The Dentists Diary – 395th

“What we have to do is make sure we don’t turn up with any thoughts that this is going to be a stroll, because it certainly isn’t.
“We need the win, we need to get on a roll and it will take a good performance to get the two points.”

Thus said Danny Houghton before the game and perhaps that says it all really!! Once again before the match everyone was talking a good game, yet after it we all trudged home having experienced little else but the same old, same old! We’ve all seen it so many times before and quite frankly the demeanour of the fan base indicates that perhaps we’ve all had enough!!!!

With just 10 points from our block of home games, Wigan coming up as our last one in that run and without a win away from home, I’m afraid, as we slipped to probably our worst display of another pretty iffy season, my predicted Doomsday scenario of getting dragged into the relegation mire is fast becoming, if not yet a reality, then a distinct possibility.

You can all laugh and you probably did when I predicted this scenario at the start of the campaign, but I honestly believe we are in trouble here and when I look at our next 3 games Wigan, Hull KR and Leeds I can’t see us winning any of them and then the mire is just where we’ll be!! It’s not just that, but people are fed up, bored with it all and starting to walk away and it will be interesting to see who is left on the terraces when we return to playing at the KC in July.

Bradford are winning (and requesting their points back), Wakefield have now won and look capable of securing more points, Salford and the Dobbins will start winning while Catalan are fast coming up on the rails, so we have to do something and quick, because that sort of display is simply unacceptable to us all and yet it’s the sort of stuff we have come to expect week in week out for years. Yes we lost Westerman and with him most of our midfield energy and thrust but our lack of big game players to rescue the situation, our at times appalling game management and failure to dictate the pace to suit our players ability, plus that old failure of an abject refusal to rise to the occasion against the ‘smaller’ teams, did for us again……….. big style. I’m just fed up of it all!

I don’t really know what to say and therefore as usual it all just comes out as I feel it post match. So first up a question; what do Peter Sharp, Richard Agar, Peter Gentle and now Lee Radford have in common? Regular readers will know what’s coming next, because for me the answer is that although players, owners, coaches and staff come and go the underlying culture of us not being able to get up properly for these sorts of games continues. I seem to have said it so many times before but what is it all about, because everyone at the Club knows it’s our single most pertinent failing and yet no one, but no one, can do anything about it! Lee Radford said afterwards that he felt sorry for Adam Pearson as a guy in front of our owner got up, gave him the one finger and said “That’s it, I’m not going to come back and watch this sh*t again”. My message to that guy would be, “That was unnecessary particularly to a bloke who has pitched in nearly £3m and anyway most of us lot will come back, because we can’t do anything else, but…. we do sort of know what you mean as well”

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Joe Westerman will be a massive loss!

After the first 4 sets had been completed I turned to Mrs R and said, “Here we go again we just don’t look right do we?” The thing is for me from the outset I thought that Wakefield seemed to want it that bit more and at half time I commented, “If I were a Wakey fan I would be disappointed at that score”. At that point those two well taken but isolated tries were the difference, and despite us spending long periods in the opposition quarter they came from our only two real breaks of the half. For much of the time, we just didn’t have that edge and wanting that was needed to close the game out!

You know, I hated the expression game management when it was first used by the wiz kids and Sky pundits but I have to say I know what they mean and as far as ours is concerned, it’s woeful at times. You see when we commit a foul it’s always on the 4th or 5th play, our ‘up and unders’ are invariably too deep, our fourth and fifth tackle attacking options un-expansive and predictable and our kicking for touch at penalties of schoolboy standard. We never pressure the kicker and invariably find it hard to stop the off load. Add to that yesterday some uncharacteristic lapses in defence and even when it was 16-0 most of us had a good idea that it only needed Wakey to get a sniff for it all to end in tears.

