The Dentists Diary – 393rd

“How do they ‘beat’ Huddersfield’s pack up one week and then, a week later, find it impossible to dominate players they should want to kill for 80 minutes?”

Thus said my good pal Ian, in the afterglow of a game that left him, me and thousands of others in the depth of despair and frustration!! But of course his words only animate the ageless and timeless conundrum that faces FC fans week in week out. Inconsistency!! It has prevailed under the last three Coaches and although Lee Radford has recognised it, tried to remedy it and in fact reduced the win/lose margins to just a few points, inconsistency continues to exist and quite frankly as a fan after all these years, it does make me wonder whether it’s will ever change.

We were on our game against Castleford and well off it against Widnes, up for it against Salford in the League and off again in the Cup and we blew Huddersfield’s pack away and succumbed in the forwards to Rovers. I know one thing and that is that thousands of us are bloody frustrated and not a bit weary with it all. Particularly when you throw into the melting pot the fact that in the Derby games the Dobbins always seem to want it just that bit more than we do.

Obviously we’d all love Hull FC to be a great team and as loyal supporters we have to also accept it when we are not good enough, however I don’t know what you feel, but for me when we’re one thing one week and something else the next, its bloody soul destroying. Still we did what we had to do yesterday and although there were a lot of really tired legs in the FC line-up we ‘did’ the Bronco’s in every department. The atmosphere was shocking although it was a better crowd than I expected, but everyone was still in trauma and as the fans just looked on, still numb from the Derby, at times you could have heard a pin drop and for the players for long periods it must have been akin to playing in a cathedral.

I have on occasions written up games in here straight afterwards in real time, but you can’t do that with Derby’s particularly when they are as close as that one. In the hours afterwards you lament ‘the forwards lack of impact’, or ‘our goal kicking’, or ‘the penalties we gave away’, or ‘the officials’ and even the selections made by the coach. You’re wrung out, disappointed and irrational and it’s hard to look at things sensibly and reasonably at all. At times like that, I just wish I hadn’t got involved as deeply as I am. So I waited until next morning to try and get my thoughts into some sort of order. I was still wracked with disappointment and the fact that, again we go close, again we come up empty handed and again we lose a tight encounter away from home, still haunted me 24 hours after the game.

Another season is already over a third of the way through and it’s fast developing into yet another ‘difficult’ one! So what, if anything, has changed in 2014? Well not much at first glance I guess as those of you poor souls who have stuck with this rubbish for years will remember the time 4 years ago when I received a call of complaint from James Rule, I outraged a lot of fans and readers, and the Diary was even quoted on Sportstalk. All that was because I had dared to insist in here that when it came to Derby games, “They always want it more than we do”

The ‘authoritarians’ might have been outraged but most fans knew, in their heart of hearts that it was the truth and rather like the ‘Kings New Clothes’ someone just had to say it! However what seems to have changed so far under Radford is that I think the staff do understand the fans rationale and the importance of a win, and the majority of players probably do actually ‘Get it’. However, this time around we couldn’t realize that marginal dominance that they achieved and our ‘in and out’ form struck again.

For you, sat reading this rubbish on Tuesday morning there is little point in me going into too much detail about a game that is now 5 days past, everything that can be said has invariably already been discussed and argued to death! However for me on balance last Thursday Rovers should perhaps have won by a bigger margin and there is little doubt, standing back from all the emotion, they deserved their win. But thanks to the officials, our tenacity and a bit of luck going our way, for the TV audience, the uninitiated, the neutrals and the ‘half wits’ of the vomitarium, it was, without doubt, a great game to watch.

No quarter was given and although the smallest of margins settled the outcome, in the end although a lot of our players probably had the necessary desire, we didn’t quite match them energy and ‘wanting’ wise. But, at least the sight of FC player’s dropping to their knees and thumping the ground on the hooter (instead of, as in the past, trotting off shrugging their shoulders) told us all we needed to know about their desire, but like against Castleford, Warrington, Salford and Saints we came up short…again! Week in week out it’s the odd poor kick, the odd daft penalty, the odd poor option and the chance is gone! So already this season that’s two games lost by a point, plus a game by two and one by three, all of which would have been won if we had shown a steadier hand or even just had a more effective goal kicker.

