Wharfedale Winners, Harrogate Grinners

Oh dear. Sorry. Terrible headline but, you know, after a few years of starting blog posts, I can't come up with the goods every time. What the header hints at is the absolute truth though. It was a weekend of two matches, both played in fairly miserable conditions but both little classics.

Charlie Graham: Try Bound

As you possibly already know, Wharfedale's home is in the village of Grassington, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. The club is surrounded by beautiful countryside - no better place when the sun's shining. However, when ickledot arrived the hills were shrouded in thick mist and the rain was falling steadily, as it had been throughout the hour long drive north.

A Chester Kick Almost Charged Down

As happened on my last visit to to Wharfedale, I spoke to the team's full back Robbie Davidson pre-match. As I've no doubt mentioned before, Robbie was one of the leading lights in a Yorkshire U20 campaign almost three years ago which included a semi-final in Cornwall and culminated in a Championship victory at Twickenham.

Just One Of Many Tackles For Wharfedale

He wasn't about to give me the team's tactics for the afternoon and I wouldn't have understood them anyway but he did mention they preferred to play uphill in the first half and absorb the pressure before really going for it downhill in the second (and the pitch at Wharfedale does have a considerable slope).

Wharfedale's Front Row

And that's more or less what transpired. Much more complicated than that, obviously, but you can read the detail in the club's match report. Opponents Chester are a number of places above Wharfedale in the league and for sections of the game they showed why.

Eyes On The Pass

However, an early response to a Chester score had settled the home side's nerves and they managed to hold on for a victory by just two points, despite a late Chester onslaught. They were helped perhaps by the slope (and the huge gusts of wind which blew away both the mist and my car's tailgate, almost) but it was mainly down to a collective determination that will be needed now for the rest of the season if they're to remain in their current division.

Tom Barrett: Adding The Points

The trip to Harrogate on Sunday was to see Harrogate Ladies take on York RI. I think the club is now into its third season at Rudding Park on the outskirts of the town. I hope they don't mind me mentioning there have been a few teething problems in terms of drainage.


On this day the recent wet weather had certainly taken it's toll on the first and second team pitches which were both deemed as unplayable by the referee. The chosen third pitch is considerably higher than the others and yet it still managed to retain a good deal of surface water.

Rose Jay and The Ball That Wouldn't Bounce

So it was something of a mudfest right from the start. Great for photography but not so good for skilful running rugby. The situation reached a somewhat farcical stage when Harrogate's Rose Jay kicked off for the second half. Despite being thrown down sternly, the ball refused to bounce. It just sat forlornly in the morass, the ensuing kick travelling only a few yards. On reflection, perhaps this post should have been entitled 'The Ball That Wouldn't Bounce & Other Strange Tales'. Much better header than the actual one!

First half try for Simone Christopher

Late Joy For York RI

However, Harrogate were not distracted, setting about their opponents in what has become their customary style this season, one in which they've yet to be beaten. Points were scored steadily throughout the game, the final total being 45. Opponents York RI gave of their best right to the end though and their consolation try was well deserved. I am reliably informed that a detailed match report is to appear here imminently.

Post Match Mud Covered Happiness

Overall a great weekend despite somewhat dismal photographing conditions. You can see more pictures from the games over on Flickr: Wharfedale and Harrogate. Next weekend, not sure where I'm bound on Saturday but on Sunday it's a roses encounter as Yorkshire Under 16 take on the old enemy in their own land. Can't wait!