The circumstances of this week, when we’re just two rounds into the competition with no game this weekend, certainly engendered that Groundhog Day feeling I had when I approached all the barren news weeks of the closed season.
However at least we all had time for a rest and a break from the week in week out stress of what is already turning out to be a much more high pressure campaign than we have seen for years. We had all better enjoy it too, because in a season when you have to rely on getting knocked out of the Cup for a week off and when at times there are 3 games in 8 days, looking at the fixture list the next break will not be until after round 23 at least and that’s a long, long way off.
Still it looks like, (if not a Hull v New Zealand match), we at least have a Test Match at the KC to look forward to at the end of the season, Joe Arundel is gone, we already have a few injuries and Jordan Rankin is still undecided, so at least there’s still plenty going on off the field to mull over!
I have already nailed my colours to the mast and said that, for now at least, I wholeheartedly back our coach, the players and the owner. So although it’s still very early days, I guess for me the season is going OK. However, I have to also say that although in hindsight I was impressed with very little that I saw last year and that in turn led me to be glad to see the back of 2014, there was one thing that did impress me from that pretty dreadful and instantly forgettable campaign. That’s the fact that for whatever reason we seemed to keep the number of injuries down to a minimum and that after the two previous seasons when we had, at times, been literally decimated by them.
However this season hasn’t started so well at all on that front, with three players missing against Warrington, one soldiering on with a neck injury and another injured during the game!! That said it appears again that, as was the case last season, we seem to be getting over our injuries a lot better than we used to, so the sports science and rehab stuff that Adam invested in so heavily, does appear to be paying dividends.
Whether it was that investment, a bit of good luck or a change in our training routines that made the difference who knows? But now it’s back to reality and with at least 5 nursing knocks, the two week break has come just at the right time. There is little doubt that Hadley, Whiting and Michaels all stood in well and we almost pulled off a very unlikely win against the title favourites, but to have so many out so early in the season is pretty unlucky, particularly when you consider that record last season. Let’s hope that we can get most if not all back for Salford and, as I said earlier, with the luxury of another weekend off a long way away over the horizon, our luck holds out a bit better from now on in.
Talking of Richard Whiting you’ll remember he had told me a couple of times before the season even started that he was expecting to be playing at Doncaster at the start of the campaign, something he confirmed this week when he said, “I had fully expected to be starting the season at Doncaster and playing there for two or three weeks, while I tried to prove my fitness. However I think Radders was impressed with how I trained towards the end of pre-season and I got my chance.” Against all expectations however he did well in a short late spell at Huddersfield and really excelled against Warrington and so to his amazement and indeed that of some of us fans, ‘Superman’ is back in the fold as the ‘Mr fix-it’ of the FC first team again. Rich has always wanted to shake off the utility tag and get himself a regular position in the team, but ironically it was his ability to stand in across the 13, that saw him return earlier than we all expected. Lee Radford commented to me last week that he was really pleased for Rich and I guess we all are too.
It was interesting to read what the Mail had to say on Saturday about Steve Michaels, because it bore out exactly what a couple of players had said this week about the fact that despite him being not fully fit, he is certainly still the fastest member of the squad at present. I have to say that I was impressed and perhaps even a tad surprised with the way he stood in with such success, for the Warrington game. As a centre or a winger he will certainly be putting pressure on the other three-quarters and everyone will have to fight to keep their places especially with both Callum Lancaster and Jack Logan showing up so well last week in the under19’s.
The Jordan Rankin will he/won’t he signing saga dragged on another week with the Club showing no signs of wanting to rush him into a decision. You’ll remember the whole issue surrounds him not wanting to sign a three year deal because he wants a get out clause should an NRL team come calling. Of course we want to keep him, every fan must feel that he has a future at the Club, but such a clause would be totally unacceptable in that should he suddenly leave to return home, it could cause major disruption in the team particularly at times of injury etc. No NRL clubs having expressed an interest at this stage of his career, but neither would Hull want him to move to another Super League team at the end of his contract which runs out at the conclusion of this season.
So a compromise is being sought and we are understood to be looking at offering Rankin a one-year extension, thus allowing Jordan time to make a decision on his long-term future. Interestingly James Smailes said this week that despite a longing to be closer to his family, there is little doubt the player wants to stay with Hull. However we can’t hang around too long either because Jordan is currently occupying an overseas place, so it appears a resolution has to be swift and is indeed expected soon. Once again as I so often say in here it’s a case of wait and see, although as I said last week we shouldn’t keep players here if they want to go home. I love the passion Jordan shows when he plays and the happy go lucky, ‘Jack the Lad’ persona he portrays off the field, so I for one really hope that he signs up again.
