The Dentists Diary – 388th

Another ‘Close but no cigar’ job, another big effort and another two points go down the pan.

I’m currently sitting in the car with my lap top on my knee. I’m stuck in a traffic jam on our way out of Castleford, looking at the pub across the way and still wondering what exactly a “Singing Chocker” is! I’m fed up, frustrated and disappointed!!

I guess in hindsight it was a good game played out in an excellent atmosphere and in the end it could have gone either way. But on this occasion it went against us, as missing two starting forwards, making a few wrong choices, losing a prop in the first half, not taking our chances and a tragic one on one miss near the end cost us. It was a tight game against a very well drilled, confident and unbeaten Castleford team and we almost got the points, so there should be no big drama around the loss, but after three ‘almost’ games away from home we have to learn to finish teams off; we simply have to!

At the end of a week when we’ve all wondered at the situation at Bradford and the latest episode of ‘Keeping up with the Koukashians’ and when it was also revealed that Mr Allam, not content on converting the whole of West Hull to Squash is now about to beguile them with that great working class game of Polo and when Sandy Cock was directing the Dobbins in training under floodlights to exactly duplicate how it would be a Wigan; (including no doubt him shouting “Ok lads you can pack up now” at 8-45pm), it was always going to be really tough for us at Cas. But, with ten minutes to go I honestly thought we’d scrape home for a famous battling victory.

I can stomach defeat, as an FC fan you get used to it, but in the end I guess for me it isn’t so much the fact that we lost that hurts, but rather the reality that we could so easily have won.

As weeks go it’s been a strange one really which culminated in a weekend when I was a Wigan supporter on Friday, a France Rugby Union fan on Saturday and back to being a demented and decidedly nervous, FC supporter at the ‘Patch a Pipe’ Jungle. Don’t you just love the place though? There’s the antiquated turnstiles on the road side, the marquee that doubles for a public bar, the old Stand packed with FC fans, THE TOILETS, the lady sat in the little box that said on it “Transfers to the BEST Stand £3” and the coal trains thundering past the South Terracing; it’s just so blooming atmospheric. I have to say that I’ll miss one of the last original Stadiums in the game when the Tigers get that new ground at Glasshoughton they talked so passionately about at half time.

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But I love it at Cas!! The fans are great and I have to say if any Club wants to learn how to celebrate a win in front of their own fans then the animated rendition of Sweet Caroline at the end was it, the place was banging! But it’s tough when you’ve lost in those circumstances and for this fan it was a case of walking back to the car in silence, licking my wounds and getting home.

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The fact that both Gareth and Feke were missing before we even started was a blow but I thought we took the sting out of a great pounding from their forwards in the first quarter, scored a great try, let them get one back and then kept ourselves in the game with at times, some smart play. However we were finally undone at the end as (like it or not) Crooks missed a one on one he should have got, Michael Shenton then broke down the left and sent the supporting Mariano over with a pass that seemed well forward to the fans in line with it (and also I found out later several pundits in the media).

Quite frankly, this afternoon for me a draw would have done and probably have been a fair result. We are still struggling around the role of play maker and with our execution as we still lack the direction of someone to take the game by the scruff of the neck and dictate what we do.

However having said all that, to those that weren’t emotionally involved in it, the match must have been a great encounter and a smashing 80 minutes to watch, in fact I thought it felt at times just like a Cup tie and if proof is needed that we have to stay away from the bottom of the table, then this was it. There will certainly be a deal of games like that one in the cut and thrust of survival which could swing on a single act and just like this one, go either way.

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It’s not all bad news though because the effort is there in ‘spades’, everyone is doing their bit and at times more, the team spirit is exemplary and all that, will in the end, get us by. Once we were without Feke, Carvell, Bowden and Green we were always going to be lacking up front in the grunt department and we had to rely on some of the other lads like Jordan Thompson to back up, which in fairness they and JT in particular did very well. Like it or not though folks, they played on the Crook’s/Colbon defence and their persistence in attacking constantly through that channel gained them that final glorious reward and that’s something we have to address…. and quick!

