The Dentists Diary – 406nd

RING OUT the bells, light the beacons sing the hosannas and send the carrier pigeons out with the message, Hull FC have won…at last (and in the process, dropped only their 4th goal in 6 seasons!)

There’s still a lot wrong but you know what, I really enjoyed that game, didn’t you?

It was a fine performance from our defence and although we lacked attacking cohesion and could only once again barge and bundle our way over the line, the tenacity with which we defended, the way we had more patience and the smarter way we operated under pressure was good to see. A much, much better showing certainly put a dent in the hopes of those who want change, but I enjoyed the passion and tenacity we showed and quite frankly the hard running, tackle busting display from Feke and that hit from Sa on Walmsley (the man with the rubber legs), which was probably the best I seen at the KC this season, were worth the entrance fee on their own.

Whatever the protagonists say about us still lacking ideas and the need for change, I loved it, and when that drop goal went over to stretch the lead, it was a great feeling of relief after all the disappointments of the year. It’s only a win, only two points and we’re still well behind the pack and of course Saints lacked their half backs, but then again……we have been lacking much semblance of them all season! However, the effort was exemplary; although I had the same old feelings as with 4 minutes to go the whole Stadium sung ‘Oh when the Saints get beat by Hull”. My mate down the row in front said afterwards that he saw me sat there with my head in my hands; 7 points with just 4 minutes to go is, with Hull FC certainly a bit premature for any rash statements of glory from this fan!!!! That last few minutes seemed like an age as the clock went backwards, but with 40 seconds to go, and after Yeamo had clattered a Saints player so hard in the back he spilled the ball, I eventually joined in! When you’re such a hopeless fanatic, it’s not the disappointments that hurt, but more the hope that kills you and by the end and for once, my hopes had been rewarded and I was happy…… if not emotionally and spiritually wrung out!!!

I didn’t quite know what to expect on Friday because usually this year after a battling display like the one against Cas. we have come up short and failed to follow through with any sort of consistency. However this time we carried on where we left off and despite a torrid first ten minutes, when a forward pass from the play the ball by Houghton in the first set and the referee coming up with some bemusing decisions conspired to see us 6 points down, we came through. We scrapped and scrapped our way back into the game and when a rejuvenated Horne crashed in with a good show and (a bit of a) go from close in, we were level and began to believe again.

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Richard Horne gave a memorable showing that turned back the years.

There were some stand-out performances none more so than that from Tom Lineham who scored our second try and then went on from strength to strength. He’s a real confidence player and as it visibly ebbed back after that try, he cut a massive figure as he carried the ball up really strongly, tackled like a demon and fielded three massive bombs to the corner with ease. Afterwards our Coach said, “Tom Lineham had a great game and after last week when he was beating himself up and on suicide watch, tonight he played really well, whereas Feka, who was left out last week, came back in with the correct attitude and put in a huge performance”.
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I had watched Saints a few times on TV when their forwards have been dominant and they have in fact been probably the most effective in the League over the last month. However we took the game to them and Paea, Feke, Green and Watts bashed their front row from the off, whilst Ellis and Hadley chipped in with none stop performances to drive some of their big lads back time and again at the advantage line. Hadley had a great game for me and with his non-stop effort he looks a real prospect. Houghton worked hard, is still a bit wayward with his passing at times but Danny and Heremaia won the battle with Roby at dummy half and got us moving. But if our attack was stilted at times our defence was awesome.

Driven on by a passionate crowd for periods they just wouldn’t let Saints out of their half as our forwards battered the opposition to ensure we controlled long periods of the game down there in their 40. Of course we created little, sadly we seldom do, but, on Fridays showing, it’s only a ‘Sneyd’ that we lack in those situations and with Pryce coming in to take on the more direct ‘Horne role’ the organisation and direction those two will bring, must hold real hope for the future.

There’s that word hope again, it’s all we ever have, I’m a realist but like most reading this a bit of a dreamer too, but I really enjoyed that game! Horney was great running good lines, kicking well and chasing the Saints receivers down in fine style, for him it was a vintage display and typical of a classy player, who sadly sees the end in sight. At the other end of the age range Shaul had a really good match, catching spiralling kicks over his shoulders, tackling well and breaking with speed and power while Abdull, although tempering his exuberance of last week somewhat, again showed real potential.

