When we think of Hull FC in 2018, we’ll probably think first of the rancid three month end to the season, but in truth, it wasn’t all bad – far from it.
For a more upbeat stance in our obligatory end of year article, we can reminisce on the good times, including that trip to Australia, that Derby we won despite having a player sent off, and Jake Connor showing the world what he’s all about. There has been some good moments in 2018. Let’s look back on them.
1.. Starting with a bang
The following week a couple of thousand Hull FC fans would be in Australia, so the one and only game before the historic trip was exciting. In truth it was a weird feeling, and it was a sign of how far we’d come in a few short years. We’re not laying in the doldrums now – in fact we are quite the opposite as a team that other clubs, for instance Wigan, respect and invite for these big events. After an under-cooked start against Huddersfield, Hull were at their destructive best in the second half scoring points for fun. It’s amazing what can happen when you have your first choice pivots on the field.
2.. Down Under
The trip to Australia was magnificent – visiting a new part of the world and it didn’t disappoint. Sydney has the wow-factor, it’s an incredible city and a bit better than an away day in Widnes. As for the rugby, Hull lost both games, and the injuries that occurred in Wollongong were kind of a benchmark for the season. The week after, Hull led St George Illawarra at half time and probably should have seen out the game. The clash at ANZ Stadium saw Albert Kelly, who apparently was putting himself in the shop window before signing a new deal at Hull FC, at his best, whilst experiencing Super League in the Gong could be a sense of what’s to come for our competition. WIN Stadium is as picturesque as they come, something different, and it was a privilege to be there.
3.. Where’s ya famous Wembley song
Miraculously the floodlights were still standing on Good Friday for the first time we travelled to Caravan Park since becoming Wembley winners. Naturally then a firm reminder to the whereabouts of that most infamous Wembley song was given. On completion of a few cheeky chorus’ you could hear a pin drop. The East Stand was silent. Brilliant. Meanwhile on the field Hull had taken the lead and everything was going well, but then Bureta Faraimo got sent off for a swinging arm on Chris Atkin. Not to worry. It took a while for us to settle again, but once we did, boom. Some magical centre play from Carlos Tuimavave, and a first class goading of his opposition from Jake Connor ensured the spoils were going west for the sixth time running.
4.. Home form
It’s easy to forget now but before all the shenanigans with injuries, Hull were comfortably inside the top eight, and unlike teams under similar predicaments *cough L**ds*, we were never in danger of slipping down to rugby league mediocrity. Given the card Radders and co were dealt, it’s not a bad achievement. Early on away results weren’t exactly ideal, but our home form was excellent. It took until one fixture against Wigan in June for the Black and Whites to be beaten on their own turf. It’s a rarity as far as the stadiums tenure goes, but games at the KCOM were actually enjoyable. One swing of Marc Sneyd’s mercurial boot on Easter Monday comes to mind. Scenes.
5.. Westerman return
Whilst we’re watching fellow Super League clubs fill their rosters with respectable NRL-based recruitment, it’s easy to feel a little under-whelmed by Hull FC’s philosophies for 2019. In truth though one big piece of the jigsaw was signed up back in the Spring, and that piece was Joe Westerman. It’s ironic that his arrival came after the departure of his best mate Liam Watts, and whilst we continue to wish Big Jud well, the ball skills of Westy will be most welcome indeed. Big Jud left a huge vacancy for a ball playing forward, and if the former plays direct next season, which is the style of rugby Radders likes, then we’re in for a treat. Big fan of Westerman. Maybe even fan boy obsessive. You saw why in the level of those performances before his knee injury. Where he is concerned, exciting times are ahead.
6.. Beating Rovers with a Harris and a Scott in the side
It’s been a while since Mick Scott and Tommy Harris were tormenting opposition teams in a Black and White irregular hooped shirt. In our family we have to go back two generations to get any stories from that era, but it is an era well documented by the likes of Bill Dalton, Wilf and UTC subscriber Brian Crofts. At the Magic Weekend, two young lads made their Hull FC debuts – Liam Harris and Cameron Scott. Both looked assured, especially Harris who scored a fine individual try, and showed how much it meant to him with his celebration. The opposition just had to be Rovers didn’t it, who we beat for a seventh consecutive time, even with our current water-boy coming out of retirement.
7.. What a journey
It may have been a defeat, but the Challenge Cup quarter-final exit at St Helens was right up there as one of our best displays of the season. The competition has put many individuals employed by the club in the past few years into immortality. It’s brought the best out of Hull FC – the resolute defence, the tremendous team spirit, and that never say die attitude. All of those traits were on show at Langtree Park as an under-strength side pushed the dog dish winners all the way. Come full-time, the away end was full of pride and one or two tears were undoubtedly shed. What a journey.
8.. Jake meet world, world meet Jake
Hull FC supporters have been blowing Jake Connor’s trumpet for the past two seasons. We see his raw talent week in, week out, and whilst his pantomime villain status probably, in opposition eyes at least, overshadowed some of his rugby qualities, his ability to us was never in question. Thankfully, thanks first to persistently good highlight packages in a Hull FC shirt, and then a freakishly good debut year in England colours, those not under a Black and White allegiance now see it too. Despite keeping the New Zealand three-quarters in his back pocket, the most refreshing about Jake the Snake is he comes across not knowing how good he actually is. He seems humble, and for a player that we see as genuinely world-class, that’s a good trait to have.
9.. The rise of Cameron Scott
It’s no disrespect to Cameron to say that his arrival in 2017 went a little under the radar, but he was a signing for the clubs Reserve team and that’s where he really started to excel in our colours. This year, that eminence was rewarded with six first team appearances. Cameron never looked out of place and is justifiably tipped for a big future. His status as England Academy captain in the recent series win against Australia shows what people think of him.
10.. Turning a negative into a positive
Rancid, as mentioned above, is the best way to describe what we endured in the final months of the season. But despite all of those injuries, one thing Hull FC never did was turn to the loan market. We didn’t de-register anyone to bring in a journeyman either. Instead we looked to our younger members of the squad – your Jordan Lane’s, Cameron Scott’s and Jez Litten’s, then your Brad Fash’s and Masimbaashe Matongo’s, many of whom wouldn’t have envisioned playing the amount of games they did. That experience will do them the world of good, and hopefully will see them all live up to their early potential playing alongside the likes of Scott Taylor, who was outstanding throughout the year. They’ll all be thick skinned now. They were criticised – the whole team were during that eleven game losing run – and we played our part in that. It was rancid, but its history now, and we need to move on together.