238 The Dentists Diary
Well, another defeat but I think most who went to the game would agree that it was a much more heartening display.
There was still a lot of controversy and a deal of bewilderment amongst the fans who travelled to Huddersfield yesterday, and despite many staying away there was still a fine turn out under the circumstances with despite our poor form around 1800 making the trip over to the Galpharm. However despite a better display, there is no getting away from the fact that we are the only club in Super League without a win, not really the sort of start that we were talking about 4 weeks ago is it?
That’s certainly hard to swallow I know, but Huddersfield really wasn’t all bad, in fact with the exception of the score, it was certainly an improvement and a gutsy backs to the wall performance . We did our best but a few mistakes some shocking kicking, Danny Brough and a bigger pack did for us yesterday. The trouble was of course despite a couple of short ‘golden’ periods when we tried (or Sam Obst did) to open play up and played some off the cuff stuff, the rest was the ‘same old same old’ that we have seen for three years, that boring forward stuff that appears to be our current coaching staffs trade mark. That said we at least had a good go at it.
However perhaps the most talked about point, particularly by the fans who could not go to the game and listened to the reports on the local radio station, was the so called ‘Gestures’ that O’Meley made to the fans after the game. Well I, like about eight hundred FC fans, stayed behind to thank the players for what was without doubt a 100% effort and saw what happened and it wasn’t like that at all for me.
In this Diary we look at that game, the player performances and where we are going wrong. There’s Fitz the tackling machine, the new club web site, fans at a low ebb, keyboard warriors and the Rugby League sack race. Plus there’s also Justin sticks his nose in, Humberside try and make the news....again, I pay my last respects to a real ‘Old Faithful’, and in Codgers Corner it’s the Grandstand camera’s at the Boulevard for the Players number 6 Trophy at the Boulevard in 1976.
Opinions as I always say are bound to differ on a defeat and a deepening crisis at the club we all care so much about but here for what it’s worth is how I saw things yesterday.
Well it’s played 3 lost 3 and against such a massive Huddersfield pack for long periods of the game we made little headway playing by and large out of our own twenty each time we had the ball. I was hard to see how we were even in with a chance after that first twenty minutes and most of us I think thought we were in for a pasting. However we battled away weathered the storm and started to get back at the home team. In fact but for some poor kicking and a few handling mistakes, we could easily have register a few more points but we could just not kill them off. Huddersfield are a good team particularly at home, but looking back I guess we were not far short of coming away with a very unlikely win.
In essence as far as this game was concerned we got mullered by Danny Brough and his kicking throughout the 80 minutes, in fact whenever the Giants got into trouble they looked for Broughy and his kicking to get them out of it and he did just that time after time. However unlike the last couple of weeks we hung in there, in fact for me it was one of those games where you hated losing but you felt that we did our best and we can in the end ask no more, well from the players at least. In Brough and Crabtree they had two players that were even for a partisan fan a joy to watch, and there are few sights in British rugby League that can better Eorl running at full pelt to return a kick.
As for our coaching and tactics well, there are still a lot of questions in that area for me. No one can deny that, although our goal line defence was a massive improvement the ‘set ends’ and kicking game was poor, and once again we lacked ideas. Obst and to a lesser extent Horne tried hard to get the line moving, but we spent far too much time in our own quarter of the pitch hemmed in by some good defence and our own inability to get kicks off into deep positions.
After our first ten or so kicks had found the opposition catchers arms without even bouncing, one guy near me was left shaking his head and asking, ‘What do we do at training all week’ and quite frankly he had a point! Our kicking game was woeful ....again! someone said that perhaps the ball had a piece of metal in it and the Huddersfield defenders had magnets in their hands because every kick seemed to fly magically towards a defender, and usually well before we had a chance to get anywhere near that receiver and get some filed position.
We looked capable of breaking their line on several occasions but in a couple of sets in the second half when we had the ball, we had tackled so long and so hard that we simply had no petrol left in the tank to do any meaningful attacking, and yet we had a fresh player on the bench in Washy that we only used sparingly to say the least. Moa was not on for long enough either for me, but looked really good when he did get out there.
