Adam Pearson’s rallying call in an excellent interview with Gwilym Lloyd before the game was, I have to say, one of the most convincing and positive ones I’ve heard him give! In fact for the first time for a while I didn’t find myself saying, “Here we go again!”
Then, as if he had gone into the dressing room and given the players the script (play crap for the first 60 minutes then finish ‘em off on a high and leave the fans wanting more), first we witnessed 60 minutes of some pretty pathetic stuff from both sides, before we manufactured a glorious finale to the game and the season, which had the KC absolutely rocking! He (Adam) couldn’t have stage managed it better and at the end of the game, I fully expected to find our owner at the bottom of the East Stand Stair Well, stopping people going home, until they signed up for a season ticket. On a serious note though at least for him, for once, it went right!
As a fan, well had we played out of our skins for the first hour and then blow it (as usual) in the last 20, I would be moaning and focussing my thoughts on the last bit. As we were pretty crap for 60 minutes but nothing short of amazing for the last quarter, believe me, I’ll be focusing on the last bit, because entertainment wise it was simply as good as it gets, not just on the field, but on the terraces too.
I was frustrated for much of the game and bloody loved it for the last 20 minutes, when we quite literally blew the Cup winners away! In the magic of the moment I remember thinking; who cares what went before we have beaten Rovers and Leeds, we all ‘hate ‘em’ both and so it was a decent ending to a long and often tedious season. In addition however I would also pose the question to everyone reading this, “Is there anywhere better in the world to be, than amongst that fabulous FC family, at a game like that?” I have difficulty remembering such a fight back, especially against Leeds, the masters of shutting up shop and grinding those wins out. Since the 60’s we have produced some stirring performances against them and usually against the odds because it’s part of a long tradition, but few have seen a better finale than that one on Friday.
The singing and chanting was superb and the final chorus of ‘We all hate Leeds’, was sung by everyone from the youngsters with their Mums and Dads to old folks waiving their walking sticks in the air; we’ve seen it all before and yet just loved the moment! It was a great ending to a strange, strange game, but a really fitting send off for Horney and Aaron.
When I sat in the car on the car park before the game listening to that Adam Pearson interview on the radio, I felt really optimistic, and ready to go round again in 2015 if for nothing else than for his sake! He sounded genuinely excited and committed as he finished, with the statement, “We will be a top Club and I ain’t leaving till we are!” which is good to know for all of us. I wasn’t on my own in enjoying it either as when his interview was concluded, the Car Park saw car doors opening and smiling faces emerging everywhere. Although he must still worry about the possibility of struggling to sell season tickets , he’s was just really positive and still, despite a season that would have more seasoned owners tearing their hair out, obviously loving it!
All I feared was a flat end of season affair or worse, a crap performance to prick his balloon and dissipate the impact of what he had said. My fears looked to be founded too, as that’s exactly what we got in a first half where both Clubs completed their sets at a rate of under 50%. Indeed, although Leeds improved in the second half, we continued as we were, spluttering and stuttering without making much impression…. at least at first!
On a rare dry Friday night for rugby, in that first half both sides strangely made mistakes with a ball that resembled a bar of soap and could not keep possession at all, but could that be down to the heavy dew falling in the floodlight or the fact that as some who got in to the Stadium early reported, the sprinklers had been on for hours? In the second period Leeds, no doubt with a good bollocking in their ears, improved as far as their ball retention was concerned, while we fumbled and bumbled along. I was contemplating writing off some players as having their minds on Mad Monday already, but then 15 points down, inspired by ‘Captain Courageous’, Gareth Ellis , we got a sniff….and went on and smashed ’em! If ever there was an endorsement for the belief that we need more leaders we saw it in the way Ellis’s determination led the charge and the others followed. One thing that has been apparent through our last 3 home games is that we are certainly fit this season, because as Leeds faded, we just got stronger and stronger.
