The Dentists Diary – 391st

“It’s a really flat dressing room and I haven’t had to say much after the game. Some of the efforts were really top drawer from some of them tonight and probably enough to win two games, but certain areas of the field are really costing us and the same players are making the same mistakes week in week out, and cost us the game!”

Thus said our Coach and so ………we’re out of the Cup!!

Some folks complained about his ‘criticism by implication’ of certainly players in his post match comments, but bloody hell guys, he only said what we were all thinking!

If I had to précis the whole situation after a pretty disastrous night, then I would say that it’s quite simple really; you score 36 points at home you should win but if you concede 37 you don’t deserve to. It was a fabulous game of rugby but there was just one reason the FC lost and it was our defence, not all of it, but some significant bits of it! The attack was generally good and even pretty dynamic at times and the two young half backs I thought, looked to have something that can perhaps be nurtured in the coming months. The game was good entertainment, as have been in all fairness, all but one of our matches this season. We are certainly good to watch now, but the thrill a minute, end to end nature of that entertainment can’t mask the serious flaws in certain areas of our defensive play.

Believe me I wasn’t as dejected as I was after the Widnes match because I have over the years developed a real ‘saddo’ way of dealing with Cup football (which I will for the first time share with you later). However when you look at the game outside the fixation that is our obsession with the FC, it was an absorbing and nerve jangling encounter in which some of our players turned up big time, but as Radford said afterwards, the same few players making the same mistakes at critical times let us down again, and that for this fan is really hard to take.

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Disaster!!!!

By the time I got back to the Drum and Monkey last Thursday night I was pretty dejected. On what was otherwise a silent journey back to Beverley I had listened to Humberside with Messrs Lloyd and Murdock telling it pretty much as it was and Lee Richardson gloated as usual. So, when I finally reached the haven that is my local, it was a morose gathering that assembled to ponder another abject defensive display and the fact that there would be no trip to Wembley this time around. Mrs R, in one of her now legendary short, sharp, statements of wisdom commented, “Well at least we don’t have to play Rovers in the next round” which of course does, for the long suffering fan, offer just a modicum of solace.

It was a few beers with a few kindred spirits, consumed with the ‘sobering’ backdrop of having it irrefutably confirmed that it’s going to be a another long hard season and yet another in the ever lengthening list of ‘transitional years’.

“This is the turning point”, said Danny Houghton after the game, but bloody hell Danny, I’m fed up of ‘turning points’, ’new beginnings’ and ‘transitional seasons’, I’m getting old and this unending ‘nearly’ scenario just seems to be going on and on…forever! I’ve been patient and waited for a ‘new dawn’ and our emergence as a truly ‘Big’ team since the mid eighties and I guess I’ll continue to sit there strapped in and unable to leave the roller coaster that is supporting my Club, but at times it really does wear thin doesn’t it? I wouldn’t even have minded if just once we’d been so crap we’d finished bottom (be careful what you wish for Wilf and pray it’s not this year), because while there was no relegation, at least as Widnes, Castleford and Salford have proved, the only way would have been up. Once the Cup is out of the way the last few Super League campaigns have seen business as usual with us generally floundering in the doldrums and battling to live up to the hype which has invariably been ‘all talk and no trousers’.

The thing that is of course a bit of a saving grace is that with ball in hand we are just so good to watch these days and it’s easy after these defeats to forget how dire some of our attacking has been in past seasons. However at the end of the game I headed straight for the exit the moment that drop goal went over, muttering something about the fact that I was fed up of people telling me after that previous Salford encounter, how pleased they were that we missed out on Rangi Chase; cited him as a loose cannon, unpredictable and a maverick. But, having extolled in here last week the value of marquee players, as Lee Radford said afterwards, ‘That’s what you get when you pay top dollar’ and for me, although you might not agree, he was a menace all night. He was consistently probing and running and love him or loathe him, he simply doesn’t miss drop goals from 12 yards out; … and we do, in fact time has proved we’re bloody experts at it!!!!

