The Dentists Diary – 401st

Friday 13th; unlucky for some? Well not for the 500 or so of us who made the trip to Widnes on Friday night!!!

After Leeds, (where we defended valiantly but woefully stuttered and spluttered on attack) it would certainly have been hard to predict that we would go on to score over 100 points in our next two games, but that’s being an FC fan isn’t it? At Headingley we defended valiantly but it was obvious we needed an attacking boost to kick start things and there is little doubt that after a couple of poor performances, for me, a few weeks ago relegation was a real threat.

I bayed in here for a new half back ASAP, because it was the only solution I and most other fans could see to solve the problem and I have to admit that when I saw Richard Horne warming up at Widnes he certainly wasn’t what I had in mind!! I’d lost sight I guess of the one thing that really wins you games in Rugby League; forward dominance! However they say in sport that confidence is everything and after scratching a win at London where we were nervous and still spluttered a bit, we took advantage of a week off and a chance to train on a couple of synthetic surfaces and simply blew Widnes away up front, in a fashion that was almost scary.

Granted we started the game with a lot more energy and enthusiasm than we saw for a few weeks a while back, but as the tries came the whole team seemed to grow physically in stature and confidence as the game progressed! All of a sudden we had pace across the backs and players that had run at defenders to make a point for most of the season were now running at the gaps to great effect. It wasn’t perfect in fact in the first half it was frustratingly imperfect at times, but it was a fine all round performance with some scintillating long range tries overshadowed for me by a forward display of the ilk that that we have not seen bettered this season. It was great to be there at a game that with hindsight was one of the best performances away from home I have seen for many a year. Can you remember the last time we went behind in a super league game, before scoring 56 unanswered points and did it away from home?

I’d had to drive to South London and back on Thursday and so I decided to take my time going over to Widnes and it’s certainly a long haul across the Pennines on a Friday afternoon! I got there about two hours before the game and followed the usual ritual of grabbing a quiet ‘Big Mac’ at the McDonalds on the corner, where I was met and harangued somewhat by a set of rather buoyant Widnes fans. These youngsters took great delight at singing “Were gonna Wembley, were Gonna Wembley you’re not, you’re not!” to this ageing supporter, as I munched through my burger and minded my own business. Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear, I fear they’re not singing now!

When you group that incident with the idiot from Widnes who went on RL fans afterwards and stated “Where going to the semi final, where you going?” it all smacks of a naivety that they’d be advised to get out of….. and quick!! Ok they were the exceptions I’m sure, and no doubt as crazy as a bottle of crisps, but misplaced confidence and arrogance? Believe me guys, we could write a book about it!!!

However, having left the ‘Ronald’s’ in McDonalds to their McFlurry’s and out of tune libretto’s I had a walk round what is without doubt a really nice ground and a great set up, which, after such a good season for the home Club thus far, certain warranted a far better gate than the almost silent 5000 that attended. If the game is on its arse as some of us suspect, then we only needed to look at the wide open spaces and empty stand at the other end to have our suspicions confirmed. Widnes’s form thus far in both the Cup and the League deserved so much better, but that’s the current plight of Super League for you. “The threat of Relegation will bring the crowds flocking back” said Blake Solly at the turn of the year; 3,407 at Salford yesterday!

The ‘best’ Stand at 7-52pm precisely!

However I digress and at around 6-45 as the Acklam’s buses started to arrive and began depositing the azure blue clad army of the FC Faithful, it was obvious that far more than I had suspected had made the trip and had once again ‘tipped up’, not quite knowing what to expect from their beloved FC. As they made their way to the Stadium singing and chanting, I was mindful again of the fact I so often reiterate in here that just like being an England football fan on the eve of a World Cup, for an FC fan at times like that moment, it’s ‘the hope that kills you’. However for the second away game on the trot no-one was disappointed.

All that anxiety and stress of desperately needing to win in London was this time around replaced by the awareness that this was in fact a bit of a bonus, an unexpected two points and quite frankly in the end, a pretty amazing performance. I knew as I drove home afterwards that the almost obsessive ‘Radford Out’ brigade would be citing a poor Widnes team just as they had probably correctly done about the Bronco’s. But, if Widnes were a bit off on the night, it wasn’t any co-incidence that their malaise could be traced back to the fact that from the first tackle their forwards were pressured, bullied and hammered into submission.