But don’t be too disheartened we are still on track and the team is working together for each other, we got three well worked tries and kept a team that’s used to scoring 30 plus every week to 19 points, but we just have to calm down at times, wait our opportunities and unlike this afternoon, take them!

Performance wise Shaul did OK at full back but for me perhaps didn’t link too well into the line, but I liked Rankin when he took over there, he’s so full of exuberance and verve and a great returner of the ball too, we have to find a way to get more minutes from him. However on the wings Talanoa had his best game to date and is looking like a great acquisition, he almost held onto an audacious interception in the first half that had try written all over it and he never put a foot wrong throughout.

On the other flank I have to say that Colbon looked seriously short of match practise and got caught out a time or two which didn’t help Crooks’ cause much, but he tried extremely hard, drove the ball in well and scored a great try as he ‘flew’ (and I mean flew) in at the corner. He’s not the real deal but by heck he had a go and listening to an interview with him on Humberside just now he was very honest about that. Yeaman was solid and nearly sneaked over twice, right in front of us, in the second half. Crooks had a better game in parts but as I say, his channel is a worry defensive wise for me.

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Colbon certainly had a go!

In the half backs Horney was I’m afraid pretty predictable although at times he kicked well, but without being disrespectful he seems to know what to do, but on occasions lacks the speed now to do it. However Heramaia tried his heart out and most of our good stuff was instigated by him, but they had been well drilled and had be warned about most of what he would be trying, in fact I was impressed with how well organised and resilient the whole Cas team were in a game, where at times we had them under the cosh.

That was the case too with Danny Houghton as they had obviously spotted the amount of running he did from acting half against Bradford and did well to snuff it out with some good defence around the marker. Micky Paea had another big game but once Bowden had gone off he ploughed a loan furrow for much of the match, but he gave his all, Watts did OK but needs to impose himself more, while Jordan Thompson put in a massive shift from the bench and is proving another of Radford’s real discoveries. After questioning his appointment a time or two in here last year, I have now to admit to likening his style a lot.

However my man of the match was undoubtedly Jamie Ellis as he sickened the opposition with some massive hits straight out of the NRL, while also running the ball in time and time again and making yards all the time. His efforts to get us over the line with the two points were almost Super Human at times. Tusan also did real well, ran himself to a standstill and got some more valuable game time, but Westerman at Loose Forward was disappointing. They marked him well and had obviously singled him out as a threat, but that attention seemed to reduce him to withdrawing into his one up style ‘shell’ again; it was his chance to shine in front of his hometown crowd and for me he blew it. He tried, everyone tried, but Westy ran down too many blind alleys and tried to often to batter his way through, plus when he did pass, they were often killer balls that left the recipients in big trouble.

The Referee tried to let the play flow and succeeded to a certain extent but was again totally inconsistent and near the end he marched Cas down field with a couple of baffling decisions that even had the home fans scratching their heads. One dump tackle on Crooks, which might have explained that late defensive howler, saw him knocked out on his back but actually resulted in a scrum to Cas, which was again a totally bewildering decision from where we were stood.

So that’s my two penneth, don’t be too hard on me because that’s how I’m see it just a couple of hours after the final hooter, the journey home is all but over and we are just back about at the Drum and Monkey. There is little doubt that my views might mellow a bit after a few pints of John Smiths, but I’m pretty disappointed at present because although Castleford are the form team, these are the games you have to win and what’s worse, on this occasion, we almost did win!

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The marketing at the Jungle still has some way to go though!

So to the week past and I guess that in the future I should never discount anything I’m told, because when someone asked at the Under 19’s at Bishop Burton last week, “What was Brett Hodgson doing at the KC yesterday Wilf?” I laughed to myself and thought, “Brett Hodgson, how random is that??” It however took ‘Smailes of the Mail’ to reveal that there was indeed some truth in the observation and that the actual answer was, “Mentoring Mr Shaul!” Whatever Radford turns out to be success wise, on the coaching front he will always be remembered for being pretty thorough, as this development again illustrates. It also animates Pearson’s willingness to back him financially when such an idea comes to the fore. Furthermore it’s more proof I think that our Coach wants to pursue doggedly the belief he has had in Jamie from the day he arrived at our training ground; Lee obviously thinks that eventually he’ll do the business!

