The Dentists Diary – 426th

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And a Happy New Year to you all!

It was on 23rd December 2005 that the first regular edition of this Diary’s sneaked out. So, not only is it Christmas, but it’s also the 9th Birthday of this weekly rubbish, in which an ordinary fan with perhaps too much time on his hands tries to capture the feelings, frustrations and hopes of a very special family of passionate, long suffering and immensely loyal supporters.

Despite (after all this time) still having difficulty in trying to construct anything but extremely long sentences, I hope that every Monday I’ve also been able to bring a bit of ‘home’ to some of the far-flung outposts of the black and white community.

However looking back, if there is one thing that hasn’t changed over that time, it’s the fact that Hull FC, despite reaching three Challenge Cup Finals and a Grand Final, still end up as the perennial under achievers of the game. Over those 9 years, coaches, players and even owners have come and gone, while the one constant has always been the fans and for us lot Christmas is always a time of hope and expectation. It’s certainly a fact that however much we all try to ensure that we don’t let our hearts rule our heads, in late December they invariably do, as the question that haunts us all is still, “Could this REALLY be our year”. Of course after so many seasons of disappointment and even with all that hope in our ‘hearts’, in our quieter moments we’d all admit that it’s very, very, unlikely it will be!!

However rather like the conundrum of ‘what did the man who invented the drawing board go back to’ or ‘who is called in when the official receiver goes bust’, that question is as unanswerable and unfathomable as it was 9 years ago. With a new season, new players and as yet, no points dropped, at Christmas all we can do is hope and perhaps there isn’t a better time to do just that. So, as I enter the 10th year of this claptrap and for the last time in 2014, here again for another week, are my hopes and fears for the Club that we all hold so near to our hearts.

In a week when rugby posts mysteriously appeared overnight, on the field at Hull FC’s top secret equivalent of Area 51, (Ideal Standard), first up as usual, I should perhaps have a look at what’s been happening this week and it’s always around now that the Club announces who the coming seasons Captain will be. This year it always seemed likely there would be no change, with Gareth Ellis already being openly spoken about as skipper, even before it was announced. It must however have been pondered on a bit with Minnichello and Pryce now in the squad, and Sa and Wattsy being in with a shout. Danny Houghton has also hung onto the vice captaincy too, which again was of little surprise to me. When you go to training Danny is the one who just does it and expects everyone else to follow suit at the same level of intensity and commitment.

In a recent interview Ellis said how satisfying, (after a full pre-season), last year was and we all certainly saw him hit some form. He said, “I think last year was one of my best in Super League and having had that season, it enables me to be even more of a leader alongside the likes of Leon (Pryce) and Mark (Minichiello). Those two in particular will be a big help to me. I feel I am back to where I should be. I looked at my stats at the end of the season and it was probably my best in Super League even going back to my time with Leeds and Wakefield” Quite frankly looking back, I have to say that playing in what was often a beaten and out of sorts team, I don’t really think that Gareth Ellis got the recognition he deserved last year. In fact for me, continuing in the Captains role was the least he could have expected.

Meanwhile, over at the Colina Verde Sport Hotel in Portugal last week it seems that it was ‘Do it yourself’ time when it came to amusement (stop making your own jokes up!). It’s a strange place really and far removed from the last warm weather camp in Tenerife which was five minute’s walk away from bars, shops and restaurants and plenty of Canarian night life. Nestling in the hills just a short cross country hike from the coast, Colina Verde sits isolated around 15 minutes drive from Faro Airport, in a barren countryside littered with trees and scrubland. Hull FC had booked the whole hotel and so we had the place to themselves. Opened in 2002 and surrounded by a private 9 hole golf course owned by the hotel, it’s certainly a solitary spot. It’s a complex that has used its isolation to good effect as far as being a sporting facility is concerned. In fact back in 2012 the owner of Real Madrid decamped all his staff there for a week, because he felt the squad was getting too much night life and not enough football! It’s a first class facility with a state of the art gymnasium and top quality pitches, but just one table tennis table and one pool table, so it was very much a case of ‘make your own fun’.

