Given the long drive to Darlington which was to follow on Sunday, ickledot opted for the shortest of journeys for his Saturday game: a mere seven miles. It wasn't without hazard though as it involved a steep climb out of Sunny Oxenhope, over Top Withens and past the famous wind turbines which can be seen for many a mile. A gentle slope down for a couple of miles brought us to the home of Halifax Vandals.
ickledot had visited this picturesque little ground a couple of seasons ago for a brief stop while en route to another Halifax club, Old Crossleyans. Since then he'd had an intention to return but had not managed it until now. Vandals' opponents on this day were Goole, another new club, ickledot assumed, but not so. He'd seen them before a couple of years ago at West Park Leeds.
A little bit of confusion at the outset - entirely ickledot's fault - when the Vandals congregated at the clubhouse end of the pitch he assumed they were defending that end and raced off to sit behind the try line he thought they'd attack. As it happened the decision had not been made and the centre line pre-match formalities had the teams swapping round. As ickledot set off on the long journey back to the club house end, he paused for a rest on the 22 metre line, only to photograph Goole's Richard Barrass racing past to the try line. Goole had definitely started the stronger so ickledot opted to remain at that end and review the situation at half time. Goole scored again shortly after and at that point it looked as if the home side were going to lose heavily.
But they began to claw their way back, their forward play being especially effective and before half time the scores were virtually level. So ickledot remained at the same end after the break to see if the Vandals recovery would continue. In a sense it did as their forwards fired once more to score at least two tries, one of which was quite controversial (well, in the view of ickledot and the Goole defender - nobody else seemed bothered). It was quite close by and shots afterwards seemed to show that the ball was never actually grounded. See what you think.
Still, it counted and Halifax prospered. Trouble is, so did Goole and the two teams exchanged the lead throughout the final forty. Ultimately it was Halifax who got the final key score which pushed them beyond Goole, completed their recovery and gave them a winning score of 32-27.
Tough when anyone loses in that sort of game but Goole can be proud of their performance and their ability to compete throughout. Should have mentioned at the start, it was a top-of-the-table clash which ended a long winning run for Goole and gives the Vandals an outside chance of promotion. There are more pictures of the game over on Flickr. Finally, here's a fun portrait of of Goole's Tom Halliday. Who says rugby players don't have a sense of humour?