On Saturday night I had a chat with Ellis, who just calmly described his efforts in the second half as “Well that is, I guess, what they pay me to do” but I just loved it and will take that atmosphere in the last 20 minutes with me through the long weeks of the closed season because the East Stand was banging! I’ll do that and remember that although the players turned things around spectacularly, it was, in the end, all down, I think, to Ellis and the wonderful support the team got from the terraces. The ‘FC Faithful’ were incredible and reminded us all just what a great place the KC is when the fans ‘get a sniff’. You can keep your East Stand at Caravan Park there is nowhere like the KC with 12,000 inside on a night like that, because the whole place was absolutely bouncing!
So yes, it was great to hear the faithful in full voice again, and to have some positives to take into pre-season…but there is still a long road to go down and much hard work to do before we return to the all important 2015 quest for the top eight. It’s a must next year and something that Pearson reminded our Coach about in no uncertain terms from the Player of the Year stage on Saturday night.
In Friday’s Drum and Monkey de-brief which (thanks to Land Lady Natalie) went on after midnight, my pal Kathy said that she has only used the term ‘Magnificent’ twice this season and the second time was to describe Gareth’s performance on Friday!! (I think the first time was when the SMC put the new draft beer in) And, in a game that is now so sanitised you rarely see one player turn a match on his own, it’s fair to say that’s probably a reasonable conclusion to make about Friday.
On the game itself, firstly let me say that Ellis did get some great support and for the most part both defences were excellent, but none the less the tempo of a typical end of season, mistake riddled game, meant that opportunities abounded for both attacks in both half’s. But Leeds are a good side and at times it took what was a very resolute FC defence to hold them out. On that score we can have no complaints, but, as I said earlier, for three quarters of the game at least, our attack faltered and it looked as if top of the closed season ‘must do’ list is definitely some pass and catch practise. It was flat and staid at times and both teams had little to play for, but sport is all about the tension, the unexpected and the drama and on this occasion there was plenty of all those ingredients, so much so that in the end no one wanted to go home. In fact many of us who have eagerly anticipated the end of a disappointing season, all of a sudden didn’t want it to end at all!!
I thought that despite some wayward goal kicking, Rankin had a big game at full back where he slotted in seamlessly and young Logan had a superb match at centre, he must be wishing the season had just started, as he tackled well, provided one try and scored two more himself. While once again, I thought that Lineham improved as his confidence returned and Talanoa had another massive game. Houghton, Heremaia and Horney tried hard, but until that finale too much ball went to ground and passes flew in front or behind potential receivers; luckily with (the greasy) ball in hand, Leeds suffered in a similar way.
Up front Paea had a big, big game, Watts was effective again carrying the ball up field and in general the whole pack rose to Ellis’s late game heroics. Westerman wasn’t as good as he has been but Thompson despite dropping some ball in the first half was the leader of the revival as he broke the line a time or two in our own half to instigate attacking positions. Some of the chanting from a handful of fans towards Tom Briscoe was pretty pathetic for me, but we have lacked a bit of that ‘Threepennies’ edge since we moved to the KC and so it’s hard to complain too hard, however the general demeanour of our great performance on the terraces certainly didn’t warrant some bitter and petulant comments from the Leeds Coach afterwards. However for this fan all in all it was a great finish to a pretty forgettable campaign and a memorable swan- song for Richard Horne!
I made a lot of Horney in here when he first announced that he was going, but I make no excuse whatsoever for giving another big mention for the retiring Richard Horne. OK he can play a bit of rugby even now in his veteran days but if any indication is needed of just how loyal and honest he has been in his stay at the Club then there was another last week, when desperate to play every last minute after he announced his retirement, he woke on Sunday morning with a bug. He could have managed but said, “That wouldn’t have been fair on the lads” so he dropped out of the trip to Warrington. For me that says it all about a great servant, a class player and a selfless individual. 16 years at one Club is a massive achievement for anyone and when it’s your home town Club, then for me it’s certainly something special.
