Before we start.. what a lovely city Berlin is. Clean, bespoke, modern, 24 hr, even after just one day, it was a new entry into the top five cities to live in by the traveling photographers.
Rain was promised. It had been promised for a week, but thankfully the storm went more South than it was anticipated and headed for Prague.
Within minutes of landing, the hay fever started. A happy weekend turned in to a dismal one. There were sneezing fits galore as I went on the S-Bahn to the hotel booked in September… now €1055 a night!
Friendly pharmacy assistants provided me with suitable drugs but I was zonked out to the point I was literally sleepwalking at one point.
Some fans needed tickets like I needed a helicopter out to the ocean to rid my allergies.
Whenever I am at a pop concert, I am always counting the number of riggers I can see in the roof, spotting people working, I like to see how things work. The UEFA Champions League is no exception.
The game is probably about number 17 on the list of priorities for the organisers.
Transport for the VIP’s, sponsor commitments, TV requirements, stadium decor to feeding the workers, it is one big circus that not many get to see.
These days news media use footballers Instagram accounts to publish pictures with. Social media notices around the stadium was something I have not seen before.
And so to the game.
I did not want this to be the Lionel Messi show.
There are 21 other players on the pitch, but the fact is, that even when Ivan Rakitic of FC Barcelona scored inside five minutes, the press would want pictures of Messi.
I had a 4/1 chance I would get a goal and celebration my end. Inside five minutes was impressive!
During training the day prior, I was aware that my lens was playing up. I am very critical but the lure of seeing Faith No More in Berlin was getting more and more as my hay fever and bad photography was getting me down.
However, the great people at Canon lent me a 500mm lens after declaring my lens not fit for purpose.
And wow! Like a spoilt brat at Christmas, I want one. I need one.
I realised that for the past month, that my images were so unsharp compared to this beast. I wanted May to happen again and to redo everything I had previously done.
All the goals and hullabaloo were up the other end in the second half.
Pirlo was in tears.
People don’t remember losers in finals, though I still for some reason have an instinct to point my camera to the loser.
The trophy lift was not the best.
Thankfully the players came closer on a platform.
I got something but due to the dug outs being so high and the platform so low, the material I got was weak compared to last week in Poland.
More nets for the Barcelona museum – its a Spanish tradition to keep the net following a triumph.
And so to the run around. Pouring water over my head and washing the pollen off my face I was raring to go! Running after footballers with trophies is fun.
I had been photographing the Barca players with the trophy for about 5 minutes. Messi, Suarez and Neymar though were however looking for their wives and children and so I can around and got them looking direct at my camera.
The head coach then got thrown up into the air in traditional style…
But to my horror, the inevitable happened. If I had of been patient, I would have got the picture everyone wanted. The three most famous Barca players together with the trophy.
I managed one shot – it was not head on..
Then Messi saved the day for me, turning his back on the hundred or so photographers and kissed the trophy – me still being on the side got it.
The only downer was having a massive row with a girl steward whose main aim in life that day was administer media leaving the stadium and returning to the media room.
Earlier in the day, I capture a picture of the Barcelona team bus. Upon passing it after the trophy ceremony, they had gone crazy with stickers and had re-branded the bus with CHAMPIONS on it.
However it was Steward 1-0 Photographer – as I was not ‘permitted’ to take pictures in this area.
I can understand the need to protect the zone when the players return though the mixed zone was literally 2 meters away – an area TV and journalists mingle with the players.
I asked again, what possible reason was there for her to refrain me to take pictures… her hand went over my lens. That was a red rag to a bull to me.
Feelings on the locals were restored when a kind spirited girl assisted us on getting on the correct train back to our hotel in the wonder 24 hour city of Berlin.
Although he had not scored, it was the Messi show…