You know, it seems like months since I first revealed that we were moving our training base to Ideal Standard, in fact it was way back in early December, but now at last the transformation and re-furbishment is complete and we have finally moved down there. I was privileged to be invited to the new centre of excellence for a look round last Friday, when the boys were training inside for the first time and it’s certainly a real tribute to all the hard work the Coach and his team of helpers have put in. A few local companies have also chipped in to help and the result was a real eye opener.
YPI has been a great facility but this move has given Lee Radford and the staff a chance to ‘start from scratch’ in the Clubs own dedicated centre, and it appears they have been given everything they want by Adam Pearson. One of many features in the cafe and lounge area is a wall mounted back lit version of our heritage shirt, which of course containing the name of every player who has ever been on the Clubs books, That’s a nice touch too.
So all in all it’s a big step forward for Hull FC and a real improvement to have our own dedicated centre of excellence that isn’t shared with anyone. The pitch outside has been marked out to exactly the same dimensions as that at our home ground and so everything is replicated from the KC to make for the best possible results. Except, that is, for the posts which as you can see below, are unlike those at the KC … and proper ones!
As a footnote to our new training centre as I was leaving I asked my favourite ‘bin man’ what he thought about the new facilities and he simply said “Awesome” and I couldn’t disagree with that!
I had a quick word with Lee Radford who said that we have to concentrate on our own game against Salford because they will be pumped up after a couple of weeks of meetings and positive talk. He said that our lads had shown great commitment this last week and that the main thing for him thus far in the season was the energy with which they have played for each other. There is little doubt that whatever the outcome in Manchester on Saturday, for now at least, we approach this weekend in good heart!
Well we all got in for the Warrington game and it was a good gate too, but as you can see from the picture below it was still pretty chaotic before the match. I got in fine after waiting about two minutes in the queue and being stymied by a guy who would insist on scanning his ticket on the wrong side, before he was marched away hopefully to another access gate (rather than to receive 200 lashes) by two burly stewards. Otherwise for me it was pretty painless. I guess we all have to learn that tickets are on sale from the kiosks on the night and if you already have one then you should arrive a bit earlier to ensure smooth access to the ground. It’s just another SMC ‘faff’, however there is little doubt that it will be interested to see how quickly manned turnstiles return again for football, should City get relegated, won’t it?
So what’s been happening in the media this week? Well, on Tuesday, under the headline of ‘Hull FC owner Adam Pearson; “That’s the last time I pay off a player” the Hull Daily Mail broke the news that we had settled with Joe Arundel to the tune of one year’s wages which the paper estimated was worth be between £80,000 and £90,000. There has been in the past a habit of Hull Daily Mail headlines that bear no resemblance to what is actually in the article, and I think that maybe happened here as the article appeared to contain no such quote. In fact the article went on to say that we could well be doing the same thing again in the near future, when the case with Shannon McDonnell, which is ‘edging’ towards being settled, is sorted. There is some great writing in the Mail from James Smailes and we’re lucky to have him, but the headlines totally bemuse me at times as they don’t relate at all to the actual article. In fact next day the on-line headline read, “Hull KR can pull off shock at Wigan Warriors” when of course the Dobbins are in fact at home… oh dear!
Quite frankly on Joe, it seems to me that he had every right to expect the club to honour his deal and whatever he said elsewhere, in the media he seems to have conducted himself very professionally. In fact his parting words to the fans and about his colleagues were pretty decent. So, I for one wish him well. He wasn’t that bad a prospect when we signed him, the problem was, as with several other captures at the time, the ridiculous salary he was on and the length of the deal he was given. We all know that it should have been just a one or two year deal. But Mr McCrae thought he knew better or rather he persuaded Adam he did anyway!
However, in the fall out from the short reign of Mr McRae, I really do feel for our owner, who must be fed up of shelling out to pay off players employed on inflated wages negotiated by that previous regime. The fact is, Hull FC is a business and not a charitable organisation funded by a philanthropist. That said, then it’s easy to see why our owner simply can’t go on being squeezed income wise at one end by the SMC and our falling gates, whilst he’s shelling out for his ex employees previous bad business decisions, at the other.
