Not since the glory days of the early 1980s have Hull FC maintained a challenge on the top flight with this much promise. Back then a vibrant and passionate Hull crowd backed an entertaining and victory-bugged side to regular final appearances with a strong connection felt between fan and club.
Right now that relationship is at its peak as Hull FC took Super League’s pinnacle place on the table for the second time in 2016 after beating Rovers 28-16 at the Magic Weekend.
Back to 1983 and it was another Derby win that put Hull into pole position as the Black and Whites toppled the old enemy 21-3 at the Boulevard with tries each from famous Kiwi trio Gary Kemble, Dane O’Hara and James Leuluai.
Hull won the league by four competition points that season, before losing Challenge Cup and Premiership finals to Featherstone and Widnes.
In the league though the Airlie Birds were far too powerful. That 21-3 Derby win put Rovers into second position and pretty much secured the Black and Whites the title. Hull won the league at Barrow the week after and remarkably lost just six fixtures from a thirty game season.
The similarities to that in 2016 are there to observe. After fifteen rounds and at exactly the half way stage of the season Hull topped the table thanks to victory over Rovers, having only lost four games, and with three of those coming before a nine from ten league game winning spell.
Coming slightly back down to Earth that victory thirty-three years ago was the fourth to last game of the season and in 2016 there’s still fifteen rounds to go, but it’s hard not to see the similarities between this year and that of 1983.
More similar, and instead of a Kiwi trio, it’s a Polynesian brotherhood – along with Scott Taylor’s capture – that have rejuvenated the team spirit within the camp.
Hull right now – as they were in 1983 – are a tight bond of brothers that appreciate all too well what this unbelievable support from the fan base does to confidence, belief and drive.
The Hull FC following to Newcastle was absolutely magnificent and when their heroes needed it most the driving spur was given. The noise was deafening at times with the scenes of jubilation felt on the concourse post-match. As many senior Hull FC fans have pointed out, it really does take you back to the 80s.
Jumping for Joy! The Kiwi Haka following trophy presentation
The playing roster meanwhile is as good as Hull FC have had in three decades, with previous heroes such as Lee Crooks and Steve Norton matched to present idols Gareth Ellis, Jamie Shaul and Danny Houghton.
Impressively, both sides are (and were) built on the same fundamentals; hard work, energy, commitment, and skill. Hull this year know when to turn it on, they can up the gears when needed, be classy and yet still win games the ugly way – something which has evaded them in previous campaigns, and something during the winters months of 1982/83 they did all too well.
Like Arthur Bunting Hull have a coach in Lee Radford who is now acquiring his more than justified praises. Bunting came into the role a legend whereas Radders has had to endure a lot of stick – some of it certainly unfair – but now along with Andy Last and Motu Tony, he has built a squad capable of winning titles.
We’re starting to see that now. There’s a buzz about the place. Hull FC are fearless. They play with energy and have class all over the field, with consistency in performance – as we’ve since over the past ten weeks – coming to the fray.
Likewise to 2016, 1983 saw numerous winning streaks built up, with defeats few and far between. Hull also competed – like they are this year – on both fronts, with a Challenge Cup triumph also a realistic capability.
For the Airlie Birds a title winning season like that of 1983 certainly isn’t beyond them. After all Hull FC have a proud and illustrious history, and if history has taught us anything over the years, it’s that more times than most it always repeats itself.