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Lee Radford said, “The flight home from Portugal was pretty uneventful”

Last week I had a go at a couple of guys from the local paper, which didn’t go down too well, but this week I have to commend ‘Smailes of the Mail’ for a great flow of information and pictures from Portugal which provided some interesting stuff to read at a time when news is at a premium. Managing a plethora of pictures and at least 3 stories a day, every day, his output was outstanding. Some folks on twitter actually told him he was being too positive, which is quite frankly ridiculous; as I said earlier, we should enjoy it for now because no doubt there will be plenty of time for gloom and doom once February arrives. I spoke to Smailsey while he was there and he obviously enjoyed witnessing a great camp, as he worked hard to keep us all informed at a time when there was little feedback at all from the Club. What strikes me is the fact that so much importance has been put on last week, with, this time around, no stone being left unturned, in the process of getting the focus of the team just right.

Some of the stuff that came out was certainly thought provoking and none more so than the interview with Tom Lineham last Thursday where he talked about his two broken legs and the possibility that they could have marked the end of his career. Anyone who has been anywhere near Tom at Club events, in the pub, or even in the gym, will know he is a real ‘Jack the Lad’ character who is always the life and soul of the party. He comes across as someone who loves life and isn’t easily fazed and yet James Smailes managed to prize a story out of him that once again animates the fact that sometimes things ain’t quite what they seem. Behind all that fun image lurks, it appears, a bloke with pretty fine feelings who was so distressed by his injuries that he contemplated chucking it in altogether last year and who openly admits to having been scared stiff when he returned to play at the end of the last campaign.

He said, “To break both legs, you start to worry about whether you can go on and clearly my legs were not strong enough. They’re metal now, so that shouldn’t be a problem anymore! But I got to the stage last season that I felt if I had one more serious injury I would call it a day. At the age of 21, I’d had five operations. Its great playing rugby but you question whether it is worth it when you can’t walk. When I came back after my second long-term injury, I’ll admit I was terrified. I was so off the pace when I came back, but towards the end of the season I got my confidence back and was really enjoying myself again. At least the year ended well”

So as life proves time and again, you don’t always know what’s going on inside people’s heads do you and I for one wish Tom all the best. The sight of him streaming downfield to score against Warrington in that semi final will live in my memory forever. Good Luck Tom and here’s to some more of that!!!

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A lifelong memory!

You know, reading everything that came out of Portugal last week, I’m fast coming to the conclusion that if we don’t get it right this season it’s because we are simply not good enough and our Coach must know that he has to get it right too…or the same conclusions will be drawn about him!! This time around nothing has been left to chance and there can be no excuses. However the worrying bit is that I do wonder if I’ll be referring back to what I’ve just said in a few months time; let’s hope not eh?

Now, I always do my best to see good in the Club I love, most people reading this are the same, because we all try to understand what they do and want to believe that they do it in the interest of the loyal fans. However they are in business and we are just ‘average Joes’ with a finite budget particularly at this time of year, so hey, 18 quid for a pre season game against Rovers? I know when you look at what Leeds are charging for their Boxing Day game with Wakey we are just about comparable and ours is a joint decision between both Clubs, but boy that’s a bit steep for a blooming friendly. Well, it is at this time of the year, when, after a massive effort from the fans to buy passes and shirts, we’re all skint. I can see a tough decision looming on the horizon for many loyal supporters who are currently shelling out left right and centre in the Club shops, can’t you?

There is little doubt the Clubs hands are tied because of the amount of money the Stadium want for any game outside their contractual obligations (Remember having to move Rich Whiting’s Testimonial), however the problem is that our gates are shrinking and it’s the same faithful few that are expected to shell out over and over again. Away from the prices, I also see this ‘unfriendliest’ of ‘friendlies’ is going to definitely be an annual event, now contested for the Clive Sullivan trophy every pre season. Personally I’m sick to the back teeth of Derby’s and with three in the regular season, perhaps one in the last 7 matches and this game, it’s likely there will be at least 5 meetings next year. That’s overkill for me! As for the £18, well if it is that high because of ‘market forces’ at the Stadium, perhaps both clubs and the SMC should consider the story about killing the goose that laid the golden egg! (Very topical/very pantomime!!!)

