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!!!  

That said it’s been a great week for the game with the Sky deal and more importantly with the other stuff around it with streaming and terrestrial games coming next year. But for me after years and years of harping on about it in here, the inclusion of Video referees at all games in 2022 is a massive step forward and a real plus for getting a level playing field across the sport. 

Well, when the 21-man squad was announced Fairamo and Bowden were out as expected and Brown came back in after a week off banned. Plus, we saw the inclusion of young Academy star Harvey Barron who originated from Beverley Braves. I know little about him but apparently, according to his old coach at the Braves, the kid has  ‘Speed to burn’. He was no doubt selected to go along for the ride, but the idea of picking one of the junior players each week to experience the First team game day experience, is a really sound one. 

Bowden’s loss to injury was a big one, but our boss had better news regarding the returns of Josh Reynolds and Manu Ma’u who are missing with respective hamstring and calf issues. He indicated that if all goes well they could be back for the Cup game next weekend, which is great news for us all! But, before that we had the little issue of meeting one of the two form teams of the competition on their own ground, live on Thursday night TV.

The starting 17 showed little change from what we expected with Mahe in for Bureta, although Cam Scott was a surprise inclusion when most of us thought that Brown would get a place. So, after Zak Hardacker declaring he was ‘the best full-back there is’, we were off with our biggest test of the season. As I said to Mrs. R. beforehand if we win both games I’ll be ecstatic but if we can only win one, I know which one I’d want it to be! That at least took the pressure off a bit.

Wigan kicked-off and we struggled to make yards in our first carries and they were soon pressing our line as Connor was pushed back over it and we had to drop out. Soon we were giving our first set restart away deep in our half, but we survived after Carlos pulled off a try saving tackle wide on the right. Then a massive mistake from Fonua who knocked on after we had just got the ball back on our line, saw Hastings sail in to open the scoring. You can’t make stupid mistakes in your own 10 against Wigan! At 6-0 after just 10-minutes it didn’t look good and we simply were not clinical enough in our execution with the ball and the opposition were simply blitzing us.

Wigan then knocked on themselves to relieve the pressure and we started on half way, but Cator repeated the blunder for us in an uncharacteristic start from him. We got a break when they knocked on again this time in their 30-meter area and a great cross field move saw a brilliant no look pass from Connor to Swift, send the winger flying in at the corner. It was a superb piece of play by Jake and a great finish, as Sneyd potted it from the touch line and we were level at 6-6 after 18 minutes. Taylor then went down with what looked an innocuous ankle injury, but he couldn’t continue and soon he was leaving the field and hobbling badly. We go another set of six on their line after a knock on, but a shocking pass from Sneyd lost us 25 meters but we nearly got in on the right before a strange penalty for off-side curtailed our pressure. We were then back under pressure ourselves, as we just survived on our own line, but Sneyd grabbed the loose ball and after a tough start for us it was pretty ‘even Stephen’s’ now, as Connor nearly got in, before the ball ended up in touch.  

Connor went off for ten minutes after a high tackle on Hardaker that might get him in trouble. However, true to our steel these days, back down field the 12 men came and we got a penalty. Sneyd pinged it over the bar from a tight angle and we led 8-6 with just 5 minutes to half time, however Savelio looked understandably rattled after that racist altercation with Tony Clubb. We looked to push them back into the corner but for once Sneyd’s kick was too long and went straight into touch. They came down field on the back of that mistake and as we ran out of numbers, Liam Farrell trotted in on the left, just as it looked as if our 12 men could hold out to half-time. Hardaker missed the conversion and we now had to hold out for 30 seconds, but gave away a penalty for a ball steal. In a frenetic finale they shot down the short side and should have scored, but our chasers positioned themselves in the line well to force a wild pass which saw Griffin grab it and roll it into touch as the hooter went.

The first half had seen us scrapping like hell, we started under the cosh but worked our way back into it, scored, lost Taylor and conceded at the death when a man short, but with that sort of spirit and heart who could complain, although somehow it felt like the second half might be a bit of a long slog.

