And the camera never lies
No the camera never lies
Truth you can’t disguise
Just open up your eyes
‘Cause the camera never lies
Michael Franks – The Camera Never Lies
Over the past few weeks I’ve been lucky enough to receive John Coles’ photo collections from those Coventry games he’s attended as one of the official match day photographers.
And very kind of him it is, too.
They are a real highlight for me as they provide an opportunity to look back over incidents in the game that I’d either previously missed because I was too busy with my head buried in the phone or had just not seen as clearly as I would have liked.
I’m actually quite short-sighted and without glasses I’m struggling even to recognise the players from the main stand, let alone follow the details of the game. Wearing glasses makes texting difficult and is one of the reasons (or excuses even) for the number of errors that often appear in the updates, but if I took off my glasses to ‘tweet’ I might just as well make up the ‘commentary’ as I go along…
So to revisit the game via John’s photos is a real privilege, especially given their quality.
I’m just a point and click merchant myself, someone who never changes the settings on the camera from ‘automatic’ and occasionally even forgets to take the lens cap off, much to the amusement of those standing close-by. John, though, is the consummate professional who is able not just to capture images in real clarity, he also has the happy knack of capturing the moment, too.
Sorry…for knack, read skill.
I’ll be half a second too early or too late and the photo will, more often than not, be poorly framed.
Not so with John.
I guess he must take a string of photos over a couple of seconds and then select the best of those to download, but be that as it may, when it comes to the photos he takes at the BPA or at the occasional away game, well they invariably provide images that most of us will have missed or not seen in quite the same degree of clarity.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to articulate this during the course of this post – I’ll only include a small fraction of the photos John takes but they should provide a talking point or two, or at the very least a reminder of the particular incident they cover.
Take the photo below, shot immediately after the game as the players go through the customary handshakes with the opposition. I’m probably reading far too much into this photo, but there are a number of things that come to mind when looking at it.
For the players, it’s a question of showing respect to the opposition win, lose or draw. A curt handshake, a look in the eye and onto the next player.
You can clearly Boulton, Grove and Tolmie, all-seasoned pros, not yet showing the elation/relief of the win just yet.
Luc Jeannot waits on as Pete White embraces Ben Penfold, the Cambridge 10.
And if ever a photo represented the core values of the game of rugby, then it is this one. All afternoon Pete had taken his fair share of punishment at the hands of the Cambridge defence, all strictly within the rules I hasten to add, but the opposition certainly seemed to target him in particular. Perhaps with no obvious replacement 9, they wanted to put that much more pressure on him?
But Pete is a tough and gritty player and thrives on such situations and was, for most Cov supporters, one of the standout players on the day. And despite all the physicality of the previous 80 minutes, what’s Pete’s reaction? He embraces the Cambridge fly-half and it’s clear that whilst they might have been anything but best mates on the pitch, off it they’re the best of friends.
And that’s the beauty of the sport for me, within seconds of the game ending the important things in life – friendship, respect, loyalty – they all kick in again.
No pushing and shoving in the tunnel, no bad-mouthing each other or surrounding the referee to confront him over a decision. Just mutual admiration and regard for one other.
And long may that continue to be the case.
The other thing that stands out for me is the contrast been Luc Jeannot on the one hand, youthful and still fresh-faced, and the more seasoned Phil Boulton immediately behind him. Phil is still only 31 but he has 10 years on Luc and yet here they are, one in front of the other, representing the present and the future of Coventry Rugby Club. That might seem somewhat trite, but if the setting up of the Development Squad was about providing the opportunities for talented youngsters to break into the senior game, well here’s proof positive that it is begin to fulfil its potential already. Phil with 200 Championship games under his belt, Luc with just 3 starts under his.
I just think it’s one of those photos that has a story of its own to tell…
Unfortunately, John didn’t take any follow up photos immediately after the previous one was taken, so I’ve included one of my ‘snaps’ just to show how that mutual respect when shaking hands with the opposition quickly turns into a different set of emotions for the players once the formalities are over – and apologies to RW for capturing the back of his head, but at least I managed to get Phil B in focus!
Next I’ve included a sequence of 3 photos that cover the build up and scoring of Luke Narraway’s try, the fifth of the game and the one that put the result beyond any reasonable doubt. It’s significant because it was one of those tries that from a distance looked as if the ball might not have been grounded. We sit towards the back of the main stand adjacent to the 40m line at the railway end and as Luke Narraway made to dot the ball down, it looked as if he had lost control of it and the ball had squirted away, so much so that a number of us called it as such before the referee went over to check with his assistant.
