The Dentist’s Diary – 723rd

So Close, yet so far!

But in the end our first loss and yeh, I was disappointed, but at the same time I was so very proud as well. 

At the present time I support a team that has heart and spirit in abundance and really I can’t ask more than that. The effort once again was exemplary. That basis of a strong defence is so important because it makes sure that even if you’re misfiring in attack, you stay in the scrap. I think attacking wise we were second best, but we were always in there with a chance, because of the effort and spirit shown everyone. For spells we were the better team and Wigan knew it. We didn’t get much from the referee when as usual it seems that the official took far too much notice of Bateman and Hastings and their arm waiving and pointing theatricals and perhaps we have to get a bit smarter at that sort of stuff ourselves.  

We played one of the two best teams in the British game, lost a key forward for 60 minutes, had a player in the bin and once again the referee gave us bugger all, yet we fought and fought and had Reynolds been out there, we might just have won it. With him missing we lacked the structure of Wigan on attack, but we gave it a really good go and I was proud of every one of the guys. If we can get Reynolds and Ma’u back next week, then I really do feel that we have a good chance of getting a result and a 9 day turn around will do us the world of good as well. 

Brett Hodgson must be pleased with our character and determination to stay in the fight, but he’ll be frustrated by the moments of ill-discipline that ultimately let us down.

I feel so sorry for Tag though, for his loss is another real blow to us. Looking through the fixture list I think we were all aware that the FC are probably entering the most difficult passage of games we will see in the 2021 season as successive tough fixtures are followed by a long run of away games and now we enter it with a somewhat depleted squad. We are doing it tough at present but still doing it well and when you see how players like Brad Fash, Connor, Swift and Savelio have improved this season, you have to have a lot of respect for Brett Hodgson. He is proving to be a shrewd accusation and, even in defeat, he acts and talks like a true professional. So, he’s doing OK for me!!!  

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The Dentist’s Diary – 722nd

Heroic, battling stuff and a real war of attrition! 

But it’s another win and another two points. 

Ok, let’s say from the off there were a few problems and issues in our attack, which a few have been quick to jump on, we looked jaded and it wasn’t pretty at all, but we won!! It’s very easy in these situations to cite a lack of attacking ideas, mistakes and discipline issues, but we were pretty knackered and, when you scrape away at the surface of the circumstances that surrounded the game, it was a fine effort that ended in the best possible way. 

For me as a bit of an old stager, it reminded me of some of those epic backs-to-the-wall encounters we witnessed at the Boulevard in the 70’s (usually against Leeds) when the opposition threw the kitchen sink at us and everything including the referee was against us winning. Yet just like so often back then, somehow we hung in there and battled through to the end. On this occasion it appeared to me that the Officials favoured a Wildcats victory and the Sky commentators certainly did, so in the end the final outcome was all the sweeter really! 

Yes, it was probably our worst performance under Brett Hodgson but there were some mitigating circumstances and I think we saw 17 real heroes out there. Again, for me, it was a game we simply wouldn’t have won last season, so well done to Brett and to our defensive Coach Gareth Ellis. I love the way that although they were off-side at the play the ball for one of their tries, one of their scores was an interception, we were denied a try by the video referee at the end and we had to play with a forward short and a ten-minute sin-binning, we just got our heads down and got on with it. In fact, in that period with 12 men on the field it was us that scored, not Wakey! 

If you spoke to the players last week, it was apparent that the aftermath of that marathon game against Warrington had made for a very, very tough few days. Even the Coach alluded to that fact when he said this week, “We’ve already spoken about it (the fatigue), this is another big test for us as a group and we’ll be treating it like it is just that,” 

As fans we all know that to succeed we had to try and make our home ground a fortress, because over the years we’ve given too many visiting fans a good day out at the KCom. But, our first two showings there, although lacking that cutting attacking edge, have seen us battle like we haven’t done for a couple of seasons and I simply love the passion and togetherness this current FC team displays. Long may that continue.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 721st

In the end we drew, but it was all a bit underwhelming really!!!

But it was certainly a big day for records as we are with Warrington the first clubs to get a draw since Golden Point was introduced and Danny Houghton broke the record for most tackles made in a game (85), since the OPTA stats process started in 2003. What a guy eh?