Like his fellow long serving mate Kirk Yeaman, he’s had offers to go elsewhere from both RL and RU, but playing for his home town Club is all that mattered to him. The problem is of course that he is, to coin a phrase, “A prophet in his own land” and so when people look to talk about ‘great’ half backs at the Club they often mention, Des Hasler and Peter Stirling, Tony Dean and Dave Topliss and yet for me, when I stand back then Rich is in the same category as my real heroes, like Tommy Finn, Chris Davidson, Brian Hancock and Kenny Foulkes. I say that because although I loved the others, these lads said everything I always wanted to hear about endeavour, passion and loyalty. Qualities that mean a lot to the passionate fan! Those four ‘big names’ played around 250 games between them, while Finn and Co clocked up around 1250.
Class is one thing, but to stay in a Rugby League team for a long period as a half back demands a level of durability, consistency and ability, otherwise it is near impossible to retain your place and add to that a couple of really serious injuries and a battle with diabetes and you soon realise that Rich has done OK. When you then add his 387 appearances and the fact that he holds the joint record at Hull of tries scored in 11 consecutive games, as well as having played in two Challenge Cup finals, a Grand Final, scored 134 tries and achieved Great Britain representative honours then you realise that Richard Horne is one special fella. He’s also a guy who having finally run down the curtain on his career will be remembered as one of the top scorers of all-time, at FC. He deserved a great send off and he got one and now at least I and thousands of others have their memories but live safe in the knowledge that Horney is still around the place, doing his bit for the Club he loves. He certainly richly deserves the outstanding contribution accolade he got at the player of the year awards on Saturday.
Those Awards made for a great night at the KC and hosted by James Clark the banter was great as he often had the crowd in stitches. Joe Westerman’s Fans Player of the Year Award, was won by an absolute landslide of votes, while the unexpected granting of the very top honour of Player of the Year to Fetuli Talanoa was warmly received by everyone. Despite arriving late and missing most of the pre season ‘The Flying Dustman’ was the only player to play every minute of every game last season. He is such a humble guy and was so taken aback to receive the award from Lee Radford. Jason Abdull’s Under 19’s player of the year was warmly received by the crowd as was the Players player of the Year which went to ‘Captain Courageous’ Gareth Ellis. Pearson certainly made no secret of what he expects and put a strong marker down when he said from the stage that, “Nothing short of the top 8 and I have made Lee is very aware of that” There were lots of laughs too, none more well received than a comment by Adam Pearson about Richard Horne’s 80 meter run which saw him almost score in his last ever game. Adam said he was sorry that Rich didn’t touch down, but hadn’t the heart to tell him that in the recent pitch refurbishment, “The ‘Egyptian’s’ have lengthened the pitch by 10 yards!”
It was a great occasion and really good entertainment for everyone who attended, some of the video out takes included were hilarious and the whole event rounded off in an upbeat fashion a season that has been less than inspiring and certainly a big disappointment for most of us. Were there any Whiffs around? Well there always are at such occasions and I found out from the best of sources that it is likely that, as I said a couple of Diaries ago, we will see young Naughton come in to give some pressure and competition to the backs and particularly to ‘Shauly’ at full back. The second and final rumoured signing for 2015 is really interesting though. No one would give a name but it’s a player that they hadn’t planned for, who has come out of the blue, he’s getting on a bit, an international back who he has indicated he would like to join us and who if he is signed will see our Coach, ‘Over the moon’. Nothing sorted yet, it’s all in the early stages and it could still fall through, but they’re all pretty excited about it!
On Sunday I attended the final event of our Heritage Weekend, the memorial service for fans and players that had passed away in the last year. It’s always a touching and thought proving hour and as always the Club Chaplain the Reverend Tony Cotson did a great job. Tony is a top bloke who is excellent in both this role as Chaplain and in helping out with player welfare. The Club appreciate what he does too, unlike the Hull City Chaplain who it is widely rumoured amongst City fans has to buy his own season ticket! The attendance was good and after a trip to pitch side for some silent contemplation, candles were lit Micky Paea read a lesson and we watched again the video of those that had passed on including Tony Dean, Eric Broom and Steve Prescott. It was a touching and thought provoking event!