Spending, according to Adam Pearson, almost £450,000 more than we were 4 years ago on players wages, it seems that everything is being done to gain success, and Adam himself told me recently that he firmly believes we are on the cusp of something really exciting. It’s great to hear about little added extra’s like Hodgson’s involvement which, when there is a salary cap in place, are the little things that in the end could make the difference. We currently have as much depth in the squad as we have ever had in the Super League era, but if I had one suggestion for Pearson in the future I guess it would be that as far as recruitment is concerned I’d go for less as far as solid squad players that bring us depth are concerned. In the place of three or four of them, I’d spend on bringing in one or two real marquee signings that raise the quality available across the squad, make things happen and fire the enthusiasm of the stay away fans. But that’s just me and what do I know!

I found it very interesting to listen to Paul Cook in a radio interview on Friday night when he re-iterated what I have said in here for a while, in that both Doncaster and Hull are playing to the same game plan and play book. However he added something really interesting when he said that the two clubs had incorporated a lot of Peter Sharps ideas into their structures for this season. That comment coincided with several players coming out in recent weeks with the statement that Sharp was the best Coach they had played under at Hull FC. Obviously his legacy lingers on and it has to be said that under Peter Sharp we were a switched on attacking unit, particularly in that first season when we were a joy to watch. ‘Soundbite’ Sharp eh? The man of many a great cliché and paraphrase who back then just about kept this Diary going; although now he is a head Coach in the NRL, apparently his influence and ideas still linger here at the FC!

In the two under 19’s games I have watched thus far this season I have been really impressed with the skill and style of a lot of our youngsters, but I also felt that as they let both opposing teams back into the game, after having commanding leads, perhaps too they might just be believed their own publicity a bit. Much has been made across the game about the quality of our youngsters and perhaps they have heard this and believed it. It was therefore great to hear of the 56-16 score line coming in last Thursday night from Castleford, after we had whooped a team that only a few days earlier had beaten a strong Wigan second string. Cas had a few injuries but we did it on a five day turn round, and so it was a fine result by the youngsters.

The Under 19’s competition is all very well but I have in here on several occasions touched on my concerns about where players over 19 who can’t get in the first team now, go to get a game. Duel registration helps but those flimsy liaisons’ are proving to not work that well for a lot of clubs and so many fringe players are getting no game time at all and what’s more they can’t reasonably expect any until the injuries bite. It was interesting therefore to see that, with only 5 rounds having been played, an unprecedented 19 players have gone on loan from one Super League Club to another already this year; that is I believe a sign of the problems the big Clubs are having with keeping everyone match fit. At the top Clubs they have squads numbering well into the thirties and therefore it’s obvious that a dozen players could at one time or another, be without a game.

As if to qualify this point, it’s interesting to note that these loan deals all come from Clubs like, Wigan, Saints and Leeds who have loads of surplus ‘bodies’ and therefore have to farm out their fringe players to clubs like Wakefield, Bradford, London and even of late the Dobbins, all of whom have injury issues and much smaller squads. In addition, after all the huff and puff from within the game about nurturing and developing our emergent players (as our stars head out of the country), some of our youngsters turn 19 and before playing a first team game they are lost to Australia!! It’s a poor state of affairs when the NRL are not only snatching our top marquee players but also creaming off the best of our youth.

This is emphasised by the recent moves ‘Down Under’ of Ryan Backhouse and Louis Farr of Castleford and by the fact that ex Leeds starlet Vila Halifihi (whose Grandad played for Hull FC in the 1960 Cup Final) has been grabbed and given a lucrative deal with Aussie giants The Penrith Panthers. It’s a terrible situation for any game that wants to grow through its talent base and for me as I have said on numerous occasions re-introducing the ‘A’ team principle would be one of the two things I would change immediately to instantly improve the game in this country.

What would be the other thing? Well it’s all academic really, but while I’m dreaming, I’d spend all the available cash the RL have in their coffers on improving the quality and number of our referee’s. It might be down to the fact that they have two on field officials, I don’t know, but watching Premier Sport last weekend I was again reminded that although they do make mistakes, the overall quality of the officials in the NRL is just light years ahead of what we have got here in Super League. Over there they are not the stars of the show, there’s no ‘Look at Me’ and they often let small misdemeanours go, in the spirit of letting the game flow.