I hate writing this weekly tome in these circumstances because on other occasions defeats by much better teams are lamentable but in the end acceptable. However I’m left again this week to scratch around searching for some grains of positivity about a team that had just 1 player unavailable through injury and had enjoyed 13 days since their last game and yet, a team who subsequently get beat in very recognisable circumstances by a Club floundering at the bottom. Once again sat here at my lap top its bloody soul destroying. Radford commented on the crowd and the lack of atmosphere but what does he expect, because everyone is well and truly piss*d off, I mean why should we all be expected to sit there full of enthusiasm, when the players on the field fail to show any? The current demeanour of hundreds of the fan base is shocking and the prospect of them renewing their passes is already, after just 11 rounds, one of ‘never again’. In fact across the game in general people are simply losing interest in droves!

Yes Lee the atmosphere is poor, but the simple fact is that ‘the Faithful’ are getting bored with season after season of the same failings. Fed up of year after year of unfulfilled promises, and exasperated by a team that finds it impossible to string together two performances in a row. They probably all feel as I do at times that however we respond to what’s happening on the field and no matter how loudly we shout, the players repeatedly fall short of matching the crowds passion and now we feel ‘if you can’t beat em join em’ and we’ve fallen silent too! Lee Radford is trying his best I’m sure he is, but his post match interview when in reply to Murdoch’s question of, “Well Lee what did you make of that” he said, “Well what did you make of it?” reminded me of those famous Len Casey interviews all those years ago, when he simply didn’t have an answer, but it was never ever his fault!

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Danny Kirmond a thorn in our side all afternoon.

We tried hard, huffed and puffed and became more and more frustrated, but the way that we responded to going down to twelve men (a situation Wakey dealt with far better than we did) and that scrap after which the opposition stepped up while we seemed hell bent on revenge, saw us go to pieces and present Wakey with their first win since 15th March! We let Sammut wind us up, he did it perfectly and we lost our composure altogether.

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Yeh guys, imagine how we all felt!

We have a big squad and a lot of ‘triers’ but there are simply not enough quality players and over the years we haven’t replaced those we’ve had, so now although the quantity is definitely there the quality certainly isn’t. We need a leader and perhaps another real Marque half back and it’s about time Adam realised that, because a big squad of ‘triers’ steeped in our Clubs current shortcomings will lose us more games than we win. Big game players are few and far between in our ranks aren’t they and that failing plus an attitude problem that has grown into a culture, sees us going backwards.

Gareth Ellis looked down and out at the Man of the match presentation afterwards and commented that it was without doubt “The lowest” he’d felt in his career. He also talked about an almost institutional lack of consistency at the club which has existed for several seasons, so at least he’s ‘got it’!!!

Player wise, Shaul did OK as a full back but the line no longer opens up for those blistering runs that used to be his trade mark, Talanoa made a couple of blobs but needs support when he goes on those tackle busting runs, Yeamo tackled well but added nothing attacking wise and Crooks was just OK. For me one of the only bright spots was Jason Crookes display which saw him driving the ball in strongly while his speed and wing awareness made a lot of difference. Miller was scratchy and Rankin sharp and bright without getting on top of the opposition. Paea did ok, Bowden was effective in short bursts, while despite making a couple of blobs Feke was perhaps our best go forward player around the ruck area. Ellis still doesn’t look like a leader, Westerman was great until he got injured and Heramaia made a difference when he came in. In fact although not perhaps a big game player he often over shadows Houghton with his ability to change things, a commodity few in our ranks seem to possess.

So, all in all, a pretty disappointing afternoon which is perhaps the harbinger of worse things to come! I sincerely hope that’s not the case but I still stand by my prediction after the Catalan game about us having a first priority of getting clear of the bottom of the table. Radford said after the game, “I could have gone blazing in there but I decided not to. You’d think the money invested would buy you some enthusiasm. As a group, the energy simply wasn’t there and as a coach I obviously didn’t get my team energised, I don’t know what the answer is” Well if you don’t mate…what chance do we have???

Devoid of much to capture their imaginations on the field the pitch cutting style had a lot talking, with many thinking it mirrored the Sid Domic shirt design! Others believed it was cut in preparation for the Polo, which threw up a good story when someone in the Gym this week commented that they were having Polo at the KC to which an obviously uninitiated soul commented, “They can’t be, there isn’t a pool there” Others yesterday whiled away the afternoon discussing the fire in East Hull and pondered on whether someone had set fire to Caravan Park. This was soon discounted as most felt that it wouldn’t burn that well anyway! However laughs this week were few and far between and on the whole things look pretty grim! However we’re still going well on the training field!!!!!

