The Dentists Diary – 389th

“If I don’t get performances I walk, it’s the business, and I understand that completely”
So said Lee Radford, after another of those debacles that have, for years, proved ‘Coach Killers’ at Hull FC.

You know sometimes just occasionally, I don’t want to write this, it’s so hard to rationalise such an abysmal performance, I could try to be reasonable and consolatory, but why should I be? I’m so disappointed and annoyed I’d rather just crawl off and grieve on my own, but in the spirit of this weekly journal I’ll press on, however yesterday was horrible and there’ll be none of the light hearted stuff this week because quite frankly I and thousands of other FC fans ain’t laughing!

Personally for me the game was soul destroying, because, although god damn it, I should be used to it by now, it was once again so bloody predictable. ‘Heartbreaking’ was the expression I used to Mrs R as we left on the final hooter because I just couldn’t bring myself to stay to clap the player’s at the end, I couldn’t even face the safety and relative calm of The Drum and Monkey, until that is, I heard our Coach say in his post match interview, that he was ‘heartbroken’ too. It is, I know, his responsibility to sort it, but it was also good to hear him feeling exactly the same as I did, because yesterday come 5-00 pm I was gutted. Believe me, I want to give some hope to all those of exiled fans out there who didn’t attend, but it was just a shambles and I challenge anyone who was there to find a better adjective to describe it.

However in the cold light of Monday morning it was I guess, ‘Same old same old’. This sort of stuff has been going on since the days of Peter Sharp through the reign’s of Agar and Gentle and now it’s back, surfacing again, as Radford said, from deep in the DNA of our players; quite frankly in the most simplistic of terms, some of our lot can’t be arsed when it’s a team we are expected to beat!

Don’t try and blame our depleted forwards either for they stood up, but it was the mess and muddle around them that did for us. And if you’re looking for recurring themes from those last 5 or 6 years then after a listless and mistake strewn performance, my pal Tony summed it all up ‘Alan Sugaresquely’ as he left the game saying, “And so the Club’s search for a half back continues!”

For 5 games we’ve seemed to be going in the right direction, but this was back to the bad old days. Of course, all the Radford bashers were jumping on the bandwagon last night, but I would say, ‘Hang on a bit for now’, if this goes on for a few weeks then I’d wholeheartedly agree with you all. But the team Radford put out yesterday created 5 or 6 chances to win the game easily and they bombed the lot. He can send them out with the structures, prepared and ready to go, but if Yeamo, Houghton, Westerman and a few other of the ‘Dyed in the wool’ FC players can’t (year in year out), be arsed to take lesser opposition seriously, then I’m afraid they have to have a long look at themselves, as they obviously ain’t as committed to the cause as I and thousands of other FC fans are.

Had some of those players done the basics of what their job is, (which is all they are expected to do for just 80 minutes a week) with some spirit and energy, Hull would have won. You can’t blame Radford in isolation as the game plan he produced and the players he picked created more than enough to win the game. However having said all that I think our Coach got some of his selections wrong too! In here I used to call Peter Sharp ‘The Tinkerman’, but perhaps now he has a rival?

We started the afternoon with a dozy, un-coordinated and disinterested warm up and the game continued to spiral downwards from then onwards. Maybe we don’t like warming up in the rain who knows, but with players wandering about, Rankin dropping six practise ‘up and unders’ and several others looked like they wished they weren’t there at all, the pre match set the tone for what was to follow. As the game unfolded it was pretty apparent that Widnes were poor, in fact as poor as they come, and they probably didn’t actually threaten our line seriously once. Rather than trying to win it they sat back and let us lose it! It was real ‘Back to the future’ stuff as for me we produced the worst display, Huddersfield apart, in the last 12 months, and I include Wembley in that. In fact one old timer stopped me outside and suggested it had been our worst performance at the KC and it was, at the time, hard to disagree with that either! At that Huddersfield play-off game, it was, in hindsight, pretty apparent that the players played to get the Coach the sack, yesterday at first glance, an unbiased observer would have thought that they were trying the same ploy on Radford!

