It’s been so long since Hull FC won at Headingley, that the last time they did so, their coach Lee Radford was actually the captain that night.
“That shows you how long it’s been between drinks that I was playing,” Radford laughed this week.
It has, although without the historical significance or mainstream publicity, become Hull FC’s adopted new hoodoo. Not winning at Wembley is gone; it’s out of date. Hull are seemingly masters of that these days after back-to-back wins in the Challenge Cup Final.
But not since September 7th 2007 have Hull won at Headingley. If FC are to make the Grand Final next Saturday, that run must end tonight against the Rhinos.
“I’m as fed up with that record now as I was about the Wembley hoodoo I think,” Radford joked. “That’s the big one now for us lads at Hull, that we never win there. It’s not something I’ve even thought about until this week, but it’s been brought up a lot and I’d like to put it to bed this Friday.
“We’ve come so close over the last couple of seasons; we could have got them last year, we could have had them this year in the Super 8s, and there were other opportunities where we’ve been close but it’s not happened. We’re aiming to change that on Friday.”
After Hull won the Challenge Cup again in August, the focus almost immediately shifted to how FC would handle the post-Wembley hangover in comparison to last year.
The fact they only secured their place in the play-offs on the final weekend of the season may suggest to some they have struggled once again: Radford disagrees.
“The performance against Leeds on that Thursday, five days after winning the cup, showed we’ve handled it better,” he said.
“The effort that was put in that night, straight away that suggested to me that there’s a different mindset within the group. We played unbelievably well against Wigan the week after, and although we lost, we used those two negatives and turned them into a positive.”
Back-to-back wins following that Wigan defeat ensured Hull finished third and booked a trip to Headingley – though Radford is adamant that if their season ends tonight, it must be regarded as a poor year.
“I’m in the same frame of mind as Scott,” Radford said, following comments by prop Scott Taylor last week to the same note. “Over the course of your career you only get a handful of chances to get there – and I think this group is certainly capable of getting there and also winning it.
“From day one of pre-season, we spoke about retaining the cup and also making the top four. We left it later than I’d have liked but we spoke about being in form when the play-offs came around and I think we’ve got a little bit of momentum behind us.”