The Dentist’s Diary – 490th

A few alarms, a few excursions, but we are back on the horse again and yesterday tea time we travelled back from the West Riding with our first double of the season!!

Plus, with 16 points in the bag after 12 rounds, 4 tries for Tuli, Danny Houghton current top tackler in the comp and Mark Sneyd top goal kicker, things are certainly going our way at present. After the game I spoke to a beaming Adam Pearson, who is certainly enjoying the ride just as much as we all are, and he deserves to!

After a depressingly tight reversal last week in the rain at Headingley it was imperative that we didn’t go on a run of defeats, as seems to be the norm with most Super League Clubs this year. However a pumped and ultra confident Wakey were no pushovers as they fought every inch of the way to keep their unbeaten run going! For the long suffering travelling supporter if last week was a bit of ‘A Winter’s Tale’, this week was in the end, a little more ‘As you like it!’

Those five wins on the trot for the hosts meant it was always going to be a massive ask for us and you could see the spring in the Wildcats steps as they ran out. That confidence translated into a positive start which soon saw them go into an early lead. We rolled all over them for 20 minutes and were well ahead, before some shabby right edge defending ensured they were soon back level. You can imagine too that when they went into the lead after the break, there were a few concerned faces in the FC crowd as everyone’s heads were full of last year’s debacle at the same ground when they came back in a similar style and we lost in fairly disastrous fashion. In any of the last 4 or 5 seasons our demeanour would have been such that at that point in the game, with us 4 points behind and the hosts on the front foot, we would have folded. However as I seem to say in here, week in week out, we are made of much sterner stuff than that this time around!

So, wearing a smile of both happiness and relief, I drove home from West Yorkshire, with the car bathed in beautiful spring evening sunshine. It was job done, two more points and ‘all’s well that ends well’…..until that is, I start to worry about Friday!

So in a week when every Rumanian let out a big sigh of relief as their country was thrown out of the Eurovision Song Contest, (and several other countries probably clambered to see how they managed it) when the ‘part time’ leader of the free world Barack Obama tried to tell us what was good for us all and as the last PG Tips Chimp died of old age, we all headed off to Wakey for what is always an enjoyable, if not usually a rewarding trip. We’ve not been that great at the West Yorkshire ground over the last few years have we and although it’s a favourite ground of mine, 2 wins in the last 7 trips there make it not an outing I look forward to with much relish at all these days. So it was with mixed feeling that we set off from Beverley at around 1-00pm yesterday, wondering just what was to come in the afternoon ahead.

The journey over to Belle Vue was pretty unremarkable and that was a pleasant change after all those recent ‘Friday over the Pennines’ trips that we’ve had to endure. You know, there is still something quite special and traditional about Sunday games, isn’t there? The whole pace of the thing and the difference in traffic you encounter on the motorway makes it all quite relaxed really. However when we got there it was very different and at 2-00pm I don’t think I have ever seen the streets around the ground so crammed with traffic. So it was in something of a carnival atmosphere that we walked with the other FC supporters to the ageing stadium and with both sets of fans standing together on the terraces, there was certainly a good atmosphere around the place leading up to the kick off! I reckon the FC contingent won’t have numbered much less than 2000 and inside the ground it was certainly as full as I’ve seen it for any of our recent visits there.

The euphoria of our five consecutive victories was dented a bit last week with that close defeat against the stuttering defending champions, but I guess when you step back from all the emotion and stress of actually watching the drama unfold at Belle Vue and you give the opposition some credit, this was an emphatic return to form for the FC, especially in attack, where we looked great at times, particularly when shifting the ball at speed across the line.

The game ebbed and flowed and was definitely a match of four very different quarters, but in the second half, to keep a team that had scored four first half tries to just one, whilst scoring another four tries ourselves, was quite a feat. In the end a brilliant line by Yeaman which saw him crash in from a short pass from Shaul, just about killed Wakey off and soon the ‘young pretenders’ who had just 80 minutes earlier had that spring in their steps and a smile on their faces, tramped off to contemplate being beaten by a team who in the end, found a way and a will, to win the game.