Oh Danny boy; that must have hurt a bit and a missed penalty kick on half time celebrated like a victory in the Hull end added to his woes!

It looked as if it would be so different though, as a stupid penalty gave Widnes field position from which they touched down with ease to open the scoring. This came about after a simple left to right shift play saw us done for numbers out on our left, but that was it, for the rest of the game our defence was superb and we actually did what a lot of good teams do; played the game in their half. With Horne and Rankin kicking well for position and Westerman once more excelling, we were soon level following a great charge down and catch by our number 13. Then shortly afterwards we were in the lead, when a short crash ball from Westy put Paea into a hole and from about 15 yards, three Widnes defenders couldn’t stop him rampaging over the line.
Gaz Ellis: You just get used to his none stop all action style these days!

Our spirit and verve was excellent which was personified for me when Westerman really tore a strip off Tusan when he dropped the ball with the line open. It was obvious we wanted this one badly! The rest of the half saw us on top but bombing chances a plenty as we over elaborated and forced the last unlikely pass, instead of building pressure. However an uncharacteristic last second missed penalty by Tickle sent us in with a deserving and unlikely 8 point lead. Of course during the break we all pondered on the fact that this is Hull FC and looking right back to the second game of the season at Saints we have since then been good at blowing such opportunities and squandering leads. So there was much cause for concern because despite us having looked energised and powerful in the first 40 minutes, Widnes would certainly come out fired up.

Now for the bit that some in the ‘anti-coach’ camp won’t like but what I feel this week has to be said, in that there is little doubt someone said something at half time. It was no miracle, mystical act or bi-product of divine intervention that when we came out in the second half, although still full of energy and power, the forced and over flamboyant stuff stopped and we had more poise and were altogether steadier with ball in hand. Whether it was the fact that old head Horne was out there and he, Heramaia and Houghton, visibly clung onto the ball a time or two instead of trying to force things I don’t know, but we showed more poise and the old coaching adage of ‘patience pays off’ came to the fore as we ripped them apart. So it was that after a deal of huff and puff from the Widnes forwards we scored first and all of a sudden the outcome was never in doubt. I say that, but with a quarter of the game to go and a 30 point lead I was still working out how many tries Widnes had to score to get back at us; but that’s just me, I’ve seen it all before and so even at that point watching was still pretty excruciating!!

You know despite that massive win, I still think that their pitch is without doubt an unfair advantage. The dynamic of it is so different and the game so much faster than a lot of teams are no doubt used to and as the picture below maybe shows, it’s a real mess to look at too. In fact it was obvious from the off that the bounce etc can be a real cause for concern if you’re not prepared for it. You could see a time or two that Kevin Brown knew every inch of the pitch as if it were his own back yard. That said no doubt the hours Jamie Shaul had spent training on such surfaces of late showed through as he let the ball bounce at times but knew exactly, it seemed, where it was going to end up. In fact Jamie’s positioning ensured that on three occasions at least kicks that would have, on any other given Friday, been 40/20, were caught inside the touchline. I guess my point is that although it’s the same for both sides in the end the visiting team only plays on it once while the home Club plays on it every week.

This might give a bit of an idea on the condition of that pitch on Friday.

I guess when all comes to all after a very successful night in which the forwards played a massive part in the win, (and Ellis, Paea, Westerman, Thompson, Watts and Feke were absolutely massive), that facet of our game was brilliantly complimented by the pace we suddenly seem to have found in the backs. Shaul, Crooks, Lancaster, Rankin and Talanoa all looked to have it to burn and they all backed up really well. In fact a special mention to ‘hat trick hero’ Lancaster because every time Yeamo looked to break a tackle, he was on his shoulder right there waiting to blaze away down the touchline. Its early days yet as far as him adding other attributes to his game is concerned, but he never put a foot wrong all night. In fact the thought of him and Lineham on the wings Talanoa, Sa, Yeamo and Crooks vying for the centre spots and Shaul at full-back is an exciting one indeed.