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Sad to admit it but I was long gone by this point!

By the ‘Golden Point’ stuff ‘kicked off’ we were spent. I felt our energy had gone and though we held out for 8 minutes we never threatened as they did. Had Ellis and Horne been out there then they might just have steered us through! They had Chase and he did just that for them! Another massive issue was the fact that I lost count of the number of offloads they managed. These led to us having to execute two or three more tackles in every set which is eventually going to kill you for energy. That state of affairs led to us being stretched at the end of the set and therefore we never really pressured their kickers, which is simply crucial in a tight game like that.

I thought that the halves did well, considering it was the first time they had played together. The high kicking option at the end of sets was a bit too deep at times and gave their full back too much time but in general that up and under spiralling bomb stuff of Rankin’s, had them worried all night. He looks dangerous and direct on the ball and Milky is a good foil with his passing and dodging. They screw up at times but they would because they need more game time together.

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They did OK for me!

However the forwards stepped up after being out-muscled a bit at times in the first half. Paea led the charge, Feke gave his all again, while Bowden looked back to where he left off before his injury. With just a one year contract we have to get him signed up. For me (and some are already being wise after the event on this one), Whiting would have made little difference, while Thompson did well but was also well watched by the opposition and Westerman had another fine game, before going off injured late on. At full back too I thought Shaul did well and as someone said afterwards, like the half backs, we have to persist with him simply because in Jamie’s case one day he’s going to be a real star. On the left Talanoa was probably our best back (another with a one year deal that needs extending …quick) and Yeaman, (who I think this week got some un-warranted stick), although well watched when he had the ball, tackled his heart out and anyway for the dissenters I would pose the question, exactly who else do we have with that’s so dependable in the centre? Nothing got through at that side of the field all night and in the end Salford gave up on it, to concentrate instead on our Achilles heel, because as so often of late, our right flank was the problem wasn’t it?

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Didn’t break the line much but tackled his heart out!

As my pal John always says predictably, week in week out when I’m off on one, “Wilf it’s a game of fine margins”, but out there on the right there was nothing fine about it, because in defence that was where the real issues lay. It’s sad to say it but being blunt poor old Joe Arundel missed two tackles and spilled a ball on our line near the end, all of which one way or another led to tries. For me last week Crooks looked to be back to his form of last season, but with Colbon missing, (who, as I said in here last week coached him and mentored him in defence all night and thus prevented Mele getting a look in) he looked frail again. It appears to me that he simply isn’t improving in defence and I’m afraid I have to think back a long way to remember a player who gets bundled into touch as easily as he does.

However, talking of him being pushed into touch, I have to say whoever it was made the call to go blindside to him in the first half near our line, wants a bollocking too!! They got the scrum deep in our half and scored in the next set. But if Arundel is a big worry I guess we have to stick with Crooks, because he along with some of the other youngsters like Rankin, Shaul, Miller, Bowden and Hadley are as I see it, the future of the Club. They all have talent and they all have flaws, but that’s kids for you I guess. Perhaps with Ellis and Colbon back we will more sound wide out. Finally the ‘s decisions were baffling at times and I have to say hardly a week goes by when I don’t seem to make that comment.

So there you are, these are just my thoughts and we can all give our theories and hypothesise about the reasons we are out of the Cup, but out of it we are! Thankfully so are the Dobbins! There are a couple of plusses such as Mrs R’s point made earlier in here, a few weekends off during the season to patch up players and improve our skills and the saving of another big dent in Wilf’s bank balance come London in August! However paradoxically it certainly provides for the possibility of a dent in Mr Pearson’s own bank balance and it was a critical defeat, not because Salford were poor because they were far from that, but because it was there to be won. Defence wins you matches, but our lost us this one!