Some stuff though was a big improvement on the last two weeks. Lauaki had, in the first half; his best 20 minutes that I think I have seen him play for months and we showed real determination and grit to get back in the game from 10-0 behind. I honestly thought we had blown it by then, but we hung in there and came back strongly. Agar rotated his second row like never before so much so that many of us thought Tickle had been injured, so rare was his withdrawal in the first half.
We looked sharper out wide too and Obst is going to be a great signing because although still a bit green he looked so keen when he went looking for the ball and certainly wanted to run things. Houghton got through a mountain of work and time and again relieved the pressure with some great running from dummy half, although on occasions his options were poor. O’Meley and Fitz were superb but Danny Tickle dropped the ball too much for me. In the backs Whiting struggled under a couple of big ‘up and unders’ from Brough and perhaps should have been across more quickly for their second try. He looks to be ready for a move to centre where, when he joined the line, he was really potent, setting up two tries with his direct running and astute delaying of the pass. Yeamo played well, but Turner was disappointing, whilst Briscoe had a good game but lacked as usual any quality ball. Horney tried hard and for his first game back after just three full training sessions he did OK. He supported the ball carrier well and pulled off one massive hit on his brother near the line to dislodge the ball, but his kicking was poor to say the least.
In the front row O’Meley was great but had to play for too long to be really effective and Radford did everything that was asked of him without standing out. Houghton was as always totally committed and in the second row Westerman improved again, and worked hard, but Manu has still to step up to the plate and for me he looks as if he has been rumbled by opposition defences when standing in the tackle and challenging defenders to get him down, he’s not getting away and breaking play at all. However he is certainly more effective in the pack!
Still I have to say it was a game I enjoyed and I believe had we not made a couple of errors and had the refereeing decisions been a bit more favourable, then we would have won a very unlikely victory at the Galpharm. Their last killer try had a hint of off side about it and the one before that could have included a forward pass. So all in all a much better performance, but Friday, despite what the club will probably tell us this week, is looking like it is certainly now a season defining game for the team and our coach!!!
So what exactly did happen at the end? Well here’s what I saw. At the final hooter the players came over to the fans and despondent as we all were, they took the applause from around 600 of the Faithful who had stayed behind and the players returned it to us.
At that point several fans who felt they needed to voice their complaints about our coach and his handling of the team, moved to the front to vent their spleen to the players who had given their all. The sight of the ‘Agar Out’ banner produced under their noses was enough for most of the team to immediately walk away and head for the ‘sheds’ but ‘Ogre’ had seen enough and he turned and waived at the fans with the back of his hand indicating that they should put their banner away. There were no V signs from him or the team as far as I could see but a few I have to say from a small minority of the crowd at the front. As for the players and most of the fans, well it was apparent that as they left there was a deal of dismay both on and off the field at what had gone on.
I however defend completely those fans and their right as paying supporters to vent their disapproval, most of us would agree that after 3 years of the same style of uninspired rugby week in week out perhaps it is time for a change, but you really should consider that perhaps to do it in the players faces just when they had given their all and sadly failed, was a bit much. It was perhaps the right sentiment but at the wrong time.
Those guys who protested undoubtedly love their club and felt that they needed to make their feelings and those of many of us quite clear, and no doubt expected a big response from the rest of the supporters there, but instead they experience a bit of a back lash from the travelling FC Army who I guess felt that the players had given their all and although losing again, on the day we could probably expect no more. If the ‘Agar out’ stuff is pertinent, and many of us feel that it is, then perhaps it was for another day.
However there is no doubt that the general consensus amongst the fans is that we need a change of coach but Ogre yesterday and our captain Fitz in an interview on Saturday, both indicated that they are certainly not buying into that one just yet. Fitz said, “It’s crazy, crazy, crazy, I can’t believe it’s even being mentioned in the press as we’re only two games into the season. Some teams always shoot out of the blocks and other teams labour and punch above their weight. It’s a long year ahead”.
