The Dentist’s Diary – 533

“Never mind how Crap the Referee was, how brilliant were Hull FC this afternoon”, said a fan I over-heard as we left the ground and indeed how bloody good they were! What an afternoon it was yesterday, to be a black and white!

Come that final hooter, it was the first tears since Wembley for yours truly, after a victory that we’ll be talking about for years! That was a simply magnificent showing that saw the return for the first time this season of the heart, tenacity and never say die attitude that got us through so many epic encounters last year! That was the FC I loved last term and that was Lee Radford’s never say die heroes at last making a welcome return to the KCOM.

What an afternoon in the sun it was. Against all the odds we beat the league leaders in a game when 12-man Hull fought as if their lives depended on it and beat what was at times a 14 man Castleford outfit who stood proudly at the top of the league! On a weekend when two games saw two teams called the Tigers play at the KCOM, there were sending’s off in both encounters and in them both, the short-handed team were justifiably aggrieved but won the day and although I know and care little about Hull City, what heroes we had out there in black and white on Sunday.

With more drama than two years of Coronation Street for the near 13,000 crowd to follow, I was so pleased that I was there to witness it! I squirmed and fidgeted, berated the referee and watched through my fingers until I was totally wrung out and until the relief at the end was palpable. What more I’m still buzzing 14 hours later as I post this Diary. The only thing that was missing was the Club playing Sweet Caroline at the end, so we could serenade our friends from Castleford as they left the ground, just as they have serenaded us so often in the past. But you can’t have everything. Marvellous stuff though wasn’t it?

Our scrambling defence was simply amazing, our strength and tenacity limitless, our team spirt as strong as you will see and of course our effort was just unbelievable. Youngsters and seasoned professionals alike dug deep, held the line brilliantly and despite Castleford’s almost unbelievable off-loading game our 12 heroes stood firm never jumped the line, waited and waited and then tackled and tackled! Time and time again they repelled a relentless tide of attacks often based on sets that spanned 80 yards of the field, but we never gave up and we never gave in. Don’t forget either the best first quarter of attacking rugby we have seen all season, for it saw some really smart play when Hull FC certainly ‘out-classied’ Classy Cas completely. We’d have won by 40 had it not been for a harsh sending off! But we didn’t and instead a rear guard action of mammoth proportions, just got us home and I loved it.

But first, let’s curb our impatience just for a while, because as promised, firstly I’ll have a quick look back to last Monday and a difficult looking game against Leigh.

In the ‘fixture rich’ world of current British Rugby League, where at times the scheduling is chaos, the games come thick and fast. The match on Easter Monday is always a lottery and I’d like to think our eventual success was down in some part to that Cyro-chamber the Club and the vice Presidents have brought in. Eventually Leigh faded badly, whilst although at the end of both halves we were ‘blowing for a tug’ too, it was a good effort which if nothing else certainly got us back on track a bit. We looked a lot more secure in defence while in attack there was more snap and fizz against a Leigh side that are to all intense and purposes pretty much in freefall and who were in fact soon destined to be knocked out of the Cup by a team of Championship second-raters. However, it was still tough at times and we all feared the worst as Leigh started full of fire and industry. 

Their debutant Dave Thompson was stopped on our line, while another Centurion opportunity saw Atelea Vea felled by a great tackle from Jake Connor, when the Leigh man looked odds on to score.

Leigh kept it tight, but their coach must have been pleased when they completed their first eight sets of the game, however a much improved defensive showing from the black and whites saw us weather that early storm before we went on to open the scoring after 18 minutes. Their captain Harrison Hansen showed up well early on but when he coughed up possession, we pounced and an invigorated Marc Sneyd sent Liam Watts over the line. Four minutes later we were back in again as we took advantage of another Leigh error and good early ball from Sneyd gave the opportunity for Carlos to elegantly pull away and stride over from 25 metres, as he ran a great line to avoid the tracking defenders. Sneyd was looking great and soon after that he struck a 40-20 before Watts was just held up over the line. After a dropped ball from Leigh was snapped up we picked the pace up for Sneyd to thread a kick down the middle for Albert Kelly to pounce under the posts. What a catch and score that was!

