David Ashdown's Sports Picture Diary: Gloucester v London Irish

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The Independent Online

At most sporting events it's all about the action, two men and a ball, the diving try, horses galloping up the final furlong. But the one very important element that is not seen very often in pictures is the crowd.

I was at the Kingsholm Stadium on Saturday to watch Gloucester v London Irish. It's not a very big stadium so the dead ball line at each end is quite close to the edge of the pitch.

The photographers are restricted as to where they can sit. At the east end it's only possible to sit in the corners. This is not very good if a try is scored on the far side, meanwhile at the west end, it's only possible to sit between the advertising boards.

It was very amusing listening to the crowd behind me give a running commentary on the game. Amazingly the most venomous tirade came not from the men but the woman, whom it would seem could all have refereed the match much better that the official on the pitch.

Ian Balshaw hadn't had a very good match until half-way through the second half, leading to one memorable comment from a woman behind me. As Balshaw came close to scoring in the first half, he was told that he had cost the team ten points so far despite only having been playing for fifteen minutes and that "for gods sake, learn how to kick the ball!"

I chose the west end to set up my camera and sat half way between the corner and the goal. I was using two Nikon D3 cameras, one with a 500mm F4.0 lens and the other a 70mm-200mm F2.8 zoom lens.

This picture of Balshaw scoring the winning try was taken with the 500mm lens at 1/640 second at F4.0 very near the end of the match. All the elements are there - the ball touching the ground, the player who couldn't stop him, and the crowd cheering and sensing that this try will win them the match.

I could not hear what the women behind me were saying but I bet Balshaw went from zero to hero, such is the fickle nature of spectators.

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