They always take time to remind the player in question at the next break in play, but they seem hell bent on creating an entertainment where they are just there as the ‘Stage hands’ to make sure the Stars of the show can entertain the paying public. In this country I believe the shortage of referee’s and available cash to create any more full time posts, puts some of our lot in a position where they think they are indispensible and even at times, the stars of the game. The return of ‘A’ team rugby and quality referee’s…… it’s certainly nice to dream sometimes isn’t it?

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Watch were your poking that stick!!!
Will the crowds be flocking to Polo!!!! Or is Mr A taking the P?

I was just perusing the upcoming fixtures and realising that my predominant worry is still our ability to stay away from what is bound to be a desperate and bloody relegation battle in the last quarter of the season, however I did notice something really interesting. Did you realise that due to the switched fixtures in our calendar, if we get a home draw in the Cup on Tuesday then we will be playing 8 games on the trot within the City of Hull, (with 7 at the proper KC and one at the ‘Lightstream’ cheap and cheerful alternative in East Hull). Surely that must be something of a record, but more pertinently it’s a sequence that means what comes after in summer, dictates we probably have to win most if not all of them.

You know we pride ourselves about being the best fans in the game although I guess most other clubs will disagree believing that in fact they should hold that accolade, but when I looked at the amount of fans we took to Saints on a cold and wet Friday night and then the numbers that travelled to Warrington and Cas we surely have to be up there; particularly, when we had all played spot the away supporter in the crowd at Wigan on the televised match last Friday.

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It looks like a real ‘let’s all join hands and contact the living’ moment in the away end at Wigan last Friday!

“You always bring miles more than any other Club” was the comment of the gateman, as I handed over my ticket at Cas. but it’s not just that passionate lust to follow our team that singles us out as being a bit special. We also sell 10,000 shirts year in year out, raise vast amounts for our Testimonial beneficiaries and through thick and thin, home and away, tip up both with numbers and financial commitment. However all that said even I was surprised when the Club announced that Hull FC are once again leading the way in Magic Weekend sales with over 2,500 tickets already sold through the club; that’s remarkably more than three times as many as any other Super League side!

It’s certainly great for our owner and the prosperity of the FC because we get to keep the proceeds of every magic ticket we sell direct from the Club. In the last two years we have taken the most fans to Manchester’s Etihad Stadium and once again despite an ‘iffyish’ start to the season, we’ve all tipped up and bought into the dream. It’s easy to take these things for granted, Adam certainly shouldn’t, but then again neither should we, because unlike all the other Clubs who claim the ‘best’ or most loyal fans in the game, in this country as far as numerical superiority is concerned, we have the facts to prove it! It means that we are already guaranteed another massive contingent at the clash with the Dobbins on Saturday, 17th May. As you know this manufactured, cosmetic, made for TV event doesn’t sit too well at all with this fan, but obviously it does with a lot of the rest of the FC Army, although many of you reading this go no doubt because you just have to be there when we play. Best fans in the game? Without a doubt!

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After my piece about Sean Long’s recent woes last week it was great to see him back working at Salford in a coaching consultancy role. Good luck to him and indeed the Red Devils but I have to smile at the comments of ‘The Artiste’ on RL fans when he said this week, “Quality line up at Salford, Smith, Chase, Gleeson, Hock and Long I mean, what could possibly go wrong?” Add to that dream team Mr Koukash and boy are there’s a few ego’s gathering in West Manchester! Incidentally it was interesting to observe Mr. K sending out veiled threats to his coach this week on twitter too!

However talking of ‘Keeping up with the Koukashians’, with Kath and Gary running Leeds and Wakey and now Mrs K vying for the ownership of Bradford Bulls it’s likely that (if all 4 Clubs survive relegation) we could have a third of next season’s Super League run by two families. The K’s even invited the Sky camera’s into their home on Friday to hear about their bid for the Bulls, although sources close to the West Yorkshire club suggest Richard Lamb, a London-based businessman whose company supplied hospitality during last autumn’s World Cup, is more likely to emerge as the latest saviour of the Bulls.

cas9The new Queen and the power behind the throne? RL’s latest Power Couple at Bradford yesterday; Kath Etherington she is not!

