The Dentist’s Diary – 688th

Well, it looks like we might be back in business again in the next round of Super League doesn’t it!

Meanwhile this weekend the competition continues without us! As we all start to worry about a national resurgence,Summer moves on and as August draws to a close, it seemsthat around the Hull and East Riding region Coronavirus cases continued to stay below the national average and that has to be good news for now at least! 

Of course, that ‘local’ outbreak that shocked us all so much,was perhaps always going to happen somewhere, butunfortunately, it happened to Hull FC and we’ve had to get on with it! 

Again, it’s not been an easy Diary to write, partly because of the delayed shock after what has happened, partly because we are all unsure where we go from here, but mainly, this time around, because there has simply been little if no information around the place. It would have been easy to give it a miss this week but in a quest to get some sort of continuity I’ve had a stab at some of the things I’ve been thinking about over the last few days, so here goes …..

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The Dentist’s Diary – 687th

A week like never before??

It didn’t last long did it? One game played and we are struck down with the most dreaded of scenario’s and one thateveryone in the game feared, but I guess believed was likely to happen sometime, somewhere and hopefully to someone else. As I said to a mate this week, it was pretty obvious that if disaster is to strike anywhere, it would probably be at Hull FC, for over the years we haven’t had much luck in that direction have we? 

The situation at the Club is a real worry and my thoughts and prayers and I know those of all of you reading this, go-out to all the staff who have contracted the virus, to their families and to all the other guys,  Adam and Clarky in particular, who are trying to manage the situation. 

After that awful display in Leeds last weekend, which now pales into insignificance, my pal Mike over in Cheshire commented last Monday, “I’d start serialising the final book now Wilf if I where you” for we were all so disappointed and disenchanted. However, unbeknown to him and all the rest of us, things were soon to take a dramatic turn and be about a lot more than losing a game of rugby. 

This is not a time for throwing stones, pointing fingers or chucking accusations about, (although plenty are engaged in doing just that), but more a period when we all have to get behind the club, the players and their families and close ranks to try to get us all through this unscathed.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 684th

Back in Business!!!!

In more ways than one! But what a disappointing return to playing that was. 

Well we’re underway and in a strange old world, I guess a sort of crazy 100 mile an hour touch rugby has already been accepted by us all as the norm. All that is, except our lot at Hull FC, who tried yesterday to play 30 mile an hour ‘Radfordesque’ Rugby, against a 100 Miles per hour Salford. 

It was simply a poor, poor performance against a team who had studied the new rules and the need for momentum and who used the whole of the pitch to tire us out. I think attitude wise there is still a lot wrong with our players and quite frankly I saw little different against Salford, than I saw all those weeks ago at the KCom against Warrington. It was really disappointing stuff to say the least!!

 Not that it’s not good to have the game back on TV and our heroes out there performing again (well sort of). It’s been a long time between drinks but at least we now have some rugby to watch to take our minds of what is an international situation that ain’t going away any time soon. 

As a spectacle for the uninitiated first time viewer ,desperately looking for something to watch, the ‘new game’ certainly has it all and our match had plenty of action. It was certainly fast and furious from Salford and the fact that every game is full of incident, makes it (in empty Stadia) a lot better watch, than football will ever be.  

Meanwhile here in the Diary we’re back in some sort of the original format and although I’ll be dropping the Codgers spot for a week or two, because over the past 21 weeks, you’ve all had enough of old games I’m sure, in general I’ll be trying to get back to how we were and including my thoughts and musings on all things Hull FC and Rugby League. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 685th

Here it is, a special additional episode of the Diary and it’s the first time in 17 years of doing the weekly journal that we have had two in one week. But here, for those who have followed the books in these instalments for the last twenty weeks is the final part of 55 years of being an FC fanatic. Thanks’ so much for reading my humble record of just how I saw it, how it affected me just about every weekend of my life and what happened in between. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 684th

Well we are almost there at the ‘Big’ kick-off and things still seem to be anything but clear. At least the game is facilitating a way by which all season ticket holders across the game can watch all the action, through a live stream, but it’s going to be a strange old carry on, although the lack of relegation at least means we can all sit back and enjoy some rugby and do it largely stress free. It’s certainly a big few weeks for Andy l

Last and I wish him well. It must be hard for him having been Radford’s assistant and although the players are making all the right noises, it will be interesting to see if they can deliver for him. 

The Challenge Cup draw was a strange old carry on as well wasn’t it? Still it is what it is and we have to fit in another game against Castleford, probably mid-week,  so who knows what will happen there. 

During lockdown, about 500 of you have followed the books right through the last 19 weeks as I have serialised them here and I have to admit to enjoy reading a bit about our past myself now I’m not so close to writing it all anymore. There’s just this week and another edition, to finish up the story with that wonderful day in Cardiff in 2005. 