The Final hurrah to a great night!

So were not out of the wood yet, far from it, but since that humiliating defeat to Wigan we have incrementally got better and better and that has to be a positive, we got through again without injury, Lineham is almost ready to come back, we have found a goal kicker who was faultless on Friday and we seem now to have found some much needed pace in the backs. The crowd too was amazing and sang the team home in spectacular fashion. I heard yesterday that Micky Paea who was just about to go back on turned to Lasty and Co on the bench and said, “Just Listen to that”; as yet another chorus of ‘Old Faithful’ rang out from the away end.

As for a final thought on last Friday, well we all love whiffs and new signings and bringing in players from afar but when you step back and consider for a moment, how good is it to see a young 17 year old Hull kid who is still at college, making his debut against Tom Briscoe at Leeds and scoring 5 tries in his first three Super league games. That’s Pearson’s vision as far as ‘Club Hull’ is concerned but it doesn’t happen overnight and perhaps it’s a principle we should all take a bit more time to buy into!!

So to last week and the same Adam Pearson looked relaxed and chilled when he was interviewed on ‘Boots and All’ as he re-iterated what I have already said in here is his current mantra, which was personified in his closing comment of, “Categorically, I will never sell the Club” There is little doubt we are after, and actively pursuing a few big name signings and most importantly a half back of proven calibre, but its proving hard to get that top signing because attracting players to the Club appears to be a bit of an issue. We have done it in the past but our current form, the unfashionable nature of the Club at present, the lack of top British talent that is available and the amount of money top Aussies are paid ‘Down Under’ is making the whole thing really hard to deliver. As I have already said we are certainly doing well with youth and Adams obvious excitement at the youngsters that are coming through is well placed, but we have to also get those two or three experienced corner stone’s into the team that will transform those youngsters and weld the team together and we must do it before the bottom four looms next year. Radford is as I have said so many times before, going no-where, so if we love the Club we have to get behind the vision, hang on and hope!! But then again we’re good at that; after the past 5 or 6 years we have to be!

Two days earlier a few FC fans panicked while others raised their eye brows a bit at the news that Adam Pearson was leading a consortium that is vying to take over at Birmingham City, but it was really only a matter of time before that was the case, because it was something that, after that failed consortium at Leeds United, was bound to happen. Adam has made little secret of the fact that he wanted to get back into football because it’s an area he has been involved in for years and something by and large he’s proved to be pretty good at. I’ve talked to him about it, heard him on the radio about it and listened to him at forums etc. The fact is he won’t be going anywhere as far as Hull FC is concerned. His investment is the only money there is in our Club because he is sole owner, he’s ‘the boss’ and indeed able to run it just as he wants. He has the final say and if you know Adam then you’ll also know, that’s the way he likes it! He loves being in that position but the size of his wealth means it’s something he will never be financially able to do at a football Club of any stature. He has never hidden his love for football, however he tells everyone who wants to listen that any move back into the round ball game, would have to fit in with his commitments at Hull FC.

He’s still really excited by our game and although frustrated by the way it is run, I believe he is in it for the long haul, which must be heartening for us all. So, as far as Birmingham is concerned don’t worry too much at the moment, it might happen but if it does there is no chance of our owner ‘bailing’!

I mentioned last week that Adam Pearson stated to the Disabled group that the Club were to scale down the size of the squad adding quality rather than quantity, something that Lee Radford alluded to later in the same meeting. Well it seems the cull has started with Pitts signing for Featherstone for 2015 after Liam Kent has already headed there this week and I expect, if he plays any good, Crookes will join them. Kent is a necessary move as we scale down because he was obviously never going to make it, but he has always been a good Club man, a player that everyone in the camp liked, someone who never complained and a lad who always gave 100% whatever he did. All three (although Crookes obviously has other issues as well) fit the bill as players who are Ok but don’t fit the smaller squad principle. Folks keep saying to me ‘I like Pitts’ and ‘he’s doing well at Bradford’ but my retort has always been that after 45 appearances how many times have you said, “Pitts changed the game” or “Pitts was the difference” I’ll hazard a guess not that many!