So to the week passed and “Josh has been outstanding for us and deserves this contract. I am really pleased with how he’s gone,” was how Lee Radford heralded the news that Josh Bowden, a player you all know I have rated in here ever since his debut, had signed an extended deal. The faith in the young prop that has been shown both by the Coach and on the terraces has been justified by the way he has held off the challenge of the likes of Liam Watts and Iafeta Paleaaesina to feature in nine out of Hull’s 11 games thus far this year.

Regular readers will know that I really believe that he has the important qualities of bulk, an explosive thrust, the ability to pull off the big hit and a great ‘engine’, that are needed if a young prop in the modern game is to make the grade and he can gallop a bit too. The deal for the next two seasons was I felt essential, because as I said last week with Feke, Carvell and Ellis all in the twilight of their careers, it is important that their time on the field is used to mentor and develop their successors like Bowden, Tyson-Wlson and Thompson who for me are all great prospects. But, Josh has also been one of the guys that Lee has singled out as being a player that ‘turns up’ week in week out, whatever the adversity and whatever some of the players around him are doing.

It’s great news for the player and the Club as Huddersfield were in hot pursuit and Warrington will certainly be disappointed because they had shown a deal of interest in grabbing a youngster in whom we had invested thousands of pounds and hours of time on the training field. Having come through our Academy, and been taken under Radford’s wing last season, for me he has the attitude and fighting spirit I want to see at my Club and at 22 he still has a lot of improvement in him too. Last September Josh was given a one year deal by Radford and told to show his worth; he’s done that and gained the reward of this important first extended deal. It’s a difficult point in ‘the process’ for the Club because with the restrictions of the salary cap they have to decide whether to sign up a young player or let him go. That’s always a tough call because it’s one that has to be balanced with the fact that to sign someone just because he’s ‘there’ can sometimes block the progress of a better young player coming through from the Academy. That’s a particularly difficult issue with a big squad, and as has been the case of late, you can be left trying desperately to ship players out on loan to ease that blockage.

Bowden now joins Shaul, Crooks, Lineham, Houghton, Green, Yeaman, Horne and Hadley, as local players who have made it through the ‘process’ and with Cunningham and Tyson-Wilson on the fringes it makes for a great nucleus of a future team. However there is little doubt that this situation, good though it is, doesn’t supersede the need for a couple of ‘big game’ players to make it gel. Let’s all hope that Josh repays the faith of the fans and the Clubs and that he forms the corner stone of our pack for years to come. Great news!

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Josh proudly displays his own ‘heritage’ by wearing his Hull Wyke shirt

So with Josh secured, that leaves the following players out of contact at the end of the season; Heramaia, Talanoa (although he has an option of another year) Starling, Wilson, Kent, Pitts and Horne. For me Heramaia could well be retained, he’s an adaptable game changer and good off the field, but with Cunningham flourishing at the Bronco’s ‘Azza’ could be seen, with cap restrictions, as a luxury depending on who we intend to bring in. Talanoa is a must to exercise our one year option on him, Horne is a sentimental one that perhaps should be resisted and the rest, for reasons I explained above, have now to move on. Just my views of course, but we have to be a bit ruthless at these times because we don’t want to be turning down the opportunity of a marquee signing because our cap is full of average local players do we?

I watched the televised game last Thursday to particularly see how young Cunningham was going and I thought he did well. He was obviously struggling a bit by the end having started the game when he has been coming off the bench but he was into everything, controlled the acting half and although resisting trying anything too flash, he was held up over the line in the second half and broke the line a couple of times too. For me the big thing is that he is getting an amazing amount of experience in Super league without us having to make room for him in out weekly 17 man squad. That’s invaluable and I know that Radford speaks to him every week and is really impressed with his progress, which got me to thinking that perhaps that’s why we haven’t seen any sign of a contract being forthcoming for Aaron Heramaia as yet. I might have got that totally wrong of course and it might just be wishful thinking, but might we see two local hookers, rotating at acting half in our 150th year?

