The Dentist’s Diary – 698th

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World !!!!

One minute I am writing two Diary’s in a week to accommodate games coming thick and fast and the next, when other clubs are playing two matches in one weekend, I have no game to report on at all? One minute we are strapped for cash, the next we are chasing the most vaunted and hyped Coach in Super League …allegedly! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; this is the craziest of seasons we will ever see in our life-time’s and, who knows, perhaps the last one for our game in its current state. For, as with most things these days, predicting the future with any sort of certainty is getting rather difficult. 

It’s Derby week but who would believe it and indeed for many, who cares? For everyone inside the game and out there on the ‘terraces’ have bigger issues to worry about really. I simply can’t see this current set up in our game going on much longer without there being casualties amongst the Clubs. A couple are apparently already in dire straits and the rest must be looking to winter and wondering just how they will pay their wages, because it’s simply impossible to see when they will ever be able to get fans back into Stadiums to restore at least part of the sports much needed cash flow. These are tough times and tougher ones are perhaps just around the corner. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 697th

The Best So Far? Or just an abysmal Castleford, making us look good???

Well perhaps it was a bit of both really! 

With two editions in one week, welcome to a shorter, interim, Diary as I try to negotiate the fixture list, as in this ridiculous season the games come thicker and faster and so I guess, the Diary has to do the same. What’s more it’s great to report on a big, big win, particularly when I fear what might happen on Thursday in France. 

Good old positive Pete eh??? Still, it’s a long time since I have sat back with 30 minutes to go and decided that we couldn’t lose. I wasn’t completely relaxed, but as reader Richard Kirk said on Monday Morning, “It was only my perpetual pessimism that caused me any anxiety at all”.

We looked so good and as a team, (as opposed to a group of players), we played for each other, didn’t get sucked into the obvious defeatist demise of the Castleford players and scored some impressive team tries. Cas. on the other hand, were abysmal and looked a beaten side from their first carry. Their overall disposition looked to me to completely reflect the rationale of their Coach, who has totally lost it as far as having any sort of optimism at all is concerned and it looked like that raison d’etre had rubbed off on a lot of his players!! 

We have battled through two outbreaks of the virus and numerous injuries, yet after all that adversity, we look a better team now than we did when we restarted the season. I’d like to say that it is the Andy Last effect and I hope it is, for he should take a lot of the credit, but a group of players that looked down and out before the virus struck and have indeed looked lost at times since, suddenly seems to have found it’s mojo. 

However, perhaps a group of guys who looked as if they couldn’t be arsed at times earlier in the season, have embraced the problems and the trauma of it all, used it to motivate themselves as a group and that has welded us into a unit again. From adversity has come steel and determination? Well who knows with Hull FC? Where that performance came from is hard to say, but it was certainly nice to experience it!!

As Diary reader Mike in Cheshire said afterwards, “I feel a bit cheated by a performance like that in an empty stadium, after all the crap we have had to sit through at the KCom in the last few seasons.” And I guess we all felt like that!!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 690th

Well, we all needed that one!!

That warm glow you get when you finally sink back in your seat as a game like that one is won, is still a great feeling to have. I fretted and fumed and even shouted at the TV and it was just like the old days again. Our lot really do exasperate us all. They looked to be winning it, looked to be losing it and it was certainly hard to watch at times. We should have been 24 points up at the break but we blew chance after chance. Yet, in the end it felt good and the relief was palpable, because at times we were good and at others still so bloody frustrating! Good old Hull FC eh? World beaters one minute and egg beaters the next! 

However, in the bigger scheme of things to have had reality suspended in that way for a couple of hours, was still a blessed  relief as well really. 

 As I say, we should have won that game by a country mile and that’s no reflection of a handy Huddersfield outfit at all. Fact is we made enough chances, had enough ball and commanded enough territory, to be out of sight! But as always with Hull FC it was a real arm wrestle right up to the final hooter. We blew chances, dropped ball and made daft mistakes that invited a ‘wobbling’ opposition back into the game, but we fought hard, dug in, our middles stood up and we didn’t let our set-backs get to us and anyway let’s face it in the end we won and it’s always great to win ….always! 

After a tough week on the virus front when no doubt many of you, like me, must have wondered what the hell is going to happen to us all, we needed a lift and that’s what we got. In Marc Sneyd we had the guy who again orchestrated the best stuff we produced. As I said last week, he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but for me he organised the line all night, before he coolly stroked over the two points that won us the game. Plus, in Joe Cator we had an absolute machine who chased and harried the Giants into the ground. What a signing he’s been. 

