The Dentists Diary – 427th

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It’s here, it’s our 150th year, the friendly matches are upon us and we’re back at it again; as a world famous Club that is one of the oldest in the game starts to celebrate!

Welcome as well, to another year of the Dentists Diary, I wonder what I will be saying next year at this time? Who knows? But, in a week when the Hull City owner Assam Allam was hailed as ‘Villain of the Year’ by the Guardian’s Sports Editor, The Dobbins head for Portugal to prove once again that imitation is the best form of flattery and when, with just 6 days to the first pre-season game, we have no idea if the York game is on or not! It’s certainly never dull in Hull is it?

FC news is still very thin on the ground at present, so this week’s Diary is a miscellany of what information there is, some tit bits of national news, some digging about with York City Council, a young misguided journalist that gets my goat and a few musings on how we will fare in this very special season, an opinion which might not be quite what some people expected.

The news that Richard Whiting and Dean Hadley are fit to train fully now and should feature in the pre-season games is indeed pleasing. Perhaps, for the first time I can ever remember, we enter the pre-season games with everyone fit. Hadley should be Ok, because he’s done a lot of the pre season stuff, but Whiting although back training with the first team, is nowhere near Super League ‘ready’. I had a good chat with Rich just before Christmas and he told me that, in an attempt to try and make up for time lost in pre-season training, he expected to play at least the first couple of rounds of 2015 with Paul Cooke at Doncaster. Rich told me the detail of his arm/wrist operation, which he said was as painful as anything he had ever experienced. After missing a lot of 2014 when that wrist and a shoulder injury restricted him to just 12 starts, he certainly has high hopes for this season. However, it’s his lack of a pre season and subsequently his match fitness that is the worry. So, don’t be expecting ‘Superman’ back just yet.

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Let’s hope that wrist is sorted now!

Well at last the closed season is all but over and the ‘friendly’s’ beckon. Already, just in case we were looking for wins, our Coach is warning that it’s ‘the combinations that matter’ and so woe betides anyone who goes expecting to see performances focussed on victory at all costs. With the first two games just days away and the venue for the York match still up in the air, we start the new season with a deal of uncertainty. What is clear however is that the North Yorkshire Club is at loggerheads with the Council, but what exactly is going on there? I’ve done a bit of digging and this is how I see it at present.

I rang the Council over there last Friday and after being passed around a fair bit and told that ‘everyone’ I wanted to speak to was either on holiday or ‘not available’. I got through to the Licensing section where a nice lady told me that as an officer she couldn’t comment on the current situation, but that the chances of the game going ahead at Bootham Crescent were, ‘Very unlikely indeed’.

There is obviously an impasse between the Club and the local authority, which it appears’ arose after the Knights’ lease of Huntington Stadium was ended. This was done so that the council-owned ground could be redeveloped into a new arena to house both the rugby club and neighbours York City. It was an ambitious scheme, with the Stadium funded by an adjacent retail development. The plan was for the Knights to share York City’s Bootham Crescent home on an open ended lease until the new arena was built, but it’s rumoured that the Council recently amended that deal so the rugby club could play at Bootham Crescent for only the next two years. The Knights refused to agree to this, fearing they could be made homeless if the community stadium, which has been beset by problems over the years, is not ready by then.

The council, who will not confirm that the amendment was made, have now withdrawn from negotiations with the rugby club, claiming the authority is in legal dispute with club chairman John Guildford. York City Council has now also prevented the players from training at York St John University’s facilities, as had previously been agreed as part of the deal. The authority would not confirm to me whether the deal for the Knights to play at Bootham Crescent has also been withdrawn, as is rumoured, but they have made it clear to the local paper that the Knights’ friendly against us is unlikely to go ahead. In addition, as I reported in here, the Rugby League club were warned by the council weeks ago, that there was a deadline well before Christmas to get a sporting license to play rugby at Bootham Crescent in time for our game. In fact the deadline was even earlier to get a license to sell alcohol that afternoon, so the game has to be really in doubt. I have hinted in here for a while that a double header at Donny was a possibility, but, as I write this on Sunday morning, with just 7 days to go, nothing is at present settled. What a bloody mess and my thoughts go out to all the York fans who must be really struggling at present.