Of course they weren’t, it’s too early for that (just yet), but our Coaches observation that this attitude issue is inbuilt into some of our players DNA is probably spot on and quite frankly if they can’t apply themselves as professional players for every game we all pay to come and watch, then for me they can bugger off! It’s easy to sit there at a distance and just cite Radford, but I think he felt as bad as we did last night, for him its early days, for some of our old hands it has to be the last chance saloon.

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I went into the game wondering just how our depleted front row would cope with the Widnes props. But, the answer was fine; we outmuscled them and contained their 6 for most of the game, so don’t be blaming that, there’s no excuses there! Feke, Watts and particularly Ellis and Thompson held them and made good yards, but the decision making, lack of energy or attitude and general demise was woeful. That’s what lost us the game and quite frankly from where I’m sat now at 11-00pm on Sunday night, we could be playing now and we wouldn’t have scored, more worryingly frustrating is the fact that neither would Widnes!!!

We were totally disorganised and our end of set options and kicking game was shocking. We struggled under the high kicks from Widnes, while persisting ourselves on grubbers down the short side; it was just dumb, dumb rugby! I lost count of the amount of times our passes were so random that they were either hoisted over at least three player’s heads or thrown behind the line. It was absolutely soul destroying, how we could go from that high energy battling performance of last week at Cas, to this? But then again we’ve seen it so many times before hasn’t we?

Widnes2Performance wise Ellis ran himself to a standstill tackled his heart out and tried to lead from the front. Watts delivered big style, Thompson is fast developing into the find of the season and Feke and Whiting tried really hard. However, Horney sees the gaps, creates the space but hasn’t the pace anymore to capitalise on it and he has to be replaced in my mind, Yeaman was shocking, Arundel looks lightweight, Crooks, when he came on, lacked any confidence whatsoever, Houghton took one bad option after another and lacked ideas and so it goes on. The rest, in all honesty, don’t really warrant a mention!

So guys, in my honest and humble opinion, that’s how bad it was, some of the players I know won’t like what I’ve said, fans will cry foul and others like my good pal John will ring me and say I’m over reacting, but I love this Club and that was unacceptable. If we can’t get anything next Friday, we move on to a Cup game that’s looking less and less winnable and then, even this early in the season, we could well be facing major problems.

And, while I’m on that tack I would also add that on yesterdays showing we’re likely to be candidates for a real scrap in the bottom half of the table. For those who weren’t there I simply can’t find any positives, besides the desperate state of our Coach at the end which matched exactly my own demeanour. Some I know will cite a one off and me being too gloomy after just one game, but it’s just happened so many times before and I’m sick of it! I feel for Adam, the fans and to some extent for Radford, because yesterday they got let down big style by their players; simple as! The gate and atmosphere indicated sadly for me that Sunday rugby doesn’t work anymore, but in fairness the players did little to help its cause either! They talk of Fortress KC? You’re having a laugh guys!

So, as Mrs R hides all the sharp objects, to the week gone by, and I hate going on about the RL but it seems to me that every week there’s another issue! This time it’s my Club being mighty upset about the fact that they couldn’t get what they thought was some consistency of justice in the case of Micky Paea and that tackle at Cas. I watched the incident on the Hull Daily Mail’s web site when they compared it with Craig Huby being tackled by Ben Flowers and despite the Club using the same example, their appeal was refused. When compared with what Matt Bowen did when he almost decapitated a player the week before the World Club Challenge and got away with it, (because, I firmly believe, it was the week before a big game) there seems, at the very least, to be some inconsistency in our process and……why am I not surprised?

For me it seems you can’t take the legs to stop the forward motion of any player that is being tackled by two other players. Which is absolutely fine and if it’s below the knee, probably the safest option, but it has to be applied consistently and….. there’s the rub. I have seen tackles this season where players have hit the knee area while 2 players are already involved and it has gone unpunished; just like the Huby incident. I spotted 2 in the first 5 minutes of the Warrington v Wigan game on Thursday; Gareth Carvell even tweeted about one he’d spotted too. However if your unlucky and cited, then you are at the mercy of a group of ex players and gifted amateurs who might know the game, but who struggle for any joined up thinking from one ‘case’ to another.

