Is this a new RL dawn for city of Hull?

Hull FC have repeated Hull KR’s feat from last year of reaching the Challenge Cup final, and are set to battle with Warrington at Wembley on Saturday afternoon.

FC are in the running for a treble of trophies this season, and their coach Lee Radford has impressed many with his intelligence, astuteness and likeability.

Back in the 1980s, Hull clubs reaching finals in successive years would not have been worthy of note.

Between 1980, when the final was a Hull city derby won by Rovers, and 1986, either KR or FC were in every final, apart from 1984 (and Rovers won the league title that year, and the next season too).

The city of Hull back then, before the rise of the mighty Wigan team from the later 80s and early 90s, became a byword for rugby league across the country.

The two Hull clubs were probably the best known teams outside of the heartlands at that time, aided by the BBC coverage on Saturday afternoons of many games.

As well as Challenge Cups and league titles, the two clubs collected Yorkshire Cups, Regal Trophies, Premierships and their players won a host of international caps.

Since those glory days, success has been thinner on the ground for the Hull clubs, and both have faced various issues from a list financial problems, restructuring, mergers, relegation, declining youth systems and poor recruitment.

But there are signs that things could at last be moving forwards again for the city as a whole.

Obviously, Rovers have struggled this season, but their second half of the season has been much more positive than the first, with James Webster offering a steadying hand as an interim coach.

They are also in the progress of something of a revolution behind the scenes, as Jamie Peacock finally begins to get to grips with the size of the task facing him.

It looks like former Castleford coach Terry Matterson may well be at the helm next season at the KC Lightstream Stadium, and word has reached us that his squad could be very different from this season, with a major clear-out planned.

One thing that Rovers have managed to do this season is blood young players from the City of Hull academy, such as Joe Wardill and Keiran Moran, giving them crucial game time in Super League.

The Hull FC first team also has more Hull accents in it than it used to.

As Liam Watts said this week: “When I was at Hull KR, they used to recruit a lot of Australians.

“Now, they’re bringing more through from the City of Hull academy, and that can only be good for rugby league in the city as a whole.”

The likes of full-back Jamie Shaul are leading a strong cadre of local boys in the Black and White colours, and, should the Airlie Birds win at Wembley for the first time in their history later on Saturday, and bring the Cup back to East Yorkshire, then we could be in for a new golden era on the banks of the Humber.

When I asked Danny Houghton earlier this week if he thought the final could be the start of something special for Hull FC, he replied, “I hope so!”

For those of us with connections to the region, whichever side of the divide you fall, let’s echo that hope.

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