It was never intended that the sage like comments of Mrs R would become a regular feature in here but whether I (or she) likes it or not they continue to come. This time after the game on Thursday night (which we both watched as usual from behind the settee), she just said, “Well, we’ve certainly seen some exciting games this year and if that had been last season, then we wouldn’t have come back after that second Grahame Horne try” ….and I think that is again indeed very true. As we went 20 – 10 down and the home fans were bouncing, it would have been the easiest thing in the world and indeed par for the course in the past for us to drop off and get a pasting. But we didn’t because Radford has at least developed a culture of tenacity and pride to which the players apparently either buy in or ship out! This season Radford’s team has never capitulated, but we are too patchy, just not smart enough and time and again blow the main chance at the critical time.

Last Thursday we simply didn’t make them work hard enough, we didn’t pull their forwards out of their pattern and their shape, nor did we move the ball wide enough and crisply enough. This time it was the forwards that didn’t dominate as they had done against Huddersfield and as Ian said at the beginning how can that change in just a week when in essence you’re facing a far more important match. I’m no psychologist so for me is really hard to fathom. As an aside though, on the minutia, Shaul was brilliant (in both weekend games). Whiting on the other hand does his best, he’d always be around my 17 and his showing in both weekend games was adequate but proved that he isn’t the answer at centre and then there’s the situation on the bench where perhaps the idea of dropping Heramaia for the Derby was a poor one. But we can all be wise after the event, can’t we!

However when you actually look at how erratic our halves were at times in the Derby, how ineffective our backs were and how our forwards failed to pull the Dobbins six around and make them expend energy in defence, it’s very clear that a draw had it come, would be have been seen as a massive and pretty unexpected bonus.

The forwards are OK and the depth is there but they have to play at the highest intensity every week, if we can get Sa in then the back will be adequate (however be warned Sa wants to come and we want him, but because of contractual issues it could be June before he’s here). Nevertheless at present the problem is still the age old one that it’s been for the last 7 years, in that we simply haven’t had a half back that can run things for us when the forwards are struggling and we’re under the cosh.

It’s a bloody art form when your forwards are under the pump, because it’s a time when most halves are forced on the back foot, but a few can do it and lead the way to regaining control. When the chips are down no one is spotting opportunities, organising attacks and making that critical difference. Miller and Rankin are young, learning and try their hearts out, but on Thursday they didn’t have a chance behind a pack that should have dominated, but didn’t.

What those two will end up like is anyone’s guess but at present we are where we’ve been for years in these big games, rudderless and lacking direction at critical times. I know last season we went after Luke Walsh (either that or our owner tells porky’s) and we failed to land him because “We couldn’t compete with what Saints offered” But as my pal Ranbo always says “Why couldn’t we?” implying that if Adam really wants to own the top Club in the competition then that is the sort of talent we have to move heaven and earth to get. You have to pay through the nose simply because that sort of skill is as rare as the proverbial rocking horse droppings!

At Caravan Park the officiating was for me again a bit scratchy at times and it was probably only that late Hall drop goal that drifted high and over the post, that saved it being another game after which the home fans and everyone watching as a neutral across the game would be obsessed with the quality or otherwise of the officials. There were some dubious calls I thought but many FC fans maintain the officials weren’t that bad, but hey, we would say that wouldn’t we? Even when they are favouring us, our RL officials are still a joke and simply ruining the game. Had it ended in a draw or a win to us, then the whole of the media would have been filled with Sandy Cocks (What a whining git he is?) and Hudge’s whinging that would have fired a general sense of outrage across the game, which was already festering after the comments and at times misinformed mutterings of the Sky commentary team.