He was badly advised and I find, after a bit of digging, that so was, to a certain extent Peter Gentle, and therefore I guess, having said that, you can see exactly at whose door I pile most of the blame for this parlous state of affairs! For me, there is little doubt that McCrae has a lot to answer for, but at least the contracts Pearson is now giving out and the players we have signed since our most recent Coach came ‘on-line’, have been good ones and none so far have ‘misfired’ spectacularly as some of the previous regimes have. Much of that is down to the prudence and resourcefulness of Motu Tony who no doubt had the need for all signings to be accountable and realistically priced, drummed into him by our owner from day one. It appears that there is little doubt that Shaun McCrae knew exactly what he was doing when he ‘decided to return home’ early, is there eh?
However it’s been a hard and expensive lesson for Pearson and although I know he is absolutely committed to the team and the Club, you are as a fan bound to speculate as to whether in his quieter moments, he wonders what the hell he has got himself into at Hull FC. He has to a certain extent only himself to blame because he was in charge and trusted his advisor; but with Shaun McRae’s previous football management and exalted pundit pedigree, why shouldn’t he? The trouble, or in our case the saving grace, is that Adam is literally hooked on everything Rugby League. In fact he’s so into it that I believe it would at least take a major fall from grace and/or relegation to ‘unhook’ him at present. However in an organisation that runs on a turnover of around £5-6m you can’t keep shelling out ‘dead money’ on someone else’s mistakes without it impacting on your own personal wealth. In a company that is very labour intensive (its assets are people rather than buildings etc) and yet so income dependent, there is little room for manoeuvring or raising spare finance within your revenue budgets. So our owner has probably had to find Arundel’s pay off and those of several other players out of his own pocket rather than from within the ‘profit and loss’ accounts of the company.
Pearson is certainly more streetwise in the ways of the game these days but it will have been an expensive lesson for him to learn. He’s certainly no ‘Rockafella’ as far as personal wealth is concerned and if he is to continue at the helm long term, then we now have to get the Club on an even keel and keep it there. It’s Radford’s job to identify gaps in our talent pool and the team’s future requirements on the field of play and pass those onto Motu Tony who will then try and find viable solutions. But you can bet that Motu is very aware indeed of the need to be prudent in our dealings and to be totally convinced of a player’s ability and potential longevity, before we sign him up.
But, all that apart, Joe Arundel is gone and I wish him well (although there is little doubt his best games for the Wildcats will be the ones against us), however, as an employee he always seems to me to have conducted himself well, despite being de-registered and left ‘out in the wilderness’. So as he departs, with ‘a wheelbarrow full of money’, he has said all the right things. It was always going to end this way although the Shannon McDonnell one is harder to call. We don’t know what stage things are at or what exactly is going on there, but let’s hope we get through it with our owner, his sanity and his personal wealth reasonably intact and that from then on we get onto a more financially even keel. He has got the rest of the club on a very tight rein these days, but we need some wins and a lot of new bums on seats if our owner is to feel that all his investment has been worthwhile. So for me, in the short term at least, that’s all now down to the current playing staff to perform and us lot the fans to turn up to watch them!
Good heavens what a strange journalist that Young Gareth Westmorland at the Hull Daily Mail is!! This week, I got at least 6 different comments from readers about what the youthful ‘whipper snapper’ said on Wednesday on his letters page in reply to a very well measured letter, about the pages and pages of absolute twaddle and waffle we have to endure about Hull City. That response from Diary readers prompted me to have a look at what had been said and I couldn’t really believe it when he replied that, “City get the most coverage because they are the better supported team in the City”.
For me the Diary readers who got in touch have a point and although Bill C’s comment that ‘he’s an idiot’ was a bit strong, the fact is that they are the better supported team, only because of all their ‘Good time Charlie Premiership hanger on supporters’ and the fact that in the other major sport in the City there are two teams! The thing is Mr Westmorland, if you add together your beloved Rovers first game attendance and that of Hull FC against Warrington (and Gareth, believe me, no one except the free loading journalist types go to both) then you might find that football is necessarily the best supported professional sport in the City!!
