The Dentist’s Diary – 590th

FOOD FOR THOUGHT ADAM?


Is this the look that says, “Is that our season gone?”

In a week that saw the squad for next season all but complete with little change in personnel and with the FC still in a state best described as ‘ravaged by injuries’, the trip to Huddersfield was probably our best chance, in the remaining four games, to get 2 points to keep us in touch with the top four. Huddersfield couldn’t play as badly as they did at Rovers, but they were still poor at times and at first we looked to have our game plan just right. We then started to lose the battle up front and squandered the ball, whilst The Giants realised that we had little to offer on attack. With only really Bowden, Manu and Westerman missing from our first choice forwards, to be dominated like that in the middle of the park is just not good enough.

However, it was our inability to retain possession and too much risky rugby that did for us as well, with ‘rocks and diamonds’ Miloudi the main transgressor; although in fairness at least he had a go. Huddersfield on the other hand (just like Widnes last week) were a poor outfit, but they had a plan and they stuck to it, whilst we tried to create some miracle plays that soon turned out to have nightmare conclusions.

We have, since the start of that glorious 2016 season, been a team that could always find a way to win games away from home. However, in 2018 we have a poor record on the road and that continued last Thursday. In fact, it’s probably a good job that we have scratched a home win or two in Hull, particularly against Wakefield and Widnes, to keep us away from the bottom four. We have run out of troops, energy and structure and in the last three games we have looked devoid of ideas as well.

There are of course mitigating circumstances but make no mistake about it, whilst there are still ten games left in the season, this was a massive set back and indeed a real missed chance which, when taken in the same context as the Wigan game at the KCOM, may be the difference between making the top four or facing a meaningless seven game mini tournament, when pride is all there is to play for.

As you’ll see below such performances wind everyone up and see us all frustrated and disappointed. That certainly generates an unprecedented level of correspondence from Diary readers, some of which I’ll try and reflect in here as I go along.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 589th


A brilliant view of the KCOM on Friday from Joe Bennett at the start of the second half, as the clouds gather overhead and perhaps over our performance too.

Well that was a poor showing, but in the end we got the points we needed!

On Thursday Danny Washbrook said, “We have to be as close to the four as possible going into the Super 8s. Widnes is the start for that. This week is a big match and we need to set a marker down for how we want to approach the rest of the year.” No one could have argued with that, in fact nothing but a win against the Vikings would have been good enough. And we got one, but in the end only just!!!

That final quarter was certainly hard going… and indeed hard watching for us lot as well!! When your best two players are the only ones who actually played a game last weekend, it has to smack of a team that’s lost the impetus and momentum of weekly games, but in fairness when you look more closely it was our ability to see the game out and our game management, (sadly lacking against Wigan the other week), that was, in the end, our saviour. It was by no means a great performance but again, who cares, we got the two points.

What’s more we got them in a match that was a real watershed between safety in the top eight and keeping in touch with the top four (just) but it was a listless showing in which we got 16 points up without looking very interested at all and then let Widnes back into a game in which they didn’t look to have a hope and yet still we didn’t seem to be that focussed or involved, both out there on the field and on the terraces.

Once again a depleted squad, which was further disrupted with ‘in game’ injuries, (a situation that left us short of rotation from the bench and with Shaul a limping passenger on the wing), struggled to compete with a Widnes team that unbelievably, when you consider their situation, really smelt blood and a rare win.

Still we got home, the sun shone and at least Connor, Taylor Miloudi, Tumavive and a couple of others managed to come out of it all with a bit of credit.

We now move onto Huddersfield on Thursday, a game that will be a big ask indeed. But, it’s a match that offers a top prize of us keeping in touch with the leaders of the division if we win and a consolation prize of the fact that a Huddersfield do us, it will put a massive nail in the Dobbins coffin as well; it’s a funny old game isn’t it?

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The Dentist’s Diary – 588th

Talk about the tumbleweed connection ……Boy last week was a quiet one!!