After that disappointment the news about us dropping our interest in Tom Biggs came as little surprise really and I have to say for this fan it was something of a relief. He wasn’t going to play this season, so by he came into the reckoning next year he would have been 31 and getting to the end of his career as far as the average RL wingman is concerned. I could see the attraction, hull lad, life-long fan, charismatic figure with long flowing hair etc etc. all of which made him ‘box office’ and pushed a lot of the buttons marketing wise, but as the whole thing dragged on it became apparent that it would be at least July before he was even available. I’m told from inside the Club that it was in the end the fact that he wasn’t making any effort himself to get released from his contract that was the last straw for Radford and Pearson, who had been on the phone to Bath every few days trying to get his early severance sorted and so we have decided to look elsewhere and for me as I say, when you balance all the facts, then missing out on Biggs is no big deal really.

Perhaps while we are talking personnel it’s time for a first Wilf’s Whiffs of the current season, as already the rumour mill is starting to whirl again on signings. Firstly the one that’s imminent and I’ve known that we were on the verge of capturing a player since last weekend and one that was described to me by the Club as a ‘a major’ one. I worried a bit about the difference between my opinion of ‘major’ and theirs, but who it is? Well as I write this my money would be on Setaimata Sa the former Sydney Roosters centre who was a big hit when he played for Catalan before he moved on a big money contract to London Irish. Standing 6ft 3ins and weighing 16st 3lbs he’s a massive, but fast centre or second row, whose party pieces at Catalan included the ability to bust tackles at will and score by catching high bombs over the opposition line. He would be a real crowd favourite should he be ‘the one’! We’ll just have to wait and see but the indications on time scale leaking out of the Club certainly makes me feel it’s someone waiting for work permit clearance. On to other whiffs and two readers in Australian continue to tell me almost weekly that we are tracking Michael Dobson and although a return to the NRL may seem the most likely outcome, we are also said by some, ‘in the know’, to have offered a deal for 2015 to Justin Carney of Castleford. Then there’s ‘de-registered’ (rumoured again) full back Shannon McDonnell who is reported to have been vanquished from YPI but is said to be interesting the Bradford Bulls. And finally there’s the rumoured Thomas Leuluai, what a signing he’d be for our 150th year! All probably just hot air and wishful thinking; whiffs eh, don’t you just love ‘em?

So the Cups gone for this season, but, here I would just pose the question of how do you as a fan approach Cup rugby? Not as strangely as I do, I’ll be bound! In fact I was so confident in my beliefs that I wrote the next few paragraphs before the game even kicked off!!!! You see if I’m really honest I never expected anything but a defeat and well before the game, I was resigned to us going out. “For God’s sake Wilf”, is the reaction I always get from my pals in the Drum and Monkey when I’m admitting that sort of negative approach, but it’s a state of mind I have got used to and have in fact taken comfort from over the years. You see if I’m honest, then as an ordinary fan I have a very extra ordinary way of treating such games.

Whatever I try to do, however much I try to convince myself otherwise, I approach our Cup matches a lot differently than I do the League ones. Whilst the latter offers a chance of redemption, (there’s always next week and always another game), the sudden death, last throw of the dice, aspect of knock out tournaments has for years scared me. I sat there on Thursday, head in hands, hardly able to watch, with a mouth so dry at times it resembled the proverbial ‘inside of a zookeepers boot’!! Three times we had it won, three times we choked on the opportunity to put it to bed, yet, all the while, I had my negativity towards the outcome to comfort me; you see (I hoped we wouldn’t but) I knew we’d lose. I think if I approached a psychiatrist then he would probably conclude that through regression you could trace this pre match resignation to a loss all the way back to that famous Wembley Final when we ‘Almost’ won back in 1985.

That defeat was one of the worst moments I have ever experienced in almost 60 years of blinkered faith in the team I love! The memory and indeed stigma of feeling absolutely elated by the occasion and the game and yet inconsolably desolate and wretched after the result, is one that rankles with me far, far more than last year’s ever did, simply because, my approach to such games meant that last season I didn’t expect to win that one anyway, however back in ‘85 I did. I remember the feeling as if it was yesterday, Featherstone two years earlier had been bad, but that game with Wigan was the turning point, the water shed and indeed, the game changer. It wasn’t a bad display or an embarrassing reversal in fact quite the contrary but for this fan it was a real ‘defining moment’ and one that would see me change the way I viewed Cup games forever.