The policy adopted by the Club with regard to Tom Lineham’s injury and his rehabilitation after that broken leg is to be commended. Tom has not played since breaking his ankle in the Super League game against Bradford Bulls on March 7. Once he had received the prognosis after his operation it looked likely that he would be back inside 12 weeks which would have meant a return in time for the Magic Weekend in Manchester next month. However now he is currently on course for a return for the Super League game at Catalan Dragons, although the fixture at Widnes Vikings on June 15 is also a possibility.

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Keeping busy Tom turns up at the Play touch rugby initiative at Selby!

As for his progress, well Tom is beginning to step up his rehab after the removal of his protective boot and is currently spending a deal of his time either on a bike or on the anti gravity ‘running’ machine. However it’s going to be a while yet before ‘The Flying Pig’ is back out there on the wing, but we can’t risk a lad who is still only 22 having anymore problems with that same leg and so I guess, like Tom, we’ll all just have to be patient.

Boy those lads at Amazon know how to make quick buck don’t they. I couldn’t believe my eyes when Joe Clarkeson, an exiled supporter living in Termont Mississippi, who reads this rubbish every week, suggested I look at the American version of Amazon. Would you believe it, they are asking $63 (£37-50) for copies of ‘Roamin the Range Together Book 2’, when you can get it from the Hull FC shop for £10 and that when the author usually get less than a quid profit for every copy sold! It’s a good thing few folks like Rugby League in America, but then again they probably think it’s a book about Cowboy’s and cattle drives anyway!!

My old favourite Sam Moa really impressed in the Kiwi’s defeat in the recent mid season test with Australia. Sam Moa is likely to become a fixture in the New Zealand Squad but was teased by his International team-mates about his startling resemblance to Australian heavyweight boxer Alex Leapai in the lead-up to Friday night’s Anzac test. Those comparisons were in fact even more pertinent afterwards. Sam was rocked by a head knock in the first half of the 30-18 defeat to Australia and looked like he had gone a few rounds in the ring himself as he sported a large bandage around his head. Unlike Leapai, who was easily beaten by Wladimir Klitschko in his world heavyweight title fight last weekend, Sammy did land a few blows of his own. The ex FCs prop was outstanding in defeat, scoring a first-half try and running for 116m from 13 carries in 39 minutes of action. He made four tackle breaks and one line break and led a Kiwis forward pack which outmuscled their opponents but couldn’t quite get over the line.

I seem to have spent a lot of time thinking about our attendances and last week, it was the turn of the parlous state of attendances in the Challenge Cup. It really is a problem and if the main stream bread and butter fixtures of the weekly rounds are a concern, then the numbers of people pitching up for our showcase knock out competition is nothing short of alarming. Back at the start of Super League in the mid 90’s, as the RL fell over themselves to please Sky, the world famous Challenge Cup competition was demoted to little more than a pre season ‘after-thought’ and sadly it’s never really recovered. Although the format of a series of rounds played before the divisional competitions started was naff and soon fell by the wayside, the dye was set and it’s definitely been in the doldrums ever since.

A quick look at last weekend’s attendances shows I think, that folks simply ain’t buying into Cup rugby anymore, as gates fell to a level that is simply embarrassing. Leeds of course got over 12,000 and as the best supported Club in the country that should be commended as should a very acceptable 3,500 at Leigh for the ‘all Championship’ game with Featherstone, but as for the rest:-

4,390 at Wigan
3,002 at Warrington
2,630 at Salford
4,648 at Cas
2,341 at Bradford

….well that’s pretty poor! There were some good match ups as well, but despite all his money, hype and huff and puff, even Mr Koukash could only get 2,630 for a game against another Super League Club that is (according to the AA) just 32 minutes away by road. In mileage it’s about the equivalent of us FC fans travelling to North Cave for a game!!!! AND there were just 2,341 at ‘the best brand in Super League’ the Bradford Bulls! If the Salford and Bradford fans are at fault for not being bothered, for me the Widnes fans supporting a team that have surprised many this year already, should hang their heads in shame for not travelling too.