“We know we’ve been disappointing and we deserve a kick up the backside from our fans because they pay their money. There are no excuses from us. As captain, people have asked me if I am deflated. I’m not deflated because it’s not my job to be. It’s my job to try and inspire the boys and get them on track. Some coaches might get affected but Rich has been brilliant,”
“He has stuck to what he does, he believes in his methods and we believe in them too. We would be peeved if he were to go. It’s unfair. We want to turn it around for him. There is zero unrest from the players..... Zero.” So I guess we’ve now seen the thoughts of Mr ‘Ogre’ and the gospel according to Captain Zero!!!! Popular guy that coach of ours!
How impressive it was though last week to see our club captain and self ‘senior’ member of the team topping the RL tackling charts with 106 tackles, 19 ahead of the second placed player, team mate Danny Houghton. It is quite unprecedented to have two players from the same club topping the charts and Fitz’s 59 in the Leeds game would have been nothing short of sensational for a young man, never mind one of his ‘more mature’ years. We all marvelled when players like Richard Swain used to record 40 tackles a game but this level is pretty much unheard of. However having two players up there must indicate one of two things, either no one else in the team is making tackles and the stats prove that wrong, or it must be the fact that we are giving up so much ball and playing so much defensive rugby, we’re doing a greater percentage of tackling, when compared with attacking.
That second theory is more like it I think and I still maintain that we have to watch Fitz or he will be burnt out before the season is half way through! He says he won’t let up until we are winning games and there is no need to tackle that much, and in the end he is only doing what we all hope any captain in the black and white strip would do and that is lead by example. Fitz is a great player who I just wish I could see either playing as a ball handling loose forward or as a regularly ‘spelled’ prop because in the first three games he pretended to be the first and acted like the second, without being rested at all.
A couple of City fans were bemoaning the condition of the pitch at the KC when they returned to The Drum and Monkey last Saturday night saying that the rugby had made a mess of it. What a load of rubbish that is!!!! I told them of the poor condition we found it in last weekend for the Leeds game and reminded them that in the end the City players and their fans should put their brain in gear before they open their mouths. I referred of course to the ridiculous statement Anthony Gerrard made after the QPR game some five or six weeks ago when he slipped and missed a ‘sitter’ in front of goal. He said ‘Well that’s what you expect when a rugby team plays on your pitch’. What a Dick we hadn’t played on it for four 4 months!
Hopefully Cameron Phelps will be here this week but if he is there is no doubt one member of the Radio Humberside staff will be disappointed. As you know I keep a close eye on the media because the way they operate interests me, and I also have certain views about the motives of one or two presenters and journalists that have nailed their colours to the Dobbins mast! Last weekend James Rule gave an interview to the station in which he stated that Phelps had got through all is medicals test etc and had now just applied for his visa which would hopefully take 7 to 10 days. All sorted then and hopefully Cameron will be here shortly, in fact that time scale takes us into the coming week if all goes well.
Hang on though Willie isn’t here yet, we can’t have Phelps getting here that quick can we? So out comes a story from the BBC headlined ‘Hull face further Phelps delay’ which was of course rubbish, there was no further delay, as nothing had changed. I believe then the club took exception to Mr Lloyds latest fabricated headline submitting a new piece on their own club web site that aimed to ‘Clarify’ the situation on Phelps and visa’s. Then ‘as if my magic’ (as Mr Benn would say), the BBC headline changed to ‘Hull hopeful on Cameron Phelps Arrival’ all that within 3 hours. It’s hard not to wonder whether our friends at the BBC, or at least one of them likes stirring it up when it looks like we might have got one up on our neighbours isn’t it?
