The Dentists Diary – 396th

Better Drilled, fitter, with a better game plan and much more idea, Wigan stitched us up and rolled us over on Friday, when despite several injuries to key personnel their youngsters shone, to outclass us and ensure that we were never really in it!

Unlike the Wakey match where we were a superior team and should have won, this time around we were beaten by a much better outfit, made up of young kids led around the field by two quality half backs full of skill and strength. However for me, strangely that scenario made this latest reversal more palatable than that loss last Sunday! But the fact that we are fast losing any confidence, still making stupid mistakes, still giving away penalties at the end of the oppositions sets, often can’t make 10 yards with a touch finding penalty and fail to match teams for energy and enthusiasm, is bloody worrying.

Even though Mrs R and I watched the game in more opulent surroundings than usual, it was still a miserable night! They dominated the ruck, ran hard and in addition to those half-backs, the forwards pulverised us as Mcillorum played with such pace around acting half, our defence simply found it almost impossible to live with him. You know, we are in big trouble at present, perhaps nothing a stonking win in the Magic game on Saturday won’t put right, but for me that’s more of a dream than a reality.

Quite frankly as I write this in the early hours of Saturday morning, I’m still in awe of a Wigan that can with so many missing ‘stars’, play like they did, they are simply light years in front of us and it was I guess, when you remove all the angst, good to watch them. However I am still all the while thinking it’s hard to imagine us sinking much lower and I really don’t honestly know where we go from here, 7 Diary’s ago I spoke about relegation and got heavily criticised for it, now everyone inside the Club and outside it, are doing the same.

I worry about where we are going and in that context I can’t seem to stop thinking about the Wigan game last season when we played a strong Warriors team, but we tried so hard, and indeed worked so hard for each other before we lost, BUT still went off to a standing ovation. Sadly Friday was a much different scenario altogether and can only really indicate that we have gone backwards!

I was spotted by quite a few readers on Friday in rather unusual surroundings and it was certainly a different experience for yours truly as I watched the game from the rather up market surroundings of the Directors box. Believe me it’s a great view but for atmosphere not a patch on the East Stand!! It’s strange when you change sides of the Stadium occasionally isn’t it, because somehow everything’s the wrong way round!!

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The view from the top; wish that bloke in the seat in front would get his head out of the way, but I wasn’t telling him!

However where you sat on Friday mattered little, because wherever you where you witnessed a performance that said everything about our continued decline, as we looked on at the last semblance of confidence we had as a team, ebbing away. In honesty I’m looking forward to a few weeks away from the KC as are, I found out afterwards, a few of the players. Fortress KC eh? You’re having a laugh!

It wasn’t quite all doom and gloom though and there was a great performance from Shaul at full-back, while Westy (player of the season for me thus far by a mile, but still Mr Marmite across the fan base) tried hard, Feke was for the second week our best go-forward front rower and Heramaia had a go. The rest tried but you could see as early as the first two sets that Wigan had far too much energy and enthusiasm for us and by the 60th minute we were spent and the sooner it was over the better it was for me. Keeping Carvell, Whiting and Horne fresh by not playing them against Wakefield might have seemed a wise move, but it actually back-fired big time. OK those three should have brought some experience and sparkle, but Horne looked lost, tired and well… ageing and Carvell didn’t cut it and gave away three critical penalties through interference in the tackle. Whiting too, just isn’t doing it like he used to anymore. Perhaps they had the experience, but there was precious little evidence of any sparkle around the FC outfit on Friday night was there? Even Micky Paea seems to have gone a bit flat of late (rather like his tyre the other day!!!)

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But this isn’t really a time for levity although Friday’s game was a tad predictable too. Wigan started strongly and went 14-0 up before we huffed and puffed our way back into the game and if we were to do anything, you tended to think there would have to see a complete renaissance in the second half, but to have a chance of that we needed to go in just trailing 14-10.