Leigh started the second half as they had ended the first, strongly and as we fretted that we had seen this all before at Wigan and Warrington we needed another try to settle the nerves and thankfully we got one.

Fonua who after an early mistake had made yards and yards with the ball broke and some smart play from him set up a position where, three tackles later, Jez Litten split the line, with his best piece of play for the Club thus far, Watts supported and Tuimavave was on the spot again to turn on the after-burners as he scorched clear and on to the line, Sneyd goaled and it was 24-0 and in effect all over. Leigh came back with two late tries, but as we defended our line tirelessly, we looked so much more composed and steady this time around and it was hard to understand how that team was the same one that capitulated in such style to Leeds just 4 days earlier, but as I say Leigh are proving to be no great shakes at all these days.

There were some fine performances. Wattsy so listless in that first quarter against Leeds was superb and without doubt our best forward, while Fonua had a fabulous game and after that early blunder he pummelled the opposition relentlessly. Taylor amazingly delivered the goods again even after a strong display against Leeds, whilst I though Sneyd had a much better game but in fairness he was operating behind a better pack this time out! Mini was his usual imperious self, whilst Thompson had one of his best games in a Hull shirt, I am also becoming more and more impressed with Brad Fash, who is improving every time he turns out, he works really hard and has great feet for such a big guy.

Off the field there is little doubt that despite a disappointing Good Friday defeat the massive travelling away support made so much difference. Lee Radford said afterwards, “Our away support was phenomenal throughout the game and gave us lifts when we needed it. That has a huge knock-on effect on the performance”. So we left Leigh with two precious points and how we needed them, with the league leaders and the media pundit’s darlings Castleford, on their way to the KCOM in just 7 days-time for that difficult post Easter game all the Coaches dread. What chance had we against them lot eh? Well even after that victory in Lancashire, very little it would appear!

I prepared for yesterday’s match taking carpets up at home which at least kept my mind off the task ahead and somewhat put a damper on my fears of another drubbing. Cas had been beaten last week at Saints and I told myself they would be really up for this one and I worried, I really did. On a sun soaked afternoon the stage was set for a great encounter and it started with the FC totally steam-rollering the much fancied Tigers and taking a quick almost unprecedented 18-point lead with three beautifully engineered tries, that had us all on our feet. Then Watts was dismissed, in a flash point instant that grew and grew into a real ‘look at me I’m a referee’ moment!

That should have been the game changer on a hot energy sapping afternoon, but it wasn’t and as I looked across to see James Clark shaking his head and Adam Pearson with his in his hands, all the journo’s that were sharpening their pencils and already writing about ‘’Castleford going 5 points clear of us at the top and ‘three consecutive home defeats for the FC’, had to think again too. Although the visitors got a big lift in the moments that followed that dismissal, we hung in there and in the second half were nothing short of sensational.

Carlos got another try against Cas and he is without doubt an elegant player with ball in hand, something he also showed at Leigh.

We lost too much ball early on in our sets when possession was everything but I won’t be complaining too much because for me, it was a games that proved that Castleford are perhaps not quite as good as they think they are and as games like yesterdays will become the norm in the closing stages of the season, they’ll have to show more poise and a steadier hand. They have played so well so far this year, but up to this match we had played pretty average to say the least, yet we are one point behind then at the top, after having played everyone once. Often we watch a game and go over the top because of our biased position towards the team we love, but if just how good it was needs to be gauged, then consider the words of the Castleford Coach who is a pretty honest sort of bloke and who said straight after the game, “Hull were superb and started like a house on fire and we were nowhere to be seen, which was disappointing. When they went down to 12 men, we spoke about being calm – but they kept us out. I’m not taking anything away from Hull as it was a tremendous effort”.