Then, at such an early part of the season, there’s the issue of the hiatus in the weekly rounds caused for many teams who have been knocked out, at a time when the Super League competition is just starting to ‘hot up’ a bit. I’m not sure what the answer is and perhaps just perhaps, there isn’t one! Maybe the ‘main-lining’ of the Super League competition over the years while the Challenge Cup has been quietly shunted into the proverbial siding, has just gone too far and it’s an irreversible situation, and yet for us traditionalists it’s a massive part of our ‘culture’ and something we still look forward to, and indeed back at, with great affection.

In the old days the little clubs could occasionally ‘do’ the big boys in great acts of giant killing but now the gap is just too great. These days Championship Clubs who get to the stages when the senior Clubs are involved just pray for a succession of lucky draws, until eventually they are drawn against Super League outfits and get a big pay day while they struggle to keep the score down. The famous and once mighty Rugby League Challenge Cup Competition might provide a wonderful spectacle at Wembley Stadium as it reaches its conclusion, but it’s certainly ‘on its uppers’ in the earlier rounds.

Although you can fiddle around with when it’s staged, how its seeded etc. it’s all sadly looking increasingly like old hat. But there’s the conundrum and indeed the real rub, because although the rounds leading up to it are becoming an embarrassment, the actual final itself is a national and international showcase for our game, as well as a financial must for its survival. Talks are going on to see what can be done, as the Clubs struggle to make the Cup more acceptable again for the fans, but it’s hard to see what can be achieved when its demise is so far down the road. At least all the Quarter Final games will be accessible to a wide audience as all are televised, but in turn I then worry what that might do to the size of the gates, don’t you?

Across Rugby League people are losing interest and if the RL really are serious about wanting to re-invigorate the game can I suggest they start by changing the names of the competitions. Last week I listened to Radio Five Live at 6-00pm when they announced, “And in the next hour some big news from Super League” I waited with baited breath until 6-45 when it turned out the news was about bloody netball. Super League; obviously we haven’t even bothered to patent the name!! What next Super league ferret racing?

For me anyway it’s always been a ‘novelty’ name for a competition, that I believe actually under sells such a physical and demanding game. Why play down the kudos, tradition and sheer physicality of the name Rugby League, when it is so much more worthy of a bit of gravitas. So here’s a suggestion, why don’t we get the name of the sport back in the title and call it the Rugby League Premiership and the Rugby League Championship. I know it’s a bit football, but it’s so much more pertinent than our current title. I honestly think our game deserves something that sounds more prestigious and dare I say ‘Macho’ than the gimmicky ‘Super League’, which is however proving to be great for netball!!!

Seeing the queues around the KC for Cup Final tickets this week I got to thinking whether Hull City fans appreciate just how lucky they are and realise what an iconic moment in their history they are experiencing. My mind went back in the late 60’s when City were doing well with Waggy, Chillo and Ken Houghton in their line up and we all went to see them when rugby commitments allowed. Back then gates of 30,000 were the norm and we looked on with envy as Hull FC went from crisis to crisis, while the football Club flourished. In fact it was hard to believe that they were still only in the 2nd and 3rd Divisions. Now, they are in the Premiership, in Europe and most importantly in an FA Cup final for the first time. However visits to Wembley for this FC fan have always seen the anticipation of the event almost over shadowing the actual reality of the day itself and yet still somehow the build up has often lacked the intensity and excitement that I had always imagined there would be.

It’s a strange situation really, but I have found it a pattern repeated every time, and once Wembley is over, if we lose, and we invariably do, then I look back and wish I had made more of the build up. Still, the City fans have all the touch stones in place as they queue round the Stadium for tickets, look to be leaving all other worries like possible relegation behind them and have even releasing a new song to commemorate the biggest day in their history. At these times there are always sad stories about too, like that of Bill who used to work with my Dad and has supported Hull City for 75 years only to have dementia take away his understanding of what is now happening.

