The Dentists Diary – 390th

“I don’t think people realise how desperate the players are for the two points tonight, we know we cannot afford to let the gap between us and the top teams get any bigger.”

5 days after the Widnes debacle, I still found myself worrying and as I read those pre-match words from Jamie Shaul and looked at our depleted ranks I thought, “Yeh great words, but we’ll have to go some to get anything at all!”

In fact I simply couldn’t envisage any way our depleted troops were going to come out on top, especially against a big strong Salford team, who were back to winning ways and led by Rangi Chase. However, for the second week running my pre-match predictions went straight out of the window when we took to the field and produced nothing short of a stunning performance.

At this point last week I said that sometimes it’s really difficult to write this rubbish week in week out and it might surprise some to know that even after a win, this week it’s little different. Back in January, I resolved that this season I would try to avoid those massive swings in emotion that have beset this blog over the past 8 years. You know the stuff; one week we are the best thing since sliced bread and the next we are absolute garbage. However just 7 games into the season I’m afraid it’s unavoidable really, because although the proper journalists are really good at keeping the lid on it all, if this is to truly be the journal of an average biased fanatical supporter, then it must at times portray the fact that supporting Hull FC is like riding on an out of control roller coaster. Put simply, for this fan that was an amazing turn round in just 5 days, as true to form for the team we love, some players who were nothing short of shocking last week were superb this.

If you were one of those who stayed away to help create possibly the smallest gate for a Super League game at the KC, (and after last week, who can blame you) then boy you missed a real all action thrill a minute treat played out in the best atmosphere we’ve experienced for ages. The passionate support from the terraces for our line defence took me back to the Boulevard and in the end those who attended emerged from the emotional tumble drier that is supporting our Club, hoarse, relieved and embracing perhaps just a bit of hope for the future. We aren’t world beaters by a long chalk, but it was a fine show just the same.

Look, let me say here and now I expected a bit of a drubbing, all the portents pointed to it and as I arrived at the ground to hear a ‘wannabee’ Rod Stewart belting out ‘Reason to Believe’ I was struggling to find the same thing myself!!

I was worried, I had been all week because I knew that to go a quarter of a season and only get 4 points would have been a real concern as I knew that in essence it was only the abject crisis that is London, and the deducted points of Bradford, that would possibly be keeping us out of the bottom two, come the end of the weekend. Of course walking into my seat I knew what was needed, don’t all fans? In my mind we should have had Rankin and Miller in the halves, given Yeamo a spell on the sidelines and started with Whiting and not Hadley in the pack, but as I so often say in here, what the hell do I know?

Miller and Horne looked to complement each other in the halves, while Yeamo knuckling down, didn’t sulk and did well, when all week in his heart of hearts he must have worried about being dropped (and in reality he couldn’t have complained if he had been). The way he and Tusan protected Miller on the edges was great to watch, he was solid in defence and although obviously lacking a bit of that old pace, he made a couple of big breaks downfield to relieve the pressure on our defence and set up field position. On that form, like him or not, no-one else on our books at present (and I emphasise at present) would have done any better. So, as I say, what do I know? Our Coach wanted to drop more players from the 17 that started against Widnes but missing a host of his senior squad, (10 were for one reason or another unavailable) Radford put his trust in a combination of youth and fringe players in a desperate attempt to restore pride to the Club he obviously loves.

In the other centre there is little doubt that defence has certainly been Crooks’ undoing this season, but it was interesting on Friday to see Colbon coaching him on ‘wide out defending’ on the hoof. Right in front of us as Sa’u and Meli charged down the touchline you could hear Colbon shouting, “Hold, Hold, Stay with him” as they funnelled Meli into a blind alley to complete the tackle between then, just as Sa’u shot through the gap, without the ball.

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Jamie Shaul is mobbed after his try.

