the end.

Jordan Rankin celebrates for Hull FC
A Star is Born? Jordan Rankin can run a bit, never stops talking and has the makings of a real fans favourite!

Yeamo looks like a new man and is now our 5th highest try scorer of all time! He typically took Pomeroy out early on and the burly Aussie with the big reputation was scarcely seen again! Kirk was also on hand to finish both his scoring opportunities, the first off a magical cut out ball from Rankin. Crooks was in and out, but showed his class with one massive downfield break on the way to putting Horney in, but it was an off night for Tom Lineham. He did OK attacking wise with limited opportunities, but his failings in defence were exposed somewhat by the Frenchmen’s left hand flank. He’ll be aware how good Saints are out there and will have to work on his defence this week because they’ll target him.

Hull FC celebrations

So that’s it from our first hit out, in a game that was both exhilarating and exasperating, we got two points and that’s all that really matters. From a fans point of view I personally saw a lot more than I expected in attack, identified some glaring failings in defence and some potentially disastrous traits in our goal kicking. So it’s a case of a good effort for starters, plenty of good tries to enjoy and two points; but in defence we must try harder. I have to say though that last kick was a real behind the settee moment, but of course when your there, there’s nowhere to hide! Still 7 visits for Catalan and still no cigar, few Clubs can boast a record like that!

From a neutrals point of view it was a stonker and Sky must be ecstatic with the three games they have covered thus far in the new season because for differing reason each one has been a sports editors dream. As I said at the beginning, in real time I was disappointed at the end particularly with our defence, but as a viewer in the cold light of Sunday Morning I really enjoyed watching it again…… but we won, so I would!

If that’s the neutrals view, what exactly did an Insurance Broker make of it all? My pal Steve Roberts contacted me on Saturday to relate the views of his son Ian who is in that employment in Leeds. Apparently after Friday’s match he is considering a new category for health insurance appraisals in Hull, in addition to how many cigarettes are smoked per day, how many units of alcohol per week and how much exercise is taken, he proposes to add ‘How many Hull FC matches do you attend’! As a season pass holder himself, he feels that we should be paying considerably higher premiums in the future! Mind you what does he know; he is also reported to have been heard chanting ‘Easy, Easy, Easy’ as the final hooter went!

So to the past 7 days and this week there has only really been one talking point and I was pleased and indeed relieved when Gareth Carvell came back on board and dramatically re-joined the Club hours before our squad was named last Wednesday. OK he’s been away, but I bet he’s looking forward to having the FC crowd on his side for a change. If I was sporting a big grin on my face late on Wednesday afternoon, it was possibly one of relief, particularly after I had looked at our injury ravaged front row and panicked!! Let’s face it, we shouldn’t, as a forward looking ambitious team, be putting the bunting out to welcome a 32 year old battle scarred prop who in effect ‘shafted’ us when he left the Club we love, should we?

But now everyone loves Gareth, or so it would seem anyway; some were like me relieved, and conveniently forgot the circumstances of his departure, while others just welcomed the return of a ‘proper’ old fashioned front rower. I was willing him to sign because whatever went before, he has always been a winner, always given as much as he’s taken and always looked after himself off the field in exemplary fashion. He certainly didn’t let me down on Friday either!

Gareth Carvell, Hull FC
Still as vane as ever? Gareth does his neck exercises against the Dragons!

I guess my judgement was also coloured by the fact that I had followed the touching story of Gareth’s son Isaac, which I only mention because it was covered in some detail in a recent edition of the Bradford Telegraph and Argos. That article related how Isaac was born prematurely and required antibiotics, which had side effects that caused the loss of his hearing. Cochlear implants at the age of one have improved his ability to hear and understand speech, but he’s obviously a great concern for his parents. Carvell said only last week ironically in the Bulls Season Preview in the T&A, “It was heart-breaking, because every parent wants their child to be born perfect. The cochlear implants give him access to sound – nothing like how we hear – but as yet he is not speaking. Therefore we use a combination of sign language and speech to help him get his point across. We took the news really hard because you worry about Isaac’s future and how he’s going to get on”.

