Thursday night saw the end of Lee Radford as Hull FC head coach following yet another heavy home defeat.
A 38-4 loss to Warrington was a sad finale to Radford’s six and a half year reign at the club with Adam Pearson almost immediately sacking him through a post-match meeting and then announcing it to the public through a Sky Sports interview after yet another disgusting Hull performance. There’s no sugar-coating it either. What Hull served up was completely unacceptable and the regularity of such a display over the past three seasons meant a consequence was coming, and in the eyes of many it was long overdue.
Regardless of whether or not you agree with it, the way it was announced was a disgrace. Whilst Radford wasn’t actually sacked directly live on Sky like many have portrayed, the fact it was what ten minutes or so on from a few words exchanged in one of the prawn sandwich rooms doesn’t sit well with us. Pearson has gone for sensationalism over a more professional statement come Friday morning. Luckily Radford’s shoulders are as wide as the Humber Estuary but he deserved a bit more compassion and decency than that. For the sake of club imagery too, it certainly could have all been handled better, especially as it’s a decision many will continue to question both right now and in the coming games and months, particularly if the results and performances don’t improve.
A sad day then but the man we called the Dadders will go down in history as our first ever Wembley winning coach and what he achieved at this club we will forever be grateful for. Unfortunately for Radford though those two cup wins were three and four years ago now and the inconsistencies and numbers of the past two seasons speak for themselves. Potential has always been there but execution hasn’t and consequently Hull FC haven’t kicked on and have capitulated an embarrassing amount of times over the past two years. You can see then why those who weren’t as sentimental thought something had to give. The home form is rancid with just one win from four this year now, with just nine coming from the last 26 with big defeats common and often under no explanation. Ultimately those defeats and in particular those at home have got too much for Pearson who to be fair has put his money where his mouth is this year, but again also was under the realisation that close to a million pound of the salary cap was sat in the stands. Not a place for excuses though, this. For all our admiration of Radford and despite our belief that he could do something with this squad this year, sport is ruthless and this is proper cut throat. They’re a tight knitted unit too Rads and AP and this wouldn’t have been an easy decision either but clearly the owners tolerance level reached a breaking point.
Whilst the start of the season prior to the Warrington game at least was iffy at best, the display on Thursday night was absolutely piss poor. Radford was a man under pressure and there was a feeling that Wakefield away last week was, and regardless if we as fans agreed with it or not, last chance saloon. It’s not just this season that got the coach to that stage either, but more the frustrations from first an ability from the owner to back his words up with adequate signings after that record defeat against the same opposition two years ago, and then the nature of a Jekyll and Hyde Hull side last year that produced the inadequate to the sublime as a direct result of those lack of signings. Thursday’s fixture then was again last chance. You’d imagine Radford would have known that as would his players. They then turn out a performance like that. Disgusting. Attitude wise there are huge problems at the club and ego’s clearly rule the roost here. Maybe there’s been too much of a comfort blanket and one or two now that have let their coach down despite a loyalty to them will be looking nervously over their shoulder at future selections.
That’s a big thing about Radford. He was always honest and straight up but it also all seemed a bit too pally pally for ones liking and the next coach after the intern period may well need to be more hard-nosed. On that front there’s no talk of a direct replacement as of yet with both Andy Last and Kieran Purtill in charge for the immediate future. How and if they will get it right is a lottery but we better hope for a honeymoon period with new voices and new-found consistency as that squad is both far too good and expensive for it not to compete at the right end of the table, and if it doesn’t then the decision to part with Radford will look ridiculous. We won’t sit on the fence. We was always pro-Radford and it’s disappointing to see him leave so early on in the year, but it’s a results based business and whether we agree with it or not, it’s understandable and as per with sport dictated on what the side have done week to week. For two years now that hasn’t been good enough.
