It was billed as the 150th anniversary year of Hull FC, despite the feeble attempt at billing it as the 15th anniversary by a small amount of fans from the other side of Hull, but while the Airlie Birds can point to clear progress on their dismal 2014 Super League campaign and the fact that they currently hold the bragging rights over their close neighbour’s Hull KR having won the derby series 2-1 and finished above them in the table the end of term report once again looks back at a very frustrating campaign when the sleeping giant failed to awaken from its slumbers.
It all started rather well as a black and white army converged on the birthplace of the game Huddersfield as a new look FC side started their campaign in emphatic fashion by inflicting an embarrassing defeat on the Giants who most experts expected to be genuine Grand Final contenders, nil-ling them in the process.
The next game saw a single point defeat to Warrington Wolves in Hull’s first home game of the season, despite that setback everything still looked very positive as Lee Radford’s men looked very competitive and able to handle the inevitable extra pressure that came with such a landmark season doubled with the start of a new experiment for the First Utility Super League with the tag line of “Every minute matters”.
The first alarm bells started to ring with a shock defeat at big spending Salford when the Red Devils found it far too easy to score points against a side who had only conceded one try in their opening two games, which was scored by the reigning Steve Prescott Man of Steel Daryl Clark.
Hull’s next game, at home against eventual treble winners Leeds Rhinos, almost encapsulated the Black and White’s season in 80 minutes, holding a deserved 12-0 lead at half time Hull were applauded off the pitch and seemingly back in the groove as they produced some of the best rugby they had played up to that point in the still fledgling season, what followed was frankly quite embarrassing as the Rhinos cut loose and scored 43 unanswered points too easily in the second 40 minutes.
Playing away to eventual Grand Finalists Wigan Warriors in their next game the Airlie Birds showed some genuine dogged determination, guts and pride but fell just short by a single point for the second time in the campaign, although a better more controlled pass in the last minute would surely have seen them gain the reward their efforts deserved as 2014 player of the year Fetuli Talanoa would surely have scored a match-winning try if the ball hadn’t flown into touch.
After that near miss at the DW Stadium Hull finally gave their fans something to shout about as Catalans Dragons were brushed aside far easier than the 11 point winning margin would seemingly suggest. Hull were then unlucky in defeat away to Castleford Tigers and then came the lowest point of the season without doubt as Hull KR breezed into the KC Stadium and left with the two points and bragging rights on offer far too easily as the Airlie Birds produced probably their worst performance of the season and almost gift-wrapped the game for Chris Chester’s side.
After that contemptuous low the Old Faithful still traveled in large numbers to the home of reigning champions St. Helens in the first game of the now annual Steve Prescott Memorial Trophy and a stunning comeback that few would have thought possible at the start of the Easter Weekend was capped by one of the tries of the season from full-back Jamie Shaul as Hull banished the memories of the previous Thursday night with a stirring 20-28 victory at Langtree Park.
Next up for the Airlie Birds was a home game against Widnes Vikings, on that evening Tom Lineham proved once again what a potent finisher he is with a hat-trick including two 95 meter interception tries, after that the Airlie Birds hit the road to Wembley dispensing of Sheffield Eagles at Bramall Lane in comfortable, if not entirely convincing, fashion before returning to Super League matters with a truly dismal performance against Huddersfield Giants in which Hull only just avoided the ignominy that they inflicted on the Giants on the opening weekend with a very late try by Steve Michaels.
The following week was quite a comedy with next opponents Salford Red Devils asking the Airlie Birds to postpone the game due to the injury and suspension crisis they were going through which Hull, understandably, flatly refused so the game went ahead as scheduled, despite their pleas and protestations the team built expensively by Dr Marwan Koukash arrived much healthier than first envisaged, sporting seven internationals, a spirited performance almost saw them through, but once again a gutsy comeback which was crowned by an individual barnstorming try by Setaimata Sa saw Hull eek out a victory that would have been predicted.
Lee Radford then told his side to take off the shackles and start to attack with more purpose, this appeared to be going slightly wrong for Hull in the next game away to Warrington Wolves but, yet again, Hull showed a spirit that proved they never knew when they were beaten as they came from 10 points behind in the last 10 minutes to grab a priceless victory with a drop goal from Marc Sneyd with just three seconds remaining on the clock to send the Old Faithful into very noisy raptures and gain sweet revenge for their single point defeat earlier in the year.
Castleford Tigers were the visitors to the KC Stadium in the 6th round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup and a hat-trick from new young signing Curtis Naughton saw the previous years beaten finalists put to the sword in sizzling fashion as more evidence of Hull taking off the shackles was put on full display.
However the positive mood that was sweeping the team and supporters was soon dampened down as Saints came to town and won an arm wrestle game although not by enough to rob Hull of the Steve Prescott Memorial Trophy.
Magic Weekend, however, delivered another high note as close neighbours Hull KR, holding smug bragging rights since the Easter derby, were taught a very harsh lesson as they were thoroughly whipped by an arrogant Hull in record fashion as they ran up a record 46 points in a competitive derby topping the 44 points they had hit Rovers with in 2008, at this point I suppose for the benefit of certain friends that Rovers do still hold the record for the biggest winning margin by 36 points in 2007.