Yes you need good ‘all rounders’ and honest hard working players but if you are using the ‘Leeds Model’ of a squad of around 24 really classy senior players or outstanding youngsters and then bringing in the under 19’s when you run out of players, then he is surplus to requirements. In the roller coaster that is Hull FC two seasons ago our squad was thin and so it soon became all ‘strength in depth’ and ‘numbers in all positions’, now we are going back to a small squad and it’s all a case as far as most fans are concerned of here we go again!! If we do down scale then one thing’s for sure, we’ll have an injury crisis next season, something that seems to have been avoided since we had a big squad! Perhaps guys it’s nothing to do with the size of the squad but rather the fact that like it or not a few of our senior or older players are no longer up to it at the top level every week!! However all that said I would recall Pitts and let him go to Featherstone on loan if he wants some game time, because although the relegation heat is off a bit, I still don’t believe that we should be helping Bradford at all!! Although banned this week he is undoubtedly one of their best players and we simply can’t afford to be giving them a leg up until we are mathematically safe from the drop ourselves. Of course when we are in that position, should Rovers be near the drop zone the Bulls can take their pick of who they want!

In the Whiffs department, in this last Diary for three weeks, I thought I would just round up the rumours and more concrete suggestions that are coming out of the Club and the media across the game. Rich Whiting (and everyone else in Super League with a Featherstone connection) is being linked with the new regime at Post Office Road while Jay Pitts is said to have signed (well if he hasn’t several of the players commented this week it will be news to him) for them for next season and that despite the West Yorkshire Club refusing to comment. We continue to be linked with flying West Tigers winger Marika Koroibete who a few weeks ago Adam seemed to think we would be able to lure to the KC, while the Campese rumours rumble on despite the best efforts of his current employers to scotch them. Everyone had a scare last Thursday when Salford were set to announce their latest signing; but it wasn’t Dobson, although by all accounts he’s still set to go to Koukash’s Circus. (he is a sort of ring master character isn’t he?)

That signing for the Red Devils was in fact Wella Hauraki from Cas and that, coupled with the fact that Ellis and Huby look set to sign for Huddersfield and Clarke to Warrington, just bares out what I told you in the Whiffs department weeks ago, that the Cas outfit look set to lose at least 6 players at the end of the season. Another interesting one is the vibes coming from the Rovers Board room that Mr Koukash wishes he had got into bed with them now? Far-fetched? Well maybe but if the Koukashians wanted it that badly, it wouldn’t stop his wife being involved over in the land that time forgot, would it? It’s not going to happen but interesting where it’s coming from just the same! Oh and while we are on the Dobbins, I told you Hodgson to Wigan weeks ago and its getting more likely by the day!

It seems that hardly a week goes by in here when I don’t have to mention the demise of yet another stalwart of the Club and this week is no exception as I heard on Thursday of the death of John Ranby, local politician, FC fanatic, Chairman of the Disabled Supporters Group, friend of 30 years and thoroughly good bloke! John always had an opinion and I have spent many an hour on a Monday afternoon discussing the Diary with him as he put me right about a thing or two, because he loved the sport and loved Hull FC. I lost a real mate this week and someone who I had worked with and whose friendship I have valued for years.

John loved his politics as much as his rugby and it was I guess sort of fitting that he passed away whilst at a School governors meeting, but I can’t believe he’s not around and will only probably really realise the significance of that fact when the phone doesn’t ring this afternoon. He was a real rugby enthusiast and whilst on the City Council, a top politician too. He struggled with his disability but never complained. The saddest thing is that although we had it planned, he never got to the Drum and Monkey, but now he’s up in the place where it’s ‘white with clover’ and the moon is always ‘yellow and bright’ and providing they’ve got Sky and he can watch his beloved NRL and Hull FC, he’ll be fine. Massive Loss, top bloke, old pal and at present it seems; it’s always the good guys! My thoughts are with Pauline and Harry, RIP John Ranby!