The game of course hinged on the sending off and there is little doubt that the referee will be supported by the Disciplinary panel and Wattsy will perhaps get a game or two, but for me having watched it back, there was contact with the head but the player was falling forward. Gale was certainly falling into the tackle and Watts is hardly swinging his arm or anything. There is no question it was careless from the prop, but it certainly wasn’t reckless and the play back shows that no malicious intent was there.

Gale did not return so it was a hell of a bang but it was none the less interesting to see the player laying prone on the floor and causing concern for all of us; but he was back on his feet again pretty sharpish, as soon as the red was shown. That’s not me being harsh or unreasonable but rather the facts as we all saw them. Make of it what you will! Back in the days of the Boulevard Wattsy challenge would have received the biggest cheer of the afternoon, Gale would have picked up his teeth shook his head a time or two and perhaps then trudged off. He was obviously concussed but just because someone is in that state it doesn’t necessarily mean it was a dirty tackle does it? “He (Watts) was perhaps unlucky” said the Castleford Coach straight after the game whilst less guardedly, Paul Clarke said in the Mail, “Rugby League is a physical sport and errors happen on the field. If that incident is a red card we are heading down a dangerous path” and this fan couldn’t agree more.

Pretty unlucky I’d say!

Its almost unfair to single anyone out really because they all had a great game, although if I must then I would firstly mention Jake Connor who for me had by far his best game for us yesterday. We won the game because of that 18-point lead and in the build up to two of the scores Jake chimed in with great try assists. Then when the going got tough his cover tackling was at times sensational as he sat in the line patiently (as all our players did) to counter any surges as the visitors prodded and probed for a score, whilst one massive hit on Holmes in the dying embers of the game by Connor and Kelly was just phenomenal.

Kelly himself was probably my man of the match when I was actually there, you might be a bit surprised by that but for me he went about his business superbly landed a brilliant 40/20 just when we were under the pump, produced a couple of booming touch finders and his kick for the last try was superb (there are a lot of superb’s in here; sorry about that) But with Albo it was his presence in attack (his pass to Taylor for the try) and his tenacity in defence, that shone out yesterday. What a signing he has been. Shaul had a big game as well and worked acting half really well as the valient Washbrook faded a tad after as big a stint as you will ever see on a rugby pitch, while Carlos had another great game and Michaels worked tirelessly before jumping, catching and then palming back Albo’s massive kick to put Carlos in for what was the winning try.

Sneyd had a good game and despite missing two pots at goal his field kicking was great and he, like everyone else tackled like a demon. Taylor just ran himself to a standstill went off and then came back to do it again, whilst the return in the last quarter of those other towers of strength in Ellis, Manu and Miniciello was a master stroke from a coach who got his bench rotations just right under very difficult circumstances. The others like Fash, Green, Turgot and Thompson all really shone through a star spangled performance that offered a great crowd as good as it gets as far as drama and excitement is concerned. As the final hooter went the FC lads ran towards each other and hugged their team mated, whilst 13 man Castleford slumped to their knees and looked a lot more tired than we did! It was as good as it gets and as I said earlier, it was a game that in years to come we will look back on with the same affection that we show for that 11 man Cup win at Castleford in the 80’s. For in hindsight when you consider who we were playing, the circumstances surrounding the sending off, the almost incapable refereeing we witnessed at times, the hot weather and the positions of both teams in the league, that will be one hell of a memory.

I could go on for hours but my lap top has run out of ‘superbs’ so back to the week gone by and after everyone at a game saying, “Wow that referee was good” and an away supporter being able to keep dry at Wakefield on a wet afternoon in February, probably the rarest thing you’ll find in this present Super League era is the maverick player. If that’s rare then a maverick half back in the prime of his career is perhaps almost unique. Albert Kelly arrived with more baggage than British Airways, but it was almost the case that if Lee Radford could succeed where Chris Chester and James Webster and a whole plethora of Aussie Coaches had failed and actually harness that brilliant nonconformist peculiarity, whilst somehow eradicating the off field ‘bad lad’ elements of his personality, then we were on to a winner. Easier said than done of course and its certainly early days yet, particularly if his past career is anything to go by. But everyone at the club has been impressed with his extemporary behavior thus far and perhaps he has indeed turned over a new leaf. We can only hope but its certainly so far so good!