But that’s not my real point, because not everyone in Hull (and don’t forget the East Riding) is a Hull City fan as many support teams miles away from here, but everyone has a preference for Hull or Rovers, that’s a fact that is pretty indisputable. I hate this Rugby City/Football City argument, but I now feel almost duty bound to comment on it and say that if people want to press it, then they should just do a simple experiment. They should go and knock on every door in the City and ask which football team the occupants follow. They’ll get a lot of Hull City replies but also a lot of Manchester United, Leeds United and Liverpool, and quite a few, ‘I don’t like football’ retorts as well.
Then they should ask which Rugby team the householder favours and they’ll always be told either Hull or Rovers because on that one everyone has an opinion, it’s a family trait and something that is almost, I guess, embedded in the DNA of the local population. It would certainly be hard indeed to find anyone who said Leeds Rhino’s or Wigan Warriors. Mr Westmorland just doesn’t get that bit and now, oh dear he’s trying to get all controversial as well!!
When you add to that (with his constant referrals to the fact he supports them) his obvious bias to Rovers, you realise that perhaps he should take a leaf out of messr’s Smailes and Mullen’s book, who are without doubt leaning towards one side of the City or the other but don’t make it so bloody obvious.
Sadly, young Mr W does make it obvious, however if that’s his way so be it but hey, at least please recognise for the reasons I outline above, that when you add both sets of supporters and the leaning towards one team or the other, that is buried within the psyche of the residents; Hull is a rugby city. That fact might not be trendy, palatable or indeed very conducive to the Premier League ‘band-wagoning’ that goes on these days, but it is a fact! For me personally all this rubbish just makes a mockery of the letters page in the Mail, I used to like it, but these days it’s just getting silly again! Rant over!
How great it was to hear that the KC Stadium will host International Rugby League once again, with England set to play a Test against New Zealand in Hull in the Autumn, something that was exclusively revealed by ‘Smailes of the Mail’ last Thursday. There should be an announcement concerning the make-up of the whole series shortly but according to the local paper, Hull is ‘rubber stamped to play host to the reigning Four Nations champions’. With the Second Test earmarked for the Olympic Stadium, it appears that the RL are keen for the KC to host the First Test, which will see Steve McNamara return as England Coach and another real FC hero Stephen Kearney come home to the Stadium where he was such a hit in the last decade. That’s the good news and it will be great to go to an International at the KC again, but although they agreed on that bit, after that, the Mail and Radio Humberside Sport appear to have a disagreement and in mid week the water was pretty muddy, concerning our proposed game against the tourists.
I know regular reader Richard Ollett and a couple of other fans contacted Smailsey to see what was happening when the Olympic Stadium stuff was leaked and James as usual sprung into action. I also know that Richard also threw in the fact that Hull FC had always indicated that they wanted a warm up game against the tourists at the KC as part of our 150th Anniversary season. The Mail said, “Hull FC had also hoped to stage a game at the KC against the Kiwis as part of their 150th anniversary celebrations. FC remain in negotiations with New Zealand Rugby League and the RFL, and have not given up all hope of the game going ahead, however it is now looking increasingly less likely” meanwhile Humberside announced in their early sports news bulletins that we couldn’t come to terms with the SMC on it and it was that which had scuppered the plan.
You know me by now and I’m always sniffing around to see what I can find out for this weekly rubbish and I have been told unofficially on several occasions that the block to our game taking place was from the stadium rather than the RL or the New Zealand authorities. But is it? I mean to say should the RL be intent on playing the First Test here they are hardly going to want Hull FC to play the same team, at the same venue, the week before are they? So there could be some truth in that theory too. It’s not too convenient for us either really, because if we play NZ as a warm-up game for their Test matches it would certainly mean our players staying in training, which could disrupts pre-season for 2016. I think we probably wanted the game as a final match of the tour, which would see it fall in our pre-season run up to the 2016 campaign. So, I guess both possibilities are plausible and we’ll just have to wait and see but with the cross code game with Bath also now looking a bleak proposition, are we to go through our 150th year without a special game to mark it? I blooming well hope not!
Now have you had a look yet at FC Live this season? Boy it’s good with great coverage of games, top quality production, good commentary and HD to boot. I was quite amazed just how much it has improved this year and at £60 (and half that if you’re a season ticket holder) its great value too. Last season I had trouble with the picture quality and the buffering and much to the displeasure of a few at the Club, made a point about it in here in the Diary. But, fair does this time around its top notch and really worth the subscription. If you’re one of the ‘far flung’ readers of this rubbish, exiled from the Club you love, then it’s certainly worth considering.
