It was there for the taking. A fixture against Blacktown, and in the closing minutes we watched, agonized, from the sidelines as a slender lead was whittled down and overtaken.

This was the year I went from player to spectator, the warning bells of a recurrent neck injury finally becoming audible even to me. It is difficult to let being part of something bigger than yourself go, and so I began to chronicle my team, the men I had shed blood and sweat with over too brief a time. Mostly, this is pretty straight forward, but when you enter the change rooms of a losing side in the minutes just after the game with a camera around your neck the feeling can be a little tense.

Shooting from where my camera hung in front of me, I tried to capture some of the sense of how this feels. This is not meant to be a voyeuristic photo, in any sense, but I felt like I was photographing the scene of a tragedy, like I was capturing something I wasn’t meant to.

There is a smell in a place like this that has nothing to do with sweat, dencorub, and unwashed kit. It is the smell of weeks, months, sometimes years of striving to achieve something that you feel is worthwhile, only to see it taken from you despite all your best efforts. It is hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t been here, but those who have will recognize the clenched jaw, the slump of the shoulders, and hear that shuffling, clattering silence that exists in a losing change room. And hopefully they will know why I love this photo.

Next year boys…


rugby, petersham


  • micheleirene
    micheleireneover 5 years ago

    Great capture of a true moment and true emotion Mathew. This image has a powerful feel to it. Fantastic work :)

  • Thanks Shelly, much appreciated comment.

    – Mathew Russell

  • Cora Wandel
    Cora Wandelover 5 years ago

  • oldfartart
    oldfartartover 5 years ago

    Bloody brilliant, li’l Bro…there IS a smell about it alright, the smell of genius :)
    Lookin forward to seein you guys in a few weeks xo

  • Kelly Humphries
    Kelly Humphriesover 5 years ago

    Congratulations, Matt, both on the feature and on an inspired piece of writing which captures such raw emotion. Great stuff! :))

  • Mathew Russell
    Mathew Russellover 5 years ago

    hey there guys, whoever bought a print of this, thank you so much for your patronage. This is one of my favourite shots. Glad you like it too.


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