However with 2 minutes to go, the inevitable happened. We were holding the Wigan rampage quite well, before a great dummy from Smith saw our ranks part like the Red Sea and we conceded a late try for Wigan to stretch their lead to 20-10 and then of course it was effectively all over. They just broke our line too easily and you could visibly see our confidence and what energy we had, go down the drain, as did the patience of the crowd as they headed for the exits well before the end. The Wigan Coach may have thought that it was their best performance of the season, but that was scant consolation for us lot and as Wakefield won again we are fast approaching the danger zone, with the prospect of a win nowhere in sight. I’ve fretted and been upset since Friday and to say I’m worried about our demise is an understatement.

Where does the blame lie? Well everywhere I guess! Our recruitment looks flimsy and because we’ve spent so much there is little room for manoeuvre under the cap, our players look lost at times and our mental attitude is shot. Our Coach has to take some responsibility for that because it would appear that much of what we are suffering this term (and have indeed suffered in the past) is down to mental preparation beforehand. Gareth Carvell in an interview I saw somewhere alluded to the fact that he believes there’s a definite mental issue with some players with how their mindset changes between the last training session and the game. If that is true, and it seems a fair assumption then somehow Radford has to address that and put it right!

Now, call me a fatalist or even someone who is over reacting, but because it’s been on my mind all weekend here’s just a quick word about the stark consequences of us not turning this around and us slipping into the bottom two (Over dramatic? Well, just have a look at our run of away games and then at our last 7 fixtures). I know you’ll say “We’ll be OK”, or “I aint even thinking about it” but the player knockers, the ‘Radford out’ boys and even now it seems the ‘Pearson bashers’ are out in force on social media, as once again we even see a small minority of those infamous, yet vociferous, ‘plastic fans’ seeming to delight in our plight, while the rest of us are just in abject despair

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Storm Clouds gathering over the KC!!

I know that there are still a lot of games to play, but the threat of relegation for every team in the bottom 6 or so, means that adversity will breed desperation, as Clubs battle to avoid the financial shortcomings that come with the drop. Most of them (London apart) own their grounds or have sole use of them, so their futures are reasonably secure, they can scale their operations down because they run them and have control of their destiny. We don’t have that luxury and so the implications to Hull FC of relegation would be simply disastrous; don’t ask me how I know that, but trust me I do!! Many of our core Stadium costs are fixed whatever division we play in and it would be a real issue if we didn’t have the financial wherewithal or potential crowds to stay at the KC, and with an SMC rubbing their hands at the prospect of that scenario, it would mean that we simply have no-where to go. So, next season, instead of it being an iconic celebration of our heritage, it could be remembered in history for a completely different reason.

Some folks read this and still expect a flowery, full of hope; everything in the garden is rosy type view of things. I am not being sensationalist here or indeed a harbinger of doom I’m just being honest and basing my comments on what the reality of relegation means to our owner and the Club. The Diary will be 9 years old in November and for me, this is without doubt the biggest crisis we have faced in that time. There’s loads of time yet I know but the signs are all there and we seemed devoid of any sort of plan to reverse them.

Even with the increased support of the new Sky money allocations, teams like Rovers are in a much better position to survive relegation than we are, that’s a fact! Everyone who tips up every week has every right to complain, I’m always at it in here, but I and thousands of others love Hull FC and this is getting serious.

Serious, not because of how we are playing, we’ve been crap before, but more because the whole dynamic of the League structure and Club funding is changing and relegation means that two teams WON’T live to fight another day in Super League this time around on the same handouts and benefits and because of our circumstance (the KC, the SMC, a relatively new owner who might one day under extreme financial pressure say enough is enough etc.) one of those simply can’t be us. When we have been in trouble before, in worse trouble in fact, we’ve always owned our ground and had that to fall back on to play in, whatever happened. Much I feel hinges on Bradford getting their points back! So for heaven’s sake I appeal to everyone reading this to by all means continue to exercise your right to grumble but please, if you care at all for the Club, get behind the team, the owner and dare I say the Coach. The realities of them not succeeding this season are quite frankly unthinkable, I won’t be harping on about this every week, nor am I shroud waiving for effect I just know that it’s a fact.