 

Over the years I have been through some becalmed times particularly in the closed season, but last week was one of the least interesting that I can ever remember, well it was from an FC point of view anyway. With the players being given their first 5-day break for ages and much of the focus on the Denver international, it was hard to find much at all to discuss this week which got me thinking that perhaps it was a time to reflect on our Club, where we are and indeed where the game is at the present time.

 

Fridays hit up against Widnes is certainly an important one if we are to keep in touch with the top four and finally secure our top eight safety, so we can at least look forward to that. But, as for the International, well it was great to see two of our lads out there, before then, our only ever present player in a difficult season, gets an injury when vying for man of the match and whilst not even playing for us! Such is 2018 at Hull FC!!! However, let’s hope, for a change, that this week the news on Jake Connor is good.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 587th

Oh Dear, It’s the first home defeat of the Season.

 

Still, it was so close in the end and on this occasion, rather like against Saints in the Cup, some dumb decisions, our inability to steady the ship in the last few minutes and a big stroke of luck going the way of the opposition in those final moments, did for us. It was a valient effort and well done to everyone who went along and created what looked to be a great atmosphere.

 

I had thought all week it was to be a big ask simply because all the endeavour and passion in the world will, sadly, see you one week come up short, particularly when you are missing your top quality players. Against a wounded Wigan, who had been under the cosh from their own fans, it was always going to be tough and I just somehow thought that circumstances dictated that this could well be that week. So it was, but there is no shame in that performance and it was certainly nothing to be too down about with just two tries each; their first being fortuitous and their second down right jammy.

 

Wigan had lost three successive games in league and cup and they were the team under pressure, while we were amazing everyone with our resilience in adversity, but a stroke of luck brought their poor form to a conclusion and compounded our issues with regard to catching up with the top 4. Short of a miracle it is now a fact that a couple more defeats and we could be adrift before the top eights even start.

 

We have a week off now, a time to regroup both on and off the field and then we simply have to beat Widnes, but that’s for another day and for now we just have to learn from the mistakes, curse our luck and dust ourselves off to go again! Don’t be too disheartened for that was just a case of ‘tough luck and not quite smart enough!’

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The Dentist’s Diary –

WOW!!! where did that come from???

 

Again, for the second week running, this is a Diary that is not that easy to write, because in it I will be trying to describe and explain a performance that is perhaps best defined as unfathomable. On Friday those of us that were privileged to be in attendance witnessed what was quite an amazing victory for a bashed up, bruised and injury hit FC side, which none the less featured the best half of rugby we have seen all season. That shows, if nothing else, that we must live by some of the best values in the game, in a culture that runs right through the extraordinary group of players that we are so lucky to have at the club at present.

 

Salford were poor, no one will contest that, but our young guns took apart a team that had been sat with their feet up last weekend, whilst we had, just last Sunday, experienced one of the most intensely competed defeats we have seen for years. It had been a game that left us mentally and physically drained, and with just 5 days to turn things around. Furthermore, I guess in the context of a need to surge back again after that disappointment, Salford was a must win game.

 

Last week after a Diary that indicated my concerns about just how we could get back up for this match after that heart-breaking Saints defeat, I met lots of FC fans who didn’t disagree with me and although in the pub afterwards on Friday there were a few ‘smart arse’ after the event comments like, ‘Just what I expected’, the almost surreal and subdue acclaim the team got as they left the field after 40 minutes said it all. For on the terraces ‘shell shocked’ and ‘amazed’ were the best adjectives to describe the effect the 37-0 half time score-line had on the ten and a half thousand fans that witnessed that first half. Unexpected; you bet it was!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 585th

DEFEATED, BLOODIED AND YET UNBOWED!!!!

We are out of the Cup for the first time in three years and so the incredible journey is ended, but it concluded with a fittingly incredible finish.

