IT HAS created some memorable moments for his side, but Hull FC captain Danny Houghton believes the removal of their traditional Magic Weekend fixture with Hull KR is actually good for the derby.
Ordinarily the two city rivals would meet at the Super League event, which heads to Liverpool for the first time tomorrow, as they have done in Cardiff, Manchester and Newcastle before.
However, this year fixtures have been decided on last year’s final league placings and so the Airlie Birds face Huddersfield Giants tomorrow before Rovers tackle Salford Red Devils on Sunday.
“I don’t feel it’s strange as such not playing KR – I think it probably helps the derby in the long run,” said hooker Houghton, whose kick saw Hull prop Chris Green famously score the winning try, albeit from an offside position, in the 2013 Magic at Etihad Stadium.
“It can get a bit of overkill so to play someone a little bit different and for the fans to sample something different is good.
“It’s always going to be a special game playing at such an iconic stadium anyway; I don’t think it matters who we play.
I don’t feel it’s strange as such not playing KR – I think it probably helps the derby in the long run. It can get a bit of overkill so to play someone a little bit different and for the fans to sample something different is good.Hull FC’s Danny Houghton
“I’m a big Liverpool fan as well so I’m looking forward to it.
“I’ve actually been trying to get a season ticket there with my young lad Sonny – but there’s about a 50-year waiting list.”
Houghton, 30, hopes to recover from a calf strain that kept him out of Saturday’s against-all-odds win at second-placed Warrington Wolves.
“In training it just tightened up a little bit the day before,” he recalled, with Hull up to fourth.
“It was one of those where I was uncertain about whether I was going to pull up or not (in the game). It was probably the right call, but I should be okay for Giants. It was great to get that win at Warrington. I’ve always believed that, come the crunch, if we’re in that top five we can compete and challenge against anyone.
“But to beat one of those top-two sides on their own patch like that, it can’t not give you confidence moving forward.
“But that’s put to bed now. We need to really push on as it’s a crunch part of the season. You start to see that divide and you can start stretching that gap. That’s what we want to do.”
Meanwhile, Houghton says it was never in doubt he would continue as captain even when predecessor Gareth Ellis came out of retirement earlier this season.
“Gaz is happy to just play his part now and have that strain of the captain’s role taken off him” he said.
“He’s had that for four or five years and he’s starting to enjoy his rugby again.”