I told you before Christmas that shirts were selling at record levels and that was confirmed when the Club announced on Christmas Eve that the usual total sold by this point in the sales campaign was around 2500 but that this year they had sold an unprecedented 6500. During the week leading up to Christmas FC Voices received several complaints from worried fans, who wanted their size in the away shirt, only to be told that they had sold out and that no more would be ordered. Following a couple of phone calls the Club agreed a re-order of the sold out sizes and they should be in sometime in the next couple of months. However what a record breaking sales campaign it has been and what an effort by the FC fans eh?

With 10,400 plus at Headingley for their Boxing Day game against Wakefield there is little doubt that, in the two week ‘hiatus’ that is Christmas these days, there is certainly scope for these seasonal fixtures. In fact I’m sure Hull and Rovers would love to play our pre-season ‘give us ya money’ fixture on that day too, were it not that Craven Park is too small and the SMC won’t allow it at the KC, (well not without it being priced out of financial viability anyway). I often hark back in here to those great Boxing Day and Good Friday Derby’s, when of course there was a lot more at stake than you find in the current manufactured scenario of two week’s time, but, none the less, from what I hear from a lot of fans who go, Boxing Day makes for a great occasion at Headingley. However back in the good old days of the Boulevard there were just two ‘supercharged’ Derby encounters and from time to time the Eva Hardacker Memorial Trophy as a pre season game, but that was it. There were no manufactured Magic weekends or split leagues to increase the number of derby games and dilute their impact.

I was chatting to Rich Whiting’s Dad before Christmas and he was telling me that he would invariably find his way to the game on Boxing Day at Headingley simply because, although he’s a Featherstone fan, “It’s a game to go to!” It is of course as with our Derby friendly, just an excuse to make money, made all the more obvious at Leeds by both Clubs producing replica shirts. I don’t know about you, but if I were a Wakey fan I certainly wouldn’t have been seen dead in ‘their’s’, but they still sold a limited edition out completely, so again the cash registers were ringing and the merchandising managers proved right. However it’s all just commercialism and little else and if these games are to really be warm up’s for the new season ahead and all about ‘combinations’, then perhaps the Coaches should have more of a say about who they play. They’ll never admit it, they daren’t, but I bet you that often the big money fixture isn’t always the one that they would choose to play in preparation for the battles ahead.

Well, there’s still no word, but I expect an announcement about Area 51 (the covert Stelrad project) any time soon. Work has continued apace, but when I went down there for a nosy last week there was little to see, as the building is still boarded up, although there are signs everywhere that the renovation it’s almost finished. The posts are now up on the field and I still expect the first team will probably be training there before long!

From time to time in here I get a ‘bee in my bonnet’ about one thing or another and go off on a rant about something that’s got my goat. Most of you have a good laugh I know, but if I’m loyal to the idea of this blog and I feel something is on my mind, I should air it. So it was on New Year’s Eve when I read the Hull Daily Mail and their publishing of the sporting thoughts for 2015 of young Gareth Westmorland. Firstly it certainly settled one thing; he’s a Dobbin and no mistake. There, the bloke who does the letters page (which is supposed to be impartial, to all three of the City’s professional Clubs), said as he backed the Dobbins to win the Grand Final,, “Why can’t a Robins supporter (like him) dream of Hull KR winning the division? Okay, so I may be clutching at straws a little bit, but with arguably their best squad since arriving in Super League, who knows what Rovers’ will do?”

So at least he’s admitted it, when Fewey did the letters page, he wound us all up, but did it quite well really, he was a Rovers fan or at least we had our suspicions he was, but he always attempted to balance it out a bit by being nasty to everybody!! This gadger makes no bones about where his affiliations lie as he pillories FC fans and strokes the ego’s of the Dobbins supporters, in fact he comes across as being extremely naive to a lot of folks who have spoken to me about it, of late. That’s fine for the ‘banjo pickers’ pet reporter, reporting on the Robins, but when it comes to the letters page, surely there should be some pretence to impartiality? All we’ll get now is Hull fans boycotting it, because they know what direction any retort will be coming from even if their letter is eminently sensible! Amongst several comments on social media, one message-boarder of great repute described it as, “The sycophancy of the ubiquitous Gareth Westmorland is a whole new level for a newspaper; his articles read more like a One Direction fan blog ” That really did make me laugh!