Well, I’m sure we can all sympathise with that and its quite amazing sometimes because when you scratch away at the surface, no one’s really as they appear are they? It seems to me that there’s a very tender and human side to the hard man of rugby league and I think he deserves a break! I’m sure we all wish Isaac well and that he, Gareth and Vicky enjoy their time back at the FC!

So then, after Luke Gale’s agent had played a blinder and used us to get him a new contract, the fall-out from the Carvell announcement saw Bradford throwing what toys they have left, right out of the pram. What are they on? Wouldn’t you think they would have other things to worry about? The Bulls are sanctioning legal action that, according to some sources, could cost them in excess of £10,000 in fees, Hunter-Paul said yesterday, “Legal action has now taken place regarding Gareth Carvell, and it is now in the hands of the solicitors and their advice will be taken on the best way forward” all this when to all intense and purposes they are skint! I ain’t no ‘Perry Mason’ but for me, at first glance, it seemed all pretty clear cut really. Gareth was a player contracted to a company called OK Bulls that now no longer exists. He didn’t have a contract with the new company that was formed after OK folded and therefore the Rugby League wouldn’t have been able to register him with them anyway, because they can’t do that unless there is a valid contract.

Whether they win or lose you would have thought the Bulls would have learned after the Iyestyn Harris fiasco of a few years ago wouldn’t you? As a Club that has little money at present you’d also think they would consolidate their resources and move on, instead they have assigned Leeds solicitor Richard Cramer to try and serve a writ on a player who had obviously taken his own legal advice before making his move? He’s even reported to have offered to return the wages he’s been paid since he signed. As for Adam and Co. well I would back them in any legal tangle and believe me, they’ll back Gareth because that’s what they do and in the end we got our man, he ain’t going back whatever happens and as fans that’s all that matters really!

On the same tack and in fear of being accused of stalking the players, it was interesting as Mrs R and myself were shopping in Cottingham last Tuesday as we spotted Danny Houghton, Kirk Yeaman and the ‘man of mystery’, Gareth Carvell in Costa Coffee. I taped on the window and waived, Yeamo waved back and immediately nodded towards Gareth, ‘Mint’ produced a wink and Carvell just looked at me and produced a stare that could have pickle onions; it appeared that he was worried that the man banging on the window might just have been there to serve him with a writ!

On a serious note I really fear we might not be seeing Shannon McDonnell in a Hull shirt again, Rumours are rife within the Club that because of a tight cap his fate was confirmed when we signed Gareth Carvell. The player, who is reported to have turned down one severance offer, has contacted the GMB Rugby League Players Association and the Club are looking after him till he’s fit and able to move to another Club. Well that’s what I heard anyway and I guess time will tell!

Now a date for YOUR Diaries! At the weekend I was contacted by Mike Ullyatt (who with his ‘Grumpy old men’ of the East Riding Sports Club is a regular Diary Reader) about an upcoming event he is involved with. He said that there is to be a Hull Daily Mail ” Sports Mail Readers Reunion” at the Country Park Inn, Hessle on Wednesday 21 May from 7pm, admission is free and you can get more details from simon.cawkill@sky.com I’ll keep you posted as I find out more, but it was an iconic publication and it should be an interesting night; I’ll be going to have a look!

There was a really interesting story about last week, which refered back to something regular readers will remember I went on about a fair bit, over 16 months ago. It was a time when Peter Gentle was scouring the game for outside backs and I told you that he had been keen on Castleford’s winger Nick Youngquest. I wasn’t that impressed at the time, basically because I never rated him and thankfully for me at least, the whole thing collapsed and we heard no more. The recent article however added a new twist to the tale because it turns out in a roundabout way, that the former Castleford Tigers winger should really be thanking Hull FC counterpart Tom Lineham for his new-found wealth!

After being overlooked by the FC, at just 29, Australian Youngquest retired from playing at the end of 2012 and is now based in New York earning up to £5,000 per day as the face of Paco Rabanne’s new scent Invictus!! In the YP article Lineham stated that he wanted to attribute his success in the game thus far to our new Coach Radford, when he said, “It was down to ‘Rads’ (our then assistant) to be honest. I came from York and went into the Academy but we were going to sign Nick Youngquest who is obviously now ‘killing it’ at Paco Rabanne. Every airport you walk into and any time you go on holiday there he is – Castleford’s Nick Youngquest. He’s on the TV adverts, too!”