As we kicked off we all knew we had to dig deep from the off to stay in this one, but we were almost gifted a try from a wayward Wigan pass, sadly though, Griffin just saw the ball brush his arm and go forward. We then got a penalty, coming out of yardage and we moved down field before a great cross-kick from Sneyd saw Fonua rise above two tacklers and score in the corner. It was another superb passage of play, but Sneyd missed his first kick of the season and so the lead was just 2 points. Wigan were then caught off-side and we bashed our way back down-field, before another penalty saw Sneyd increase the lead to 4 points. 

Just as we did last week, we were giving away too many set restarts as Connor was desperately unlucky to knock a ball on as he defused an attack on our line. Of course, the pressure of another set told on us and Bibby just got in at the corner to level things up again, however once again ‘Billy big Balls’ Hardaker missed the conversion. To be honest, I was pleased to be level as three-quarter time came, because Wigan certainly had more attacking ideas than we did. Again, the Pies were lucky and got 6 again under the sticks but then tempers flared and they got a penalty, as Connor chirped in Hasting’s ear and needlessly gave him a slap. So, another bit of hot-headed stupidity from Jake saw Wigan take the lead at 16-14. 

We looked a bit in disarray as Carlos went off for a head test, as we still saw loads of effort but little finesse, as we gave a penalty away but survived through yet more fantastic goal line defence. Then it was our moment when a great kick from Sneyd found the leaping Fonua, who palmed it back only for Cam Scott to knock on when he would perhaps have got over and the final chance was lost. So, we lost by two points in another bruising contest when our heart and spirit shone through again, as we had players off injured, a sin binning and the racist incident, but still we battled and battled and on that score I have no complaints at all.

As for the racist incident well, I look at it like this. People are innocent until proved guilty of course they are, but why would a player claim that it has happened if it hadn’t, for there is nothing to be gained by it. All you get is a ‘put-on report’ call. There is no advantage, no one sent off, so why would anyone on any side in our great and, let’s be honest, pretty honourable game claim someone had done it if they hadn’t. We are as a sport better than that! 

Savelio himself is not a hot head, nor is he a loud mouth in fact in camp he is a pretty anonymous fellow, so why would he do it unless it had happened. We must now trust that the enquiry into the whole thing brings justice, whichever side of the argument it falls on.

 As for the Wigan fans who claimed on social media that to call someone a ‘Stupid Polynesian —-’ is ‘just banter’, well guys you need to get in the real world! One things for sure, there is no place for condoning racism in our great game, on the field or off it and it has to be stamped on. However, full credit to both Clubs for the statement they issued and the fact that Clubb was immediately suspended pending investigations. 

However, as for the game itself well it was a great effort and we came up just short, but our tenacity and will to stay in the match  ensured that we were indeed in with a chance right up to the death and as far as effort is concerned we left nothing on the pitch. Player wise there were some real heroes out there. 

Jake had a good game in parts, but lost it to concede the final telling penalty, however he was always dangerous and just has to keep his ‘Gob Shut’ a bit. On the wings Fonua started scratchily but scored a great try and grew into the game whilst once again Swift was up there with the best and again scored a great try. His work rate up the middle out of our half is phenomenal at times. Both centres worked hard too, but came up against a resolute Pies defence. Ben got really involved and seems to be growing in confidence and those who criticise him should remember the kid is only 19 and yet makes few mistakes at all, whilst Sneyd tried everything he could to get us going forward. He has looked a bit under pressure since Reynolds has been out, but he was still vying for man of the match for me. 

Up front Ligi loved the bash of it all and really got stuck in whilst despite being substituted again Danny Houghton got through tons of work at acting half. Scott started brilliant before that tragic injury, whilst in the second row Lane again shone and Savelio despite his problems on the night, must be one of the best second rowers in the competition now. 

So, to Joe Cator who, with his 61 tackles, just shaved man of the match for me with another all action showing. His tackle rate game on game is phenomenal and he’s obviously loving every minute of it out there playing for the club he loves. Off the bench I thought that Satae was again brilliant and a real impact forward in every sense of the word, whilst again Fash worked his socks off, but I was disappointed with Johnstone who spelled Houghton and although he tried hard Cam Scott had limited impact. So, a big effort from everyone.

