My luck with taking photographs at victory parades wasn't that great either. 2 years ago, after the last Super 12 Title win, I had perched myself precariously upon the top of a truck on Hereford Street as the players went past, and managed to get a long range shot of the Toddfather in waving pose, looking straight at my camera! Unfortunately it was a hurried shot and turned out to be slightly blurred. None of the other photo's were as notable.
My luck this time didn't turn out to be too much different. And I was was extra careful not to blink too many times, else I would have missed most of the parade. That is to say, it was a very quick affair with people gathering in anticipation for considerably longer than the event itself.
I have a habit of perching precariously on things, so this year found me atop a letter box halfway down Colombo Street. Prize real estate in my view since the city was aflood with Red and Black, people flocking from all over Christchurch for even a glimpse of the lads.
And a glimpse was all they really got, because one second things were relatively quiet then all of a sudden there was a shout "Here they come!", then the Crusader horsemen could be seen coming, and like the speed of light, like a speeding bullet, the Crusaders caravan passed and was gone.
Well okay, it wasn't that quick, but you would have thought they could have gone a bit slower. A lot of people missed out on seeing the game because of a few inconsiderate people buying up large chunks of the stadium, so were eager to get a good look at the team. But it was as if they were late for a pressing appointment. Because of that I was caught completely unawares. I was using a short range, wide angle lense to take pictures of some of the er, local talent so I didn't have time to change lense and had to make do as the parade went by.
My strategy, as the players passed, was to shout their names as loudly as possible so they would look straight at me, and I was successful on a few occassions, managing to get Reuben Thorne, a pointy finger and look from Mr Deans, and a wave from Scott Robertson aswell as rather vacant look from Chris Jack. I think I did well under the circumstances but the pictures still didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped.
So despite the triumphant air, I get the feeling a lot of people might have been dissapointed due to the brisk pace. I know I would have been had I not had the chance to get closer to them. And that brings me onto the next part of my story.
I knew that the Crusaders would be using the secure area of a hotels carpark to end the parade and board their bus, so as soon as the convoy has passed me I jumped down from my spot, apologised to the person I almost landed on, and was off like a shot to the hotel carpark to await the end of the parade.
Earlier that day, I had printed out a picture of Andrew Mehrtens doing his famous finger salute, which I found here on rugbyheads, in the hope that I'd be able to get it signed by him. But I got a bit more than I bargained for.
As the parade convoy entered the carpark, the players made a beeline for their bus. Not seeing Mehrts straight away I threw myself courageously in front of the other players and got what signatures I could. Only having previously seen the players from the distance of the stands, I was definately starstruck at being so close to them, so sane thought had not a chance and I can't really remember a lot of what happened too clearly.
I ended up getting about 14 or 15 of the player signatures, but can only remember Mehrts, Marshall, McDonald, A. Mauger, Thorne, Blair, Robertson, possibly N. Mauger & Jack, aswell as Robbie Dean's. But I can't make out the other signatures. I do regret not being able to get Vunibaka and Ralph, the latter seeming to vanish completely.
In the end I think the picture turned out rather well, and despite being a print out of a scan of a newspaper print, it adds a certain amount of character to it, I think.
I did manage to get some photo's of the players close up, but I haven't used that role of film up yet so I will send them along to Jules later.
In hind site I probably should have just stood outside the door of their bus and asked them to sign as they got on. But ah well, I shall just have to contrive some other way to get the rest of the signatures.
That might be another story in itself.