Incidentally whilst we are on visa’s it was interesting on Tuesday to also read of the lengths that the club had gone to in their quest to get Sam Obst cleared to play in the Leeds game. Having paid a facilitation company in Australia to sort Phelp’s fast tracking they then apparently paid a fee to get the Wakefield players work permit transfer clearance through. We had already snaffled Sam up from under the noses of the new owners and in these type of things it is hard to fault our administration, because away from the field, we cannot say anything other than they play a good game, it’s just on it that we seem to have a few problems.
After a couple of problems and a few weeks of ‘Snagging’ I expect the new club web site to be up and running on Tuesday or Wednesday which should be interesting.
With just two weeks of the new season gone it was apparent last week that we were already witnessing the demise of the fans patience, and although some at the club told us we were only two games in, the whole thing with the fans at least seemed to go a whole lot deeper than that, an argument I think I covered in some depth last time in the Diary.
It has certainly been an interesting week for ‘Fan watching’ as different people saw our poor start to the season in different ways. Everyone was despondent but on message boards the bravado of some ‘keyboard warriors’, (no doubt hiding in their bedrooms with the curtains drawn) knew no bounds, with the moderator’s busy taking off some pretty defamatory stuff as soon as it appeared. It’s easy though isn’t it to hide behind a computer and snipe and insult people, I know, I am at the end of it all the time, but fair do’s amongst the dross a lot of folks made some really good points.
No such ‘Clandestine’ sniping though for the crowd of older supporters I met in the Barbers the other day because they knew how they felt and did not worry about who heard about it. As one said, ‘I have been supporting the team for 67 years and they have had more of my income over those years than some of my family have’, others on Friday in Morrison’s approached me to vent their spleen as I was bent over, legs dangling and hands plunged deep down in the Aunt Bessie’s Chips freezer. In fact everywhere you went last week someone was moaning and I guess looking back, so was I.
What of course you have to always remember with message board chat is that for me there are four distinct types of information. Firstly there are those who simply sit at home in their bedrooms and make stuff up, then there are those that want something to happen so badly, in the end they believe it has, and there are those who hear something from the above two groups and instantly believes it and pass it on as being from a ‘good source’. Finally though of course there are then those who know something tangible and pass it on, but this correct stuff is invariably lost in the reams and reams of prefabricated information coming from the first three sources. In the end any truth is lost in a deluge of digital rubbish.
I get E mails and PM’s every day telling me stuff that is from ‘a good source at the club’, like ‘Danny Tickles home help’, ‘Sean Longs Tattooist’ or ‘Yeamo’s University lecturer’, we all hear that sort of stuff don’t we? Mostly I discard it however I try and check out what I can and if it has any ‘legs’ at all, I’ll put it in. Sean Long didn’t walk out of the dressing rooms at half time in the Leeds game nor was there a bust up in there either both acts are hardly likely from a man who wanted to play injured this weekend are they? It’s all just ‘fantasy Island’ stuff but having been conceived with the curtains drawn tightly you have to admit it adds some spice and interest mid week.
I can’t remember a time really when everyone has been so upset and unhappy though and I have to say that much of that vitriol was aimed at the coach and to a lesser extent the players. Last week l said that in that Leeds game most of the players did OK, but once I had plucked up the courage to watch it again I looked particularly at the body language and application of some of the players. Take Willie Manu for example, he had a poor game, probably because he was in the centre but you have to say his effort and application was nowhere near what we have come to expect and perhaps the security of a new 3 year contact was playing on his mind? Tickle too looked disinterested at times. It’s always interesting though to note just what the fans are saying and the many different views they have, in fact the only opinion that seems to be universally accepted is that in those first two games we were crap!
Pete Smirthwaite, FC fan extraordinaire was at it again on Friday on Sportstalk reflecting and animating well what most fans were feeling. The points he made about % wins for past coaches and the progress some clubs have made whilst we appear to have been treading water, made me just wonder if he reads this Diary!!!
However I have to say that although I defend every fan right to give their team the benefit of their opinion, I really do detest the stuff that we read at this time of year when bookmakers looking to put pressure on coaches by shouting the odds on sackings. This of course then gets the fans discussing the ‘sack race’ and I don’t suppose that Shaun McCrae and Rich Agar were very impressed with it either when they looked at the official RL web sites last week and saw the odds splashed all over them. I bet I can guess who tops the list this week!
