Day 17 : Germany v England

For our house, this was a big game. Two Germans living amongst 10 English people, something had to give. Our American was still surprised at the exit of the USA, but so were the rest of us. Those who had covered the game though knew that there was only one winner, Ghana – faster, stronger and more superior.

One hour after going to sleep, I was awake washing my hair with hot piping water. People shuffled around the lodge in line, like ants following each other to the cars with everyone too tired to talk. Word had passed of Ito’s unfortunate robbery last night and kind souls were equally aware that myself and Cath had only had one hour sleep. We both sat in the back of the VW and Marc and George sat in the front. As soon as the door was shut, I shut my eyes. I am lucky, I can sleep anywhere.

I briefly wake up and see Marc struggling through thick fog. I think it is a dream and shut my eyes once more. Quite literally the next thing I know is that we are with in 100 yards of the stadium entrance. It had been foggy and Marc had been struggling, but he had made it to Bloemfontein in good time.

We had arrived earlier than the start of the photo ticketing. Like all good Englishmen we started to queue – second best to the Germans who had got there first of course!

Our Big Brother experience has been great really. The only grumbles have been to do with travel logistics. Tiredness has brought out killer comedy moments, saying funny things to relieve stress. Ito keeps criticising my Englishness in how I pack my camera bag claiming that the Japanese would do it in a more tidy fashion. He has already said we are the best photographers but look scruffy and has questioned why I looked so smart the last time I went to Tokyo to visit but now look like a tramp.

When the English say leave at 2pm, the Germans are there at 1.50pm. At 1.55pm they are jumping up and down making it crystal clear that departure is almost upon us.

If a country would win the world cup for preparation and time keeping, it would be Germany.

The queue starts to decrease as the FIFA officials hand out the passes. I get a position right next to the goal.

© Matthew Ashton / AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

I try to document goings on outside. When I go to foreign stadiums, I execute the role of a photographer to the max – documenting scenes so I can share them with others.

Picture editors, clients, fans and the general public only see what is dictated to them by TV directors as I have mentioned before.

Should England win the World Cup then ‘colour’ as we call it in our industry, is an important aspect for people like book designers. When I go to the San Siro I always snap away outside so that people can see what I am experiencing en route to the stadium.

Today though, like other stadiums here, it just does not seem to work. I am not getting what I want. Too many police blocks. No fans roaming the streets like the images I have seen from Spain 82 and Italy 90.

The only time we encounter fans is either at petrol stations or in the stadium itself. There is a huge missing link.

I give up and head back. It is so hard to convey that there is nothing to shoot. I can only think of Durban – where I am tomorrow – where I can do what I want.

© Matthew Ashton / AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

I go to the stadium and it is hot!

Very humid, sunglasses a must. I still take with me 2 layers of clothing. I know by the end of play I will be shivering an uncomfortable in feeling the cold.

If this game had have been in Dortmund or Munich there would have been a better atmosphere. A different type of England fan would have turned out should the fixture be played at Old Trafford or Aston Villa. But this one is in South Africa and the influence of the Vuvuzela takes over once more.

The German fans sing songs – the English are almost like the Japanese and give their opponents the respect that they deserve. Fans are standing side by side in the stands.

There are no nasty stewards telling them to sit down like we have in England. Dare I say it but from pitchside I get the impression that the Germany and England fans unite together in attempts to drown out the Vuvuzela horns.

There is certainly no fighting. The only frustration is that both sets of European fans want the game to resemble a European fixture.

© Matthew Ashton / AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Kaz, one of Japanese photographers larks about. This game means nothing to him. Of course when the game starts he is a true pro. He is one of the best football photographers in Asia, but he finds it funny that some of his housemates are playing against each other today.

The game starts and there are no nerves or a special feeling in the photography camp. We have not been exposed to the hype back home. We have only just got over USA v Ghana. We know tomorrow we will be focussing on Holland v Serbia.

This IS just another game. However we all know the importance it has back home.

Bastian Schweinsteiger challenges Frank Lampard. They are just two more players playing for two more countries in this football tournament. As the play moves from left to right the TV cameras follow. It is an interesting to feel that it is just another game.

I am aware so many people back home want to be in my position right now, pitch side for the big game. But I am not here to cheer anyone one, I am here to capture the goings on.

© Matthew Ashton / AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Germany race into a 2-0 lead. Goals are down the other end. I hope Cath and Valeria have them. Myself and Tim are twiddling our thumbs. How can a game of this magnitude produce so little action photography down our end.