So, once again as FC fans, we experienced the whole remit of emotions on Tuesday night and it was harrowing to watch at times, yet at the same time, such a relief at the end. 

But, we have got used to that over the years for that’s the enigma that is Hull FC, isn’t it!   

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The Dentist’s Diary – 695th

In Any Kind of Weather!!

A committed and spirited performance saw a depleted FC go down fighting, but for once, the game itself was bigger than the result! 

Occasionally as a fan, you are really proud of your club and your players. When that happens, it’s usually because of some brilliant fighting performance or for some magnanimous gesture towards the community. However, sometimes your heroes do something over and above what anyone could expect, which makes them shine out as an example to everyone. 

Those times are pretty rare and yet we saw one this week. What’s more when we got out on the field we didn’t let anyone down at all. We might not have won, but boy, playing the Cup Finalists, ill prepared and 13 men short, we had a real dig and everyone at least had a go.   

I know that every Club agreed that they would standby to step in at short notice and Castleford did the same for us when we had that outbreak in the early days, but we now have cases in camp again ourselves, so the reality was a lot different to the original principle, made as it was in less harrowing and less testing times. 

We played Leeds in a home game, yet did it at Headingley with one player having being diagnosed with the virus, three more isolating through the games track and trace set up and 9 out injured; all that in a match that was only re-arranged 22-hour’s earlier. And, after everyone at the Club had taken a pay cut from day one of the crisis!

To stand in was a great and magnanimous gesture by the whole organisation and in honesty, looking at some of those who took to the field carrying injuries, it’s pretty unlikely that we had any more ‘fully fit’ players than Castleford, but the call came, we did the selfless thing and the club and especially our players have to be congratulated for that. What’s more, as I say, once again we were poor in some aspects (the same old aspects) of our game but we had a go and I was proud of the lads at the end. 

But man do we need to get this bloody season finished. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 694th

Just when you thought it would never come back, how great it was to be a smiling FC fan again come 10-00pm on Thursday.

On any given night the Hull FC of late would have lost that in those last few minutes…. but some real resolve and a bit of pure magic got us home. 

As the players left the field, one things for sure, the strains of ‘Sweet Caroline’ weren’t heard echoing around the Stadium! For although we had witnessed one of the more brutal games since lockdown, we battled and came through and although we still made those mistakes that put ourselves back in danger time and again, it was a determined and gritty performance. 

Of course, as a display it was certainly flawed and far from perfect, but the spirit was back and some brilliance from Sneyd and Connor got us the win with two minutes to go, and how we all needed that!!! 

Never ever underestimate what Marc can do if the forwards are performing in front of him, as on so many occasions before, a win snatched from the jaws of defeat, was down to his vision and execution. A bit of a prophet in his own land is our Marc, yet one day in the future we’ll all look back on him and realise just how good he is! 

It wasn’t exciting because of the rugby we played, for we made  the same old mistakes out of yardage and in defence near our line, but we showed spirit and a never say die attitude which made for some real drama. That’s all any of us want to see at times like this. As fans we needed a lift and I for one did feel my heart beating faster, I was watching through my fingers at times, I did think we had no chance at the end and I was out of my seat when we scored that final try; in short for this supporter, the roller coaster was back, there was a bit of tension again and boy did I need that lift!! 

So, mistakes, yes, bad options, at times of course and several other teams would probably have beaten us on that form, but for once who cares, for we won and those players certainly put a grin on everyone’s faces again. 

What fired us up? Well perhaps it’s something about us playing Castleford and of course, don’t ever discount the X factor effect of their smiling Coach.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 693rd

Our Season is Over! 

Well that’s what we were told by the Sky Commentators on Thursday ….. at least twenty times!! 

For me and many of you out there, the fact our season was over was never in question weeks ago, when the virus struck a dozen folks in our camp. However, on this occasion I did turn the sound down after 60 minutes of the game, for the standard of the commentary was simply appalling. Still enough of that, because although we got closer than I thought we would get on the score board, we’re all disappointed again; disappointed but, if were honest, not completely surprised.  