Moving on then and it’s the end of the month and I don’t know about you but I’m getting a little concerned that as we approach the date after which other Clubs can talk to our out of contract players, we still don’t have many of them officially signed up. Connor, Cator and Griffin where my top ‘must signs’ because they are British and don’t count on the quota and all of them are top quality performers. However, on Friday tea-time we got some great news when we heard that Josh Griffin had re-signed for next season. 

In addition, the Mail stated that, ‘The club is also understood to have come to terms on new contracts, with both Joe Cator and Jake Connor as their plans for 2022 continue to pick up speed”. If that is true (and with all three I would still prefer to hear it from the Club), then it’s a massive step forward, and of our British contingent we just now need to get Savelio and Swift sorted both of whom deserve new deals for me.  

Plus, then of course, several of our overseas players are off contract this year as well and we really should be doing something to get the ones we want to retain, signed up again. Perhaps we are doing just that, but rather than the ‘Hull Daily Mail Believes …’ stuff it would be good to hear something concrete about it all from the Club wouldn’t it? 

Now to other stuff and I don’t know about you, but I felt a bit sorry for Bureta Fairamo when he got a two-game ban, because after getting into the team he had grabbed his chance with both hands before his over-exuberance saw him jump into a tackle, (just like Ratu used to) catch Max Jowett’s head and get pinged by the disciplinary panel. Tackle wise I have seen a lot worse but once his feet were off the ground he was going to make contact with the players head and so he was given two games as the panel stated that he, “Tried to tackle but was reckless about the outcome.” 

Watching it back you have to have a bit of sympathy as Jowett ducks somewhat and therefore into the impact as well, but perhaps whilst he’s kicking his heels for two weeks Bureta might ponder a little in his technique! He’s not a nasty player and certainly not a cynical one, but it’s happened and so a big chance opens up again for Mahe Fonua to get his place back. He started slowly last night, but grew as the game progressed and let’s face it, he should need no motivation next week in the Cup game, for he knows what winning that competition is all about doesn’t he?  But as I said above, I feel it was a bit tough on Bureta just the same.

Well, our ex-Coach has got himself fixed up at Castleford but when it was first muted I have to admit that I was a little surprised. I didn’t see that coming did you? Lee Radford the guy who gave us two amazing rugby days out and made the life-long wishes of us older folks come true, has got the job and I hope he does well. I have often said that after how he masterminded Hull FC expunging that terrible tradition of us ‘Never winning at Wembley’, he deserved a statue outside the KCom and I still say it. 

Yet, that doesn’t mean that by the time he went, I thought that his departure wasn’t needed, because there was something radically wrong with the rationale and attitude of just about the whole team a few games into last season. Had Lasty, with all his experience and ideas, come into the club from outside, no doubt he would have still been here, but despite his success, there were still remnants of the old Radford culture around some of the players and so a clean sweep was needed and I think that was the best thing for the club. It will certainly be interesting to see how Lee does though, won’t it?

In fairness some Tigers fans welcomed the arrival of their new Coach, although there were a few quips about, ‘Thank goodness for that, our training ground really does need painting!’ However, not everyone was so flippant about the appointment and many of the Castleford fans were distinctly underwhelmed by it all, with one disgruntled individual saying, “I think Hull won 2 cups despite him and thanks to Pearson’s cash. The Cas board must be looking at new and innovative ways to turn fans away; Disaster”. one wag on social media added, “It feels like Kylie Minogue divorcing you and Kylie Leuluai replacing her”. Still, he was always one to split opinions was Radders, we needed a change badly and as I say, I wish him luck, except of course when Castleford play us!! 

Now, there was a lot of talk last week about that wonderful hit by Scott Taylor on Joe Westerman in the Wakey game, which I described as a real ‘Welcome Home’ tackle. In the Yorkshire Post last Monday, Captain for the night Taylors recalled: “It was just one of those where the hooker got out quick and I tried leaving it as late as possible. But I knew if I turned in on Kyle (Wood), Westy might have hit the gap and gone through. I tried to bide my time as best I could and luckily Wood released the ball a bit earlier, so I could turn my focus to Westy who obviously came straight into me”. 