The kicking game was as good as we’ve seen this year, as we pegged the opposition back into their 20 on a regular basis. But if Miller and Horne sorted the kicking and fired the offensive play it was that defence that won us the game. The sheer determination to defend our line whatever was thrown at us was simply amazing. I guess looking back at the Warrington, Cas, Widnes and Saints games we remember those ‘critical lapses that cost you matches’, but when you stand back from it all, our ability to keep teams out has been a real feature of the season so far. In our last five games we’ve held the opposition to 3 tries or less, last week it was one and this time we only leaked two. But on Friday we also improved our attack, got the win and did it in convincing style in the end.

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Liam Watts capped a great night’s work with the final touchdown

Had we played with just half that desire, energy, wanting and passion we would have blown Widnes away, but if we looked good in attack on Friday, in defence we were nothing short of sensational. Those 6 consecutive sets we defended on our line before we even touched the ball were superb, as were the 6 minutes when our line was under siege in the middle of the second half. At the end of the season, when we all look back at our own personal highlights, I bet a lot of you will have those two spells fixed there in your top 5!

After the ‘wake’ we’d had in the Drum and Monkey just 5 nights earlier, on Friday the salivating went on well into Saturday morning, but this time around there was little doubt that everyone’s man of the match was Jordan Thompson. Described by my pal Kathy, as she emerged from behind a celebrative lager, as “Simply Magnificent”, he was without doubt the best player on the field. He is a real modern forward, extremely strong and tough, but with amazing leg speed in the drive and when bending the line. He’s just come from no-where and was on Friday well…magnificent! There were many other good performances too. Shaul who it was revealed has been suffering from a virus (no doubt the same one Radford had all last week) took his chance and charged back into contention with a great performance, don’t you just love those breaks from inside his own 20? Colbon, although never spectacular shored the right hand side up and helped Crooks no end as our young centre to his credit showed a lot of spirit, attacked well and certainly brought some relief to us all with some really accurate goal kicking (although I have to say that the one from the touchline from his own try right in front of us, didn’t go over the posts!).

Yeaman I’ve mentioned, but Talanoa did well with the ball in hand and one break in the second half saw him take at least 4 players with him as he ploughed downfield. Miller however was a revelation. His kicking made so much difference as one minute he deftly probed the touchline for position, before hoisting a massive spiralling up and under in the next. Horne too had a much better game, he created space and also ensured that our end of set plays were a massive improvement.

In the forwards there was a lot of support from the rest for the efforts of Thompson and I thought Watts had his best game for ages, Pitts foraged and battled and young Hadley, who had obviously been told to flatten Chase a time or two early on, tackled himself to a standstill. Whiting was again introduced too late for me, but did well when he was on while at hooker, reverting to Houghton being relieved by Heramaia worked well. Houghton tore the heart of the Salford defence with those trade mark runs from dummy half and tackled and tackled, but his passing is still a bit wayward for me, while Heramaia worked hard but wasn’t I thought, as effective as he has been. Tusan had probably his best game to date but backing all this up was a majestic performance from Westerman at loose forward. Pushing Thompson for my man of the match he was into everything. Creating breaks with short passes or charging in like an extra prop he had a great game. There is little doubt too that if we can get him doing that every week he’s a massive plus for the team. Finally the turn out from Salford was really disappointing when, after you discount Tommy Lee’s extended family, few made the trip over from West Manchester.

A word or two now before I finish on our Coach, who has come in for some stick of late mainly for the way he publically criticised the performance last week (an action which, as I said after that debacle, strangely made me feel a whole lot better). Other FC Coaches in the past have shown ‘emotions’ after such defeats, that ranged from crass denial to just laughing it off, but such was his grief and disappointment that Radford sounded last week as if he was heartbroken, and that was fine, because so was I!! He obviously wears his heart on his sleeve, is a Hull lad and really cares about our Club. Rightly or wrongly he animates exactly how we the fans are feeling and does it sincerely and from the heart. It doesn’t suit everyone, it might grate a bit in the long run, but for now it’ll do for me.