That first half slump when we conceded 18 unanswered points was a worry and our right edge really suffered defence wise, Sika Manu was part of that but his return to the field after being substituted saw our defence stiffen up out there and the go forward across the team stepped up a notch on the back of it.

Sika Manu, tightened things up in the second half.

We scored some memorable tries but if you weren’t there, let me assure you that the game was won, certainly not by the officials or even by the tries we scored, but by the amount of yards our forwards made up field out of their own half. The amount of times we as fans winced at the impact they made running towards us in that second half were countless. If we can keep everyone in it fit, that pack with the luxury of Mini and Taylor on the bench, is certainly a match for anyone.

Make no mistake about it though, Wakey are no mugs and a lot of teams will get found out at Belle Vue this year, they play great rugby near the line and in Miller have a half back who is good at quickly shifting the ball. He of course had a point to prove and did it, to his credit, in spectacular fashion at times, but the disappointment of being outmuscled by a stronger and more ‘streetwise’ FC team in that second half, ended up with him at the end, running the ball dead under no pressure at all. I expect that was because he probably accepted that on this occasion the form team of the competition had simply been out fought and outplayed in that second 40 minutes.

In the go forward department both Watts and Taylor were massive while Bowden wasn’t far behind them either. Taylor in particular, came off the bench to play a giant role down the middle and was perhaps my man of the match! Throughout the afternoon Wakey simply had no answer to his hard tackling and ball carrying as he broke the spirit of the host’s forwards in the close exchanges. Ellis had a massive first half before the pace caught up with him a bit and he was off the field in the second when Minniciello came into his own with some superb line breaks (average gain 14m a carry) and 4 great tackle busts, which saw him back to his very best. Houghton had another massive game and worked himself to a standstill, while once again Frank was superb.

He’s a mountain on the field and combines big tackles with great yardage (over 100 again) with the ball. One flicked inside pass round the tackler that put Shaul clear was deemed forward, (but it never was) and all in all ‘The Tank’ was just a rock again. As an aside and talking referees, I see some bitter Wakefield fans are complaining about yesterdays’, but quite honestly he was OK, well he was in that he made mistakes but they benefitted both sides.

In the backs Shaul, doing a good impression of slimmer of the year after his bout of sickness, was always a threat with 178 meters and 6 tackle busts and his positional play and surging runs were so good to watch throughout, as our support play of the ball carrier returned with a vengeance. Meanwhile out on the wing four try Talanoa had a great game. The way that, in the first half, he rose to catch a Sneyd cross kick, to hold off a tackler and still put the ball down was classic wing play and it heralded the start of a performance that saw three more tries and yard after yard gained down the middle. He’s a player that is never ever dominated in the tackle and he too had a fine game.

‘The Flying Binman’ A big presence out wide!

Yeamo, playing jabbed up with a shoulder injury, had another fine game and made a lot of hard yards, while he timed his run for his try to perfection; he’s deadly from 8 yards! His pass for Talanoa’s third try was also a superb piece of play and I’m sure he’ll be keeping his place in the centre and deservedly so! Fornua worked hard but was caught a time or two in defence and looks to still be carrying that knee a bit while, for me at least, Naughton had a less effective game than usual. In the half’s Sneyd was simply magnificent. His positional kicking turned the Wakefield back field around time and again and his pass plays across the line are getting better and better. His goal kicking was magnificent and he should have had 8 from 8 had the touch judges allowed a conversion that everyone behind the posts around us, thought had gone over. He topped all that off with a quite spectacular 40/20 in the first half too.

Pryce was scratchy at times and looked a bit unfit. His attacking play was good but his defence particularly in the first half needed to improve. Still he seemed to patch that up as the game wore on and he’ll be better for getting a game under his belt. Green worked really hard, but just lacked the penetration of Bowden, Watts and Taylor while Washy got through a mountain of unseen work throughout. As for our Coach well his plans for the afternoon (fast start, big roll down the middle etc) were spot on and most importantly when a few bad reads on the right let them back into it ,he was able to put that right at half time.