So to the rest of the week and the departure of Jay Pitts was a necessary move I felt but none the less tinged with a bit of sadness, because quite frankly he has done little wrong. From day one he was a strange signing who never really looked strong enough to me, but who arrived amidst a flurry of captures from the same agent, who were all on inflated and lengthy contracts, a scenario that I have done to death and so won’t go into again here. Still Jay always gave his all, had his moments (That reverse pass against Rovers for one) but failed to convince any of us that he was to go on and replace the likes of Ellis, Tickle, Manu et al in the second row. In fact for me, he was played too much as a prop, he failed to impress and although revelling in scoring against us at the Bulls, he has perhaps now found his level. However, I wish him well and then breathe a sigh of relief as at least one of our three ‘outstanding salary cap issues’ is sorted. As for the other two, well Arundel is adamant he is staying put and fighting for his place (and who wouldn’t on the dosh he’s on next year) while Miller, who was at the Player of the year presentations, is ‘Missing presumed having a good time!’. We’ll see what happens next with those two, but good luck to Jay, it’s pretty likely that our paths will cross again towards the end of next season.
It was good to hear Adam say in that Friday night interview that Ben Crook’s long term future was at the Club and that they had plans for him next season while he also added that the Club would not be held to ransom on contract payments by Lancaster, (his Dad or his agent), but they were trying to sort him out too and were hopeful a resolution of a few little difficulties could be reached.
I had to smile to myself last Tuesday as I read a simple quote from a truly great bloke, that probably said in a few words what is wrong with our game in England and indeed our Club here in West Hull. After another great season in the NRL Sam Moa said last week, “It’s been an amazing two years but I am a 50-60 per cent better player now than I was in the Super League. That’s because of the coaching, the strong culture and the quality of players”. Says it all for me really! Good luck to a genuinely nice guy who is now being hailed as a real star in the NRL, without letting it faze him at all and who is as always once again a man of few and yet really telling words!
I see that Chris Chester announced last week that the Dobbins won’t be having their usual jolly to Tenerife this closed season but instead will be doing the hard yards at Army camps etc. Having followed our example they have gone to the Canaries since their plans to do everything at the short lived BP training centre went ‘Mammeries skyward’. Talk about what goes round comes round? Last September with Gentle gone and Radford controversially appointed as our new Coach, oh how the Rovers fans laughed at us going to a military camp instead of the planned week in Portugal. We were ‘cost cutting’ and ‘cutting back’ and Adam was looking to get out, according at least to some of the scribes from the East. Now it seems the Dobbins are planning, once again, to do exactly the same thing as us! It’s funny how they always seem to follow in our wake, but as they say imitation is the best form of flattery! But oh, what a difference a year makes eh?
I guess it would only be expected of me to mention that comedy show, which was broadcast from the KC last Thursday at 2-00pm. I listened in the car and it’s very rarely indeed that you will ever hear me use the expressions ‘compelling listening’ and ‘Radio Humberside’ in the same sentence, but on this occasion it was just that. They tried did Humberside, they really did, with Matt Dean saying what a sincere man Mr Allam is and David Burns even at one point calling him “Sir”. While from the podium Mr A availed us of the “Red Bull Football Club,” “Coca-Cola Football Club” and finally even the “Red Bottom Football Club.”, “The Gunners is a knick name but The Tigers is not” etc. etc. and despite his fan Club at the BBC trying to explain it all away, if I’m honest Assam cut a sad and confused figure to me. In fact I’m surprised those who are his colleagues and family allowed him to do it on his own, but then again, perhaps he insisted. He told the gathered national media that City were 5 weeks into an appeal against the FA’s name change decision through the Court of Sporting Arbitration, and yet just 22 minutes after the press conference finished the Chief football reporter of the Guardian tweeted to his 20,000 followers that neither the FA or the Arbitration people had heard anything from Hull City about an appeal. Then next day it wasn’t the Court of Arbitration at all, his son confirmed he’d got it wrong, and it was actually an appeal to the FA. Oh and then on Saturday it was established that he would never actually give the Club away that was, we are now told, just a joke. We only now need to be told that David Burns’ jacket was actually a hoodie and the illusion is complete!