Likewise on Friday in his post match interview there was no gloating or basking in reflected glory after a week when he had somehow turned things round in sensational fashion; instead he was simply gracious in victory and focussed on next week! No doubt we’ll all be on his back soon, that’s what you get when you’re a Coach, but for now he’s Ok by me. Mrs R rarely makes sweeping comments about rugby league but when she does she’s usually ‘spot on’ and on Friday as we drove to the game she listened intently to Lee talking to Gwilym. He was stating the fact that you can’t pull the wool over the eyes of the spectators when it comes to lacking passion and energy, because as Lee said, “they know what’s going on”. When he’d finished, Mrs R just smiled and said, “He gets it” and quite frankly that’s it; he does!!

For the second week running too, a few plaudits for Radio Humberside themselves and Gwilym in particular because post match he had somehow got himself into a position in the Stadium where he could not only get an interview from Radford but also managed to ‘grab’ a chat with three other players, Wattsy, Shaul and Liam Colbon. Ok we’d won, but it made for a great and informative ride to the pub, so top stuff guys and as I know you read this sometimes, try and keep that format after games, it worked really well.

So there you have it, another week, another emotion swing and two points in the bag. The up’s and downs of being an FC fan eh? What I will say is that you can only play what is in front of you and this week I can only praise the team for getting a victory and beating a very ambitious Salford outfit. But, you know some will read this and contact me saying, “There you are, I told you Widnes wasn’t that bad”, But it was, it was bloody awful, but we turned it round and Friday was simply excellent entertainment and in the context of the Widnes game another indication of what you have to endure as an FC fan. Like some veteran boxer who should retire but can’t leave the ring behind, we all just face up and roll with the punches don’t we? What will next week bring, well who knows; after my predictions for last Friday certainly not me? In fact the only thing I know for certain is that I’ll be there to find out!!

There was a great game to savour too at Bishop Burton on Saturday, when despite the best efforts of a big, strong and pretty skilful Salford team the Under 19’s, trailing 20-18 with just 6 minutes to go, scored two late tries to win 28-20. Under the cosh for long periods it was a great fight back and we saw a brilliant hat trick from Reece Dean at scrum half, a great stint on the wing from Callum Lancaster and some great forward play from Jordan Abdull, Jansit Turgut and particularly Jack Downs. Smashing entertainment and great pies too, which left us all with a smile on our faces and not just because the visiting full back was called Ettienne Ferret!!!

So to the week past and my ‘suicidal’ description of the game against Widnes certainly generated the biggest postbag I have ever had in the 9 years I’ve been churning out this weekly drivel. There are, without doubt still plenty of you out there who care enough to get in touch when we’re in trouble, but I worried when I’d posted last week’s offering in case I had called it wrongly. You see I was so depressed and that made me a bit concerned about how you would take a very negative appraisal of things. But look, if I stop saying how I feel then I might as well pack up, this as I often say, is not a propaganda sheet for the Club, but the weekly journal of a long suffering, game weary and often totally frustrated fan. I like many of you reading this put a lot into my lifelong ‘love affair’ with ‘The Cream’ but as is often the case with wayward kids and sometimes wayward partners, it’s often an affection that isn’t returned. As in life you hang in there thinking it could be worse and invariably as time goes on it gets worse! But, such is the lot of the long suffering fan!

I needn’t have worried though, because after the Diary was posted late (and I’d pacified several readers who thought I’d chucked the towel in), with the exception of just two people who thought I was a tad over the top, the other 50 odd that got in touch were just as pi**ed off as I was!! I know several of the players and its crap criticising them in here, but it’s not their Club, Adams or indeed ours, because it belongs to all of us, we buy into and have a collective responsibility for it and so its bloody heartbreaking when one part of the ‘group’ let the rest down. Particularly when as a fan you’ve probably had to make financial and personal sacrifices for the privilege of be there watching it in the first place! It was a shambles which saw Lee Radford have a sleepless night on Sunday and a full day of ‘crisis meetings’ and ‘one on one’s’ with the players last Monday. I like the way our Coach takes defeat, as I said earlier it may soon wear thin, but for now he is at least on the same page as I am.