I am in still in the belief Cameroon v Denmark was my game of the tournament so far. People have questioned on this blog why I did Chile v Switzerland.

I get so pissed off at people who assume a big game on paper will be an epic encounter.

Perhaps on TV it looks great.

Representing the poor photographer I am almost preying to do Aston Villa v Wigan Athletic or Sunderland v Wolves in the Premier League again, if only to satisfy myself that I am worthy of this job and can produce the results that I expect.

© Matthew Ashton / AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Matthew Upson scores a goal! I get that one.

England have a new hope and a new drive. Suddenly they become aware that they are in a football match. Lampard shoots. My shutter fires as I look through the viewfinder.

© Matthew Ashton / AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

I see his arms go up then a look of despair as he looks at the linesman. I know it is not a goal at no one is celebrating and Germany as back on the attack.

I assume that perhaps someone was offside or something.

After the game, I am made fully aware that this was a defying moment of the game.

The ball had crossed the line and should have been a goal.

TV replays to millions had made viewers thousands of miles away aware that it was a goal, yet me, sitting 9 yards from the goal, pitch side in what some would class as a ring side seat – I had no idea on what had happened.

I have no radio here to help me understand what had happened.

I did my job and got Lampard kicking the ball.

I am not in the tribune, a position for photographers in the stand shooting from the same location as TV cameras.

Although I know I have done what I could have done, I know I have failed to capture an important happening.

© Matthew Ashton / AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

For the Germans, I capture their 3rd and 4th goals.

Young boys dreams back home are probably crushed. Our dreams of photographing our home nation in the final are dashed.

England are woeful.

So are my pictures.

I struggle to get England dejection.

I get one picture I like as soon as I take it, Capello and Beckham on the bench with a Germany flag flying above them. I doubt for one minute that this will be published, but it results in me not getting depressed!

I like it so there! Thats my opinion.

© Matthew Ashton / AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Something photographers face all the time. As long as the author likes it then all is well. Too many times people churn out rubbish praising pictures that photographers are not proud of. I’m not proud of this image, but I like it. I was not at the right end to get a great image of Lampard and Gerrard with their head in their hands. I was not positioned by the dug out and able to get the England players walking off dejected after getting knocked out of the World Cup by Germany.

Realising however that my pictures to sum up defeat on the field are weak, I run around the advertising boards and see what I can find in the stands. England fans looking sad reflect on the day.

© Matthew Ashton / AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

© Matthew Ashton / AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

We edit back in the media centre until 9ish. I struggle to find pictures and using an application called Image Rescue find 400 more images after a compact flash card became corrupt during the first half. I did not encounter this type of problem covering France 98. Photographers are reliant on technology. I still prefer it when the destiny was in my hands and I had film. I had to ensure it was never x-rayed, I had to ensure I always knew which rolls had been exposed. I had to ensure I processed it correctly.

The major agencies of Reuters and Getty Images situated in the tribune have ‘done’ us people on the pitch.

It is time to pack up and not reflect on a bad day at the office. This was a big game for people back home in England and we failed to get the big picture.

We swap cars and four of us head off into the fog Durban bound.

We try to waste time, Tom Tom says an arrival of 4.10am. We want to be early and not encounter the terrible traffic as we experienced at the Brazil v Portugal game, but not that early. We probably have the best meal of the trip so far. A simple chips and steak with nice pepper sauce. At £5.80 it shows how much a cheap place this is.

We discuss that England should have played to their Premier League strengths. Manchester United would have beaten Germany today. Rory Delap would have caused more problems with his long throws. Leighton Baines of Wigan would have performed better than Ashley Cole. But we are not the coaches and as time ticks by we focus on tomorrows fixture, Holland v Serbia.

Germany v England is now forgotten.

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4 responses to “Day 17 : Germany v England

  1. Enjoying the photos and the blog, keep up the good work.

  2. ochi natsuhi

    Matt-chan we wait your report from Japan Paraguay

    Please be our good luck charm

    love natti xxxxx

    ps

    Say konnichiwa to Imai-san from me

    I will force Peter to watch the game on TV – usually he has a rule NEVER to watch a game he is unable to shoot

  3. Gary Hutchison

    Great blog Matt, a good insight too! enjoy the rest of the WC, gary

  4. Wow! Really nice pics you have there, keep up the good work 😀
    Loving the Fifa World Cup atm, cant wait for the finals 😀

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