Well, we're coming to the end of another year. While we could disagree on a number of issues thrown up by 2016, we can all concur it's been a most eventful twelve months. It's now a time for looking back, reflecting on both high and low lights. In ickledot's case, while rugby clubs take a seasonal break, he's reflecting on a few of his favourite pictures.
The first come from a game played in January at Bradford & Bingley. As you might know, the club suffered more than one huge blow towards the end of 2015 and particularly on Boxing Day. Having already endured a number of floods, the deluge which befell many parts of West Yorkshire and beyond on that day wrecked the clubhouse and rendered pitches unplayable.
However, with a great deal of hard work, both physical clearing up and fund raising, the first team took to the field on their own pitch against Yarnbury. As if they'd not endured enough, the weather that day was absolutely foul. Sleeting for much of the match, the wind added to the onslaught as it slung tiny shards of ice into the players' faces.
The advice for sports photographers is to get close in and concentrate on the dramatic action. However, in this case a wider view exaggerates the bleakness of the conditions. The players look like bedraggled, huddled ghosts thinking more of their cold hands than the game itself. The top picture is the actual favourite but a few more are shown here to illustrate further how difficult the conditions were.
One corner of the Bradford & Bingley pitch was especially affected. For much of the winter it was a large puddle, a small pond more likely. As reported at the time, it made for some great splashy pictures though. The shot below is of the Bees' Nick Gore sliding into this area for a try.
In other news, you may remember ickledot mentioning (again) the ickledot shop and the idea of buying a rugby picture as a stocking filler for your partner, son, daughter, grandparent or whoever. Very pleased to say a number of people have since done just that. A print from the recent Otley Harrogate game has been supplied to a very satisfied customer together with a couple of digital downloads from other matches.
Believe it or not, one order came all the way from New Zealand. It may now be too late to order prints for Christmas but the option of having a high resolution download to have printed yourself is still possible.