Before Tom went too ‘green’, he continued, “But Rads pushed it and said he’d found this young kid who was a raw talent who didn’t really know what he was doing, but would ‘run it in’ for you. Lee said to Peter, ‘why don’t you give him a go?’ Gentle agreed and they decided to do that. Obviously it went really well for me and, so, I owe it all to Radders”

Tom concluded, “Of course, I was sad to see Pete Gentle go. I got on really well with him and he’s a great guy, so for his family coming over here from Oz it is tough what happened. But he is at Parramatta now and I wish him all the best there.”

So there you have it, the story behind the reason that we are now able to look at Tom, socks rolled down, head first, haring for the line, as a bit of a hero and indeed what’s behind another ex RL players rise to fame. Perhaps Youngquest should even be thanking Tom for his world renown as a model, because if he had signed for us I doubt that he would be doing what he is now. It’s a funny old world really!

Last Monday evening I was invited as a guest to attend the Disabled Supporters Group meeting at the KC and what a great bunch they are. The meeting was addressed by Chief Operating Officer and Adam Pearson’s right hand man, Tony Sutton. He spoke to explain to those attending the in’s and out’s of the revised structure for the game going forward from 2015. There’s certainly a deal of resistance about, particularly I find from us old timers, but it made for an interesting evening just the same.

It was amazing last week to see that over a third of a million people tuned in to watch the first Sky game of the season between Wigan and Huddersfield. You can see, (when you compare that with the 100,000 or so that on a regular basis watch Club Rugby Union on the TV), just why Sky were so keen to get us signed up until 2021 can’t you?

But, that continuing saga of the ‘Brave New World’ of 2015 was again to the fore this week as it was revealed that Super league Clubs will be receiving about £300,000 extra TV money this coming week for this campaign, and that next season the 12 who survive can, for the first time ever, expect to receive more than their salary cap allocation in TV money. That’s a phenomenal plus in that there is from next year no excuse, and perhaps even no chance, of Super League Clubs ending up in financial disarray like Wakey and Bradford have done this season. Let’s face it if someone else is paying your players wages before a single ticket buying fan walks through the gate, surely no one will struggle? With Rovers fans, after years of struggling and subsidising from their owner, dancing in the street after their first ever 11,000 gate, they must be amongst several Clubs rubbing their hands at the prospect of the extra money. They of course deserve it, because however grudgingly you admit it, Rovers have been one of the better run clubs, if they hadn’t they would have gone bust years ago. However after this season there is certainly no excuse for anyone struggling financially in the new improved Super League is there?

However I guess that when you look further down the food chain all is not so well. Although John Kear at Batley is hailing the new arrangements for promotion and relegation and the 8x8x8 scheme a big hit and ‘the saviour of the game’, Jon Aston at Sheffield thinks it’s a right bake and advises his bosses to continue to take a ‘steady as you go’ approach to building for 2015. In the championship this season the league title winners are likely to pocket £500,000 with second taking £450,000 but after that the cash falls to £200,000 for 2015 from the third placed club downwards. Mark Aston’s team, as Grand Final winners for the past two seasons, will be among the favourites for the championship, but he has ruled out a “boom or bust” strategy. He said this week, “There are only two places to be had; you don’t want to finish third so we are already seeing a couple of clubs out there spending big and that’s a dangerous game”

I guess that he has a point too when you look closely at the detail, because despite all the warm glow’ effect put about by the RL in the wake of a narrow vote in agreement for the new system, there’s a high price for failure in the championship, with five of the 14 teams to be relegated. The nine survivors will join two teams dropping out of Super League and one promoted from Championship One in a 12-team league from 2015, so many teams will be desperately fighting to stay in the completion and out of the bottom division, where the rewards from the Sky money will still be decidedly minimal. I think it will be an interesting and extremely competitive competition down there during this season, but there could well be some real casualties at the end of it too!

The other issue I can’t seem to get an answer about is what happens in 2015 with duel registration. For me it becomes unworkable because you can’t be lending players to a Club you might play in the middle league at the end of the season nor can you expect teams from the Championship to compete in that league, without players that they have had on duel registration and relied on all season to get them to that position. So, Duel Registration has to go, but with the RL ruling out the possible return of an A team competition and the Under 19’s seen as the way forward in junior rugby, how will the squad players outside the starting 17 who are over 19, get a game? I don’t believe that bits been thought through at all.