It’s always interesting for me to note the issues that are going through our Coaches head and it was a bit of an eye opener when Lee said last week that selecting our front row and the blokes responsible for running the middle of the field ‘is a real headache’. I thought myself that when we got to the end of our recruitment, we still needed some cover for hooker and perhaps another big prop. Although the grunt department hasn’t changed that much, I was still a bit concerned and felt that both Bowden and Green would have to step up a bit. However it looks as if they have and with Bobby Tyson-Wilson turning a few heads as well, perhaps I was wrong. I guess in hindsight both our young first team props do a lot of stuff you don’t always notice and last year we certainly played a lot better down the middle when Green returned from injury. I’d have still liked a bit of cover at 9 though, although perhaps Rankin’s will do that, while Cunningham could well prove me wrong too.

Sometimes as an FC fan you never learn do you? I should have realized by now, but no it’s happened again, you’d think I’d be smarter I know, but once more I have to admit to be getting a tad excited about our new half backs. After so many false dawns, disappointments and downright let downs in that department, I should bloody well know better by now, particularly after years of supporting the FC at the KC; the self styled ‘half backs graveyard’. I was going to keep quiet about it, because it’s a bit embarrassing, but then James Smailes said pretty much the same thing and that after he had only been out with the FC lads in Portugal for two days!! He even (with Lasty in support) likened the pair to Horne and Cooke, but I’ll certainly be reserving my judgement on that one I think!!!! However, if Pryce stays fit (and his record points to the fact that there is no reason why he shouldn’t), then in Leon we do have an organising running half and a real ‘go to’, direct one in Marc.

What is heartening for me though is the fact that in Rankin, Abdull and Harry Tyson Wilson we have three young half backs that can play a bit too. Rankin is becoming a favourite of mine and developing well, he’s exciting to watch, speedy and keen, while Abdull looked a real prospect for the future last term and in the recent internationals and Tyson Wilson showed on his debut at Huddersfield last year, that for the first time in years, we have at least some hope in that department. He’s certainly a bossy little bugger. However after years of disappointment it mean that despite all that, I’m still sitting on my hands on this one at present, but not doubt like all of you, I’ll be watching our halves closely from minute one of the friendly’s. Have we seen it all before? Well we might have, but then again, just the same, I’m still getting a bit excited about them.

While I’m on Jordan Abdull, Well done to him, as last week he picked up the ‘Player of the Series’ award for England Academy against the Australian Schoolboys; we are blessed with some great youngsters at present aren’t we?

I see that the RL have made 4 rule changes for next season which are all interesting, although I’m not too sure about the obstruction one. It’s great that they are addressing a real issue for fans but with referees allowed to let play continue unless the defending team has been “materially disadvantaged” it will just leave something else to the official. In the area of having an unbiased opinion they don’t have that good a record, do they? However, the idea that a referee will indicate ‘Try’ or ‘No try’ before he hands a decision to the video referee and, that then the off field official has to be able to irrefutably sure he has a case to over-turn that decision, is a good one I think. I liked that rule when I watched the Four Nations and it’s a good addition to our British game; why? Well because it puts some emphasis on the referee who can’t kop out and has to give an indication of what he thinks should be awarded. Let’s face it, he has to be in the best position to at least have a stab at what’s happening and I’ve got fed up in the past of them simply abdicating that responsibility when it suits them, or when the crowd are on their backs. It will also put pressure on the video referee to get it right. Not bad changes these I think!

Well, despite the issues that might occur should the ‘paired’ teams end up in the same ‘league of death’ come the end of this season, duel registration is back and we’re teaming up with Paul Cooke and Doncaster again. When the RL’s ‘excuse for not having ‘A’ teams’ was introduced and Peter Gentle made the first alliance with York, Duel Registration never really worked for Hull FC, or indeed for me! That year the Coaches didn’t see eye to eye and we ended up with a deal of falling out and hostility. Peter Gentle once told me that it was almost impossible to operate, because York were desperate for the players, but didn’t want to structure the programme to benefit the individual or Hull FC.