Lee Radford said he won’t change our tackling technique because it’s the same method that he’s always used (even with 9 year olds) but perhaps when you look at the tackle in isolation and not in comparison with others we have seen, then the judiciary probably got it right, but it’s just inconsistent, there is no overall policy and it smacks of decision making on the hoof for me. Of course like most things emitting from Red Hall we have just to accept it and get on with the season, but on this occasion I can see our Clubs frustration, not so much at the punishment, but rather the unpredictability there seems to be in the interpretation of these incidents. The rules are pretty clear, it’s the consistency in the way that they are applied and interpreted that’s naff!

Well I went to see the Under 19’s on Saturday and witnessed a good win for the lads over a feisty Widnes outfit. There were one or two heroes out there on the pitch as in atrocious conditions both sides served up some good stuff with Tyson Wilson and Reece Dean looking the part in the halves. However the real heroes were stood on the touchline as 300 or so good souls braved rain, gale force gusts of wind, hale and in the end struggled to see with the sun shining in their eyes! Still it’s a good afternoon out and I’d recommend Bishop Burton to everyone! Summer rugby eh! Don’t you just love it?

The Cup draw had something for everyone didn’t it? There were plenty of all Super League ties to prove it wasn’t fixed for those who believe it is, while all the big 4 teams avoided each other to keep the conspiracy theorists happy! A home draw is a home draw but I was hoping for an easier game to give a few of our first choice lads a rest. Still it was not to be and the record run of 8 games played on the trot in the City that I mentioned last week, is now a reality.

Salford are going to come good, the good Doctor will demand it, so let’s hope it’s not that week. But I suspect, (despite daft lad Phil Clarke backing them to win the Grand Final), Koukash already realises that the Cup is their only real chance of glory this season and the pressure will be on them to get a result. We will have to be on top of our game that day and after yesterday it looks a big task indeed.

Some of you reading this have been around this weekly rubbish for a few years now and you’ll know that in the case of the local media I’ve always been quick to defend the Club I love when I thought they were having a go. That stance and my attempts at a public show of my loyalty in here certainly got me into hot water with Gwilym and sadly now we don’t speak any more. That’s a shame because he does a difficult job in difficult circumstances and at least gives it a reasonable go…..for a Rovers fan. However although I refrain when at all possible from ‘Humberside Bashing’ in here, I hear plenty of it and often I have to say it’s completely unfounded. However occasionally it isn’t!

Their coverage of games is something I rarely hear because usually I’m there fretting, sweating and fuming on the terraces, rather than pacing up and down, wearing out the carpet in the kitchen and shouting at the radio. However the steady flow of feedback that I’ve been getting this season about the quality of the punditry the exiled fans have to endure usually cites either Lee Richardson or Nick Pinkney.

Take for instance the typical E Mail I got from the other side of the world this week which said, “Was listening to Pinkney on Blunderside, and he could not control his obvious delight when Cas scored a dagger through the heart try, saying and then back tracking on air how ‘the right result occurred’, you can feel his delayed plaudits were spoken through clenched teeth, a similar thing happened when the Dobbins snatched a draw at Hudderfield, “go onnnn!” he yelped with delight as Omari Caro ran to the line, he obviously hates Hull!” So, whether they like it or not, to the exiled fan they still seem to portray a less than impartial posture in these things and that is obviously still a great bone of contention with the fans who can’t get to games and have to listen in to the BBC. However, I guess the Beeb have to accept that, because in the end they will never ever please everyone in this rugby mad City and beyond.

The Stations handling of the name change debate at City has been good to watch too; it’s my opinion that Gwilym is perhaps a traditionalist and Burnsey and Simon Clark appear to me personally to be firmly in the Allam camp. Otherwise the rest sit on that rather large fence they have down there and so they should. It’s a good idea to stay neutral I think because being biased towards one rugby Club in the City is something you can just about get away with but taking sides in the Hull Tigers debate is not. An independent commercial news provider like the Daily Mail is different and I have to say that a lot I speak to say that in their opinions as readers, they are a bit scared of the whole thing. That might be rubbish and they may have their own commercial reasons; who knows? As for the Beeb well, they would be best served by staying out of a dispute that is at present causing a lot of fans a lot of grief. Who’d be a sports journalist eh…not me!