To ensure its out of the way, you get a chance to finish the story and so that I can start the old-style Diary again next week after our first game, I’ll slip an extra edition in this Wednesday or Thursday to finish the second book off. Thanks for all your support with this as over the last 20 odd weeks it’s been tough going for us all and I hope that in reading it you at least found something to enjoy.

 Before we get going again a big good luck this week to regular reader Brain Chapman over in Spain. Brian has been a reader from the start of the Diary and is at present doing it tough after a recent operation and good luck to him in his forthcoming Wedding as well. So, onto episode 19 of the story of this ordinary fan and his life supporting the club he loves. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 683rd

Welcome along again to a new Diary, in a week when the disaster that was waiting to happen with the Toronto Wolfpack came to fruition, as at the last minute the best laid plans of Super League were again thrown into disarray. Yet we are still encouraging new clubs in Ottawa and New York to join up!!! Man, is that just plain Madness!! Will we as a sport ever learn eh?

Globally, any sort of date when the Covid 19 crisis mighty be a thing of the past seems to be disappearing further and further over the horizon, whilst we as a country just seem to be waiting for it all to come surging back again and we just have to hope that our game, as it is now, can survive. 

This week as fans starved of the game we love, we also heard how the percentage number of people allowed in grounds is likely to severely inhibit some clubs who are desperately waiting to get folks back in stadia to get some income. In fact, even if that return happens in October as they plan, I think it will be a mix of small live gates for the brave attending games and subscription live streams for the more apprehensive sat at home. 

Your probably all a lot braver than me and I guess I’m maybe on my own in the fact that I’m still pretty apprehensive about attending games anyway, even with social distancing in place. 

I see myself as an extremely young 70, (although others might disagree) but none the less for me I suppose, it’s the issue of toilets, getting in and out and folks regularly pushing past you to go to the lieu throughout the game (which was the norm where I sat) that scares me a bit. Still, who knows, come October things might all be different. Although the way things are progressing they might not be as well!! There must be a few lower division clubs out there that look at the cessation of the furlough scheme with great trepidation and wonder as to how they are going to survive after it, until next March! It’s all a real mess isn’t it! 

Still, as the almost farcical situation concerning the Championship, relegation and promotion etc. has at last been resolved in part, all the players are back in training and the time when we can at least watch some rugby will soon be here. It will be interesting to see what the Clubs do about getting access to games for those who don’t have Sky TV, but with the sword of relegation no longer hanging over the Clubs heads at least the players can enjoy themselves a bit and produce some stress-free rugby that will be good to watch. When you list the changes ranging from the lack of that relegation, through to there being no scrums and the new 6 tackle again rules, it’s certainly going to be different isn’t it? 

Who knows though, often good things come out of adversity and just as the country seems to have found a bit of humanity one for another and people seem to be caring for others more than ever before, these new rules and structures  etc. may lead to long term changes for the good in our sport as well. 

You certainly appreciate how lucky we all where when we used to turn up at the KCom with only the quality of rugby to worry about don’t you? However, often out of adversity comes change for the better, but what legacy’s actually eventually come out of all this for Rugby league, we’ll just have to wait and see. 

But, we’ll all come through and make the best of it because that’s what we do, for when you step back from it all, as human beings we are a resilient old bunch really!!  So, onto the books and the serialisation of my life as a sad old FC fanatic. We are now in the mid-nineties and sort of in limbo, in a calm before the storm situation which at the time seemed to be terrible, but even then with the advent of Mr Lloyd (David not Gwilym!!), perhaps we didn’t know just how lucky we were!!! 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 682nd

Hello and welcome to another edition of the lockdown diary. We are now another week closer to the season starting and have the lads back in training on Monday! Well done to those who went in early to do some extra’s and let’s hope that we can hit the road running and put that bad start to the season behind us. What’s more, we know who we are playing and when, however it’s all a bit strange with triple headers in neutral Stadiums isn’t it? But, with the issues about Toronto’s Visa’s relegation and promotion, the Championship’s future this year and the rigours of weekly testing, I’m not at all sure how the coming season will pan out for us at all. I’m doing my best to get the two book serialisation finished by the games commence again, and thanks to everyone who has supported me through the last 16 weeks. So here we go again this time through the Brian Smith era and back into some darker times at the Boulevard!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 681st

Well here we are again, as another week passes and the crowd at the RFL continues to drag their feet on sorting out what will be happening for the rest of what is to be severely truncated season. As well as the whole campaign being reduced by seven games, teams will lose home advantage for certain fixtures and new rules have now been introduced during the campaign, rather than at the start of the season as is usual. 

