Monthly Archives: May 2013

My First England Game


On 29 May England drew 1-1 with the Republic of Ireland at Wembley. The newspapers remembered how the last meeting in Dublin 18 years ago was abandoned when England fans rioted.

Back in February 1995 I was just starting as a sports photographer and had done a few jobs for Empics, the Nottingham photo agency. I had a meeting there with Ross Kinnaird just before the Dublin game and heard which hotel they’d be staying in so booked myself into the same one.

It was the first time I’d shot the national team. I’d managed to get a photo pass from Andy Oldknow at The FA who we worked with as the governing body became more commercial.

On the night of the game, I met the Empics photographers Ross and Steve Morton as they were preparing to leave the hotel. I said I’d give them anything interesting I shot.

After nearly half an hour of the game, I had almost nothing and couldn’t believe how dark it was. My international debut had started badly. Then the Irish scored and it went seriously wrong. Fans were coming onto the pitch as the players left it, objects were being thrown from the top of a stand and police and stewards moved in. The game stopped and confusion started. A photographer was seriously injured by a missile and some of us packed up. Others focused their long lenses on the crowd and some moved onto the pitch towards the fans, police and stewards.

I hardly remember taking my best picture. These days I would have seen it on the camera’s LCD but back then I was shooting film. Scuffles flared up and I shot a few frames of one in particular with my wide lens. I bumped into Nick, the Empics technician processing the film, and gave him the roll I’d just shot.

It took ages to get back to the hotel but when I did, Ross told me he thought I might have got a big picture which had been wired with a few others. The neg was thin (I’d forgotten to tell Nick I’d uprated the film) but it was a good frame of three England fans attacking a steward in front of a Union Flag. I was so relieved it was sharp.

I woke up next morning and put the television on. The riot at Lansdowne Road was headline news and, as the papers were reviewed, my picture was on the front page of nine out of ten of the UK nationals.

A Dublin landlady had also seen the newspapers and called the police – the three fans were asleep upstairs in her guesthouse. They were arrested and convicted with the story continuing for a couple of days in the tabloids.

At least one of the men I photographed said it had ruined his life. I only hope it was a temporary, if very public, low point.

Escape to Cadiz

My agents rang to say a Dutch client was considering us for a Spanish beer advertising campaign. It was a really good brief with happy people backlit by a low, warm sun.

Having just shot the McDonald’s Olympics posters and films (after two months pre-production), I needed a break but also really wanted to get this job. We had some pictures in the archive with the right content and mood but not much with the light.

After experimenting in London, I decided on a week in Spain to shoot some tests. If they were good enough, we’d present them to the client (it’s a speculative approach that’s worked well for us in the past).

My friend Patxa recommended Cadiz as location and local producer Ignacio Fando was proposed as a guide and to arrange things. We walked the streets with friends Moira and Luisa on the first night; I had to find a few good locations that would see at least some of the late sun, then shoot four layouts over the next few evenings.

We had about fifteen minutes a day when the light was good and followed the sun as it set behind the streets.

These pictures are a mix of tests. Some are technical, others location references and a few rehearsing the kind of moments we needed to get for the campaign. There’s also a few street photographs.


Ignacio Fando

That Goal against Greece

Yesterday, I spoke to Dickie Pelham from The Sun after reading about his award-winning photograph of David Beckham’s celebration nearly twelve years ago at Old Trafford. His injury time equaliser meant England had qualified dramatically for the 2002 World Cup in Japan.

I’ve been thinking back to our pictures from the game. At the time, we were running The FA’s Official Photo Library so four of us were covering the match. I asked Ed Sykes to shoot from up in the television gantry for an exclusive aerial view and he came up with this absolute belter.

While The Sun would probably want a picture with the ball leaving his foot, I think the player often makes a better shape just before or after.

I love how this frame isolates Beckham from the other 67,000 or so people in the ground. For a few seconds, he really was on his own.


Dickie Pelham’s Picture

Once a Blue…

Last week’s David Moyes to Manchester United story got me trawling our Everton archive.

We started working for the club in the summer of 2002 just as Moyes took over as manager. I remember a programme seller at Goodison Park telling me to watch out for a local boy about to break into the first team.

For the 67 games he played for The Blues, before moving to Old Trafford in August 2004, Wayne Rooney was impossible to ignore.

The series starting with him getting ready for training was a Nike job through advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy. He also featured strongly in our England behind the scenes project so we photographed him a lot around this time.

Back then, six of us were shooting football so Julian Hodgson, Keely Edge, Ryan Browne, Ed Sykes, Matt West and Will Wintercross can take credit for many of the following pictures.

They illustrate part of Moyes’ and Rooney’s first two seasons together – will there be more to come?