That’s bloody tragic isn’t it, but sadly it’s a fact of being a fan that often when the big days come round you remember all those folks who for one reason or another are missing out on the pinnacle of their whole supporting life. My own Dads last dying words after the Swinton semi final in 1980, of “Hull and Rovers at Wembley; I don’t believe it” emphasise that so well for me. So I guess, as a seasoned Wembley campaigner, what I’m saying here to all City fans is, “Yes the big day is great particularly when you’re walking down Wembley way for a Cup Final and it’s YOUR team that will be running out of THAT tunnel. But, make the most of the next couple of weeks, talk the game up, get excited, attend build up events and do everything you can to amplify, prolong and cherish the whole experience, because that’s what makes it so, so special. And there is little doubt too that in the psyche of the sports fan as the actual game flies by in a flash, those are often the memories your cherish for the rest of your life and particularly when times are hard for your team”

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City have recorded a song for Wembley; but who remembers these from 1980?

(There’s an interesting bit of trivia here as the co-writers of both songs were Jon Cambridge ex drummer from the Rats, Juniors Eyes and David Bowie’s Hype and (I just noticed) Denny Mac the brilliant local guitarist who backed Tammy Cline and once played in local band’s the Reflections and ‘The Clockwork Chicken’ which also included FC fan Pete Allen.

I heard this week from my old pal Karl Hutchinson who is these days heavily involved with Wyke Amateur RL Club. He’s certainly enjoying giving something back to the amateur and youth game and Hull Wyke are growing fast, being now not far off being the largest club in the area. They currently boast around 300 players across an amazing 14 age groups, including their cubs to lions programme which see’s kids as young as 3 involved. They are also signed up and doing well out of Hull FC’s Fanbassador scheme from which they get tickets for first team games for the kids and help from Hull FC. Karl is currently appealing for yet another crop of kids to come forward and I’m pleased here to enclose below the details. Good luck Karl and to everyone at Wyke your all certainly doing a tremendous job.

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This week in Codgers Corner I want to take you back to 1984 and a game I remember because of a great hat trick scored by someone who was back then a phenomenon. When I, as a totally biased fanatic about all things Hull FC, stand back a bit from the reality of that situation, I have to say that the player in question was without doubt one of the greatest young talents I have seen pull on the Black and White shirt. However in the biased blinkered world of loving Hull FC’ he ain’t one of my heroes! In fact he’s far from it!

In reality for me, he will always be associated with his ‘Judas’ tag!! Long before Paul Cooke’s treachery gained him that unenviable title, Garry Schofield was the one ex player that the FC fans, particularly the Threepenny Stand, loved to hate. They threw coins onto the field (thirty pieces of silver) and the baying chants of ‘Judas, Judas’ that greeted Gary as he took the field for Leeds against the FC at the Boulevard where legendary. His departure, which was, it appeared to the fans, to be fuelled by his desire to earn as much cash as he could, rubbed the fans up the wrong way big style and was the signal for the ‘Faithful’ to make him ‘Public Enemy Number 1’.

This week however for some reason I got to thinking about Schofield’s former glories, and this week I want to go back to 1984 and the first season that he played in the Hull FC first team as first choice left centre. He made his debut on 23rd August 1983, going on to score an amazing 107 tries in 116 appearances for the Club, as well as kicking almost 200 goals and that when he was always understudy to Lee Crooks anyway!!

This week’s game took place late in that his first season at the Club, on 5th March 1984. The opposition was Widnes who stood second in the table with 30 points, whilst we were 4th with 29. It was a time that despite some excellent performances, attendances were on the wane and a gate of just 10,836 turned up to witness what was in essence a table topping clash. Those dropping gates were interesting phenomena that formed a water shed for the Club and one that was to eventually almost bring it to its knees. However for now we’ll just say that the ‘casual’ fans were probably a little ‘drunk’ with success!

The previous week we had seen our hopes of a third successive visit to Wembley dashed in a defeat at St Helens so as fans we were all looking for the team to bounce back and we were certainly not disappointed. It all started badly though as after just two minutes Andy Dannett hit Elwell with a really high tackle and from the resultant penalty Burke gave the visitors the lead. It didn’t last long though, as Schofield experienced ‘a purple patch’ the likes of which I have probably never seen since.