Well, pressing on and it’s nice now and again to be proved wrong!! I was expecting the Bradford Bulls point’s scenario to run on and on but well done to the independent panel who sat in judgement for getting it right and getting on with announcing their decision. There were plenty out there, analysing, taking the moral high ground and pontificating about the outcome and then last Wednesday, just after 6-00, a few felt sorry for the Bulls, while most, in fact almost everyone outside Bradford, believing they got what they deserved. I’m still not clear on why certain Bradford fans are still blaming the RFL are you? Bloody hell guys the governing body bought the ground on the quiet for £2m in the first place simply to save you and then proceeded to pay the players wages and when we wanted to sign Gale, even went as far as to provide the wherewithal to be able to double his contract payments so you’re Club could keep him!! I mean how wrong is that? The HMRC is clear the RFL needs to be firmer on clubs using administration to wipe out debt and this time their wishes were upheld as the penalty stuck.

The Board of Bradford should perhaps count their blessings because for me they shouldn’t even be in Super League if the letter of the law on the rules of licensing were stuck to, but the RL panicked, buying Odsal, going on and on about the irreplaceable ‘Bulls’ brand and then found themselves painted into a corner by a club that has been p*ssing money up the wall for years. You have to feel sorry for the Bradford fans and I honestly do, because quite honestly we all put ourselves in their place don’t we? However that has for me to be the point any sort of pity ends. They deserve all they get because they are only still surviving in Super League after a catalogue of behind the scenes ‘jiggery pockery’ and RL hand outs!

That aside however I have to also admit that I was also bloody relieved, because I also thought that their points deduction it offered us the best chance of survival in the top division at least for one more year. How’s that for selfishness…but come on you felt it too didn’t you?

So the Bulls battle on and it will be interesting what action their board contemplate next. I still think we should take Pitts back but that’s just me, but Bradford now have to do what we would all have to do in that position and fight on, both on the field and particularly on the terraces. Let’s hope they now just get on with it and let results rather than the RFL decide their fate!

I’m not one for jumping on the back of conspiracy theories because experience of life proves that is generally what they are; theories. However a lot of fans comment to me about how Leeds rarely get players cited (although most of us feel at times they should) and when they do they get let off lightly. Last week was little exception and once Hardaker had been found guilty of making homophobic comments I expected a massive ban of say eight or so games and a big fine because of the significance that is put on such issues these days in modern sport.

A 5 match ban did I feel fit the theory, while Peacock escaping a ban for those punches he threw in the Cup game against Leigh certainly cemented it. He deserved a ban at the very least. The common belief when we saw the latter incident was that the Leigh player should have been sin binned and Peacock sent off but he wasn’t and indeed although most of us admired the skill and precision with which he landed those punches he gets off with just a fine. I’m not going to say whether the punishment fits the crime or go into the rights and wrongs of it all, because for me Hardaker was bang to rights! However I would just pose the question in those two cases of, had that been two Hull players involved would either have been so treated. I tend to think not myself, but that’s just my thoughts of course and I guess I should stop ‘conspiring’ and theorising and keep them to myself.

However one man who seems to find things hard to keep to himself is my old nemesis Neil Hudgell! Hudge is developing into a bit of a hero because although he’s still a proper pain when it comes to patronising us lot and extolling the Dobbins, he’s regularly guilty of saying what we are all thinking and flaunting the RL rules specifically designed to gag anyone who has the audacity to question them. He was fined last Monday for his outburst a while ago about the disciplinary panel but a fine doesn’t appear to have changed his mind or indeed shut him up one bit.

In fact it’s about time Koukash, Pearson and a few others in the ranks of the ‘rebels’ stood with him and spoke out in his support, because on this one he talks a lot of sense and only says what everyone else in the great family of the game of Rugby League is thinking. The nub of the whole problem for me is based within what Hudge said in a piece on the Dobbins website. He concluded, “Because I said the system was bust and not fit for purpose, I was deemed guilty of “conduct prejudicial to the game”. This is despite the RFL producing zero evidence of prejudice, be it concern from sponsors, commercial partners, other clubs or fans. The only complaints were from within and from sitting members. Is it right for the RFL to use that provision to protect the narrow self-interests of its own, rather than in the genuine wider interests of the game? I think not.” Well said Hudge (you can tell he’s a solicitor I had to read it three times before I understood it!!) spot on and it just goes to highlight for me a system and sport that is simply full of self interest and self preservation and perhaps we need a clear out at the top; I hear that Seb Blatter is looking for a job!