The following week saw Hull travel to Widnes for what was seen as a defining match as both sides were competing for the coveted Super 8s spot with just 1 league point separating them, with the Vikings storming into a 12 point lead it was fast starting to look like a forlorn journey for Hull, however another Tom Lineham hat-trick allied with a try from Leon Pryce and a delicious kick and gather try by Marc Sneyd swept Hull home to a convincing victory.
Unfortunately after that success Hull’s season began to almost implode with defeats away to Catalans Dragons and Leeds before being unceremoniously dumped out of the cup by the Rhinos at the KC Stadium and then an embarrassing defeat at basement side Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, in this topsy turvy season however the Black and White’s rallied once again and, in their second double header, they gained revenge over the Wildcats, by now being coached by former Hull coach Brian Smith, with a victory which maybe wasn’t really deserved but, after a three game losing streak, it was a priceless victory which breathed much needed new life into a faltering season.
The top 8 cause was then further aided with another gutsy comeback victory at the KC Stadium against Castleford Tigers as the Tigers were given little choice by the intensity of Hull’s performance but to surrender an eight point half time advantage.
The game that mattered most though was taking place in front of the Sky cameras the following Friday at the KC Lightstream Stadium as the biggest rivalry in Super League was pushed to the forefront with the promise of victory holding the key to the door of the much vaunted Super 8s and defeat promised the ignominy of a place in the dreaded Middle 8s and the knowledge that it was your closest rivals who would have put you there.
Everything seemed to be going wrong in the derby match, losing their two most influential players Leon Pryce and captain Gareth Ellis to injury in the heat of the battle in the first half, trailing 12-4 when they lost Ellis to a snapped Achilles Hull looked in desperate trouble on a ground where only Leeds and Castleford had previously triumphed this season, but that fast growing resolve was soon on show again as Hull out-fought and out-thought their nearest and dearest enemies to take charge with another stirring comeback which saw them take the lead by half time and then produce a masterclass in how to control an opponent and a game at arms length to wrap up the points, the bragging rights and the place in the Super 8s in one evenings work which led to jubilant celebrations among the Old Faithful.
With so much attention and emphasis having been placed on the derby match it was probably not a surprise that the first phase of the season for Hull ended with a whimper as Wigan Warriors arrived at the KC Stadium and inflicted a heavy defeat on the home side.
The Super 8s was something of an anti-climax for the Airlie Birds due to the fact that they were playing teams who were in some cases superior sides who were always expected to be pushing for the semi-finals and a trip to Old Trafford and the Grand Final, having started brightly away to Castleford with two early tries the old frailties once again took over and Hull slipped to an unfortunate defeat but nobody could really say the Tigers didn’t deserve their victory.
The following week Hull again traveled to the home of the defending champions and, as on Easter Monday, Saints were ambushed by yet another comeback, including another hat-trick by Curtis Naughton, and soundly beaten 22-32.
The epitaph on this season will show that Hull lost all of their last 5 games, however it must be said that is far from the end story under the circumstances. With a growing injury list which included Gareth Ellis, Leon Pryce, Josh Bowden, Chris Green, Steve Michaels, Jordan Thompson, Setaimata Sa, Joe Westerman, Kirk Yeaman, Fetuli Talanoa and Dean Hadley for at least some, if not all, their Super 8s games Hull could possibly have been excused for asking to delay some games due to their unprecedented injury crisis, however no such Salford-like request was forthcoming, or even entertained, by the Black and White’s as they put their trust in youth.
A week before their Wembley date against Hull KR, Leeds rolled into town and rested some stars although not many as they still had Challenge Cup Final places up for grabs, Hull had some senior stars playing, such as new joint-players of the year Mark Minichiello and Liam Watts, but there was also more than just a smattering of under 19s players present in the match-day squad and, indeed, the 17 man match team, the Rhinos inevitably won but, according to Rhinos coach Brian McDermott afterwards, only because they got a few opportunities that only men like Ryan Hall and Rob Burrow could finish despite their inability in certain quarters to breakdown an enthusiastic Hull side.
Unfortunately the down side to using lots of youth is sometimes it breeds inconsistency and so it proved as Warrington Wolves were handed the points on a plate at the Halliwell Jones Stadium two weeks later, more injuries ensued in that game and Hull were only able to name 18 men instead of the regulation 19 in advance of the trip to Wigan for their one and only appearance in front of the Sky cameras in the Super 8s the following Friday.
In a match that was seen as a chance for the battle-hardened Warriors, who were just coming into top form, to put a severe dent in Leeds Rhinos points difference advantage at the summit of the table, Hull had to name seven youth players and were given no chance and were indeed tipped to succumb to a worse beating than 60-0 thrashing the Warriors had inflicted on a similarly severely under-strength Hull KR earlier in the season but somebody forgot to give the script to the kindergarten Hull side.