I guess by now you all know my views on the new set up, I’m trying like hell to understand it and get a bit of enthusiasm for it but quite frankly that proving to be difficult at present. Why, well I can see all the advantages for TV, for the owners and the RL but for the fans and perhaps the players who will have to get bashed up in a lot more games, its appears to me personally as just another in a long line of gimmicks.

However I’ll go along with it and like many others have to decide at the end of this season whether I walk away or base my continued support on my unmitigated love for my Club. That’s the likely outcome for most of us, fools that we are! However if my less than shining experience of life has taught me one thing, it’s that there is the other scenario. That’s the one whereby, however much you care, you can reach the point when it’s one let down and one disappointment too many, the love will always be there, but you’ve just had enough.

For me, I’ve always said I’m FC till I die, but whether I’ll be actively supporting them till the end has to a certain extent been thrown somewhat into the melting pot by recent developments. In here as an ordinary fan, I always say what I’m thinking and no doubt the happenings of this season will dictate a lot and it will be interesting through the Diary for us all to gage our thoughts as the new dawn approaches, won’t it? However the thought that it might be a bridge too far for this particular fan has certainly crossed my mind and after 56 years or so that’s a first; that for me is the worrying bit!

This week, with the Saints game looming, Codgers Corner takes us back to a less complicated time back in 1975 when if you were crap you went down and if you were good you stayed up. I remember well that great year when in the midst of despair, shrinking gates and diminishing finances, we got all the way to the final of the Players No 6 Trophy final, only to get narrowly beaten by Widnes. That most famous of games was featured here in the early days of the Diary as one of my most cherished memories, but the quarter final game was a heck of a performance too. David Doyle Davidson was our coach at the time, and you know the more I write these reminiscences the more I get to realise how we never really appreciated just what a great coach he was. He came to power at a time when we were at an all time low and despite being given little resources by the Directors, he cobbled together a really handy team, full of guts, passion and spirit and probably in the end, he was unlucky to lose his job to Arthur Bunting.

In the first round of the tournament we had scraped an unconvincing win at Doncaster, and then went on to beat a very highly fancied Leeds in the next round. Then the draw for the quarter finals was made on regional TV and we came out of the hat to face Saints at the Boulevard on Saturday 23rd November. That day I was joined by another 4500 of the Faithful, and what was estimated to be well over 2 million on BBC TV, to experience a truly great FC performance. The fact that in my Diary of the time, I noted that this was a good crowd just shows how low we had sunk, but then again there was that gate of 900 against Huyton the previous year, and it was on TV, so I guess this was as good as we would get.

It was only the previous Tuesday that we had gone down to the Saints, in a televised Floodlit Trophy game, by 36-13, so few neutrals watching at home, gave us a chance. Alan Wardell once told me that this was a fact that DDD hammered on about before the game saying that ‘Everyone expects us to get a drubbing, so let’s show those folks, on TV, what we are really about here in Hull‘. It was even more of a surprise in the end when it leaked out afterwards that the Board had also refused a bonus for the game and the players were playing for just the usual winning pay. Through a pal at the BBC, DDD was able to watch the Floodlit game again, which was a rarity in the days before video and he said that he and his coaching team had studied the Saints methods of play and changed the FC game plan completely; and they did it in just three nights of training.

From the first play of the game we had the Saints tactically beaten. Every time they tried to move the ball wide in the first few minutes our cover came up into the line and broke their pattern. Then on 5 minutes Keith Boxall broke through a three man tackle and set Alf Macklin haring for the corner. Alf was caught, but pushed two much bigger tacklers off, to dive in over the line. This battling action was to a set the scene for the rest of our performance.

Despite that hard game just 4 days previously our tackling was of the highest order, but so too was that of Saints and so the game settled into a ‘slugathon’ of big hits and crunching tackles. However after 12 minutes when he looked to be covered by Pimblett, Kenny Foulkes dummied his way through the Saints cover straight from a scrum, and as he stepped over the 25 he found Hunter with a little inside pass. He ran for the line with three defenders chasing him and arcing towards the corner flag just got the ball down before Roy Mathias got to him. Although Kendle missed both conversions it was a dream start and one we were not to relinquish.