Up until that fateful day in London, I had always approached tournament rugby with enthusiasm and expectation and perhaps even a modicum of confidence, even the ‘Robbing by the Dobbins’ in 1980 could not blunt my confidence. However 1985 was a superb final hailed worldwide as perhaps the best ever, but all those ‘glowing’ accolades in the media really got to me, no doubt because as I said previously, however ‘they dressed it up’, in the end, we lost out….. again…….big style. So, it was probably there and then when I concluded that it’s simply unacceptable in sudden death games to do anything but win; no excuses, no mitigating circumstances would therefore ever again suffice! Since that fateful weekend and through I guess, at least another 150 odd Cup matches, I have always treat these dates with destiny with a deal of trepidation and caution and I now find what solace there is with a decidedly ‘glass half empty’ mentality.

Why? Well if you win it’s a big plus and a very pleasant surprise, and if you lose at least you can tell yourself “I told you so!” In other words; you can’t lose. As a fan, if you’re a real died in the wool ‘follow them forever’ supporter, you never stop believing and certainly never stop hoping, but the constant disappointment does wear you down in the end, doesn’t it?

I am sure if you’ve ever really care about any team in any sport, you’ll know what I mean when I say that, in the end, it’s inevitably just down really to being an average supporter of an average sports club, who foolishly believes somehow, one day, his team are going to be the best there is. After Cup defeats the personnel at the Club are all apologetic and looking for reasons, excuses, turning points and retribution, however the difference between all us ‘committed fanatics’ and the players and even Coaches we adore, is that we have put in more hours, more seasons, many more miles and literally dozens more years than they have. We don’t get paid and can’t walk away or sign for another Club, we’re stuck with the one we’ve got.

Thus, for me, the negative approach to Cup rugby is, after all these years, something I know now I simply can’t change. The problem is for me that mindset is starting to impinge on how I view Derby’s too of late and I seriously wonder if one day I will look at all upcoming fixtures and even friendlies in the same light. (Bloody hell I hope not!!) Somehow as a long suffering FC fan you just lose the will to be positive when approaching games. But, I’m just I guess becoming a ‘hopeless case’ when it comes to Cup matches because at least adopting this attitude gives cause for some solace and thus makes them all a bit more bearable; Ok I’m a weird bugger, but at least I know I am and admit it!

Well, now I’ve got that off my chest, to the week gone by and I was pleased last week to hear Lee Radford saying in an interview that should things go wrong we won’t be hearing that old Chestnut about it not being “His own team” from him. Coaches come and coaches go but we have almost always heard that excuse trotted out as ‘the wheels start to come off’. Radford raised the topic himself and said that he knew the players that were here and exactly what he was getting when he signed up. I also know that one thing that has come out of Lee’s short reign has been the fact that if anything, Pearson has even more faith in our Rookie Coach now than he had when he appointed him and there is little doubt that our owner will show some patience and won’t be shifting him any time soon. However he might not want to say it but we all know it isn’t his team and the fans are even starting to say that as well.

I have to say too that so far, although I have always harboured reservations, in general I like his style, something that was strengthened further when I read a great feature articles from ‘Smailes of the Mail’ in last Tuesdays paper. Our FC reporter is certainly good at these sorts of things and it was a compelling read. Talking to our Coach after the victory over Salford last Friday Radford was in a light hearted mood after witnessing the win and started the interview with, “We’ve booked another crisis meeting for tomorrow,” which is pretty typical of the guy that I have spoken to a few times since he took over as Head Coach. Just like I always found Peter Gentle, Lee is pretty ‘human’ and certainly approachable when compared with some past head coaches I could mention!

