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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The Dentist’s Diary – 713th

Welcome again to another edition of the Diary as the new season creeps even closer. It’s once again been a quiet week (its Groundhog Day in here again isn’t it?) but at least we got the squad numbers released and an indication as to who we are playing in the second round of the competition. Those team numbers actually put a lot of things in perspective and offers us the opportunity to assess the strength and indeed depth of our squad this year, which is something I’ll look at later on in here. However, much in the game, is still up in the air, including what we do about the Elstone situation and how relegation will work if as is expected we bring in a points percentage system to cover for when Clubs can’t, for one reason or another, play games. 

At our club it’s still all quiet, but it was good to hear from Adam in the Yorkshire Post midweek when he described his battle with Covid and the after effects he’d experienced. Thank goodness he’s OK! Our noisy neighbours announce this week that they had 4,500 signed up season ticket holders and it would be nice, I think, to hear how many we have got but for one reason or another it’s pretty silent on that front. 

As for other developments, well, our first two fixtures are now confirmed and as such both look winnable, but at the same time big challenges against two teams with greatly changed squads who both have new coaches, making their first steps with their new clubs. So, we have to be ready, because everyone will want a good start this season, as with the debt that will be ‘hanging round the necks’ of all 12 teams by the end of the year, no one will want to be in a scrap down near the bottom or indeed, heaven forbid, be relegated! 

I watched the Aussie All Stars game on Saturday on Sky and a fast a furious encounter really got the juices flowing for the new season and I consoled myself afterwards with the fact that at least the FC will soon be playing again.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 712th

Another week goes by and I’ve had a go at another Diary as the League season draws closer and by next weekend when the full fixture list comes out, we will be just 5 weeks away from at least seeing some action again. The first-round fixtures are out and we get our first hit up against Huddersfield in a game in which both sets of fans will be looking to assess the effect of a new Coach.  

After another quiet few days, we have at least learned that the reign of our first Super League Chief Executive is over and although, as I’ll discuss later, there were issues on both sides of the argument, the decision signifies more in-fighting and dirty washing being aired in public, which doesn’t really show our great sport in a very good light at all does it?.

 Once more British Rugby League looks in disarray and the sooner we get playing again and put ‘back office politics’, back where they belong the better.

It comes at a time that can best be described as being one of ‘Choppy waters’ for the game, with no sign of crowds returning, TV negotiations going slowly (and if you believe the media badly), uncertainty about the fixtures and the Magic event and the start of any sort of action on the field still a month and a half away. Many armchair pundits are now left to ponder what is worse between the current situation with Super League Europe haemorrhaging money through debts to merchant bankers and top-heavy administration costs and going back in with the RFL, whose past record of running the game stands for itself! Talk about the devil and the deep blue sea eh? Perhaps we have to look for some middle ground, but more about that later. 

Still hope springs eternal and I’m really starting to look forward to seeing how our lads do out there on the field again under new management, and it will be so good to simply get away from the politics and back to playing rugby again.  

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The Dentist’s Diary – 711th

It’s been another funny old week, but things have looked up a bit for yours truly and all being well I should be having my jab tonight (Saturday) at Beverley Racecourse which has already made me feel a bit better about things in general. 

At the FC pre-season continues with a new loan signing and with Josh Reynolds continuing to be the darling of the media, whilst once again I’ve scraped around and found one or two bits of stuff to talk about. 

Later in here I celebrate the fact that we have at last got together with the NRL and discussed rule alignment between the two competitions. Some of the changes that we’ve made are a bit baffling and one strikes me as being pretty unnecessary, but thank goodness we have at last gone some way towards gaining some parity across the sport, which  hopefully in the end will see us all playing to the same rule book in both our domestic and international competitions. We ain’t there yet, but at least it’s a big improvement, which immediately makes our game so much more understandable for the uninitiated and more credible as a World sport. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 710th

Welcome to this week’s Diary and thanks again for joining me as another week goes by when again (for most of us at the older end of the community at least) one day looks very much like the last. It’s been a long cold January in more ways than one and I for one am glad to see the back of it!

Normally whatever the crises we have faced in our lives we have always been so lucky to have our beloved rugby team to at least offer a modicum of distraction. I have talked in here in the past about how a visit to the Boulevard or the KC has always for me, even in the darkest of times, offered a sort of oasis and a diversion for a couple of precious hours each week. There was always something happening and always something to distract you a bit. 

And boy, if ever there was a time when we need that sort of thing then surely it is now. Yet here we are with no rugby, no meet ups with our mates in the pub or at the KC, no chance to meet the players or enjoy a fans forum and no opportunities to even visit the club shop and get ‘all excited’ when we see the new seasons strips and range of merchandise. All we have is the media and because of the state of things across the country the level of news about our game and our club is now at an all-time low. Not because its being kept from us, but rather that there isn’t anything to report on. 

Still with vaccines rolling out, there is at last hope on the horizon and with just 8 weeks to go to the new season (whatever that actually means) I can’t wait to get going again, even if it is behind closed doors. But boy could we do with something to get our teeth into! Still as always, I’ve done my best and so once again here is my take on the last 7 days in Rugby League and around Hull FC. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 709th

It’s been quiet again this week hasn’t it? Well, it has with regard to our club and even the Mail (which at times produces articles that at best resemble those of Hans Christian Anderson) have struggled to find anything meaningful or otherwise to discuss. Our noisy neighbours seem to find plenty to talk about, but news on our side of the City certainly seems to be in short supply, but more about that later. However, I hope I have got something included in this week’s edition that will interest you. 

If it’s been quiet in West Hull, it’s certainly been another strange week around the game, with both Leeds and Huddersfield declaring cases in their ranks and having to shut down their operations for 10 days or so. I guess that was to be expected and whilst, with masks to be worn when training inside and sometimes outside and daily testing in place, the game has done its best, it only takes one player to bring the disease into camp and the whole thing collapses under the pall of self-isolation. As it was in the spring, we can’t help but wonder who will be next and whether we will ever get to the start of another season any time soon! 

At Hull FC our Coach at least seemed happy with the delaying of the start of the campaign because, as he prepares for his first season in charge, it gives him another two weeks with the players. Those players must however wonder what is happening in the bigger scheme of things because there is certainly a deal of understandable uncertainty about across the game.

So, although I’m still trying my best to find something to talk about, this week it hasn’t been easy.

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