However here on Monday morning several of you are no doubt waking up and sharing reader Richard’s frustrations, when he text me first thing to say how unhappy he still was about us letting that game slip from our grasp. It’s really frustrating for it was exciting at times and dour at others, however we’d done enough to win and to concede on the very last play of the 80 minutes was a real killer. We certainly missed Reynolds, as they watched Sneyd and Connor closely, but with an exceptional attitude throughout, the effort was there and we are a work in progress at present, so against a team like Warrington and with several players missing, it was an OK performance. However, I still maintain that we should have bloody won!  

It’s a point lost for me, although it’s only five tries conceded in three league games (half as many as the same three games last year) which is, on our previous form, some record for us. I’d hazard a guess that we would have conceded at least that many in that one game, had it been played in the last weeks of Radford’s reign. We look more organised in defence and more enthusiastic and excited about playing for the club and with each other, but for me this time we lacked that bit of invention,  yet our endeavour dictated that we deserved to prevail, but we didn’t. We have to get over that and move on, but with a five day turn around and a desperate Wakefield coming up, what toll that extra ten minutes took on us, remains to be seen. 

Still, at least we were back home at the KCom again, but did anyone else feel really sad at around 2-00pm, when you thought of walking up to the game. Did you miss all the hopeful faces around you, as you met friends and said hello to fellow fanatics, whilst the FC army full of expectation prepared to back the lads from the terraces? The reality was that I was sat there on the settee, (well until I was behind it in Golden Point) in glorious isolation and as the sun streamed through the windows, whilst across the country people mixed in vast numbers outside pubs and restaurants. It hardly seemed fair at all!

As I said last week, as restrictions are eased and we start to piece our lives back together again, as far as attending sport is concerned it’s not easy being part of an emergency of historical proportion, is it? 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 720th

All over in 20 minutes?

Well of course it was really. Although, after that second half I was all set to entitle this Diary, ‘The return of the headless chickens’, but that was perhaps a bit harsh, because we crushed them in the first half and got through the second unfocused, a tad flat, but with minimal fuss. 

The thing was that after a first half which, for me, was for such games, as good, slick and focussed as I have seen us for ages, in the second we put the cue on the rack and rode it out. We lost our way a bit and thank goodness it was Featherstone and not a Super League Club that we were up against. Of course, the conundrum is that had it been against one of our peers, that second half probably wouldn’t have happened anyway. Points difference is matter less in Cup games because all that really counts is winning! 

In our house the game was undoubtably won at half time, as apparently it was in the heads of the boys in the dressing room as well. However, for me the second half was to be expected in some ways. Brett Hodgson thought we were clunky in the first half, well, he should have seen the way we have performed at times in in the recent past, if he thought that was clunky!! 

You know there are few times in my life that I have missed an FC game at home and it’s safe to say since the end of the 70’s there are few I have missed away either and I always like to be there early and soak it all up! But, as excuses go for missing at least the start of a game, this week I think I had the best there could be, because I spent the first part of the evening at Beverley racecourse …….. getting my second jab. Good old Boris eh? Fancy giving me a 7-10pm appointment on a night when Hull were kicking off ten minutes earlier; no sense of planning at all. 

However, I got there early and the good old NHS interpreted my demise as an emergency and were very understanding, before Mrs R raced us home and in the end I missed exactly a minute of the match, which thankfully included that first Featherstone try. Incidentally there is no truth either in the rumour that after receiving a jab at the race course, you can go straight out and do 8 furlongs without breaking sweat! Although as I left one of the Dog and Duck regulars who was a steward on the door did shout a cheery, “See you in the pub” which didn’t go down too well with the medical fraternity!!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 719th

Last week was good… this week was excellent!! 

 ……….. and I loved it!!!

We had to win to make sure that the dreams of last week could become a little more of a reality and more important still, we had to perform for the whole 80 minutes. We did all that and indeed I found it as easy to watch as I had any FC game for ages; we were just in so much control.

The fact is, we all thought we looked OK last week, but you can never be sure with Hull FC particularly when the C word that has evaded us for so long comes in; for consistency is something that has evaded us for a few years now. I guess most people reading this would have only been convinced that things really had changed for the good when we had seen how we performed under adversity and whether some disruption would see us revert to ‘headless Chicken’ rugby, such as we have seen so many times before in the last few years. 