Of course we can’t complain because the situation at Bradford is little different to when Kath and Richo ditched Gateshead and subsequently took over at the Boulevard. But with the ‘Koukashians’ already threatening a legal battle with the RL about the Bull’s points deduction, it’s all getting as Alice once said, “Curiouser and curiouser!”. Try as we may, we’ll never get rid of the Hetherington’s as good or bad they are here to stay. However if I was a Salford or indeed a Bradford fan I’d still worry a bit, because I can’t help thinking that once a few things start going wrong the ‘Mad hatter’ could well walk, leaving the British game and Super League in a real mess. I sincerely hope I’m wrong though!

Whatever we were expecting as a knock on from the World Cup and the customers response to the new Sky deal, 8x8x8, Koukash’s Jackets and the advent of relegation and promotion, it seems that gates are once again down across the game, at a time when surely everything should point to them being on the up. So, with some cracking TV games on the first few Thursday nights to whet the appetite, exactly what is happening? Well perhaps we just don’t sell ourselves enough and we have to do something about getting the word out about what a fantastic game we all watch and more importantly how good it is as a live spectacle.

I refuse to go on any longer in here about the buffoons that are the presentation team on Sky, as my opinion on that lot has only been crystallised further after watching a couple of NRL round One games last weekend. I also watched ‘The Footy Show’ which although not my thing, does bring fun into the sport and widens considerably the range of viewers watching, which when balanced with the excellent in depth quality of their game coverage, makes for a great overall ‘media mix’ Down Under.

Once again I find myself marvelling at both the quality of coverage and commentary, as I enviously eaves dropped on what the paying public in Aus experience on their TV’s all the time. We have to do better because for me at times the lack of quality in the Sky presentation team, cheapens and even ridicules our game. There is no better way to big it up though than to get a slot on main stream TV with a magazine programme that is easy to follow and packed with bash, biff and spectacle! For me then if ever there was a vehicle to get the message out there, then it has to be ‘The Super League Show’ on BBC TV. For critical old me, when I actually scrutinising the show as a product I have to admit that the Beeb have got a lot of it right. The host Tanya Arnold has no need to engage the viewer with crass catch phrases or ridiculous statements. She has an air of enthusiasm and knowledge that mixed with an ambiance of homely common sense is engaging enough. She just introduces the panel and then we’re all plunged straight into the action.

The guests are good too, as folks like Jon Wilkin and Iestyn Harris paint a vivid and down to earth picture of what is behind what the viewer have watched. This is never patronising and the BBC ensures it’s always understandable for the uninitiated. There is little toddyism or parochialism and certainly no naff catch phrases and as someone said in the national media the other week, “The level of punditry can for most of the time be mistaken for a more sharply opinioned Match of the Day”

But there are still a couple of things for the RL and the BBC to deal with because there are glaring issues that have to be addressed. Firstly, the programme airs at 10 minutes to midnight on a school night, which is ridiculous. Secondly, it is shown only in the north of England, so surely it has to be more accessible, both in its broadcast time and coverage. I think sometimes the RL are torn between getting the game accepted and enthused about across the nation, and liking to keep it cherished and thus precious to the initiated few. The product on the pitch is fabulous and it’s getting better but we have to get some exposure right across the viewing spectrum nationwide at a better time of day!

That’s the sort of challenge the RL should be addressing with all their energy, instead of buying stadiums, tinkering with formats and waiving off our best players as they’re ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’. The World Cup was a great awareness exercise and the quality of the games we are experiencing this season is fantastic, but still the gates are falling. That has to be somehow reversed. If it isn’t then we will end up with a sport played in front of dwindling and sparse crowds and totally dependent on TV income for its existence! And so it would appear might Australia too as they this week lament their poor attendances thus far this season. There of course the conundrum is complete, because in Australia low attendances are probably down to there being just too much quality TV coverage!