The article in question was entitled ‘My top ten sporting hopes for Hull in 2015: Gareth Westmorland’s New Year wish-list’ Well Mr W’s now at the top of a lot of peoples wish lists, for completely different reasons; for heaven’s sake man, at least try to appear a bit neutral. Oh dear, I can see I’ll be in trouble again!!!

Now, there is little doubt that for the ordinary Rugby fan, devoid of anything meaningful to watch, Christmas is a time for reflection. Over a cold Christmas break I sat at home, nodding off in front of ‘The Muppets Christmas Carol’, with a bottle or three of Bud and a big tub of Twiglets, safe in the warm glow that only really comes with the winter fuel allowance. That great Christmas movie is a bit of a tradition in our house and it was in this situation of blissful contentment, that I contemplated the fact that when this Diary comes out ‘After all it only 6 more sleeps to Doncaster’. Wow it’s been a wait and yet somehow of late, it’s come round really quickly. That of course means that it’s just a month to the start of the new style League, as we are thrust into 23 rounds of what we are told is must win rugby; followed, it’s implied, by 7 more rounds of even ‘muster’ win rugby!!! In my eyes it will be really tough, as tough as it has been for years as, with Bradford and London expelled to the ‘badlands’ of the Championship, there are simply no games that are potential ‘gimme’s’ anymore.

The pundits tell us that next season on ‘Any given Sunday’ any club in that 12 can beat anyone else and I think myself that’s absolutely right, but for me the question isn’t so much whether say Wakefield can beat Wigan, but more, how often will they be able to rise to the occasion, (with their squad size and quality) and do it. Some Clubs have more quality in depth and bigger squads than others, that will always be the case, and therefore the performance level of the Wigan’s of this world will always be, by definition, more consistent. Their ability to sustain a level and depth of class over consecutive games and through the inevitable injury crisis or two means that they will therefore win more matches. There is little doubt that it will be hard to win the League it always is, but forget the top 4 for a moment because it’s not for us really, the real battle for Hull FC will, I believe, be to get into the next 4 and for us lot, the more I consider that scenario the more difficult it appears to be to predict the eventual outcome.

If you considers the twelve teams in the new Super League next season, you should maybe, for ease of understanding, divide them into the top 4, ‘the pretenders to the throne’ and ‘the potentially doomed’. The top 4 are for me, bound to include Saints and Wigan. Both have strong teams and although Wigan are weakened a bit in the front row, it’s hard to see them being anything but in the top third. Also in there I would put Warrington and Leeds because however much you refute the ‘Big Four’ stuff, it’s hard to look any further than those Clubs isn’t it? The Rhino’s are in transition, but while that scenario means a deal of inconsistency for most teams, with them it just usually means another crop of brilliant youngsters coming through and making their mark. So, that brings us to numbers 5 to 8, which are certainly much more difficult to predict.

Well for a start who would discount Catalan? With two great half backs, some towering forwards, a couple of players who struggled last year now fully fit and a massive home advantage every other week, they’ll be in there for me. Salford will have learned last year that you can’t buy a team and now look to be more grounded and equipped for the battle, while Koukash will not accept anything but top 8 and with some shrewd signings, it’s hard to see them not making it too.

Huddersfield are a bit of a conundrum in that they seem to never quite reach their potential, but they are a strong unit week in week out, they have depth in the squad, a potent pack, a very intense Coach and who would ever bet against a team with Danny Brough in it? Then there’s Castleford who have made big, mainly enforced, changes this time around but who, having taken advantage of London’s demise with some shrewd signings and with Ben Roberts on board, still have a really good roster. Plus, they have a Coach who is probably the best there is. With their tight home ground, a spring in their step and a new found brand of unpredictable off the cuff rugby, while I can’t see then threatening the very top, neither can I see them bumming out of the eight either.

