24 06 2012 Euro 2012 England v Italy

Let me introduce to you Mr Moscrop.

He is English and supports Grimsby Town like I support Shrewsbury Town.

Jonathan is the Juventus photographer.

He is obviously fluent in Italian and I had not seen him all tournament as obviously the Italians had been camped in Poland.

After enthusing about the new Juventus stadium, telling me stories about Napoli winning the Italian Cup and having to run into the tunnel with it for fears it would be robbed by their fans… I start dreaming about going to Peaking to shoot the Italian Super Cup Final.. I know I wont but it’s good to think and dream sometimes… we talk about today’s game.

“so…..”, I asked…”Italy or England… who do you think will win…..?”

Married to an Italian lady his loyalties are certainly not split.

Forza Italia ? Not likely!

His answer to my question was that it depended how Italy woke up in the morning. If they woke up wanting it then they would win.

How I shot today depended on how I woke up too!

After not getting to sleep that well… room 2323 was hot. Very hot.

I put on the air con. By 9am I was awake again. This time shivering.

I tried to set the aircon to first 18c then 25 and finally 30c and got the winter blankets out of the 1970s cupboard.

I woke up at 2pm. I actually felt like I had a good sleep. However instantly I knew that I had the dreaded aircon flu.

I went to the small kiosk on the other side of the street and downed a litre of orange juice in the hope that Vitamin C would do its stuff.

I got on the Metro and went to the stadium in Kiev. Again walked the long, wide streets that were closed. I got to the stadium at about 3ish.

Time goes quick here.

The time seemed to be eating up the lives of my colleagues too.

The news boys from PA, the Mirror and Sun, were all startled when we discovered it was nearly 6pm. We all thought it was about 4!

Did we really waste three hours of our lives chatting, writing emails and watching you tube videos of Borat after The Sun journalist proudly told us a story of meeting a man from Kazakhstan in a night club and being just like Borat. “Hello, Im from Kazakhstan…”

Once out on the pitch the heat got to me and I got very sleepy. I went back to the media center – a five-minute walk along a specially created skateboard friendly wooden path to the newly refurbished Sports Palace next to the stadium. Another ham sandwich was washed down with a litre of water, with a litre of Coca Cola put in my back pocket for later.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Again, the stadium was slow to fill up. I have given up trying to document fans going to the stadium like I used to!

Every agency and photographer has a different style. When I give say my German agent 100 pictures they choose 30 different images to that of my Austrian or Japanese agent for example. One of my counterparts has been churning out fan pictures like they are going out of fashion. That’s not my style!

When I created almost fashion-like shoots of Dutch fans outside stadiums in Portugal for 2004, that graced double pages of countless European magazines, not only football but social magazines, art magazines and also fashion magazines.. my hopes to replicate this are once again shattered.

Perhaps the pictures I got will one day will mean something. It documents how it was anyway. At the moment they are crap. In ten years time they may be interesting.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Back in the stadium I spot with the man with RooneyShrek – Brian from Coventry. True to form he added another image to his growing collection at AMA!

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Then I sneeze.

Sneeze again and again and again. I get incredibly thirsty and down half a litre of Coca Cola to perk me up. I am not one for energy drinks but my body needs the sugar to keep me going. Photographers are getting ratty and tired like me.

The game starts. I get the impression everyone back home is sitting on the edge of their seats watching this one. Facebook is going mad with people’s comments. I look across to the journalists and TV commentary positions. I can only imagine how hyped up the TV companies are.

All I am doing along with most of the other photographers is photographing yet another game of football. We have seen Holland exit. Sweden go home and the other night France go out. Tonight it will be Italy or England. A week today there will be another football match and a trophy will be presented at the end of the 90 minute encounter.

We all grumble in unison on how the game is not creating many picture opportunities. High above us are two massive screens. It looks like an epic Play Station game but no one is scoring. I prefer the excitement of the game on the screen. From pitchside, photographically its awful!

I then sneeze again. And again. And again.!

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Balotelli spits and Bonucci snots.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

And before I know it 90 minutes are up.

With the newspaper boys embracing new technology – years ago they swapped negatives, then put their images on USB sticks, now they use Dropbox – I am left wondering what I can actually send to the newspapers as I have NOTHING!

I’m ‘swapping’ pictures with my Austrian and Italian counterparts. I am letting the side down. I feel I am not doing a good job. Oh for a Maradona hand ball moment… the best picture was actually hoovered up by an English photographer making a local Mexican happy by propping some US Dollars in his back pocket.