He continued, “On hits like that it’s more about timing. It’s a laugh and a joke afterwards but I am just trying to get better and better. It’s always nice to get a good shot on and sometimes it fires the team up and you see a bit of a response. But looking back on the game it was a very, very small thing in my mind; it was more about getting the performance.” 

Next up on Tuesday, both Joe Cator and Jordan Lane got called up for the England Knights train-on squad as Paul Anderson has no doubt seen the tremendous potential and work rate both players have shown so far this year. On top of that Carlos has got into contention for the Combined Nations All Stars and congratulations to them all, although I would add the caveat that I hope all three call-ups don’t distract the players from the League campaign too much.

How good it was too to read this week of Connor Wynne’s exploits playing for York at Swinton last weekend, as he helped the North Yorkshire Club record their first win of the season. Connor had a good game topping his performance off with a great try. He started at full-back and just 26 minutes into his first competitive outing of the season, he shot around his opposite number and touching down under the sticks. It was York’s first win of the new Championship season, but Wynne will hope to play a crucial role for the Minstermen over the next few weeks, before returning to the KCOM Stadium with a few much-needed hit ups under his belt. 

While we are on the subject of good news it was great as well this week to hear that Kenny Foulkes, a real stalwart of Hull FC in the 60’s and 70’s, who had a stroke in January, is doing well in his recovery and getting back to normal. Kenny was a real hero of mine having signed for us from Castleford at a time when the West Yorkshire outfit were known as ‘The Half-Back Factory’. At that time they had Alan Hardisty, Keith Hepworth, Roger Millward and Kenny all on their books. Let’s hope that he continues to improve and I’m sure we all send him our best wishes.  

Well, it’s happened and as we all expected at last the details of the Sky deal have been revealed, well at least some of them have. Months of speculation over Super League’s new broadcast deal finally came to an end on Wednesday morning, when the owners confirmed they had renewed their long-standing partnership with Sky Sports. Adam and a few others have been locked in discussions with the broadcaster for weeks now although in the end the changing face of media sport has certainly taken its toll and so the new arrangement (being for 2 years) is much shorter than the previous one. Super League it was announced, will therefore continue to be shown on Sky Sports until the end of the 2023 season. With everyone looking to put a brave face on things, the Clubs said that it allows all parties to reassess the situation in the near future, owing to the ‘ever-changing landscape of the broadcast world’. But in reality it offers the clubs much less long-term financial security than the previous deal, which ran for 4 seasons.

It certainly not as good either, value wise, for the armchair fans with just 66 fixtures televised per season, which is down from the current total of 80. But all of the major events such as Magic Weekend and the Grand Final will, of course, be on the platform as usual. I wondered when the announcements were made if that reduction in Sky games had something to do with the fact, as Adam did hint on Radio Humberside a while back, that there could be a few game on ‘free to air’ via the BBC as well. 

Next day the Yorkshire Post sort of went along with my suspicions when it said, “However, as part of the deal that begins in 2022, we understand  that Super League will be free to air possibly as many as ten games elsewhere”. The news-paper continued by explaining that, “The new agreement will see Sky Sports have the first pick of games in each of the regular season rounds as well as first pick in each of the Play-Off weeks. It has also agreed to work with the competition to reach new audiences including making some fixtures available via free-to-air Sky platforms such as Sky One, something that  has occurred in recent seasons with its Premier League football coverage”. This is massive news for the game and for the top Division of our sport to get the chance of such exposure, is brilliant to develop awareness of the game. 

However, the news certainly spells danger for the Championship and Division One clubs and the joint Super League and Sky statements issued on Wednesday were very deliberate in phrasing this as a broadcast deal ‘for Super League’, not for Rugby League. Already the clubs have indicated however that some of the money would percolate down which has to be a good thing for the ‘RL pyramid.’