My quote of the week comes from Saints Coach Kieran Cunningham and needs no explanation whatsoever really, because it says everything about the state of our game and our inability to hang onto our best assets. He said, “I’m sure there will be more people who go over to Australia in the future. If anything, it’s not done our game any good at all. Because they’ve performed so well, we’re going to end up as a bit of a feeder competition for some of the big NRL clubs.”
Get ready for two FC Exhibitions opening shortly as the 4 month long event at the Street life Museum in Hull gets underway and in Humber Street at the Kingston Art Gallery the FC Photographic Exhibition opens its doors to the public. The former is a grand exhibition of memorabilia and artefacts spanning the history of the Club which will be open for Monday (today) while the latter is a series of photographs exploring the relationship between the fans and the Club which Opens on Friday at 6-00pm. The event on Friday is in the form of an official opening and all are welcome, there will be a chance to talk about the exhibition and Phil Lamb will be giving some readings too. Get down to both of these if you can and look out for more information on the Club site this week.
So to Codgers Corner and a question; what is so special in the annals of our great club about the date of Friday 17th April 1981? Well it was one of the lowest points in that history and a day that perhaps most fans would wish to forget! That day was Good Friday and there were18,500 in the Boulevard for a Derby game that saw the old rivals pitting their wits against each other in an encounter that took place almost a year after that disastrous day at Wembley that the ‘Saddo History Boys’ across the River still talk about as if it were yesterday. With the trouble there is at present with several sets of football fans across the British game and the fact that invariably these days local Derby’s between the two Hull Clubs pass off with little trouble at all, it seemed a fitting game to include here. So this week, in the spirit of this year remembering all things Hull FC, be they good or bad, I wanted to remind myself just how bad it has been here in Hull, just in case we ever forget.
I have put off covering this game for years because quite frankly I am still ashamed about it. However now it seemed the time was right. On that fateful day I settled in my place, which in those days was in the ‘new seats’ at the South end of the Best Stand, to join what was the biggest League attendance the British game had seen since the inception of the two Division format in 1973. However what makes it’s such a significant date is the fact that it was one of, if not the, blackest days in the history of our great club. What happened was nothing short of a riot and a disgrace to the game and the City!
The match started well with an exciting first quarter. From the kick off Rovers pressed our line but it was Hull who took the lead when Tony Dean picked up a loose ball ran thirty yards and set Graham Walters off to the line after just 9 minutes. Paul Woods was on kicking duty that day and ‘Psycho’ put the conversion between the post and we were in an unlikely 5-0 lead. Back came the Dobbins with two tries from Phil Hogan on 12 minutes and Hartley three minutes later. Both conversions were missed and Woods restored our lead and pushed us further ahead with two penalties. Leading 9-6 we were at last starting to get on top and pressed forward, when on 22 minutes the unthinkable happened.
In what was dubbed ‘The Long Good Friday’ by the national press and ‘The Battle of Bunkers Hill’ by the local media, all hell let loose at the South end of the Ground. All of a sudden the unseasonal clear blue skies were blacked by a hail of flying missiles as thousands of innocent supporters ran for cover. There was no real fighting just a bombardment of bricks, mud, rubble and wood from the ‘Building Site’ behind the embankment. It all seemed to me to start when 30 or so Hull and Rovers supporters stood in the middle of the South terrace started throwing missiles at the policemen on the Speedway track below. Then some descended the back of the embankment and started throwing rubble over the terracing and into the crowd. The club were going through some development work to increase the capacity of the Boulevard and the Police had been warned about the debris but that couldn’t stop a handful of idiots leaving the terracing and congregating behind it, to launch the onslaught.
As referee Laughton took the players off the field and down the tunnel, the St John Ambulance staff led old people, children, young people and women past us along the touchline. Many had head wounds streaming with blood, others staggered from the shock of its all. On the viewing area itself many fans from both sides desperate to escape, swept over the fence and onto the pitch leaving two small factions of idiots battling it out on the terraces. Then, a policeman went by on a stretcher, obviously unconscious and elsewhere mothers shepherded their children away from the melee and out of the ground. Little did they or we looking on realise that they were all part of what was later described as the game of Rugby Leagues ‘Blackest day’
In the 14 minutes the teams were off the field 40 people were hurt and 13 arrested as the place took on the look of a field hospital. In fact I remember that the possibly inexperienced St John staff, although doing a great job, used some outlandish bandaging techniques as some unfortunate fans passed us with the whole of their heads bandaged like the invisible man and others had head bandages with ‘cartoon like’ red splodges on them. It was all totally surreal and we were just all shocked and could not believe what we were seeing. Amazingly, slowly but surely, the Police got control and shepherded the fans back onto the terraces and the game restarted, when referee Laughton brought the teams out and ordered a scrum to Rovers on the centre spot.
