It’s 5:30pm on a sunny afternoon in West London in May 2014, and my beloved Northampton Saints are trying win the first piece of major English silverware in their history. They are playing Saracens in the final of the Aviva Premiership. All they need is 3 points to level scores. They will win the match because they have scored more tries in the game than their opposition.
But no, this team wants to win this match outright.
Suddenly after wave, after wave of attacks, the Saints players start to celebrate, pointing at the pile of prone players on the try line. The referee, JP Doyle stops play and goes to the video referee, Geoff Hughes. History is hanging on the word of a man in a truck in a car park, looking at TV replays. Minutes pass and suddenly, all hell breaks loose as JP raises his arm to award the try. And what did I get of that winning moment – the photo below says it all. It’s a sports tog’s life sometimes.
But I really couldn’t complain too much because I had already won my moments several times over that season. Two weeks earlier at Saints’ home ground, Franklin’s Gardens, what is regarded by many as the greatest club match in history had happened. The biggest rivalry in the English game had produced a classic. And I managed to be in just the right spot to capture Tom Wood, scoring the winning try in the dying seconds of the game. And then a week later, Saints won a European trophy when they beat Bath Rugby in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Before I get too far into my story I want to say thank you to Scott. I have read Scott’s work for years, and, last year, I had a chance to meet him. I had a great time and learned so much in Paris on one of his courses (with the fabulous Mimo Meidany). Scott also came up to my neck of the woods to shoot the Ship of the Fens (our local name for Ely Cathedral) which was just a blast. Thanks Scott – I’m still learning!
Rugby union is not a big sport in comparison to soccer. It doesn’t pull the crowds of an NFL game or even a college football game (although over 80,000 people witnessed Saints lift the Premiership trophy that lovely day in May 2014). Franklin’s Gardens has been the home of the Saints almost since the club was founded in 1880 – it holds just over 15,000 people. But when full, the 15,000 can make a fantastic noise.(more…)