We have had some unforgettably happy moments of late and now in the cold light of ‘the morning after’ we have to learn to ‘meet with disaster’ and accept it humbly.

The passion within our Club from the owner at the top, right through to those at the bottom, is simply staggering and not a little humbling, we already knew all about it, but on Sunday that amazing culture was set out for all to see on national TV; OK we lost but ain’t you proud to be an FC fan?

However, you can’t just be proud of a display like that, for there is so much more to it, and yet no doubt for you, like me, it’s not possible to animate just how you feel, because it’s impossible to put it into words. As the final hooter went I was gutted and in tears, because I guess if I’m honest I could have accepted it better had we been blown away by massive favourites St Helens, but the sheer guts and wanting to keep hold of that trophy was exemplary in every department and perhaps deserved more. Yeh, our discipline was off at times, and trial by TV played its part again too, however no excuses, because we wanted it so much and that unique spirit of 2016 was there for all to see, even in defeat.

Of course it’s all about winning and the plethora of fine words about us from the opposition players and Coach are all very nice, but will not linger for long, as the Saints go marching into the semi-final and we try to pick up the pieces and face Salford on Friday.

But for old timers like me, it’s about the buzz I still get when I realise that I’m associated with that ethos and that philosophy. For it displays such a will to succeed for the fans, through a real never say die attitude from everyone who pulls on the shirt. Decades of watching a team that has been at times stuffed with the “We’re only here for the beer” boys, have taken their toll on this fan, but boy we have some strong characters at our Club at present don’t we? Our coach did a terrific job in the week and everyone’s ‘head’ was just right and our game plan spot on. Perhaps ironically it was our absolute focus and will to win at any price, that cost us with those sin-binings.

Friday is now another day and we have to get two points against Salford, but if those FC players are feeling anything like me at present, I wonder how we will ever get ourselves back up for that game. Proud yes, gutted yes, but glorious in defeat? Abso-bloody-utely!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 584th

I was proud of our lads on Friday. The result was no more than we could have expected if we were honest, but we gave it a real go and surprised the much fancied ‘Wire’ with a first half of energy, passion and youthful exuberance, which had a modicum of skill thrown in too.

I actually though we had a chance at half time, but I should have known better. Miracles do happen, but not that often and experience proved that the Wolves would come out in that second half and put some points on us and that’s exactly what in the end they did, but in the mean time we gave them a hell of a scare didn’t we?

For me it was a game we were destined to lose simply because of the players we were missing. That I’m afraid is a fact we had all better get used to in the next few weeks, for it isn’t the last time such a scenario will be played out ‘before our very eyes’.

Hats off to everyone who played though, because it was an excellent first 40 minutes in which there were some great showings from the young lads. There’s bags of hope for the future in some of those players and they will have all benefited no end from the experience, I’m sure of that!

All in all, it was a great effort and one that belied the number of players we had missing, in what was, before we started, a game I never thought we had a chance of winning. We got no points, but were pretty glorious in defeat. But oh boy, next week now looms and that’s a worry indeed…….

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The Dentist’s Diary – 583rd

Newcastle’s St James Park was again turned into a sea of Black and White, as the FC fans chanted, “The City is Ours, the City is Ours’ as thanks to a great and heroic effort, in pretty difficult circumstances, we recorded our seventh successive Derby victory.

2018 so far shows two Derby’s down and two Derby’s won. One with twelve men for almost all the game and the second with a back line that read like a who’s, who of the young, the recovering and the aged!

I was proud of that performance and well done to everyone who took part! However yesterday the FC gained what was for me a very unlikely win. I have to eat a bit of humble pie and some of you will have watched that win and thought, ‘Oh Ye of Little Faith Wilf?’, but beforehand I just thought that Rovers familiarity with playing with a host of injuries over several weeks would trump a Hull FC that were just getting used to having around 9 players missing.

As I said to a pal at the end, “Yeh, to some people Lee Radford may not be a lot of things, but no one can deny he gets them up when he needs to”.

