04 June 2013 – The Derby amongst other things

A spectacular end to the season.

Being at the wrong end for Wigan’s winner in the FA Cup, being in a monsoon in the middle of the Old Trafford pitch trying to capture Manchester Untied receiving the Barclays Premier League trophy, having one of Chelsea’s goals being blocked by the official in the UEFA Europa League Final…

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

….Stewards of WBA totally ruining one of the most iconic images of English football from the past 20+ years – Sir Alex Ferguson retiring – to me following my heart and not my head and covering  Borussia Dortmund attack in the UEFA Champions League Final – it is fair to say I have had better ends to a football season!

© Matthew Ashton / AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

© Matthew Ashton / AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

To make matters worse, my server broke down in the middle of England v Republic of Ireland when I was supposed to be documenting England in their new Nike kit and being a magnet for the steady-cam cameraman – thankfully due to the wonderful internet connection at Wembley Stadium I was able to restore the AMA feed around the world, but it took 55 minutes to stop about 14,000 emails a minute being sent to the office minute telling me there was something wrong! Hence my “I was Hitler in a previous life” facebook status.

So is that it? Feet up for the summer? Holiday in Spain / Italy … even footballer heaven, Dubai?!

Ummm No..! Now commences the busiest time of the season! If you don’t believe me then look at the fixture calendar… its ram packed with exciting fixtures. Sunday saw another visit to Old Trafford, this time there was no rain. Sunshine greeted the Manchester United Legends taking on Real Madrid Legends, it felt like the millenium all over again photographing the likes of Luis Figo.

But it was Tuesday 4th June 2013 that I was looking forward to. Another Derby to add to my Football Derbies project.

I had recently covered Liverpool v Everton at Anfeild, but this was the reverse fixture and indeed reverse gender.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Everton Ladies v Liverpool Ladies.

Staged in a new ground for me, the normal home of Marine AFC (Shrewsbury Town once beat them 11-2 in the FA Cup) – set in lovely early June evening sun, although relaxing, I tried embraced the evening whilst shying away from hayfever sneezing.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Just like in the Welsh Premier League, I was free to walk around and shoot what I wanted.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

This was not just a Derby though. Liverpool have forged on and most if not all the players are at least semi-pro. They have regularly been featured in the press training with their male counterparts and Liverpool manager Brendon Rodgers has been out spoken in how the men and women form LFC as one.

Added to this, players like Fara Williams  who I have followed since her days at Charlton Athletic switching from the Blue half to the Red half of Liverpool, leaving Everton in the summer taking with her the 109 England Caps she has gained playing for the national team.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Programmes were sold out and the 1,100+ crowd saw a good game. My only but strong concern over Womens Football is the quality of goalkeepers but both were on hand to make some great saves to add to the spectacle.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Liverpool were always on top though.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

It reminded me of covering football in the late 80s to early 90s… sat pitchside, about 20 inches from the white line.

Jumpers for goalposts? Well almost – certainly an 85mm lens for goalmouth and a 400mm being used to its full and not as a goalmouth lens like at some stadia these days where photographer are positioned being about 25 meters from the goal line.

When the ball came to us, we headed it back. No jobsworth health and safety officer doing a risk assessment to see if people would trip over our lenses or if we were a danger to ourselves should a shot on goal miss and hit us.

This really was my idea of heaven. Amateur and semi-pro professionals who cover non-league football always envy photographers at Premier League games have no idea on how lucky they are. The working conditions at Marine AFC are certainly much better than at least 13 clubs that I can think of!

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

The beauty of this was that it was staged in a ground with lots of character. Shadows and light meant some nice pictures – my favorite being the shadow on the advertising board.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Everton 1-4 Liverpool was the final score – and no red flares in sight.

Those who know what it is like at Goodison Park will smile smugly when I comment on how wonderful it was to cover the last ten minutes of an Everton home game without a ring of orange jacketed stewards around the pitch.

Today was a nice fix, keeping me sharp ready for next week.  I just about managed to get a stock picture of every player full frame with their feet at the ball, except Brooke Chaplen. A great and fast paced Defender / Midfielder who did everything by face me with the ball.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Hunting for the £1.60 to pay for the Mersey Tunnel Toll was a bit of a problem. I now officially have no loose change in my car. Driving 35 miles extra for the sake of not having 2p was not an option!

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