The Premier League is not my favourite league. I prefer the romance of Serie A, the delights of La Liga and the obscure like the MLS, Belgian League and the J-League – let alone stadium features in the Welsh Premier League.
But this weekend has been an epic. Firstly David Moyes is sacked by Manchester United. My beloved Shrewsbury Town got relegated to League Two (That’s Division Four) and Liverpool v Chelsea was almost but a title decider prior to kick off.
Be it working for a rock band or a football club, you have to be on the other side of the fence to that of the fans. Often telling them things that they want to hear, being dignified and keeping secrets secret – trust is EVERYTHING. When your club gets relegated though and you know heaps of information you would love the fans to know so that their opinion of things is changed is very frustrating but that’s the way.
Already this season I could quite easily raked in a ten figure sum from selling exclusive images to tabloid newspapers but if I did I would instantly expect to lose my contract working for one of the football clubs we service. Lots of people at Manchester United know I used to hang out with David Moyes when he was at Shrewsbury Town. I used to take pictures of him training school boys at my old school Meole Brace School – a school someone called Joe Hart also used to frequent – whilst doing his coaching licences. Sadly for me, all my negatives got washed away in one of the infamous Shrewsbury floods.
Regardless of the rumours, factual reasons and chinese whispers that came out of Old Trafford, from walking across the car park to one of my favourite working places there were smiles everywhere. The mood and spirit around Manchester United was incredible. What a difference a week makes.
Today was all about one Ryan Giggs.
Although badges of Moyes, “The Chosen One” were still on sale, it was of course Giggs who was the one in charge for today – Manchester United v Norwich.
The front of the United Review stated THE STORY CONTINUES… with an image of Giggs on the front.
With all the photographers gathering around the benches, I wanted to get something different to capture his debut match as manager so I concentrated on him as he came out on to the touchline. My normal service supplying Kagawa images to the Japanese suffered, I’ll have to apologise on Monday.
But Ryan Giggs IS Manchester United. This was history in the making.
Rooney opened the scoring with a penalty – 1-0
Juan Mata ended the 4-0 rout. No long lenses for me today sitting close behind the goal, I used my new 40mm lens and got some images which echoed the style of the 50s and 60s before huge telephoto lenses encroached football stadia.
The anticipation at Anfield the day after though was simply amazing. Steve Clarke and David Jones broadcasting live from the side of the pitch for Sky Sports TV, everyone was talking about the big game and came to the same conclusion – if Liverpool could win then surely they would win the Barclays Premier League.
Now in a past life, I have covered the Croatian Civil War, have done some high-end news jobs, but this was like covering a happy war. Smoke, sun and enthusiasm created some far different images to what we are used to seeing in England.
Thousands lined the streets. Banners and smoke bombs visually accompanied the songs and cheers – what would it be like should they win the league? These were the scenes greeting the team arriving!
In a week Liverpool Football Club announced development plans for their stadium Anfield, it was important to start thinking about documenting history. One day the surroundings of Anfield will look VERY different.
Therefore I spent some time documenting the fans walking through the streets that would be a part of the regeneration area.
One day, all this will have gone. It’s an important part of a photographers work to record and document so people can reflect on the past in years to come.
Stunts the previous week by PaddyPower were continued at Anfield with them first of all making then placing and leaving a massive statue of David Moyes outside the stadium!
When I first saw my fellow Salopian Joe Hart at the World Cup, that was a crazy experience but to see a statue of someone I used to follow around practising my metering and focussing (we used manual focus lenses then) and with these images having something to practise my printing with was something else!
In the stadium there was no Jimmy Tarbuck today, but the wife of Steven Gerrard, Alex Curran.
Kenny Dalglish was in high spirits, vaulting over a seat in the directors box, I was very happy with this image, but not too happy with one national newspaper tweeting the picture without any credit, removing all IPTC info and after Piers Morgan retweeted it, it went viral. Gone are my chances for prospective customers knowing who took this image now and providing payment.
Back on the pitch, Chelsea were brilliant. They defended for their lives and got a victory that shook up the Premier League.
It was important to get an iconic image to sum up the game. It was more about Liverpool losing, rather than Chelsea winning.
The Guardian helping to pay for the up and coming trips to cover the UEFA Europa and Champions League and of course the FIFA World Cup.
Despite Shrewsbury Town getting relegated, I quite enjoyed this weekend of Barclays Premier League.