When we stuck to the game plan it was spot on and Lee’s plans had the beating of Wakey; on paper at least!

I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t relieved to hear the final hooter, but when you stand back from it all Wakey are a really good team and it took a massive effort and a good game plan to get the better of them. Most home teams that claw back an 18 point deficit would certainly expect to go on to win and so the changing of the momentum and the ‘tide’ of the game by Hull FC was quite a remarkable feat and augers well, I feel, for our future. Well done too, to everyone who went yesterday it was once again a tremendous turn out by the FC Army, but to the gentleman who decided to do a bit of tap dancing on the toilet roof at half time; sort yourself out mate!

Super League XXI Wakefield v Hull FC

Another massive game from Frank!

As a footnote to it all, it’s just good to see Frank Pritchard so happy to be at Hull FC and again celebrating our win with the FC fans long after the rest of the players had left the field. After the game he tweeted, “Great to get the win, but even better to see our fans after the game… Thank you #proudtobeblackNwhite”

As for Jacob Miller, well as usual it seems that his leaving Hull FC and his emergence as ‘one to watch’ in Super League is not as much about us failing to capitalise on his potential, but more apparently down to the impatience of the fans! Well it is as far as our Coach is concerned because Lee said this week, “Unfortunately our fans don’t allow for a player to develop over three years, they want it yesterday. We had no choice but to bring someone in who we felt was a bit further on in their career at the time”; so, it’s all our fault!! However let me put on record here and now that I and dozens of others reading this, never had a bad word for the kid when he was brought in ‘before his time’ and now we’ve played them twice, it will just be good to see him go on and do well in the rest of the season. I like Lee’s new found honesty of late but that comment was for me a bit rich really and not particularly true either. As I saw it in here at the time; Pearson wanted to keep him and Lee wanted rid!

Now to the rest of the week and in the old days, I was never happy when, as a Club, we persisted and gave players in their mid thirties new contracts whatever their circumstances. It always concerned me because I knew how many over the years I’d seen fade away under a plethora of injuries, or who had just lost interest and thus simply ‘hung around for the dosh’. More recently even with ‘good bets’ like Mark O’Meley and Craig Fitzgibbon I still worried a bit when they extended their contracts in what was without doubt, the twilight of their careers. They both did OK, but over the years experience has proved that on many other occasions my fears were well founded. Nowadays some players seem to play longer, particularly when they display a commitment to keeping their physical shape and so I was well pleased when Mark Minniciello re-signed for us last month. He has shown no signs whatsoever of anything but 100% application to the task in hand, he’s still very reliable and certainly doesn’t look anywhere near his sell by date just yet!

Again, in the case of Gareth Ellis, I have absolutely no scruples whatsoever with regard to his new contract, as any doubts I might have harboured in the recesses of my mind were soon dispelled when I considered the possibility of him being released and going on to do a year or two more at another Club. He’s become an integral part of our set up and a real rock on which we can build a future. He’s a leader in every sense of the word and certainly a determined character who would have been looking to play somewhere else, had we jettisoned him, because he knows exactly what his body can do and indeed for how long it can continue to do it. So honourable a guy is he, that had he felt he wasn’t up to another contract he would have told us, rather than having a free ride for another year. Unlike some players plying their trade not a million miles away, he wouldn’t be conning anyone, but would base his ability to go round again, not on what he would get in his wallet, but more on ‘what his body tells him he can do’.

I wondered, as I’m sure most fans did, whether that massive injury last season would have seen our Gareth ‘wave goodbye’ to the game. Why shouldn’t he have retired? He was certainly still at the top of his form, with his reputation intact, when it happened, but that ain’t the way of our ‘Captain Fantastic’. Hours and hours of rehab and working on his own in the gym have reaped the rewards and he’s now looking to push on after returning to the team to show perhaps the form of his recent career. No one should question the decision as being anything but excellent news for the Club, however if anyone did, then I would just sit them down and make them watch the Saints away game again. In that match anyone who was there would tell you that his leadership, both verbally and by example, won us the match. I’m over the moon that Gareth is still on board for next season and so pleased that he has signed up to guarantee his future at the Club.