The other big talking point was the gate on Thursday, which was beforehand, being hailed as a potential new record; they even increased the capacity to accommodate it! However it ended up only just into 5 figures. On message Boards the likes of Easty and the usual gloating rovers fans who we only hear from when we are struggling, blame us lot who won’t go there; apparently it’s all our fault! However who can blame us when the several hundred FC ‘stalwarts’ slumming it in the Immingham end could all see in front of them hundreds of empty seats in the new stand which they had not been able to purchase from our Club. Why the hell didn’t they give ‘em’ all to us and we’d have filled it for them. Instead hundreds were reduced to paying good money for shallow terracing, an obscured ‘periscope view’, two blocks of disgusting portable toilets and warm lager at £3-80 for a small bottle.

It’s of little surprise that so many folks stay away and watch on ‘tele’ is it. However the media appeal of the sport continues to flourish and a bumper 370,000 watched the game at home on Sky, which is by my calculations 60,000 more than the corresponding ‘Easter’ Thursday fixture last year. I bet they all enjoyed it, because for me when you step back from it all the two Derby games in Hull are, for sheer passion, effort and drama the nearest thing we have in this country to the Aussies State of Origin. They just have to be!

At least for the London game we were back in more familiar surroundings, and although there were still plenty of long faces and a bit of a flat atmosphere encircled the place, the gate was better than I thought it would be because with what happened last Thursday and just 2 supporters (yes that’s two) travelling from London, a crowd of under 9000 was certainly on the cards.

Sport for James Smailes - 21-4-14first:utility super league game between Hull FC and London Broncos at the KC Stadium, Hull.Pictured is Jamie Shaul celebrating scoring a try.   Final score Hull 40 - London 4.Picture: Peter Harbour
Shaul scores to the relief of Houghton

After we and the players had all been down and out after the final hooter last Thursday, it was always going to be a surreal sort of game but we had to win and London had shown enough in their previous two outings to animate the fact that they could score tries. So we had to turn up and I have to admit that the thought of being the Club against who they broke their duck, made me feel a bit nervous. Talk about the perfect way to end a perfect weekend that would have literally put the tin hat on it all for most of us.

I needn’t have worried however, because although I couldn’t get too enthusiastic, we did exactly what we needed to do and played a game that utilised well what energy we had left. I thought there were some heroic performances from a few players who dragged themselves off the floor to ensure we were never in danger. For me, Ellis played a real captains role and ran himself to a standstill as he broke the line and created a couple of tries through sheer tenacity and wanting. Jordan Thompson too had a massive game and Rankin had another very effective game which showed that he has something there that perhaps we should be persisting with.

Westerman also did well I thought and Feke was tremendous and looked like a man with a point to prove. He made the two biggest tackles of the day as the sound of the sickening ‘crunch’ on impact resonated around the quiet stadium. Upfront London had a couple of really big, awkward guys and Colbon and Ellis were both pole axed in early tackles. However a big first spell by Paea and Carvell put them to bed and after that it was plain sailing. In fact, although they were pretty dumb at times the Bronco’s played with a lot of spirit and I guess therefore on reflection our defensive display was first class. I guess too, some will be sorry that we didn’t score a lot more, and quite frankly you can see where they are coming from as well, because good teams do what Wigan did to Bradford don’t they! However it was a professional performance, job done and sends us into a two week break with some heart.

Sport for James Smailes - 21-4-14 first:utility super league game between Hull FC and London Broncos at the KC Stadium, Hull. Pictured is Gareth Ellis.    Final score Hull 40 - London 4. Picture: Peter Harbour
Gareth Ellis; a superb captain’s performance!

Those of you who were there will also agree I’m sure that amidst all the doom and gloom the quality of Ben Crook’s try in the first half was quite amazing. We have to find a way to protect him defensive wise because he certainly has the X factor with the ball in his hands and he will get better and better. The way he accelerated between two tacklers and then weaved his way through, was I though, simply sensational and his goal kicking was impressive too. I also thought Jordan Thompson’s line running was first class and Miller also showed some real signs of progress.

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A clean pair of heals but then again would you want to tackle him from behind? A better showing and certainly not a bummer for Miller!