In fact, in defence of the club, I have to say that having looked back this week over the last ten years, when clubs have panicked early on in the season and got rid of coaches, rarely have those clubs gone on to achieve any success, well not that year at least. It was interesting to see good old ‘Porky’ Morgan sticking his oar into the discussions in a covert way on Wednesday, when in his Daily Mail column he said of the sacking of Ivan Henjak by the Brisbane Bronco’s three weeks before the season started, ‘It was absolutely the right decision, better that than letting them loose the first 5 games and then show him the door’, what a coincidence that he should choose to highlight that last week? Thanks Justin now keep your neb out!
There is no doubt that for our coach the clock is ticking, but whether another round of musical chairs with the coaching staff is what we need, or indeed if the situation demands a more radical ‘regime change’ only time will tell.
Did anyone else watch the televised game from Wrexham last Saturday night? At times it was like watching paint dry and no doubt the Crusaders were saving themselves for next week but what a poor turnout there was from the Welsh fans, its hard isn’t to get any enthusiasm for watching the game when all you can see is row upon row of empty seats.
Last Wednesday lunchtime I went down to Hull Crematorium to pay my last respects to one of the great unsung heroes and elder statesmen of our club, Ernie Mason. Ernie who passed away recently, aged 91, has been a lifelong supporter and worker at Hull FC for as long s I can remember. With my Dad he was one of the founders of the Hull Supporters Club where Ernie became a committee member, the Secretary, the Chairman and finally the President. He also edited the match day programme for many years, as well as organising the programme sellers at games. He was always to be seen behind the counter in the little shop at the corner of Carrington Street that the club used as a ticket office and, with his wife Ivy, he was for many years responsible for preparing and serving post match meals for the teams. Ernie gave hours and hours of his time to our club.
Mild mannered and of great integrity Ernie was the nicest man you could ever wish to meet. In the 50’s I lived a couple of avenues away from us and it was a usual sight to see the Hull FC shirts hanging on the washing lines down Graham Avenue after Ivy and Ernie had washed them after the game. As they lived just across the street from the Boulevard, when he was chairman Roy Waudby relied a lot on Ernie to look after things at the ground between games, and in 1982 when we won the Challenge Cup it was kept at their house when not on display for fear of burglaries at the Boulevard. The Reverend Bagshawe in his address on Wednesday also told a story about how after one night game, when it was impossible to get to the bank, Ivy and Ernie slept with the takings from a big game under their pillow!
There are plenty more stories but none of them can encapsulate fully what this ‘extraordinary’ fan did for our club, working quietly in the background over so many years. Perhaps I have laboured this obituary a little longer than some of the ones I have done over the years for players and officials but people like Ernie Mason are the bedrock of Hull FC and deserve to be remembered. Although it would be wrong to say that our team would not have existed today without people like him, it’s none the less a fact that the community and family that is Hull FC has over the years been a much better place because of people like Ernie. I send my warmest thoughts at this time to Ivy, Carol and Steve! RIP Ernie Mason.
The news that broke last Wednesday, (that I told you about last week), concerning us having now gone through the 8000 shirt sales barrier is of course great for the club and means that over two thirds of the average home gate so far this season have bought replica shirts. If nothing else it does go to show the loyalty and passion of the ‘FC Faithful’. Someone said to me last week that he thought it animated the fact that perhaps ‘the fans had a deal more ambition, than the club appear to have at present’ and though maybe a bit harsh, I guess you can see his point.
This week in Codgers Corner I want to take you back to the 1976/77 season when under the coaching of David Doyle Davidson we were promoted to the First Division having spent several years in the doldrums. It was not all been bad news though, because the previous season we had battled our way to that fabulous Players No 6 Trophy Final at Headingley, that I covered a couple of weeks ago. It was therefore with great expectation that we took a break from the weekly grind of second division games to play first division high flyers Warrington in the first round of the same competition the following year.