However, if we fans had lost our appetite for the game on the pitch we had as a team lost all the momentum we had before the stoppage. We all just looked on at an unreal scene of a game going on with people still being treated behind the posts at the Gordon Street end. The incidents I describe here were I suppose a shameful blot on a game that, looking back now, had many exciting pieces of action and some nerve tingling moments. Rovers had used the break to collect themselves and tore back at us for the rest of the first half. Within seven minutes evading both Norton and Woods, Hubbard crashed in at the corner. The conversion was missed and at half time the scores were tied 9-9. Tony Dean almost got over after just two minutes of the second half and then we saw Hull’s best move of the game. Dean beat Sanderson to a loose ball after Rovers had won a scrum and as he was tackled he got up quickly played the ball to himself and shot in under the posts and as Woods converted we were 14-9 up and in command again. Rovers International second rower Phil Lowe crashed through two tackles and despite a valiant effort from Mick Crane, scored and Hubbard landed his only goal to level things up again. A high tackle by a very young Steve Crooks on Steve Norton saw Woods edge us ahead again and with ten minutes to go it looked like we could hang on. Unfortunately with seconds left on the clock Lowe broke through again and as our defence came across, right in front of us, he kicked through and touched down for an unconverted try in the corner and the Dobbins were victorious 17-16.
If the defeat was not enough imagine the shock we all felt when the ‘riot’ was the first piece of news on the BBC National 6-00pm Good Friday Bulletin and we were there in ‘all our glory’ for the whole country to see. Next day the headlines in the Hull Daily Mail read ‘Hull’s Revulsion in wake of Riot’ and there followed a catalogue of local politicians, MP’s and all, decrying the actions of those few idiots that had brought our game, our City and my club into such disrepute. Much retribution and condemnation followed, as did a RL enquiry, but for me it’s a memory that perhaps we should all put to the back of our minds, however in our 150th year I feature it here as a warning ‘lest we as fans ever forget what can happen if you’re not prepared to manage the idiots as well as the rest of the crowd.
So, there we are, another Diary almost over and were back playing rugby again on Saturday when it’s a case of cometh the hour cometh the man!! Although, sadly, the hour is an ungodly 7-30 on a Saturday night, there is little doubt that as far as the ‘man’ is concerned we will be there in our hundreds at Salford. It’s a worrying one and there is little doubt that had this been last season then I would have feared the worst. As it is I can’t see Salford being that bad again can you? And these are the games we usually struggle in; as we are expected to win. So it’s another test if not a different one, of our new found fight and tenacity. There is, I believe, a good chance in fact that this one could be the hardest of our first 3 games thus far.
That said we look a different prospect this time around and from what I saw at training last week we are altogether a different kettle of fish team spirit wise; most of all we look like a team that wants to win. As fans we can’t yet trust them not to revert back to that ‘good one week, crap the next’ formula that has been undoubtedly the norm for Hull FC over the last few seasons, but we can at least hope!
Trust, comes a lot slower than it is lost with us lot!
It’s certainly early days yet and perhaps next week at this time I will be lamenting a poor, restless and inconsequential performance, as we saw so often last season, but somehow I don’t think I will. We might not succeed, we may not win, but I’m sure we will be competitive…well I hope we will anyway (as much as we want to believe all that stuff, two games in is still a bit too early for a measured appraisal isn’t it?). Still thanks as always for another week of your support and I just hope that you found something of interest in here as you read my weekly ramblings. Thanks to the couple of dozen readers who got in touch this week with particularly mention to my pal Richard Watson from the West Riding, Richard Kirk who tells me he is talking to the RL development officer for the South East this week, Alan Smalley, Richard Ollett and Brian Chapman from Spain. However it’s just great to hear from you all and thanks as always for getting in touch. Let’s get to Salford show ‘em what a real crowd looks like and see if we can sing the boys home to a memorable victory…see you there if you’re going!