In Codgers Corner this week we go back, to the mid eighties for what is definitely a bit of a rarity in this section of the Diary, a defeat for Hull FC. It’s a game I think I covered years ago but one that has been in my mind since I revealed the story about treasure hunter Len Casey and his steel toe cap boots the other week. However it is certainly a memorable defeat, as anyone who was there will testify and indeed it’s a game that will be remembered as much for the last ten minutes as it will for anything else. Back at Christmas 1986, in less complicated times (when a marquee signing was a book launch in a tent) we were in a season when under new coach Len Casey we were just starting to struggle. The great team of the early 80’s was on the wane and although we had some really good youngsters coming through, the cracks were starting to show. As is usually the case in these circumstances as a club we craved a good cup run to swell the financial coffers and bring some much needed confidence to the team.

So this week we look at a game that was most probably ‘Cast Iron’ Casey’s greatest moment as Hull coach, in a short but eventful career that did, in my opinion, a deal of damage to the club. If you were struggling in the League, then back then Cup rugby could throw the Coach a life line and we had done really well in the John Player Trophy, having managed to reach the televised semi final at Headingley on the last Saturday before Christmas, 20th December 1986. It was a strange format for the competition that year in which we had played all the rounds back to back from 30th November and we’d reached the semi final by beating Salford at the Willows, Blackpool at Home and Bradford Northern at Odsal. This had been an impressive run indeed, coming as it did after 4 straight defeats in which we conceded 170 points, including a 48-0 defeat by the Australian tourists at the Boulevard and a 50-10 drubbing away at the hands of Saints.

The Cup though had captured the imagination of the West Hull public and after we had taken around 5000 fans to the quarter final at Odsal, and despite it being the last big shopping day before Christmas, around 9000 joined me on the pilgrimage to Headingley to face Wigan. Strangely enough from being rank outsiders at the start of the completion Hull’s form had seen us as billed as slight favourites to rediscover our old cup magic and make the final. Casey made just one change to the line up that had done so well at Odsal the previous week, resting John Sharp who had sustained concussion to reinstate Steve ‘Knocker’ Norton, (whose Testimonial Brochure was due out the following Monday).

Gary Pearce got the game underway with a long kick off and after Kemble had fielded a high Wigan kick at the end of the first set Tomlinson the FC prop produced a strong break of around 30 yards down the middle of the field. That was the shape of things to come from Hull in that first quarter as our forwards took the Lancastians on down the middle of the park. Hull came forward strongly again as Tomlinson and Crooks linked to put Schofield away and only a last ditch tackle form Wigan’s Hampson saved a try. Then Dannett broke away and fed Windley who shot back across the defensive line, but the move faltered as a try looked on, when Crooks fumbled the scrum half’s pass. We continued to work the ball forward and a brilliant dummy and pass by Pearce found Lee Crooks in space and from 20 yards he dropped a goal to give us a slender 1-0 lead.

From the kick off Wigan came down field and Shaun Edwards made a great break before Ah Kuoi grabbed a loose ball on our line and we cleared the danger area in spectacular fashion. O’Hara ran off and fed the supporting Lazenby a great outside ball for the second rower to run 50 yards downfield. A good Pearce kick pinned Wigan back as a scrum was formed just 5 yards out from their line. Straight from the scrum Windley spotted a hole on the blind side and shot over too wide out for Pearce who missed the conversion, but at 5-0 we were going well.

After 29 minutes a mini kicking duel (remember them?) between the two full backs, Kemble and Hampson, saw a massive ‘bomb’ hoisted and as Hampson caught it three FC forwards hammered him to the ground. He spilled the ball and Patrick picking it up, but in breaking away he failed to see Eastwood who had a clear run to the line on his outside. With minutes to go to half time it was all Wigan, but great tackling particularly from Crooks on Ellery Handley and Kemble on Russell kept our line intact and we went in leading 5-0.