Firstly on 11 minutes Gary Divorty broke the line and went on a mazy run beating three would be tacklers before putting Schofield through a gap. Gary blazed down field to score wide out with the chasing pack getting further and further behind, but he missed the conversion to leave the score at 4-2. Ten minutes later Norton, Topliss, Leuluai and Ah Kuoi combined in a mesmerising move that saw the ball end up with Divorty who again came galloping into the line from deep. He flung out a superb looping pass that Schofield ran onto and caught, to score his second try, which again he failed to convert. Next up, a neat bit of footwork by ‘Knocker’ Norton saw him ghost into a gap to link with Dave Topliss and Edmonds charged through a ruck of Widnes players, shrugging off the tackle of Andy Gregory, to crash in again, wide out. By this point we were all mesmerised by the standard of rugby we were watching and it seemed to have the same effect on the Widnes defence as both Lydon and Hughes were penalised for ridiculously high tackles.

The next try was probably the best of the game and covered fully 70 yards. Swift passing across the line saw O’Hara put Leuluai into a gap and he burst forward to race clear. As he fell to a tackle by O’Laughlin, he spotted Schofield on his shoulder and from half way the youngster outpaced Basnett and Burke to scorch in for his ‘hat trick of tries’ all in the space of 24 minutes. The crowd went mad but then on the 40th minute, just as referee Robinson was about to call an end to the half, Norton again drove forward slipped what seemed like an impossible pass out of the tackle to young Andy Dannett, who ploughed over the line with Burke, Wood and Adams on his back. Had we kicked the goals we would have had 30 points on the Board, but as it was we went in leading 20-2, in a half the likes of which we were to have to wait a long time to see again.

At least Gary Schofield found his kicking boots after the break, (as the absence of Crooks through injury, meant that we persisted with him, despite his apparent lack of form with the boot), and he slotted over two penalties to stretch our lead. He then improved a good try by Fred Ah Kuoi on 66 minutes but in essence the game was won in that first half and although both Myler and Basnett scored late on for the visitors, the score line of 30-12 flattered the Cheshire team, and after celebrations akin to winning a Cup Final, we all left for home believing that we had seen one of the best half’s of rugby the famous old ground had produced. Schofield was a real emerging star back then and scored an amazing 37 tries and 57 goals in that his first season, many from his trade mark interceptions. Of course all that adulation for the young starlet was to change, but on that afternoon, and for the time being at least, he was a hero!

I often talk in here about the folks in the Drum and Monkey and indeed Sammo, Stu and around 10 of us had a night of Jazz with Snake Davis at the Lairgate Hotel last Friday which as usual descended into a long chat about rugby, but this week I have to give special mention to my pal and regular patron of that hostelry, Kathy. Last Thursday after a good swim at the gym, she was heading for the sauna, when she spotted Bobby Tyson-Wilson up to his neck in the plunge pool and being a friendly soul she went over for a word. Looking down at him she said, “Now then, you’re not as big as you look on the field” to which BTW looked up at her and immediately replied, “Well I wouldn’t be would I……. I’m in here!”

Then on Saturday we called at ‘The Woolpack’ for tea and I bumped into Diary reader John, who reminded me about his Dad, Alan Cooke, who like him reads this rubbish every week. Alan however has been supporting the Club since 1936, which is pretty amazing and might make him our ‘longest suffering’ reader, as you can imagine it was great to chat and thanks to both Alan and John for their weekly support.

Well folks that was a shocking afternoon yesterday and although many will contact me and talk about missed chances, fine margins and Westerman’s injury, it was simply not acceptable. I don’t think getting rid of Radford is the answer, he has to be given a chance but then again, like our Coach, I don’t know what is the answer, do you? There were few positives, perhaps the only one for me was to see so many Sid Domic shirts about as once again the fans dig deep into their pockets as the team does little ‘digging’ at all.

So now I guess all that is left this week is to thank everyone who has again written in with their views, as your input is really appreciated and I can honestly say that I simply couldn’t keep this weekly drivel up without it all. I’m fed up as I expect you all are and with Westerman and Tusan injured, Paea and Ellis appearing to be put on report and Crookes guilty of punching, there is little doubt that it’ll be tough on Friday, but I be there and just……..

Keep Believing if you can!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf