It feels like quite a while since ickledot last visited Ilkley Rugby Club. In fact, it's only just over a year and a half ago but probably seems more as the time spans three seasons. ickledot was present for Ilkley's final home game of 2014-15, an emphatic win over Pocklington which ensured promotion to National League Three. Before that there was a winter game with Horden.
Although they found the going hard in this higher tier, coping with injuries and the retirement of experienced players, they were able to maintain their league standing during 2015-16, finishing a respectable mid-table seventh out of 14. Now a new season's begun and Ilkley currently lie in fifth place, having won three out of their four matches played so far. Complacency could be Ilkley's main enemy tomorrow as opponents Firwood Waterloo have not enjoyed the best of season starts, currently lying second from bottom of the league with four defeats and a single bonus point.
Reasons to visit Ilkley Rugby Club (apart from the rugby itself of course)? Firstly ickledot loves the clubhouse with its irregular roof pattern, the 'gable ends' facing the pitch. Highly photogenic, with a balcony that gets quite crowded during matches. As often said before, rugby's the same everywhere but it always looks more dramatic with people in the background. At Ilkley much of the crowd looks down, even on a lineout!
Then there's the landscape; the hills which overlook the ground, featuring the world famous Cow & Calf Rocks. One of the shots below was taken during the Pocklington game and the other back in January 2015 when the opponents were Horden and a carpet of snow covered the hills. It looks (and felt) bleak and cold.
At that time, back in early 2015, Ilkley's Ben Magee and Elliott Morgan were part of the Yorkshire Under 20 team which went on to win the County Championship at Twickenham.
Here's a shot of Ben in typical 'flying' mode. Let's a hope there's a few of those dazzling runs tomorrow.
In other news, ickledot established a Twitter link with rugby ball manufacturers Gilbert! Last Saturday, during a pre-match quiet moment at Doncaster, ickledot took this shot of the ball lying ready in the September sunshine.
It was later tweeted to Gilbert who liked it and asked if they could feature it on their Instagram feed. So there's a good tip. If you're looking to network, widen your audience, perhaps even sell some pictures, think about who might possibly be interested in the shots you take. Think as widely as possible as it often goes way beyond players and clubs.
Through recent games with West Park Leeds Ladies, ickledot has been asked to shoot his first Varsity game in Leeds next Wednesday. I'll be sure to let you know how that goes - WPL's Alex Wallace, pictured in try scoring mode at Eccles last Sunday, is bound to feature. Enjoy the weekend!