Not that he (or Seb Blatter for that matter) is top of my ‘like list’ but I have watched with interest the rise and rise of Paul Cooke as a Coach and it was interesting to see him being granted a new contract at Donny who are suitably impressed with his efforts which have no doubt been assisted by our help and our ability to loan them players under duel registration. I still think both Radford and Pearson would have liked him in at the KC, and Cooke has hinted at meetings etc taking place on that subject at the advent of Radford’s coaching career, but I also feel that Adam is quite sensitive around the feelings of the fans and there is still a deal of hostility around Judas and his past exploits at the KC. One day he may return but I can’t see it being yet can you? However whilst we are on the subject of Coaching one has also to ask of Richard Agar’s appointment at Warrington, “How does that man keep getting jobs?” His new Boss Tony Smith said of him this week, ““Richard is somebody I’ve admired for a long time, I’ve known for a long time and HE’s BEEN ABLE TO WITHSTAND SOME OF THE TOUGHEST TESTS and still do a good job”. Could that be us lot he’s referring to then!!!!

It’s good to see some ambition down in the Championship and, as I said last week, fuelled by increased Sky allocations, the resurgence of Leigh and Featherstone is great to see. Featherstone in particular are going great guns after an injection of cash from the West Ridings equivalent of the Koukashians. Their latest signings have been of up and coming Super League youngsters, but last week they announced that Huddersfield Giants had turned down a massive bid for three of their top players. Was it a publicity stunt? Well perhaps, but we’ll never know as the Giants have refused to comment, but an insider at the Club told the Huddersfield Examiner that suggestions of a bid were in his words ‘ludicrous’.

Not that easily signed? A bit over ambitious perhaps Fev, and an indication if one were needed for the rest of us that perhaps the porkies ain’t restricted to the local pie shop over there in the West Riding!

In Codgers Corner this week I thought I would have a look at a game that springs to mind when I consider the importance of half backs and so I want to take you back to the season of 1984/5 during the reign of that mercurial ‘Superman’ Peter Sterling. The day in question is Friday 29th March 1985 and it was a game under the lights at the Boulevard against a rampant Wigan team. It was a strange season in some ways because although we had Peter Sterling and John Muggleton at the Club, we also had an array of other international stars like Steve Norton, Lee Crooks and the four New Zealanders, we spluttered and mis-fired at times as the golden era of the early 1980’s started to unravel.

There was an air of despondency and gloom around the Boulevard after we had been beaten easily at both Castleford and St Helens and we had a big Cup semi final coming up, whilst our opponents Wigan were already through to the final at Wembley and were riding on the crest of a wave. They were unbeaten in their last 15 League games and only needed to win that day to equal the record for an unbeaten run in the First Division.

Hull began well and controlled much of the first quarter taking the lead through a well struck penalty by Lee Crooks on 10 minutes. Then a brilliant break by Peter Sterling saw his brother-in-law John Muggleton free on his shoulder and he cruised in, but Crooks missed an easy conversion as at 6-0 the crowd were warming to the task and although there were only 8000 in attendance that night the atmosphere at that point was electric. A young Paul Eastwood who had just started to break into the first team was having an excellent game and should have scored twice in the next ten minutes after being held desperately short on both occasions by the scrambling Wigan defence.

We were fighting hard with Trevor Skerrett and Lee Crooks matching and beating the big mobile Wigan pack which was lead by West, Potter and Dermott. Wigan were certainly a side running hot and as we made elementary mistakes and handing them possession the Lancastrians started to get on top. Still it looked like we had held out until halftime with Peter Sterling struggling with hip and shoulder injuries, while Gary Kemble was limping at full-back with a groin strain. Then the hooter went, but before referee Ronnie Campbell was able to stop the game, Hull hooker Shaun Patrick lost the ball and a sweeping move involving Wigan full back Ford saw him shoot down the left and on the last play of the half, hold off three would be tacklers to score. Stephenson converted and the scoreboard showed the game tied at 6-6. We all thought that was it, particularly as both Kemble and Sterling failed to re-appear after the interval and Wigan went straight back onto the attack.

