It was well forecast but what a contrast to the previous weekend! Saturday was overcast and showery but on Sunday the rains came. ickledot had been across the Pennines again on the first day of the weekend (embargo at the moment, news will come eventually!) but on the second I opted for a fixture close to home. If I was to get a soaking, within a few minutes of the end I’d be back home and warm.
So, it was my first rugby league match of the season: Keighley Cougars against Coventry Bears. I have mentioned this previously but readers living outside the UK should know rugby union is played from September until April and rugby union from February until around October. So we’re three quarters of the way through the rugby union season and just beginning the rugby league one.
In the close season the Cougars have been through a financial crisis which threatened the club’s very existence. Hopefully that’s all behind them now (apart from a twelve point deficit of course) but most of the fans gathering were joyful just to see rugby at Cougar Park let alone consider the idea of winning.
But win they did, coming back from a try down to recover and go on to dominate the second half. As the weather deteriorated and the rain fell harder, the Cougars’ strength grew. You can read a detailed match report here but a final score of 40-8 really does tell a story of a magnificent victory.
Meanwhile this particular photographer was realising he wasn’t quite so well prepared for the elements as he’d initially thought. Perhaps the previous weekend’s T-shirt and sandals weather had caught him off guard. By the time I paddled my way from one end of the pitch to the other for the second half I realised I was pretty wet.
I kept reminding myself that the best pictures often come out of the worst conditions. Previous experiences had taught me that. Didn’t really help though. The rain strengthened, Cougar joy grew and I have to admit I was still a bit miserable. Pictures so far had been ok but nothing outstanding. And then Cougars’ Macauley Elliott gathered the ball on the left, cut inside and dived over the try line right in front of me.
I’d pressed the shutter for a burst as he crossed the line and slid towards me. It all happened so quickly and I was praying that I’d got him in focus. Looked ok on the camera but I wouldn’t know for sure until I got it on a big screen at home. Thankfully all was well. About as good as it could be on such a dark day. The added bonus was a player and people in the crowd cheering behind him, with a beaten Coventry player lying in the mud.
So it ended up being a great afternoon. Well done to all at Cougar Park and long may their success continue. You can see more of ickledot’s pictures from the game here.