Knights In Winter

Little while since my last post. It's been a busy couple of weeks with rugby interrupted, first by the weather and then attendance last weekend at the wonderful Scarborough Top Secret Blues Festival. I've been taking photographs there for a good number of years now and it just gets better each time. Under normal circumstances it would be out of the question to leave it at any point as the music is continuous almost from midday to midnight through the weekend.

The ball is placed, let the game commence

However, this weekend I felt I really needed to be with the Knights at Castle Park in Doncaster, this being the club's first home fixture since the tragic, sudden death of player Ian Williams. As with most players, I didn't actually know him; I don't think I we ever spoke. Still, I felt it was important to be there to celebrate his life with other club staff, players and supporters. The club's supplying of my picture of Ian to media outlets had been bitter sweet. For a couple of days I was seeing it everywhere: on TV, in national newspapers and on social networks. Usually that would be a huge positive, but not on this occasion. I was pleased to give it but sad it was needed to deliver such unhappy news.

The squads come out together

As it happens, the distance from Scarborough to Doncaster is not quite as far as I'd imagined; under two hours each way. However, the weather was threatening to spoil my plans as snow was forecast. And, as the pictures show, it duly arrived, making sections of the game very difficult to watch and photograph. Perhaps more unusual, the sun shone brightly between blizzards, almost making it look like my photos came from different games entirely.

Not easy to run in a blizzard

Before the game commenced the two squads, the Knights and Richmond, came on to the pitch together, side by side, and lined up for a minute's applause for Ian. 

Michael Heaney in the snow

Though the atmosphere was sombre, there was a game to play. Ultimately it was something of a disappointment for home supporters. Though the Knights competed well in patches, scoring a try in either half, a slow start let them down and the 12-22 finishing scoreline was a fair reflection of the game.

Josh Tyrell forces his way over the try line

The club have now announced the time and location of a memorial service for Ian. A foundation is also being set up in his memory. Although his family are as yet unsure regarding the form it will take, a justgiving page has been set up for donations in lieu of flowers.

Ian Williams