There was certainly no warm down session in the Total Fitness hydrotherapy pool for the lads last Monday, as instead they were all summoned to YPI at 8-00am. The usually laid back Pete Smurthwaite on Humberside on Tuesday was certainly animated as he described it as a ‘ a shambolic display’ and we soon discovered that it was in fact the lowest scoring game in Super League since Saints beat The Crusaders in 2009. Someone said that Widnes never looked like scoring and that’s true, but we looked even less likely to cross the whitewash!! It was simply a horror show in a long line of similar annual horror shows against similar opposition. We never learn and perhaps, I’m beginning to believe, we never will.

During last week the word from YPI was that Miller and Shaul have been training the house down as they got a whiff of the chance of a return to the first team. The attitude is still excellent in camp but the Coach is certainly taking no prisoners at present and it shows. Apparently when certain players were called to his office on Thursday to be told they wouldn’t be playing, there were some long faces around the place, but Lee did it as he always said he would.

I know I touched on the Micky Paea incident last week but it was great to see our owner saying it as he saw it in his programme notes after he had taken the opportunity to accompany the player to his disciplinary hearing. Adam said, “I personally attended the hearing with Mickey and Motu Tony on Tuesday and had to come to terms with an incredible decision made by someone who was in my opinion more suited to judging Strictly Come Dancing and who clearly has no understanding of the game and how it is played” This ‘Diarist’ simply can’t resist a quote like that; in fact it was ‘fab-u-lous’

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Then of course there’s that spear tackle on Richard Whiting by three Widnes players that ended with just a warning to each of them. It bloody stinks and once Poore as cited Hudge chimed into a debate that is, for some fans, fast taking over what is actually happening on the pitch.

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Gareth Ellis and Justin Poore (just removing his elbow from Ellis’s ear) get 5 games in total between them, while the ‘slam dunk trio’ from Widnes all get off with a warning.

I’ve no issues with the Gareth Ellis shoulder charge incident although I didn’t spot it at the time. However I knew by 10-00 on Monday morning that he was guilty. That morning I heard from Adam Pearson who was really disappointed and added that we were going to suffer even more because, “Gareth will get at least 2 games” which indicated to me that Ellis had put his hand up immediately and accepted the blame for the shoulder charge. As for good old Justin Poore, (the ‘walking liability’, as he was described by one Dobbins fan on their Message Board when they signed him), well after Hudgell’s outburst and going back to an earlier analogy, I expect that if he gets in trouble again this season they’ll throw the book at him and he’ll probably get a ‘10 from Len’.

However it was apparent from several letters in the recent RL papers that our archaic disciplinary system and the state of our refereeing is perhaps a cause of some fans walking away from the game. But have the shocking deficiencies in the way we officiate games and manage the disciplinary process, along with a few other shortcomings in the administration of our game, really driven fans away? Well there is little doubt that a lot of games are less than spectacular these days but it was the officiating which made one guy on RL fans chose to ‘come out’ and say ‘That’s it’. Is he on his own? Well consider this…….

If you look back as I did the other day to a Diary from May 2011, you would see in there me lamenting the dropping gates and the fact that more and more folks were walking away from the game and never returning. That weekend I worried that there were only 101,000 people watching all the games on show in the three divisions and that we were in danger of dropping below the magic six figure attendance level. Jump forward to the 2014 season, (remember that one, the one after the World Cup when fans would flock back to the game?) when, in Round 6, 59,174 watched Super League games, 7081 watched 7 Championship games and 1618 watched 4 Championship One games, that’s a grand total of 67,873. So on that brief analysis, gates have by and large, dropped by around a third! But don’t worry relegation and promotion, 8x8x8 etc. etc. will bring ‘em flooding back won’t they? Dear, oh dear, I somehow doubt it myself don’t you?

For me I’m afraid our great game is sinking slowly but surely under a morass of poor refereeing, badly run clubs, the haemorrhaging of our best players to the NRL, an incompetent at best (and bent at worst) judiciary, a group of TV commentators straight out of the joke shop and a shed load of inflated ego’s at Redhall. I have to agree with the latest KouKash outburst last week when he said that the Clubs should be running the Super League, of course they should, it’s their money and it just makes such good sense! You know, I hate banging on about this week in week out but it’s happening all around us and at least Hudge, Koukash and Pearson are trying to do something about it! I don’t suppose they’ll get much support from the Etherington’s and the rest of the sheep though do you? What a bloody mess.