Although the Warriors squeezed out a thoroughly and totally undeserved 30-24 win a Hull team containing Curtis Naughton, Jordan Abdull, Jack Logan, Masimbaashe Matongo, Jansin Turgut, Brad Fash and Jack Downs left a more than lasting impression on the crowd in the DW Stadium and, no doubt, had fans of other teams sat at home glued to their television sets and cheering them on as they gave Shaun Wane’s side the fright of their lives.
Hull then returned home for their heritage week games against Huddersfield Giants and Catalans Dragons, with youthful enthusiasm on their side, but also a great deal of in-experience, the Airlie Birds fall to two more narrow defeats that could surely have been avoided with a bit more know-how.
The 14 point margin of victory for the Giants looks much more comfortable than it was, a point made very succinctly by coach Paul Anderson, the four point victory for the Dragons didn’t flatter them but could again have been avoided by Hull if only tries had been scored further infield rather than right in the corner every time.
Reaching the Super 8s was set as a minimum requirement by owner Adam Pearson at the start of the season and that was duly achieved. There was also some major highlights in the season for instance the two victories over Hull KR, the manner of them and what both meant to the supporters cannot be overestimated and the emergence of some genuinely exciting youth is a major plus.
The down-side, it was yet another false dawn in a lot of ways, certain players have clearly just been taking money from the club and not giving much in return and, in my humble opinion, Tom Lineham should never have been sold but that’s now water under the bridge and we’ll have to get used to the sight of him in primrose and blue.
The up-side, Hull FC do have a lot of very exciting youth that they need to keep hold of in future, the likes of Jack Logan, Callum Lancaster, Jordan Abdull, Jansin Turgut, Brad Fash, Jack Downs, Masimbaashe Matongo and Curtis Naughton are all seemingly very exciting players and that’s before we think about the likes of Reece Dean and Harry Tyson-Wilson.
Future. It’s no secret Hull do have some financial problems mainly due to having to pay off dead wood with some big money plus the big payout to Willie Manu but with great support, season pass membership sales, merchandising etc I’m sure they can get over the worst of it.
New Signings. Frank Pritchard, Sika Manu, Scott Taylor, Danny Washbrook, Carlos Tuimavave and Mahe Fonua are genuinely very impressive additions especially the forwards who will be added to an already mean pack that is bristling with quality.
Controversy. There is clearly absolutely no need for a ‘Super Academy’ merger with Hull KR.
Positive. The creation of an under 23s side with Richard Horne as its boss will give certain players more chance to develop and will hopefullt dispense with the ridiculous dual-registration idea.
Super League Grand Final, Wigan Warriors 20 Leeds Rhinos 22, Rhinos Wrap Up Treble Triumph Thanks To Josh Walters Winning Try
Teenage star Josh Walters scored a try he will never forget to make sure Leeds Rhinos departing stars Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai went out on the back of a thoroughly deserved outstanding treble triumph as this champion team wrote yet another chapter in the history of this great sport.
The proceedings began with the entry of the First Utility Super League trophy before superstar rock band The Charlatans were formerly introduced to the army of supporters who were amassing in Old Trafford for this eagerly anticipated Super League Grand Final which was the first time that Wigan and Leeds had contested it since they were the headline act at the first ever one in 1998.
Classical star Laura Wright then gave an uplifting performance of Jerusalem before the battle hardened Rhinos and Warriors entered the Theatre of Dreams to a cauldron of expectant noise for the formalities before the kick off.
Shaun Wane started Dominic Manfredi and John Bateman in his three-quarter line along with 19 year old Centre Oliver Gildart, his counterpart Brian McDermott also sprang a surprise with Brad Singleton being named in the starting line-up for the Rhinos and offload machine Adam Cuthbertson dropping to the bench where he sat with teenager Walters.
Brett Delaney also somehow made it into the 17 after departing Headingley on crutches after their semi-final win over St. Helens the previous week.
The men from Headingley started with more purpose but it was the Warriors drew first blood in the fourth minute as Liam Farrell caught Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield out of place and raced through before handing on to Sydney Roosters bound Joe Burgess for the winger to repeat his try scoring performance from 12 months ago, retiring Matty Bowen added the conversion to give them a six point lead.
Leeds responded immediately though after Matty Smith knocked on from the restart and after the resultant scrum a deft grubber by Sinfield was pounced on by Danny McGuire to score beside the posts, Sinfield’s inevitable conversion brought the Rhinos level in the seventh minute.
Wigan forced the Rhinos to drop out after Tom Briscoe was forced behind his own line and with the sustained pressure Michael McIlorum made a dive for the Leeds try line but he dropped the ball just short.
Tempers threatened to boil over as Brad Singleton was penalised for tackling Burgess in the air from a high kick close to the Warriors line.
The game settled into an arm wrestle in which the most noteworthy incident was a clash of heads between Sinfield and Cuthbertson requiring both Rhinos players to have running repairs with strapping going round their profusely bleeding heads.
A cross-field kick by Steve Prescott Man of Steel winner Zak Hardaker then caused panic in the Warriors defence which ensued in the tackle count being wiped clean by referee Ben Thaler, in a frantic period of play Leeds flung the ball right to left and then back to the right and, despite a possible knock on in the build up by McGuire, the video referees awarded an eventual try to Joel Moon to a chorus of boos from the supporters in Cherry and White, uncharacteristically Sinfield missed the conversion to leave it a four point gap after 28 minutes.
