Well I still can’t believe it and although us old folks traditionally have diminishing memories and indeed I can’t remember what I had for my tea last night, rest assured the 2016 season will live with me till the day I die; well one particular day of it will anyway.
So stop sodding moaning and just admit it; we’ve had a bloody marvellous season at Hull FC haven’t we? Some folks I meet are bemoaning what happened after the Challenge Cup final, but believe me they’re all fooling themselves, because I know eight months ago they would all have settled for winning the Challenge Cup at Wembley and seeing that plane flying over the East Hull wastelands a week later; end of bloody story.
For this silly old Codger, after around 70 years of waiting and it then finally coming to pass, it capped my life off perfectly and I can now snuff it a totally contented man. Our lass says she wishes I would, (Snuff it that is) but I’m hanging on, if only to just ‘piss her and the Rovers fans off’ whilst at Club, the Cup is coming to a ‘Free and Easy’ evening this Wednesday, when we’ll be all having a photo or two with it.
However last night after dominoes, Charlie (not the Steve Michaels variety) was saying that although he’d enjoyed the whole experience, in his opinion there are still some massive issues surrounding our beloved game in this country. Whilst the Rugby Football League persist in trying to maintain the diminishing interest of its remaining paying punters, gates are dropping and all the while our administrators are confusing everyone outside the game with some truly weird play off concepts.
Charlie’s a bit of a thinker really and he believes that the sport is now becoming little else than a manufactured eight month bore. It still appeals to us hardened fans, for we know little else than turning up every week, whatever the format of the competition, but when you look around few if any new supporters have much idea at all as to what the hell is going on. Charlie went on to say, “Who on earth wants to watch Toulouse against Toronto? I can’t see half of bloody Canada stopping to watch it. They have their own sports to be fanatical about in North America but we still persist with this expansionist rubbish and do it while teams like Rochdale, Swinton, Oldham and Hunslet struggle to survive”. He certainly has a point and we also all agreed with him that there are two other massive issues that really get up all our noses; the sodding referee’s and the Rugby League media.
Of course as an old fella I can talk with some authority when it comes to referees and the views that the fans have had of them over the years. And, let me tell you this, they haven’t bloody changed much. I’ve been watching the Cream for over seven decades and the men in black have suffered the scorn of the fans all that time. Back in the 60’s The Threepenny Standers would wait around the main gates for them to arrive, just so that we could start the abuse extra early. I can remember ‘Sergeant Major’ Eric Clay, Fred Lindop and ‘Whistle Happy’ Charlie Appleton, but at least back then we had the ‘Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh what a referee’ song with an ever increasing string of swear words at the end. That certainly helped vent our frustration, plus of course the odd empty beer bottle slung from the Threepennies was always appreciated, particularly when aimed at a dodgy touch judge.
Those part time and grossly unfit officials got it wrong, of course they did, but they did it with a sense of humour and they had a rapport with the crowd, stormy though it was at times. These days with video referees and constant play backs of the action the officials are under a lot more pressure, but boy do they take themselves seriously, while some think that they are the stars of the show. But you see for me in the ‘olden day’s’ referees were at least human beings and not the robotic, ‘look at me’ artistes of modern day Super League. So, for me and my mate’s, referees are by and large getting worse and over the years I’ve seen some pretty crap ones, believe me.
However, after the last few games of the season even the mildest mannered supporter must now be wondering how much worse the officials can get? Of course in the end all we can do is accept what they say and move on, but the media don’t help either do they? Just a couple of weekends ago it was a massive few days for rugby in the City, we were playing Warrington for the ‘hub cap’ and the dicks across the River were playing Huddersfield to avoid the dole queue, however after the games, all the rhetoric, conjecture and reporting coming forth from the media was centred, not on who played well and who didn’t, but rather on how crap the officials were at both games.
I mean to say, look at that Gwilym Lloyd character on Humberside, we all know he’s a Rovers fan, he was one way back in the days when he worked with my cousin at Harland’s, however after the FC Warrington game he immediately dismissed a caller who said that the referee was poor. That’s fine I guess, but after that wonderful Danny Brough drop goal against Huddersfield ‘That wasn’t’, he was on the bloody radio on Monday morning, going on and on about how he had spent all Sunday watched the incident frame by frame and it wasn’t a goal. If we’d seen us losing out on the League Leaders shield under the same circumstances, he would have just said, “The Referee’s word is final get on with it!” He really is a biased bugger.
It’s the same with the commentators on Sky as well. You know, when we watch the Sky games in Club, we invariably end up shouting and swearing at Stuart Cummings, as he bends over backwards to defend the ineptitude of that evenings officials. Then Phil Clarke finishes it all off with some of his totally misguided guff which no one including his colleagues understands at all. If the game is ever to get the credibility it deserves, then the fans should demand that Sky get rid of the bloody lot of ‘em.
We don’t need crap officials and poor broadcasting in fact all we do need is to see a free flowing game full of skill, big tackles and plenty of biff. What we don’t want is the referee constantly featuring as the star of the bloody show and the media prolonging the agony afterwards. The best of a bad lot of officials this year, is for me, Gareth Hewer, but of course he’s part time and not one of the ‘In crowd’. Perhaps I like him because he’s the one who seems to always be letting things flow and is as my old Dad used to tell me, ‘Seen and not heard’. Rugby League has prided itself on the players’ showing respect towards the officials whatever stupid decisions they make but they must be getting bloody frustrated too.
However, I just hope we never get to the point where we see all that arguing with the referee and feigning injury that’s prevalent in ‘Wendy ball’, but something has to be done about the officials and those bloody broadcasters pretty quickly, otherwise we won’t have a blooming game to watch.