The Round Up, April Edition: As I write this we hear that Adam Pearson has hired a Cryo Chamber to support the players’ recovery in the short Easter turnaround. It’s fair to say that after the events of the past month, and more especially the last quarter of the Good Friday Derby, the fans could use one too as following the team’s performances which have ranged from a depressing capitulation at Widnes to a stunning fightback at Hull KR has been exhausting.
To paraphrase Forrest Gump, watching FC is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get. And yet for all that we finish Round 7 in 4th place. Crazy times.
So what to make of our gloriously inconsistent team? A frustrating result against Wigan backed up with a horrible Thursday night loss at the Select Security Stadium and the season looked seriously at risk of total derailment.
Looking slightly more spritely against cellar-dwellers Wakefield the home victory was nonetheless unconvincing, and after 60 minutes of ownage by our grubby neighbours the tension in the players’ demeanour and the faces of FC’s management was visible.
The unlikely catalyst for our Easter resurrection was none other than Derby legend Kirk Yeaman. Despite lack of form over recent years Kirk has reserved his best performances for these fixtures and his half-dummy and offload to Shaul who put on the afterburners and scorched to the tryline was the pivotal play of the game.
The succession of offloading free play that followed in the next quarter was sublime, all the better for the fact it was entirely unexpected as FC ran in four unanswered tries and snatched a hugely satisfying win, Radford’s fourth derby win in the last five and hilariously sealed by Stevie Michaels easy bump off of ever-irritable pantomime villain Cockayne.
Of course we need to apply some context. The opposition currently sit below last year’s whipping boys Wakefield. We were the definition of average for the opening 60 minutes. We seem to have only two settings currently, five drives and a kick, or mental Harlem Globetrotters.
But if you can’t take enjoyment from a talismanic moment like Yeaman’s gamebreaker and the surreal passages of play that followed, resulting in James Webster delivering a Craig Sandercockesque whingefest, I’d question whether you have a black and white soul.
Obviously the time to enjoy this one is short, and there are a host of daunting fixtures that lie ahead of us, none more so than the Warrington home game. But in the meantime, the key fact is “20-nil and you f***ed it up”. Not so much a Good Friday, more an excellent one.
Round Up Player of the Month
A couple of fabulous games from Round-Up favourite Mark Minichiello, and a superb return to the fray from skipper Gareth Ellis. A special mention also to Danny Houghton; if there’s a player more constantly committed to the FC cause in attack and defence I haven’t seen one in 25 years watching the team.
All that said, this month’s standout for me has been Jamie Shaul. Forever dangerous in broken play and blessed with electric pace he’s stepped his game up to another level so far this term and redefined himself as a genuine gamebreaker. Take a bow.