I know you all think I’m a worrier who spends most of his time looking downwards rather than up, but with our current adversity, I struggled to see where the next win was coming from and before the game I knew we probably needed another 4 or 5 points to avoid the middle 8’s. Some may not like it but whoever you are in reality that has to be every teams first goal and with changes apparently coming at the end of the year and Leigh and Toronto in such good form, no team can really afford to be down there at Round 23. Once that has been avoided, then we can start to look upwards. But, believe me, those were still two precious, precious points! It was a scratchy win but what a win just the same.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 582nd

Absolute bloody chaos!!!

An ill disciplined and pretty disgraceful final quarter from both sides, a hat full of injuries, one or two bans looming and a refereeing display that quite frankly beggar’s belief. Oh and we are through to the quarter finals of the Challenge Cup as well! And so, as the County Road Centre of Excellence looks more like Hull Royals A&E and the builders are in extending the naughty step, we all look back on what has been a few unusual days, even for an FC fan who thought he’d seen it all.

Our tenacity and fortitude were the watchwords as we won the trophy in the last two consecutive seasons and they were on show in abundance again at Featherstone. However, that battling spirit was completely overshadowed in a final quarter that would have been a disgrace had we been watching it from the touchline at amateur level, never mind it being broadcast live to the nation on Sky TV!

I’ve seen some shambolic performances in my time, but to finish with 9 men and to get suckered into that spoiling, niggling mindset again, for the second time in three weeks, left me cold really. It was win at any cost and we did it, but in the end it actually did come at considerable cost both for now and the future.

Ok we are through to the quarter finals and our fighting spirit has to be commended, but for this fan there was precious little else to take from the game at all. Fact is we were the Super League team and we should be better than that, furthermore we should have ice coursing through our veins when the oppositions hackles are up and we should stay cool and calculated in the face of such intimidation and abject refereeing. On Thursday, we showed neither quality, so much so that when the final hooter went I was relieved, disappointed, furious and a tad embarrassed, all at the same time.

Those injuries, added to the ones we already have, could well be season defining and as reader Richard Hall said, during the game, “I fear the longer this goes on the shorter our season becomes!”. Profound words indeed and Rovers must be licking their lips at the chance they have now been presented with for the Magic Weekend match, but at least the holders were again in the hat for the quarter finals, if that is, we have anyone left to play in them!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 581st

WE’VE GOT ALBERT KELLY!!!!!!!!!!!!

And what a massive signing, playing wise that is, there will be a lot of long faces in the East but he’s ours for another two years!! However, more of that later, because first I have to ask the question …..

WAS SATURDAYS WIN THE BEST DISPLAY SO FAR THIS SEASON?

Well you know, I think it maybe was, for it was certainly an amazing turn-around from last week’s debacle in France and how the players and the fans wanted it and rejoiced as the final hooter went and victory was ours! The result was our sixth home win out of six this season, with, after years of trying, the Black and Whites, on and off the field, at last making the KCOM Stadium the fortress it always should have been. All of a sudden teams won’t want to come visiting to what is now a hostile environment and true to our famous spirit in adversity, once again it was the fortitude and stoic nature of our endeavour that led to the West Yorkshire Clubs downfall.

With no video referee to scrutinise ‘the far end of a fart’ of every score, the game flowed, the referee was in control but kept it moving and as a team from 1 to 17 Hull FC were simply magnificent. Castleford were absolutely out on their feet by the end, as we overcame a couple of poor errors that led to their two tries, to control the game almost throughout. Without those two unfortunate mistakes, (a ball left to bounce near our line and a fumbled up and under) both perhaps down to our last line of defence, we would have nilled them. It was a great defensive showing and a much steadier performance all round.

There will be bigger battles and harder mountains to climb, but on Saturday we all witnessed a brilliant showing and could ask for no more. Well done to everyone involved, because I loved every minute of it!

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