We were having a great season having won ten of our first twelve games and hopes were high with the ‘Faithful’ that we could do a bit of ‘giant killing’. This week’s featured game took place on Saturday 23th October 1976 on a blustery afternoon at the Boulevard, with the BBC Grandstand camera’s in attendance hoping that the heroes of the previous year, (we had put out First Division clubs Leeds, Salford and St Helens) would be able to do it again, in front of the camera’s.
As was always the case back then the period leading up to the game went anything but smoothly, when charismatic veteran scrum half Keith Hepworth reported in with flu. Eventually as also often happened he declared himself fit although he clearly wasn’t and Hull changed the bench to drop Paul Hunter and include Chris Davidson as a precaution just in case ‘Heppy’ could not complete the game. We had a real character playing that season who was actually to work with me a few years later as a bouncer at the City Hall. Alan Wardell was back in the line up for this game after a four match suspension for fighting, something that he was proving to be good at. He was a great forward though and his exploits with his fists meant that the Threepennies loved him.
Before the game kicked off Chris Davidson and Brian Hancock were presented by Chairman Charles Watson with their Testimonial cheques having had a joint benefit over the previous 12 months. Almost immediately after the kick off Warrington was caught off side and Lazenby got us into a great position in the visitors 25 with a towering penalty to touch. The ball was tapped and passed to Wardell who showed no signs of his enforced lay off as he ploughed through 4 tackles towards the line. From the play the ball though, Hancock passed to Crampton who then dropped the ball, just as he crossed the whitewash. Warrington won the resulting scrum and Whitehead kicked up field but a well positioned George Robinson ran the ball back from full back as Hull threatened the Lancastrians line a second time. Again though Hull lost the ball and the game settled into a forward slog with Warrington prop Wanbon and second rower Martyn ‘mixing it’ with our forwards at every opportunity.
Then Mike Crane made a sharp interception and set off on a 30 yard run, only to be tackled into touch by full back Finnegan as he tried to go round the outside towards the corner flag. However after Tony Duke had won the ensuing scrum against the head our right centre Clarke almost wriggled over the line but was held up by three Warrington players. It was all Hull in that first quarter but we had failed to get over the line. Warrington were just hanging on as the 4000 crowd roared the home team forward, with the ‘Threepenny Stander’s’ only stopping for the occasional taunting chorus for Eddie Waring up on the gantry above the Stand. Then, more niggling by the Warrington forwards saw us awarded two penalties in good positions but on both occasions George Robinson missed with his goal attempts; not a lot was going for us.
Then Curling, the visitors centre, broke away and it took a thundering last ditch tackle from Portz to stop him scoring, but their other centre Nicholson snapped up a loose ball and Hull defence had to shuffle across quickly to stop him scoring at the other side. A fine move between Hancock and Hepworth on the half hour sent Wardell crashing through tackle after tackle before he was blatantly obstructed just 6 yards out by Cunliffe and this time Lazenby taking over the kicking, stroked the ball through the post to give us a two point lead. Six minutes from the interval the try that Hull had been threatening for so long finally came. Warrington were working the ball out of their own twenty five when Wanbon had a rush of blood to the head and sent a long looping pass sailing towards his winger. Up stepped Clarke to intercept and fly off down the field for 70 yards to score a great try. Lazenby’s conversion attempt from near the touch line just fell short but at half time the under dogs from the lower division went in 5-0.
The second half started in typical style when Hancock failed to make 10 yards with the kick and from the penalty Curling ran off down the field only to be crashed into touch by Alf Macklin just short of the corner flag. That ‘set the alarm bells ringing’ and Hull quickly moved the ball back into the visitors half were Tindall knocked on about ten yards out. From the scrum Duke again won the ball against the head and Hancock floated out a great cut out pass to Crane who shot through the Warrington line to score and put Hull 8-0 ahead on the 46th minute, with Lazenby adding the two points. Clarke who was having a great game almost scored again 10 minutes later when he crashed over but was held on his back and could not get the ball down.