The Warriors then marched to the Leeds end of the pitch and forced some sustained pressure on the Rhinos defensive line with a knock on by Ryan Hall giving them head and feed 10 meters from the Rhinos line but an organised defence from the men in Blue and Amber held them at bay.
Leeds then suddenly cut the Warriors apart with breathtaking speed and ingenuity as Wembley hero Briscoe engineered a break to put Kallum Watkins away down the right and the England Centre handed inside to put McGuire in for his 2nd try of the match, Sinfield’s conversion gave them a 10 point lead that they held for the last four minutes of the half.
Wigan had the first surge into enemy territory of the 2nd half but a pass from Bowen was knocked on by Farrell so the chance was squandered.
A knock on by McGuire then presented the Warriors with territory and possession and then a high shot by the retiring Kylie Leuluai gave the Warriors more possession and then a dangerous grubber was knocked dead by Sinfield forcing the Rhinos to have to drop out from under their posts for the second time in the game.
Sustained pressure from the Warriors on the Rhinos line eventually saw a high bomb from Sean O’ Loughlin stolen by Manfredi from the clutches of Hall for the Wigan man to dive over and put his side back in the contest, Bowen added the extra two points to bring them back within four points seven minutes into the half.
Within two minutes of that the Warriors were back in front for the first time since the 7th minute as Bowen cut his way through feeble Rhinos defence and raced in under the posts and then added the conversion to his try to make it 18-16 to the men from the DW Stadium.
Watkins gave away a soft penalty for a high shot on Farrell which led to more pressure on the Rhinos but this time Wigan managed to lose the ball over the Leeds try line in a frantic piece of play.
McIlorum then claimed a clever penalty as he threw a pass against Watkins in an offside position at the play-the-ball and with 19 minutes remaining Bowen duly obliged to stretch their lead to four points as the pendulum continued to swing their way.
Three minutes later this great sport wrote another great fairytale chapter as young Josh Walters, coming off the bench in his first ever play-off game, scrambled over after the Warriors made a hash of clearing up a high kick and two passes later the teenager was in, Sinfield restored the Rhinos lead with the conversion.
A pitch invader then caused a short stop a few minutes later before the game resumed with the Warriors in possession.
Enthusiasm then got the better of Manfredi as he raised Hall in a dangerous tackle and dumped the England winger on his shoulder.
Desperate defence by the Warriors then led to a scrum for Leeds 10 meters from the line and then more desperation from the Warriors held them at bay somehow.
McIlorum then scragged Burrow to the ground with a head high tackle giving the Rhinos another penalty which was duly dispatched into touch.
Leeds kept forcing the issue but a very well organised defence still kept them out but then just as Tony Clubb seemed to be creating a break in midfield he tried to pass but the ball went forward and hit the deck.
For all the times that commentators Eddie and particularly Stevo kept referring to the superstar names in the Rhinos line-up as the ones who could put this game beyond the Warriors they somehow kept contriving to blow guilt edged chance after chance but, importantly held on to their two point lead.
In a breathless finish the Warriors tried everything they could after gaining possession with a scrum 10 meters from their line but a frantic kick wide was eventually defused by Hall giving way to absolute unbridled joy as they completed the Super League Leaders Shield, Ladbrokes Challenge Cup and Grand Final treble and defeated the Warriors in a major final for the first time in their distinguished history.
Penalties: Wigan 4 Leeds 5
Goal Line Drop Outs: Wigan 0 Leeds 2
Harry Sunderland Trophy Man of the Match: Danny McGuire
Injury ravaged Hull FC frightened the living daylights out of Grand Final contenders Wigan Warriors in a classic Super 8s match at the DW Stadium.
Hull coach Lee Radford trusted youth due to their unprecedented injury crisis with no fewer than six academy players as Zimbabwean born prop Masimbaashe Matongo made his debut from the bench and Jansin Turgut made his second appearance alongside Brad Fash, Jordan Abdull, Jack Logan and Jack Downs.
The game started with a very flat atmosphere as both sides started cautiously and defences were undoubtedly on top in the first few minutes.
Just as Wigan appeared to create their first opportunity with a fast move from right to left winger Joe Burgess put the ball down with open ground in front of him.
From the resulting scrum Hull then moved the ball to their left and Curtis Naughton made a dash only to be brought down into touch by a tackle that looked a touch high by Warriors full-back Ryan Hampshire.
The Warriors then went straight back to their left side with George Williams making a dart down the wing before handing inside for 19 year old centre Oliver Gildart to race in after 10 minutes, the conversion by Hampshire gave the home side a six point advantage.
Hull youngster Jack Logan then made a dangerous break from inside his own half and had the Warriors defence on the run until he tried a pass which was taken somewhat fortuitously by Burgess despite him seemingly knocking the ball on.
Wigan then forced a last tackle play with several passes but the covering Airlie Birds defence got back in numbers to halt the danger 10 meters from their own line as they refused to just lie down.