So that leaves the other 4 Clubs, Rovers, Widnes, Wakey and the mighty FC. For me, Wakefield are the weakest! Gallant, spirited and battling are all adjectives that spring to mind when you consider the psyche of the Wildcats, they’ll win a few games and fly on the confidence those victory’s bring, but, although always a team I have loads of time for, they are still my favourites for the bottom berth. Widnes, I don’t think, will be far behind them, they depend on Kevin Brown too much and for me often over achieved last season.

That just leaves two remaining ‘contestants’, The Dobbins and those perennial underachievers the enigma that is Hull FC. These two could just threaten a team or two in the top eight. For me, if I’m honest then Rovers can go either way. If all their new players click immediately, they steer clear of injuries, some of their new recruits stay out of ‘off field’ trouble and Ryan Bailey has an attitude transplant, then they’ll be pushing their way into the top eight. That to us lot in the West sounds unpalatable and hopefully pretty unlikely I know, but it could happen and a few at their Club, including their Chief Executive who I spoke to the other day, are very confident that it will. It’s a massive ask but it’s possible just the same.

Then there’s us! Where will we finish? Firstly let me say, I have hope, as always at this time I have bags of it! We have certainly cleared out a lot of deadwood and improved our strength and depth but I have to also admit that I still don’t honestly think we are as good as some would have us believe we are. I say that because everyone else in the competition has improved too, but with a fair wind and a whet sail I think we could just get in that top eight. However I have to be brutally honest here (because if I’m not, as I said earlier, this blog is pointless), but for me, for the reasons quoted and the other Club’s strengths that I’ve examined above, any more than that will be nothing short of miraculous. We’ve strengthened, yep we certainly have, we’ve prepared better and appear to have an improved group dynamic but so, in varying amounts, has everyone else in the League. In fact if I were conducting this exercise as say a Wigan or Saints fan then, from the outside looking, I would say, that we have recruited well, but not well enough to make a real step change in our fortunes. But, boy do I hope I’m wrong.

Being as close to it as we are, and in my case having seen a bit of the vibrancy that there is in the squad first hand, I would conclude that we have a better attitude, a better balanced squad and a few telling recruits in critically needed positions. Our right side has to be better (both attacking and defensive wise), our goal kicking should be much improved compared with this time last year, as it appears will be our field kicking game and play making. All those areas are probably much better than last season and I honestly think we will be exciting to watch. That said, we need that whet sail too and a top eight finish is possible if we get the breaks with injuries, the bounce of the ball and a fair hearing from the referee’s. We must also continue with the spirit and togetherness that seems at present to be endemic in the squad.

However as always it’s the X factor of us lot the fans that could just make the difference in the end. That’s the crucial bit, we need to be in the eight but we are only going to get in the top half of it, if we ‘do a Cas’ and quite frankly I can’t now see anyone doing that again, because there is now too much at stake and it’s all getting really tight! But, for the Tigers last year, the fans, nay the whole town really got behind the team and the Club cite that as a big ingredient in the great season they had. We can still achieve a lot if we can embrace the attitude that Castleford had last season, both on and off the field, but we need to stick together and tough it out when we have to.

However all that said, anymore than 7th or 8th is, if I’m truly honest, just a dream for this fan. I say that because we have to be realistic and aware that every game will be difficult and even if we play well it’s still likely that each individual match will rest on a knife edge, where one slip could well lead to a defeat. Yet to finish anywhere but in the top 8 would certainly be seen as nothing short of a disaster. You see for me, to be matched against 4 teams that have been playing much poorer clubs all season and who have waited for years for this chance, is a real recipe for just that!

So, if we can win as many as we lose we’ll be doing OK and we should just get in the 8! But, who knows? Castleford might implode, Leeds might struggle in transition, Catalan might continue their travel sickness, Warrington might stutter at times again, Widnes might soar like an eagle up the table and Wakefield might reach the Grand final, anything is possible, but in reality all of those scenario’s are pretty unlikely aren’t they? In fact the more I think about it, the more that my original predictions seem eminently reasonable.