As a Second Division team the pressure and pace of the game was starting to tell and ‘flu ridden’ Hepworth was replaced by the ‘all action’ figure of Chris Davidson who immediately upped the pace of our line and got the team moving again. Another player who was revelling in the occasion was Wardell who tackled like a terrier and in the 59th minutes started a punch up when he stoked Butler across the chops right in front of Referee Massey. That resulted in a ticking off and a penalty to the opposition which came to nothing. Then Boxall broke the line and bustled through the defence before cutting loose down the left where he passed onto Lazenby who went over for another try and our lead was stretched to 13-0.
The first division big boys were not enjoying what was turning out to be a humiliation in front of the TV cameras and as the chants of ‘Eddie Waring’s what’s the score’ rose from the Threepennies, a massive scrap broke out which once again Alan Wardell was at the heart of. In the end referee Massey, who obviously had no idea what to do and was fast losing control of the game, gave a scrum with head and ball to Warrington. From that the visitors substitute Price crashed in and Whitehead sent a towering touch line conversion through the posts. At 13-5 Warrington had a ‘sniff’ of a victory but great tackling by Boxall, Tindall, Wardell and Duke kept them out in three consecutive sets to kill off the game. This seemed to enrage Warrington all the more and another fight broke out a scrum which saw Wardell and Warrington’s Joe Price boxing in the middle of a circle of players to the cheers of the crowd.
The referee had to get in and separate them and with just five minutes to go immediately sent both players off! In the dying seconds Keith Boxall made a superb break and kicked the ball forward. He then dribbled it through the visitor’s defence showing skills that the Sunday papers next day observed ‘Would have made England Football Manager Don Revie proud’. This dribble went on for 50 yards before ‘The Rhino’ Boxall picked the ball up, passed to Steve Portz and the centre ran in untouched to finish the scoring. Lazenby kicked the goal and at 18-5 the game was the shock result of the first round of the No 6 Trophy that year. In the next round we were at it again this time putting out Bradford, before Leigh finally did for us away in Lancashire in the third round.
Whilst we are on the history bit, sometimes we think that we are loyal supporters who make sacrifices for our love of the club and we all know folks who tramp around the country and the continent never missing a game whatever the fare being served up. However the other day I read about someone who will put us all in the shade. Harry Sanderson local band leader, professional pianist and ardent Hull FC fan was 80 when his story hit the press in 1954. For the previous 9 years he had ridden his bike to Wembley and back for the Cup Final, spending his nights in hostels, prison cells and cafe’s in fact anywhere that would put him up. In addition to those finals Harry also attended all the post war Championship Finals played at Swinton until his death aged 83.
The 1954 final was a 4-4 draw so Harry got back on his bike once he was home and went over to Bradford in a Day for that game too. All these trips totalled around 8000 miles and puts Andy Comfort and his Radio Humberside Bike riders of last week in the shade somewhat.
It’s great who you meet at FC games and often this Diary brings folks together who have not seen each other for years. Yesterday at Huddersfield I met Alan Higgins (and his wife) who I had not seen for years in fact since we used to go to the Boulevard together back in sixties. He introduced himself and said he read the Diary and it was great to talk old times, being kids in Airlie Street, Wilf Rosenberg, Johnny Whiteley, Clive Sullivan , Ernie Mason and Co! Great to meet you Alan.
So we are back at home this Friday to a Crusaders team who look very handy and for whom you can expect Jarrod Sammut and his stick on moustache will have a stormer. For me it’s a massive almost season defining game because a loss will move the ‘panicometer’ from worrying to critical! I don’t say it will see our coach packing his bags but he might just be folding his shirts and getting his toiletries together!!! So we have to win. Thanks as always for reading the Diary your continued support is really appreciated and I’ll see you all there on Friday, where no doubt the size of the gate may just be as big a talking point as the game itself is!