Wigan soon extended their advantaged as a fast move to the right side saw Anthony Gelling draw winger Naughton in before putting Josh Charnley over in the corner in the 22nd minute, the touchline conversion by Hampshire gave them a 12 point lead.
Unfortunately for the badly under strength black and whites the Warriors were finding yards rather easy to come by but Hull did keep making clean breaks which would have upset Warriors boss Shaun Wane.
Another break by Jordan Rankin after Matty Smith knocked on near the Hull line saw the Airlie Birds again press the Warriors defence until an unfortunate pass hit Rankin and ballooned over Tom Lineham into touch.
Wigan were then given a fortuitous scrum when a short kick was unluckily fumbled by Logan giving them a scrum 20 meters from the Hull line but a move to the right was snuffed out after a forward pass from Gelling to Charnley was pulled up by referee James Child.
Warriors forward Sam Powell was then very lucky to face no further action after clearly gouging Lineham’s eye which saw the winger taken off for further treatment.
Mark Minichiello was then harshly penalised for a ball steal in a 1-on-1 tackle giving the Warriors another penalty and eventually John Bateman crossed under the posts, the conversion from Hampshire made it 18-0 after 32 minutes.
Another Wigan attack threatened another try but then a dropped ball presented full-back Jamie Shaul with a chance to run and the Hull man raced 95 meters for his 8th try of the season, the touchline conversion from Marc Sneyd brought the black and white’s back into the game with four minutes to go to the break.
Two minutes later the Airlie Birds were in again as a fast move to the left side saw Logan dispense with one tackle from England scrum half Matty Smith and then rounded two more defenders all too easily to score, the conversion from Sneyd reduced the deficit to six points with less than a minute to half time.
Hull started the second half in good mood and after their first set in the half Sneyd came within a whisker of a 40/20 but the ball just went into touch short of the 20 meter line much to the home sides relief.
The Warriors were afforded the first chance of the half as Minichiello made an uncharacteristic error as he dropped a pass inside his own 20 meter area but a well organised defence from Hull kept them at bay forcing Smith into a kick which was fielded by Naughton to force a goal line drop out.
A harsh penalty for interference against Matongo then gave the Warriors more possession and territory but a nothing attack was easily repelled by a vice-like Hull defnce as a Warriors player was forced into touch under a pack of defenders.
Another Warriors attack then saw another kick to the Hull left and this time Naughton managed to tap the ball back for Sneyd to take the ball and bring it away from the line again.
Another comical attack from the Warriors then saw a rare mistake from Shaul as he failed to take a grubber kick in, the loose ball was thrown inside to Powell but as he slid over the line he was foiled by Danny Houghton’s hand forcing the ball clear resulting in a 20 meter restart for Hull.
Hull then attacked again as they sensed another chance but Naughton was stopped less than 10 meters short and then a wide kick by Sneyd was knocked on.
Wigan then thought they had another try after Abdull spilled a kick and Bateman grabbed the loose ball to touchdown but the video referee disallowed the try after Flower was adjudged to have tackled the young stand-off without the ball.
Another Wigan attack then saw Josh Charnley held up over the line but then on the next play Flower forced his way over the whitewash, the conversion from Hampshire stretched the Warriors lead to an undeserved 12 points with 18 minutes left to play.
Hull then came again as Fash made a dash in broken play but was then penalised for pushing Hampshire off him trying to get a quick play the ball.
Wigan then attacked again and another kick was floated out to Charnley’s wing but again Naughton was equal to it to push the ball out to touch in goal.
Wigan were then awarded a penalty in front of the posts and, uncharacteristically they opted to take the two points and Hampshire duly obliged to make it 26-12 with 13 minutes left.
Hull then made a great break through Steve Prescott Man of Steel contender Liam Watts and with the Warriors defence at sixes and sevens a kick right by Sneyd was taken in by Rankin and the departing Australian dotted the ball down to score, the conversion by Sneyd brought them back within eight points.
Hull then cut the Wigan defence apart embarrassingly easily again and a deft kick by Houghton saw Logan race up outside Charnley, scoop the ball in, and leave the England winger floundering in his wake to race in unopposed, the conversion by Sneyd made it a two point ball game with eight minutes remaining.
Taulima Tautai was then sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Mickey Paea with less than seven minutes left to play.
Wigan then grabbed a totally undeserved win as Super League’s leading try-scorer Burgess rounded off a move down the left hand side with a palpable sense of relief to leave a final score of 30-24.
Penalties Wigan 5 Hull FC 3
Goal Line Drop Outs Wigan 0 Hull FC 2
Man of the Match (Shared) Curtis Naughton and Jack Logan
IJ: You had the campaign to have the Man of Steel award named after Steve Prescott, how did you actually come up with the idea for that?
GM: I had the idea after the Man of Steel award two years ago and they said Steve had been taken ill again and I said to the wife they should name an award after him, and decided well why not the main one?
IJ: Was there any time that you thought the campaign wouldn’t achieve what it set out to do?