There is little doubt that with both half-backs and an influential Prop off the field we certainly coped well and with Houghton fitting seamlessly into half-back and Carlos operating next to him, we kept our shape and our pattern and saw the game out, only conceding one try throughout the whole 80 minutes. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be Hull FC with all this positivity about, if there wasn’t a fly in the ointment as there is with both our influential and at presently charismatic half backs crocked in the same game! We just have to hope it isn’t too serious with either! 

There is no doubt that when all three are on the field Connor, Sneyd and Reynolds are, with Houghton, perhaps the best spine in the competition, yet they will always be ineffective without a strong forward performance that puts the opposition onto the back foot. Our 6 were superb again this week and there has to be some big praise for Cator, Taylor and Fash who came onto the field and really stood up from the bench. That extra push when the foundation had been laid, was what in the end saw Salford’s forwards out on their feet at the end of each half. What’s more when that spine was decimated by injury so strong was the forwards pressure on the opposition, that our make-shift play making department still looked really good and more importantly when we had to change things around, we kept our shape.      

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The Dentist’s Diary – 718th

And so, it begins ………!

I have to admit to having a good feeling good about this season for a while now, it was something that was mainly based around the fact that Hodgson had come in, approached things in a very succinct and sensible way and had immediately got all the players behind him. 

Before the game Brett said that he had told the players to go out and enjoy themselves (not something you heard often from Radford) and what we witnessed was a game where the smiles on the players faces, soon put one on the faces of us lot watching at home. The match was played in a great spirit from the FC lads who swarmed around the tackles and played some great attacking stuff. What’s more for the neutral watching they certainly laid down a marker that shows we mean business. 

All the hype was behind Huddersfield, their owners big spending and their new ‘Superman’ of a Coach! But I like Hodgson’s style, he speaks well, isn’t a drama queen, doesn’t try to be funny and yet he is totally focussed on what he believes is the right way to do it. As regular reader Dick commented afterwards, he certainly reminds me of a young Brian Smith and somehow, if you get what I mean, he sort of acts like a Coach. One things for sure, he had our tactics spot on and the new flamboyant style of play with which we let loose was balanced well with a lot of control and a superb showing in defence. In fact, we witnessed everything Brett had promised us in those long, long weeks before the season kicked-off. 

Of course, its early days yet as it was last season, when we marmalised Leeds at the same ground on the same day, but that was under the old regime this is truly a new start and as starts go, it was spot on!!!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 717th

“We feel like the inferior tenants at the Stadium and the club needs to be stronger, more secure and flexible and in charge of its own destiny”.

So said our resurgent owner on Friday night, when the subject of a new stadium being built to become our home, was not just the stuff of hear-say, rumour, or the sages of the internet, but rather it was floated as a possibility, ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’!! I have always admired Adam’s way of telling it as it is, even if it upsets the Clubs and institutions around him and this was again a great example of that side of his personality!

But first up here, a big welcome to the last Diary before it all begins after some pretty bleak times and some really ‘thin’ weeks. In the last 7 days we had things cranking up in the media and we even experienced a Fans Forum on Radio Humberside and that extraordinary interview on the same station with our owner Adam Pearson. All that said somehow, as far as playing the game is concerned next weekend still doesn’t all seem that ‘real’ compared with other season openers. Does anyone else get what I mean? 

You see, I don’t seem to be as fired up as I usually am and although streaming and Sky TV will mean that I can watch my heroes again, for me its scant consolation. Personally, it’s never ever going to eclipse that wonderful feeling of the whole season being in front of you as you walk up to the KC Stadium with the expectation and hope on the faces of the Faithful all around you. It’s a wonderful time and a great feeling and although it’s one that has on occasions in the past been shattered within 80 minutes, I’ll really miss it just the same. 

Still playing wise at least, things are as I say cranking up and I’m certainly looking forward to Huddersfield and seeing how our new tactics and indeed the new philosophy we hear so much about, all pans out!    

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The Dentist’s Diary – 716th

Well, we are underway and in a practise match that brought us a brilliant first half showing and a bit of a shambles in the second, it was pretty much business as usual for such games, with the exception of the fact that thankfully this time we got through it, injury free! 

