The Dentist’s Diary 575th

You know me by now, I hate losing at the best of times, but some defeats are easier to take than others, and perhaps in hindsight on Thursday, as far as Hull FC were concerned that was the case, but as far as the officials were concerned it wasn’t easy to take at all!!!!

A great showing of resilience and fortitude under pressure by the lads saw a late fight back almost get us the points, we had Leeds on the rack, but just lacked the final ball needed to put the game to bed. So, in the end, we fell just short and as far as the pundits and papers are concerned apparently the ‘Headingley Hoodoo’ continues!!

To go there, once the scene of some great FC victories, (but where in recent times we haven’t won since 2007), with 6 first teamers out, was always going to be a big ask. Leeds, with no game last weekend, looked fresh in the first quarter, however what a fight we made of it. It was easy to see that afterwards and be disappointed, whilst feeling really positive about the future, but the officials were just crap at times and I think at the end we had every right to feel badly done to by the video referee last Thursday.

I’ve just about had enough of some aspects of the game at present and the officials are one of the reasons I feel that way. But that’s my problem and we should certainly take nothing away from our lads at Headingley, because the spirit and fight was amazing. We could as a group of players have got really disenchanted with it all and a few years ago we probably would have, but we fought and fought, took whatever was thrown at us and kept on trying right up to the end.

The game was lost through a few patchy periods of play and some poor and contentious decisions in the first half, but we never gave up and we never gave in. We battled and battled and at 20-6 and playing Leeds and it would appear at times the officials as well, most teams would have thrown in the towel, we didn’t and although we tried manfully to snatch the points, we just couldn’t get over the line. That meant that we got no return from a game we should have won, but although that was disappointing as I say, you have to give top marks to everyone involved. I was proud of that effort, it was a battling and fighting performance and short of not winning, I have no complaints with the lads at all really.

As for the state of the officiating, well that’s completely another matter for me!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 574th

Well, that bloody weather was awful wasn’t it?

I was under the weather myself all week and just about everyone else I knew had a cold or worse! The conditions were nothing short of horrific by Thursday and I can’t remember so many Super League games being postponed for ages can you? For this time of the year, it was a rare blast from the past, harking back, for me, to winters I remember as a kid living down Airlie Street. As an aside I certainly don’t agree with that crowd at the BBC either, Spring hasn’t ever started for yours truly until 21st March, perhaps now they’ll believe me!

As for the game, well I’m always honest in here and for me first impressions afterwards indicated a scruffy display against a bang average Warrington, but, I guess as well, it was pretty typical of a lot of the fare we get served up these days in Super League’s televised games. However, I’ll take the points, because quite frankly looking at how we’ve played so far this year and the luck we’ve had with injuries, we might just need them!!

The team spirit is certainly there and we work so hard for each other and yet we are so bloody undisciplined at times and give away far too much ball at the wrong end of the field. The stats show that we are one of the worst teams in the league for this and whilst Watts’ ‘nut job’ was terrible, so were some of the stupid penalties we gave away. In addition, we witnessed a mini collapse, conceding back to back tries, again, and there were some poor reads as well at times.

However, grumble over because we won the game and got the points, we looked pretty much in charge at 18-0, despite the stuff I cite above, but by the end I concluded that I had seen little to be that excited about either really. It wasn’t a night to be getting excited anyway, but rather one for getting the job done. Why was I a bit disappointed? Well, I guess it just wasn’t the FC we know and love was it? Still, that sort of grinding performance is how we have got back on the horse in the past and I guess in the end a wins a win and points are all that really matter at this stage in the season. To have had only two points after four matches would have been a real concern, but at this time of year I believe that a 50% return is about where you want to be if you’re not to peak too early.

One things for sure it was a blooming freezing night, but we’ve played in colder conditions ….. just! So, more of that one later!”

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The Dentist’s Diary – 573rd

“I don’t think we gave ourselves a start to be honest. Performance wise there were so many people not at the races. It was scary and we were always going to be second best”. So said Lee Radford and we are left, I guess, to make of that what we will.

You’re not supposed to say that Australia might have been a distraction, it’s appearing to be a taboo subject around the Club and something that isn’t talked about by the press either. I really don’t know whether it was or it wasn’t, but that is still, as far as many who attended at Wheldon Road, the ‘elephant in the room’ since that defeat, for although we looked physically prepared we were certainly not mentally at it at all! It wasn’t (as happens when you have an off day) just one or two players either, but as Lee said there were so many of our lads right across the field, ‘not at the races’ on Saturday.