When he signed we were all told that the Club was going places and it was the ability of Adam and Peter Gentle to persuade Gareth that we were about to take off and that Hull was the place where he could make a name for himself in the final few years in the game, that swung the deal. After what has happened since, with our ‘taking off’ being blighted by constant bouts of inconsistency, you could have expected him to maybe have looked elsewhere or even to have retired, but he sees a very real chance of winning things with us and when that sort of ambition is coming from such an astute and smart player that has to auger well for all of us.

Since that interview on Skype in Pearson’s office, it’s taken longer than we and no doubt Gareth thought it would take to get the squad sorted, but it’s probably not by chance that our recent improvement commitment wise coincides with the increased influence and leadership by example of Gareth. On signing his one year extension he said, ““Before I got it signed it was obviously up in the air, but I was determined, as I’ve been enjoying playing and I still want to achieve things at this club”.


I’m relieved and pleased about that bit of business and well done to the player and the Club for getting things sorted!

That sorted, we now of course look at the rest of the squad and with the players we still have out of contract I’d like to get Bowden sorted next and after him probably Hadley. Then it will probably be down to who we are bringing in as to who has to go to make some cap available, let’s face it Benji Marshall won’t come cheaply (joke) and I do think we need a second hooker as well myself!

When the news of Ellis’s signing broke, it prompted some interesting comments from Lee Radford when he said in the Yorkshire Post, “Our recruitment for 2017 won’t be as busy as it has been. We believe we have a good squad, a competitive squad and maintaining that moving forward is key!” Personally I have always anticipated, with such a deep and in essence young squad this year, that if we see three players coming in for next season we’ll be lucky. However, who we do sign will I guess depend on who goes out and indeed what salary cap is freed up to replace them.

I know that our number one target is a half back and it was interesting to hear Pete Smirthwaite say on Radio Humberside on Friday night that Motu Tony was in Australia at present looking to conclude the signing of just such a player. Pryce will be off, I’m sure of that and that will free up some cap space, but we might have to be prepared to lose someone on the fringes of the team that we as fans don’t perhaps want to part with. That’s just me trying to animate where I think our deficiencies lie and where we need strengthening, but with several wingers either playing or emerging around the first team and a glut of second row forwards around the place, perhaps that’s from where the cap space will be forthcoming. Recruitment for next term is obviously already a priority and no doubt Motu Tony will be working hard Down Under to sort things out, but there may be a couple of tough decisions to make as we look to improve further the current squad and the balance we have between established stars and the emerging youngsters that have been throw up by several years of hard work in the Academy. There are a few interesting weeks ahead I think.

Were you that surprised to hear this week that the attendances at Super League games this season have shown no increase on last year, in fact they have dipped a bit? No, neither was I really. We have to realise I guess that for whatever reasons, our efforts should maybe be concentrated on retaining current fans and followers of the game, because we do seem incapable of attracting new converts. OK we can all cite a few we know, but in general the game hardly inspires new supporters to come on board, or convert from Rugby Union or even football does it? When I look round me at the KC I see a hard core of established fans who have been there since the stadium opened, but in general there are few new faces about!

I have always said that the way the Sky people actually present the game with commentators that are little short of comedy acts at times doesn’t help at all. For me they devalue the game and no doubt for the uninitiated it’s just ‘a passing interest’ to tune into on a Thursday, ‘when there isn’t much sport on’. And that, instead of it being something that inspires you to go out and watch it live because you are desperate to experience it firsthand on the terraces. We should just let the game speak for itself as matches like last Fridays between Saints and Leeds ooze excitement and drama. If the commentary and presentation compliments the action instead of at times side lining it, then the fans will come back. That was a great spectacle at Langtree Park and indeed Thursdays Game at Wigan wasn’t that bad either. More and more matches are going down to the wire and that has to make for good television, we just have to capitalise on that drama and jeopardy on a Thursday and Friday evening and use it to develop our live audience. How we do that of course, with the comedians at Sky, is another matter.

