Is there such a thing as a hoodoo? Probably not. We don’t believe in witchcraft, unless of course it’s practising voodoo on Rovers players, but Hull FC rarely turn up with a decent performance at Headingley, a record which currently sees them without a win there since 2007.
There are many reasons to why that is, but ultimately it’s because the Black and Whites haven’t been good enough. Recently they’ve been getting closer, with a 20-18 defeat in 2016, but they still lost three times at the West Yorkshire venue last year, two of which were margins of less than three points.
Is it a psychological thing? It could well be. There must be a reason why Hull are usually far from their best here, but also that may be doing an injustice to Leeds, who, and at the risk of washing our mouth out with soap following this statement, have been one of the pass masters of Super League over the past decade. They have had the better over us at the KCOM Stadium too, where our record over the Whinos is pretty embarrassing. There’s only a few wins to select from, so that suggests it’s far from a Headingley hoodoo – the bastards have just had the better of us in this competition.
That’s got to change one day, but it’s a tall order for it to change this Thursday night. Hull have five injuries to contend with, and Liam Watts is also out following a recent suspension. That means a few youngsters will get the nod. There will be a first competitive appearance for Jack Logan in nearly two years, and Masimbaashe Matongo will get a starting spot for the first time in first grade. Homegrown players Jordan Lane, Brad Fash, Jansin Turgut and Jack Downs are all within a shout of playing too. Oh for the rewards of a decent Academy and production line, but remember, there’s no talent in Hull. Let’s not get into that though. We’ve seen enough dummies flying around already this week.
Last weeks win over Warrington was a welcome relief after two consecutive defeats. It gets us back on track, but there’s a realisation that any decent result here is an absolute bonus, as getting two points at Headingley is about as rare as a non-Hull FC tweet from our pal Sidney Kidney. If defeat should follow then so be it. We can never question the effort and commitment of this squad, and coming up against a Leeds side who obviously now have a few bodies back, it is a tough ask. They are the reigning champions but they’re not untouchable. To win though, we will need to see an almost perfect performance.
What is a little concerning is the best and worst of Hull FC’s display within a game. We’ve seen this in all four Super League games we’ve played in so far this year. Even against Huddersfield a poor spell was cancelled out with a ruthless second half. Last week even was tarnished slightly with a lapse in concentration after Patton’s sending off. We always have a purple patch in a game. If we can extend that period, and cut out the daft one, then victory is a real possibility.
Leeds are run by Gary Hetherington, and assisted by Brian McDermott. They lost both Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow at the end of last season, meaning the trio behind the last decade have now all departed, the third being Kevin Lovechild. The last time the Whinos had a season without them, Princess Diana was boning Will Carling.
Replacements come in the form of a journeyman half back and a midget from Warrington, whilst the club have also promoted from within. To the average Super League fan, Ronnie the Whino is more recognisable than half of their current squad, but that won’t stop them from being near the top end of the table. Like the fat kid in the school dinner queue, they just never go away.
That same forte can be said of their owner, who besides lingering around Ralph Rimmers desk seven days a week, is still married to Uncle Kath, who spends half of her time these days keeping Brett Ferres away from the players’ wives.
The ground is also in redevelopment stage, so don’t laugh too much at the replica of Rovers’ temporary golf stand.
All fixtures between Hull and the Whinos are usually ones to forget. We haven’t won in the league against them since the final round of 2014, a night where Jack Logan stamped his mark on Super League with two well taken tries.
Our peak in this fixture has been in the Challenge Cup, where last year we smashed Leeds on route to winning at Wembley at one of our favourite venues, Doncaster. That was Hull at their imposing best and wouldn’t we love something similar to get rid of this unwanted Headingley record.
It’s also worth noting that the last major final these two played in Hull were also triumphant, edging a Leeds side with Gareth Ellis amongst it, 25-24 in the Challenge Cup final in Cardiff. What a day that was.
Marc Sneyd’s drop-goal against Warrington put him on 17 since joining Hull FC. By our records, he needs just one more one pointer to join level with the hard working half back of the 70s, Brian Hancock, on the all-time charts. Sneeeeeeeeeyydd.
Leeds will win. Obviously.
The fanzine is available to buy online, the latest our 50th issue, by clicking here