8 June 2016 – pre-Euro 2016

Oh La La!

I was shit at French at school. Kind of worse at Art College (don’t ask!) but it all made sense when I befriended some lovely people from Belgium whist at some Simple Minds concerts five years later. Now my favorite actress is Sophie Marceau and I admit to having some tracks by Alizee on my iPod, so it’s fair to say, France influences my likes for film and music.

It’s only had 26million hits on YouTube –

or another Alizee classic

Back to the footy…


Looking back, I was awful when the UEFA European Championships came to my home soil of England – Euro ’96, Football’s coming home and all that… I didn’t deserve to shoot the final and my bosses at the time made the right call. I was not good enough.

My hard work started to flourish in France though at the FIFA World Cup in 1998 which now seems like a lifetime ago.

The BBC did a great job with Alan Shearer tracking down his old team-mates resulting in a great documentary about Euro 96. I wonder what Alan Shearer would be like doing a “Wickers World” or “Louis Theroux” type broadcast?


Taking this picture in 2005, a year AFTER my favorite Euro’s in Portugal – Euro 2004 – at the time it was just two young footballers I knew sitting on a wall at Shrewsbury Town’s Gay Meadow. The one on the left, who I still proclaim should have been a cricketer, subsequently signed for Manchester City and has gone on to captain England. He is of course, goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Whilst the ever lovely Dave Edwards (on the right) has ended up at Wolves and has done more than alright for himself in being a Welsh International.

I look forward to hopefully meeting up with them both when England play Wales next week in Lens – “Shrewsbury Boys we are here…” and all that.

As I was once told by Marc Aspland from The Times when he visited my NCTJ photojournalism course in Sheffield, “Take each picture as it is the most important that you have ever taken, and you can’t go wrong.” Wise words indeed.

Having pictures of now famous footballers playing for lesser clubs before moving on to bigger and better things is a big part of our picture library. However, we have encountered yet more poor tactics from our friends at the BBC.

They have been requesting pictures for free, and after a firm no, they then tried to go around the houses and bully football media managers for material.

Thankfully they said no too.

Sadly I have had no reply when I asked for a suggested three years TV licence credit to cover the licence agreement if they have no cash to hand over.

What gets me is that one football club I know, produced a documentary with the BBC making them hand over £20,000 in royalty payments for the footage and commentary.

Yet in a spectacular fashion, they feel that they can demand a club hands over footage when an evil photographer refuses to “help out.”

Just to balance the books, Fox, NHK, ESPN, ITV and Sky all pay out rather handsomely for material. I just hate the BBC and everything that it stands for.

Apologies to those who presumed that there would be a blog for the Europa and Champions League Finals. Coverage of the Europa League Final began with a nice drive to South-West Germany where we stayed in a hotel next to some horses. One could argue that I had the best seat in the house. Situated doing Liverpool attack second half, on the managers side with no fifth official blocking me, I was all set for an epic final until lady luck delt me a bad hand. Liverpool had all the possession and scored up the other end in the first half and during the second, with Sevilla running riot and scoring for fun, again up the other end, my health took a turn for the worse during the second half, culminating in me throwing up as though the Norovirus has returned. Thankfully for AMA, Cath was up the right end.

A trip to Milan to my second favourite stadium, the San Siro, made me feel old. Memories of Bayern Munich beating Valencia came flooding back in a stadium that I used to visit more in a season than Old Trafford and Villa Park put together.

This final was another classic example of people’s assumptions that us poor photographers have to put up with week in week out.

“Oh! you are so lucky in visiting Milan and watching the final”

This something that I just don’t answer to now. People do not just understand.


Training involved playing about with cameras and lenses and stacking convertors on to big lenses to make them even longer, but the hardship was trying to get a parking space in Milan on a Friday night which is difficult at the best of times. Trying on the eve of a major final was impossible for our designated driver on this occasion. After some not so fine late night food, a much needed sleep was rewarded by another truely shocking performance by myself, but my excuse was that he game was just awful for pictures – both goals were up the other end to me.

Extra time was just as bad. Then there was penalties.

Not knowing which end the penalties would take place at, my luck instantly changed when English referee Mark Clattenburg pointed to my end and then I realised I was in prime position for the penalty kicks and had no need to move and watched as photographers from the other end of the pitch decended into our boring territory.

Dare I say I am old hat at penalty shoot outs. I witness so many during Asian Cups, Gold Cups etc – I have a formula now which normally works. In Milan it didn’t!

I missed the goalkeeper saving the ‘missed penalty’ and after scoring the winner, Ronaldo ran off the other way whilst taking his shirt off.

Needless to say, after a rather disappointing 120 minutes, the trophy celebrations were far more fruitful and I left the field rather happier state.

Then, however, until one finds another photographer who always has a better picture from a different angle or a better expression of a player than you!

Then the big edit began, selecting just over 100 images from a shoot of over 3000.

rm3.jpgAfter precisely 75 minutes sleep, I was in a taxi back to the airport. My day was going well until the check in staff told me that the flight was delayed for nearly two hours. Some ITV staff who were also returning to London were royally kicking off! Although I love a good rant, I decided to watch in awe at the grief these professionals gave the EasyJet staff!

As my head hit the airplane window in Milan, the next thing I knew was that we had touched down at Gatwick, be it two hours late and at the wrong terminal. So much for the ‘quick’ three minute transfer which took 27 minutes.

To make the day even more special, there were 2 crashes on the M25, but after parking up at Wembley Stadium, the Barnsley v Milwall Play Off final was simply glorious.

Despite walking around like a zombie before kick off, tackles, goals, celebrations were at a constant flow down my lens – the game fed my thirst for pictures. The only trouble is, only photographers understand that shooting Barnsley was a million more times enjoyable than Real Madrid in the San Siro.


And so after four years since we went to the Ukraine for Euro 2012, it is time for another Euro tournament in my old stomping ground of France.


As always hotels rip fans and media off in a spectacular fashion – claiming the ‘need’ for rooms entitles them to charge €700 a night from a standard room rate of €90. We sorted coverage of the tournamentback in December and finalised it in March. I can’t remember what games we are doing or who is doing what. I will simply look at the next days fixture before going to sleep. I like suprises – I didn’t know Romania were facing hosts France until yesterday!

I am ‘stuck’ in a golf hotel near EuroDisney which is currenly below par due to the room temperature resembling a sauna. Trip Advisor was correct.

And with some worrying about the city of Paris being flooded, some of the country on strike and the threat of terrorism, my world is a great place after finding the most amazing Indian Bollywood Dance Radio Station on French DAB – I just hope that I can pick it up in Bordeaux!


Another pleasing aspect was the French Toll Tag worked perfectly when decending down the A1 to Paris. Ordering it at 3pm, it arrived the next day! The M6 Toll Tag replacement I ordered on the same day for my new vehicle, took 4 days to arrive. #BrokenBritain

One thing is for sure, with the next big tournament in Russia and then Mr Platini’s excellent idea (not) of hosting in oh so easy accessable cities like Bucharest, Bilbao, Bruxelles, Amsterdam, Dublin and London to name a few, this tournament is one to be cherished.

We certainly won’t have another road trip tournament like this for a few years… and we like a road trip!