You know for me at Hull FC, the ubiquitous game management (not a word I particularly like) has this season, been a bit like snow at Christmas; we’ve often talked about it, but it rarely seems to materialise. However after half time a crash over the line by Paea re-established our lead and at long last we were smarter and after a measured kick over the top from the resurgent Lineham on 72 minutes had looked spot on to release the scampering Jamie Shaul, (before our full back was unable to collect the ball), we persisted with Westy (who had missed two easier kicks) and he shot a great penalty from wide out to stretch the lead to six points.

Rather than trying to tough that advantage out we wisely attempted to stretch the lead to two scores and intelligent ‘game-management’ minutes later saw us manufacture a drop goal opportunity. Having worked a position and cleverly dropped Westerman into ‘the pocket’, the loose forward received the ball before coolly despatching a flopping kick just over the bar, much to the delight of the adoring ‘south stander’s’ behind the goal. The nerves disappeared, the smiles spread and we were home!

So, those who decided to stay away missed a good night, a great atmosphere and a poignant and fitting tribute to Steve Prescott. The fans who attended certainly did their bit, got on Mr Phaler’s back to good effect and sung the boys home in great style. At last we have won a close game and at last we have been able to come home with a whet sail against a superior team. OK, there is little doubt that it was a pretty scrappy affair at times, but we all needed a win, which is a thing that we haven’t seen that much of this year. The ironic thing is of course that even in victory most of our shortcomings were still very much in evidence. We couldn’t turn a deal of pressure into points and once again at crucial times we just were not sharp enough in the pass and its delivery. All that’s left for this fan to say really is a big well done to everyone who played or indeed attended to help add to a good atmosphere. Tomorrows another day, without doubt, but for now it was simply just great to win and I’m enjoying a few days in the afterglow that brings…… regardless of the circumstances.

So to the packed past week and it’s happened at last, we’ve all been contemplating it for quite a while now and therefore the confirmation on Thursday that Richard Horne is not being offered a contract for next season, held few surprises for most of us. Richard has been a massive part of the Club for 16 years now and in that time has become the stuff that FC legends are made of. However for me he has looked shot this season with one good performance (such as Widnes and last Friday) usually followed by a few weeks on the touchline at the worst, or at best a stuttering continuation in the first team, covered in bandages and tape. He has still got a great footballing brain and will always know the way to create a break and go for the line but he just seems to lack the legs to do it anymore. Although all that said he was pretty special on Friday! I expected him to take up a coaching role straight away, but reading between the lines of a Hull Daily Mail interview, he looks to be weighing his options and could be contemplating playing on somewhere else before returning to coach at the Club.

Head of Youth Danny Wilson said of him, “Richard has learnt a lot this year as U16s coach and we will continue to see him develop in that role”, but I think his display on Friday might just tempt Rich to try and play on, as he said, “I need to see how I finish the season, how my body is and whether I can put it through another year or two. I sort of knew it was coming, but it doesn’t make it any easier.” It will be interesting to see what the Club do and where Horny ends up, but for me despite a great showing the other night, for an undoubted hero of Hull FC, I think the time bell has finally rung and the Club has made the right decision

Well, I have told you in here several times that he was going nowhere although many who claimed to be ‘in the know’, said he was off to Castleford, so I was pretty pleased that Liam Watts has sorted his future and signed a new deal with the Club. For me personally Liam is in fact one of the players that has improved under Lee Radford. It’s funny really when you sit back and look at this season objectionably, because we would all accept that many players have under-achieved (something that is widely attributed by some fans to being the fault of the Coach). However several like Westerman, Wattsy, Abdull, Lancaster, Cunningham, Hadley and Shaul have improved (and of course, that’s something the same fans never ever attribute to the Coach!). I was certainly a bit under whelmed with Wattsy’s progress before this season and lamented the fact that he seemed to have lost that infuriating ability to off-load that was often the bane of our lives during his days at the Dobbins. He has been better and certainly more aggressive this time around. He’s still a bit in and out, but then again he’s certainly not on his own in that, is he?

Latterly Liam has shown some real determination and has had a hand in a couple of tries, as well as consistently bending the line for the long periods that he is spending on the field. It’s a small development, but one that I welcome and I wish Wattsy well and hope that he will be a big part of our evolving squad in the next few years.

Well we’ve had some bad experiences with ‘old’ players over the years, you know the one’s, those who have been great but have thought they could go on and on before injuries and the pace of the game has caught up with them (something that usually happens just after we have renewed their contracts). It seems that at times we never learn and perhaps we have to develop a mentality that, as we have with Richard Horne, draws the line and says thanks but no thanks, and yet of course it’s a fact that some players like Peacock at Leeds, do seem to go on and on and still have a lot to offer the game. So, it was with mixed feeling that I viewed the story in the Mail on Thursday where Gareth Ellis said he wanted to play on after 2015 and that indicated we had actually opened talks with our tough tackling captain.