It only took the visitors 5 minutes to take the lead and it was that man Ford again who took a short pass from Kenny and raced away from the cover, before using Henderson Gill as a foil and then scoring near the posts. At 12-6 it looked all over and a further successful penalty to Wigan saw sections of the crowd started to voice their frustrations. However unlike the two previous games in which we had capitulated, Hull hung in and started to fight back. Dave Topliss, who was getting to the end of a glittering career at Hull, had come on for Sterling and soon started to work his magic as did James Leuluai who had switched from centre to full back. Toppo broke through a tackle in his own half by Juliffe and Holden and found Leuluai who somehow engineered himself some space and set off downfield. Ford was out of position in the opposition defence and our stand in full back raced away to beat the chasing cover in a breath-taking 65 yard move. Then Lee Crooks who had struggled to find his kicking touch left us all gasping as he brilliantly curled the ball through the posts from wide out to convert the try to reduce the Wigan lead to just two points at 14-12.

Back onto the field hobbled Sterling as Hull started to take the initiative and for the first time it was Wigan that were starting to panic. It was now a thrilling game to watch and as Wigan swept across field a long speculative pass from Brett Kenny arced towards Graeme West, but into the line scorched the master of half chances Steve Evans. Quick as a flash he intercepted the ball and with the cover blown roared on by the crowd he charged downfield for 35 yards to beat Ford at the line and score a brilliant try. The place exploded with cheering and Hull had at last wrestling the initiative away from Wigan and led 16-14. Hull tackled like terriers before John Muggleton came up with the killer blow. Feeding off a simple pass by Sterling he dummied to Topliss, stumbled, half tripped, looked up and dropped a great goal. Those final 5 minutes seemed to last a lifetime and in the final minute Kenny broke away and aimed a pin point pass to Henderson Gill on the wing. It looked as if we would be robbed of a famous victory, but Gill inexplicably fumbled the pass, the ball fell to the ground and the hooter went.

That night sheer determination and an unwillingness to accept defeat won the day, under difficult circumstances around the fact that we had been severely disrupted by injuries. It might not have been one of our most spectacular displays but it was one of our most whole hearted ones and by the end no one could question Hull’s commitment to the cause. Peter Sterling had led us to a great victory, but when he was off the field the rest of the team closed ranks and held the line. It was a great night and it’s a great memory.

So to next week and with Catalan coming up it’s another big game and indeed another big ask!! What’s going to happen? Well I give up, and I guess as Murrey Mexted once said, “Either side could win it, or it could be a draw.” However after watching how they literally demolished the Saints on Saturday night then it’s another wing and a prayer trip I feel, and we’ll be lucky to get much at all! But then again who expected anything at Widnes??? To all those who are going, stay safe and have a good trip and a special mention to my pal Ian for whom this will be a very, very emotional trip!

So there you are, that’s it, the last Diary for a couple of weeks as after 98 consecutive offerings I take a break to re-charge my batteries a bit. I’ll be around the games and so I’ll maybe see you there, but the next Diary will be out on 7th July after the Warrington game when hopefully we will be through this long procession of away games and back playing at the KC. I hope you’ll rejoin me then for another end of season run in that could still be interesting but hey, this is Hull FC and none of us know quite what to expect next do we? Incidentally congratulations to Rich Whiting on two tries for Donny yesterday and to Ewan Dowes who on the same day clocked up his 300 league appearance!

Thanks for all your correspondence and your good wishes after last weeks 400th edition, and a special mention from me and Stu at the Drum and Monkey for our pal Tony who is doing it tough at present; good luck mate and keep believing! I loved that win on Friday night and hope for more of the same on Saturday, I just wish I could watch without that constant nagging feeling of impending doom, but it’s too late for that now I fear, I’m in it for life!!
Speak to you all again on the 7th and in the mean time thanks for your friendship and…….

Keep Believing!

Faithfully Yours

And finally with two referee’s per game next season the RL are already in the process of developing new officials.