The thing is of course that in all this we as fans deserve so much more than what we have seen in the last few weeks and this was perfectly illustrated by the fact that despite our crap recent form we have still snapped up 4500 tickets for the Magic Weekend and the Club have had to order some more, because there is still a demand. That is now officially accepted by the RFL as being over 1000 more sold than any other Club and as we keep all pre sales, its worth around £50,000 to Hull FC. Are the FC Army the best fans in the country? Undoubtedly!

So to the background to all this doom and gloom and the week gone by and it was great to see another star of the future Jamie Shaul sign up for a new five year contract with obvious love of the Club and pleasure at the deal shining through Smailsey’s article in the Mail on Saturday

SPORT with James story 9-5-14 Hull FC's Jamie Shaul goes high to take a ball during their Super League match against Wigan at the KC Stadium. Picture: Simon Renilson
Shaul; a great prospect and getting better all the time, particularly under the high ball.

I honestly believe that Jamie has star quality and is going to be a real hero in the years to come. Always quick off the mark and a speedy carrier of the ball his game, particularly in defence and under the high ball, has improved immensely and his signing shows the sort of foresight we have to have at the Club if some of the bigger operations are not to step in and grab such youngsters, and that after we have invested large amounts of time and money on their development.

Last week in the Diary I said,

“Heramaia could be retained but with Cunningham flourishing at the Bronco’s ‘Azza’ could be seen, with cap restrictions, as a luxury, depending of course on who we intend to bring in”.

I said that because I was hearing after the game last Sunday that we were on the verge of abandoning our signings policy for 2015 and looking to just bring in a few top players one or two of which are ‘box office’ signings to enthuse the fans.

However I didn’t expect things to be starting so soon but on Thursday evening we heard that the Club and Aaron Heramaia were to part company as he leaves at the end of his contract to join Widnes. Last year at this time he announced that he would be retiring but now he wants to go again, but we are not renewing his contract and he leaves at the end of his current one as a player I’ll remember with some affection. Yes I’ll miss him but he is getting older and better for him to go now than for us to hang on and have him as a bit part player. We already have a few of them! Some of course are grumbling, some always do, but his ‘engine’ isn’t what it was and he is fading after 25/30 minutes, although there is no denying the impact he brings from the bench. I like him I’ll miss him, but I’ll judge the Club’s decision when I see who we use his not insubstantial wage to bring in.

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I like Aaron Heramaia he’s a really nice bloke, but I’ll judge his departure on who we get in with for the cap money he frees up.

On a happier note the inclusion of Hull FC trio Harry Tyson-Wilson, Jansin Turgut & Jack Downs in the England Academy squad to play France on May 16th was again brilliant news and in all the mess that there is surrounding our first team performances over the last week, it’s easy sometimes to forget just how good some of these youngsters are. HTW is for me developing into a teenage phenomenon, Ok he does drift in and out of games a bit, but when he’s on with ball in hand, he can win an under 19’s game on his own. Long bullet like cut out passes, good short kicks, dinks over the top and a classic show and go are just some of his ‘box of tricks’ and all that plus International recognition in an under 19’s international for a lad that is still just 17 years of age!! The other two are great grafting players too and good luck to all three next week against France at Castleford.

Well there were a few complaints last week as Wilf Whiffs was not included as it seems some folks enjoy the section which appears from time to time after I have had a chance to test a few of the rumours. However outlandish they might be, I offer them to you as at least possibilities as to who we are as a Club pursuing. But, I stand by my indications over the past few weeks that Setaimata Sa is a done deal and word from the family and a contact at Caravan Park is that that Scott Taylor has signed for next term too. I also know that we went after Ben Jones Bishop but he’s opted for Warrington, we equalled their bid and Salford offered more, but the player in the end decided on the Wire. Then a bid from us for Huby at Castleford stalled as those in the media in West Yorkshire inform me that he has apparently opted for Huddersfield. Then there’s the every present quest for Dobson which still continues to whirl in the rumour mill although despite our interest Warrington are still said to be interested and in the ‘box seat’ should he even decide to come back to this country at all.