There was also a mention of the issue I discussed in here a few weeks ago about the manner in which we leaked points at the start of the year and it confirmed what I said then about the fact that Andy Last had in fact based our attacking playbook on Peter Sharps from back in 2006. Smailsey described it as being ‘simple in its structure, but very effective when implemented correctly’. However since those early days our defence had improved until last weekend and in the League at least since round two, no team has managed to put more than 20 points on us. Smailes concludes by saying, “Always a player to shoot from the hip in his post-match reflections, Radford has continued that approach from his position on the bench”.

I have to agree and as an ordinary fan Lee’s honesty and passion are commendable, even if he may feel on reflection he’s said a little too much at times so far this season. I don’t mind that because it shows a human frailty to a leader who’s also obviously a fan. What’s been evident is that the game plan’s certainly been spot on each week, with the defeats at St Helens and Warrington only coming as Hull’s players dropped off when in winning positions. The tactics have worked and sometimes some heavy handed motivation coupled with even a bit of public lambasting for those who have under-performed does the trick. He knows the psyche of the individual players better than we do. Of course that won’t work in the long term but for now having talked to a couple of players that have featured in that sort of ‘spot balling’ they still just want to do it for Radford. The article by James Smailes certainly confirmed a lot of my thoughts and it was one that animated a fans view of things and I have to admit to really enjoying it and in fact reading twice.

Strangest thing I have seen this week was in the Tiger Leisure on line Shop which is now selling ‘City till I Die’ Scarves. What’s all that about?

You know my feelings on the Sky commentary boys so you can imagine my dismay when I read an article this week in which Jamie Jones Buchanan discussed Stevo’s career with the man himself and the headline and the context of the article was, ‘Stevo: I will retire from commentary in three years’. My heart sank but I guess there is little we can do about it; it just prompted this fan to wonder if Sky will give me a refund if I have the sound removed from my Sky box?

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Incidentally this is probably the most unflattering publicity photo I have ever seen. Perhaps Mr Stevenson should audition for a roll in the new Star Wars films!

Now, one or two readers stopped me on Thursday to say that perhaps my concerns of last week about the games attendances, (as I stated that there had been a 30% drop in gates since 2011), where perhaps a tad over the top and I’d probably just picked a bad weekend. That prompted me to look again last weekend and surprise, surprise, it was even worse! The figures were down again by another 2500 to 65,000 with the smallest gate being in the bottom division when just 193 watched the South Wales Scorpions getting beaten by the Hemel Stags. Come on, I mean, there is little doubt that most senior amateur teams get more than that! The actual total gates for the games in Championship One for week ending 30th March games, was just 770 people. Now that is blooming unbelievable! Expansionism, the future of the game? Come on guys you’re having a laugh!

Last week we finally received the official review of last year’s World Cup and it painted a picture of an iconic, record-breaking and popular event, which generated a profit of more than £3m for the sport. I ploughed through the document and will try to precise it here for you in a couple of paragraphs. Much is made of the monitory value of the World Cup to communities with the report claiming a massive benefit to both the game and the towns and cities which hosted matches and teams and that the direct economic impact of the tournament for hosts England and Wales RL was pretty good. Individually Cardiff benefited from staging the opening ceremony to the tune of £8.5m, the semi-final double header at Wembley generated a direct economic impact of £12.3m for London and as a result of staging the final, Manchester experienced a direct economic benefit of £8.4m. However, I soon learned in the old days when I was working for the Council on tourism impact in Hull and East Riding that you can make these sorts of figures say just about whatever you want them to. Still it certainly looked to be successful. On the involvement front apparently more than 30,000 people were inspired to become involved with rugby league as a result of attending World Cup games and 38 per cent of tickets were sold to people living outside the north of England – with 14 per cent of ticket holders watching their first live Rugby League.

