So, you’ve all gone home and left the few of us missionaries out here!
That was a blast wasn’t it? For those that came – so, so, many more than Wigan and Leeds fans combined I’d say, and for those watching enviously on social media, I’m sure we’d all agree that a lot of fun was had. What we might not agree on is “was it actually worth it?”……
Well, on the down side we lost both games, picked up a couple of injuries and then lost the homecoming game against Cas too, hardly ideal in a season when we must kick on and again challenge at the top end of the table. However, the Taylor appendix would’ve flared up if we’d played Wigan at Central Park, and Bureta’s head wasn’t made more fragile by the flight to Sydney, so they can be discounted. Who knows if Mint’s calf injury was exacerbated by a warmer climate or dehydration or something, I’m fairly sure injuries like that just happen.
As for the result, yes it was disappointing but given that we were playing with practically a one man bench for much of the game (how Mini got back on to that pitch I will never know – he was busted) and that two of Wigan’s tries came when we were still working out our right side defence after Bureta was led from the field not knowing what decade it was, it was a brave but ultimately doomed performance.
The one thing that Wollongong did though was show the locals what a proper passionate following looks like. Mrs Pommyrich and I drove down (6hrs!) from our residence that morning only to find that our hotel wouldn’t let us check in until 2pm, so we decided to have a bit of lunch at the Steelers club and hopefully beat the rush. We ordered food, got a pint and the first rendition of Old Faithful started about 1pm. The look on the bar staffs faces when we got into full voice was really something to behold, I happened to be at the bar, and one girl was absolutely crapping herself thinking that, as there were both Hull and Wigan fans in there, it was all going to kick off. The old bloke pie eater next to me said “no lass, we’re not bloody soccer fans, it’ll be reet!” and as if to prove a point he reached over put his hand on my shoulder and smiled a gummy smile at me.
It must’ve been hard to be a Wigan supporter on that tour too, they were comprehensively outnumbered by us at both games and in every pub or club that hosted a fan event. I saw one of the Chefs at Steelers pissing himself laughing after a particularly unsuccessful attempt at singing by the cherry and whites (“Wigan, Wigan..” is that their only song?) when two girls (no names, but you know exactly who you are!) started singing “if you can’t bang a woman, bang a drum!”
You might wonder how it was for me to see my first Hull game in almost 10 years, and my first Super League game in 15? Honestly, it was the closest an atheist like me is going to get to a religious experience. Standing on the hill with our esteemed editor Dan screaming at the ref till my voice was gone, I was as happy as a pig in mud. Almost as good was the meet the players event at Kiama the next day. To hear the players talk about how amazed they were at the following from England and what it meant to them to hear Old Faithful ringing out in foreign climes was incredible. Tuli even said he got into trouble from Sneyd at one point as he’d gotten caught up in the moment and couldn’t remember what the tackle count was.
Then on to Sydney, and it would be remiss of me not to mention the fan takeover of Darling Harbour on the Friday night. Another spectacular night of drinking, singing, chanting and watching the Rhinos get schooled by a Melbourne side that barely got out of 2nd gear. So it was hungover and excited that I woke up on Saturday to watch the double header at ANZ and take my kids to their first ever Hull game – I had decided I needed to get Wollongong out of my system without them.
Another loss of course, but plenty for us to be excited about. Watts was world class, and that’s not overstating it, and Masi Matongo and Sika Manu stood up to be counted too. Kelly though, looked like a man on a mission, and whether we like it or not, he’s put himself right in the NRL shop window with that performance. Especially as one likely destination would be the Dragons, I’m sure he’s opened a few eyes. We came very close against a practically full strength Dragons side bristling with internationals, and won many more plaudits than Wigan did losing to a Souths side full of kids.
One negative is again our right side defence that was exploited time and again by the Dragons. Bureta does like to go wandering and unless we get that sorted out quickly its going to be a bloody turnstile for opposition left wingers. We look like we escaped without anything long term on the injury front though, and it was a friendly so hopefully we’ll learn from it, especially as the amount of substitutions meant that the game struggled to get going in the 2nd half as we tested out different combinations.
What we need now is to be able to get something like our best 17 on the park, if you add Taylor, Mini, Mint and Sika to the team that lost at Cas, then I’d back us against anyone.
So to answer my original question, yes it bloody well was worth it. It cost the club nothing (between Wigan and NSW tourism they paid for everything), we’ve exposed the brand to hundreds of thousands of new potential fans, thousands of Hull supporters have had a ball, and seen things they’ve only dreamed of, we’ve proved beyond a shadow of a doubt we have the best fan base, the best songbook, the best club in the Super League, and we’ve done it in a place that is Rugby League heaven. Jobs a good un I reckon.
So its back to the cold for you lot, and back to getting up at dark o’clock to watch a game for me. All good things must come to an end, but judging from the reaction over here I wouldn’t surprised if we do it all again in the years to come. You never know – we might not get the chance to as we’ll be in the World Club Championship game next February. A dream….. but never say never.
Until next time, Up the Cream, Gerremonsard and Come on you ‘Ull.
This article first appeared in Up the Cream Issue 50. To buy it, click here