People wonder why I mention the next bit, but believe me the situation at Hull City is intrinsically linked with our future and our tenure at the KC. At present the Allam’s (and thus the SMC) who are to all intense and purpose our ‘landlords’, seem to be embroiled in ongoing controversy and conflict with their supporters. That’s fine, they can get on with it, but I highlight the ‘City Till I Die’ dispute because it’s the way they seem to want their own way and to steamroller it through that worries me. From where I’m stood it seems to be now developing into a vote of confidence in the Allam’s themselves rather than a dispute over what the Club should be called in the future.

I know folks here in Beverley, good people, who love their football club but who are petrified that their owners walk. I tell them they can’t, but although they want to retain the Hull City title because it is their heritage, they’re willing to vote ‘yes’ to the name change, because quite frankly they love Hull Club and they’re scared of the threats of what might happen next. For me if the City management are sincere, then they should have included just two questions, ‘Are you happy for a name change’ and ‘Are you happy with the owners’ it’s as simple as that. Then again, standing on the touchline as we RL fans all are, what’s wrong with Hull City Tigers? I think I know, don’t you? It would please everyone as far as the fans are concerned, but I think the inclusion of the word City won’t quite meet the objectives of the Club, will it?

Talking of the Press there was certainly a lot more than a passing mention in the West Riding papers early last week about the vast numbers of FC fans that turned up at the Jungle. The FC contingent estimated to be over 4000 by the home Club, was a real credit to our loyalty as a fan base and it was great to be there surrounded by history and exchanging views and banter with the home crowd. Even Adam Pearson got some friendly ‘abuse’ from a contingent of Cas fans in the Best (I use the expression loosely …) Stand, but gave ‘em a bit back too and the welcome we got and the day we had, certainly served to convince me again, if I needed it, that I’ll miss ‘The Jungle’.

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The unbiquitous Steve Roberts of ‘Any Kinda Weather’ fame is a familiar face in this readers shot of the long line of FC fans queueing to experience the aumbience of the Jungle.

Now a question, can you really enjoy ‘safe’ Rugby League or does there have to be an element of danger in the sport to whet the average fans appetite? Is the very nature of what makes the passion of the fans rise to the surface on the terraces the level of Biff we see on the pitch? I was saying at the KC a couple of weeks ago as Josh Bowden hit that Bradford player, in a collision equivalent to being struck by a vehicle at around 20 miles an hour, how much I really do still love the biff and bash of Rugby League and of course there is little doubt that crowds of yesteryear loved it too. Players like Mick Harrison, Trevor Skerrett, Noel Cleal and Karl Harrison are a point of fact; we all remember them don’t we? I also understand too that my blood thirsty tastes in defensive play have to be tempered by the need to ensure that the players are protected too. So, I guess I now have a consolatory approach to shoulder charges etc but still in my heart of hearts if I’m honest, I do miss the blood and thunder games we used to get served up from time to time at the Boulevard. Some of the tour games when the Aussies and the Kiwi’s hit town are remembered for just that. In these games in the past a defender flattening the ball carrier in a huge tackle was as much a part of the ‘buzz’ of rugby league, as was a spectacular try but perhaps now that all has to change for good.

In these instances of high speed collisions in the past, injuries were inevitable, occasionally players got knocked out cold and they still are today. It’s always worrying at the time, but usually as was the case then, they recover with no apparent ill-effects, count their teeth and are back on their feet (or in some of the worst cases they are back playing in a week or two). The game is well aware of the danger of blows to the head. Players suffering concussion have had for years to take the ‘Head Test’ to ensure they have fully recovered before being allowed to play again and those rules have been tightened up again this season. It is said though that with the game getting ever faster and the athletes bigger and stronger, nobody knows what effect the pounding players get during a long top-flight career will have in later life.

Take for instance the case of players like Kenny Foulkes, Keith Boxall and Chris Davidson who were stalwarts of the 70’s and see how badly they suffered with their knees etc. simply because they got little or no remedial help with their injuries in those days. They needed the cash back then and got back as soon as they could or as Chris once told me, played on with the injuries to get a wage. Now we are told the same sort of scenario could appertain to players’ mental health and that they could suffer in their later lives due to the impact of regular blows to the head.