Great stuff but where are all these new converts now? That for me is the big question! I said in here at the time that the event certainly surpassed my expectation and I hoped back then that it would mean it provided an opportunity to kick start interest in the game on a national basis. It was a great festival of our sport, so it’s such a shame that six months on, gates are plummeting, the game is again going through a period of transition and re-organisation and although the TV money has rocketed through the negotiating of a hurried and almost desperate Sky deal, attendances at the new Clubs in Championship 1 as I said earlier, still struggle to even equal those in amateur rugby. As for the legacy of the World Cup for International Rugby, well we still don’t know when the next games will be staged in this country or when nations like Tonga, USA, Italy and others will next get a chance to play again. But this is Rugby League so why should we be surprised?

This week’s look back at ‘The Good Old days’, is a request from Harry Schofield of North Cave who is enjoying our new found attacking edge and wanted me to revisit a time when we struggled to score tries at all. How often he said, over the last few seasons, have we stated that in our opinion our team and play makers are devoid of idea’s. Well after the game against Widnes when we were nilled I too got to thinking back to a time when we took a few weeks to actually score a try and so apparently did Harry. When you look back in time to the halcyon glory days of the early 80’s, you can still find times when things didn’t go exactly right and indeed when we found it hard to cross the whitewash. So, this week in Codgers Corner I want to go back to early 1981 and the first game of that year which took place on 4th January. Up to that game we had experienced a depressing run when we had beaten York 11-10 and Whitehaven 13-0 (all goals) and lost 5-2 at home to Wakey and 2-1 away at the Watersheddings against Oldham. In fact by the time we scored in today’s featured game we had gone an amazing 254 minutes without getting a single try!

In many of these previous games Hull had dominated but couldn’t score and the fans were certainly getting restless. Still 10,314 turned up at the Boulevard that day to watch the FC take on a Leigh side who had picked up their form of late and secured 4 wins in their last 6 games. It comes as no surprise I guess that the problems seemed to stem from the lack of creativity in the half backs, as Gaitley and Pickerill struggled to get the team moving and Knocker Norton had experienced a few uncharacteristic off days. There were no such problems for Leigh though who in John Wood and Alan Fairhurst, had two of the best halves in the country. Those two were certainly instrumental in instigating most of Leigh’s best moves that year.

The game was played on a windy, dry afternoon, but the pitch was, as always back then, still really heavy. From the kick off Leigh drove in hard and on the 4th tackle Woods broke our line and fed the ball to full back Grimshaw who ran down field, only to see his pass to Des Drummond catch in the wind, so much so that he dropped it. Then it was all a battle in the forwards on the ‘glue pot’ middle of the field. The Boulevard was renowned for these conditions and most teams that visited fancied their chances down the middle in a war of attrition. In our pack in that first half Skerrett and Stone did much of the hard graft, whilst Charlie Birdsall and Keith Boxall tried in vain to use the fringes to get round a resolute Leigh defence.

A stuttering move between Wileman, Stone, Wilby and Banks saw Gaitley unlucky to be scragged by his collar just short of the line and then Birdsall was held up in a ball and all tackle over the line by Grimshaw and Fox. Hull were probably at least 12 points better in that first half but despite working ourselves into good positions the final killer ball was missing, (where have we heard that one before). On 30 minutes against this run of play Leigh’s unfortunately named second rower, Arthur Daley, dropped a good goal and then on 34 minutes Boxall was caught off side in the midst of a mazy movement that was getting nowhere and John Woods landed a 52 yard straight penalty from just inside our half. At 3-0 the crowd was resigned to another close game and in fairness Leigh’s defence was doing well, but then on 39 minutes as the visitors worked the ball out of their own 25 Woods was caught offside at the play the ball and winger Steve Dennison, after taking some advice from usual kicker Paul Woods (who obviously didn’t like being deposed) landed the penalty and at 3-2 it was another close scoreline come half time.

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The man who made the break that broke the deadlock! There always only ever be one knocker Norton!

