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Reporting from the Enemy's Camp: Experiencing Lancaster Roses 2018

Luke Snell relives his experience at the last Lancaster Roses

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Image Credit: Luke Snell

Back in 2018 I attended a Lancaster Roses event as a first year student - my first ever Roses - doing photography for Nouse. The spirit and event itself starts much closer to the home: the bus. To ensure full coverage of the weekend the first bus leaves early in the morning, sometime around 7. This leads to the two typical types of students on the journey across; those who wanted to sleep the whole way and wake up in Lancaster, and those could not wait to arrive. The York spirit truly starts to take shape, with chants emanating from the back of the bus, working their way down, building into their final crescendo as the bus pulls up to Lancaster uni (an out of tune crescendo, but a crescendo nonetheless).

As the teams piled out of the bus, the eager York team were met by a grandstand surrounding the football pitch. 3 temporary grandstands surrounded the pitch, with a sweeping bank providing views of the pitch from the remaining side. The first thing to do when arriving was to drop our bags off. With teams sleeping in lecture theaters, and the lucky few from student media getting our own common room to work from.

With bags dropped off, programmes read through and a plan for the weekend created it was time to explore and get to work. Lancaster not only brought in a temporary stadium for the event, but also created their own ‘Roses village’ with plenty of different types of food to last the weekend, stalls selling Roses merchandise and plenty of volunteers to help guide you round the event. Much like York, Lancasters Roses is spread throughout the campus, with the majority of the events taking place at the stadium with the sports centre next door.

After a full first day of shooting, it was time for the opening ceremony in the stadium - men's football. The grandstands quickly filled up, dance troops kept the crowd entertained until it was time. Both teams took position on the pitch ready for kick off. York gained the upper hand in the first half, the away crowd erupting with each goal, the home team were quickly drowned out. Unfortunately it was not to last, early on in the second half Lancaster equalled the scoreline, eventually taking the lead and subsequently winning the match. As the final whistle blew the Lancaster crowd flooded the pitch, the York crowd slightly less enthusiastic. This mood was not to last.

Saturday saw a new day, and new chances for the York team to lift their spirit. And lift their spirit they certainly did. Though York trailed by 62 points and Lancaster a mere 50 points from the win, it soon became apparent on Saturday morning that overall victory was perhaps not quite as viable as York once believed. Did this dampen the York spirit? Did this mean York gave up? Absolutely not! To make up for this - in other words embarrassing - defeat, York became the gobbiest crowd known to mankind, perhaps with the simple goal of being heard all the way back on home territory.

Not only was I there as a photographer, but also as a competitor, playing for the men's squash team. Never before had I seen such a crowd gathered for such a small sports team at such a large tournament. People who had never heard of squash before turned out, eager not only to learn a bit about the game, but more importantly to cheer on the York team, ultimately leading to York taking home all the points for squash.

As the day drew to a close, Lancaster sealed their victory with a day to spare - though not a surprise as they were the home team, carrying on the tradition of the home team advantage. And so with this in mind, we all went back to our common room.

In true York style, the crowds gathered once again to make as much noise as possible for the final day of the tournament. This increased support helped to propel the away team to their best day of the tournament, bringing in a good haul of points and lessening the blow of overall defeat. The men’s rugby closed the tournament with yet another disappointing end - a Lancaster victory.

The overall highlight of the weekend had to be the team spirit. It was often easy to forget that York were the away team, the enthusiasm and chants easily drowned out the home team. It was this team spirit that ensured that everyone could get involved, and that every competitor - whether they won their event or not - felt like a huge part of the team.

And so here’s to Roses in 2022, another year away in Lancaster. Let us go back, let us show them how York competes, and let us once again drown them out! In the meantime, let us make it a hat trick of York victories. Let’s make Roses white again for another year!

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