I have to say I was certainly underwhelmed with his performances last season following that terribly unlucky injury at Leeds before we had even kicked a ball in anger, but this year, in the context of a crap campaign, he has been nothing short of inspirational. His retirement from the International game served him well as did his first full off season in years and with a year to go on his contract I look forward to him leading us into the brave new world of 8x8x8 next season. He’s certainly a top competitor but by 2016 he’ll be approaching 35 and with his bulldozing, all action style of play, I worry a bit about his durability and capability to continue at the same level till then. Many point to the Peacocks of this world but never consider the hundreds who don’t make it that far. On the plus side I have seen him at the gym and he certainly looks after himself, leads the way at training and is a model professional. But I just wonder a bit don’t you? Perhaps we should wait until next season is underway before we commit? I don’t know, but I do like Gareth’s attitude and style of play and would hate to see him plying his trade elsewhere if he can go on! It’s another ‘damned if you do damned if you don’t’ one I guess!

So, after he pleaded guilty of fouling Jason Abdull at the KC, Wella Hauraki got two games, which I guess we should read as a possible indication that he is at least admitting to reckless behaviour. Owning up after the event is one thing, but the referee failing to spot what happened at the time saw Cas play on and score what turned out to be the decisive levelling score. I guess that meant that we were probably robbed of a point and a young hopeful who had made Hauraki look very ordinary all night, could have been lamed. Away from the dangerous nature of the challenge, he should have (at the very least) been penalised when the incident happened, but he wasn’t, the referee could put it on report but still refused to cite it as a penalty despite him obviously getting some help from ‘upstairs’. Our Chairman said on Thursday that he has taken the way that particular referee is treating us as ‘personal’, but as for me, well I’ll just say once again, boy, there’s a lot wrong with our game isn’t there?

The plan for a new retail outlet on Bransholme in the district centre is a good one and despite what Cllr. Webster said about Central Bransholme being a Rovers area, I welcome the move. In fact I would suggest the ‘learned’ gent studies a bit of the demography of his ward because he will find that there are many descendants of Hessle road families that were re-located through ‘slum clearance’ now living happily in that area.

Actually the shop was an idea that was hatched way back when Lee Jenkinson was at the Club but it was only announced this week, with a story in the Hull Daily Mail. The outlet brings to four the number that we are currently operating and there is little doubt that our sales operation is one of the best in the game. Some of that is down to the excellent quality of the lines on offer but much of it is because of us lot who shell out so regularly. There is in fact little doubt that our supporter base is loyal to the point of being blinkered when it comes to spending in the Clubs outlets. I hope it does well and was debating myself whether it will be nearer for me in Beverley, than making the long trek into town to the shop, the pod or to the KC. Retail is a massive part of rugby league these days and our operation turns over well in excess of £3m every year of which around £1m is ‘profit’; just imagine what we would make, were we successful! Still if we ever are, with 4 stores, at least we’ll certainly have the infrastructure in place to meet the demand.

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The new FC shop before they started!

It was great, as a guest, to attend the Disabled Supporters gathering on Monday because it was their first meeting since the untimely and tragic death of John Ranby, their Chairman, Leader and the driving force behind the group. However they are intent on continuing the good work and with the evergreen Mick Robinson continuing on the top table, Steph Miller was unanimously voted in as Chairman to replace John. The whole group was reconstituted with a new Treasurer and schedule of meetings being agreed, after an immaculately observed Minutes Silence. The Disabled group is just one part of an extensive FC family and it’s great to see it continuing under Steph. It was an inspirational evening of which John would have been very proud!

I was thinking the other day about how many weeks now we have seen Castleford on TV. It certainly seems that the Club are allocated a spot most week’s and who can blame the Sky boys because they have certainly been producing some ‘Classy’ performances. However it’s not really fair on the rest of the Clubs when compared with Cas. or indeed Catalan, because the amount of times they are shown on TV (the Dragons every home game) brings them the regular advantage of the presence of a video referee. I commented a couple of weeks ago that Tom Lineham would have definitely had a try at Salford had the video referee been there to scrutinise his trailing foot which stayed in play and with a new structure to the game coming in next season where we’re told, ‘every minute is critical’, the fact that some Clubs have the advantage of the video referee most weeks when others get few televised games, must proffer a little concern for the fans.