It was great to see my pal from Spain Brain Chapman, Billy, Steve and Alan at half time and they must all wonder why I seemed to be so removed from it all, but I was still sort of shell shocked from the last game, in fact all around the KC there was a strange atmosphere yesterday wasn’t there? Indeed I even found it hard to talk about yesterdays game afterwards, despite the fact it was a win, because I was still feeling flat and a bit fed up; I guess most of you lot know exactly the feeling I’m struggling to describe. We all know which game we wanted to win didn’t we and it’s not as if we were whitewashed in the Derby, in fact it was in the melting pot until just 40 seconds from the end. But, then again they are the hardest to take aren’t they? Sometimes I think it’s easier when you are 20 points down with 20 minutes to go because at least you have a bit of time to get used to defeat. However when it happens in the dying seconds its devastating! It takes more than a win against the second to bottom team to get that out of your system doesn’t it; who’d be an FC fan Eh?

So, although I, after the Widnes game, we would have taken 6th at Easter, the question of ‘where exactly do we go from here’ still haunts my thoughts this Tuesday morning?

So to the week gone by and before all the disappointment it was interesting to note the group dynamics around the camp, in this our first derby week under Radford. Our Coaches approach to the game included our players being brought in for their first training session of the year on a Sunday. Throughout the build up the mood in camp was intense, while on the outside things were intentionally kept low key, as news coming out of the Club was kept to an absolute minimum. Rightly or wrongly there is little doubt that Lee Radford had put a lot of thought into these things while he was involved as a player and an Assistant Coach. I was good at least to see that he understands what it’s all about and how important it is to everyone involved with Hull FC.

In fact he said to me last week, “It’s the best place in the whole game to come away with a win” so he knows how we felt in defeat doesn’t he? I listened to him on Wednesday interviewed by Gwilym Lloyd and he just talks so much sense. He said that Heremaia was dropped from the game because the impact the Club expected from him when he comes on to spell Danny Houghton over the past few games, had dissipated somewhat. In hindsight perhaps that was a poor call but it’s easy as I said earlier to be wise after the event and before the game I would probably have agreed with him. He also said that the fans might not be happy with his team selection simply because everyone has an opinion, but the buck stops with him. After such a heartbreaking defeat he was probably right, in fact I know he was as there were grumbles a plenty to be found everywhere.

However he added that the fans see a big tackle or a long downfield run but don’t sometimes see what the player does next, where he goes back into the line, how he approaches the next play and whether in fact he does it as per the instructions he has been given. Radford added that you only see that, when you’ve been involved intensely with coaching and a specific group of players for some time. It’s pretty apparent to me that our Coach is therefore picking who he believes are the best 17, has no favourites (although some of you reading this will not agree with that one) and he’s doing his best to get it right. In the build up to the Derby he went about his business quietly and the ‘roaring silence’ that came out of the Club in that build up was indicative of a change of style from the razzamatazz we have seen in past years.

How good it is to see the duel registration with Donny working so well. Last weekend 4 of our first team squad Arundel, Crooks, Pitts and Liam Kent featured in the South Yorkshires Club’s victory over North Wales Crusaders and this weekend our lads (with Crooks swopped for Crookes) again helped the South Yorkshire Club to a famous victory at Sheffield. Thanks to Paul Cooke and his relationship with our Coach we are getting game time for some of our players that would otherwise be kicking their heels in the stands each week. I was also sorry to hear that Dean Hadley will be out for two weeks after getting injured in the Derby, but he and Bowden who was rested yesterday, will be back for the Wakefield game. Hadley is certainly proving to be a big prospect as he blossoms into one of this season’s best emerging players.

Well it’s happened hasn’t it? The clash we all feared might come about is confirmed as Hull FC and Hull KR are due to go head-to-head at 5pm on Saturday May 17 at the Etihad Stadium, the same day and time as Hull City will take on Arsenal in their first ever appearance in an FA Cup final at Wembley. The RL were quick to point out that there are no plans to change the schedule of the Magic Weekend, which takes place at the home of Manchester City for the third successive year, and that’s understandable. However I still think if it had been say Bradford asking they would have considered it longer, because there seems to be rules for one Club and not another at present, (and these are usually based on who voted for the re-organisation for 2015 and who didn’t).