GM: Every day, we was never convinced it was ever actually going to happen even though we liaised with the RFL and the Steve Prescott Foundation and we were never convinced until the actual announcement was made.
IJ: Was there never any time when you actually thought, yes we can do this or did that just actually happen when they announced it?
GM: As sad as it sounds the campaign was actually given a boost when Steve passed away because people thought yeah we need to do this, that really made me sad because the way we started the campaign we really wanted Steve to present the first award so for the campaign to receive a boost because of Steve’s passing it was sort of a silver lining round a very, very black cloud.
IJ: You said you had a great team behind you, did specific jobs get delegated to certain people or was it just all thrown together?
GM: It was basically thrown together and we just all took our own roll’s on, I was one that took on to do whatever I could, I think we all did but basically Paul Whitaker was our tweeter and he actually set up the Facebook page, our other admin’s was Debs Fitzgerald and Alison Watson and those ladies actually walked round radio stations and media outlets with our press releases and said “please back us”, and every little bit sort of came together as a large jigsaw that ultimately proved fruitful.
IJ: What has it been like for you personally being the Super League Fan of Pride?
GM: We never set out for personal recognition, I was just sort of pushed forward as a sort of figure-head because the others didn’t particularly like doing the media side of it and it didn’t really bother me and I just thought one of us needs to do it so I seemed to become the sort of figure-head of the campaign which didn’t really suit me because I’m a quiet person in real life so actually to be nominated as the Brut Fan of Pride was lovely and being nominated as Fan of Pride for both Hull FC and Hull KR was unprecedented and did sort of make me chuckle.
IJ: What has been the biggest highlight of this year as Fan of Pride for you?
GM: It gave me some benefits, I’d already bought a pass for this year so to get two free one’s I’m already going to take them next year I’ve already arranged that with the club which is nice so I don’t need to fork out for next season’s home games, there were some other perks like I was invited to the first ever awarding of the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award.
IJ: Obviously you’re well known as a Hull FC fan so who do you think out of the current squad should be Steve Prescott Man of Steel winner and why?
GM: I think there’s possibly two, maybe three options in the squad this year, Mark Minichiello for me has been outstanding, he’s been a leader on the pitch, he’s taken the ball in and done the hard stuff, Liam Watts his game has come on this year, I don’t know what has made the difference with him but he’s developed his offload, he’s worked much harder this year, last year he was quite a lazy player, this year he’s far from it.
IJ: Obviously this year Lee Radford has expressed his support for Danny Houghton, would you put his name forward?
GM: Danny Houghton, to a certain extent Danny Houghton is the workhorse of the team who never really gets the recognition he deserves.
IJ: Is there any other player from any other club that you would like to see win the award?
GM: There’s a player who gives his heart and soul every week, he scored a lovely try in yesterday’s Challenge Cup Final, not Tom Briscoe funnily enough but Rob Burrow, he does the hard work with Leeds Rhinos, he comes on and he destroys teams, but if I had to name one person who I think will win it this year it would be Adam Cuthbertson, I think he’s given Leeds something else I think he’s given them this big presence on the field and I think he’s made more off-loads than some teams on his own.
IJ: If you had to name one player who you would put your mortgage on to win the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award this year, who would it be?
GM: Possibly, I’m gonna nail my colours to Jamie Peacock going out on a high, again he does the hard yards he plays 80 minutes as a prop at 37-years-old, that would be difficult enough for a young lad never mind somebody of his age.
IJ: Recently you did the Hull 10K for the Steve Prescott Foundation, do you have any other fundraising events in mind for them?
GM: Not anything set in stone at the moment but I am liaising with the Steve Prescott Foundation for challenges for next year.
IJ: Is the Hull 10K going to be an option again next year?
GM: I believe that some of the 10K Steve Prescott members are going to do it again next year
Hull KR 36 Warrington Wolves 10, Rampant Robins Move Within Striking Distance of Top 8 With Demolition of Wolves
Hull KR turned up the heat on the top 8 in Super League with an outstanding performance to blitz Warrington Wolves at the KC Lightstream Stadium.
The Wolves started this game as slight favourites despite their erratic form while Rovers tried to close in on the coveted top 8 in by following up their impressive win against Widnes Vikings last week.
The first chance of the game came the way of the Robins with back-to-back penalties giving them possession and field position close to the visitors line but the chance came to nothing after their third set on the Wolves line ended with a poor grubber kick which was snapped up by the defence.
The visitors then marched up-field but their own chance came to nothing as Ben Westwood was tackled just short of the line by Liam Salter which led to the handover.
In the next exchange Albert Kelly tried a kick which was charged down by Man of Steel winner Daryl Clark and the chance ended with Chris Hill going over under the posts in the 10th minute to give them a lead against the run of play, the conversion from Declan Patton stretched the lead to 6 points for the men in primrose and blue.
Rovers then marched to the other end and created an opening down their left but Maurice Blair’s kick for Josh Mantellato was cleared up by a well organised defence.
Another penalty to the visitors invited them to the other end again and when they earned a repeat set they had more chance to apply pressure but a dropped pass by Patton gave Rovers the chance to clear their lines again.