It’s also just as possible that we might underachieve again while Rovers will as usual strike it lucky with their new signings, who knows? But for me I’m afraid to say the Dobbins, The FC, Wakey, Widnes, Salford and Huddersfield, will be reduced to scrapping for the seven and eight spots or worse. Some will now be accusing me of not being positive enough, I am doing my best here to be honest I really am, but years of disappointment do seem to engender a degree of realism in this long suffering fans ambitions.

These are of course, just my fireside Christmas musings on a subject that is so subjective it’s likely that every one of the 2000 or so who read this rubbish every week will have a different opinion. Hopefully, after you’ve finished tearing your hair out reading what I think might happen, it has at least provided you with the food for thought needed to perhaps contemplate the situation yourself and to formulate you own predictions for what the League will look like at round 23 next year. Food for though perhaps?

Well the grammar in here isn’t always that good, as some point out on a regular basis, but I spotted this on the Club Call site! I don’t know who wrote it but it did make me smile. “Despite a decent start to the traditional clash at Headingley, which saw the Wildcats move into a decent 18-6 lead, Webster’s men were outclassed in the final hour, eventually going down 50-28. Having finished 2014 in decent form and brought in some decent players in the last few months, hopes are high at Belle Vue for a decent season next year”

The amazing response to Pearson’s call to arms in the two months before Christmas has still got me scratching my head a bit. So when, after such a disappointing 2014 campaign, do real long suffering and ‘FC till I die’ fans start to get p*ssed off big style? Do we actually ever get to that position? It’s a good question but one that those of us who has been around our great Club for over 50 years might just have a bit of an idea about. I think myself that fans can take disappointment and disillusionment in bucketfuls and actually only become really aggrieved when a Club’s supporters stop being just that in the eyes of the owners and start being, cash cows, ‘units of production’, or simply customers. That’s the sort of betrayal that really p*sses people off.

I mention this because I’ve been watching with some interest the posturing and manoeuvring of our arch Nemesis Mr Allam and the management of Hull City. Many of their more reactionary fans (and they have a few), are up in arms, while those who still choose to turn a blind eye, are still a bit concerned, as the ‘Tigers’ continue to change the identity of Hull City by stealth. Following the introduction of a pricing structure that makes watching the top Clubs at the KC a real financial burden, their latest move sees the Club’s on line contact site changing to the Hull Tigers Facebook page.

This certainly wound a lot of fans up and the ‘City Till I die Chants’ were louder than ever at the 19 minute mark in the Leicester game. My pal who went down there for his solitary once a season Christmas visit, told me of renditions of ‘Stick your Facebook Tigers up your arse’ and when the lighting failed, a fair few around him were heard chanting ‘Allam, Allam pay the bill’, and ‘One greedy bastard’. Then, in the next home game Dean Windass was booed as he walked out on the field, (well what did he expect)! That bloke would have been better keeping his mouth shut on the subject, but he supports the change however then it transpires that his backing of it might just have been instigated by the fact that he is about to be employed by the Club as an ‘ambassador’.

Whether the name change is right or wrong, I wouldn’t want to be there as a fan supporting the Club I love, surrounded by other supporters chanting that stuff. Would You? However, don’t lets be too smug, because one day it could just come to that for us, it has in the past and everything in sport that goes round comes round. But, in this case, for me that’s what happens when you stop making allowances for tradition and the passion of the fans and stop paying attention to the issues that concern them; instead choosing to just treat them as customers.

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Misguided? A noisy minority? Who knows, but everyone who is a fan and pays their money is entitled to an opinion and indeed a hearing, Some club owners should remember that!