Of course the whole thing is a fudge and an attempt to do lip service to things on the cheap, because for me we should have the old set up with Colts type Leagues for the under 19’s and under 17’s and a regionalised ‘A’ team competition which is open age.

Having said that, the owners and the RL have repeatedly voted against a return to this common sense approach to second team rugby, so it won’t be happening any time soon. The supporters like the idea, but as FC voices found out a while ago, the Rugby League don’t seem to want to even discuss the matter with the fans at all. However if it’s to be duel registration that is used to get players back from injury and give ‘out of favour’ squad members a game, then Doncaster is without doubt our best bet.

Last year, whatever we all think about Paul Cooke (and for this fan it’s still quite a lot) the system certainly benefitted several of our first team players. I remember well going to Salford and seeing Chris Green return from injury and tear it up straight after two run outs at Doncaster at the end of his rehab. There is little doubt in my mind that it’s a system that if used properly, certainly works. Of course suspicious old me still suspects it’s all a plot to bring Cooke back to the KC, although our owner has assured me on at least two occasions that it isn’t!!

This week the betting odds came out for the 2015 season with Hull FC 33/1 to win the Grand Final and 25/1 to win at Wembley. That’s pretty fair and in fact I guess the latter, at this stage and before we have all become disillusioned, is maybe worth a quid or two? Incidentally Rovers are 66-1 to win the Grand Final which, for all you sad Rovers fans who seem to be obsessed with this Diary every week, means that if you put £25 on at William Hills for Hull KR to win the Grand Final, you’ll lose £25!!

While we are on our banjo picking friends from the East, over the last 9 years or so many Diary readers have become friends and one of them Ian Puckering sent me the great picture below. Last week it was his birthday and his daughter took him out to lunch. A pal had been on a cake making course so baked him this rather graphic cake.

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If Coupland’s Bakeries start stocking these, they’ll sell hundreds!

Last week, before the team left for Portugal, I saw Sentamata Sa at the gym along with Micky Paea and Fetuli Talanoa. They all seem to go around a lot together and I said a couple of weeks ago how impressed I was with the shape that the Flying Dustman was in, which was something that was borne out again this past week by James Smailes. But, I have to say that the same now applies to Mr Sa. Boy he looks in good nick and has certainly benefitted from a good pre season. He’s a real gentle giant too, but it’s difficult to see how a guy who looks a lot like a second row forward, can operate so well in the centre.

That’s where Radford expects him to start the season and by giving him the number 3 shirt he is certainly very much in the clubs mind to play there. Sa of course arrived in Hull midway through last season having been plucked from the obscurity of a career in rugby union which was stagnating at London Irish. It was always going to be a struggle but he battled through and showed with a couple of good scores and some tremendous crash tackling just how much potential he has. My pal Alan always says that when you watch him playing for Catalan he scored a lot of tries jumping for kicks in the corner over the line, Alan says that he could rise above most defenders in those situations and that’s another facet of his game that we have to rekindle. He has been getting onto the end of Sneyd and Pryce’s kicks in those situations a lot in training recently and I’m hoping he stays fit and that he’s a massive plus for us next year. Boy he’s a big bloke though!

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Seasonal fare? Well I have to say I get the Leeds shirts and can see them being bought and being used as Christmas jumpers for years to come, but boy Wakefield players must be good sports. (Perhaps some flour in the beard for Boxing Day?)

I said last week what a shame it was that ‘Home Alone’ Hadley was left behind as the rest of the squad went to Portugal, but he turned an ankle and although not serious, the injury needed complete rest and so he stayed back in Hull to do his re-hab. He’s now walking a lot better and should start running again this week.

