26 Feb : One month on

Its been a month since the amazing final of the Asian Cup 2011. I’ll write my thoughts on Qatar very soon though it was good that my memory is still alive and fresh from a visit to a country that I knew nothing about but in the coming years will be on the lips of most football followers around the world.

The goal that Tadanari Lee scored for Japan to win the tournament for them suitably ended the epic adventure in fine style.

At times, I was on fire in Qatar. I was taking some great pictures. I came back energised, full of hope, full of enthusiasm and full of fresh ideas.

However I write this like a striker on a bad, bad, bad run, simply unable to find the back of the net regardless of what he does.

I have always missed the easy goals, I don’t know why, I just do. Yet so many times a ball gets sent into the box and in a split second the ball is in the back of the net. Sky Sports News repeat the goal time after time the next day and from every angle I am amazed at how I have managed to capture such an epic image.

John Carew scoring a great opening goal on his debut for Stoke City and celebrating right in front of me kept up my good run. At half time, something must have happened. From then on my work has been totally rubbish!

Being official photographers of WBA, the game against West Ham was an important one. The game met up to the hype of it being a six pointer / relegation scrap.

I opted to do West Ham United attack first half – “just in case” – even though I had faith in The Baggies winning the fixture. With Adam doing WBA attack I expected to at least to be able to contribute to something to our output in the first half. Adam produced, I sat there numb and bored. All I could muster were a few pictures of new coach Roy Hodgson and one terrible action picture.  However WBA slaughtered them in the first 45, going in 3-0 at half time and I could not wait for the second half where I thought I would more than make up for my poor first half effort.

I should have stuck with my plan, but I was convinced the Baggies would go on to score eight goals in the second half, such was their total dominance of the first half. How wrong I was! West Ham scoring an incredible three down the other end!

WBA 3-3 West Ham United – total number of goals captured by myself =0

Again at WBA, this time they played Wolverhampton Wanderers.  I had complete control of where I sat, where my photographers sat and what I did. Dare I say it my plans paid off. I was incredibly proud of our work that day, however from a personal point of view, I chose the wrong end for both the goals in the 1-1 draw of the first ever AMA Premier League Derby (the first time a Premier League game happened where we were the official photographers for both clubs).

Then there was Blackpool v Tottenham. I was doing fine up until the penalty. I got a cracking action picture out after about 30 seconds, but when you do things like that, games very rarely stay 0-0.

Then … PENALTY! I got the incident which lead to a penalty being awarded, dare I say it, brilliantly. I am either brilliant or shit. Nothing ever seems to be just OK!

I then ran behind the goal to try to get ‘something different’ only for the resulting goal to be not perfect due to the way scorer Charlie Adam shot the ball into the net with the helpless Gomez diving and trying to save. It didn’t really make a picture. Awful composition. Then Adam ran celebrating the other way.

I should have gone home then! Blackpool went on to kill off Spurs in spectacular style – each goal being blocked and celebrations running the other way.

Manchester City on Thursday night was the same. Had a lovely drive. Great chat in the photographers room. Then the game began. Amazing Greek fans singing followed by goals galore in the opening moments by Manchester City.

The only slight issue for me was that ALL the goals were blocked and all celebrations going the other way. The best I could hope for was a hat trick. Sadly it did not come. The second half ended up being a reflective chat about how football, especially in the late 80s was so much ‘nicer’ to cover. In these days, dominated by foreign tactics, teams tend to squeeze together more resulting in rare tackles – as no one can kick each other these days! – being mostly blocked for the poor photographer trying to apply his trade!

Another wasted day!

Still not down, Friday entailed a trip to Birmingham and borrowing some extra long lenses for a job later in the week then a lovely evening meal after a fab fun cook in my kitchen.

Ready to take on the world I headed off to Wigan for the visit of Manchester United.

Hernandez – GOALLLL!!!!!!!!!!! 0-1 Manchester Untied.

Some photographers missed it. I certainly did.

It looked so easy to capture on television, yet myself and a few other colleagues were either away with the fairies or in a different time zone completely missing the goal and the celebration. After seeing what the guy next to me got, I shook my head in disbelief on how I missed such an easy shot and one which looked very good indeed.

The other three goals made the dull game probably look like an epic. I though it was very dull.

By certainly not massaging each others souls, spirits or state of mind, it’s always comforting to hear other photographers who like me shoot German football, Italian football and Spanish football churn out the old “English Premier League is rubbish line”.

Most of our friends think we are egotistical snobs spoilt on having such a great job, but any game can look amazing when edited down to 8 mins 30 seconds on Match of the Day.

Am I giving up? No!

Am I worried? No!

I could have got all four goals today and showered the newspapers with my fine work and then had a shocker tomorrow.

Id gladly trade in days like these for successes at major finals and games involving trophies as theses are the pictures that make history, not random league games, but being consistent is important in my book!

The football karma Gods are starting to owe me again. I’ll try to trade some of my karma points for the Carling Cup game tomorrow.

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