However, in the final photo John C captures the exact moment the ball is grounded to show just how wide of the mark we actually were.
And in that final photo you can just make out the despairing face of former Coventry scrum half Lewis Barker who had a season or two at the BPA and impressed whilst with us…
…at least, impressed me, anyway.
The next sequence, made up of 6 photos this time, captures Rob Knox’s first try and, whilst there’s probably less here to comment on, it does perfectly highlight Rob’s power and pace.
In the first image the scrum-half has an arm around Rob’s left leg, but Rob has already started to accelerate away and the power he is able to generate means that the no 9 has little or no chance of bringing him down.
By photo two, the tackler looks to be clutching at thin air as Rob powers forward, with the line clearly in his sights. Having broken free it’s just a matter of a straight forward run in for the Coventry winger and he has the luxury of touching down completely unopposed.
Rob is in fantastic form at the moment and as so often is the case, the more confidence you have, the better you tend to play. With no lingering injuries to worry about , Rob is sure to improve upon his current 13 tries for the season and although still 3 behind James Stokes, it might well be somewhat closer by the end of the season.
And from Rob’s opening try, here’s Jubby’s second (?) to follow.
His all-round performance on Saturday impressed a good many supporters and he did himself no harm whatsoever. The first photo typifies why he is such an exciting player to watch, receiving as he is a try-scoring pass from Alex Grove following a neat break from the Cov centre.
James Stokes and Heath Stevens aren’t far away but Jubby has positioned himself perfectly and although he still has a good few metres to cover, there is no one going to catch him from that distance.
A rampaging second row is always an exhilarating sight and Jubby and Dacres are two fine athletes, both able to play from the back row as well.
One of those images would definitely be my screensaver for the next few weeks were I Tom Jubb!
The final sequence of photos is the concluding play of the game when we all but scored our seventh try of the afternoon.
In the first photo Luke Narraway is off-loadin to Rob Knox who then proceeds to sprint down the left wing with Anthony Matoto in support. It looked for all the world that the try was definitely on, but instead of passing the ball to AM before the Cambridge winger made the tackle, I think Rob believed he could run through the player, given he was only 5m out. And to be honest, I think most of us would have put money on him on him doing just that given Rob’s current form.
As it was, it was a good piece of defending from the Cambridge 14 and as Rob went to ground he wasn’t able to pass the ball with any accuracy and the chance went begging. The disappointment that is clearly etched on the faces of Luke Narraway and Anthony Matoto suggests that they, too, felt Cov should have scored…and if you look carefully at some of the expressions starting to form on the faces of the spectators in the final photo, they share that same sense of frustration.
Still, Rob was on a hatrick and we were 30 points in front and this was near enough the last play of the game – Rob had every right to go for the try himself in those circumstances.
Luke Narraway hasn’t been one of the players to get much of a mention from supporters over the last couple of days but he has been extremely consistent over the previous few games. He does all the simple things extremely well and whilst he won’t get the plaudits too often because there is nothing flash or showy about his game, his work rate is extremely high and, like Phil Nilsen and Latu Makaafi, there are no half measures where LN is concerned.
His positional play is excellent both in defence and attack and he is constantly barking out instructions when the opposition has possession…his experience will be very important when we travel up to Darlington next weekend.
Finally, I’ve included Rob Knox’s second try (you can’t see him really, other than his orange dayglow boots – the jury’s still out on those, by the way). The thing that makes this photo for me is the sight of Brett Daynes awarding Cov the try, clearly not trusting the referee to make the correct decision.
Although in fairness the man in black isn’t best placed to see the grounding…
Give Brett the whistle!
The photo below, downloaded by me from the Club’s official Facebook page (and taken by Nick Meredith ) shows the same try, but from a very different angle.
The ref’s got a pretty trendy looking pair of boots on…
I’m sure he is grateful for Brett’s support, here.
As an aside, it’s lovely to see the area behind the goal line and in front of the Guinness Bar lined with spectators two or three deep.
I can only repeat my thanks to John Cole for allowing me to use the photos – I know they have been widely appreciated in the past, offering as they do a different view of some of the key moments in the games.
I’m afraid I have to take responsibility for the sequencing of them though…
The Camera Never Lies…
It was either Bucks Fizz or Michael Franks…not much choice either way…both pretty awful.
I can only apologise for this one, despite the appropriateness of the lyrics (or some of them!)…