Look at Ian Roberts who played 13 Tests for Australia from 1990-1994. An ex-New South Wales, South Sydney, Manly and North Queensland prop, who was a great player and is now an accomplished actor; he is reported this week in the Australian media to have brain damage. That it is claimed is the result of being knocked out up to 12 times during his playing career. Roberts agreed to undergo testing as part of a study into the effects of concussion in sport and returned “abnormal results”.

He has been suffering from depression and memory loss and said in a recent interview, “I have got brain damage and the backlash from that fact and the fact that many other ex players are suffering, means it is quite possibly the beginning of the end as far as hard contact sport is concerned”

A big statement to make but is he exaggerating because of his own sad demise? Well there are suggestions 35 out of 40 players tested by a Melbourne University show signs of brain damage and if this is true the likely outcomes are difficult to imagine. The medic carrying out the research, Dr Alan Pearce, believes “multiple concussions” are to blame for Roberts’ brain scan results, which are “outside the range of our healthy comparisons”. At this stage studies are continuing and there does not yet seem to be any definite outcomes, but the dangers of concussion are something the sport both here and in Australia will have to take on board. If it is proved that these impact tackle concussions are damaging to players’ long-term health, it’s hard to make a case for the game continuing in its present state. Roberts’ comments that it could be the “end of hard contact sport” may sound hugely over dramatic but could prove to be spot on.

We could of course just poo poo it all and carry on regardless but if the RFL and the NRL are aware of the danger and don’t act on them then it could potentially open them up to costly future legal action. In fact what is an even more pertinent question for all the Mums and Dads out there is, “If you thought there was a danger of your child being brain damaged, would you let him or her take up the game in the first place?” Maybe it will be possible to devise some sort of adequate head protection which is of course something the NFL in America have insisted on for decades. It’s an interesting one isn’t it? However whatever happens it’s a powder keg ready to blow and we have to consider this one carefully because it’s not that hard to see how one day soon our game could well become one of touch and pass and if that saves lives and ex players sanity then who could really argue against it? Interesting stuff and certainly food for thought!

At the start of the season following that first home game against Catalan Olivier Elima received a 4 game ban after his misdemeanours in that tackle on Aaron Heramaia. Of course he deserved it for a cowardly act because it’s easy to do that stuff when a player is on the floor with two tacklers on top of him isn’t it. Then yesterday there was the case of Whiting being thrown down on his neck and the incident being put on report. However, after these incidents the more convoluted argument about putting such occurrences on report in the first place arose again and now I guess it’s something I have been musing on throughout the year.

For me the thing is, in a televised game the video referee should be able to judge on such incidents because as I said in here straight after the game it was obvious to everyone who saw the Heramaia incident just once on the TV, that it was action that warranted a sending off. If in a Sky game the Referee and two linesman can’t get it right between them (and that’s a bloody bad job for starters) then the two video referees stood like a couple of aging nerdy wannabe gamers in front of that screen, should be able to rule on it. Some would ask, “But why do we need such immediate action?” Well because for me ‘on report’ gives no advantage to the injured player or his team who are often in fact handicapped by having a player struggling for the next few plays. All that now happens is that the perpetrator appears two days later to be judged and given a suspension if warranted.

However if to this ‘daft lad’ fan, that would be easily solved by using the video referee, what about the more thorny issue of what happens when the game isn’t televised and the referee the two linesman and the back line judges (all sponsored by Specsavers) don’t ‘see’ anything?

Talking to a lot of fans about this it appears that most agreed that although sometimes it could still be a travesty of justice, a player should only get put on report if the referee has ‘sufficient doubt’ and if that is the case then the player should perhaps be sin binned for 10 minutes on the strength of that doubt, to at least give the ‘fouled’ side a bit of a ‘current’ advantage. What if the perpetrator is innocent though? Well it’s hard to think of another solution other than to scrap the ‘on report’ rule all together and let the referee best guess it; 10 minutes, nothing or off! As it stands at present for me, raising the crossed hands above the head is seen by fans and pundit alike as simply a cop out for the referee. Just my views of course and nothing in this situation seems to be either mistake-proof, or indeed ideal, but the fact that the team who have been fouled against often get no advantage whatsoever from an ‘On Report’, will always continue as a bone of great contention for Clubs, fans and players alike, and for me it needs to be sorted.

