28 Days to Go : UEFA Cup in Hamburg

With the obvious World Cup Final coming up, next week the UEFA Champions League Final, FA Cup Final on Saturday – not to mention Oxford v York on Sunday with the winners re-gaining a place in the Football League, this was a nice little practice game to get back into the swing of shooting goals that matter and where trophies are presented at the end of the game.

Lots of Liverpool fans were there. They wrongly assumed it was going to be an all English Final thanks to Diego Forlan killing the Red Scousers dreams at Anfield.

MATTHEW ASHTON / © AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Fulham playing their most important game of their history, their excited fans had already visited Hamburg’s stadium after knocking them out in the semi-final.

Before the game, our group of photographers who are off to South Africa were all busy looking at alternative flights to Johannesburg after learning that our flights with British Airways are in jeopardy due to the forthcoming strike. Now is not the time to get angry about BA.

During the match, most of the English photographers were more interested in the goings on back home with Cardiff City playing Leicester City in the Championship Play Off Second Leg. The winners facing Blackpool.

With respect to people who do not do this job, there are some who would prefer to be following their passion of their own club, but it is the dream of most school boys to be pitch side at Old Trafford and a wannabe photographers dream to be shooting action involving Ryan Giggs and Steven Gerrard and getting your name in a national newspaper, but the truth is that we are all professionals and it is just a job.

On many occasions, photographers listening to the radio whilst shooting a Premier League game or via sneaky looks at the BBC Vidi Printer on the internet or using the Sky Sports app on the iphone result in messages being filtered between each other – ‘Colchester are now 2-0 up’ ; ‘Stoke are holding off Arsenal’ ; ‘Wrexham are now 1-3 down’ – many of us don’t actually care on what is going on in front of us.

Today was no exception. With swear words emphasising frustration in the Hamburg Stadium after most photographers missed Diego Forlan’s opening goal, the mood went back to a quiet calm when Simon Davies got a quick equaliser. This meant that we had not missed what was potentially the winning goal of the final.

Faces lit up as word got around that Leicester were now 1-3 up, then back to 2-3 and eventually losing on penalties.

MATTHEW ASHTON / © AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

We were all thinking of penalties too, but Fulham lost with a goal scored 4 minutes from the end of extra time by Diego Forlan – ending The Cottagers amazing UEFA Europa League journey.

I thought it was a difficult goal to get, Forlan flicking the ball into the corner of the net, but it seemed that most of us documented the winning goal without any trouble.

When he ‘kicked’ the ball it did not really make a great picture, on this occasion the best one being the dispair of the Fulham players watching the ball go into the net.

Now Mr Platini is in charge, UEFA present the trophy in the tribune (stand), but someone forgot to tell the roadies controlling the confetti to switch off the gas thrusting the silver paper in the air.

It does not stop however, tomorrow is Germany v Malta and setting the alarm is just as important as discovering how I am going to blog with the energy I have with hours to spare at home.

This week I hold the title of having Picture of the Week in the famous German magazine, Sport Bild – no doubt the German photographers will be out to get me tomorrow – It is now 2.52. Sky News are doing re-runs of Cameron joining forces with Nick Clegg but I will have to catch up with that another time.

I need sleep. Hamburg is on holiday tomorrow and we could have a 5 hour drive to the stadium before a return home via the Calais to Dover ferry.

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