Spring sprung for one day on Wednesday at the training ground!

Well the Cup draw went well didn’t it?? Of course the fact is, whatever the Coaches and players say, deep down, in this round, you want a home draw against an easy team and often over the years we have got just that, but this year it was not to be. Still, back in 2005 we played Super League Clubs in each round including Wakefield, the then mighty Bulls and indeed the Saints in that memorable semi final at Huddersfield.

In the end of course the cup draw is simply a lottery, anything where you pull balls out of a bag to decide an outcome, is by definition nothing more, yet still some on social media call fowl and look for some big conspiracy theory about how the whole thing is rigged to suit the ‘Big’ Clubs. Of course it isn’t, because over the years the easy draws and hard ones level themselves out. Over the years Rovers have had some awfully tough early draws but this year they got a championship team who had just come up from the bottom division. But, still some keyboard warriors shout fowl!! Have you noticed how we only hear from these folks when we get a tough draw, whilst when we get a Championship Club at home, it’s all fine?

For me it’s a tough draw for us, but that’s what we’ve got and we have to get on with it. As fans we have to get there, get behind the boys and see just how much Frank and the ‘brothers’ want their day in the sun at Wembley. Let’s face it too, Saints although buoyed by a home draw, won’t be looking forward to it that much either, will they? I think we can do it, but after three wins there in the last few seasons it will for me be really, really tough and there’s little chance of us flying under the radar for this one, is there? It will be a game perhaps decided by what injuries both Clubs sustain in the weeks running up to the tie. Sooner or later we are going to lose at Saints. Let’s just hope it isn’t this time eh?

This week saw a deal of intrigue and mystery surrounding the slump over at Caravan Park after the Oldham defeat, with the introduction of a media ban on players, however behind the scenes I’m hearing that they are already planning for 2017. First up appears to be settling the future of Albert Kelly who is off-contract at the end of this season and my source at Rovers tells me that despite his heroics at Cas, they won’t be retaining him. Kelly, who turned up for pre season vastly overweight, has been inconsistent on the park, not to mention often hit by ‘mysterious’ injuries and apparently the Dobbins are looking elsewhere to fill the No 7 jersey. She also told me that Peacock, as well as ‘looking to tie up some local young talent’ is set to raid his old club Bradford for two forwards for next season. Talking of Bradford I also hear that we have had a couple of chats with their want away ex St Helens No 6, Lee Gaskell. With Motu apparently away in Australia ‘Hunting a Half’ we should perhaps watch this space!!

There has been some good stuff in the local media this past week which has given an insight into the workings of the Club off the field and indeed how our Coach Lee Radford operates. On Jamie Shaul’s rise to prominence after a poor season last year, Lee said, “We have changed the way we play on the edge. With Jordan Rankin in there last season he was comfortable finding that 20-30 metre pass to the winger, which allowed our wingers to keep their shape on an edge. Jamie’s not as fluent at that, so we tuck in a little bit more, which just allows him to have that run option. He’s a run-first mentality full-back. By changing that one thing he looks more fluent and it suits him far better and we’re seeing the benefits of that” That at least proves to me that instead of playing strictly to how our Coach wants to play we’ve now adapted our game to suit the players we have and found a game plan that fits our capability’s rather than our theories. Good stuff that I thought!

The Under 23’s stuffed with OUR players from the new academy and augmented by four Donny players gave a good account of themselves last week at Brantingham, when they beat a strong Wigan side and scored some excellent tries. However it did get me thinking as to how we are going to keep all this talent that has come through from Richard Horne’s 2015 Under19’s. I guess we needn’t worry too much however because rumour is that our good friends at Craven Park will take some of them off our hands and they are actively busy behind the scenes trying to do just that! That situation is an interesting one because they certainly need some players, although we keep hearing that they are not going to sign anyone on loan, as they are concentrating on bringing through their own youth; and that’s really working isn’t it???