The RFL superseded the Sky contract announcement the day before, by saying that negotiations to broadcast the lower two divisions with another channel were going well, but what they get and from whom remains to be seen. There is plenty of secrecy over the exact value of the Sky deal, but as I say there is little doubt that it is significantly lower than the previous deal which is currently worth £40 million a year to the sport, with Sky’s new agreement expected to be in the region of £26million.

The short-term nature of the deal does pose some interesting questions though. The success of the ‘Our League’ set up could even tempt Super league Clubs to go it alone on a subscription-based format there on in. I say that because there is little doubt that the whole face of broadcast sport is changing with the year-long imposition of restrictions to fans attending games, acting as a catalyst to speed this process up. The advent of all sport coming out of lock-down and opening up again will see a massive change in both the attitude of fans to attending games  and of TV viewer trends. Look at the NFL in North America and the NRL Down Under for instance; they both make so much more these days from country wide broadcast rights and all games being broadcast live, than they do from folks attending games. 

Sky will also enhance the production of every single match across the competition, with their coverage free to be used by other broadcasters. That is a massive step forward. That will then allow Super League to offer 10 free-to-air games for the next two seasons to broadcasters, including two play-off games at the end of the season. All remaining games will be made accessible to fans through other services, such as streaming. This again is a massive step forward because I know lots of folks who are too infirm or too far away to get to all home games, but they will all pay to watch it on a stream I’m sure. I think that if passes are introduced for such services they will be popular.

So, perhaps although few will admit it, the two-year deal might just be a good thing and will allow the Clubs to be light on their feet, as they shape their future, in what will be an ever-changing sporting scene in this country. Time as I always say will no doubt tell! 

Regular reader Jimmy K of Patrington contacted me this week to ask me to revive the old Codgers Corner spot at least for one week and wondered if I could feature a game which saw him make his bow at the Boulevard at the age of 19. He went with his brother-in-law and was immediately hooked and has been a regular fan ever since. So, I’ve had a look back in my old Diaries, found the match in question and so this week I’ll feature one of those well remembered cold, cold night at the Boulevard. 

 So off we go back at a game in late February 1974 when although it was just above freezing point, the Boulevard pitch was surrounded with heaps of melting snow that had been cleared from the playing area after a heavy fall earlier in the week. Dozens of fans turned up that morning with shovels and brushes to clear the pitch and although we were as a Club struggling financially and gates were dropping, the spirit of our faithful band of fans was as strong as ever. Payment for their help? Well, that was by way of a free ticket for the game that afternoon.

  We were struggling to keep players at the Club too and had a cobbled together team who were strangely doing OK in a backs to the wall sort of way, and who were even on the fringes of the promotion pack in the Second Division. Times were hard though, mainly because our gates were nothing short of appalling. Thousands had just lost interest in life in the lower division and the football team down the road were doing well and attracting good attendances. We were to witness a game that I noted we actually didn’t deserve to win, in fact we were lucky to come out on top at all, because the opposition was a team that were developing into a bit of a nemesis back then; Halifax.

Everything started well in front of an attendance of just 1,583, who stood in groups huddled together in the Threepenny Stand, trying to keep warm, although we had the added handicap of lacking two of our key players, winger Clive Sullivan and Captain Brian Hancock who were withdrawn just before kick-off. This was however a game in which one of my all-time heroes Chris Davidson was to star. The kick off saw Chris field a booming kick and immediately slip down on all fours on the treacherous surface, but we warmed to our task and after just 5 minutes a fine move between Casey and Hicks sent Davidson through a gap and as our scrum half brushed tackles away, 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 handed off Hitchings before straightening up his run and then feeding Hick, who went in wide out for Chris to again add the two points from a difficult angle right in front of the Threepenny’s. It was all Hull now with Terry Devonshire, who was getting towards the veteran stage, 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 caught it and cantered in to score, Harrison charged through on a typical blockbusting 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 fellow prop Jacklin not that far behind him and although Fax came back with a Burton try, at half time we were comfortably in the lead at 17-6.  