The next attack from the visitors ended with a speculative kick by Patton but it was well claimed by Mantellato before Wolves captain Joel Monaghan could pounce.
Referee James Child wasn’t endearing himself to the home support especially when James Laithwaite was allowed to get away with a blatant ball-steal in a two man tackle as loan man Tony Puletua closed in towards a first try for Rovers.
Warrington were getting more into their stride in the second quarter but workmanlike was the best way of describing the efforts of both sides in a very end-to-end affair in the first half with defence on both sides giving the most noteworthy contributions to the proceedings.
Eventually Ken Sio provided a piece of magic in the 36th minute after a fast cross-field move set him free from just over 40 meters out and the winger raced through to cross the whitewash in the right corner, the touchline conversion from Mantellato fell just short to leave the visitors two points ahead.
Rovers then had a second try awarded by the video referee after a kick by Kelly was caught by Monaghan but the ball was forced free after a clash of heads with Kris Welham and eventually Mantellato forced his way over in the 38th minute and then added the conversion to give the home side a 10-6 advantage at half time.
Rovers started the second half with more urgency and forced a repeat set near the Wolves line but Jordan Cox brought that to a stop by knocking on 15 meters from the visitors line.
However the home side soon forced another chance as Ryan Atkins was forced into touch less than 40 meters from the Warrington line but the resulting attack came to an end as a grubber kick from Kelly was snaffled by the Wolves defence.
A penalty for obstruction gave Rovers another attack and this time they took full advantage as Kieran Dixon cut through a non-existent defence and went over under the posts, the inevitable conversion stretched their lead to 10 points in the seventh minute of the half.
The Robins looked much the hungrier and better organised of the two sides and, with Kelly orchestrating the attack, they were making light of the absence of their talismanic captain Terry Campese.
The next Rovers attack saw a speculative kick from Kelly which Sio beat Gene Ormsby to and knocked back to Salter for the centre to just drop down and score in the 54th minute, the majestic touchline conversion from Mantellato made it 22-6 to Rovers.
A mistake by Dixon gave Warrington a chance as he dropped a high bomb under minimal pressure and eventually a quick move across field saw Ormsby slide in at the corner, Patton pushed the touchline conversion wide to leave the men from Cheshire trailing by 12 points after 58 minutes.
A mistake at the other end by Ormsby then gave Rovers another attacking scrum 15 meters from the away sides line but despite the threat Warrington maintained their slim chance by keeping them at bay this time.
A break by Dixon then led to another attack and a deft little grubber kick by Kelly saw stand-in captain Tyrone McCarthy get over the whitewash against his former club, Mantellato missed the conversion to leave the score 26-10 with just under 15 minutes left to play.
Mantellato then added a penalty from 40 meters out in the 70th minute to stretch the advantage to three converted tries for the home side.
A knock on by Warrington after one scrum then gave the Robins yet another attacking scrum close to their line and Kris Welham forced his way over from a delightful pass by Maurice Blair, Mantellato again added the extras to stretch the score to 34-10 with six minutes left on the clock.
Wolves prop Ashton Sims then gifted Rovers another penalty with a little braul which Mantellato duly converted from 40 meters out to make it 36-10 with the final act of the match.
This result will undoubtedly see Rovers deservedly head into their Challenge Cup Quarter Final at home against Catalans Dragons next week with great confidence.
Penalties: Hull KR 6 Warrington 3
Goal Line Drop Outs: Hull KR 1 Warrington 1
Man of the Match: Albert Kelly
A team of runners and representatives of the Steve Prescott Foundation have completed the Jane Tomlinson Asda Foundation Hull 10K to raise money for the charity set up by the late Hull FC, St. Helens and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats player.
Martin Blondel, secretary for the Steve Prescott Foundation, said the idea for a team to do the run came from Super League Fan of Pride Graham Middleton to raise funds for the charity which supports Christies Cancer Hospital, the Rugby League Benevolent Fund and Oxford Transplant Foundation.
Mr Blondel also spoke about a team including Super League legends Barrie McDermott, Adrian Morley, Lee Briers, Gareth Carvell, Alan Hunte and Chico Jackson, which will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in October on behalf of the charity.
Speaking about Graham Middleton, who organised the campaign that had the Man of Steel Award named after Steve Prescott last year, he said, “Graham is a legend for everything he’s done for the foundation.”
After the race Mr Middleton, who had a cortisone injection during the week to be able to run, said he had done it because Steve Prescott still inspires him and will continue to do so.
“I aim to do a fundraiser every year, the main aim is to keep Steve’s legacy alive.
“The fact it was for the Steve Prescott Foundation certainly helped get people on board to do this today.”
Mr Middleton also said that there are plans in place for another fundraising effort next year which will be announced in the coming months which he hopes people will get behind again and members of the team have already been asking if they’re going to do the Hull 10K again next year.
Before the team set off to do the race Mr Blondel also said that there will be a big announcement in about two weeks regarding where the £5000 they’re expecting to raise from the race will be going.
The charity can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on phone on 07971792859
Hull FC slipped down to 8th in Super League with a heartbreaking defeat in Perpignan as Catalan Dragons continued their impressive home form which has seen them only lose once on their home ground.