We shone in the first 60 minutes and then fell away when the kids were on, but both sides, I’m sure, got lots from the game. The thing is as fans watching on, it’s hard to gauge what you are actually getting from friendlies. Yeh you get match practise and a hit up against opposition that isn’t made up of your mates, but otherwise they are rarely a litmus paper as to what is in store for any given Club in the season ahead. 

We did OK and looked great at times in that first half, as our general ball retention and organisation was way better than some such games in the past and it was certainly a lot better than that Richard Whiting Testimonial game back in 2013 at Featherstone when we were simply abysmal. That’s one I remember for all the wrong reasons! This time we did at least look more organised and structured than we did for most of last season. 

So now, with just two weeks to go, we move towards the 2021 season with excitement, enthusiasm and perhaps, just perhaps a bit of trepidation too! We wouldn’t be FC fans if we didn’t would we? 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 715th

Well, the first game is next Thursday at York and (I’m sure like you), all I’m doing is looking forward to seeing a bit of rugby, any rugby, again!! 

Pre-season continues to ramble on and although the start of the 2021 campaign is getting nearer, we still seems a way off playing again. At least next week we’ll have a game to report back on, all be it just from a friendly at York. But it will give us some sort of ideas as to where we are and perhaps what the 2012 season holds for us. If nothing else it will give us a sense of reality again, in times that are still anything but normal. 

Everyone who has anything at all to say about the upcoming campaign, agrees on one thing; that with the strengthening most teams have done, it’s going to be a tough one. With the exception of Leigh (who will be flying on pride and passion for at least the first half of the campaign anyway) almost everyone seems to have strengthened the level of skill in their squads. Where they perhaps haven’t (like maybe at Wakey) they have at least increased the depth of their playing pool, for a season that is going to be relentless once it gets going. As I said last week, with three big hitters leaving and one out injured for ages and just one coming in, I worry a bit about the depth of our squad. However, on that one I guess we’ll just have to trust the club and wait and see. 

This week we’ve seen the final hurrah of Robert Elstone at Super League, a few veiled indications at our club as to just what was going wrong before Radford left, some news on potential new player contracts and an indication as to the fact that, although we could see a bit of rescheduling in the fixture list, as the new season unfolds, promotion and relegation are back on again this year.  

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The Dentist’s Diary – 714th

“We know the sacrifices our supporters have made and the real impact on them. This year more than any it is important to give them something to cheer and we are confident we can do that. We have built an expensive squad full of quality and we go into the new season confident.”

Some heartening words from Adam Pearson indeed, as I welcome you to this week’s offering with just 4 weeks to go to the start of the 2021 campaign and an interesting pre-season run out at York coming up quickly on the rails. 

It was great to hear from Adam yesterday as, in an exclusive interview with The Mail, he outlined his plans to keep the club going and to reward the fans who have stood by him so strongly and so loyally, by giving us all a more successful season at home. 

In some ways that won’t be difficult, because our home record under Lee Radford and Richard Agar was patchy at best and with the exception of one or two purple patches over the years, it’s a very long time since the days when we went along to the KC just expecting to win! In fact, if we’re honest, most season’s we thought we had more chance of winning an away game  than those we played back home in Hull, didn’t we? 

As you know, I have examined that conundrum a time or two in here over the years, as I’ve tried to analyse the claim that clubs look forward to coming to and playing in what is the best Stadium in the British game. The ambience and the atmosphere of the place seems to raise their game and for most of the time us lot on the terraces have hardly been intimidating have we?  So, I’ve also come to the conclusion that it’s a scenario which is something of a handicap for us from the off, because our visitors often visibly lift their game. I reckon too that we have to go back to the heady days when Shaun McCrae was running things, before we find a time when we honestly never ever doubted our team’s ability on home turf and were bitterly disappointed for a week afterwards, when we lost! 

As they prepare to take on that challenge and the gauntlet thrown down by Adam, the players are itching to get a game under their belts and so the York match can’t come soon enough. All that, whilst us fans just try to stay safe and long for a return to the KC to watch a match again, although even that’s likely to be delayed somewhat now. Still, everyone, from the players, to the Coach and the owner are positive, but then again why wouldn’t they be, as we haven’t dropped a ball in anger yet! It’s going to be a tough season and no mistake but that’s for another day and so now back to this week, when I hope below you find something to interest you.    

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