On Wednesday social media was awash with stories from Australian citing the fact that our mercurial half back was being courted by several NRL clubs and after speaking to Danny Houghton that day, it appeared that even the players thought there was some credence in that story and were resigned to losing Albert. However, no one knew that very astutely the Club had built an option clause into his original deal that we exercised to keep the player at the Club for another year. What’s so great about that is that it appears the player was as keen to remain, as we were to retain his services. The fact is Albo was happy to sign and for the club to implement that clause and so by the end of Wednesday a player that had quickly become the darling of the fans was secured for Hull FC until the end of 2018.

It was a funny day really when the club and player kept their cards close to their chest until the news was announced at tea time. But what great news it was. Mercurial Kelly, the Australian stand-off who scored eight tries in his opening six games since joining from Hull KR, had said only the previous week that any decision he made would depend on his family and we all took that to mean those living back ‘Down Under’ who he had been to visit on compassionate leave only a week previously. On announcing that he has extended his deal Kelly said that his family were settled here and happy to stay and so he was too and as far as our team going forward is concerned its brilliant news.

We are also apparently eager to secure Kelly on a long term deal, but as we juggle with a tight cap the Club are unlikely to do anything before the end of the season now the security of a contract until the conclusion of the 2018 campaign has been activated. So, he’s looking to stay longer term as well, but I think the Club are being cautious on that one and that can only be a good thing!

It’s a holding situation in a bigger plan for a settled half back combination with Sneyd already secured long term and with Houghton and Shaul secured long term too, a settled spine looks to be in place for years to come. It was the best of news for us all, but a word of caution, in that with that news comes a further commitment towards our Salary cap allocation for next season and every one of those, although greeted by the fans at this time of the year, means that movement into the club at the end of the year is less and less likely.

Just an amazing talent!

Albo is certainly attempting to improve his game all the time as well and conceded his creativity was at present being hindered by his current heavy workload. “I think I have got to start hiding myself,” he said, “I like defending and teams are really trying to tire me out, get my numbers up and get me involved somehow in the tackle. It kind of does take the juice out of me. I’m guilty of liking it and I’m not going to run away from tackling as it’s a big part of my game. He’s also conscious that he’s a bit over weight at present too as he added, “I feel more powerful at this weight and I lose that when I get too light, so I’m working to find the balance. My job is to bring energy and creativity and that’s what I’m trying to do each week. It’s been a good start and I’m happy and my family is happy.” Great news!!

What a turn-around from public enemy number one to the darling of the fans!

It was interesting again to see that the old chestnut of the atmosphere at the KCOM raised its head again as Lee Radford called on the club’s fans to make the KCOM Stadium a cauldron of noise against Castleford Tigers yesterday. He said that he was worried about the way things were at the stadium and added that he wanted to see a great atmosphere there for the rest of the season. Let’s be honest here, despite yesterday’s electric atmosphere the is little doubt that the feeling is rubbish at home at times but it’s hard to be all singing and dancing when you are watching 50 points being stacked up against you in two consecutive weeks. However, in general it is a hard one to fathom really, because considering the amount of people that are in there for most home games it is at times like a morgue and its pretty pathetic I guess that even the coach and players now question our ability to raise the teams spirits. The fact is that this week Lee alluded to the fact that at present our players prefer playing away from home!

Radford certainly praised the support we take to the matches played away from home, but there is a problem at the KCOM and a couple of my pals actually moved from the centre of the East Stand to the unreserved, ‘singing’ corner this year, because it is so dead at times were we sit and I can see their point really. Our Coach stated, “We’ve got a team that prefers playing away, that’s the best way I can put it, the atmosphere from our supporters on Easter Monday was phenomenal. They were noisy throughout, got us off our backsides when we needed to and they created a real go get them attitude for our players. We have to recreate that atmosphere at home somehow. For whatever reason at the KCOM it is not quite as bouncy. I can understand with results over the last two weeks there’s not been much to bounce about. But there have been games where we’ve needed it more vocal.”