I just wondered this week, if this is their policy now, what was the point of letting so much talent go from the Club in the first place. Having checked this week I noticed that released Hull KR juniors and ex-juniors, Kris Welham, Aaron Ollett, Sonny Esslemont, Josh Guzdek, Connor Robinson & Macaulay Hallett have scored 32 tries and won 7 Man of the match awards between them in the Championship so far this season? So, I’ll be interested to see where all this much vaunted young Dobbins talent is coming from in the future won’t you?

With the new Phoney Academy scoring a win over Leeds away in mid week and 13 of the 17 on show our ex FC youngsters, I think I have an idea where they think some of it is coming from, don’t you! They appear, if strong rumours are to be believed, to be pursuing Reece Dean big style at present! The Rovers part time ‘publicity manager’ Gareth Westmorland said this week “With James Webster moving from the Academy fold to become Robins head coach in the wake of Chris Chester’s sacking in February, KR have seemingly been given the upper hand in spotting their talents at an early stage” while the man Netherton said, “It obviously helped having Webbo in at the Academy early doors to spot the potential for Rovers” According to some sages on RL fans, Adam has been ‘had’ by Messrs. Netherton and Hudgell with this academy malarkey and they could yet be prove to be right!

Now, onto Australian Diary reader and good pal Ken Gentle, who I met on his several visits to the Drum and Monkey when he was over here in England a few years ago. In fact he was one of the guys that I commiserated with at 5-00pm on 23rd August 2013!! Ken keeps in touch, reads the Diary and sends me stuff from time to time from ‘down under’. This week I received something of interest that he picked up in the Canterbury Bankstown Leagues Club over Christmas. As a connoisseur of all things ‘burger wise’ he knew I’d like this flyer, which is still being used to advertise their fish burgers. I thought you might find it interesting too!! Thanks Ken!

Good old Frank has to keep body and soul together!!

I said when he first left us, that although a prodigious talent I did wonder if Warrington realised what they were getting when they signed Tom Lineham. The Flying Pig is currently Super League’s joint fourth leading scorer and has scored seven tries in his last five appearances for the Wolves. However something’s gone wrong and his form of late has been questionable as those old issues with his defence have apparently come to the fore. First he played for the Wolves Under 23’s and apparently ‘took his bat and ball home’ afterwards, so this week he was threatened with a run out with dual registration outfit Rochdale Hornets. Tony Smith doesn’t bugger about does he? Poor old Tom won’t have liked that at all and it looks like he wasn’t missed by the Wire at Widnes either. For me he’s a great talent, but he’s got a few issues that it appears he needs to get sorted and quick!

There’s been a lot of excitement and high profile games in the Codgers spot of late but by and large every fan who goes to any sport on a regular basis knows that there are many more mundane games than ‘big’ ones and so this week in Codgers Corner I want to take you back to a time when we were crap! This week I want to revisit a game in late February 1974 when although it was quite a barmy afternoon for the time of year, the Boulevard pitch was surrounded with heaps of melting snow that had been cleared from the playing area after a bit of a blizzard earlier in the week. We were skint back then, and I mean, really skint. We had a cobbled together team, who were none the less, doing OK and on the fringes of the promotion pack in the second division. Times were hard though, mainly because our gates were nothing short of appalling. Many fans had simply lost interest and the football team down the road were still doing well and attracting good gates. I remember this game because in the end it was not one that we deserved to win, in fact we were lucky to come out on top at all, but the opposition was a team that were developing into the old enemy back then; Halifax.

Everything started well in front of a poor attendance of just 1,583, although we had the added handicap of lacking two of our key players, winger Clive Sullivan (leg injury) and Captain Brian Hancock (torn groin). After 5 minutes a fine move between Casey and Hicks sent Chris Davidson scooting through a gap and as our scrum half brushed would be tacklers’ aside he crashed in to open the scoring before converting his own try. At 5-0 we were well on top and Davidson returned the compliment ten minutes later when he sent Hick in wide out before adding the two points from a difficult angle. It was all Hull now with Terry Devonshire, who was getting towards the veteran status, shining at off half, and young Stenton in the centre giving his best performance to date.