However while I’m on stuff I mentioned last week I did warn you that away shirts were selling well and boy are they!! As regular reader Mike found out last week, a couple of sizes at either ends of the size scale have sold out, and the Club tell me that they have been overwhelmed by the response to a shirt that could soon be the most popular away shirt we have ever produced. It was a single production run, to the level we usually purchase as far as away shirts are concerned and now the demand dictates that the Club are having to re-order another batch for arrival sometime in the New Year. However with well over the half the usual yearly amount of both home and away shirts already sold in just a couple of months, they are flying off the shelves. With a great pair of shirt designs, it’s also a credit to all the fans for rallying round so well, but then again that’s what we do isn’t it!

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Who said Joe Arundel isn’t a model professional? Some innovative stuff for a change from the RL; Action Men all! (Except Huddersfield who appear to have suffered a deserter!)

Well some would call it double standards and it probably is, but on the same day that over in Australia Greg Bird was stripped of his Titans co-captaincy as punishment for urinating in public, the Aussie media latched onto the fact that Dr Marwan Koukash tweeted a picture of several Salford players relieving themselves by the side of a road during what looks like a training run. What is it about these ‘false’ Doctors? While I’m on the media, I see that much to some people surprise, Garry Lineaker has recently appeared on Desert Island Discs billed as ‘an ex-commentator’. However for me there is no need for concern, I mean what’s the big deal? Around here our local radio station has been featuring washed up commentators for years.

So to the last Codgers Corner of the year and it was good to see the Club update their Hall of fame this week and adding a few missing players. They were only pretty insignificant omissions; Johnny Whitely, Dave Topliss, Lee Crooks and Steve Norton!! However one who was always included was Paul Eastwood who was a real hero of the days we go back to this week.

Coaches come and coaches go and too often we hear the usual excuses when they don’t instantly turn things round as the media talk about ‘it not being their team’ etc etc. However one or two have actually managed to produce a good season when starting from scratch and one of those has to be Brian Smith. So, this week in Codgers Corner I want to look at a game towards the end of Brian’s first season at the Club, which animates perfectly what a change he engineered, with little money, in a very short period of time. You’ll remember that the 88/89 season we one where started with four defeats before ending with an appearance at Old Trafford and it was the start of a new, exciting but short-lived, ‘era’ for the Black and Whites.

On Wednesday 5th April when we faced Widnes at the Boulevard we were sat fourth in the table behind Leeds, Widnes and Wigan having won 16 of our 25 games so far; which, after that start, was nothing short of amazing! However few of the 7,900 who attended that night could have imagined what a treat was in store, as, to quote the pundit on Radio 5, as I was driving to work next day, “This was the night that Brain Smith let his hair down”. This remark highlighted the fact that we as fans, the players and particularly our Coach went wild at the end of a brilliant performance against the title favourites. It was however, before we even kicked off, billed as a game too far and one that no one expected us to win. Dick Tingle in the Mail summed up the performance the following night with the words, “The team that is supposed to have everything- class, pace and power- were found wanting for heart and character, by a team that had it in tons”

It all started badly though! Soon after the match had kicked off we were found wanting by some brilliant Widnes play and I remember someone in the Threepennies next to me saying, “It looks like Smiths magic might just have run out tonight”. Sure enough, within 5 minutes we were 8-0 down! After an early Jonathon Davies penalty, we marched down field and on the sixth tackle Gary Pearce tried a deft grubber kick towards the corner. In a flash Davies grabbed it out of the air and went on a blazing 75 yard run with Nolan, Eastwood and Blacker chasing him. Just as they were about to catch him ten yards out, a late swerve saw the Welshman evade all the ‘would be’ tacklers and dive in for a try that he converted himself.