However this week at least we saw a great stance by both Hull Club’s on the vagaries of the disciplinary panel. For Hudge to cite the Whiting incident in the way he has should be commended. You know, in my opinion we can still all ‘hate’ each other across the great divide, but this united front on the state of the game should be welcomed by all fans from both Clubs. One thing’s for sure both Chairman want what’s best for the game, it’s obvious however that many are still willing to stand by and let the chaos continue, as all the while more and more fans shuffle away from the game shaking their head in disbelief.

The next big Richard Whiting Testimonial event is the Boxing at the KC on 12th April there are Ringside VIP tables left at £350 and some individual tickets at £20, here’s the details, support it if you can!

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So to the situation at our beloved Hull FC and with seven games gone and only 6 points in the bag, we are a quarter of the way through a season when let’s face it, we expected nothing. Back in January anything was going to be a pleasant surprise, but so far surprises have been occasionally pleasant and sometimes unpleasant. Although we have looked reasonably good and at times there have been green shoots of hope, we have generally been unpredictable and difficult to call. That’s a bit harsh but we certainly don’t look to have the stuff that will make us top 4, indeed hands up who thinks, even after last Friday, that we could well struggle to make the top 8?

However, why is that? We have a good owner who is willing to spend some cash, a new young local Coach, a squad who are working hard, are full of passion and a really together group and yet still it ain’t happening. Well, for me it pretty simple really, because for this fan who has pretty much seen it all, the answer is basically…….real class (or indeed the lack of it). You see I feel our current malaise is down to too many good, honest, hardworking squad players and not enough real marquee stars, who make things happen and do it on a regular basis.

‘Well Wilf’, you’ll say, ‘There ain’t that many about’, but if you look at all the great teams both past and present they always have at least 3 or 4 of the sort of players who can change a game. Saints, Wigan and Leeds have those players, Salford have proved you can buy them, Huddersfield have a couple and Warrington are leaking ‘em and the fortunes of all those Clubs are dictated by how many they have. It’s no coincidence I think that Wigan and Warrington have lost a couple each and have struggling somewhat, while Huddersfield did ok last year but don’t quite have enough of them to repeat it this. As for the rest of us, well we all just muddle along. Look for a moment at our current Squad.

Over the past few years we have brought in Ellis and Paea who are real stars and influential when on the field, the rest of our signings (and there’s been a lot) have been adequate, at times exciting, at others workmanlike and occasionally naff, but never really potential game changers. In that period however we have lost Fitzgibbon, Berrigan, O’Meley, Manu, Briscoe, Moa, Holdsworth (who like it or not was a game changer at times for Salford) Lynch and Tickle all of whom had star quality when they arrived, or were at the peak of their ability at one time or another in their Hull career. Be it scoring run away tries, setting positions, busting tackles, kicking goals or just getting the team going; they all had an element of the x factor and most haven’t been replaced.

Unless they are genuinely retiring you have to scrap like hell to keep such players and when you can’t, you have to replace them like for like. However in modern British Rugby League it’s darn near impossible to find those replacements. Our youth set up produces many hard working potentially good players and one or two who might just make it big, but across the game many of the best English Super League players have gone to the Aussie game anyway, so even if you could afford to buy a marquee player, there aren’t any about. There simply isn’t the class around and with the wages in the NRL we can’t afford to import class any more either. Adam Pearson once told me that he enquired of Huddersfield as to how much he would have to pay to get Danny Brough and the answer was in excess of £400,000, and that’s before the wage he would want. That was two years ago, but he commanded that price tag because quite simply for Huddersfield, he was that x factor player and thus probably irreplaceable.