Talking in what can only be called parables, he discussed at length said jacket and added that he’s had several talks with the Council about the Stadium (immediately afterwards the City Council, through the leader, said no meaningful talks or offer had ever happened, in fact even Karl Minns, ex Leader of the Council and the Lib/Dems, tweeted to say they hadn’t taken place) and then the whole thing for me descended into farce. I ain’t saying anymore here because at present ‘The Eye of Sauron’ isn’t fixed on Hull FC, but it has been in the past and no doubt it will be again. At present, according to Burnsey and Co. it’s entirely the City Councils fault, but our turn will no doubt come, as it has in the past! I think however that despite all that has gone before, a philanthropist who should be remembered as the saviour of a Football Club and who has in so doing facilitated little short of a miraculous transformation will now perhaps be best remembered for all the wrong reasons. Still enough said, the press conference, featuring our land lord, was an interesting local ‘difficulty’ being played out on a national stage and did in the end, for many, pose the question as to whether the Football Club had over looked the fact that the annual ‘Hull Comedy Festival’, usually staged in September, has been cancelled this year!
So the Magic event is confirmed as taking place on the last weekend in May at St James Park Newcastle. I might just break the habit of a life-time and go and have a look next year. Of course for me, much more important than the venue is the format of the fixtures and whether the RL take heed of the calls of the fans and many of the owners to get rid of the false situation where some Clubs play local Derby’s and some don’t! With ‘everything to play for’ in every game next term, surely that’s just not right because it offers some an unfair advantage. If they want competitive exciting games to please the TV and get the fans there, then have 1st (this season) playing 2nd 3rd playing 4th etc. etc. If it’s Derby’s again I won’t be going because quite frankly I have had enough of ‘em, even after a win so historic and over whelming as our last one. The venue is fixed, the tickets are going on sale, the hotels getting booked up, but as for the RL; well as usual the actual make up of the event itself is still far from clear with the actual fixtures for the season out in late October, but the format for the Magic event not announced until mid November.
So that’s it then season over!! The next game we at Hull FC face will be in the 12 team Super League. I’m not a fan but this week I got to thinking just what advantages there are to a system that for many is still too complicated. However it’s supposed to make every game count and add a more competitive edge to things. At present I guess, in our current format and after a weekend of mostly ‘dead rubbers’ it would appear this year that only two matches in the entire rugby league season really matter – the Super League Grand Final and the Challenge Cup Final. Castleford took the battle for top spot to the final weekend, knowing that a defeat for St Helens and a win for them against Catalan would earn them an unlikely league leaders’ shield triumph. That’s drama for you I guess, but their amazing feat, by a team that last season finished third from bottom has certainly been played down as it was when Huddersfield valiantly won the ‘hub cap’ last year. That’s all because in the end, the big-boys have ultimately decided that the means is not as important as the end.
You have to look back to Warrington as the last one of the big four to make a concerted effort to finish top of the tree, but having done it, they failed in the play-offs. Afterwards I well remember a long article in the League Express where Tony Smith acknowledged that they had been naive to try and win every game and in the future it was about the bigger picture and mapping out the best path to the Grand Final. That is of course one of the big arguments that the RL make for the new set up because only the top four finishers make the play-offs in 2015 and to get there you will have to go like hell all season, first to get in the 8 and then to get into that 4 and so in theory teams can no longer afford to be below-par or pick their games. Of course no one has considered burn out of the players in a season of well over 30 games, all of which are critical. With our current format it already looks to me as if Castleford and Leeds have had enough at present.
So, up to now, with the RL focussed on trying to sell rugby league’s two big days out, are we really forgetting that the sport should be about drama all year round? Are the RL right? Is the new format the nirvana the game has craved? Time as they say will tell!!