In a surprise decision before the game Brian Smith announced that Steve Crooks was to be the Captain for the night and he proved an ideal choice, as he led the forwards by example. On twelve minutes he clashed with Derek Pyke and a ‘bout’ of fisticuffs saw the Widnes prop sent to the sin bin for ten minutes. However, after 20 minutes and whilst he was still off the field, it was scrum half Windley who turned the tide. On the fourth tackle after good work by Dannett, Wilby and Sharp, Phil deftly slotted a teasing kick right between the legs of their full back Tait and Lee Jackson nipped in to touch the ball down for what was amazingly his first try for the first team in three years. Pearce converted and despite the opposition having a good pull in the scrums, we were back in the game. I often say that it’s funny what you remember, but then a chimney in Carrington Street caught fire and sent a plume of acrid smoke descended across the pitch. However it didn’t dampen Hull enthusiasm, as we tackled everything that came at us and were starting to play a bit of neat football ourselves. Three minutes later out of ‘the smog’ Dannett and then Sharp charge forward and a quick play the ball saw Windley create some space for ‘Porky’ Pearce, who scythed through to score near the posts and we were in the lead.

Hull were now really running hot, and Widnes, who had started so well were struggling to keep up. As Pyke returned to the fray, it made little difference, because immediately Windley and Pearce struck again. This time Windley zipped round the back of a scrum sold a superb dummy, ran on and again released Pearce. He bludgeoned his way through two defenders to barrel over the line for his second try in 7 minutes. We were going wild in the crowd, as ‘Smithy’ paced the touchline barking out orders and soon Pearce was at it again, this time with a beautifully times drop goal that stretched our lead to 21-8. Everything looked set fair however just on the stroke of half time a piece of sloppy defence out on the left saw Price and Eastwood miss Tate and his blistering pace led to a score from half way. With Davies’s conversion from the touchline going over, we went in at half time leading by a very unlikely 21-14; a score that in fairness flattered the opposition.

We all thought that the fancied ‘Chemics’ would come back at us in the second half to snatch a victory and we were even more worried when after just 4 minutes Davies stroked over a penalty, just as, accompanied by the ironic cheers of the fans around me, the chimney opposite started belching out smoke again. The fear that Widnes would at any time find a gap in our defensive line certainly haunted our thoughts as we watched the likes of Offiah, Hulme, Koloto, Eyres and Currier trying to find a way through. But what a defensive display we produced! It was rugged, tenacious and consistent, as we drove the Widnes ‘stars’ back time and again. Sharp, Divorty, Dannett and Lee Jackson all pulled off try saving tackles which eventually turned the Widnes ‘winning’ machine, into a dithering shambles.

The visitors could then hardly get out of their half despite a 5-2 advantage with the second half penalties and as we visibly grew in stature we started to attack ourselves. In the last twelve minutes only spectacular try saving tackles from Kurt Sorenson on Divorty and Dannett saved tries, before Divorty was awarded one, only for referee Geoff Tickle to change his mind and rule it out on the intervention of the touch judge. Finally, just two minutes from the end we executed the killer blow, as a frustrated Jonathan Davies slapped Blacker across the face and Pearce stroked over the penalty.

At 23-16 the game was over and as the hooter went the whole place went mad! Smithy arms aloft ran onto the field to ‘let his hair down’ and salute the cheering fans as the players applauded each other, embraced and then danced with delight. It had been no fluke; master tactician Smith had the right game plan, and most importantly the players executed it perfectly, as a dazzling advert for Rugby league was capped with some brilliant individual performances. That year definitely saw the start of a new era when we had some wonderful times to saver under a previously untried Aussie Coach, who completely changed our game plan in both defence and attack. They were great times and I’m so pleased I was there and have such happy memories of the Brian Smith era. Good stuff indeed!

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Brian Smith; He went on to be a brilliant Coach Down Under and back here at Bradford, but he cut his teeth with us and I for one am glad he did!

You know I hope that in here I don’t often impose my own views on anything besides our great game, because quite frankly that isn’t fair or indeed appropriate. But, as its Christmas, then I crave your patience for a moment because if you’re looking for something different to brighten the long festive days, then I would seriously recommend that you get yourself the video of the BBC film ‘Marvellous’ starring Toby Jones. If you haven’t seen it, then the tale of Neil Baldwin the man who overcame learning difficulties to run his own football team, befriend Ken Dodd, Tony Benn and the Archbishop of Canterbury and to become kit man at Stoke City, (to name but a few of his adventures) is a must see. It’s rare in these days of ‘blockbusters’, sword and sorcery epics and ‘rom/coms’ that you come across a film that is worldly, humorous, poignant and thought provoking, but this one certainly is. For me it is the best bit of TV I have seen this year, so I share that with you all.