On this subject at least all’s still well at Hull FC, as the fans response to Pearson’s plea’s on ticket sales in November and December proved. Then, despite all their posturing and doubt, in the end the FC Army stayed loyal (despite a million reasons not to) and many have now dragged themselves round to the idea of ‘believing’ again! That’s a big plus for Mr Pearson, but he and all other owners should beware and never take their fans for granted. Loyalty to the cause comes from hope, but that hope quickly evaporates, to be replaced with scorn and derision if the powers that be start treating them as a means to an end, a meal ticket and purely as customers! Just of course my views but again perhaps, food for thought too!

Now, I’ve watched a bit of Club Rugby Union over Christmas and it’s certainly not of the quality of their International game, for me it’s all too scrappy and a bit stop/start. In fact, for open rugby, skill and excitement, it’s a long way behind the standard of our Club game. However we might be in front of them for all that, but with 82,000 at Twickenham for a league game between Northampton and Harlequins over Christmas, we’ve a long way to go to equalling their appeal to the public even in our ‘heartlands’. It’s amazing how a poorer product can attract gates like that and although I know all the arguments about the size of their catchment and the country wide appeal of their game, I think that we could learn a lot from the enterprise of their centralised marketing.

It appears too that it’s something that hasn’t gone un-noticed by the RL, but as always they seem to be approaching it from completely the wrong angle. “I suspect it will be a long time before we’re doing it on the scale that Premier Rugby does,” Super League general manager Blake Solly said on the subject, adding, “But I am reasonably confident that we’ll have two big Super League sides playing in London in 2016 or, if not, certainly 2017. A Wigan v St Helens or Leeds Rhinos v Hull FC match would be attractive there; I don’t see why in the future we can’t see a game like that which draws huge amounts of people to it as a one-off event.” Well Blake it’s nice to know you consider us a big Club if only because of the size of our support (rovers readers please note), but Harlequins are based in London, in fact only a short distance from Twickenham. With no London based Super League Club anymore and the interest that there was when we had one, the idea of us taking an NRL style ‘on the road game’ down there is ridiculous. For me it has two obvious flaws, first, who the hell wants’ to travel all the way to London for a home game and who wants to indeed lose home advantage in the new instant jeopardy format. Who then is going to turn up, international rugby down there has a certain appeal, but a Club game? No chance guy’s, just leave it alone!

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He’s a top bloke and a bloody good sport, even though he does appear to be pretty salad intolerant! As the dust settles after another Christmas perhaps this should be my New Year’s caption competition!

This week in Codgers Corner I would like to indulge myself in a more recent trip back in time to the last season that we played at the Boulevard and a game against Castleford that took place on 21st April 2002. Back then, as the KC Stadium started to rise majestically over the roof tops behind Bunkers Hill, we were enjoying a very successful season under Shaun McCrae. The visit of Castleford was as always keenly anticipated at the old Stadium and that season they were going well and lying 6th in the League table.

That Sunday we fielded a strong team which featured scrum half Tony Smith returning to the bench after a long lay-off through injury. Cas. however were without the influential pairing of Dale Fitz and Lee Harland and even played their Assistant Coach, (a 35 year old Gary Mercer), on the bench, which made him the oldest Super League player to take the field that season.

The game kicked off with nearly 9000 in the ground and I watched this time from the terracing at the Airlie Street end. The first few exchanges saw some massive collisions as Nathan Sykes, Dean Sampson and the returning (“On the P***, On The P***”) Michael Smith all had tilts at our front row! In fact referee Silverwood struggled to keep things under control and awarded four penalties in the first eight minutes. Between these skirmishes Carvell squeezed out a pass to Rich Horne who put Graham Mackey over in the corner, whilst at the other end Danny Orr sent Smith over after Paul Cooke had fumbled a pass from Raynor. The talented Cas partnership of Orr and Healey were proving really lively at half back and looked in danger of taking control of the game, until, that was, Raynor chased back to crash tackle a break-away Orr, who never got up from the collision and was carried from the field on a stretcher.

