TAMING THE TIGERS (1999) film no: 1318

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The Castleford Tigers RLFC is the subject of this lively and colourful film.  It follows five characters from the club as they pursue the Wembley dream in the 1999 Silk Cut Challenge Cup, capturing the magic, passion and humour of this tightly knit community at a very significant time in both the sport of rugby and the club's history. 

Title: ‘14th Feb, 1999 Castleford Tigers v Hull Sharks’ 

The film begins with the observation and interview of a female college student (Emma Gill) before a home game at Wheldon Road.  She works on the car park gates at Castleford Tigers.  A traditional jazz band is playing ‘Ain’t Misbehaving’ whilst supporters of both teams make their way into the ground.  Next the club secretary for Castleford Tigers (Denise Cackett) explains her role on match day.  This is followed by an interview with one of the rugby players (Dean Sampson) as he arrives at the stadium.  One of the club workers in the announcement box (Wayne Pickup) is shown having a bit of a rant.  These are interspersed with shots of the club tiger mascot. 

The teams come onto the field, and when the game gets under way, the crowd is shown cheering their team on.  Back in the announcement box Wayne Pickup explains how he became a supporter from a young age.  He cheers when Brad Davis scores a try.  Back in the crowd Emma Gill is making a call from her mobile phone.  At the end of the game Dean Sampson gives an interview on the pitch which is followed by an interview with Denise Cackett in the ground office. 

In the club bar a large crowd stands to watch the draw for the next round of the cup: a home tie against York. 

Intertitle: ‘28th February 1999 Castleford Tigers vs York’ 

Cars arrive for the evening game, and in the club shop a volunteer puts badges and numbers onto the new club shirts.  Before the kickoff the mascot dances on the field to the theme of the cartoon ‘Top Cat’, and Wayne Pickup reads out the teams whilst a young boy gets his face painted and some other young boys do a chant.  The teams come onto the field and club photographer (Andy Howard) on the side of the pitch explains the need for patience in taking photos.  Up in the announcement box Wayne Pickup gets ready to play a clip from a song (Chumbawamba, ‘I Get Knocked Down’) when the opposition score. 

Intertitle: ‘Final Score, Castleford Tigers 28 – 2 York’ 

As the crowd cheers at the end of the game, Wayne Pickup and Andy Howard have a joke in front of the emptying stand. 

Intertitle: ‘13th March 1999, Quarter final Castleford Tigers vs Salford Reds’ 

Outside the ground people buy flags, a girl has her face painted, and the traditional band plays ‘roll out the barrel’.  Dean Sampson relates how his father was a rugby player, and how he feels about being a player.  On a sunny day, a packed ground sings along with Gary Glitter’s, ‘I’m the leader of the gang (I am)’ and Queen’s, ‘We Will Rock You’.  In the background, the rugby league commentator Ray French can be heard.  The crowd sings and dances each time Castleford score any points.  At the end of the game, Dean Sampson is again interviewed on the pitch, and again Wayne Pickup and Andy Howard have a joke in front of an emptying stand. 

Intertitle: ‘27th March 1999 Semi final, Castleford Tigers vs London Broncos’ 

Dean Sampson is interviewed outside the ground on the day of the semi-final as the players board their coach.  Emma Gill is interviewed inside the club shop as customers try on the club shirts.  Andy Howard shows a mock ‘Wanted’ poster for Wayne Pickup, and on the coach on the way to the game, Denise Cackett talks about her family connections to the club.  Inside the Headingley ground, Wayne Pickup talks about the importance of the match.  Castleford loses to the London Broncos 14 – 2.  Some BBC footage is also used showing Castleford getting a try just before half time.  Wayne Pickup rejoices in the stand with Colin Welland behind him. 

As the second half gets underway, Ray French comments that Dean Sampson is playing with an injured hand.  After a couple of tries, Castleford go into the lead for the first time in the game, but Dean Sampson has to go off with his injury.  Denise Cackett and Wayne Pickup go through the emotions of the game as it goes into extra time.  Dean Sampson is sitting in the caddick with his head in his hands as the London Broncos score a try in the dying seconds of the match.  He then speaks about what it feels like to loose out on going to Wembley.  Andy Howard tries to end on a positive note. 

End credits  

Dean Sampson

Andy Howard

Denise Cackett

Wayne Pickup

Emma Gill   

‘thanks to’ – a list of various individuals and organisations is given, including the BBC. 

Funded by The National Lottery and Museums and Arts Wakefield MDC. 

A film made by Judi Alston and Steve Richards.