The Richard Whiting ‘A Question of Sport’ event at the KC last Monday was a great night and well done to everyone who went and helped Rich raise some cash.

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The West Yorkshire team concentrate on the clues on the screen except for Joe who looks like he’s thinking, “ I wonder what they’re all doing in Casvegas!”

This time in Codgers Corner I want to look at a Hull team on the very top of their game, playing ‘total rugby’ that is absolutely overpowering, amazingly exciting and near perfect for the full 80 minutes. Today I want to try to explain a game that is in the top three best games I have ever seen Hull FC play. The game also showcased the best performance by a young Hull player I have probably ever seen too.

October 1982 was little different to Octobers in Kingston upon Hull. It was Hull Fair, drizzly and wet and the club must have been pleased to get a crowd of 13,057 down to the Boulevard for a top of the table clash on a cold Wednesday evening. As we all struggled through the Hull Fair traffic to get parked around the ground there was an air of expectation as we prepared to watch our heroes take on Leeds the club that was undefeated in 8 League games and who stood five points clear at the top of Division One.

The Loiners were a great team but then again so were we and the strength in depth that we had at the club was reflected by the fact that the previous weekend I had gone to watch our A team beat Wakefield A with a team that included Ronnie Wileman, Steve Portz, Mick Sutton, Tony Dean, Steve Dennison, Wayne Proctor and Shaun Patrick. No surprise then that the club were even muting the possibility of launching a new team called Hull White Star to play in the Second Division.

That night the Threepenny Stand was rocking and packed to the rafters as the floodlights shone out on a glistening pitch and the ‘glow’ of Hull Fair shone in the sky over the Airlie Street end. As the teams ran out folks were still streaming into the ground and as for the match day programmes, well they had run out well before then. Lee Crooks our 20 year old Great Britain Colts international second row forward kicked off into a light breeze. From the first tackle it was obvious Hull were up for it, and Crooksey then produced a massive hit that left international loose forward Heron in a heap on the floor, gasping for breath.

After 4 minutes we worked the ball to the half way line where Trevor Skerrett blasted his way through a tackle by Rayne and Pitchford and passed onto ‘Knocker’ Norton. Our international loose forward shot down the centre channel in front of the Threepennies and threw out a low pass that Dane O’Hara picked off his boot laces. The winger stumbled, looked up and then set off for the corner as Dyl and Ward came across to tackle him into touch. As they closed in Dane showed his strength and skill to squeeze in at the corner. Lee Crooks missed the touchline conversion but then although Kevin Dick reduced our lead to a point with a well taken penalty, it became the Lee Crooks show.

On 13 minutes our young GB Colts international got his first try. Harkin, Topliss, Kemble and Evans engineered a breathtaking move from our own 10 yard line to set up a position 30 yards out from the Leeds whitewash. Bridges, who throughout the evening worked the acting half back position superbly, flighted a long hanging pass to Norton who released the perfect drop off for Crooks to crash in with Leeds full back Hague on his back. He converted his own try and then got another penalty after 16 minutes and already despite Leeds’s big reputation we were 10-2 in front.

Crooks tackled everything and was on hand to cart the ball up along with the workhorses that were Paul Rose, Trevor Skerrett and Charlie Stone. We were playing on a different plane to the league leaders and the crowd loved the level of skill anticipation and tenacity they were watching. After 20 minutes a ‘set of six drives ended with Crooks finding himself with the ball and everyone expecting him to kick it deep towards the Leeds line. However this was Lee’s night and as he spotted a gap he shot through it and kicked a little lobbed effort over Hague’s head. Running round the full back he caught the ball and to a massive cheer from all around the ground he flew over to touch down. The rest of the half was all Hull but although Evans and Kemble went close we did not increase the score.