Straight from the restart Cas dropped the ball and we got possession back. Adam Maher and Mackay combined well to sweep play down field and as the visitors sliding defence closed in, our centre sent out a pin point pass for Matty Crowther to go in near the corner flag. After the restart we immediately moved play down field through the forwards before we almost repeated the action, only for Mackay, who had run fully 40 yards down the centre channel, to lose his footing as he stepped and a chance was lost. However on the 30 minute mark the flood gates opened. Firstly Cooke picked up a Healey kick near our line and sent out a long looping pass to the unmarked Toa Kohe Love who set off on one of his trademark mazy runs that eventually saw him waltz round full back Rodgers and go in under the posts. It was probably the try of the season and it had everyone dancing up and down on the terraces. Then just four minutes later Jason Smith, who had seemed to be limping for some time, shook off his injury to crash through a Healy tackle. Swift inter-passing with Lee Jackson, saw Smith get the ball back and run all over Michael Eagar to touch down under the posts.

Two minutes from the break another fine move saw Horne feed Ryan who jinxed back and forth before brilliantly putting Steve Prescott into the open. Our mercurial full back side stepped one and then two defenders before placing the ball behind the line without a hand being placed on him. A fifth conversion from Crowther saw us 30-6 in the lead and cruising. The visitors had tried really hard and the score line was a bit flattering, but in attack we were potent at times that year with our ball retention and completion rate quite staggering at times.

Half time came and went and the second half saw us playing into the strong wind that both Cooke and Horne had used so well in the first half. However that didn’t seem to bother our attack and on 47 minutes Horne and Jason Smith combined to put Mackay in again wide out on the right, but Crowther missed his conversion for the only time that afternoon.

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Jason Smith and Richard Horne; a great combination.

Then another 60 yard run by Mackay, who was proving to be a great recent signing, sent Crowther himself in for his second try and as the teams returned to the half way line, Tony Smith at last took to the field. As so often happens when you are well in the lead, Castleford
came back a bit, as Michael Smith, who I have to admit had a very good game, (For a fat lad) burrowed in for a score, and then put out a really good dissecting pass to Wayne Godwin for ‘Wagga’ to also score this time besides the post. Then Sampson rolled over for another, before we got a bit of composure back and finished the afternoon off with another sweeping downfield move that started with Craig Greenhill stealing the ball. Scott Logan barreled the play back over the half way line and then found Deon Bird who sent out a long pass to Kohi Love. To resounding cheers from all around the ground, Toa sidestepped a tiring Tigers defence to score the last try of the game and seal a wonderful victory.

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Tony Smith 48 games- 26 tries and quite a player!

As the hooter went and Jason Smith hoisted a might bomb, Jackson caught it and kicked on again. Then a bad bounce just robbed Tony Smith of a fairy tale return, when a bobbling ball saw him ‘score’ only for the touch judge to declare that he had not grounded the ball properly!! Still it was a great afternoon’s work which saw us win 48-18, to consolidate our League position of third place in the table. It was one of several great games in a good season, the last at our legendary home and one that established the new look Hull FC as a real force in the game again.

As the work towards the release of the first edition of ‘Up the Cream’ the new fanzine being launched by a couple of fans continues apace and the first edition is at the printers, it caused one fan to contact me with a bit of an appeal. Kathy Kirk rang to ask if anyone could help her in her quest to locate the person who displayed a Cup and Saucer set with ‘Up the Cream’ around the inside of the Cup and around the saucer, at the last Heritage day at the KC Stadium. She wants a photograph of it, as no doubt might the fanzine guys. If you own it or indeed know who does, please let me know.

This week on Thursday at Pearson pub on Spring Bank corner, there is the first of the Clubs 150th year reminiscence events when fans are invited to come along and share their memories and put them on tape for the oral history project the 150th celebration folks are doing. But otherwise, that’s it, its rugby at the weekend again and I can’t wait.

Welcome to 2015, let’s hope it a good one without any fear!! (Somehow I doubt that bit myself) but thanks as always for reading the Diary and sticking with it when once again news is in short supply This week I‘ve got a few things off my chest and I hope you found something to enjoy or even get infuriated about!! So we’re off and if the weather holds out, I’ll no doubt see a lot of you at this weekend’s game!

Thanks for your support!

Keep Believing!

Faithfully Yours

Wilf