Here we are again, reflecting on another Hull FC season, and what a season of glory it’s been.
Of course the disappointment of our Super League semi-final exit is still raw, but in securing the Challenge Cup once again, it’s still been another successful year.
Here’s Five Things we learned from it.
1.. Hull FC are not a one season wonder
The biggest challenge for Hull FC in 2017 was to back up the heroics of the previous year. That was a difficult task itself, as everyone was trying to knock us off our perch, but in retaining the Challenge Cup for the first time in our 152-year history, this team passed with flying colours.
There’s a saying that good sides can win trophies but great sides retain them. Undoubtedly to win it at Wembley again was special. It proved that Hull are not a flash in the pan, but here for the long haul. Then you think of the run itself. Yes Catalans have been atrocious for most of the year, but to beat the all-conquering Castleford side, our frequent nemesis Leeds and 19-times winners Wigan was an unbelievable achievement.
There’s two major trophies on offer and a dog dish. Hull have one of them. They ultimately fell eighty minutes short of Super League’s grand prize, but as far as success goes, it was without question another successful year.
2.. Emergence of the next generation
Despite the likes of Gareth Ellis and Sika Manu putting in colossal displays every time they took to the field, one of the best things about the side this season was the emergence of the next generation.
Hull are blessed with youth on their side. They have only a handful of their squad over 30 years of age, with the majority having their peak years ahead of them. The likes of Brad Fash for instance playing 23 times and never looking out of place. The Bullhead had an incredible year and can consider himself a regular now.
The same can be said of Jake Connor, a young emerging talent that just got better and better as the year went on. He’s a class act and came up with many significant contributions. Jansin Turgut also had his moments, and youngsters Jack Downs and Masimbaashe Matongo stepped up when required. Add to that the first grade debut of Jez Litten and it’s fair to say the future is looking bright.
3.. Stability on the field
Chopping and changing of the magnitude Hull FC were doing before Lee Radford’s reign did no-one any favours. You can’t constitute success when you’re recruiting 8-10 new players every season. Hull needed stability and luckily their owner Adam Pearson realised that. He backed his coach and the coach backed his players. That’s been their blueprint for their recent achievements.
Again we’ve got that – only three first team players have left the squad at the end of the year, with three coming in to replace them. Tweaking, rather than max exodus’ year on year, will benefit the side, as proven with the signings for this year alone; Jake Connor, Josh Griffin and most significantly Albert Kelly. Several current players extended their contracts as the season progressed as well, showing that retaining and the right recruitment, which brings both unity and experience, is the way to go.
4.. Albert Kelly – the missing spark
Hull needed to find the right partner for Marc Sneyd for 2017 and beyond, and in recruiting Albert Kelly, they did just that.
The Aussie maverick has been the biggest shining light of the year and it’s easy to under-appreciate just how good he’s been. At times he has been unplayable and he perfectly complements his partner in crime Sneyd. They are two different types of half back and work well together.
Kelly with the x-factor has been a revelation, as his try charts show, whereas Sneyd has the know-how to see out victories. It’s a combination that has brought silverware, and with the final piece of the jigsaw coming on a free, a combination that has brought some humour to the table as well.
5.. Consistent at being inconsistent
Whilst there were some special moments in 2017, there were undoubtedly some horrific ones too. Think back to Good Friday, the Friday before Good Friday, the Magic Weekend and the defeat to Leigh, all moments of discontent that we had to deal with and bounce back from.
Leigh aside we’re talking really heavy defeats here and whilst it didn’t prevent a top four finish, it did prevent a home semi final and potentially a better chance to reach Old Trafford.
That’s something that needs addressing. Yes Super League in this format means you don’t have to be at full tilt every week, but there’s a line between that and some of the defeats we saw throughout the year. AP has already stated he wants to address that in 2018. Let’s hope Radders and the players do too. If they do, a home semi-final should be on the cards.
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