Radford has admitted the inconsistent form of several of our players is making his recruitment decisions for next year even tougher, when this week he admitted that he’s in two minds about a few of them, while for me, it’s simple Lee, if they ain’t able to get themselves up every time they pull on the famous irregular hoops then I’d get rid of them all!

With the passing of the 1st May anti-tampering deadline, we are now officially able to approach out-of-contract players for next season, although we have been doing it unofficially for months; just like everyone else! However according to the rules it is also the time that the Club are obliged to inform all their out-of-contract players as to whether they plan to offer them a new contract for 2015.

We only have Richard Horne, Jay Pitts, Liam Kent, and ‘Mr No-body’ Shannon McDonnell of the most high profile names left to sort out and despite a ridiculous rumour on the social networks I’m told that Richard is waiting till later in the season to decide, and McDonnell is de-registered.

Oh boy Lee Radford’s post match interviews are worth waiting for aren’t they? He improved his style no end last Friday but he needs to learn a bit and quickly and cut out all the explanation’s about why it has gone wrong in that fashion that shows he’s still stunned himself. Most folks are noting these lapses and perhaps he should resist ever again mentioning the crowd in such a way that it appears to some that he is criticising them. All that should be jettisoned for a few sound bites such as most other Coaches (whinging Sandy Cock apart) deliver post match, week in week out. Listen to Tony Smith after a big defeat and learn from that, he’s a master of it! The thing is I guess, he’s frank, honest and forthright with his opinions, wears his heart on his sleeve and in those post match chats he simply leaves his emotions hung out to dry and for all to see. It’s pretty clear too that he’s hurting as much as the rest of us afterwards and although I know you’ll say he’s paid to do it and it’s part of his job, I know the way I felt after the Widnes and Wakefield games when I couldn’t even speak to Mrs R about it never, mind the press.

After Wakefield I was bloody fuming all last weekend and I wasn’t on my own either, as last Monday morning Adam Pearson travelled through from the West Riding to YPI and was waiting on the doorstep as the players arrived. Soon afterwards, he delivered a speech to them and the coaching staff that was both scathing in its criticism and ultra honest in its realism. He told the players that the Wakefield and Widnes performances were not acceptable and painted a picture which indicated that in his opinion the way they were taking us at present was straight to the bottom of the League. I’d like to think that it hit home, but doubt that with some of ‘em it did! Pearson was apoplectic all weekend and still fuming when I spoke to him on Monday night, in fact folks who saw him after the game in the VIP lounge described him as purple with rage. So, firstly let me say that you should never ever under estimate how much he wants us to succeed. I think like a lot of us he believes that some of the players are, mentally at least, just not good enough and I expect to see some of them moved on in future weeks, as we continue to evolve the squad in an attempt to string a few wins together; wins that we desperately need.

So what of Lee Radford? Well it didn’t take some fans long to swing from the viewpoint of ‘Giving him time and a chance’ to ‘Radford Out’, the latter which is, for me at least, perhaps too much too soon. However when you’re a fan shelling out every week you’re entitled to your views and folks have just seen too much of this sort of stuff and will either hang in there and complain or walk. It’s not just the fans who are starting to doubt Radford’s ability either because the bloke seems at times to doubt it himself.

But, our Coach is suffering because of the perennial failings of inconsistency and failing to get up for the ‘lesser’ games. I spoke to him last Wednesday when he was still desperately searching for answers to a question that his three predecessors had struggled with, and for him it’s even worse because he was one of the players it affected before he retired from playing, as were Andy Last and Motu Tony for that matter!!! That’s a real poacher turned game keeper conundrum, because he’s trying to solve a problem that under Richard Agar he was part of!