Some of those players need to have a long hard look in the mirror this weekend though. The senior ones let Hull and their coach down against Warrington. Danny Houghton knows the score and by accounts he looked dejected in the prawn sandwich suites post-match, but lapses in concentration both at the scrum base and at the play of the ball were schoolboy stuff. It’s not the first time it’s happened this year either. Remember Adam Swift and St Helens. Then there’s the errors again compounded and offloads that just weren’t on in the first play of the game. Sure we want to see some expansive stuff but on the very first carry in the very first minute it’s about shoving it up your jumper and completion. That set the tone. Two stupid errors ended up in two Warrington tries and it was a case of here we go again. In fact Hull’s completion rate was 52% at half time and we daren’t look to see if those numbers got worse over the second half.
Aspects of that display were proper pathetic. There was no control. The side were completely rudderless and played with no direction. It was weak with no leadership and of course having nine out didn’t help, ten after Mahe Fonua broke some ribs, but it’s hardly a relevant excuse. With the attitude of the side one or two more blokes on the field wouldn’t have made a difference anyway. Some of those players performed like they knew they’d be listening to a different voice come Friday morning. They’d didn’t care, they just spat their dummies out at one another. You’ve got to feel for Radford there. It’s not the ending he deserved.
The worst thing about it all is that Warrington weren’t exactly great and came into the clash with an identical record to Hull and with just eleven tries scored from their opening six games. Hold my beer Hull FC. The Wire scored more than half that total here with some of the defensive efforts from our point of view again pathetic. Whilst spills from Josh Bowden and Jordan Lane ended up in Warrington points, it was also noticeable that one on one misses from senior players like Scott Taylor saw Ben Tikka-Massala glide over under the sticks. The whole display was embarrassing and some of Hull’s play at times is actually incomparable to an under-9s side.
But as per the laws of the school playground it’s last try wins right so why the glum faces? Ha. On that front only Jack Brown, Brad Fash and Jordan Johnstone went over to Kieran Buchanan after he scored his first home try for the club and it was only those blokes plus Tag, Marc Sneyd and lastly Albert Kelly that actually bothered to come round the pitch and clap the fans that stayed post-match. Sure there wasn’t many of us there five or so minutes after full-time but appreciation of support goes a long way.
Without getting dramatic it was heartbreaking to watch and a performance that right the way through suggested, especially with the ball, that the players aren’t on the same wavelength as the coach anymore. Given our admiration for Radford that’s a realisation that really hits you in the face, but given that he is no longer at the club it’s also the harsh reality. Hands up though who saw this coming after the convincing win at Headingley? We didn’t. That seems ages ago now. With an outstanding squad, this season was supposed to be the year that Hull proved they’re not a flash in the pan and kicked on in Super League. It wasn’t supposed to end up like this, just seven games in and now in crisis mode. Luckily there’s still three quarters of it left to turn things around, but it has to happen quickly. There’s no time for moping about.
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 24. Mahe Fonua, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 26. Kieran Buchanan, 14. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Chris Satae, 21. Jordan Lane, 11. Josh Jones, 22. Josh Bowden. Interchange: 30. Jack Brown, 19. Masimbaashe Matongo, 20. Brad Fash, 16. Jordan Johnstone.
Hull Tries: Buchanan. Goals: Sneyd 0/1
Warrington Starting XIII: 1. Stefan Ratchford, 2. Tom Lineham, 3. Anthony Gelling, 4. Toby King, 5. Josh Charnley, 6. Blake Austin, 7. Gareth Widdop, 8. Chris Hill, 20. Danny Walker, 10. Mike Cooper, 11. Ben Currie, 13. Ben Murdoch-Masila, 14. Jason Clark. Interchange: 18. Sitaleki Akauola, 9. Daryl Clark, 17. Jake Mamo, 15. Joe Philbin.
Warrington Tries: Tries: Austin 2, Lineham, Widdop 2, Gelling, Murdoch-Masila.
Scoring System: 0-6, 0-12, 0-16, 0-20, 0-26, 0-32, 0-38, 4-38
Attendance: Not what the club announced, put it that way. 10,214
Referee: Chris Kendall
— Funny Rugby League (@itsfunnyrugby) March 12, 2020
Doesn’t this just sum everything up?