It’s not often nowadays I go to a club to photograph their second team. Not that I have anything against them of course, it’s just that there are only so many weekends during a season, and so many clubs in Yorkshire alone that I’ve never visited at all, let alone watched their second teams.
When I first began photographing rugby seriously, in 2012, I stayed with my local club, Bradford & Bingley. I’d photograph their first team one week and their seconds or Barbarians the next. As time passed I began to travel further afield and now I’m almost all over the county. So when I was asked a few weeks ago if I’d be willing to watch Otley seconds against Bradford & Bingley, I did hesitate. However, this was a special game. Although a league fixture, it was also one in which the two teams would compete for the Granville Clarke Memorial Cup.
I was told that Granville Clarke had represented both teams and that the annual cup match had been set up a number of years ago to honour him. Looking back to a local newspaper article of 2011, I see that it was originally contested by the first teams of each club.
Though there were only a few people watching, I certainly received a very friendly welcome and was thanked several time for turning up. As I knew both clubs, I decided to remain at one end, to have each team attacking my end for forty minutes. I know I got caught out by doing that a couple of weeks ago but I decided to take the risk again. I ended up being half correct. Unfortunately for the Bees, the home side were dominant throughout the whole game. When Bradford & Bingley were playing towards me in the first half they hardly managed to get nearer than the 22 metre line. Meanwhile, Otley scored several tries at the other end.
From a purely photographic point of view, I hoped that Otley’s ascendancy would continue in the second half; otherwise I’d have very little close up action to photograph. Thankfully for me and my camera, this is what happened. To be fair to Bradford & Bingley, they did play much better in the second forty but were simply not strong enough to break through the Otley defence.
The rain which had been forecast mostly held off during the game itself although there was an absolute cloudburst as soon as it ended, causing a very stormy journey home. However, it had been overcast all afternoon and for much of the second half it was almost dark, causing some extremely grainy pictures. You can see more of them in the ickledot shop (thanks very much to those people who’ve downloaded a few by the way).
Final score was 47-0 to Otley, giving them a good number of league points and also the Granville Clarke Memorial Trophy. Well done to them. They were so delighted that they asked for a squad photo in front of the scoreboard. Despite the weather and difficult photographing conditions I really enjoyed the game and I thank everyone at Otley for inviting me. It reminded me how important second teams and beyond are in the life and well-being of a rugby club. Look after your second teams!