All week we had heard about Jet Lag and fatigue and how it wouldn’t affect us and I’m pleased as a Club (just as was the case with Wigan), that we would never ever ‘run’ to such excuses and anyway whatever our preparation, it was always going to be a tough game and a big ask over there.

But, you know what, I was really disappointed at the end, because we could have won that game, it was ours to take and we blew the chance. So, that said, I decided that perhaps I would watch it all back again on Saturday night, when I was more composed, a bit more rational and before I wrote this week’s Diary.

Having done so, I had my thoughts reconfirmed as we certainly did well to maintain a level of physical verve, but for me we just ran out of mental energy, if that is, some of the players had any in the first place. The usual ‘smarts’ and plays were missing, our ball retention was poor, our sliding defence was horrendous at times and our organisation on both attack and defence on occasions shocking. However, all that said it was still a game we could have won and who knows, perhaps a game that we would have won, on any other given weekend.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 572nd

O.K. it’s over and the hordes of FC fans are now making their way back home, half way around the world, after what has no doubt been for them all the experience of a life time. Well done as well to the Club, for making it happen and to the players for a great performance on Saturday. They have all, both on the field and on the terraces been tremendous ambassadors for the British game. What a great success the last two weeks have been! All that and it seems no more injuries to report as well.

But now folks, like it or not, its back to reality and let’s just get everyone home and ready for Saturday eh? We can only hope that we can reproduce some of that form back here in Great Britain, starting as I say, at Castleford this Saturday.

Last Saturday morning I was very proud of every one of our players. It would have been easy to give up the ghost after that Wigan defeat and you know and I know, that some FC teams of years passed would have done just that. But, even when you consider the injuries we had sustained, we didn’t give an inch and we were every bit as good as the Dragons, with the exception perhaps of our defence wide out. Once again we conceded too many penalties, particularly in our own half, but the effort was there and we looked pretty proficient when spreading the ball across the line.

It’s has to be good for the team and great for the Club, I’m sure of that and what’s-more, they did us all proud!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 571st

“I’m really pleased with the effort. There were some outstanding individual performance’s today. I love the initiative by the two clubs. I’ve loved the experience and I really hope it can happen again. I’m obviously disappointed with the result but all in all, it’s been a great trip so far”, so said Lee Radford after the game and few can argue with that really, for playing through such adversity in such temperatures is tough!! And here’s a message for all of you Hull FC supporters reading this and still basking in the sunshine in ‘The Gong’; we might have been beaten but at least you can take some comfort from the fact that it’s been bloody freezing in Beverley!!!

It’s not often that I start these diatribes with an assertion that injuries in a game cost us dearly. Perhaps we are well conditioned these days, perhaps our injury management is good, perhaps we are just lucky, or maybe, usually, I don’t rate such excuses that much, but in the end on Saturday that scenario was indeed the case. In a game that, when you look back at it, we could still have won had we had a bit of luck and retained the ball better, we were hit by injuries big time.

As for the match itself, well, after going all that way surrounded by all that hype, it all came down to a game of rugby and someone in the end was going to lose, exhibition games are one thing, but when two Super League points are at stake it’s completely another. We lost and in the end, as our energy ebbed away, Wigan easily prevailed, but with a fair wind we could have undoubtedly got something out of it.

But the most positive aspect of it all is that around 12,400 were in attendance and taking Super League to Wollongong had therefore been a success. What an amazing turn out of FC fans we have seen in Australia, with the Faithful outnumbering the Pies fans by at least 3 to 1. We have well over 2000 out there supporting the lads and it’s another great example of the loyalty and passion of so many, some of whom will no doubt have made huge sacrifices to get there in the first place.

It’s just a pity they weren’t all better rewarded. Incidentally, it’s also interesting to note that the attendance was actually better than any game between the two clubs in the 2017 regular season, so well done to both Clubs and the New South Wales Tourist Board for getting that many people there.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 570th

Those were two, precious, precious points and in the end it was a good night, a fine occasion and pretty much all we could have wished for so early in the season!!

It was always going to be a bit hit and miss, but it’s all about the W in the games played column at this time of the year and if you were to describe Thursday night in a sentence, then it would be ‘scintillating for half an hour and adequate and understandably scratchy, for the rest of the game’. At one point in that first half we conceded too many yards and our goal line defence, which has served us so well, looked shaky . So early in the season it’s hard to repel sustained attack and they went Penalty, Penalty – Try, lost ball, Penalty – Try and quickly posted two easy scores in a period of play when perhaps a better team would have grabbed another couple as well. But leading from the front with some tenacious tackling when we trailed 12-4, Houghton and Co. somehow survived, rallied and eventually came good in quite dazzling fashion.