So in my humble opinion that’s where the problem is at Hull FC. We simply have too many good, honest, hard working, squad players and not enough star larkers. When Pearson arrived he went straight for Ellis and got his man and we all thought ‘Wow, we’re on our way’. But since then we haven’t kept that standard up, although I wouldn’t be surprised if we aren’t trying to rectify that situation right now, but so far we have seen a procession of ‘Solid’ and ‘Last Chance’ players arrive at the Club. We ain’t producing our own game breakers either, Westerman has never confirmed the early promise he showed at Cas, Watts isn’t making the sort of progress that will make him a marquee player, Whiting is a Superman but not a marquee one, Houghton was on the cusp of being one, but seems to have got bogged down and Richard Horne, Feke, Carvell, Yeaman and perhaps even Heramaia are coming into the ‘twilight’ stage of their careers when injuries and lack of pace come to the fore.

It’s no insult to these players, let’s face it they wear the black and white and believe me I hold them all in high esteem, they all give their all and in isolation they are all good solid players who rarely let us down, but they need the spark of real quality out there on the field with them to make the difference.

The rest of our squad is made up of home grown and imported youngsters, a few of whom (Lineham, Crooks and Shaul) could be really big one day but there are no guarantees and the rest are just ‘apprentice’ squad players. We need more quality in there and if that means a reduction in quantity and a smaller squad, then so be it. I hope for a clear out at the end of the season and just a couple of signings coming in. They need to be real ‘show business’ and real game breakers, otherwise, we will be celebrating mediocrity for a few seasons to come. When players like Dobson, the Burgesses and Tompkins leave the British game it’s tragic and perhaps they are the sort of players we have somehow to retain and/or try to get back.

That is just of course my honest opinion, many of you won’t agree and I’ve probably got it all wrong, but I believe that until we bring in 2/3 really top class game breaking players who can make the difference when called upon, we will at Hull FC always have good games and bad games, struggle to get any sort of consistency and thus we’ll never consistently compete with the big boys!

Last Thursday I had the chance to have a good look at the great new magic shirt we have produced courtesy of the artwork of Sid Domic. I know you’ll either love it or hate it but at least the Club have had a go at doing something special as they did last year for the same game. It’s certainly proving a talking point, particularly as we are the only Club to produce a commemorative Magic shirt this year. With almost 500 already ordered, it’s certainly proving popular and good business and I guess it’s a swansong for Lee Jenkinson, who left the Club last Friday. I have said my piece on Lee already and so won’t revisit it except to say I hope we get someone good to replace him. At least he has spent his period of notice firming up and ordering all the stuff (including the home and away shirts) for the 2015, 150th year celebrations.

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I had a coffee with Jenks before he left to join the enemy and you can see he likes the new shirt! Good Luck Lee ( #weallhateleeds)

Now, here’s an interesting thing because it’s emerged this weekend that one of the consortia that failed in their bid to take over the Bradford Bulls, involved a Bradford-born oil billionaire from Texas. Local football club Bradford Park Avenue were one of four bidders that failed in their attempts to take over the club after local businessman Marc Green eventually won control of the club. However it transpired that the Park Avenue bid was backed by Gareth Roberts, who is non-executive chairman of Petro Harvester and who is said to be worth around £8 billion. But, it’s rumoured, that consortium wanted the Club to locate to the Bradford City Ground and that didn’t suit the RL at all, well it wouldn’t would it? So a billionaire is lost to the game!

This week in the Codgers Corner spot I want to go back to Sunday 25th October 1981 and a memorable trip we made to Lancashire to Central Park the home of Wigan. Even the great Hull sides from way back in the 50’s, faltered there, and in fact that day it was exactly 59 years and 30 meetings since we had got a victory. Back in 1922 had been our last success and so as we made our way over the Pennines, firstly to Poole’s Pies after which the Lancashire club was affectionately named, and then for a few pre drinks in ‘The Park’ with it large framed pictures of famous Wigan teams and matches from years gone by. Once at the ground we took up a position on the Kop, at the end covered as it was with an old corrugated tin roof that rang out when the rain came down. Thankfully the weather stayed fine but the pitch was really heavy and in the first ten minutes we struggled to get going with our speedy backs getting consistently bogged down in the mud.