Download context pdf
This film is one of 38 films made between 1998 and 2001 as a project with the Yorkshire Media Consortium. The YMC was a partnership of seven companies – including One to One Productions and the Yorkshire Film Archive – set up with support from Yorkshire Arts in 1998. This film is one of many produced and directed by Judi Alston, some on her own, others, like this one, in conjunction with Steve Richards. All the films are held with the YFA, as well as the rushes, director’s notes and background files including detailed records of the people, communities and filmmakers involved in each production. For more on Judi Alston and One to One Productions see the Context for Home Grown, also on YFA Online. 
 
Just after filming Judi had a serious accident, falling off a pier in Middlesbrough cracking several ribs and breaking her arm in fifteen places. With time tight Judi panicked that the editing wouldn’t be completed before the first screening. However, everything got completed on time and the film went on to great success. Like all the other films Judi has made, Taming The Tigers allows the participants to speak for themselves without being steered in any direction. This may explain why the film had such an appeal to Castleford, and other Rugby league, fans. The emotional impact of the film was demonstrated when it was shown on the Sky TV screen to some 8,000 spectators at a home game against Wigan Warriors: both sets of supporters were glued to the screen, and many were in tears at the end. The film got a lot of local coverage at the time and a spread in The Independent (26.03 1999).
 
Perhaps unfortunately, the phrase ‘Taming the Tigers’ has often been used in connection to the Tamil Tigers, the militant organisation of Sri Lanka. An alternative reference is from a Buddhist text meaning the subordination of the ego – although it is difficult to see how this might illuminate the film!
 
Judi certainly picked a good time to film the club as the 1999 season was the best the Tigers had had for some time, reaching the semi finals of both the Challenge Cup and the Grand Final play offs. Castleford didn’t play to their best on the day, although it was no shame being beaten by a team having England rugby league legends Shaun Edwards and Martin Offiah. In fact Martin Offiah was the major player in Wigan defeating Castleford in their previous trip to Wembley in 1992. Dean Sampson was the only surviving player from that game, when he came on as a substitute.  Castleford got their revenge a few months later when they thrashed London Broncos 52 – 16, exactly the same score that Leeds Rhinos beat London in the final! The Wheldon Road Stadium was later renamed ‘The Jungle’ after a commercial sponsor, but at the time of writing (March 2009) the club is planning to move to a new stadium in Glasshoughton.
 
The Tigers – also know as ‘The Glassblowers’ because many fans were glassblowers –have a long and proud history going back to their founding in June 1926. Interestingly it was on 21st June 1926, right in the middle of a national miners strike, and after the collapse of the General Strike, that the British Government introduced a Bill into the House of Commons that suspended the miners' Seven Hours Act for five years.  It was thus an inauspicious time to be setting out as professional rugby club in a mining town.  Nevertheless, Castleford won the Yorkshire League title in 1932 and followed this with its first Challenge Cup victory in 1935.  They subsequently won back-to-back wins in the Challenge Cup in 1969 and 1970, before doing so again in 1986. One of the founding members of the Super League in 1996 they have been relegated twice, only to bounce back both times – making appropriate the choice of I get knocked down (aka ‘tubthumping’) as a morale boosting song, from Leeds’ rebel group Chumbawamba.
 
The fortunes of Castleford town have always been bound up with that of the mining industry. In the run up to the miners’ strike of 1984/5 there were eight collieries in the area, with Wheldale pit, the first of the deep mines in the area, just a stone’s throw from the Wheldon Road ground.  But this pit closed in 1987, preceded by Fryston, closed in 1985, and Glasshoughton, closed in 1986. Castleford now has no working coal mines, with the nearby Selby pit closing in 2004.
 
Castleford hasn’t that many claims to fame, although in 2009 it featured in the TV adaptations of David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet. Its most famous son is undoubtedly the great British sculptor Henry Moore, who was born in Roundhill Road 1898 – in 2000 becoming Moore Square. One of his sculptures, Reclining Figure, is outside the Castleford Civic Centre. Coincidently the other major British twentieth century sculptor, Barbara Hepworth, was born nearby in Wakefield (which claims them both).  Many of their sculptures can be found in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield.
 
Wayne Pickup continued being the club dj until February 2009; Andy Howard moved out of the area; Emma Gill got a full time job after completing her studies; Denise Cackett left the club to work at the Rugby Football League HQ in Leeds; and, at the time of writing, Dean Sampson is the coach of the clubs Academy side. The film also features the voice of the legendary commentator Ray French, ex British rugby player, English teacher and graduate of Leeds University.
 
(with special thanks to David Smart the Media Manager of Castleford Tigers)
 
References

Saving Time, a booklet and CD ROM produced by the Yorkshire Media Consortium. This outlines the work of the group including an index of the films it produced. A copy is held with the YFA.
For more information about One to One Productions own Archive visit:
One to one collection 
One to One Productions
 
Further Information

David Wilders, History of Castleford, Briton Press, 1995 

 

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