We all started to believe that we were seeing something special that night though, and the crowd was buzzing through the half time break. It certainly did not take long for our suspicion’s to be confirmed either as the second half was barely a minute old when Crooks was at it again to complete a brilliant 32 minute hat trick, with his third try without doubt being his best. He broke from 60 yards out, kicked past the full back again and this time dribbled the ball for fully 40 yards to touch down near the posts. His conversions made the score 20-2 and you could see by the faces of the Leeds team that already the game was up. Everyone was playing their part in a complete annihilation of the Leeds outfit, the centres Evans and Leuluai looked yards faster than Massa and Dyl. In fact Evans went close on about 5 occasions that night, his best chance coming from a great passing movement that saw him cross the line in the 45th minute, only for referee Whitfield to pull him back for a forward pass.

On the 46th minute mark though it was Topliss who shot in for Crooks to goal and I guess by then it was starting to look like an exhibition match. However Leeds were now seeing a bit more of the ball but a couple of brilliant catches of ‘Bombs’ and a superb tackle on Conway saw Kemble at full back a stone wall of defence through which Leeds could just not pass. It was simply magnificent rugby and I think the only mistake we saw from a Hull player was in the 53rd minute when Harkin dropped a pass from Rose straight into the path of winger Andrew Smith who went in for Leeds only try of the night wide out, but Dick could not convert and at 25-5 Hull were cruising.

It was then Leuluai’s turn to score as he caught the next pass from Paul Rose and set off on an arching run for 45 yards to score near the posts. Then Rose himself finished the scoring with five minutes to go and with Crooks again adding the conversion, we had won a most memorable game 35-5. At the end no one really wanted to go home it had been such a wonderful experience and the sort of thing the fans could do with a bit of today. The performance of several players down the middle like Steve Norton, Lee Crook, Skerrett and Stone were just unbelievable as Hull tore Leeds’s confidence to shreds. This was not so much a victory as a humiliation of a side that sat proudly at the top of the table. If you were there you will know exactly what I mean and no written word can fully describe just how brilliant Hull FC and young Lee Crooks were that night. Brilliant memories, Oh for some of those times now!!

I heard this week from Kevin Holmes who is an exiled fan who with his son Joe read the Diary every week. They told me that a friend of theirs, (and no doubt many readers of the Diary), who last week passed onto that place that is ‘white with clover’. The fan, George Slater, they describe as ‘a truly unusual character’ who was black and white barmy and who always attended matches in healthier days and as he struggled a bit, when he could. So to mark the passing of another of the black and white family I’ll just say RIP ‘Old Faithful’ George Slater.

While I’m on ‘mentions’, a big ‘Good Luck’ to my pal Tony Strodder, a guy who I met last year in London and shared that disappointing Wembley experience with. Tony has been ill of late and starts his next period of treatment today. Last time he received treatment he read the Diary straight afterwards and no doubt that’ll be the case again, so sorry I can’t be more upbeat Tony and good luck mate! The ‘famous’ Hutchie also told me yesterday that there’s a big game going on next Saturday at 2-00pm at the Cropton Road Ground when Hull Wyke play The Royal Signals in an exhibition game in aid of the club and the Royal British Legion. It should be a great afternoon supporting a great cause, so get there if you can!

Now we must contemplate another 5 day turn round for both us and Salford and much will depend on who comes through the best and after yesterday my money would be firmly on them! But, it’s another massive game that we just have to win. These back to back home games in our run of KC fixtures are the ‘season breakers’ for me and we ain’t started too well at all have we?

Thanks again for all your support, correspondence and pictures, some of which I can’t include for fear of being sued, they are however all really appreciated. And for all those who picked me up in my report last week as I got my Gareth Ellis’s mixed up with my Jamie Ellis’s, sorry about that, but writing a match review in a dark car travelling down the M62 is tough at times, I must try harder in future! ‘Between game’ news is certainly thin on the ground since the start of the Radford regime but I do my best and this has been a gloomy old Diary which after yesterday is hardly surprising really! However although it will be tough let’s get a win on Friday and rub the Doc’s nose in it a bit eh? See you all there, if your nerves and patience can stand it.

Faithfully Yours
(and trying to keep believing)

Wilf!