Therefore, it was job done and we flew out to the sunshine on Friday night with some early momentum and two points in the bag and, standing back from its all, I guess we couldn’t have wanted for much more. To sit there for the last twenty minutes knowing that the opposition weren’t going to win, was a nice way to ease us all into the 2018 season and in the end that’s how easy it turned out to be! What’s more, it brought two points that I believe will be priceless as a springboard for the next few difficult weeks.

Congratulations to everyone who braved a cold night to make a brilliant opening gate of 13,700 and to Hull FC in general for an enjoyable evening. I also would extend a big well done to Lee Radford, for cometh the hour the attitude was just right and the youngsters stepped up seamlessly to produce a brilliant second half lift in a game that was always going to be a potential banana skin.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 569th

Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never Ends……
Another year, another season, another challenge!

The morning of Thursday 1st February will dawn full of hope and expectation for every Hull FC fan. The new shirts will be out of the wardrobe, the passes will be checked, the adrenalin will be up and we will be ready for the fight, for make no mistake about it, that is just what it will be! This is a massive game for us all and one in which, if we aren’t careful, we could really come unstuck.

I know that to many people reading this, it seems foolish to describe the first game of the season as a ‘must win’, but we need points on the board early on, particularly when you consider what is to come in the next 4 or 5 weeks.

“We can go as far as we want. If we believe in ourselves there’s no reason why we can’t achieve anything we want to. We’ve got to be realistic that we have to work hard and work hard for each other, but if we do that there’s no reason why we can’t develop our season”. So said Lee Gaskell of Huddersfield Giants this week and it mirrors almost exactly a comment by Gareth Ellis at the start if our own glorious 2016 campaign. For me, that says it all really, because thereby hangs the danger in such matches; at this time of year everyone thinks that they can win, that they are ready for the fray and that this is their season.

Its certainly going to be a tough old night!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 568th

So another week and another Friendly, which will be the last one that we see before things start in earnest a week on Thursday and I for one have certainly preferred this year’s truncated pre-season.

Once again it was bloody cold at the KCOM yesterday afternoon and I know it’s hard to get too excited about such games but, I’m really looking forward to the big kick-off and by the sounds of the way that tickets are being snapped up for the game (which although on a Thursday, isn’t televised) you’re all looking forward to it too.

Those of us who went yesterday probably deserved a medal for it was another bleak old afternoon, but again we saw a really heartening performance and learned, I think, a bit about how we are going to line up and play this season. It was a great run out played in driving snow and in the end an entertaining hit up as a very big Catalan Pack took on some of our first teamers, some youngsters and several of our fringe players, before we came out with a good win.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 567th

“It might be a friendly but there’s no such thing as friendlies when Hull FC and Hull KR play each other”.

So said Jordan Abdull before the game and hundreds of stay away FC fans wouldn’t argue with that one! Can you see their point? Well perhaps you can, I guess!

It’s never easy with these games but with interest in this now regular pre-season hit up apparently at an all-time low and indeed in 2016 gates at Derby’s in general down as well, there is little doubt that such a friendly game for many is a match too far. Still it was an OK contest and an entertaining game with a great scrap near the end thrown in for good measure! Lee Radford, who was well pleased afterwards, has to decide what is most beneficial to the team’s development at any given time, for he has to ensure we get our best prepared, fittest and most experienced team out on the field for the Huddersfield game. For him, I’m sure, everything else, including a bitter local rivalry is at such times, pretty academic.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 566th

Well the New Year is here and as usual we all have our hopes high, particularly before a ball has been dropped in anger, but the season is less than a month off and quite frankly, call me greedy, but I could do with a bit more of this in 2018! But then again who couldn’t!

Great memories eh?

However, first and foremost welcome back to the Diary, I really hope that everyone had a great Christmas and I wish you all everything you wish for yourselves and your families in the New Year. Thanks for returning again to this weekly journal of a very average fan, which should at least start to perk up a bit as things start to get going in the next few weeks. The first of the pre-season friendlies is upon us and after a restful old Christmas (and before that the quietest pre-season I can probably ever remember), the Diary is back, whilst as a Club we are sort of up and running again next weekend, for what has become the annual ‘Contrived Beano’ against the dysfunctional ones from the ‘Land that time Forgot!’.

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