He is a genuine bloke and as I said above I certainly prefer his post match difficulties in interviews to the blasé sound bite driven ‘shrug of the shoulders’ stuff we’ve heard from previous coaches after similar defeats at Crusaders, Salford and London. So bemusing and distressing are some of our performances proving that Lee even eluded to the power of prayer and it was all summarised perfectly by an interview Lee gave to the Yorkshire Post in which he said, “It has been a really difficult week, a very tough one, it’s been tough personally to pick myself up and then you’ve to pick the players up too. The performance we gave against Wakefield is a common one and it has left me questioning myself and the surroundings. That’s why it’s been as tough as it has. I’ve been part of the generation that has not turned up that day. It is tough but all we can do is try and train and practise with an intensity and pray, when we step over the whitewash, that intensity is still there on game day”.

Is Lee out of his depth, is his inexperience as a head coach showing through, or are the players, well some of them, taking him for the same ride they have taken the last three Coaches on? Well I doubted the appointment in the first place, I said so and regular readers know that, but I just think for the good of our Club we all have to trust our owner who will act when he feels he needs to and when the time is right and in the mean time, we have to get behind our Coach. Not blindly, not without criticism, but because it’s our Club and anyway I don’t want to be seen as one of those fans I cited earlier, (that the message boards are full of and who we all know) who appear to revel in things when they go wrong!

However I do love to read message boards and credit folks in here for their observations and incites and so it was great to come across an entry the other day from FC Faithful Stu who quoted the author David Foster Wallace and what he had to say about athletes in general. It read…”Professional athletes are in many ways our cultures holy men: they give themselves over to a pursuit, endure great privation and pain to actualize themselves at it, and enjoy a relationship with that perfection that we admire, reward, and love to watch, even though we have no desire to walk that road ourselves. In other words, they do it for “us”, sacrificing themselves for our (we imagine) redemption.” It’s strange because for us fans that quote above is a complete paradox, because although they are professional athletes generally speaking some of our players don’t do it for “us”, nor do they sacrifice themselves for our redemption. Yet still we turn up hoping that this will be the week it all comes good; were it ever so.

The state of mind across the squad before a game and the things they do during it have got to be down to the players themselves and that’s for me where most of our issues begin. I have to say too it’s the players who have been here the longest and are usually the local lads to which the finger of blame, from the fans at least, is starting to point, particularly after games like the Wakey and Widnes debacles.

So in conclusion on Lee Radford, when I think he’s crap, and I think I can prove it, I’ll be the first to say so in here, but I honestly don’t know what to think at present. However I’ll tell you this; whatever I think about it he won’t be going anywhere soon and will be given more time to get things right, so we can all forget about new coaches coming in, because our owner has made his mind up. It might not be what the majority of fans want to hear, but it’s the truth, so we had all better get used to it. Walking away or sitting there grumbling is every fans right but for me I’ll just sit it out, get behind the team when I can and hope. In the end Hull FC are all I’ve got sports wise and after almost 60 years of hanging in there, I doubt there’s anywhere else to hang now!

But then again, it’s not a difficult decision for Adam to ‘Stick’ at present at least, because if we were to shift Lee out, who the hell would we bring in? No current Super League coach would come, the perceived culture within our squad is too much of a poison chalice, so then there’s Noble (can’t succeed with a pot full of money to spend and sends Mark Sneyd out on a year’s loan), Steve McNamara (an International Coach who has to be an assistant coach in another country, because there was no job for him here) and Tony Rae!!! Nor would any self respecting head coach from Australia come either, so that just leaves Assistant Coaches from this country or Down Under and we all know where that can get you, don’t we? You can see why Adam won’t budge at present on Radford, and I guess as true fans we all have to do everything we can to get behind the club we love and I guess behind our Coach too!!

It was interesting to see Blake Solly has been appointed General Manager of Super League working under the man with more hats than Princess Marina, Nigel Wood. It is certainly a mark of just how incestuous the appointment merry go round is at the RL, when you see this sort of stuff going on isn’t it, because for me after watching the way he has wheeled and dealed Bradford’s survival, he’s be the last bloke I’d want running the show. But I’m prepared to be proved wrong. For me though, Nigel Wood his boss shouldn’t be in charge of Super league simply because they need some new, blood, with new ideas and some independence from the rest of the RL World. In fact a charismatic dynamic leader!