Although I have a soft spot for Manchester United and ‘therefore’ must hate Liverpool – Gerrard is simply awesome.

Neither side fail to score. Extra time prolongs the snotting from the hayfever. The Coca Cola keeps me alert and awake.

Penalties it is then.

I position myself so that I get a nice picture of the goalkeepers. I always go for goalkeepers saving and them being the hero rather than a player missing.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

We all know the story!

Joe Hart fails to be a national hero, but I suspect he will make the front page of my old newspaper the Shropshire Star the following day.

So.. England exit on penalties again.

As soon as the kicks are finished I load the images from my camera into my computer and race to shoot dejected England fans. As soon as I get about five I dash back to my place around the pitch.

This is my last chance to pay the bills covering England.

I hopefully am not coming across all egotistical and boasting but this is where years of experience come into it. I don’t even analyse the images sometimes, I just choose them with instinct, crop, caption, save and then send to my server in Telford which zaps the images across the planet so that picture editors can decide what to do with them.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Normally as a photographer, I take every now and then a picture that I like. I am my worst critic. Most pictures that I really like, are never used. I could do a book of ‘my best of – unpublished’… A songwriters best work always ends up in a greatest hits album, sadly, too often the work of a photographer goes mostly unpublished.

But I do like one image of England players looking dejected after losing the penalty shoot out.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Luckily ? Thankfully ? It ends up as the front page of The Sun.

No …. I don’t get £25,000 for this! All the TV programmes you see proclaiming  publications on paparazzi programmes paying this kind of money is utter lies! I make my money on volume.

In 3 minutes I have sent out 7 images of the players and manager looking sad. I then turn to the fan pictures that I have been ingesting whilst I have been editing the player dejection. Again, I write a caption, copy and paste it to the others that I have selected, do a brief colour correction, contrast and crop and save it and FTP it out.

These thankfully make the Daily Mirror.

My second favorite picture is of Gary Neville consoling Gerrard.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

It’s a big crop. A huge crop. Goes against my principles of shooting full frame but .. hey ho! My rules are there to be broken.

Some two hours after, the journalists and a couple of photographers wave down taxi after taxi wanting rides back to our various hotels. Tempers flare up as tiredness and anger kicks in. Alas I keep calm this time – A tabloid newspaper colleague who shall remain nameless gives the finger and tells a taxi drive to “fuck off” after being quoted 400 for a normal 30 UAH taxi ride!

I am told 300 to my hotel. A stern look at the taxi driver and I walk off. I don’t give him a second chance to lower his bid. I get into another and pay 150 when it should have been 50 on any other normal Sunday evening!

It is now light again. I have no problem going to sleep this time. Air con on the setting I had last, wrapped in winter blankets I sleep like a log!

Back in the UK “Lorraine” on ITV, Ms Kelly enthuses about my picture on the front of The Sun the following morning.

I have my computer switched off. My hotel internet is still not working as the woman dishing out wifi codes did not turn up yesterday.

It was not like this in Donetsk!

Sadly I miss two calls from “This Morning” also wanting to feature the picture. I am too busy dreaming happy thoughts on how I would not now worry about affording to fly over more photographers to the semi final and final should England have progressed. At least I have ‘saved’ $1,600 on a flight from Donetsk to Warsaw to cover both semi finals. I shall stay in Ukraine and let Chris finish the Polish side on his own.

My Monday is a day of rest. A week today I will be going home.

I have just two more games, two more flights, another night of uncertainty as to where I will sleep and the now added internal pressure of wanting to achieve some photo features that I have thought up over the past week or so.

* thank you to Claire for the Lorraine TV screen grab x

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4 responses to “24 06 2012 Euro 2012 England v Italy

  1. Jonathan Moscrop

    Hello mate, the same exact thing happened to us outside the stadium….quoted 300 to Zhuliany airport….paid 120 on arrival, I told the guy and he said 150…..I promptly told him not to take the piss out of people and take a ride himself…….got into another cab, this time I didn’t ask just told the guy 150….he took us there, during the journey was treated to a Fast and the Furious race scene by two Lada’s around the Kiev streets!!!
    See you in Kiev soon!

  2. Great story ! Really enjoyed reading it ! And well done on the front pages !!

  3. brilliant again Matt as always good to see the papers paying for quality, say hello to Iscariot for me (CR) just don’t mention The Rangers, I stopped watching the sports news 2 days ago, it’s all getting a bit much.

  4. Cracking snap Matt, well done.

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