At Catalan not only do they have the benefit of this facility at every home game but they also have the advantage of playing in heat that they are used to and against teams that have had to make a 1000 mile trek to get there. Not a level playing field at all then? Well we can’t do much about the heat etc. but we should have a video referee at every game (as in the NRL) or not at all. The problem is of course that you simply can’t rely on the touch judges or the referees to get it right, so for me next year it should be the same for everyone. The playing field has to be level, but of course it isn’t and what’s more it never will be, as once again the game shows inconsistencies which can at times be interpreted as bearing an unfair advantage to one club or another.

I went down the Hull University on Thursday for the first ever joint fans forum with the Dobbins with a heavy heart and a sceptical outlook on things. As I looked, before it started, around an auditorium where I was surrounded by red and whites, it felt strange, in fact, it was so hot and the company so dubious I did wonder whether I had actually died and gone to hell!! I was accompanied by Mrs R who is still not fully initiated into what is going on next year and by the third slide provided by the RL was displayed, she had glazed over and its obviously going to be hard for many to get to grips with the fineries of a system that is being foisted on us by the RL and the majority of the Clubs.

I say the majority of them, because having watched bits of it again on FC TV I have to say that the dynamic of the two owners is very interesting and it was clear to me that both are obviously trying to make the best of a structure that neither of them look to want. There is a fierce rivalry on the field and always will be but you detect with Pearson and Hudgell a collective will to see a ‘fair crack’ for this end of the M62. Which, let’s face it, has for too long been treated as the rump of the game and a bit of a nuisance, until of course we bring the fans of both Clubs to away games across the sport. We found out a bit of new information including the fact that season tickets would be going up in a ‘slight’ increase and that we had three players coming in (one was imminent) and they were all Australian. One of the most interesting things we learned however, concerned matches on Thursday nights. Although engineered for Sky TV these we were told were crippling Clubs, in fact for the first time in living memory we didn’t do any corporate hospitality before the Castleford game, because there was simply no demand!

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Both owners spoke openly too about the grip which Gary Etherington and the RL has had on the game and how with two of their supporting Clubs, Bradford and London, going out, it would be 6/6 in the voting next year which could well prove interesting. There was obviously too a feeling that Mr H and his cohorts had weighted the new system too much towards the smaller Clubs when it’s the Super League teams that bring the game the TV exposure and Sky money! However on a lighter note the quote of the night came from Adam when he was asked about two referee’s and said there was only Gary against it, to which he added, “That’s probably because I said Kath would look good in pink!”

I asked again a question about the Magic weekend and the makeup of the fixtures but it was apparent despite some fine words that in a season where ‘every minute and competition point counts’, they are still planning to contrive some formula based on getting bums on seats and a TV audience, rather than fairness.

Neil Hudgell supported my point though and does talk a lot of sense (did I just say that) on the state of the game too and despite being my arch nemesis for many years, he certainly sits with Adam at the heart of the ‘rebel’ camp and we might just see the RL under pressure a bit next year.

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My new bestest mate!!!

Referee’s were discussed and both owners emphasised the number of ridiculous decisions that are effecting the game and indeed some results, and the lack of communication within the game was further emphasised after it came to light that the coaches and referee’s had recently discussed the use of the obstruction rule without the RL passing on the findings and decisions to the Clubs, supporters or indeed the owners.

So all in all I was pleasantly surprised by an evening when everyone behaved and we saw a united front from both Clubs against injustice (and Gary Hetherington). I wouldn’t want to do it too often, aligning with the Dobbins ain’t my sort of chosen pass time, but it gave me heart that at least we are moving towards some sense with regard to the future of the game; whether it will come too late, heaven only know and what the new structure will bring in attendances and season ticket renewals is anyone’s guess. It’s apparent by the puzzled faces in a turn out that was quite frankly pretty pathetic, that there is a deal of apathy about and the whole big sell of the new structure and next year’s season tickets at both Clubs is going to be a big ask!

Last week I expounded my own fears for the new structure which were simple based around the fact that if it was hard for the initiated to grasp, it was damn near impossible for the casual or ‘newby’ fan to understand. It seems that few disagreed with my observations as we all wrestle to comprehend exactly what it is all about. The fact is like it or not in the end we all have to embrace it, because we want to support our Club. However it’s not simple, particularly for fans who express a desire to know the full fixture list, before they buy their passes. In answer to that one, the RL produced this table last week which makes everything straight forward as to what happens after the round 23 split, as the Super Eight (top eight) play-offs come on line. As Yoda would say, ‘confused you will be!’

