- Documenting football involves all kinds of assignments. It is not just about going to AC Milan, Chelsea or Manchester United or indeed lesser clubs in lower divisions in strange places in unfamiliar countries.
Our clients always need fresh ideas and new material to look at.
What better than to cover the infamous BATTLE OF THE MASCOTS!
Shrewsbury Town FC staged Battle of the Mascots II on Sunday 28th March with AMA Sports Photo Agency in attendance.
With so much going on that the decision to take three photographers to the event and not even attend the Barclays Premier League game Liverpool v Sunderland paid off with some great photographs being taken by Sam, Cath and myself.
WATCH THE BIRDIE
At a normal match we always look out for scene setters, images that sum up the game from an editorial point of view. We then battle with our rivals competing next to each other transmitting live images around the world via our pitch-side laptops in a bid to get our pictures to the newspapers ahead of their deadlines.
As always we would look out for some photo art and something different and imaginative and equally important be brand aware.
BEARS, DOGS and FROGS
However, we were not photographing Manchester City littered with international stars, we were photographing a bunch of grown men (and women) dressed up as bears, dogs, frogs, sheep, owls, lions and other furry creatures running around football pitch kicking an over sized football!
Covering a game like this means you have to keep your eyes open, be able to look sideways and be prepared for anything.
In all seriousness this was a hard fixture to cover.
OWL ABOUT THAT
We started out in the dressing rooms documenting the team talks but being very aware of the strict rule of not to publish any mascot without its head on.
We needed pictures to show the event – 35 mascots running around with a giant ball is a spectacle in itself!
One remote with a Canon 1DS MK2 and a 50mm f1.8 lens was set up behind the goal. This was fired as I was walking around the stadium with a digital pocket wizard in my back pocket. For ‘normal’ football I would use a 400mm or 600mm lens but the best lens was a 70-200 on this day.
Today was different. Very different!
BIRD ON THE WING
Regional newspapers from all over the country needed a picture of their local mascot in action.
Normal pressure comes in the way of the requirement of a great action shot for a foreign national newspaper who specifically need a picture of their Premier League star in action.
Although the UK press may want a picture of manager Zola from a West Ham game, the press in Switzerland only want their star man Behrami in action.
This game was no different with a wants list as long as my arm.
One included getting something ‘special’ of Baggy Bird the West Bromwich Albion mascot. Playing on the wing I could not go wrong, but the best shot was of Baggy Bird Junior in action who spent most of the time nesting in midfield.
Again we aim to supply something eye catching and special and although Chaddy the Owl the Oldham Athletic mascot was in fine form, getting images of some of the others was a difficult task.
Goals and celebrations take a whole new meaning with Owls tackling Lions and Dogs hounding the referee.
And when an Elephant squirts the referee with water you have one moment and only one moment to get the picture.
Towards the end of the game when bottled water was made available to the mascots – Sky Blue Sam the Coventry City elephant mascot deciding he had sucked up enough water in his long blue trunk and squirted the referee instead.
No red or yellow cards shown by the referee, he just got a soaking and later complained in a trunk call to the Referee’s Union about the situation.
As always if Wigan Athletic defeat Manchester United then the editorial story is not just about Wigan winning, but equally and more often than not Manchester United losing.
Jolly Green Giant the Yeovil Town mascot certainly provided a better image than Edwin van Der Sar of Manchester United when he lets in a goal.
Edwin for one does not wear a big green hat!
WORLD CUP PREPARATIONS
With just over 70 days to go we are still communicating with various South African airlines with regarding transporting out photographic equipment. The deadline to apply for the matches is still another 2 weeks away.
With lots more marketing to do and sorting out internal travel, the decision to get our flights booked up at Christmas when I was in South Africa in December 09 seems to have paid off. Still many media colleagues are homeless and faces with over the top price hikes – more about than in a big rant at a later date I think!