I get some great Mail every week and an avid reader in Turkey Kevin often contacts me to lament the trials and tribulation of listening to game 4000 miles away via Radio Humberside. It is as local radio goes, a pretty good service despite us joking about it, but Kev really had me laughing this week with his comments on the Huddersfield commentary when he said, “Listening to Humberside as I do, Pinko started the ball rolling with an observation about Jordan Rankin saying, “Wankin’s going really well today” before quickly trying to backtrack in his commentary, me and my lad was trying not to laugh, but what a great Pinko-ism”.
As for my old arch nemesis Gwilym he should take great credit for volunteering to make a parachute jump in the cause of a motor neurone charity, which Lee Newton had brought to the attention of the listeners after the game on Sunday. What a totally brave and courageous act his spontaneous offer is, we haven’t always got on but, I have to say ‘top man’ for volunteering to do that, I certainly daren’t attempt it. However I did think that Kevin was a bit harsh as he ended his E Mail from Turkey by saying, “Imagine how much he would raise if he’d offered to do the jump without a parachute” Good man G, I’ll sponsor you!! AND great to hear from you Kev and for making me laugh!
So here’s the latest from Blackpool!
This week in Codgers Corner, I want to refer to a player that I was asked to feature by Johnny Graham who I was having a pint with the other night. Johnny was a hooker for many years I think for Mysons and so most of his heroes were hookers. He talked of Tommy Harris, Alan McGlone, Lee Jackson and even good old Swainey; in fact he’s also a great admirer of Danny Houghton too. However he had one out and out favourite who he asked me to feature one week in her, so here goes. That player is of course the late and very, very great Ronnie Wileman. It seems that every now and again the Diary is required to ‘Obit’ some great player or other, and I did that very thing 4 years ago for Ron Wileman a player who was to every Hull fan around in the early 80’s a pretty special guy.
With always a comedic word for everyone about everything, Ronnie was hard working, hard playing, and a laugh a minute, his Cannon and Ball impersonations with another recent and very sad loss, Tony Dean, had to be seen to be believed. All that plus the fact that he was a really tough individual just about sums up the Ronnie I had a pint with on a few occasion’s back in the 80’s in the Mermaid with a few of the other players before they set off home to the West Riding after a home game. He died sadly, of a heart attack at the young age of only 55.
However if ever there was a fans favourite Ronnie was he. Born in Grimethorpe he did what every lad in that famous mining village did twagging school until he was old enough to escape and then went down the pit as soon as he could get out, scholastic he may not have been but he soon became well known for his rugby skills and would often come straight off a strenuous shift at the coal face to play the game he loved. In 1979 we signed him from York, (where he had already played 89 games) and his capture for Hull FC was one of Arthur Buntings early master strokes as he rebuilt the team. Ron made his debut in a game against Cas at the Boulevard on 27th September when we lost 20-11.
From day one he was a really uncompromising character who played the game as he lived life, rough, hard and with a smile on his face, although with ball in hand in the loose he was an allusive character too. Referees soon learned that they had to watch his every move and be prepared for a right ear bending if Ronnie didn’t agree with their decisions. That year, in one of my favourite ever games he helped us beat Rovers in the BBC 2 Floodlit Trophy Final at the Boulevard and starred as man of the match, I remember in a thrilling semi final win over Leigh in the same competition.
He took his rugged approach to the game onto that 1980 Wembley Final against the Dobbins and as well and proved a real hero in defeat, when he covered just about every blade of grass on the field he ‘unfortunately’ also broke Roger Millward’s jaw. However it was on the 23rd Jan. 1982, In the John Player Final, that Ronnie etched his name on the hearts of all Black and White fans forever with that superb run down the blind side to beat George Fairburn and score the games only try in a 12-4 win at Headingley. Some say he didn’t put the ball down properly (and he didn’t) but who cares? The record shows that it was he who ran 50 yards with the cream of the ‘flying’ Dobbins backs in his wake and I still have the Daily Mail cutting with that fabulous picture of him holding aloft the Cup. Afterwards Ronnie said, “As soon as Mick Crane got tackled I saw that there was a big gap near the touch line. I tried to hurry him up to play the ball. That’s never easy with Craney but when I got the ball, I looked up and there was still no one there, so off I went”.