We love our club and the game, but whether it’s the state of the virus epidemic, whether its winter coming on, whether it’s the economic climate or whether it’s the continued frustrating of the attitude and form we see week in week out  Hull FC I don’t know, but if the rest of the supporter base is anything like me, then you’ll all be losing interest in a season that doesn’t seem the real deal at all.  

After that win against Cas. my enthusiasm started to flicker back, but I felt deflated after our game with Wigan, because although the spirit was there, we dropped back into bad habits and never gave ourselves a chance. I guess us all needing a lift, but ending up going out of the cup, was something that left me pretty fed up, but there was no time to dwell on things, because these days, games come around very quickly. 

Against Salford it was a case of the ‘same old’ again. We gave it a go, of course we did, we usually do these days, and I guess had a couple of passes not gone to ground, we might have won. We got in front but the hard truth is, we let the Red Devils back into it and once they were on top, they took charge and easily held out to win. Structure wise, defence wise, mistake wise and just simply nous wise, we were second best for long periods of the game. For me, it’s not about lack of training or Covid, or indeed anything like that, because we simply don’t have the structure of other teams, at times we‘re all over the place, from some our attitude is wrong and we just make too many mistakes. 

Being a fan is very subjective and so it’s rare a Coach can encapsulate in one comment what everyone else is thinking. However,  Andy Last said after the game, “I am fed up of hearing how good we are on paper, because on paper is not where you win games, it is on the green stuff where they are won. We have got to get more of these players filling this ‘so called’ potential week in, week out.” He went on to say that Gareth Ellis had played over 400 games and Danny Houghton over 300 and always given their all in every one, implying that wasn’t the case with most of the rest of our lot. Vis a Vis; too many players believe their own publicity. 

For a coach that was scathing, but it was honest and animates something that has been steadily growing for two years and mirrors what we have all been saying for ages!!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 692nd

Well, that was disappointing wasn’t it??

And … it’s another tough Diary to write.

Out of the Cup, in a year like no other, when a place at Wembley would have really raised all our spirits and given us the distraction many of us need at present. However, there are times in the life of a sports fan when, no matter how fanatical you are about the team you love, you have to admit that on the day you were beaten by a better team. This was, without doubt just such an occasion. For we were pretty much outplayed throughout. 

We began the game with an unusual starting front row with no doubt the objective of toughing it out in the first quarter and then bringing on the bigger lads to wrestle the initiative and move us forward there on in. Wigan, (no doubt having read our lot were so knackered after last weekend’s two doses of heroics, that we had had hardly trained and even had an extra day off this week), came out to pressure us from the off and got right into our faces. Their line speed was first class and their spine moved us about  from minute one. They weren’t brilliant, but they were far too good for us, as sadly a few of our old issues with the ball started to rear their heads again. We started slowly and made far too many mistakes, whilst they were at us from the first whistle and in effect, they had the game won after 15 minutes. 

The one thing I will say that might not make me many friends is that for me there was for me one plus and that was that we never gave up and we showed some great spirit in a second half when we could have completely capitulated. I think that it was a situation that would have seen the FC team that was defeated by Warrington in Radders last game, go down by at least 70 points. Yeh, we were inept, clueless at times and so profligate with the ball, but we scrapped to the final hooter. 

In the bigger picture, the virus closes in on us all again and even relatively safe havens like Hull and the East Riding are being threatened with possible lockdowns. That must mean  that crowds attending matches again in numbers looks even less likely to happen now and the very existence of the rest of the season must be in doubt, I really do worry for the game it’s players and our club. If ever there was a good example of things being more important than winning or losing, in our game this is it. What a bloody mess it all is eh?

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The Dentist’s Diary – 691st

That Was A Great Weekend!! 

I needed the lift yesterday brought, but then again I think we all did. 

So, welcome back at last to a more upbeat Diary! 

…..and to a bumper two game edition in a week that threatened to defined our season as a Rugby League Club in 2020, lose both games and the season was in effect over, win one and we had a bit of hope for another week, win both and it would have been pretty unbelievable. But believe it, we did just that!! 

The league still looks a massive ask, for we are certainly bashed up a bit, but on Thursday Wakey were in a bit of a mess as well, we were nervy and it was error strewn, but a wins a win, under whatever circumstances it comes and at least it was a gritty and fighting performance. Lasty, the man with the most difficult job in rugby league, should be applauded too for giving the kids their head, for their enthusiasm and spirit got us through. Then on Sunday another master stroke from the Coach was again his selection and his tactics and what a heartening and great win that was over Castleford. Who knows what the future holds, but one things for sure, it’s been a great few days for all us FC fans. 

