A Beautiful Sport in Beautiful Places

Beautiful sport in beautiful places: the 2011 Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling season has been distilled into a collection of digital photographs which was launched at Currock House, Carlisle, this week. Over forty events feature and give an overview of the summer, from the limpid blue sky above the wrestling at Hethersgill Vintage Rally at Carlisle airport in early May,

to the heather clad hillside at Buttermere Show at the end of October.
The CD is a product of my summer wanderings when in my role as journalist for the Cumberland News and CWWAEnnerdale: James Hayhurst fells Martin Maussion in the All Weights final President, I feel the urge and obligation to attend as many events as possible with notebook in hand and camera in pocket. Many times I am unable to concentrate on my reporter's role, for I may be asked to judge, or do the commentary, or even do the table work. In such an event I seek out a reliable surrogate with the camera, usually Megan Gibson, that excellent young wrestler who usually has only one event to distract her.
At Ennerdale I asked a Kendal wrestler, Alice Beswick, to take the camera, and she proceeded to shoot over eighty images. The first eighty-three featured close-ups of grass, wrestlers in heaps on the ground, sky, and much blurring. Just as I was despairing, I came to the last frame of all and there it was…bingo… James Hayhurst diving over a Breton wrestler, frozen in action inches above the grass.
At Grayrigg, my camera's battery died after being well used at the 11st Championship at Crosby Ravensworth earlier that afternoon. Normally, that would have been that, but I noticed Linda Scott was judging, and unable to use her camera, so I borrowed it and my first click produced the image that is used onthe cover of the CD with Matthew Atkinson on the tip of the toes of his right foot as he leg-ups Ryan Dolan of Dundee.
Which is all very amateurish, and lucky, but the quality is stiffened by Linda Scott and her partner, Julian Richardson, with better equipment and more patience. Some falls are dissected frame by freeze frame. Richard Fox launches Graham Brocklebank high over his back with a full buttock at Alwinton and we see a second of action in five frozen stages.
Rain is a regular theme of the 2011 season, and we see a goodly crop of umbrellas and muddy wrestlers. At Newcastleton, referee Jimmy Pringle, in full wet weather gear, focuses intently as the wrestlers crash into the mud in front of him while a horse and rider speed past immediately behind.
Many shots show the crowd following the action intently, but with one spectator always looking away, or on the telephone. One image shows synchronised ice-cream-licking as the regular wrestling fans pay close attention to the action at Crosby Ravensworth.



Most shots pay attention to the wrestling action, but accidentally, in the background is the wonderful backdrop of the Lakeland fells or the Northumbrian hills. We have a great sporting heritage in this region, but we also have great natural beauty.


Written by © Roger Robson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (December 8th 2011)

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