To be honest, it was the BBC weather forecast that encouraged ickledot to make the not insignificant trip North and East to Harrogate to witness their encounter with Huddersfield yesterday. Damp,cold and grey throughout the morning in Keighley, the website promised bright sunshine and an absence of rain for the whole afternoon just an hour's drive away. And so it was. On entering Harrogate's busy Claro Road ground, rays slanted across the pitch from behind the old stand, already casting long shadows. Although many of the assembled throng were there to watch the pre-match mini-rugby, a sizeable proportion remained for the main event. Audible cries of "Come on 'Field!" demonstrated that the visitors had brought a good deal of support with them.
It was a highly entertaining match, fit for a pre-Christmas weekend. Huddersfield were first to draw blood with a drop goal but the home side soon began to demonstrate their dominance with a couple of tries. They certainly looked the stronger going into the break. But Huddersfield were not done. Former Yorkshire U20 scrum half, Dan Jeffrey, was brought into the fray and the side seemed to take on new pace, strength and urgency. A try from them and the difference was brought back to a mere 4 points: 17-13. However, as sometimes happens in these situations, the increasing tension among the home team and its supporters was suddenly released with a missed Huddersfield penalty, a break downfield and a try for Harrogate. From there, they never really looked back and further points were added to the home score. There's a proper match report from a Harrogate perspective here (accompanied by some of ickledot's pics, I'm very proud to say).
It was great to see Dan and another veteran of the Yorkshire U20 side that went to Twickenham earlier this year: Harrogate's Lewis Minikin, playing for their club sides, along with a former Bradford & Bingley photographic subject Adam Malthouse, now with Huddersfield.
Harrogate are set to move away from Claro Road to a modern ground at the end of February. Good luck to them in this exciting new venture. Soon the grand old stand forming the backdrop in the picture above will be a memory. Onward and upward!
You can see more pics from the game here.