You could see it was frustrating for our players and Wigan’s front row of Hodkinson, Kiss and Trundle constantly ‘niggled’ in the tackle and held our players down. Steve Norton seemed to be the only FC player that could make any progress in those early exchanges but on 16 minutes his enterprise could have so easily have got him sent off as Pendlebury butted him in the face and Knocker, with blood streaming from his cheek, retaliated with a flourish of punches. Back then the officials were more sensible than these days and Mr Fox realising what the Wigan player had done, awarded us a penalty which Crooks stroked over the posts to give us a 2-0 lead. For the next few exchanges Norton was obviously unsettled and chased the Wigan pack like a man possessed, but slowly he cooled down and went on to play a starring role.

Hodkinson was caught off side after 21 minutes and again Crooks added the two points and we were on our way. Tony Dean despite playing with a leg injury was having a great game and it was he who increased our lead 9 minutes later with a drop goal from 30 yards out. We should have increased our lead on 36 minutes too, as Norton and Crane worked a wonderful opening for Stone who dummied before releasing Lee Crooks to steam through and score under the sticks only for the referee to call him back for a forward pass. As the half time hooter went we led 5-0.

Wigan came out fired up and smothered us in the tackle, often standing about a yard offside at the play the ball. In the end Referee Fox had obviously had enough as he penalised Gary Stephens as he ran into our line and Crooks again added the two points. At 7-0 we all started to believe that perhaps we were about to see a bit of history made that afternoon under those leadened Lancashire skies. Back came Wigan and (Salfordesque) after surviving 26 tackles in our own 25 yard area at last the valiant Hull defence cracked. Although Walters and O’Hara seemed to have him covered Henderson Gill somehow sneaked in at the corner, and three minutes later Walsh kicked a penalty after Wileman had been caught stealing the ball, and the home team were just two points behind.

However any prospect of a Wigan rally came to a grinding halt in the 70th minute. Given a half chance when Crane and Crooks had combined, Leuluai, who was playing at off half that day, shot through a gap and into open field. He brilliantly ran round the home team’s full back Birts beating him completely for speed, and dived in near the posts. It was a brilliant try from James and capped a fine performance from the player who was usually a centre. In his uncustomary position he had certainly worked hard to get the line going and pulled off several massive tackles when we had to defend.

Once Leuluai had scored the game suddenly opened up. Mick Crane who was once again proving to be ‘Master of the Unexpected’ chipped towards touch, the ball bounced off a defender and straight into the arms of Paul Prendiville. Faced with three defenders in front of him ‘taffy’ grubber kicked the ball ahead and down the wing channel, before re-gathering it to win the race for the touch-down. Prendiville wasn’t finished yet either as he broke from the kick off and made 50 yards down field for Walters to feed Dane O’Hara who scored his first try for the club, (this after having been out for 4 weeks with the collapsed lung he suffered on his debut at the Boulevard). Mr Fox didn’t even bother to restart the game and as his final whistle went the 1,500 Hull supporters in the gate of 6,785, danced and sang on the terraces to celebrate a fine win and the end of an unwanted record. Boy I wish I could go back to those days sometimes don’t you?

Well there we are after a week when I got more correspondence than ever before and we turned things around in quite spectacular fashion, we face the Red Devils again this time in the Cup on a less than traditional Thursday. Heaven know how many will attend but I expect it to be well down on last Friday just the same. We have to win this one, the season I think depends on it, Koukash wants silver-ware and this could be his last chance this season to get it. Salford will be no push over’s this time around, they’ll come out fighting and we have to match that. With Carvell, Paea and Bowden all likely to be available again selection will be interesting indeed. It’s a big ask but we have to try and get over the line and into the hat for the next round.

Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to ring, E mail, text and message me because your feedback, criticism and support is as always greatly appreciated. Good too to meet new readers and old friends at the Under 19’s it’s a great afternoon out! So, it’s been a funny old week but let’s hope come next Thursday night it’s not Salford that are laughing!

Keep Believing

Come on You Hulllllaaaarrrrr!!!!!!!
Faithfully Yours

Wilf

P.S. Nothing whatsoever to do with Rugby but sometimes I think the worlds gone mad. Here is an on line shoe ad I got from James and James this week, note the individual names of the shoes!

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At least we used to only call them PUMPS!!!!