Things started to go wrong after the interval though, as we became too confident in our ability to play open rugby and after just five minutes Hick threw out a speculative pass toward winger Gibbons which was intercepted by Hoyle, who ran 60 yards with Devonshire in pursuit 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. This stupidly reckless tackle left referee Ronnie Campbell no choice but to send Casey off the pitch. That saw  him to join Wardell and Hick, who had both been sent off the week before, at the following Thursday’s Disciplinary Committee meeting. We were great at saving money back then and we were usually able to fill a car for such meetings, which only took place every three weeks that year.

Back came Davidson with yet another FC try straight from a scrum, as he completely outfoxed the Halifax backs with a side step and dummy, but the cracks in our short-handed defence were starting to show. The visitors brought on Phil Davis from the bench and his fresh legs at scrum half saw him immediately score, although an off-side decision against the West Yorkshire outfit then saw Davidson make the score 24-14 at which point we seemed to have the game in the bag. But as the rain started to fall Brown, their off-half, scored another try for the visitors despite appearing to knock on over the line and then in the dying minutes he kicked ahead and touched down again and with a goal added from the touchline Halifax were just two points behind, as the final whistle went. Another couple of minutes, and no doubt we would have lost, so ragged was our overworked defence in that second half. Still, we got the points and in the end it was scrum half and Man of the Match Chris Davidson, with two ties and six goals that saw us home. It was a fine game by our local hero and thanks to Jimmy for reminding me, because it’s always good to write about Chris Davidson, who I have regularly seen over the years in Beverley, for he really was and still is a top bloke! 

So great memories of a first FC game for a fan who tells me that prior to lock down he didn’t miss a match home or away for 7 seasons. Great stuff Jim!

Whilst we are on the historical stuff I got several enquiries from readers after last week’s piece on Bill Daltons revelations about how many grounds we had played on as a Club. The most interest was in his comment that, “There are 141 of them, including 5 in Australia and NZ in 1983 and about 13 which staged only Friendlies. (One of those, Newcastle NSW, I visited in 1992 on the GB Tour)”. That New Zealand and Australia comment from Bill certainly got a few readers thinking and most, including myself, couldn’t recollect that bit at all. In fact, as Bill  pointed out to me, at the end of the 1983 season when we had been crowned Champions we went of a post season mini tour as a reward to the players for the season past. 

Quite a few first teamers went on it and our Kiwi’s had a hand in organising it as well. They were augmented by a few ‘A’  teams as well, but Solal, Day, Prendiville, Topliss, Wileman, Stone, Skerritt ,Duke and Mick Crane were all there, along with the Kiwi’s some A teamers like Dennison, Edmonds, Dannett, Peacham and Collinson, whilst the odd Aussie stood in to fill the breach when we were short. On the tour we played Auckland at Carlow Park (D 28-28), The New Zealand Maori’s at Davis Park Huntley (L. 4-16), Newcastle at the Newcastle Sports Centre (L8-22) and New South Wales (Southern Division) at Dapto Showground (W 24-22). So, there you are thanks to Bill all the facts on the tour no-one seemed to remember!  

So, this week it was ‘close but no cigar’ but full marks to everyone for giving it their all and staying in it to the last seconds, against a team who are without doubt very difficult to beat. There will be no complaints from me at all and with 9 days off now, I really do fancy our chances next week. We have to up our game, learn from our mistakes and tidy up our discipline but just think how good we would have been had we got our attack right? Of course, I was disappointed at the end, yet all I want to see is that effort and willingness to ‘die’ for that badge. Whatever else is happening in the world that’ll do for me! And, you know what?  Brett, the players and all us lot looking on, should let nothing we saw on Thursday make us think we can’t win it. Knowing how good Wigan are, the fact we can even say that at present, should surely prove how far we have come in a short time!

So, thanks for all your comments pre and post-match and for sticking with me again for another week. The players are having the weekend off and I suggest you do the same for it’s a big game for us all next time up. Let’s hope we get ourselves rested and recuperated to go again next Saturday on  BBC 1 and give it a real go as the world watches on. 

Stay safe, Keep believing and 

Come on you Huuuullllaaarrrrr!!!!!

Faithfully Yours 

Wilf