We’ve certainly managed to get some big crowds, despite us not performing too well at home this season, but mediocre performances such as we have witnessed of late are hard to take for the fans and that is certainly not the sort of thing that creates a great atmosphere. Radford concluded, “We know it works hand in hand and we need to give our home support more to cheer, but the away atmosphere has been phenomenal and it would help us no end to have that at home,”

You know, there is little doubt for me that Wembley has left a legacy in which we as fans exist in a sort of parallel universe where we are disappointed when we lose and happy when we win, but the peaks of those two contrasting emotions are no longer as high as they used to be. That is a fact that is not just down to me because I have discovered when I talk to a lot of FC fans that they are in the same boat. We probably need the lift that a game like Sundays gives us to be shaken out if that inertia and let’s face it no one could question the passion the Fc fans showed at the KCOM against Castleford. But in honesty the KCOM has never been the cauldron of noise and emotion it should be unless it’s in a game like Sundays, when it resembled that old Boulevard feeling as the fans made the extra man and cheered the team home. In the end of course Lee Radford being Lee was first to praise the fans for responding to his appeal. Again we showed up in numbers as did the Castleford supporters. and Radford was thankful for the home support. “I asked in midweek for our supporters to show some vocality for us,” he said. “I can’t tell you enough how important they were and how many times they picked us up off our back. “We really needed that, so I was really pleased with the fans today” Vocality eh? I wouldn’t want to play scrabble with Lee would you?

It’s always great to report on a heartwarming story in here but it’s a rare occurrence too. However, this week I heard some great news about two of our players that I now pass on here.

A massive surprise for Margret!

You know you often hear bad things about players and what they get up to and people are always pleased to dish the dirt even if on most occasions there isn’t any dirt to dish.  However, this week I heard a great story from my pal Karl Brooks (you’ll remember him as ‘Wing Commander’ from the famous Craven Park Fly-past last season), about a shift that two of our players put in over and above the course of duty, when Margret Stephenson, shown above, received a call at home last Thursday afternoon from Feka and Fetuli Talanoa and the Challenge Cup.

Margaret has always been a massive fan and is renowned for never leaving her house without wearing the famous black and white, but of late she’s not been too well, so imagine her surprise when who turns up unannounced to see her but the boys and the biggest prize the Club has ever claimed! Margret was in hospital for the Challenge Cup Final last year but threatened to walk out if they didn’t let her watch it! How great it is to have fans like that and to support a Club were the players do such selfless acts for the fans. I just hope that Margaret enjoyed the surprise and I hope that it cheered her up a bit. Well done Margaret and well done lads great stuff!!

Day off? Not for these two guys….top stuff!

Much is made still, particularly in the East of the City, about that Cup Final of 1980 which was if you weren’t on the losing side, one of the greatest ever spectacles in the game. AS we speak here my mate Vince Groak is putting the finishing touches to a book about that great day which will be released later in the year but it wasn’t just that game that was tough for an emerging FC team, because the build up to it was hard as well. Jennie Gough bumped into me in Marks and Spencers’ on Saturday in Beverley and said how much she enjoyed the codgers spot in here every week, adding that she didn’t think I had ever featured one of her favourite games, the semi-final before that great event, which took place at Station Road Swinton on Saturday 29th March 1980.

For us the prize was to be more ‘history making’ with a clash at Wembley against the old enemy Hull Kingston Rovers, who had already reached the final having won their semi-final the previous weekend. It was a game filled with expectation but one to which I did not travel as usual with the Half Way coach party, but instead, so that I could get back to Dad who was in Castle Hill Hospital, we went by car.

I joined around 12,000 of the FC Army who made the journey over the Pennines to Station Road to play Widnes in a Cup match that few of the pundits thought we could win.

