When people talk about Hull FC legends they usually refer to players they idolised in their childhood, so for me Richard Horne falls perfectly into that category.
The Hull-born half back was my idol growing up. He was a brilliant player in his prime and certainly fits the bill as one of the all-time greats – testified by his place in the clubs Hall of Fame.
A phenomenal support player, his 134 tries for Hull FC is only bettered by eight players – that shows just how good he was. Whether the step, pace or fend, his running game in the mid-2006s was arguably the best in Super League.
Somewhat under-appreciated Horne was as loyal as they come – the ultimate professional. He suffered through a sickening injury and battled diabetes to continue playing with us. He was a great servant.
Rich was just a teenager when he made his Hull FC debut, and at 35-years-young now, coaches the Reserves and assists the first team. Kudos to Rich, as he has to deal with me most weeks and that’s a chore for anyone!
Overseeing the clubs future, Horne has a big role to play today, but he knows what it takes to make the top level. It’s quite ridiculous the amount of times he bailed Hull out of defeat, or performed a play to turn a potential loss into a victory, but that’s the sort of player he was.
He never got into trouble or never was he in the media for the wrong reasons. He just got on with his rugby, and at times that was to his detriment, as he had to diminish his running qualities to play the role of general. Being the more prominent half back wasn’t his natural game, and the amount of failed number sevens at Hull that he tried to nurture a partnership with was outrageous.
It’s dangerous to think what he could have further achieved if his partner in crime Paul Cooke had stayed. I appreciate Cooke’s reasons for leaving, but if he remained at Hull, I have no doubt these two would have won FC further trophies galore and maintained our reign as an elite club for years and years.
I’ll stop there as it still leaves a bitter taste, to think what could have been, but there’s no taking away from what Horne did in a Black and White shirt. In 2006 he managed thirteen consecutive try-scoring appearances – a Hull FC record still to this day. He broke the Super League record at Salford and then the week after the Hull one, with younger brother Graeme supplying the pass in a win over Warrington.
It was a special moment, but we also saw some retched ones too. I remember the Hull Daily Mail headline back in 2008 when Horne suffered his serious neck injury. “When I heard I may never play again I broke down in pieces”. It’s impossible to imagine what he was going through then, but he returned a few months later at Wembley, he looked like a school-boy.
Underweight, the whole Hull end gasped as Horne took a thunderous hit from James Graham, but to his credit, he got up. That’s what he did his whole career. He wasn’t going to stop there was he.
Rich lost his six shirt in 2013 to Daniel Holdsworth, but before a cruel injury virtually ended his season, he was Hull’s best half of that year, such is Sod’s law. This was after his diabetes diagnosis too, and no doubt this would have inspired anyone with the condition.
I remember within days of Horne’s retirement announcement in 2014, he rolled back the years and gave a vintage performance as we Hull defeated St Helens 19-12. That tells you everything you need to know about him. He was a model pro, right up to his final game against Leeds.
A Great Britain international too, Horne was comfortable in any position in the back line. Some fans even today still hold a desire to have seen him permanently in the full-back role, a position he knew well. but there’s no point hindering on the past.
His support qualities were sensational at stand-off and served us tremendously. His form did drop in his final year and he was restricted to cameos of brilliance, so with that in thought, it was fitting his career ended the way it did.
Retiring a hero, rather than on a stretcher at Batley or Hunslet, he’s now on course to develop what will hopefully be a successful coaching career, rather than being stuck in rugby league wilderness, or to put it better, virtual obscurity.
What a player. What a career. Thanks for everything Horney!