London Skolars v. Keighly Cougars
Well, Friday night lights for the last Co-op Division Two match of Skolars' season. Kick off in the falling dusk, a capacity attendance, 1,427, from visiting rugby fans down in the smoke for the Challenge cup next day (So that'll have been about £130K in the bank for the club).
The match itself was excellent - Skolar's pulled their socks up and really played beter than I've seen them all season. But, the omens were not good: their line was fast, they defended like demons but they had to do it again and again and again. Keighly struck through the centre, taking every advantage - Skolars were driven out to the wings to make their tries.
A sin binning was the most disappointing moment of the match for for the Londoners, but they're play remaine resolute even down one man. Although behind in points and play, they kept on catching up, and kept the game competetive to the end, even holding the lead for somewhile.
When the end came, it was a scrappy chase, which Skolars could have won with a touch more skill. Throughout loose hands let them down, and giving away unnecessary technical penalties.
In many ways, it summed up Skolar's season.
On my way out I ehard some of the Yorkshire fans complaining that this was the worst stadium they'd ever visited, other than Saints'. I don't think I've ever described the New River Stadium. First, the New River isn't new, nor is it a river - it's an old canal. The stadium isn't really a stadium, it's one stand. it looks out over an athletics track and to an attractive park beyond, on a warm summer's day it can be highly pleasant to sit there. Off to the left (when sitting in the stand) Alxandra Palace can be seen rising over the trees. It isn't the greatest ground in the world, but it will do for now.
The worst problem was the lights. they lit themselves, but not the ground. The clue was, the players on the pitch weren't casting shadows.
Skolars have officially come second from bottom, they had every chance of coming a little higher, and may do so next year. But, at the end, Friday's match was:
London Skolars 14-18 Keighley
Finally, a little note, Skolars has a group of fans, henceforth to bne known as the ironic singers. Their chants of "The referee is Elvis" and other such surreal offerings normally make up most of the crowd noise, but with a bigger crowd cowed them tonight. Lets hope their in full voice next year. On the stairs though, I heard them, ever hopeful chanting "We got a bonus point!"