The Self-Isolation Chronicles: Hull FC

1. Manu Ma’u only played home games for four years.

Surely we’re all quite well acquainted with the personal history of Hull FC’s blockbuster back-rower Manu Ma’u, by now? If you’re not, the man they call ‘The Tongan Terminator’ was a member of an Auckland based street gang called ‘JDK’ in his formative years. His part in a violent gate-crashing of a birthday party saw him jailed for three years in 2007, serving two. Rugby League has since given the 31-year-old the platform to rebuild his life, as he first joined New Zealand Warriors’ feeder team, Auckland Vulcans, upon his release. However, a major stumbling block was with Australian border restrictions, meaning he could only play home games in the New South Wales Cup. That all ended in 2013, when Parramatta Eels saw something special in him, battling to gain the requisite Visa documentation for him to play in Australia for their feeder side, Wentworthville Magpies. The rest, they say (and we’re sure Ma’u will happily leave it there), is history.

2. Royce Simmons ran marathons to sign a player.

You read that right, then Hull FC coach Royce Simmons ran five marathons in five days to gain sponsorship money to sign a player. The man in question? Former Australia international utility and current Manly Sea Eagles head coach, Des Hasler. Hasler, who joined the Black and Whites from Manly for the 1993-1994 off-season, made a solid impact with 10 tries in just 23 games. He will perhaps be most known for fearing for his life during a 10-6 win over Widnes, in December 1993, however, after suffering from Hypothermia. Fellow Australian Simmons had to brave the elements to land his coveted signature but, as for Hasler, he fell foul to the British winters.

3. Ivor Watts once scored a try that was assisted by a fan.

The year is 1958 and the Good Friday derby between Hull FC and Hull KR is in full swing. The Boulevard is packed, with a crowd of 27,000 people and Hull are leading. But one of those crowd members would help Hull, quite literally, to a 15-8 victory. Welsh winger Ivor Watts was chasing down a kick, in front of the famous Threepenny Stand, when the ball appeared to go dead. But only appeared. Hull KR fans claimed at the time that the ball was kicked back onto the field by a Black and White supporter, only for Watts to slam down. Watts, naturally, claimed it was a fair try in the pre-video referee apocalypse. Hull went on to win the Championship that year, with this potential wives tale helping them along their way.

4. Gary Kemble was allegedly sent off for not fighting.

Again, we know we said these were ‘facts’ but we appreciate this one is equally as contentious as the last one. We could not leave out, however, a story as legendary as this one. Popular New Zealand international Gary Kemble was part of the Hull side who beat Hull KR (again on Good Friday) with a 21-3 win to clinch the Championship title. The game, for him, was memorable for another reason as well. He was sent off. Again, this may be a wives’ tale, but he was reportedly sent off by referee Billy Thompson for not getting involved in a full-scale brawl. He, and Rovers’ John Lydiat, were static during a mass punch-up, with Thompson sending them on their marching orders. For anyone who frequently calls to ‘bring back the biff,’ clearly not everyone liked it when it was around…

5. Hull FC were already a merger, before Gateshead.

For those who partake in the ageing taunt to Hull FC that they are a merger with Gateshead (we’re looking at you, Hull KR fans!), their alacrity to other sides dates back long before 1999. The club was formed in 1865, with the help of Rugby School alumni in Anthony Bradley. They actually began their meet-ups at St Mary’s Church, so just remember whenever you taunt Hull FC that God is watching. Their first side was led by Reverend Scott and his five sons, as they adopted plumbers and glaziers into their side. But they soon found themselves short on numbers, merging with local side Hull White Star. They then became one of the first Northern sides to join the Rugby Football Union (yeah, those guys). A bunch of vicars joining together with a white star… almost biblical.