Coach Lee Radford brought back Jordan Rankin at full-back in place of Jamie Shaul and derby hat-trick hero Fetuli Talanoa returned in place of Warrington-bound winger Tom Lineham and Setaimata Sa also returned from injury to face his former team at the Stade Gilbert Brutus after missing the win at Widnes Vikings.
The first chance came the way of the black and white’s with a scrum 10 meters from the Catalan line after Morgan Escare knocked on a high kick which then led to the young full-back being caught behind the line after a full set on the home sides line.
The goal line drop out led to another attack but the Airlie Birds were unable to make it count as a grubber kick from Marc Sneyd was eventually cleared up.
However the respite for the Dragons was only temporary as finally Joe Westerman made a break in the middle of the pitch and Rankin came up in support to go over under the posts in the 11th minute, the conversion from Sneyd gave the visitors a 6 point lead.
It took until the 16th minute for Catalan to draw level when captain Remi Casty made a break in midfield and then put the supporting Thomas Bosc over under the posts, the conversion from Scott Dureau brought the home side level.
Another mistake by Catalan led to another Hull scrum 10 meters from the Dragons line but a structured set from the visitors was ineffective as the home side comfortably held them out.
As the game settled down the home side became slightly more frustrated than Hull and a petulant ball steal by Dureau in the 28th minute gave them a penalty which Sneyd added to take the score to 6-8 in the 29th minute.
In the 35th minute a telegraphed pass from Sneyd to Mark Minichiello gifted an intercept and simple dash to the line to score for Dragons centre Tony Gigot to put the home side in the lead for the first time, the conversion from Dureau stretched it to a 4 point advantage.
Back-to-back penalties then led to another attack and try for the home side by Greg Mounis under the posts in the 39th minute, the inevitable conversion from Dureau gave the Dragons a 10 point lead going into the half time break.
Hull only had themselves to blame for trailing at half time after they had plenty of territory but made mistakes which had led to scores for the home side after a solid opening 30 minutes.
A penalty given away by the Dragons early in the second half gave Hull some pressure on the Catalan line again but again the attack was well quelled by an organised defence until a grubber kick by Sneyd went over the dead ball line.
The Dragons then got a penalty for a stolen ball and attacked with purpose but a stray pass cost them another try and gave the visitors a relieving scrum.
Another purposeful attack from the Dragons saw Dureau put a grubber kick over the Hull try line with Elliott Whitehead hunting the try but Steve Michaels managed to knock the ball dead for a goal line drop out then a mistake by Catalan in the ensuing attack gave Hull some relief.
However another mistake by the visitors led to another attack until another mistake from the home side gave Hull possession back.
The play then moved back to the Catalan end as Hull appeared to start to get into their stride and then Gigot knocked on 30 meters from his own line to give Hull another attacking scrum and Mark Minichiello brought his side back into the contest in the 52nd minute as he bashed his way over despite the attentions of three Dragons defenders, the simple conversion for Sneyd brought the score to 18-14.
Another fluid attack from the Dragons led to a break by Escare who chipped over the head of Talanoa but Sa was on hand to take the kick behind the try line for a goal line drop out again which led to another attack until a forward pass gave Hull another relieving scrum.
Hull then moved quickly down-field and the two former Dragons players combined as Leon Pryce chipped over the defensive line but Sa lost the ball over the line under pressure.
A silly penalty given away by Hull then led to more pressure on their line but another poor pass led to a knock on by Man of Steel contender Zeb Taia to give them another scrum to clear their lines.
Another fast move down-field by Hull then saw Pryce kick towards the Dragons line so Escare knocked the ball into touch to give Hull another scrum close to the home sides try line which then led to another knock on by Gigot to give Hull another scrum with little over 10 minutes remaining.
A fast cross-field move by Hull then led to a try by Fetuli Talanoa but the video referee denied him controversially for obstruction which appeared to be caused by the Catalan player Ben Pomeroy.
Shortly after that a break through the middle of the field by Minichiello then saw another mistake by the black and white’s deep in Catalan territory to let the home side off again.
A penalty for a ball steal on Ian Henderson then gave the home side a penalty which Dureau duly converted to give them a six point advantage.
A short kick off then led to another attack from Hull after the ball was batted back into their possession but a pass over the top for Talanoa ended up going into touch with five minutes left to play.
Finally Catalan saw the match out as Hull were left to rue too many mistakes at crucial times and some controversial calls by referee Ben Thaler and the video referee.
Hull will wonder what might have been if they hadn’t coughed up so much possession and given the home side so many penalties and territory but there are clearly issues that need to be addressed before a trip to Headingley next week for the fist of a league and cup double-header against Challenge Cup holders Leeds Rhinos.
Questions will also inevitably be asked about referee Ben Thaler’s performance although it would be unfair to blame the defeat entirely on him after he made some bad calls against both sides.
Penalties: Catalan Dragons 10 Hull FC 7
Goal Line Drop Outs: Catalan Dragons 1 Hull FC 2
Man of the Match: Mark Minichiello