The build up to the game was marred by the loss of two of our best players late in the week prior to the game. Stand-off John Newlove and Winger Paul Prendiville had been injured the previous week in a 20-4 victory over Workington at the Boulevard and the back room staff had been working all week to get them fit. It was thought that Prendiville at least would make it but he failed a fitness test the night before the match. This meant that our Full Back, famous hard man and talismanic champion ‘Psycho’ Paul Woods, had to switch from his usual position, to fill in down the middle and so at the last minute, George Robinson, local hero, ex ball boy and ’100% Black and Whiter’ was called up. It’s funny what you remember and George told me years later, “There I was sat at home watching the Muppet SHow with my family, when Peter Darley our club secretary came round and told me I had to be at the team’s training camp at Mottram Hall in two hours time’.

Arthur Bunting who was fast becoming the games master tactician had decided that the only way to beat the ‘Cup hardened ‘, flamboyant Widnes outfit was to meet them head on in the middle of the park and stop them from playing any sort of expansive game. Of course we the fans didn’t know this was to be our tactics as we arrived at the great old ground in North West Manchester. The stadium had for years been Manchester’s Rugby League answer to Old Trafford and had seen numerous, semi-finals, Lancashire Cup Finals and Internationals played there. However, the demise of the Swinton club as a force in rugby league and difficult financial times for the game itself, meant that it was quickly falling into disuse and the crumbling terraces and antiquated turnstiles that met us that day were a sad, if not accurate, reflection on the state of the game in most parts of the North, away that was from Humberside.

The place had several areas of terracing that had been deemed dangerous and could not be used and with almost 19,000 in attendance, the rest of the ground was packed, with several brave Hull fans even climbing the flood light pylons to gain a better view of the game. As the chants of ‘Station Road is falling down’ rang out from the Hull fans, we positioned ourselves at one end on the open terracing towards the corner, as ’Bunting’s Master Plan’ was implemented straight from the kick off.

It was one of the most stunning displays of power rugby I have ever seen, and when the Widnes team got a bit of space and tried to used the wind that was, in the first half, at their backs, it was ‘Muppet Fan’ George Robinson that was fielding the towering kicks of Mick Adams and Mick Burke as if he were a fixture in the team. The first half was a real arm wrestle and Hull hustled and smothered a Widnes team that was famed for their open flowing rugby. In the first period Widnes’s defence stood tall as it repelled wave after wave of Hull counter attacks. They used the strong blustery wind to great effect and put us under periods of sustained pressure, but we swept back at them with hooker Ronnie Wileman and Knocker Norton a constant thorn in the opposition’s side.
It was certainly an indicator of the strength of the Hull FC defence that during the entire game Widnes only got within five yard of our line three times, on one occasion they scored and on the other two they were thwarted by Steve Norton hammering Les Gormley as he went for glory, and Ronnie Wileman pulling off what turned out to be a match winning tackle on Brian Hogan. After all their pressure in the first half Widnes finally broke our line and Gormley scored despite the attentions of George Robinson clinging to his back like a limpet and that and a Burke conversion saw the much fancied ’Chemics’ go in 5-0 up at half time.

The second half was all Hull though. With the wind behind us we laid siege to the opposition line and on one occasion it took 17 tackles for the Widnes lads to get out of their own 25, even then, on the next play, they were pushed back again to the resounding continuous choruses of ‘Old Faithful’ that rang around the old ground. In that second half we got just the start we needed as Norton passed onto Walters who, his gum shield gleaming, first went outside, then in, to open up space for his winger Graham Bray, who shot in at the corner right in front of us. Sammy Lloyd missed the goal and as Widnes tried to come back, Bowden broke down the left, but that last ditch Wileman tackle on Hogan just saved the day. The Widnes player was grounded just short and then penalised for making a double movement, as he strained to get over the line. From then on it was all Hull FC. Firstly, Woods hoisted a massive kick, which caught in the wind and looked to have gone too far, but it was Paul himself who was blatantly obstructed as he chased the ball, and Lloyd was able to level the scores at 5-5 with the resultant penalty.