If they really do like these cosy internal promotions they had the very person on their books for the job in Director of Planning Sally Bolton, the woman who almost single headedly turned the World Cup from an also ran international competition into a great festival of sport attended by audiences way above the level of what any of us expected. She produced a paper after the event that indicated the importance of the continuity of international rugby at all levels, which was ignored, she was over looked for the operational role at the top of Super League which she would have been amazing at, and now of course, Sally has been lost to the game as she leaves to become Managing Director of the World Athletics Championship for 2017 in London. Ok that’s a prestigious position but having seen what she did with the World Cup we should have moved heaven and earth to keep her in Super League and the game. But we didn’t did we….oh what a surprise, and so the old guard continue!! Good luck Blake but be warned our great game is running out of new dawns!

The many hatted Mr Wood himself is a curious character too, for he is now heading up Super League, he’s Chairman of the Rugby Football League and of course from this week Chairman of The Rugby Football League International Federation as well. I bet his families forgotten forgot what he looks like don’t you? There can’t be much left for anyone else at Redhall to do, can there? All this for the man who pushed through next seasons new structures and in effect by his efforts and manipulation behind the scenes caused a schism between the ‘do as your told ‘ boys and the rebels which continues to fester to this day.

Oh hell what next eh? Well how about this. After the continued plastic, contrived and (fixture wise) pretty well ‘fixed’, nature of the up-coming Magic Weekend, it looks like a new event is in the works for next season, this time for clubs in the Championship, as Nigel and the boys continue to work their magic. This new extravaganza looks likely to be played at Bloomfield Road, home of Blackpool Football Club, in the stadium and city which previously hosted the Northern Rail Cup finals up until 2012. The RL are now believed to have agreed to host six games across two days in that one venue to replicate the current fiasco we have to endure in Super League. I really don’t have a problem with the Magic event as such, and I know that many of you reading this enjoy it. However the fact that it’s a yet another bloody Derby, but some Clubs have wormed their way out of playing their respective traditional ‘Derby’s’, makes it all just too false and contrived for me. Perhaps I’m just getting old because with lots of people snapping up tickets for Manchester, this year’s event is heading for another commercial success!

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Bloomfield Road; ……..oh we don’t like to be beside the seaside!

Next year it now looks as if the Championship Clubs are going to have to endure something of the same ilk too! At least they’ll be based in Blackpool; the Tower, Candy Floss, I am a Virgin…. Islander hats, Donkey Rides and all! It should provide a great weekend out for the good folks of Rochdale, Batley and Dewsbury though, but how many will go? That I believe is the big question!

While we’re on the RL I also heard this week from Lancashire that the Clubs have voted to introduce a three Club World Club Challenge from next year!

In Codgers Corner this week I want to go right back to the 1981 season when we were doing our best to get over that defeat at Wembley against the Dobbins by doing it in the best possible way; winning lots of games. We had been knocked out of the John Player Trophy semi final by Barrow but in the League we were second and going well. That February we were having a mild spell in a year when we had not lost many games at all through inclement weather and although we had experienced a lot of injuries early in the season, we were going well, and had just beaten Featherstone, Halifax and Bradford in successive matches. Leeds came to the Boulevard on a breezy cold afternoon when we were at the peak of our attendances in that decade and 15,119, packed the ground in a white hot atmosphere that only the visit of the old enemy from Headingley could generate. It was the first round of the Challenge Cup and all the talk in the papers in the week before was getting back to Wembley and revenging that torrid defeat the previous May.
The game kicked off and Hull were immediately into action, with Skerrett, Stone and Norton well on top of the Leeds big men Rayne, Eccles and Harrison. Norton had been Captain that year but it seemed to have affected his form and so Charlie Stone had taken over, although both players had been doubtful through injury right up to the eve of the game. That afternoon however what was unfolding in front of a mesmerised audience was one of the most devastating team performances of the season. However, after 18 minutes we had not turned our superiority into points and we were all starting to wonder if Leeds would snatch the first try. Then from a scrum Pickerill fed Barry Banks who surged past Dyl and as Atkinson came across to tackle him and he should have gone outside to Graham Bray, he turned back inside and found Norton. Twenty yards out Knocker ran into some heavy traffic but beat one then another Leeds player, as he stepped and dodged his way through before waltzing past full back Neil Hague to score under the posts. What a try that was to signal the fact that Norton was back in his most devastating form.