Well, as I said at the beginning, tomorrow sees this chronicles anniversary and then it’s Christmas! The Donny game is under 3 weeks away and with still no news about the venue for the York game, it’s possible it might even be a double header. However with no Diary next week and the holidays in full swing, it’s a time when we’ll have a bit of peace for a while, before the fretting and worry starts all over again and we are all plunged headlong into the new season.

So, I think it’s an appropriate time to thank those without whom I couldn’t do this weekly tome. It would, I guess, be easy to just do a conventional blog on some obscure domain out in the ether, but it’s great being part of the RL fans network and Joe Bennett at blackandwhites has been a good pal and brilliant throughout. Often busy at work he always drops everything to ensure the Diary is posted (and often corrected) and I am eternally grateful to him for that. Then however, after Joe, there is the other essential ingredient without which this Diary would simply not exist; you lot out there the readers.

Week in week out you read what is at time an aimless ramble by an aging fanatic and I’m just so grateful for your support for a blog that started those 9 years ago with 400 words and 59 readers. Then, I guess I thought it would last a few weeks before I either ran out of things to say or readers. Now, two and a half million words later, amazingly it averages anything between 1700 and 2200 ‘hits’ every week.

Why? I’ll never know but it’s never a lonely existence, because as well as the Dobbins fans who constantly whinge and occasionally get a bit nasty about my ‘measured appraisals of their demise’, I regularly hear from literally dozens of readers every week. All their input is really appreciated and I try to keep in touch with everyone. Criticism is never a problem either because we all have our own views, we all have an opinion and that for me is what this is really all about! However because they are at times hard to thank, I should especially mention here our accounts expert Mrs B, my friend Richard Kirk our ‘exiled expert’ and ‘London correspondent’ who I had a beer or three with on Saturday night and who is a top bloke and my pal Mark C, who is a great advocate of the officials and who we need to get back into the fold…..and of course Touchliner, Dabhand, @airlie_bird, Basher, Chris H, Staffs FC, Hessle Roader, Greavsie, Freddie Miller……. and all the other guys who week in week out chip in with comments, criticism and support on RL fans and like you reading this now, make writing this stuff so blooming rewarding.

If I’m spared after the rigours of Christmas at the Drum and Monkey, this Diary will be back on Monday 5th January, when we’ll all be facing a whole new season of hope! The game plan for that is easy….we take the League by storm, get to Wembley again (and win), muller the Dobbins and make 2015 a real landmark year! It’s so easy before we start isn’t it? But, however unlikely (and far-fetched) that might be and whatever happens, with all its long sentences, inaccuracies and spelling mistakes, as long as you keep reading it, this weekly journal will plod on. I say that because we are all in this together and about to be chucked into another maelstrom down at the deep end of a new season, with all the doubt, disappointment, injuries, refereeing decisions, defeats, tears and hopefully occasional moments of absolute euphoria it will bring us.

Therefore, in conclusion, perhaps this Festive season is also a time when we should all sit back with a nice long drink and a mince pie, safe in the knowledge that we are privileged to be in a family with one thing in common; we all love Hull FC, wherever or however they play. And, whatever happens along the way, whatever is thrown at us and however much we gripe and grumble, we’re always guaranteed to be surrounded by those amazing people that make up the wonderful mob that are the fans of Hull FC. What’s more, you also know that whatever they say to the contrary, underneath all the bluster they are all probably feeling exactly the same as you are! In that one thing we are without doubt, so bloody lucky!!

Thank you all for reading another Diary and for once again sticking it out to the end, We’re 150 years old and there is little doubt that it’s going to be a great year, so have a great time in the next couple of weeks, enjoy the break and a Merry, Merry, Christmas to you all!!!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf

And finally in the words of this T shirt I found in Next in St Stephens last week, all we can do is………

KeepBelieving