Great Expectations: My First PAGB Championship Experience
By Stephen Bell
After a stupid o clock alarm call, a short drive to Durham meeting up with Joe Grabham and David Trout, then a pleasant journey down to Warwick University (with the obligatory coffee break), we rolled into the arena to do battle with the big hitters of the PAGB world.
Can I start by saying that to actually get to these finals is a massive achievement for the club, and when you see the names of clubs that missed the cut from the various federations, we deserve a big pat on the back. This however was going to be a big challenge, mixing it with the likes of Smethwick, Dumfries, and Carluke and of course the Wigan 10. To be in with a shout of winning this you need to be averaging 12 to 13 points per image which is a very high standard of photography.
We registered in with the organisers, received our badges, and mixed with some of the other photographers for a while, before handing in our entry and finding our seats. The event is held in a hall rather like the Gala Theatre and with well over 400 people attending you could feel the buzz of anticipation and excitement when you walked in. So after a brief introduction where each club was announced and made their presence known by cheering, (Chorley dressed in coloured scarves for the occasion which brought a laugh) we were ready to rumble.
The first round was 8 images per club, and scores from the 3 judges were announced, surprisingly to me, neither author or club name was announced. We raced into the lead (well our image was the 1st to be shown) with a mark of 13 and so we were off and running. The 1st round seemed to fly by and we thought we were doing ok, so after about 350 images the running totals were announced. In fact we were doing better than ok as we were standing 8th, ahead of some big clubs including Smethwick and well in with a shout of reaching the final. The next task was to choose our next 8 images which was difficult as trying to second guess the judges likes/dislikes was a difficult job (Iceland images received very good marks). We settled on our 8 images and were ready to go again.
Round 2 was the same format as round 1 and again we thought we were doing alright. The scores were tallied and the results announced. As the clubs scores were announced in programme listing order we were standing 4th and looking good. However the programme order had last year’s 8 finalists as the last results to be announced and we finished in 10th place, agonisingly only 3 points away from a place in the final. Still, I think we put up a great show and with Joe Grabham scoring a maximum score of 15 for the image Three Wise Bankers, to finish 10th out of 38 of the best clubs in Great Britain is a great achievement.
It was then break time for lunch and a cuppa so we had a stroll outside and a mingle with the other competitors.
We then had to select 8 images for the Plate competition, 4 of which had not to have been shown previously, which again was difficult, and competed against the other non-finalists. It was at this point when we saw some of the high scoring images from the previous rounds, how open the competition was. I wrongly assumed that the top scores were coming from the top clubs when in fact they were more evenly spread. We did not win the Plate trophy but again we put up a good show and made a fight of it. It was amazing how close the clubs were with a couple of points either way making a big difference.
So then to the final which was 20 images per club. It was so close and at the end one club had the wrong image projected so there was a delay until the correct image was shown and marked, and the results were announced in reverse order. This was a very close final and resulted in a tie for 1st place between a relatively new club, Inn Focus Group, and guess who? yep, Wigan 10. Five more images per club were to be shown, so while this was organised the raffle was drawn, with some fab prizes up for grabs. Unfortunately we won nothing in the raffle too but never mind. Then the 5 images per club were shown and the winners by a score of 60 points to 59 were…..Wigan 10.
Trophies, ribbons and judges medals were awarded, votes of thanks given, and we left Warwick about ten past five. We decided that rather than stop off at a service station we would press on and head to Wetherby for some well-deserved fish and chips at the Wetherby Whaler.
A long day, but still a very enjoyable day, and one which hopefully we will repeat next year. So I urge “ALL” club members to get out and keep on taking top quality images and get them shown at the club for consideration for next year’s competitions. With the talent we have at the club I am convinced we can get to the final next time, then who knows?
Stephen Bell CPAGB
Full Club Results and Durham Individual Results are on the Competitions page of this website here
Pictured: Three Wise Bankers by Joe Grabham EFIAP/s which scored the maximum 15 points