Sammy Lloyd stroked over the goal and our confidence grew as another try looked on the cards. Almost immediately we witnessed probably the move of the season. Newlove and Wilby exchanged passed and sailed past McIntosh and Atkinson before Wilby fed onto Bray out on the wing. He got the ball some 60 yards out, ran at and beat Hague and although Rayne caught him a yard out, Bray crashed over and the crowd went wild. Their happiness however soon switched to anger as Referee Billy Thompson ruled that Bray had in fact performed a double movement and he ruled the try out. The Crowd went mad and that song about the ‘Little wooden whistle’ (with the mandatory string of obscenities at the end) rang out from the Threepennies.

Next Newlove broke down the middle and fed Banks but a great chance was lost when ‘The Side Winder’ ran across the field and was trapped by the Leeds cover defence. The pressure mounted and mounted on Leeds, as we went in for the kill. Pickerill almost scored before, in the 39th minute, Stone slashed the Leeds cover to pieces with a brilliant angled run and Banks charged through to score. Lloyd again goaled and we went in 10-0 up at the interval. Five minutes after the break Lloyd was on target again this time with a penalty. This came from another brilliant Norton break where he fed Skerrett with an underarm pass and the Second Rower ran off down field. He kicked ahead and was blatantly tripped by Hague who saved a certain try. Two minutes later the under pressure Leeds defeat cracked again, as Banks burst through and was tackled high by a desperate Kevin Dick. Lloyd again converted the Penalty this time from the touch line.

At 14-0 the game was won and although Leeds saw a lot more of the ball we tackled like demons and kept them pinned in their own half for most of the time. Mick Crane came on and took over from the injured Pickerill and Paul Woods made some great punching busts through the opposition’s line. As a late inclusion for Ronnie Wileman, Tony Duke shovelled the ball out of the scrums and Tim Wilby was solid in the centre. In the last minute Terry Naylor scored a desperate, late, consolation try and Dick converted before the referee blew the whistle and we had got through to the second Round of the Challenge Cup. Those were such great times and I never fail to be excited all over again when I write about them! Great memories!

Well as I said earlier, I ain’t going this weekend, I never do, not since the messed around with the fixtures but I know that thousands are as the RL already hail the Magic Weekend as their biggest success to date. It will certainly be interesting to see how we approach the game and indeed how it unfolds because with Leeds looming next weekend and London already licking their lips about the following week, the portents are not good. I don’t like being all doom and gloom but facts are facts and I simply can’t get enthusiastic about what is happening at present. Look at people like the famous Edinboro’ Yorkie who although late in life makes the journey by train to the KC from north of the border for every home game, he deserves a medal for watching what we are served up at times. It’s a real worry for me and as always I share my concerns here with you. I’ve seen and talked to dozens of distressed fans in the last week including, Alan Smalley, , Bill, Stu, Sam and Harry G, Kevin Holmes, Bri Chapman, Sammo and the great Ranbo, while it was good on Sunday to meet Diary reader Carl at Morrison’s and so it goes on everyone is worried, everyone concerned. This Diary can’t be all singing all laughing every week and this time around it certainly ain’t anything like that, but still I’m really thankful for your support and Camaraderie at times like this. So thanks for your encouragement, for all your feedback and for at times keeping me sane. Enjoy the days out in Manchester and I leave the last word this week to Joe Westerman when he said, perhaps more in hope than expectation:-

“It starts on Saturday. We owe them one from the game over Easter and we owe the fans and the coach’s one after the last couple of games, in fact we owe everyone at the club”.

Come on You Hulllaaarr!!!!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf

PLUS NEVER FORGET!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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