Davidson soon converted a penalty when Pitchford tried to decapitate Alan McGlone and although Brown scored a lucky touchdown for Halifax when the ball shot out of a tackle like a bar of soap and he cantered in to score, Harrison charged through on a typical run and using McGlone as a foil he dummied and dived in for Davidson to again add the extra’s. Wardell was everywhere for Hull, and having a great game, with prop Jacklin not that far behind him and although Fax came back with an unconverted Burton try, at half time we were comfortably in the lead at 17-6.

Things started to go wrong after the interval though as after just five minutes Hick threw out a speculative pass toward our winger Gibbons, it was a poor effort that was intercepted by Hoyle who ran 60 yards to touch down and give Halifax new heart. Then Len Casey went for Mark Watson with a shocking head high tackle that left the Halifax loose forward pole axed and referee Ronnie Campbell had no hesitation in sending Casey off the pitch and towards a disciplinary hearing at RL headquarters the following Thursday where he would be accompanied by both Wardell and Hick. We were usually able to fill at least one car for those meetings, which only took place every three weeks back then.

As play resumed and the penalty came to nought back came Davidson with yet another FC try straight from a scrum but the cracks in our defence were starting to show. The visitors brought on Phil Davis to play scrum half and he immediately scored, although a penalty goal from Davidson made the score 24-14 and we looked home and dry. But then, as the rain started to fall, Brown scored a try that looked like a knock on over the line and in the dying minutes the same player kicked ahead to touch down in the corner and with a goal added from the touchline Halifax were just two points behind. However after a few scares and some really sloppy tackling, the whistle went with the visitors camped under our sticks and we all celebrated. There is little doubt that we should probably have lost in that second half, with a man short and some woeful defence, but we didn’t and for once in that torrid season fortune shone on us. We got the points and as was so often the case back then it was scrum half Chris Davidson with two ties and six goals that saw us home. What a hero he was!!

Now, as I approach the end of another Diary, just a word of thanks to the couple of saddo Rovers fans who complained about last week’s edition and accused me of being “Childish” about their Cup defeat. However I would remind them both that their Club did wonders to raise the spirits of the whole community west of the river and that growing old is compulsory, but growing up is optional!! ……..what a set of losers eh? However thanks to everyone else who took time to contact me this week and send me stuff for the Diary. It’s great to hear from you all and thanks so much for all your support!

So we move onto Friday but not before reflecting a bit on yesterday’s performance. This FC team is good, there is no doubt about that, but they aren’t playing on top of their game yet and yet they are still winning by fighting hard and battling as if their lives depend on it. For the fans, it’s almost hard to believe what we are seeing at times and just when you think it’s ‘same old, same old’, throwing a lead away and going into our shells time again, back we storm to wrestle the initiative away from the opposition and to completely take control of the game. To reflect the whole Shakespeare thing that’s ‘trendy’ at present, it would seem that it’s just possible that this team, if it reaches its potential could just be, “The stuff that dreams are made of!” and that’s pretty exciting I think.

Friday brings new challenges, a big, big ask, and a team that is as good as any I have seen this season. It’s certainly our biggest test so far and with a catalogue of big scalps under their belts the Dragons will make testing foes, but we should all do our best to get down to the KC and try to cheer the boys home in what looks like a formidable task!! So, another big week behind us, fourth in the table and two points clear of Saints!! Back in January, when we all went on that cold afternoon to Doncaster for that Friendly, few of us would have dared to dream that after 12 games we would be where we are! From now on it’s going to get really tough but our attitude has to be one of onwards and upwards!!

See you all on Friday and rest assured the Diary will be back next week with, I promise, no more Shakespearian quotes!

Keep Believing and……


Faithfully Yours