Several games have already been played under the old rules and Toronto will probably not now play a game at home at all, whilst the Catalan position is still unclear. Plus of course, if any player gets the virus, you can see all his team mates and indeed the players he has opposed on the pitch, isolated for 14 days and perhaps missing two or three games, and that through no rugby injury or fault of their own. A level playing field 2020 is not!! 

Add to that the fact that half the Championship clubs are for restarting the season and half are dead against it, primerilybecause of the escalating cost of Covid testing, whilst some clubs are still in dispute about wages and it’s a real catalogue of issues. So, at present for me, the whole thing is a mess and needs someone to grow some and make a few decisions somewhere and to do it quickly!! 

Relegation and promotion has to be scrapped simple as! In fact, it’s been indicated this week by one of the country’s top sporting lawyer’s, that so many things have changed mid-season that any club who were relegated would have a good case to take legal action against the RL, because of all those circumstances. But typical of the governing body, they are still trying to please all of the people, all of the time and as usual that’s solving nothing. We haven’t even got the fixtures agreed yet! So, it goes on.

On another tack I was wondering this week if, in my serialisation of the first two books, we’ll get right up to the glorious 2005 season finale where the second book finished, before the season restarts. I’m not sure we will, but I’ll press on, as this week the 80’s draw to a close, we lose big Len Casey as coach and start to experience the start of three great seasons of Brian Smith being at the helm at the Boulevard. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 680th

Hello again and wasn’t it heartening this week to see Adam Pearson going into print, reaffirming his backing for the club and his commitment to it and looking forward to our games starting again. Then in chimed James Clark, with more interesting, heartening and reassuring stuff as the pair of them battle to keep the club we love afloat and look to restarting our season. 

I guess there are troubled waters ahead though and with so many Rugby League clubs run on a shoe string in the first place, I simply can’t see everyone coming through unscathed. Neil Hudgell over in the East painted a bleak picture in the Mail on Wednesday and I guess we just all have to await what happens next. 

One thing that is strangely in our favour at Hull FC is the fact that we don’t own our own ground or have any sort of long lease on it, because in effect we are just tenants of the SMC. Normally that’s a disadvantage and it’s fair to say that we have often envied Clubs who have the ‘security’ of owning their own stadiums, or leasing them long term. Indeed, having our own home has always been the dream of everyone from Adam to ‘Joe Public’ sat on the terraces, but now perhaps the lack of such a facility, is a bit of a god send. 

You see, for now, those owners and tenants have to continue with the upkeep of their grounds, whilst they also have balance sheets that depend on functions, bar takings, room hire and out of game-time activities to stay afloat. Their maintenance and upkeep costs will be escalating, with no income coming in and as is now happening at Rovers, the debts are totting up. 

Owning your own stadium, or having a long lease means that you can spread your wings a bit, but you then come to depend on that income and you can see how the loss of those lucrative rock concerts, that they were so proud of attracting, have hit Hull KR hard, as they revealed this week that they have caused a £500,000 hole in their 2020 balance sheet and that’s without the Corona Virus stuff. At Hull FC we have had to live without such income streams and hone our business around playing rugby on game day, selling shed loads of merchandise and attracting large amounts of sponsorship, memberships and external income. As a Club we have long lamented not owning our ground and not being able to do such things as others could do, but now conversely, I guess that it’s an advantage of sorts. 

Still as I have said for weeks now, we can only await developments and as fans, see what we can do to help when we are asked. This Covid thing is far from over and, with the irresponsible actions of the few, who knows what spikes and surges will be upon us in the coming months. In the mean-time things move on, slowly, and so for now we return to the mid 80’s when we had other troubles at Hull FC, as the great days of the Arthur Bunting reign were fast disappearing and the debts were again beginning to mount. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 679th

Welcome to another addition of the Diary as we hear the announcement that providing the idiots behave themselves and the virus continues to subsided, we will be starting the season again in early August. 

There is still no news of relegation, but as I said this time last week with no home advantage for any teams and a curtailed season and perhaps some new temporary rules as well, it simply has to be scrapped this year. Now I guess we await news of when the players will be back in training and thus when the furloughing process will cease and the club will have to find the full wage bill again themselves. 

That for me with games behind closed doors generating no income, is the dangerous time. I expect several clubs to suffer a lot then and we can only hope that they all make it through. We have made it clear that we won’t be signing anyone until the new year, which points to a situation that is only going to get worse before it gets better. 

 As for the Championship and Division One sides, well they can’t make their minds up what they want to do with the poorer clubs wanting to cling to furloughing as long as possible and the more ambitious lot baying for a return of the fixtures and promotion to be retained.  It looks to me that its stalemate there and one wonders how exactly it will be resolved. 

So, we’ll just have to wait and see, but for now I would like to take you back to the serialisation of the books and to happier times back in 1983/84 when we were in the middle of a purple patch, although it has to be said looking back, a time too when the cracks were starting to show. I hope that you find something to enjoy.

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