The Saints pack that day was 5 stone heavier than ours but our 6, brilliantly led by the great Bill Ramsey dominated the exchanges, with Cunningham, Chisnell, Nichols and Mantle rarely breaking the line and Peter (Flash) Flanagan shovelled the ball out for us, beating international hooker Liptrop 19-12 in the scrums.

The game settled down somewhat after that lightening start but just as Saints started to get a foothold in our territory, Hancock picked up a loose ball, spilled after a massive Ramsey hit, and set off towards the Saints half. He was tackled some thirty yards out but two more forward drives, one a blockbuster from Boxall, saw Chris Davidson open on the left, and he dropped a perfect goal to stretch out lead further.

We went in at half time leading 7-0 but any thoughts of an easy victory were quashed when Saints came back with a quick Mathias score in the corner, which Pimblett converted, and then we were under sustained pressure as Saints sniffed a win. Both Crane and Portz in the centres bottled their wide moves up though, and down the middle, Boxall, Wardell, Walker and loose man Chris Davidson tackled like demons. On a rare sortie up field Walker broke a tackle and panic reined in the Saints ranks, until centre Les Jones strode into the collision and punched him in the face. After missing three pots at goal Kendle at last landed one between the uprights and despite an unconverted try by Wilson in the corner in the last minute we held on and recorded a memorable 9-8 victory.

It was a thrilling cup tie that I best remember for some titanic defending and last ditch tackling. We all loved it and ran on at the end as usual to congratulate our heroes. The fact remains for me and other old timers to ponder that although much maligned in some quarters David Doyle Davidson was an excellent coach, and in hindsight I guess, did a lot of the spade work and recruitment that Arthur Bunting was to capitalise on in those fantastic golden years of the late 70’s and early 80’s.

Much has been made in the past couple of years about the old Wartime logo of ‘Keep calm and carry on’ which might just have to be the slogan of my Club this year, but there was an equally famous catch phrase seen on every railway station between 1940 and 1945 which said, ‘Is your journey really necessary’ and watching Saints on Thursday night that slogan certainly sprang to mind when I thought about battling across the M62 next Friday to play what looks like the form team already. I was so impressed with Saints on Sky and who wouldn’t be, they were tremendous.

It will certainly be tough in Lancashire next Friday night and although I saw some heartening stuff on Friday, it will as I say, be a big ask for us to come home with anything but red faces. Even if we can keep it tight it’ll hardly be re-assuring if it has to be settled on goal kicks will it? However I’ll be going more in hope than expectation and looking to enjoy the game safe in the knowledge that we already have 2 points in the bag. Even though it’s early days that win on Friday was so important for our season and despite an ending that saw us all with our hearts in our mouths we got over the line and we’re up and running.

As for yesterday’s games, well the Dobbins never let us down do they? How often have we seen our first game built up, only to flop on the back of hyped expectations, hopes of big gates and top four predictions, it was almost inevitable wasn’t it? AND if there was one player to score a hat trick for Leeds in those circumstances, who would you have predicted it would be? Have you also noticed how they have stopped calling our home the KFC Stadium these days? Then there was the Bradford supporters lamenting a poor display by extended contract, future captain, Luke Gale; be careful what you wish for guys!

Yep, were off and thanks so much for all your support of the Diary and sorry for going on a bit. I know a lot of you are finding locating the new site difficult, but I hope you have it sussed now. It’s certainly great to at last be able to report on a ‘proper’ game again and I hope you managed to wade through this latest edition of the Diary. I’ll see you all at the Saints; it should at least be a grand occasion for the memory of Preccie!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf

P. S

I told you a while ago about the laugh there was amongst the other owners when ‘Dr. Salford’ turned up at a RL meeting with a jacket with ‘The marvellous M.K’. emblazoned across the back, well what do you make of his latest wheeze? You have to give it to the good Doctor, talk about bigging yourself up? Have you seen Salford’s new mascot, the aptly named Dr. Devil, who is the spit and image of well you guess. I wonder if Dr Allam has seen it yet, he’s probably ordering Freddy the Pharaoh as we speak!!

Salford Mascot