Five years ago I was taking pictures behind-the-scenes for the England football team. The ones published below, taken over three days in October 2007, tell the inside story of a Euro 2008 Qualifier away to Russia.
I’d photographed three tournaments since World Cup 2002 in Japan, covering nearly seventy games with the players and staff. We were coming to the end of the qualifying campaign for the European Championships and the trip to Russia followed five successive 3-0 victories. We’d beaten them a month earlier at Wembley and the mood was good.
Two days before the match, the squad trained at Blessed Thomas Holford Catholic College in Manchester. It had the same artificial playing surface as the Ludzhniki Stadion in Moscow and the kids from the infants school next door spent their playtime watching the session.
Later that night, our plane landed in the freezing snow of Moscow Airport. The day after, we stayed in the hotel and prepared for evening training at the stadium.
I had team staff accreditation for the match as I’d been assisting Martin and Tom in the Kit Department. The dressing room was big and bright (which is not always the case on away trips) and full of opportunities for me as players prepared to face the opposition. For the first 45 minutes of the game, I found myself next to the England bench which was a new experience.
England lost 2-1. Five weeks later, we were beaten 3-2 by Croatia in the rain at Wembley.
We missed out on qualifying by one point and manager Steve McClaren (among others) lost his job.