That great day Ronnie should never have even played, having aggravated an ankle injury in the morning’s pre match light training session. But, as Arthur Bunting said afterwards, “You can’t stop Ronnie when he wants to play’ and so it was! A hero is made!!! Later that year he featured in our 12-12 Wembley draw with Widnes but missed the famous replay win with an injury, allowing an unexpected and unlikely appearance for the Clubs seemingly ageless understudy Number 9 the dependable Tony Duke. Ronnie only played 87 first team games for Hull, scoring 23 tries, which was a fine return for a hooker back then. I can still picture that tousle haired muddy little character throwing himself into tackle after tackle and often scaring forwards twice his size to death! He could measure a pass to perfection too, and was an excellent acting half. With the pitches we used to play on back then, he was a real mud lark, but Ronnie could never look smart, even with his Wembley Suite on, it was just not him at all! But oh how the fans loved him and how his memory lives and just like my pal Johnny he will always have a place in the hearts of everyone who saw him play.
Sufficient to say, I think, that everyone who watched his exploits in the mud of the Boulevard will have a Ronnie story, but for me it’s his general work, hard play and great attitude I remember best. Take the night after we beat Rovers in that John Player Final. The players all got back on the bus and shared a crate of beer or six to celebrate. Knocker fell over in the bus, Taffy Prendeville gave ‘em all a song and by the time they arrived back in Hull for a night out at the Locarno everyone was a bit merry. None more so than Ronnie, who as the Coach drove along Ferensway opened the back emergency window/door and to a rousing Chorus of ‘Old Faithful’, put the precious trophy out of the window and swung it round much to the delight of the passing clubbers!! That was Ronnie a great bloke a wonderful Hooker and a real hero! As life-long fans we are only really as good as the memories we cherish!
Talking of memories I have on several occasions mentioned my pal Tony, who I spent Wembley weekend with last season and who has been very ill of late. Sadly Tony, a fan of 51 years passed away on Saturday morning after a real battle against his illness. He was a true ‘Old Faithful’ who has departed, having been determined to see out another season and once again we find ourselves losing another stalwart of the FC Army. My thoughts and sympathy and those of Stu and all his pals from the KC go to his family and friends; R.I.P. Tony Strodder.
So that’s it, the season end that we have looked forward to for so long has arrived, and now I have to say as usual I wish it wasn’t over. The last few weeks have been ok! However I would rather end on that note than another good stuffing away in the play offs wouldn’t you. With that Derby win Friday was a Finale we can all cherish, until at least the season starts again. I think it has convinced a few to subscribe again for a season ticket while the feeling, passion and atmosphere on the terraces in both the last two home games must make others wonder if they can honestly live without it! I know I couldn’t. Last year at this time we all knew Mr Gentle was off and Mr Radford was emerging as potential heir to the throne. That was something that both disappointed and concerned me as it did many of you I’m sure. However a year on Lee is still here, we have sorted a few ‘issues’ out made some good signings, had some close defeats and generally, for the rest of the time, been pretty crap!! However for me I have to say this time around I approach the off season with greater optimism than last year, although there is still ton’s to do, if for the first time for years we are not to face another false dawn. But I do think the signs of some real green shoots of progress are starting to show myself!
Thanks to everyone for supporting the Diary through a tough season and for all your feedback, complaints, suggestions and occasional praise. You know I’m a simple soul and certainly don’t always get it right, I’m a silly bugger at times, I’m as biased as hell and I just want to see some good coming up soon, but whether it does or doesn’t by hell I love Hull FC and, looking round at the final hooter on Friday, it’s just great to know that it’s something felt by thousands of other people in our great, great FC family! Aren’t we bloody lucky eh!!
I’ll probably have a break sometime in the closed season but for now we’ll see what the next week brings, announcement wise and with one or two signings still to come in and no doubt a few departures on the cards, we won’t be short of stuff to keep us amused. So see you all next week and ……………..
Try to keep Believing