Of Course the scheduling of the FA Cup final is tuned into the world wide broadcast rights and it wasn’t going to shift and then it was announced neither was the Magic Fixture, as an RFL spokesman said: “The Magic Weekend fixtures were published in January, some three months ago – on that basis many fans have already purchased their tickets (and made plans for one or both days of the weekend) based on the advertised fixture list. Many of those tickets (some of which involve hospitality) have been purchased by supporters of other clubs, for whom a change in schedule would cause disruption and inconvenience” I have to say I can see the angle they are coming from particularly because of the corporate hospitality schedule as this is a rolling thing from game to game and many people who have invested in advance for the Magic event will have made their own arrangements to eat at a particular time. The spokesman added in conclusion, “Magic Weekend ticket sales are currently running at record levels – over 30,000 tickets have already been snapped up, a 60 per cent increase on 2013” and guess which club has sold the most so far?

The ‘festival of rugby’ has been moved forward a week because rather like at Hull City the Manchester City Club need to dig the pitch up. Personally I will of course be watching the Magic game, if it’s at all possible I can’t be anywhere else than watching the Club I love wherever they are playing. However I can appreciate that although it would be alien to me, some folks love both Hull FC and Hull City and if they really love them both, then when you look at the past there is little doubt which will be the most significant fixture to them; of course its Wembley, it simply has to be! I always look for the City result and accept with some feeling of excitement that their progress this season is first class and further raising the profile of a City that is welcoming Sieman’s and hosting the City of Culture Festivities in 2017. At present whether people like it or not it generally agreed that Hull is the fastest emerging City in the Country. However my excitement is tempered somewhat because I find it difficult to have anything but contempt for the football Clubs owner after the way he has treated us as the head of the SMC. Of course you know my views on him and indeed the Magic weekend and with the latter I think it’s about time they scrapped the whole thing, at least in its current format.

Why do I say that well, these day’s at the Magic event three games are true Derby’s but Leeds/Bradford, Saints/Wigan have wheedled out of playing their traditional foes, while of course we are still left to play the Dobbins an extra time. We play them too often and it just dilutes the impact of the traditional fixture. For me the games should have been all Derby’s, or just drawn from a hat. But instead we have a ‘plastic’ event manufactured to suit Sky TV, our prime paymaster. It’s unfortunate about the local fixture clash, although who would ever have thought it would have happened when our fixture list or indeed that of Hull City first came out at the start of our respective seasons!

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One week on from my last observations and he’s still a bit of a looker!

There is little doubt that not only is Paul Anderson far and away the best looking Coach in the whole of Super League, but he’s also proving the most articulate and knowledgeable too. Nothing, he claimed, went right for his Giants in that last game at the KC and in the actual transcript from the post match press conference he said, “Every club does the same shit, it just smells differently for some, that’s all.” Amazingly observant and graphically descriptive Paul, but far too technical for me; pass me that Coaching manual!

Now you’ll remember when I made an appeal in here on behalf of Katie Steel who was asking for your unwanted FC shirts to take out to Africa to distribute to folks in need over there. Well there was a good response and Katie thanks everyone who took part. Here she is with just some of the recipients proudly wearing their FC shirts. Great initiative and well done Katie!

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Before the Huddersfield game a couple of weeks ago I was talking to a pal who was relating the story about the time that Peter Stirling got hyperthermia at the Boulevard. I told him that I didn’t remember that one but did recall vividly the night that Des Hasler went through the same sort or issues and so this week in an extract from the last book here is a look back at that game back in 1993.

Back in December 1993 our form had certainly improved and we were all hoping for a good run in the Regal Trophy when, to our dismay, we were drawn against Widnes at the Boulevard. They were the ‘Cup Kings’ and although we had won 4 of our previous 5 games, including a narrow victory over St Helens at the Boulevard the previous week, it was going to be tough.