A surging move downfield by Hull ended with Wilby knocking on but from the ensuing scrum some 30 yards out Donlan the Leigh centre was caught off side and once again assisted and advised by Woodsy, Dennison stroked over the penalty and we were ahead for the first time in the game. Hull’s defence had then to be on its best form because two penalties and four scrums to Leigh meant that we found ourselves under real pressure. Gaitley however made it 5-3 with a good drop goal and then John Woods the Leigh star player showed his pedigree with a towering drop goal of his own from 35 yards out. This seemed to make Hull even more resolute though and in the next quarter of an hour Wileman, Boxall and Skerrett all went close.

Then came the try that we had all been craving for the last 254 minutes of play. It was certainly worth waiting for and was superbly engineered and executed as scrum half Clive Pickerill linked with Steve Norton at the base of a scrum 20 yards from the Leigh line. Norton who had posed problems all afternoon for a tightly knit visitors defence suddenly stepped onto his right foot and carved out a huge opening, he ran on, turned inside and found Gaitley open on his right. He simply passed the ball on and Bob crossed the line to the jubilation of his team mates and the fans on the terraces. The sense of relief throughout the ground could be physically felt amongst us all and the fans reaction could not have been more vociferous had we scored at Wembley. At 10-4 the game was over but in the dying seconds, not to be denied, John Woods showed some individual brilliance of his own when he waltzed through 3 Hull players to score under the posts. As he improved his own try the whistle went and the game was won by the narrow margin of 10-9. We had done the double over the Lancashire outfit and gained a lot of confidence in at last scoring a try. Our half backs were still struggling, but the signing of Dave Topliss and Tony Dean was just around the corner and things were about to change considerably. Great times indeed!

With the glamour of the Cup gone in such tragic circumstances last Thursday we, as fans, face the reality of the first game of the rest of the season with another ‘Thursday nighter’ this time against Huddersfield. Walking through Beverley market on Saturday morning I met a couple of Diary readers and the subject soon got round to what we as fans should expect and indeed what we should aim for in the rest of the season. To be out of the Cup is a blow without doubt but we have to get on with it and face a few weekends without any rugby.

Harry Glew thought we should be aiming for the top four while Helen thought that top 8 was all but guaranteed, but both were surprised I think when I said we have to avoid the bottom two at all costs and now for me in what is fast developing into yet another season of transition, anything else would be a bonus. The new format next season is I think a bit of a bake (as you all know) but the TV money involved when you survive the drop is massive (more than the salary cap itself) and we simply have to survive. Thankfully the London Bronco’s are looking odds on and much at the bottom now depends on how Bradford pull out of their financial woes. Folks laugh and say ‘Get real Wilf’, we won’t be down there, but that run of away games this summer worries me because if we get on the wrong sort of roll and the bottom teams start scrapping to get out of the mire anything can happen. I just hope those folks are still laughing at me come the end of August!

Finally this week, time for a big thank you to Joe Bennett (the mastermind behind blackandwhites.com the home of this weekly drivel) for steering this blog through a few difficult weeks. These actually culminated last week with him, having had internet issues at home, actually travelling to McDonalds at 8-00am on Monday morning to use their Wi-fi to post last week’s offering. Top bloke and apparently the McMuffins weren’t bad either! Thanks Joe here’s to the next 100 editions!

I’m grateful too, to everyone who has contacted me this week after another phenomenal post bag of correspondence. That sort of stuff Is always greatly appreciated and any sort of feedback certainly spurs me on to continue the Diary however I feel (always providing my ways of approaching Cup games etc. don’t eventually see me carted off to somewhere ‘more secure’). Let’s all get to the KC on Thursday and sing the lads home because with the Dobbins game fast approach two points is essential!!!

Thanks again for taking the time to read the Diary after what have been a few days of despondency for us all; although I have to admit to perking up a bit at 3-40pm on Sunday!!!

Try to keep believing.

Faithfully Yours

Wilf

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Don’t worry Neil I’ll make sure you get some Cups back in the Boardroom!