In these strange times when we seem to have more alcohol on our hands than in our stomachs, the virus gets more and more worrying and the RL season, more and more bizarre. We are living in a strange, scary and different world and a weekend like that was just what we all needed.  

It is then hardly surprising I guess that this is a season, when many of us were becoming pretty ambivalent to the whole thing. Admit it, who hasn’t looked to see how many games are left till it’s all over? 

Yet it’s a time our club, if it is to even survive, needs us all more than ever before and as Jacuzzi showed so brilliantly this week with their continued support, we’ll all always be there for it. The whole 2020 competition is becoming a log jam of games, based on simply keeping Sky happy (important though that is). That said, we needed a lift as a group of supporters and by gum we got one. 

For various reasons, this season has so far been a strange one, particularly when it came to being as involved with it all as we were before lock down, which is something that I’ve tried to address from a personal angle later in here! However, I was very proud by 5-00pm on Sunday and for the first time in months, I went to bed with a real smile on my face!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 690th

Well it was never going to last was it? 

Firstly, let me say that we had a real go on Friday and though the score wasn’t that much different, there was a lot more fight and a much better attitude than we saw back at the KCom on ‘the night of the long knives’, back in March, when we completely capitulated to the Wolves. 

However, on Friday we were out muscled and out smarted on a night when absolutely nothing went for us. We were very unlucky with a prop dropping out before the game, several injuries, two players going off for head checks and the way that everything that could go against us, did!! They had loads missing as well, but they had the template and the systems and their replacements just dropped into them and make no mistake about it, the best team won by far, our indiscipline and poor pass and play selection did for us and there’s little else to say I’m afraid. 

However, for Hull FC, with a ridiculous schedule ahead next week and now both Sneyd and Shaul missing from our spine, it’s hard to see where we go from here really. I guess in a nutshell Warrington controlled the territory better than us and instead of panicking, they just slowly turned the screw and put us under more and more pressure before we inevitably cracked. We then panicked and in the second half ran out of steam completely. 

As I say, we had bags of heart and tried really hard, but already with still 3 months of games to play, when you watch Hull FC out there on the field yeh, we look tired, but we are also unbalanced and unstructured and perhaps already a massive over-haul of the team is needed before 2021. Lee Radford is gone, but some of those players appear to only be able to play his way. We never gave up and the effort was there, but in the second half we faded badly and didn’t have the nous or guile to get back into it. We have to learn to exert pressure on teams, simple as! So, it was certainly disappointing, yes there are mitigating circumstance, but it was all pretty predictable too.  

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The Dentist’s Diary – 689th

What a turn around that was!

It’s a crazy old game isn’t it! 

On any given Sunday that performance would have been hailed as a sound win against an average team, but under the circumstances that preceded it and the adversity we experienced during the game, it was nothing short of magnificent. We simply showed so much character!

It was a performance full of guts and commitment, against a team who themselves were needing a win after two close defeats. We had to throw some youngsters in there, but the whole team showed what can be done with a bit of heart and a lot of honest graft. 

Around the game no one gave us a chance and few of us FCfans where anything but sceptical about our chances.  However, in the end, it was all pretty emotional stuff really and the sort of victory that as fans, we simply couldn’t have dreamed of. The players took the adversity and the criticism and used it to build some character again. What transpired was as fine an 80 minutes of sheer determination, as we have seen for a long time. 

True, Huddersfield were poor at times but a lot of the mistakes they made were forced by our resolve and the fact that they were chasing the clock. Plus, our defence in that second half was second to none. We scored some great tries, but by and large our rugby wasn’t exactly brilliant for much of the game, yet the spirit and fight was superb and against a Huddersfield team, who just thought they had to turn up to win, our young guns Cator, Fash, Brown, Lane and Johnson battled and battled in a great all-round team effort. It was the way that they did all the little things right that impressed me! But, when you list the issues that we had to overcome both before the game and on the day, they were all heroes, in what was a pretty special showing. 

So, a big well done to all the players and most of all well done to Andy Last , for a good game plan and for having the guts to drop the Club Captain to the bench. That sent out a real message of intent to fans and players alike and brought the desired response from the lads, after Salford and all the virus stuff, it was so good to see!

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