Widnes returned to the centre spot to kick off, kicked the ball deep toward Bray, and chased it down. Our winger caught the ball and immediately cut inside the approaching Widnes cover. Walters, and then Wilby took up the running, before Dennison raced down the wing, but as he fly kicked forward, he was halted in his tracks by Keith Bentley with a good old fashioned ‘stiff arm’ and as Sammy Lloyd knocked over the resultant penalty; we were ahead for the first time, 7-5.

With two minutes to go, and ‘our finger nails down to the knuckles’, the game was sealed when from nowhere Charlie Birdsall broke the Widnes defensive line to send out a great pass to the waiting Bray on the wing. Graham drew the whole of the Widnes cover, as he headed all the time towards the corner flag, before passing back inside across that defense for Ronnie Wileman to score, again right in front of us. That was another of those ‘remember it forever’ moments, when the action seemed to go into slow motion. The crowd went mad though and although Lloyd again missed the conversion at 10-5 the game was over. However, there was a bizarre end to the match that most people who were there will no doubt, like me, still remember.

A sensational final minute saw Walters and Widnes’s Hughes ordered from the field. What happened was this. Mick Kendall FC’s ‘Physio’ was treating Walters on the floor after being floored by a late tackle, when up came Hughes to lay a couple of punches on our ‘sponge man’. This made the prone Walters jump to his feet to retaliate and both players were sent from the field by Referee Fred Lindop. It was a disappointing, if not exciting end to a game that had lived up to some of our expectations, and surpassed most of them.

That frenetic, controversial ending saw the massive army of FC fans on the field, celebrating with the players, as once again Arthur Bunting had got his tactics absolutely right. The roads were alive with waving fans and decorated buses and cars all with smiling faces pressed against the windows as ‘Old Faithful rang out across the length of the M62. It was one of those joyous ‘convoy’ moments that we have experience on such occasions over the years as the FC Army return home from a major victory. Supporters ‘tooted’ their horns as they passed each other and some even leant out of the windows and sang ‘Old Faithful’ as they passed the hordes of fans having a ‘comfort break’ on the hard shoulder. It was a great occasion that I will remember forever and I thank Jennie for requesting I covered it here in the Diary.

So what a match eh? I’m still buzzing here as I dispatch another Diary on Monday morning. Over the years I have reported on some famous victories and some amazing games but yesterdays, was just one more. You may not agree with me now but give it a few months and I guarantee when two or three are gathered together to talk Hull FC that game will probably come up. In the book I have just written about the phenomena that was last season, I put great store on the quote by Ray Bentley the Line-backer of The Buffalo Bills who famously once said, “There’s a very fine line between winning and losing. Every team has talent, but attitude is the biggest thing that counts – that, and playing together as a team. If you can capture that feeling, then you’ll have success”. So it was yesterday and when you look at a league table where the top five are covered by two points its going to be tight and attitude could well in the end be everything.

Thanks for reading another Diary its hard sitting up till all hours on a Sunday after such a game trying to get my ‘ducks in a row’ as far as doing it justice is concerned and I feel even more pressured when I know I need to put into words the smile I saw spread from ear to ear on the face of my old pal Steve Roberts as he greeted me on the concourse afterwards. His first game of his seventies will stay with him a long time I’m sure! So, I’ve done my best, but as I rose from my keyboard pounding at around midnight, I noticed a message on the answerphone from reader Ian Puckering who just called, he said, “To say how proud I am to be an FC fan”.

That’s how so many of us feel this morning I’m sure and the Diary this week is full of superlatives. There’s magnificents, superbs, greats and heroes everywhere, but then again I’m just an ordinary fan still buzzing from seeing my team make me feel so, so proud too! Perhaps by Wednesday I’ll have settled down and where I writing this then, perhaps too it would read a bit differently. But it’s not Wednesday, I refuse to calm down and quite frankly, I’m still loving it!!

Well Done Hull FC, thanks for a memorable afternoon …Heroes all!

Faithfully Yours