It looked like there was to be a sensational start to the second half as Lee Crooks took Hanley’s kick off and fed a great short ball to Garry Schofield who shot through the line and headed off on a 60 yard run to touch down. However, much to the disappointment of all the FC fans, referee Holdsworth called the play back for a forward pass. Slowly but surely though Handley and Edwards were wrestling the advantage away from Hull and Ah Kuoi was lucky to stay on the field after a long lecture from the referee followed a really high tackle on Gill. Luckily for us Stephenson was wide with his penalty attempt. However Wigan continued to press forward as the Mr Holdsworth appeared to allow anything and everything. Twice Garry Pearce stopped Hanley in full flight with brilliant tackles before the Wigan outfit finally went ahead in controversial circumstances. Ellery Handley shot in next to the posts but could clearly be seen to drop the ball from his hands as he went over. However the try stood and with Stephenson’s conversion, Wigan went in front for the first time (6-5). The Hull forwards looked a bit tired at this point but with Puckering and Norton coming off the bench suddenly we were up for it again.

We had not been in the Wigan 25 yard area for almost 15 minutes, when Lazenby broke and passed onto Crane. Mick belying his years showed a bit of that old magic and transferring the ball from one hand to the other put Pearce through a huge gap. As the cover came in Gary cut inside and scored before converting his own try to put us back in front. However it was a short lived lead as Edwards found us out again with a brilliant piece of play hanging a ball in the air for Hanley to come through and score wide out, this time he grounded the ball correctly, and as Gill curled in the conversion we trailed again 12-11.

That last ten minutes was all action and so memorable for all the wrong reasons. Ah Kuoi who had come back on grabbed a loose ball on the Wigan 25 and Puckering made a great break. However tragedy struck when the usually dependable Pearce dropped the ball in his effort to release it to the waiting O’Hara player who would have scored, and the chance was lost. Hull then made a tremendous last ditch effort to grab a win and as the crowd roared them on they almost did it. Schofield created a lot of space for himself in a tight spot and passed to O’Hara who only had to put the ball down next to the flag but a tremendous effort by two Wigan tacklers, saw him just fail to score, although many felt he actually got the ball down. We continued to press as referee Holdsworth missed a glaringly obvious Wigan knock on from a booming Hull up and under, and so as the final hooter went we had lost by one point, and the dream of a final which had been within touching distance was gone. It was a great game and a great performance where we came up just short, but there were many heroes that day; great memories.

My quotes of the week this week go jointly to Mr Allam Jnr. and the ubiquitous David Burns. Ehab said in the ‘Radio Humberside exclusive’ on Saturday, “It’s never been in doubt we were always going to ballot the season ticket holders on the name change” ………..while Peter Swan said to a salivating Burnsey before the announcement, “I hope it’s not going to be one of these anti climaxes when he just tells us what he’s having for his tea” to which DB laughingly replied that he knew he was having ‘HAM, eggs and chips’!………….. I don’t think so somehow do you?

So the long list of home games week on week starts this coming Sunday with a ‘Reversed’ fixture against early season pacesetters Widnes. They came to earth with a bump when they met the first real opposition of any sort of stature at Leeds last Friday. They are however a handy team and one we will have to watch because they have been knocked off their pedestal and will want to show it’s only a blip and get back on their particular horse straight away. The key will be in the forwards because although they can probably equal us in the backs its up front where they have looked a bit lightweight in the two games I have seen them play. Much will depend on who we have fit in the front row! It should be a great afternoon, its good I think to occasionally play on the traditional Sunday afternoon slot and it’ll be interesting to see how many fans turn up. Get there if you can!

Thanks to everyone who has been in touch this week when FC news has again been a bit thin on the ground. It was good to see so many friendly faces in the mob that turned up at Cas yesterday and we really do take over the place don’t we? Don’t forget too if your reading this on Monday that tonight at the KC its Rich Whiting’s ‘A Question of Sport’ and you can get tickets on the door. Your continued support of the Diary, your feedback, suggestions and photographs are greatly appreciated and finally to the Rovers fan who got in touch this week about my inclusion of the ‘Sandercocks Excuses for Dummies’ piece the other week, your interest in the likely hood of me having any parents is certainly gratifying.

Thanks to all of you for all your support, it’s a must win again on Sunday!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf

P.S. Those Kids shows are Timeless ain’t they?

cas10