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Simple???? Well actually it’s not is it, and if like me you’re struggling, the first column on the left is the team’s position at round 23 and the numbers across, the teams they play home and away. The issue being of course if you’re planning your holidays for August next year (and with schools insisting that’s when families take their holidays) you won’t know who and when you are playing until Round 23 is completed. That could well effect pass sales. The formula for the middle 8 (the Qualifiers) isn’t out yet but no doubt it’ll be ‘straight forward’ too. At least they are planning a week off for a Cup round between round 23 and 24 to catch our breath, find out who we are playing and sort our travel arrangements. AND I’ll throw this thought in too. What will Mr Allam’s reaction be when it is only in late July that we are able to indicate which weekend’s we have to be at home in the first few weeks of the football season!

There has certainly been a lot of negative thinking going round about the new structure for the game and I think it’s fair to say, (as you can see) that you have to remain a bit sceptical about certain elements of it. It’s a talking point and an in depth discussion about it with my pal Jeff made 45 minutes of pain on a cross trainer at the gym last Tuesday pass more easily as we talked through the facts and indeed mysteries of it all. However, we both agreed that if we are to continue as a game and indeed a Club we have to get behind it and see if it can be a success. It’s just so blooming complicated for many and the two of us agreed on some bits, disagreed with others and scratched our heads about several elements that were still pretty vague.

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One thing we did both agree on is the fact that it is hard to stomach the RL heirachy banging on about the fact that the scheme has been brought in after extensive and widespread consultation with all stakeholders, because no one asked me my thoughts on it, nor did they ask FC Voices and I doubt very much whether they asked you either? Vague ‘on line’ questionnaires are one thing but can you imagine Morrison changing their complete range of ice cream without first getting out there and thoroughly testing it on their customers to gain their thoughts? These forums are now happening across the League but as was pointed out last Thursday, they are not about consultation as to whether the suggested structure will work but rather about telling the customers that ‘it’s happening’ and you’ll just have to get on with it!

So this week in Codgers Corner I want to again look back at less complicated and perhaps happier times for the game as I go back to season 1974/75 and a game that was brought to mind by this weekend’s match because of the passion we showed back then when battling against the odds. Then, there were no Super 8’s, Big Bashes or £1m games and our problems circulated more around us having no money, no prospects and few spectators. Times were really hard and all we could hope for was that we would actually have a Rugby team to support the following week-end. In the month of November we had already travelled to the bottom club and perennial under-achievers Huyton and got thumped 32-10. So the following week it was hardly surprising that there was only 1051 people ’packed’ into the Boulevard to watch us play a very handy and well placed Whitehaven outfit that boasted several really gifted players and a typically massive Cumbrian pack.

On arriving at the Boulevard we found the pitch was its usual muddy morass, with the centre line painted onto the mud for the full width of the pitch. I watched the game in the Threepennies where all we could hope for was that the FC could keep the score down.

There was a massive difference in size of the forwards which was apparent when the beefy and somewhat statuesque Cumbrian pack ran out onto the pitch. As Referee Keane blew his whistle the heavens opened and it was so dark that the floodlights flickered into life after about two minutes of play; from then on it never stopped raining!

Kenny Foulkes resplendent in a shirt much more faded than everyone else’s, kicked off into the wind and for the first fifteen minutes, as the Whitehaven six tore into us, it looked as if our pack would be ground into the mud and we appeared to have got off lightly when Cassie landed a penalty after Tony Duke was penalised for collapsing a scrum on our 25 yard line. Then, straight from the kick-off return, Shimming strode out of a poor tackle by Clarke and Salmon to run 60 yards and cross the line, and after just 17 minutes we were already 7-0 down. The visitors certainly looked relaxed and confident and pressed again, before a couple of penalties saw us in their half for the first time. Duksey managed to slide through the ‘Haven front row to hook the ball back to win a scrum against the head and from this Foulkes turned the ball back inside for Geraghty to streak through to touch down and with Alf Macklin (an unlikely goal kicker) landing the conversion, we were just two points behind.