As Billy and I walked down the Boulevard towards the ground it was cold; it was that sort of cold that grips your face and chills you to the bone. In addition as the wind howled round the terraces and houses it was just starting to hailstone. With it being a Cup game we knew there was bound to be some available space, so we decided to sit in the New Threepenny Stand, hoping that it would at least offer some shelter from what were Arctic conditions. As we made my way into the seats wishing I had worn a warmer coat, I was greeted by a succession of groans as I pushed my way past a line of aging stalwarts with blankets over their legs and their soup flasks twinkling in the floodlights. I finally slumped down next to a heavily pregnant woman in her mid thirties to whom I said, “Hello, how ya doing”. She scowled, took another drag on her cigarette and said, “Two weeks over”. “This” I thought “Could be an interesting afternoon”

When the teams came out, vigorously swinging their arms like demented windmills it was obvious that however fast and furious the action, for some it was going to be difficult keeping warm. Before he kicked off, Jeff Doyle was blowing on his hands and it was clearly going to be an ‘interesting afternoon’ for our Aussie imports.

Widnes were a great team, however we started strongly as Tim Street continually pushed their strong pack backwards. Then after around ten minutes, a full scale brawl broke out when Tim slapped Esene Faimalo in a tackle. The referee Mr. Ollerton waited for the melee to die down before giving both players a stiff talking too and awarding Widnes a penalty. Shortly after that it was certainly no surprise when the visitors took the lead as Goulding broke through a tackle by Sharp and put hooker McCurrie in under the sticks.

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Tim Street in his Leigh days! Tim was definitely another ‘looker’!

Goulding converted just as the leaden skies started to produced torrential freezing rain which came down like ‘stair rods’ driven on by a north-easterly wind blowing across the field and into our faces in the Stand. Already the cold was taking its toll as twice James Grant sank to his knees between plays shaking his head and vigorously rubbing his hands. Still on we battled, refusing to be intimidated by Widnes’s reputation despite our current hero Australian Des Hasler being decidedly subdued and obviously struggling with the conditions.

Then we scored. Gary Nolan, who was in a rich vein of form and keeping his brother Rob out of the starting line up, took a pass from Chico Jackson and hurtled down the wing to score in the corner despite the attentions of three Widnes defenders. As we all stood to applaud a fine try Gary failed to get up, having in the act of scoring displaced his AC joint. He was stretchered from the field to be replaced by his brother Rob as Paul Eastwood missed the conversion but then scored with a penalty from wide out on the left. As Widnes started to get on top again, the hooter went and at half time as the wind howled and the sleet shone in the floodlights it was 6-6.

I remember my knees locking completely as I tried to stand up and to another round of ‘tutting’ from the ‘flask brigade’, Billy with ice bristling in his beard, went off to get us three ‘Bovril’s’. He and I had stamped our feet in unison with another 3,400 hardy souls who made up the meagre, but stoic attendance that day. Despite having played the first half with the snow, sleet and rain at their backs, the Hull Dressing Room at the interval was in turmoil.

The Club Doctor at the time, (I think it was Mike Dunham) was summoned by the tannoy to the Home Dressing Room and soon declared that 5 Hull players were suffering from the early stages of hyperthermia. He immediately approached the Referee and requested the game be called off for medical reasons, but when this suggestion was put to the Widnes officials they felt that they were on top and would win and so turned it down.

The half time interval was extended and as the announcers records ran out and we were treated to a second airing of a scratchy rendition of ‘Uptown Girl’, out on the terraces we all wondered just what was happening. Apparently Mike Dixon and Des Hasler were so cold that, in an effort to get their circulation going, Pete Standidge, one of the assistants that day, had to run to the Club House kitchen and get all the baking foil he could find to wrap the pair up. Finally after a break of around twenty two minutes the teams ran out into the sleet and the rain. Both sides changed their shirts, but Hull FC were for reasons unknown, still wearing the dirty wet shorts that they had worn in the first half.

We started well as big Tim Street and second rower Daniel Divet smashed into the opponent’s formidable front row of McCurrie, Ireland and How. Then Moriarty broke through to be felled by a brilliant last ditch effort by Hull’s Richard Gay that dislodged the ball and a certain score was averted. Hull needed a boost and they got it on 50 minutes. Tim Street went on one of those famous rampaging ‘breakout’ runs down the left to link with the pacey James Grant running at his side. The Aussie burst forward and slipped a perfect reverse pass to Rob Nolan who kicked ahead and chased the ball himself. Despite three blatant attempts to obstruct his path, Rob touched down just to the left of the posts and for a few seconds, we all forgot about the cold and danced in our seats, as Eastwood stroked over the conversion.

As my pregnant ‘friend’ lit up another cigarette, Hull FC might easily have increased their lead. Des Hasler was held on his back and Rob Danby went close while Paul Eastwood, down in front of us on the wing, amused himself by ‘conducting’ the crowd through several renditions of ‘Old Faithful’ which, when a string of four penalties went against us, morphed into, “Who’s Ya Father, who’s Ya Father, who’s Ya Father referee, you haven’t got one you’re a Bas*ard, You’re a Bas*ard referee!!!”. Outside the ground it must have sounded like a crowd of 10,000 as Hull FC held their ground and the lead, until the hooter sounded and a famous victory was ours.

Several of the players ran straight off the field at the end and who can blame them, but Chico Jackson, Paul Eastwood and Jon Sharp (whose car broke down before the game, so he only arrived 15 minutes before kick-off) celebrated with us all before they ran off to be again swathed in tin-foil and we scurried off to the warmth of the pub.

Afterwards Richard Gay said, “I thought I was going to die I couldn’t stop shaking, it was the most frightening experience of my life”. While Des Hasler added, “For the first time in my life, I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes at all! It was the coldest I have ever been or ever want to be”. After that Des and a couple of other players wore skin tight wet suits under their kit, and if he doesn’t remember anything else from his time at the Boulevard, I bet he still remembers that day in great detail don’t you?

So Easter’s over and it’s always disappointing when you lose a Derby, but whatever has gone before, when it happens through a drop goal from an ex FC player who we discarded because he wasn’t good enough and he does it in the last minute, then if not par for the course it’s still pretty heartbreaking isn’t it? Being a fan eh? It’s great when it’s ‘great’ but for most of the time its infuriating and mind blowing and you know if I was to give any advice to parents, grandparents and great grandparents reading this, then it would be this. When it comes to that moment when you are expected to give that world wise, sage like advice to your wards, you know the stuff, the words of wisdom that will keep them straight as they set off on life’s journey, it should simply be, “Watch from the side lines, cheer from your arm-chair, but don’t get emotionally involved with a sports team, because despite providing you with the big highs of your life, invariably, eventually, they’ll break your heart”

It’s much too late for me and that’s probably why I absolutely hate Derby games, I tolerate them at home but after myself and my wife were abused and threatened, these days I seldom go to them when they’re played away. To attend you certainly need a few qualities that make you stand out. For me these include tenacity, an impervious nature towards abuse, undying hope and the ability to reverse out of the car park when someone has very kindly removed your wing mirrors!! So to all of those reading this that went, well done, you’re a better fan than I’ll ever be!!

I’ve been a bit down all weekend and looking round the East Stand yesterday I was certainly not on my own. But as always the Diary rumbles on through good times and bad and thanks to everyone that has contributed this week or sent me their comments, rants and frustrations. Thanks too, for sticking with what is, this time around, a bit of an inward looking and depressing read. But, in the end, I can only write it as I feel it; sometimes everything is as clear as day, (and very occasionally) full of joy and hope, whilst at other times, like right now, its blurred, jumbled and pretty hard to define at all.

Your support at all times, good or bad is greatly appreciated! My ‘thanks’ too for all the ‘kind words’ I got from the always vociferous if rarely articulate Dobbins fans who actually still read this and somehow expect it to be complimentary to them! Enjoy your moments in the sun boys and well played, but remember, every dog has its day, even when it’s a mongrel!

I don’t know about you but I’m almost relieved for a week off from the roller coaster of watching the team we all love, but no doubt the Diary will be back in some form next week.

So keep believing if you can!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf

And finally after all the rubbish I have received these past few days and indeed all the stuff you have all probably endured from ‘the half wits’ since last Thursday, perhaps the last word to them, is best coming in a simple message from the young, who in their innocence and naivety usually get it spot on!

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