It wasn’t long though before the Cumbrian’s extended their lead after a high shot by the fiery FC prop Alan Wardell on Maquire, saw Cassie kick his third goal. Then Shinning crossed again after some poor Hull tackling but back came the FC with some crunching tackles and as the crowd warmed to some tasty exchanges, Steve Portz split the defence on the right and the mercurial Howard Firth shot is at the corner, looking like a Viking warrior with his matted wet blonde hair trailing in the wind. Macklin just missed with a towering conversion attempt that many in the Best Stand swore afterwards went over the top of the posts and in.

As half time approached both Casey and Wardell went close and it was with some renewed hope that we went in at half time just a point behind. That margin against a well fancied team certainly heartened the fans and a buzz of conversation in the Threepenny Stand continued throughout the break as better still was to follow in the second half. Straight from the kick off a knock on saw Tony Duke win another scrum near the visitor’s line and Casey almost squeezed through a tackle to get over. However, straight from the play the ball Brian Hancock fed Mick Crane who passed onto Geraghty for the full back to shoot out an inch perfect cut out pass past Clarke to Alf Macklin who barrelling into the corner for a great try. Although ‘Super Alf’ missed the conversion from wide out, we had the lead for the first time in the match, but at 11-9 with 20 minutes to go it was far from over.

The Cumbrian Forwards regrouped and came at us in wave after wave of attacks and as we struggling to overcome the weight difference, three and sometimes four FC players continuously piled into the tackle to stop the visitors getting over the line. Casey hung onto the ‘boot laces’ of Evans who released the ball for Martin to lunge over the line only for him to find Crane underneath him holding him up and preventing him getting the ball to ground. Then Morris shot down the wing, only for Crane to again came to the rescue again, this time just stretching to push the player in full flight and causing him to step in touch. It seemed like it was to just be a matter of time before our line was pierced but we battled and defended till the end.

The visitors had a chance to level when Kenny Foulkes was penalised for ‘feeding’ a scrum with a minute to go, but as every one of the 1000 plus crowd booed the kicker, and the rain poured down, Cassie’s kick just shaved the wrong side of the left post, and we were home, if not exactly dry, 11-9. After that humiliating defeat the week before we all ran on the pitch, slipping, sliding and falling in the mud, to congratulate our heroes. However as always it was great to win but as we left the ground in the pouring rain, amid rumors of bankruptcy in the Boardroom we were still pretty concerned, as to whether we would have a team to support the following week. They were really hard times but as has always been the case down the years, right up to last Friday, tenacity and passion just got us through. We have always as a club had our passion and pride both on and off the field to call on and long may that continue.

So there we are, another week over but you know these days I seem to spend a lot of time as an ordinary supporter lamenting so much that I feel is wrong with our great game. I’m conscious I do it and no doubt you all get sick and fed up of hearing me go on about it. However every week in here I reflect what I’ve been thinking about, so it’s pretty obvious that the officials, new structure and general state of the game do play a bit on this fans mind. Perhaps, I worry too much, or I’m just a whinging prat, or perhaps (what is even more likely) it’s my age, who knows. What I do know however is that sort of stuff doesn’t seem to pre-occupy my pals in the pub who follow Football, snooker or Horse racing. I also know for a fact that they don’t walk away from every sporting occasion of their choice talking about the officials, as I seem to do most weeks after rugby!

For me, our whole set up is just so flawed, in so many ways. We often say as fans that rugby league is a simple game and of course in substance it is, until that is, you have to understand all the rules, conventions, interpretations, agendas and protocols that surround the administration, the officials and the structures in which we play. That’s the stuff that will make new converts turn their back on us. Even the initiated are finding it tough going, but it’s never been simple has it? I still know fans who struggle to understand the format of the current top 8 play-offs and the current ‘interpretation of the obstruction rule’, don’t you? (In fact I think I’m one of them) You would have thought all the energy at Club and RL level would be focussed on creating a sport that is accessible, easy to understand and a joy to watch….Well, I guess in Rugby League, one out of three ain’t bad!! Heaven help us simple fans next year!

Thanks as always to all of you who came to say hello at the Saints game and at the forum. I am receiving an unprecedented amount of mail these days but I do try to get back to you all and thank for your interest suggestions and points. After the game on Friday I spent a good night in the Rose and Crown in Beverley where I met Richard one of the sad, sad folks who has read my books from cover to cover and it was great to talk rugby as indeed it always is. So it’s a week off a game next weekend and so a bit of time to recharge our batteries, to gets some troops back and for me it’s just great to have a stress free weekend. Thanks for all your support the Diary will be back as usual next week!!

Keep Believing!
Faithfully Yours

Wilf